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.

God can hit a straight lick with a crooked stick!

Posted by Brandon Patton on Thursday, December 6, 2018 @ 9:39 AM

"If you have to have everything perfect before you can accomplish something you will never do anything."

Ecc. 11 (par)

Moses was an eighty year old convict that stuttered. Joseph was a pampered child. David struggled with some terrible personal demons. Jacob was a con man. Simon was an "ignorant uneducated" redneck fisherman. Their commonality? God chose to use each one of them to help people and accomplish great things. The Bible teaches that our great Father specializes in choosing and using the "less than perfect" to do big things. He actually seems to prefer the imperfect. How often do we shrink back from attempting something because we don't think we are ready, good enough, smart enough, strong enough, etc. As the Bible warns us in Ecclesiastes, if you wait until everything is perfect you will be sitting until Jesus gets back! What a great mystery that a perfect God chooses to co-labor with such imperfect people. The obvious reason that he "chooses the foolish, weak, common, and rejected" is, as He declared in 1 Corinthians 1, that "no flesh would glory in His presence". When He enables the struggling to bless people He receives all the glory. So quit waiting until everything is just right to get going. "Agree with your enemy" when he says you aren't ready, you don't know what you're doing, you're not good enough, etc. Declare "I serve a great God that makes up where I fall short and He and I are a team"!  I'm not going to let the fact that I'm not perfect, I don't have what it takes, what I have could be better, or any other excuse stop me from swinging for the fence! I serve a great God that specializes in hitting a straight lick with a crooked stick!

Father, I confess that what I have to offer you sometimes looks as foolish as the little boy that offered you his happy meal to feed five thousand people. But, God be praised that just as you took that pitiful offering and fed that crowd I believe that you will take what I have and do the same for somebody!

Created to succeed

Posted by Brandon Patton on Tuesday, December 4, 2018 @ 11:21 AM

"Created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God planned beforehand that we should live them out."

Ephesians 2:10

You can not believe the Bible which teaches that we were created by God and accept modern evolutionary teaching which argues that we are the random product of biological chance apart from a creator. We believe that we are born of Divine design. If we believe that we are His creation the next obvious question is "why"? No logical mind would conclude that someone creates something without a distinct purpose. So it is with our heavenly Father. He created us for a specific purpose. My lifelong task therefore becomes the discovery of my created purpose. Each one of us was created with a unique purpose or destiny by Him. No two are alike. However, there is one thing we all share commonly and that is the truth that He created us to succeed. One of the great misconceptions of much of Christian teaching is that it doesn't matter if we do well in this life since this life is just a precursor to the one to come.  The Bible disagrees in many places. Our Father destined us to succeed at "whatever you put your hand to". His desire is that we "would prosper in the land that the Lord your God has placed you in". It matters not whether you are a national leader, a powerful business broker or a stay at home mother that is pouring your life into three children. His desire is for us to excel at our endeavors. He designed the human heart to delight in success. "A desire accomplished is sweet to the soul".  There will be a contradiction of definitions of success between His kingdom and this modern culture. His standard of success always involves serving people and making the world a better place because you passed through. However, it is His heart for His children to do well at their assigned endeavors. Is that not the heart of every good parent? Who has children hoping that they will fail and be a detriment to society? No, we have children trusting that they will prosper and be a great blessing to people in their circle. The Bible even goes as far as to prescribe that eternal rewards are based on earthly accomplishments in the service of our fellow travelers. Whatever you do, whether its preaching, driving, teaching, mopping, selling or singing, "do all for the glory of God" and "whatever your hand finds to do do it with all your might", "that you might find good success and prosper in all that you put your hand to". You were created to succeed!

 Thank you Father for creating me with a specific purpose. Help me find my place in your plans. And then I ask that you would "bless the works of my hands" for your glory and the well being of people around me.

The battle for the promises

Posted by Brandon Patton on Tuesday, December 4, 2018 @ 11:20 AM

"The person that looks at the liberating Word of God and continues in it will be blessed"

