First Light is a short devotional that is posted daily throughout the week via email and this blog.  If you are interested in receiving a copy in your email, just contact us at office@thelambschapel.org and tell us you would like to receive First Light.

Resting in the darkness

Posted by Brandon Patton on Monday, February 4, 2019 @ 10:04 AM

"We are perplexed but not in despair."

2 Corinthians 4:8

Can you do that? Have you built your faith and trust in an all knowing and all loving Father to the place that you can be perplexed and still not despair? Have you ever been at a place where you didn't know what was going on, where things didn't make sense? Have you ever found yourself wondering; if God is good why is this happening? Welcome to life. We live in a day when things just don't seem to make sense. So many things that we just don't understand. So often when we think we understand, we find out that what we thought was wrong. It is fallen human nature to have to understand circumstances before we can rest and enjoy life. We demand to know what is going on. However, this trait only leads to frustration and despair. You can never live in God's kingdom until you surrender your need to understand. Until you give up logic you can never walk by faith. Am I going to live my life dwelling on what I can't figure out? Why do I struggle if I am God's child? Why doesn't He "fix" my mess? Why does He allow evil? Why don't people do right? (right being what I think it should be) Why can't everybody get along? As long as I live focused on the unexplained questions of life all I will ever know is strife and discouragement. There is so much I don't know or understand. However, there are some things that I do know. There is a God who's Kingdom will "know no end". He knows my name. He is my Father. "His eye is on the sparrow" and I know He watches over me. He has promised to "meet all my needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus". He has assured that "He is causing all things to work together for good" because I love Him and live for His purposes. He will "never leave me nor forsake me". On and on I could go with things that I do know for sure. It is the things that I do know that allow me to rest concerning the things I don't know. That's why I can be perplexed about life around me yet not be in despair. As a matter of fact I find that not only can I refuse despair I can actually "rejoice in the Lord always"! I always have a choice in the storm. I can be like the disciples and panic because I don't know what's happening or I can be like Jesus and just go to sleep assured that Father is large and in charge!

Father, I trust you in my darkness which is a lot! All I really need to know is that you tell the truth and you are faithful! Thank you for a Word that reveals your goodness, "a light unto my path and a lamp into my darkness"!

Keep it simple

Posted by Brandon Patton on Thursday, January 31, 2019 @ 10:06 AM

"Follow me"

Matthew 4:19

You have no doubt heard it before: religion gives you rules, Jesus gives you relationship. Its all the difference in the world. Rules are fairly easy. Just tell me what to do and I can either do it or not. Easy to check off the list of religious rules that my particular group demands. Attend church, read the Bible, pray, be nice to people, do some charity work, etc. The rules vary according to either your group or your own conviction. Anything from a few simple ones, all the way to more that anybody can remember, much less do. However, Jesus simplified the whole program with two words. "Follow me". Big difference. I can't tell you what to do if you are a follower. You simply follow. Its relational. If you need to get somewhere I can either give you directions or I can tell you to follow me in my car. You don't need to know anything except to watch and follow. That's life with Jesus. He simply calls us to walk with Him day by day. To follow Him you have to be able to hear Him. How can you follow someone if you can't hear them? Jesus said, "my sheep hear my voice and they follow me". Make hearing Him your greatest priority in life. If I decide to follow Jesus, its a bit unnerving since I don't know where we are going. Its called trust. Like Abraham I am committed to "going out not knowing where he was going". But, If I know His goodness and His love for me, (not to mention His track record with others who followed) I will follow knowing where He leads me will be better than where I would have taken me. No doubt the greatest advantage to following Jesus over religion is the fellowship. As we walk together I get to know Him personally and we enjoy the journey. I was created to get to know God and enjoy Him. Greatest life lesson: the journey with Him is the destination. I'm a simple guy. I am convinced that we have way overcomplicated life.  All I have to do is make a decision to live following my Creator and then take the next step He shows me. How easy is that?  

Father, I praise you for making life so simple. Thank you for inviting me to walk with all the way to your house! 

Educated beyond intelligence!

Posted by Brandon Patton on Thursday, January 31, 2019 @ 10:06 AM

"Claiming to be wise they have become fools".

