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Before You Get Success, You Must Get This-Part One

God’s Word is so wonderful, so awesome … and, so necessary. 

Every day.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to make a point to spend time every day, reading God’s Word, and praying/speaking to Him. For me, the best time is first thing in the morning. There is just no better way to start you day (hey, that’s a great rhyme!) than to read God’s Word and pray.

Young Christians often ask me what the first book in the Bible I would recommend for them to read. Usually, I will say the book of John, and then move on to the other Gospels. The reason why is simple: First, you must know Jesus. He is the only One who can save you, and keep you. Period. So, get to know Him first and foremost. Learn what you are in Him, through Him, and because of Him. I try to pray every day that I would see other people the way He does. And, that I would see myself the way that He does. But, first, you must know Him, and the best way to do that is to read His Word. Read about Him first … and, then, He will lead you into the next phase of your study.

Every book of the Bible has its own great reasons for spending time to study. For example, I would have never imagined that the book of Haggai was so deep in meaning for all of us today. I would have also never thought that I would get so many lessons from just those 2 chapters, but that is how God’s Word is. I had read the book of Haggai many times (as part of reading through the Bible), but, it was only when God directed me to study the book, next, that I discovered how rich the book is. It is because God revealed so much to me, and He wanted to reveal all these things to me, to help me in my own walk with Him.

It is so hard, if not impossible, to have a relationship with someone you don’t know. And, how can you possibly have a relationship with someone you don’t talk with? And, if you do all of the talking, how will you, how can you, know what is on the other person’s mind? And, if you don’t listen, how can the other person really know that you are interested in them?

God will reveal Himself to you through His Word, and then in the time which you spend talking, and listening to Him. How hard is it to have a good, meaningful conversation with someone, in the middle of a loud, busy restaurant, or other loud place, full of distractions? This is why it is so important for you to get somewhere alone, away from the crowd, away from distractions, and spend quiet time, alone, with God. Reading His Word, and listening. How many times have we seen a couple, maybe just getting to know each other, and they are in a crowded restaurant, or train station, or shopping mall …. and, one will say to the other, “Let’s go somewhere quiet where we can talk.” Jesus, who wants a personal, intimate relationship with you-more than anyone else-also wants to “go to a quiet place with you so that we can talk.” He speaks though His Word, and He speaks to us, gently, yes quietly, as we spend time with Him in prayer.

As you read and study God’s Word, He will direct you to “where you should go next.”

There are times in our lives, when we are going through the toughest times, when we’ll be directed to certain passages in the Bible. We’ve all been there. When I was going through the toughest part of my life, for reasons I can’t explain, God led me to 1st and 2nd Peter. Then, He led me to the book of Isaiah. To this day, when I read something in the book of Isaiah, I get a certain “feeling” which I can’t explain. It’s just that that book, Isaiah, meant so much to me. A book which I didn’t understand at all … until God led me to it, and revealed things to me as I read. Things which I would not have known, or understood, unless I had read this book. Most of all, things I learned about Him by reading the book. And, that is always the idea.
Always.

There are so many books in the Bible I’ve read, during study or preparation, which I have gone back and read-after God directed me to them again … this time, to go back and read for His purpose. Often, and you know this is true: You can study, in preparation, a passage or entire book of Scripture, and yes, God will reveal much to you. But, when He leads you back to that very same book-for His purpose, His preparation of you, it’s like you are reading the book for the very first time. And, the more you read and study, the more God will lead you to something else. And, that’s when you get so much more out of your study.

I also love the Psalms, which was my Mom’s favorite book. Like so many, who have followed the Lord for years, the book of Psalms holds such a special place for us, as we return again and again to those pages and verses which have helped us all during our toughest, most trying times.

Anyway, there are so many books, and, so many in the Old Testament, which I love so dearly, and each time I return, it’s like I’ve never read them. For instance, how often we may forget just how great a book Deuteronomy is. Or, how about the story of Joseph? Of Median?
Are there any better first chapters in the Bible than the first chapters of Daniel? Please understand my meaning … I’m not putting one book over the other. The four Gospels, I believe, stand alone. Yet, in their own way … all of the books in the Bible stand alone. That is one of the great things about the Bible. Each time you read something you haven’t read in a long time, it’s like reading it all over again.

Would you believe that I began this writing to speak about the book of Proverbs, and something which God revealed to me this morning? Once again, God took over, wanting me to share this with you. So, I’ll make this Part 1, and try to get to Proverbs next time.
God is so good.