James 1:25

In the Bible, which is God speaking to us, we discover everything He died to give us. These are called the promises of God. We find that we are promised forgiveness, acceptance, heart healing, restored purpose, fruitful families, friendships, financial prosperity, a life vision and direction, and success among many other things. In other words: abundant life. Jesus suffered to bring us this glorious life, not without problems and challenges, but a life that is blessed by God in spite of the difficulties we all struggle through. It is His Word that we believe to begin to experience His constantly growing goodness to us. Is this verse in James we find that we not only "look to His Word to be blessed" but we must "continue" in it to be blessed. This reveals that there will be a "battle over His promises" and my need to "continue" or to fight for the promises. The first time we see our enemy in the Bible we find him in the garden challenging the promise of God. Satan asked Eve "hath God promised", attempting to steal the promise from her by causing her to doubt His Word. She fell for it. She should have "continued in the Word" and responded "He most certainly has said and you are not going to cause me to doubt my Father who tells the truth, now be gone with you liar"! There will always be a battle in your mind over the good promises of God. "Is this stuff real?" "What does that really mean?" (answer: exactly what it says!) "I don't deserve this." (who does?) "Doesn't make sense." (who cares?) If I falter and give in the promise will be stolen from me and I will lose the great blessing. I have determined to "continue" in the Word and refuse to lose the battle over His "exceedingly great and precious promises"! I choose to believe that "every promise in the Book is mine, every chapter, every verse, every line! I'll keep believing, speaking and praising Him for His divine promises that brought such great blessing to me, my family and church. I will cling to His Word until I see them come to pass no matter what I see, feel, think, or hear from others. He is faithful to do what He said he would in His time!

Great God of heaven, I praise you for your Word that reveals your plan and promises for me and mine! I will hold onto the promises you have given me until I see everyone come to pass. I will not surrender one thing that Jesus suffered to give me!

A strange way to save the world

Posted by Brandon Patton on Tuesday, December 4, 2018 @ 11:20 AM

A virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name 'God with us'

Isaiah 7:14

I've never lost the wonder of hearing it. It has never become familiar to me. That the ruler of the universe who always has been and always will be, who created light with His voice, who named every star, chose to come to earth in the fashion that He did. Why a teenage girl that wasn't married yet? Why poor people? Why in a barn? Have you ever been in a barn that housed live animals? Would you want your child born on a dirt floor? Why the mystery surrounding the greatest birth in history? Why was it revealed only to cowboys? (a shepherd is a cowboy with a different animal) Why did the creator of the universe live in poverty? ("The Son of man has no place to lay His head" Matthew 8:20) Why was "God with us" rejected and persecuted by ministers? ("This man is not from God" John 9:16) Why did He only live 33 years? Why did He let men treat Him like they did? Could He not have called warring angels that would have reduced this earth to a morsel of dust? Why did God die? Of His own free will? ("No man takes my life from me, I lay it down willingly." John 10:18) The miracle of Christmas will always be the greatest mystery in world history. Nothing about His story makes natural human sense. If you were God would you have done it this way? If you have a son would you have done this to him? There can be no doubt that Isaiah 55:8 is true, "my thoughts are not your thoughts, my ways are not your ways".  There can only be one reason for the mystery surrounding His birth, life and sacrificial death. Its me. I am the reason. You also. The only explanation for this strange and wonderful series of events has to be "For God so loved Brian Biggers (insert your name) that He gave His only Son". As we enter this joyous season of the year where we celebrate with friends, enjoy all the festivities, exchange gifts and listen to the great music remember the reason. Its been said that "Jesus is the reason for the season". I'll give you that. The truth is that Jesus would always have been God without coming to earth. What would I have been if He hadn't come? Actually I am the reason for the season.  

"O holy Child of Bethlehem be born in us today."

Not bad enough for God

Posted by Brandon Patton on Thursday, November 29, 2018 @ 8:57 AM

"I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

Luke 5:32

All my life as I was growing up I was taught that God takes care of good people but that bad people are in big trouble with Him. Since I was in the "bad" category I figured I had better avoid Him. Like that can be done! That's why I didn't want anything to do with church or church people. The "good" people. It was after He ambushed me and I began to read His Book  that I discovered something about Him that shocked me. He likes bad people. Matter of fact He prefers them! I'm not kidding, look it up! When He walked on this earth He surrounded Himself with the worst of people. Thieves, immoral women, the non religious. It really hacked the ministers of His day off. "Why does your teacher eat with sinners?" (Matthew 9:11) They couldn't deal with a God that liked to spend time with the Sunday School rejects. This has turned out to be one of the greatest scams in world history. That God leans toward the "good". How many people have told me "I'm not good enough to go to church". Or, "I'm not good enough for God". A thousand times NO according to the Bible! I've yet to meet anybody to bad for Him. However, I've met many that were too good for Him. According to His Word the issue is not good or bad, its pride or humility. Good people are often too proud to put themselves in the real "sinner" category. Maybe admit to some minor faults. But get down there with crooks, crackheads and hookers? Ain't happening! But, His Word is crystal clear on this issue, "He resists the proud and gives grace to the humble". Until I am willing to agree with Him and confess that I am "the chief of sinners" He will pass me by. But as soon as I humble myself and agree with Him, that "all my good deeds are as filthy rags in His sight", then Jesus comes calling my name and invites me to dine with Him!   Let the good keep feeling good about their goodness. Me and the other really bad sinners will keep enjoying dinner with Jesus! What about you, are you bad enough for God?