Romans 1:22

Currently in America we are the most educated generation in world history. And how's that doing us? A government that is totally dysfunctional, schools teaching children that they descended from monkeys (apologies to the monkeys), promising men that they can become women, trying to reach financial prosperity by spending money like drunken sailors (apologies to the drunk sailors, at least they quit spending when they run out of money), among  a myriad of other ideas that we have labeled as "progress". Pardon me for saying, but am not so sure that we haven't been educated beyond our intelligence! I'm just a truck driver but it seems to me that if this is what smart looks like we are in deep do do! Heck, my grandpa only went through the sixth grade but he knew better that to try build a life on such nonsense of a foundation. What happened to us that seems to have turned out the lights in our heads and hearts? As always the answer to life's big questions are found in a Book that we chose to remove from our halls of education long ago. The Bible says that "the respect of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom". While we don't lack for education in this land we are desperately depleted of wisdom today. Wisdom is the ability to make great decision that lead to a great life. Its what our founders leaned on to build a great nation. I doubt seriously that I will turn this country back to the Book and its wisdom that were it's early underpinnings, but I thank God that His wisdom is available to anyone who will humble themselves and admit their need for His guidance. It may seem old fashioned and outdated to look to such an ancient book to build a life and home on, but considering what throwing it away has done for us, I think I might just go back to what worked so well for grandpa. I trust God more than I do a professor with a PhD that once was a monkey hanging in a tree.

The gospel of Jimmy Buffet

Posted by Brandon Patton on Tuesday, January 29, 2019 @ 9:34 AM

"Where there is no ox a stall is clean, but if you ever accomplish anything it is because you had an ox."

Proverbs 14:4

As much as I love the Parrothead nation I am convinced that their theology is misguided! Buffet built a rabid following around not just his music, but around a philosophy of life that basically says that the purpose of life is all about comfort. The mindset that I was created to live a life of ease has permeated our nation's soul. Anything that gets in the way of my pleasure is seen as the enemy of my happiness. Hard work, sacrifice, delayed gratification, enduring the tough times are all seen as plagues to avoid rather than the paths to true long term satisfaction and purpose. The Bible nails it in one of my favorite verses in Proverbs 14. In the "ox" verse we find the universal truth that success and shoveling always go hand in hand. Obviously, you can only accomplish if you own an ox to plow with. But, owning an ox also means shoveling the stuff that all oxen leave laying around. Simple parable describing what the WW2 generation built a great nation on. I must be willing to endure the hard stuff to get the good stuff.  If I want great kids I must be willing to pay the price. Anybody that has raised teens knows you had better keep your shovel handy! This current fascination with a life of all ease while I waste away in Margaritaville makes for great music but it builds a pretty pathetic life and nation. "There ain't no free lunch" is a time worn saying from days gone by that needs to be dusted off again! God created our souls to thrive on accomplishment and achievement. There are few things more gratifying than success after great sacrifice. "A desire accomplished is sweet to the soul" is another great Proverb to heed. So, rather than living to see how relaxed we can be while trying to avoid stepping on another pop top, lets roll up our sleeves, set great big God sized goals and get to shoveling toward the finish line! Surely there has to be more to life than having nothing but an empty glass to show for my time here!

Father, I praise you for making life challenging. I ask for grace to dig in for the long haul! Thank you for the promise of blessing from heaven for those who chose to endure the manure!

The lonely cry of the top dog

Posted by Brandon Patton on Tuesday, January 29, 2019 @ 9:34 AM

"No one acknowledges me, no one cares for my soul."

Psalm 142:4

Sociologists are saying that we are experiencing an epidemic in our land of loneliness. How can this be? There are more than 330 million of us living here now. We have never been more connected in history due to the evolution of social media. The answer is rather easy is it not? You can be in a crowd and still be lonely. You can have a thousand "followers" and still feel alone. You can live in a house and share a bed with someone and not feel connected. The cure for loneliness is not geographical, its heart connection. When God said in Genesis "it is not good for a man to be alone", He revealed that we are created to live connected to other people not just in proximity, but emotionally and spiritually. King David's cry in Psalm 142 reveals that even famous people struggle to make the relational connection that the heart longs for. You can live without close enjoyable friend relationships but you can't thrive without them. What is God's remedy for the hole in every soul that searches for meaningful relationships? Brace yourself! Its the church. One of the three purposes of Him starting "church" was to build a place where people could find the deep relationships that are so necessary to experiencing an abundant life. The church should be the model for relationships. More often than not it has failed miserably in this task. How many people have found rejection and woundedness in churches instead of loving friendships? At best it seems that relationships in churches are superficial and plastic due to the requirement in many churches that we must appear to "have it all together as good Christians". Nonsense. I am committed to building a house of hope where people can come just as you are and meet other struggling, less than perfect people that want to walk this journey out together helping each other rather than judging each other. Do not settle for life without the joy of a few true close friends. Pour your heart out to God as David did  and ask Him to put people in your life that you can do life with in an authentic atmosphere of great friendship. He will answer. Then you can say as David said in verse seven, He has dealt bountifully with me and surrounded me with the righteous.