So, to have a successful day, first read God’s Word, and then you pray.
Still like that rhyme!

Blessings,
R.V.R.
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“Light Reflections”

Ever since we did the “A Little Light” series, I have added to my daily prayers the request for God to allow me to be a “light” to those around me. Every day. For me to be a light in a dark world, into which I, like all of us, walk every day. We wrote about how, if we will be that light, other people will notice-whether they like it or not. We have that Light inside of us, but do we “let it shine?”
Ouch!
We also wrote about, “God, Why did You put me here? In such a dark place?” Exactly! That’s the reason!

The darker the place, the more light is needed. And, the darker the place, the greater difference, even a small light makes. So, the answer to “God … What am I doing here?” is answered, as Jesus always did, in the form of a question: “What am I doing here?” As in … “What am I doing here?” Enough? Doing what He placed me here to do?” Being the light He put me here to be?
Ouch!

So, this past Friday night … somewhere around 6:00-7:00PM, we had a power outage. Way up here, in the North County, this is a rarity. Our power, our lights, just don’t go out very often. But, here, on the first night of School Vacation, the power went out.
Total Darkness.

We lit candles. And, it was beautiful. It always takes me back to when I was growing up, and we lost power, especially during an ice storm. We used wood for heat, and we had plenty of candles and lanterns, so when the power went out, we were, sometimes, the only house on our road which had heat. It was so warm. It was always a reminder of the “old days,” when there was no electricity. Since we were too young to remember how it was “back then,” our only glimpses of that life were from watching the “Waltons” and “Little House on the Prairie.”

So, here we were, just Carol and I, and the lights were out … no telephone … no internet … We don’t watch much TV, if ever, but, it still seemed like a “loss” of some kind not to have it available … no radio either … even though we listen less to radio than we watch television …
It was so awesome, just sitting there, both in our rocking chairs, just talking (remember that?)
There is still no one else I’d rather talk to, or rock with, than Carol. She rocks! And, the candlelight in her eyes … matched only by the glow of just being with her …

It was 9:00PM when we figured that, even if the lights went back on, it was too late to cook supper. So, we made the decision to go to McDonalds (in the next town over). Keep in mind that we don’t go to restaurants often, and, for us, McDonalds is a real treat. I always joke if we should call ahead to let them know that we were coming, and that, “This evening, we’ll be ordering from the Dollar Menu.” Call me whatever … but, and after working at McDonalds for two different periods in my life … I still love going there, and I had just as soon go there as any fancy restaurant anywhere … We are thankful for everything, so we are not hard to please.

Anyway, as we were leaving, blowing out one candle at a time, it was amazing … amazing … how much light just one candle made. God reinforced it again for me … just one candle … one light … makes such a difference … And, the darker the surroundings … the more of a difference just a small light made …

I thought about something I write about every day … how I thank God for the (what we call) “simple things” of life … like electricity … and heat … the things we take for granted every day … I thought to myself, “Did I thank God for Electricity this morning???”

We got our order at McDonalds, and then went to our “usual table,” which, even months between visits, we go directly to. At our booth, me on one side and Carol on the other, we joined hands, across the table, and prayed. Said “Grace.” Regardless of where we are, we don’t eat until we pray. Even if one of us is away from the table, neither one of us starts to eat until we pray. That’s just what we do. Don’t you? Anyway, it seemed like just seconds after we prayed, that a young man who worked there, in full uniform, appeared between our table and the soda machine. He got our attention as he walked over, both arms outstretched, and exclaiming how wonderful it was to see what he had just seen … two people praying “in public,” and how rare a sight that was. And, most of all … what it meant to him, personally, to see this.

I tried to answer him, as best I could, with “We do it because we are thankful,” and that’s why we do it. We are thankful. Man! Even at McDonalds, on a cold, windy, and dark night … you just never know who is watching. Just know that people are watching you … every minute of every day. Even if you aren’t at work! But … he was …

It reminds me of a time when Carol and I were at the airport in Philadelphia, PA. We literally spent the day at the airport, as weather had halted air traffic all across the eastern seaboard. We’ve spent a lot of time in airports, and rarely eat a meal there (no Dollar Menu in Airports!). We had ordered from one of the “fast food” restaurants, and had taken our seats at a table near a window, as I still love to watch the planes come in and out. Once seated, Carol on one side of the table and me on the other, we joined hands across the table and said a prayer over the food. From out of nowhere, a lady came over and introduced herself to us. I’ll never forget what she said:
“I knew, when I first saw you, that you were Christians. When I saw you pray, that just confirmed it.”
We have met some great people at airports.