Father, thank you ten thousand times that "Christ receives sinful men, even me with all my sin"! Somebody should write a song about "Just as I am, I come"!

Cry out!

Posted by Brandon Patton on Thursday, November 29, 2018 @ 8:56 AM

"He was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, "Lord save me!" Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him.

 Matthew 14:30b-31a

This is going to sound so simple I almost hesitate to write it. From this scripture I learn that when I am in a storm or face a problem I should cry out to Jesus to help me. Did I really need to tell you that? My experience over the years involving people and myself is that when we have a problem or need we will do everything but cry out to Him. We will talk to people about it. We will seek counseling about it. We will spend countless hours worrying and  thinking about it. (which is one of the greatest wastes of time I know of) What is it about us that we will not "Take it to the Lord in prayer" first thing? Is it because we think that our needs and problems are too big for Him to handle? Beyond His ability? Is it that we think He doesn't care? Seems like someone that crucified His Son to help me would be concerned about other things. Is it that we don't want to bother Him with our little stuff since He is busy with the big stuff like running the universe? Are we ashamed to go to Him having failed again? Or is it that stubborn human pride that doesn't like to humble itself and ask for help? Did you notice that Jesus did not help Simon in his mess until Simon cried out? Lesson? No matter how much He cares about our lives and needs He will not intervene until we ask Him to. He is a faith God. "Call on me and I will answer you" Jer. 33:3. "Ask and it shall be given you" Luke 11:9. "You will call and the Lord will answer, you will cry and He will say, here I am" Isaiah 58:9. These are a few of the many times in His Word where He admonishes us to call on Him. When you look at His invitation to handle our problems how foolish is it not to cry out to Him? Look at His track record. Moses at the Red sea. Daniel facing hungry lions. The three Hebrew boys thrown into the furnace. Simon sinking. He's really good at this. I believe that satan will point us in every direction for help in our time of need except up. He will do everything in his infernal power to stop us from crying out to our God. He knows what will happen. Lets resolve to do what He says and "cast all of your cares on Him because He cares for you". When the next crisis comes (and it will) find you  a quiet place, get on your knees and "pour out your heart to Him" (Psalms 62:8). "Oh what peace we often forfeit, oh what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer".    

"Lord, save me!" 

A Father's plans

Posted by Brandon Patton on Thursday, November 29, 2018 @ 8:53 AM

"The things that the Father has planned for those who love Him."

1 Corinthians 2:9

I can remember so clearly when I first found out that Katie and I were pregnant. (actually she would point out that we were not pregnant since only one of us carried the load!) I would sit and wonder about the future of this child as any loving father would do. I would dream of things we would do together. We would read together, fish and hunt together, enjoy family times together, laugh together. I was busy making all kind of plans for this child's future. Outdoors, education, recreation, faith, marriage (I am convinced that my friends in India are on to something with allowing the father to arrange the marriages of their children). Every good father desires for their children to prosper and do well in life. They plan for and are willing to pay any price necessary to guarantee the best life possible for the kids they love so much. Would you think that the Heavenly Father would do any less for you?  Actually the Bible tells us in Matthew 7 that our Heavenly Father is more committed to our well being and future than even the best of earthly fathers. "If you being evil compared to me will give good things to your children how much more will your Heavenly Father give good things to whose who ask?"   I promise you on the authority of scripture that you have a Father that broke Heaven's bank to be good to you and to give you what He calls "abundant life". More than anything in life I want His plans for me and my family. Nothing I can imagine could top His will. But, as many fathers have found out, no matter what they want to do for their children it requires the cooperation of the child to receive what a good father has planned. So it is with the Father above. He will not force His plans or will on me. I must agree to what He has planned. I have no idea what He has in mind but, I do know that His future is far above what I could come up with. He created the sunset, I can't sign my name legibly. Who can plan a better life? One simple prayer prayed daily from a sincere heart releases Him to do bring His plans to pass.

Father, thy will be done.