Father, you created us to need true friendships. I trust you to connect me with those people, and make me a "friend that sticks closer than a brother".

Lying or faith?

Posted by Brandon Patton on Tuesday, January 29, 2019 @ 9:33 AM

"The child is not dead, she is just asleep."

Mark 5:39

In one of the strangest passages in the Bible, Jesus upon coming into the home of a family where the daughter had died, spoke up and said that she wasn't dead, but that she was asleep. If you know the story you know that He raised her from the dead a few minutes later, but that still doesn't explain why He said she was not dead when she plainly was. Is Jesus lying here? Or is there something here we need to see that teaches us about living by faith? The answer is found in many places in His Word but perhaps nowhere better than in Romans 4:17 where He is called the "God who calls those things that are not yet as though they already were".  Our rationalistic minds have demanded that we see things as they are and call them what they are now. Faith sees what God promises and calls the situation what He says about it. Logic looks at me and sees a sinner. Faith sees a saint and calls him that. Logic sees a struggling follower. Faith sees a conqueror and calls him that. Logic looks into the future and sees uncertainty. Faith looks into the future and sees "goodness and mercy all the days of my life" and calls the future that. Logic looks in the check book and says "broke". Faith looks in God's book and says "every need supplied"! Logic looks into the casket of a departed believer and says "dead". Faith looks into the Heavens by way of God's Word and says "dancing before the throne"! To say what God says is not lying even if the natural mind revolts as those in that girl's house did as "they laughed Him to scorn". Are you going to be like the skeptics in the house and "call it like you see it"? Or will you follow Jesus and "call those things that are not yet as though they already were"?  The Bible says that Jesus was laughed at for saying what He did. Let the scorners laugh. Who laughed last?

Father, thank you for calling us to a life of faith that doesn't wait to see your promises come to pass before we believe. Thank you for the blessed life of believing what you say before we see! 

Feelings or facts?

Posted by Brandon Patton on Tuesday, January 29, 2019 @ 9:33 AM

"We do not focus on the things we see, but on the things that we can't see which are eternal."

2Corinthians 4:18

To live our lives making decisions based solely on the truth of God's Word is called faith. To live making decisions based on how we feel is called insanity! (among other things) The facts of God's Word never change and are always wisdom that lead us and our families to abundant life. Our feelings are like a pair of underwear hanging on a clothes line during a windstorm. They blow every which of a direction and end up all wrapped around the wire. God's Word is truth born out of love. Feelings are as unpredictable and undependable as the wind itself. God's Word quietly reminds us of the good news that our hearts can lean on no matter what is going on around us. Our feelings scream frantically like a cat with its tail caught in the door depending on what's happening at the moment. How many times have we been burned because we looked to our feelings to interpret our situation or make a decision rather than to His truth? A person that finds themselves constantly saying "I just feel like" needs to stop feeling themselves! Stability and maturity come when we transition from checking our feelings for answers and start looking to God's Word for our next move. Tell your feelings to settle down when they start demanding attention. Learn to steer your life, words, decisions and moods by the compass of God's truth rather than the fickle and ever changing emotions and feelings that are almost always at odds with Divine truth. A life piloted by feelings is a featherless arrow. Who knows where it will end up? But a life directed by the unchanging truth of God will always result in a life of peace and abundance.

Thank you that "your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light on my path".

Our anchor

Posted by Brandon Patton on Tuesday, January 29, 2019 @ 9:33 AM

"I am persuaded that nothing shall be able to separate us from the love of God".

Romans 8:38-39

In this crazy day that we find ourselves living in today the only thing that seems to be certain is that nothing is certain. This is a day where relationships can evaporate in a day, jobs are lost overnight, health can change with a phone call, and wealth can disappear with one bad decision. Counselors talk of the stress of these times due to the instability  and uncertainty we are currently undergoing. By Divine design people need a certain amount of stability in life to live abundantly. Everybody needs an anchor to tether them to something that is immovable and unshakable. Although we are adventurous, we need a secure foundation to build on. What do you have in your life that you know you could never lose and can never be taken away from you? Obviously, the only permanent in this entire universe is the love of God. You may lose your health, your family, your wealth, but you can never lose the love of God even if you wanted to. Tell Him to stop loving you, curse Him, sin the most grievous sin, and still you can never separate yourself from His love for you. You did nothing to cause Him to care about you in the first place and you can't do anything to stop Him from caring. When we reach the place where we can say as the Bible says, "I am persuaded that nothing can separate me from the love of God", we are then able to live with security and confidence in uncertain days because we are anchored to the only thing in the universe that is absolutely unmovable and unchangeable. When the enemy of our soul begins to slip thoughts of fear into our minds that always begin with the words "what if", we can answer with humility but confidence, "if you can stop the Creator of this universe who is my Father from loving me then the "what ifs" might come to pass. But, if you can't stop Him from loving me, your fear is a lie. A life built on a foundation of anything except God's perfect love is going to fail one day. Just a matter if time. However, if all of my hope is in His great heart, as revealed in His Word, then I have eternal confidence that will never be shaken.