You just never know who is watching. Just know that people are watching you … every minute of every day. Even if you aren’t at work! But … she was …

Lord Jesus, help me to be that light to others … at home, and away … to reflect Your Light … always …
Even on dark days … where it’s needed most …
And, help me to remember, most of all, that it is not only them who are watching …
But, You …

Blessings,
Richard.Vincent.Rose.

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Personal Bureau of Inspiration: Carol’s Cards

Finally … back to the dresser … to again remind you how important it is to place Scripture where you can see it-and read it-every day.

This is back to the series where we detailing how so many people we know and have read about, post messages of inspiration, especially Bible verses, at various “focal points” around the house. Places where they are sure to be, places where their eyes and attention are sure to be … every day. We talked about mirrors, refrigerators, the car visor, etc. And, of course, the bureau, or dresser, in the bedroom.

I just can’t get that “children’s” song out of my head:
“Be careful, little eyes what you see …
Be careful, little ears, what you hear …”

However … what really strikes me about that song … and, I mean, hits me hard … is how much more important it is to be careful what we see and hear … after we are “all grown up.” It is important what you read … what you see … what music or language you hear …
That’s why it’s so important to read your Bible every day … speak to God every day-and listen to God every day … and, yes, look at those inspirational messages every day.

I wrote about the cards on my dresser/bureau, and those on Carol’s dresser/bureau, which, since her dresser is the one with the mirror … I find myself in front of at least once or twice every day. And, every time … I glance down, and read at least one of the six note cards, neatly arranged, she has placed at the center of her dresser. Three on the left, and three on the right. Of course, mine are in a single stack, on the left side … where I rotate them, day by day, bringing a new verse to the top.
 
Here is an amazing “coincidence” which I discovered:
I can’t remember exactly when I started doing this, but, every single time, in my early morning prayer time (my first official act every morning), I ask God to specifically forgive me of my wrong thoughts, words, and deeds (actions). I ask Him to help me think the right thing, to speak the right thing, and to do the right thing. I ask Him to control my thoughts, my words, and my actions. To think right; to speak right; to act right. I don’t know about you, but these are the three areas where I need the most help … and, I fail in, the most. As you read this, I hope you notice something very important: I need God in every area of my life. I need forgiveness in every one of these areas, and I need help in all three. Again, I don’t know when I really started to concentrate on these three areas, as they have always been important, but it seemed that, one day, these three areas just took prominence at the beginning of my prayer time.

It was when I began this series (PBI) that I looked at Carol’s cards closely … as I intended to fulfill my promise to share their contents with you … that I noticed that the three cards on the right side, each individually, addressed a certain area of our lives:
They were, in the order of appearance, top to bottom:
Thoughts
Words
Deeds

All this time, I had been reading the Scriptures on the cards, but had not noticed this designation for each card. I did notice how straight my tie was … if my shirt was wrinkled … how my hair was … etc. … but, I hadn’t noticed this on the cards, and I read these cards every day.

I have since asked Carol where she “got” these particular Scriptures from, meaning were they part of a particular lesson or study she was involved in. They were. This is another reason it is so important to participate in a scheduled Bible study … Even without my knowing, God was using HER cards to change me … Another reason I encourage Christian men and women, who have unbelieving spouses, to place these kinds of cards on your own personal bureau/dresser. Because … trust me … if you have notes on your dresser … your spouse will read them!

So, as promised, here are “Carol’s Cards,” and I am copying them exactly as I hold them now:
The three cards on the right address the three areas of which we have spoken. The three cards on the left address general areas of need and concern in our daily lives. Here goes:

Top Right:
PSALM 139:23-24 (THOUGHTS)
SEARCH ME, O GOD, AND KNOW MY
HEART: TRY ME, AND KNOW MY THOUGHTS:
AND SEE IF THERE BE ANY WICKED
WAY IN ME, AND LEAD ME IN
THE WAY EVERLASTING.

Right Center:
PSALM 19:14 (WORDS)
LET THE WORDS OF MY MOUTH
AND THE MEDITATION OF MY HEART,
BE ACCEPTABLE IN THY SIGHT,
O LORD, MY STRENGTH, AND MY
REDEEMER.

Bottom Right:
PSALM 15:1-2 (DEEDS)
LORD, WHO SHALL ABIDE IN THY
TABERNACLE? WHO SHALL DWELL IN
THY HOLY HILL?
HE THAT WALKETH UPRIGHTLY, AND
WORKETH RIGHTEOUSNESS, AND
SPEAKETH THE TRUTH IN HIS HEART.