The Word first

Posted by Brandon Patton on Monday, November 26, 2018 @ 11:13 AM

"Jesus said, it is written"

Luke 4:4

Good enough for Jesus, Good enough for me. The Bible reveals  a truth that is staggering to modern thought and quite frankly offends human reason. It is that we are in a constant struggle with a dark spirit world that has the ability to inject thoughts into our minds. Not only can thoughts be placed into our minds but these thoughts can be built into destructive thought patterns. (low self esteem, prejudice, pride, materialism, addictions) Many places in the scriptures we find this shown to us. An example is Ephesians 6 where we read "our struggle is not primarily with humans but with the rulers of darkness, spirit beings in the invisible realm". We are in a constant battle and the battlefield is the mind. However, we are not without a sufficient weapon. Jesus, when He walked on this earth faced the same struggle we do. In Luke 4 we see him attacked by the enemy as we are. He handled the assault the same way we should as an example to us. Every time he was approached with an enemy lie He responded "it is written". He didn't attempt to reason with the thoughts attempting to make sense of them. He didn't dwell on the thoughts. He didn't wilt under the thoughts and believe them. He simply turned to the eternal Word of God and spoke its truth to what He was attacked with. Jesus always put the Word first in His thoughts, words and actions. Our Father has given us His Word as our sure defense against the evil one whom Jesus called the "father of lies".  I can live my life free from the destruction that believing lies would bring by living with a "Word first" mentality. When thoughts come that are contrary to abundant life for me and others I simply ask "what does the Word say about that"?  Jesus called His Word the "truth". He also said "you will know the truth and the truth will make you free". I will constantly compare my thoughts to His Word to see if they line up in agreement with each other. Good enough for Jesus, Good enough for me.

Thank you Father for a sure plumb line of truth in this crazy upside down day in which we live. I believe that your Word is ultimate truth. I ask for the Holy Spirit's help in keeping your Word first in my thoughts.  

The final word

Posted by Brandon Patton on Monday, November 26, 2018 @ 11:13 AM

"The Most High rules in the affairs of men."

Daniel 4:17

An arrogant king who was convinced that "by my great wisdom and my great power" I built this great city had to learn a lesson the hard way. The God of Heaven humbled him and took away everything he had for a while until he learned and was willing to confess that "the Most High rules in the affairs of men". This verse has always been the bedrock of my faith. To believe that no matter what happens my heavenly Father will have the last word in all matters pertaining to me is a game changer. All through scripture we see people who stumbled badly in their walk with Jesus but, God intervened and they finished strong (Simon Peter). We see empires that exalted themselves against His truth but, in the end they collapsed by His decree (Babylon). We see the mortal enemy of our souls assault His people to destroy them but, by His intervention they were delivered and horney head was crushed. No matter what you see around you you can rest in the eternal truth that if you have "committed your way to the Lord He will direct your steps". Of course the grand finale of the greatest Book ever written reveals the triumph of God's great Kingdom on earth, the utter defeat of satan's domain as "he is thrown into hell where he will be tormented day and night forever" and the ultimate rule of Jesus Christ forever where "He will wipe every tear from their eye and there will be no more sorrow, no more pain". It appears to the natural eye observing things in the earth today that things have gotten out of the Divine hand. But, I can assure you on the authority of the Bible that Jesus is still alive and well and seated on His throne! Prop all of your life and future on this immutable truth that "the Most High rules in the affairs of men". As was said years ago in the opera "It ain't over till the fat lady sings!" I think I hear her warming up.

Father, what a comfort and joy to know that I am a child of the "Alpha and Omega"! You had the first word when you said "let there be light" and you will have the final word when you say "it's time, go get my children and bring them home"! I Praise you that "my times are in your hand"!

The power of gratitude

Posted by Brandon Patton on Monday, November 26, 2018 @ 11:12 AM

"And at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God."

Acts 16:25

Something supernatural happens when a child of God while going through a hard place turns her heart to God in thanksgiving and praise to Him. Paul and his partner were obeying God and preaching good news to needy people when the city they were in turned against them. They were lied about, accused wrongly, whipped and then thrown in jail. Who could blame them if they complained, felt sorry for themselves or became bitter toward their accusers? But, they didn't. They chose (notice that word) in the middle of their pain and perplexity to begin to give thanks and sing praises to God. What an unusual response! The Bible records that immediately  a miracle occurred. Their chains fell off, they were healed and their enemies became their friends! That's the power of gratitude in the midst of difficulty. I can't explain it. It makes no sense. But, this simple act of faith, of choosing to "give thanks to God in everything", releases the power of Heaven to heal, free and restore. Notice that God did not move on their behalf until they began to thank Him and worship. What is the Bible teaching you and I here? He only responds to faith. To be grateful and worship from the heart in the middle of pain and attack is a great act of faith. I've seen people that were tormented mentally be instantly healed and at peace after being encouraged to replace bitterness with a prayer of gratitude. I've watched walls torn down and hearts become tender between couples as they held hands and began to thank God for each other. This is one of the great mysteries of the Kingdom. Develop a grateful heart. Live to give thanksgiving to God constantly for who He is and His goodness. Watch what happens.

Great God of creation, I commit to worshipping you when I feel like it and when I don't. I will give thanks for you when all is well and when all is hell. Thank you for placing in my hand the key that keeps me free!

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