Father, I thank you for an anchor for my soul that will be forever tied to your heart. Your love is my eternal foundation.    

Stupid hurts!

Posted by Brandon Patton on Tuesday, January 22, 2019 @ 9:57 AM

"The wages of sin is death."

Romans 6:23

It's just hard to have sympathy for some folks! Preacher buddy  of mine joined a group of people for lunch one day that he didn't know very well. But, they had invited him and he was glad to go. There was a girl seated at the table that was one of those "I don't share food" types. Certain people just can't stand for you to reach over. They might buy you your own but they ain't giving you their stuff! A guy said "I need to try one of those fries" as he glanced at her plate. She quickly told him that if he reached toward her plate she would stab him with her fork. He laughed as he stretched his hand toward her dinner. About the time he drew near her plate she plunged her fork into his hand. My buddy was in shock as was the dude that had just been stabbed. When he drew his hand back (very quickly) the fork was still in it. This totally messed up the planned fellowship since the guy now required medical attention. You may think hard of the chick that skewered the french fry bandit, but I don't have much sympathy for someone that was told what was coming and insisted on learning the hard way! Stupid hurts! Actually, I can relate to the wounded wanderer. How many times have I done something stupid after having been warned of the consequences only to discover that stupid really does hurt. There are certain things in life that produce pain. Great pain. This unanchored generation can't seem to grasp that actions have consequences. Thankfully, a loving Father has written us a book that reveals the landmines in life's road and warns us not to step on them. Many see the Bible as a book of restrictions that suck all the fun out of life. If you were starting down an unknown trail in a war zone and an intelligence officer offered to show you where the enemy had planted explosives would you tell him to "mind your own business"? That's malignant stupidity. I would be grateful for his help. Is this deep? Don't reject Loves offer to show you where the pitfalls are in life. People a whole lot smarter that me and you have learned the hard way that the road is indeed infested with booby traps. We have a map that will safely lead us home. Its called the Bible. Its a love letter written with nothing but our family's best interest in mind.

Father, we praise you for showing us in your Word where the pain is. We plead for grace to be wise enough not to walk into those traps.

When God changes things

Posted by Brandon Patton on Monday, January 21, 2019 @ 8:39 AM

"A new command I give to you, that you love people the way I have loved you. This is what will identify my followers from now on."

John 13:34-35

Jesus radically changed the religious landscape when He stepped down to earth. Before He showed up followers of God lived (and died) by the ten commandments. They also wounded and killed people with the ten commandments. Just break one and see what the ministers do to you. Fault was found with following "the law" as it was called then. The great problem was not with the law itself. Would not you agree that if everyone followed these ten rules that life on this planet would flourish? The problem with the law was that you could keep every command and have no love at all for either God or man. Jesus busted the clergy of His day when He said "you keep every law, but I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you".  The commandments became clubs with which religious people would beat people with. Sometimes to death. Jesus totally transformed the requirements to walk with the God of heaven. The revolution came in the thirteenth chapter of John when He said, "a new command". Notice carefully that He did not say "another command". He did not add one more command to the ten already in place. (which were broken down into 618 sub commands then into 3000 edicts) He replaced the ten with one. He simplified the requirements down to one command. Love people. Not the way you define love, but "as I have loved you". This was a game changer. No longer could you keep religious rules and be hard hearted toward people. No longer could you get by with behaving but not caring. You can keep every command and be as mean as the devil. You cannot love people and break any command. Am I going to steal your tackle box if I love you? Am I going to slander you if I love you? It was always supposed to be from the heart. Religion gives you a new set of rules to live by. Jesus gives you an new heart to love by! Religious rule keeping is a hard burden. Loving people is a heart delight! The beauty of the new command is that it brings hope back to the struggling heart! All of us are failures to some degree. Rules beat us up when we fail. Love picks us up when we fall! I'm a simple guy. Having to keep ten commands, 618 subs, 3000 edicts, not to mention all of the ones that churches add to the list on top of those, is more than I can handle. I love Jesus for putting the rule book on a diet. He took it all down to one! And then He said He would furnish the love to do it with! Who couldn't love a Savior like that?

Thank you Jesus for rescuing me from religious overload! What a relief to only have to remember one command!

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 ...13
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