Top Left:
ROMANS 6:6
KNOWING THIS, THAT OUR OLD MAN
IS CRUCIFIED WITH HIM, THAT THE
BODY OF SIN MIGHT BE DESTROYED,
THAT HENCEFORTH WE SHOULD NOT
SERVE SIN

Middle Left:
2 CORINTHIANS 2:14
NOW THANKS BE UNTO GOD,
WHICH ALWAYS CAUSETH US TO TRIUMPH
IN CHRIST, AND MAKETH MANIFEST
THE SAVOR OF HIS KNOWLEDGE
BY US IN EVERY PLACE.

Bottom Left:
PHILIPPIANS 4:6-7
BE ANXIOUS FOR NOTHING; BUT IN
EVERY THING BY PRAYER AND SUPPLICATION
WITH THANKSGIVING LET YOUR
REQUESTS BE MADE KNOWN UNTO GOD.
AND THE PEACE OF GOD, WHICH
PASSETH ALL UNDERSTANDING, SHALL
KEEP YOUR HEARTS AND MINDS
THROUGH CHRIST JESUS.

I hope this blesses you as much as it does me!


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“A Little Light” Reading: Part Three

What a difference a little light makes!

Now, we look at the New Testament and what it says about the importance of “light,” and, in particular, how having this “light” should affect the world around us-regardless of how dark that world is when we first arrive in it.

The first time “light” is mentioned in the New Testament, it is referring to the fulfilled prophecy of Isaiah (9:1-2), regarding where the Messiah would live, and His effect on those around Him:
“The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up” (Matthew 4:16).

It is most interesting to note that Matthew’s first recorded words of Jesus, regarding light, are not that Jesus is the light of the world, but that WE are!
“Ye are the light of the world … Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).

Yes, according to Jesus, we are the light of the world! This should both encourage and remind us that Christian light comes from us, and our light comes from Him! Even as we reflect His light to those around us, His light is reflected to the world. Jesus spoke so often of being “I AM,” but this was the one time that the words of Jesus turned toward us,
telling us that YOU ARE … the light of the world.

When we have this light within us, those around us-both believer and non-believer alike-will recognize the fact that we have this light:
“No man, when he hath lighted a candle, covereth it with a vessel, or putteth it under a bed; but setteth it on a candlestick, that they which enter in may see the light”
(Luke 8:16).
This Word is so important that Jesus included the example in His Sermon on the Mount (from Matthew, above), here in Luke’s recording of “The Parable of the Candle,” and Jesus would repeat these exact same words in Luke 11:33. So, the question is, when I enter a place, whether it’s a room or a building, do “those who enter in” see this light?

John wrote this about Jesus:
“In him was life; and the life was the light of men … That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:4, 9).

When John the Baptist appeared on the scene, he “came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light” (John 1:7-8).

It must also be said that, yes, while others will be able to tell that you have this light … this doesn’t mean that everyone will be glad about it. In fact, Scripture says that yes, you will be hated for the very reason that you do have this light:
“For every one that doeth evil
hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved”
(John 3:20).
This fully explains why, sometimes, just your

presence in a room changes the atmosphere of that room.

Let us never forget that it is Jesus’ light which shines from us … not our own:
“I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not

walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12).

Ever seen someone who just seems to wander aimlessly through life, not knowing where they are going? Jesus explains this: “for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth” (John 12:35).
Well, guess what? For someone like that, we are called to help them: “that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness” (Romans 2:19).

Aren’t you glad that you know Jesus? “I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness” (John 12:46).

Paul would testify that it was the “spreading” of this light which was his call to ministry:
“For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have

set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for
salvation unto the ends of the earth … To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light …” (Acts 13:47; 26:18).
And, in 2 Corinthians 4:6: “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

Peter would also write of the calling:
“But ye are a chosen generation, a
royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9) … whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place …”
(2 Peter 1:19).

When Paul wrote of “the armor” of God in Ephesians, chapter 6, he didn’t include this:
“let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light” (Romans 13:12).
Paul reminds us “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light”
(Ephesians 5:8).

Let us not forget how dark the world was, when Paul wrote these words …
To the Ephesians: “… Christ shall give thee light”
(Ephesians 5:14)…

To the Philippians: “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15) …
To the Colossians: “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light”
(Colossians 1:12)…
To the Thessalonians: “Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness”
(1 Thessalonians
5:5) …

I think how overlooked the significance of being a “light” is, yet, the importance of it is all around us, in our daily speech. For instance, when someone is considered to be “not very smart,” we say they are “not very bright.” How about someone who is considered to be intelligent? We say they are really “bright.” A great idea is a “bright” idea.

Isn’t it amazing how important this “light” is?
Just as amazing is this:

The exact same light which lights us, which lights our world, which shines in the darkness around us … that exact same light will be the only source of light in Heaven … for all eternity … the same light you have right now!
“And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof… And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it …And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.” (Revelation 21:23, 24; 22:5)

Amen!

Over at our Christian store, we have this wonderful work of art, which captures this expression of being “the light” to a dark world. Here’s a picture and link for you:
The Light of The World
Hope you enjoyed the series!
Blessings to you, and your family,
Richard. Vincent. Rose.
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“A Little Light” Reading: Part Two

“…it all started when I looked at my neighbor’s driveway …  and, then, looked at my driveway … What a difference a little light makes …”

Now, we look at the Old Testament and what it says about the importance of “light.”

How important is “light” in Scripture? Consider this:

The very first recorded words of God:
“Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3).

God’s very first act of creation was creating light:
“And God said, Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3).

Make no mistake: If we will be that light, God will see it:

The second recorded words of God:
“And God saw the light, that it was good” (Genesis 1:4).

Are we supposed to be separate from the world?

God’s first act-after His first act of creation?
“God divided the light from the darkness” (Genesis 1:4).

In the days of Moses, one of the plagues which struck Egypt was the absence of light:
“there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days” (Exodus 10:22).

Not only does our light separate us from the darkness … regardless of how dark the world gets … we must be, and have, within us, that light:
“all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings”
(Exodus 10:23).

Nehemiah wrote that, in their travel across the wilderness, that God “leddest them in the day by a cloudy pillar; and in the night by a pillar of fire, to give them light in the way wherein they should go” (Nehemiah 9:12).

God still gives us His light, to guide us, in the way we should go.

King David wrote a lot about God’s light, and, when you consider that part of the Davidic Covenant promised “that David my servant may have a light alway before me in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen me to put my name there” (1 Kings 11:36), it makes sense that David would refer to this “light” often.
Other writers would write of this covenant, and the importance of this light:
“Howbeit the LORD would not destroy the house of David, because of the covenant that he had made with David, and as he promised to give a light to him and to his sons for ever”
(2 Chronicles 21:7).

David would write:
“LORD, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us” (Psalm 4:6).
“For thou wilt light my candle: the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness” (Psalm 18:28).
“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1).
“For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light” (Psalm 36:9).
“And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday” (Psalm 37:6).

Other Psalmists would also refer to the light:
“O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me”
(Psalm 43:3).

“Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness: he is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous”
(Psalm 112:4).

“God is the LORD, which hath shewed us light” (Psalm 118:27).
“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105).
“The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple” (Psalm 119:130).

David’s son, Solomon, would also refer to light:
“But the path of the just is as the shining light”
(Proverbs 4:18).

This light inside of us is so important to guide our way. How does the world act? Those who don’t have this light?

“They grope in the dark without light, and he maketh them to stagger like a drunken man” (Job 12:25).

The book of Job contains several references to light, including this: “Yea, the light of the wicked shall be put out, and the spark of his fire shall not shine” (Job 18:5).

Solomon would agree with this in Proverbs 13:9: “The light of the righteous rejoiceth: but the lamp of the wicked shall be put out.”

Isaiah would plead, “O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the LORD” (Isaiah 2:5).
Isaiah would describe the words of those who don’t have this light:
“To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them
(Isaiah 8:20).

Isaiah’s great words of prophecy would often refer to light:
“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined (9:2) … I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles (42:6) … I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them (42:16) … Hearken unto me, my people; and give ear unto me, O my nation: for a law shall proceed from me, and I will make my judgment to rest for a light of the people (51:4) … Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward (58:8) … Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee (60:1) … And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising (60:3) … The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the LORD shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory (60:19) … Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the LORD shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended” (60:3).

I love the book of Isaiah!

And, Daniel … who wrote this of the wisdom of God:
“He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him
(Daniel 2:22).

I often write that, when the Spirit of God is with you, you can’t hide it: Others-even unbelievers-will clearly see this … and, when they are in a desperate situation, they will come to you, just like what happened to Daniel. The King was greatly troubled over both his dreams, and the fact that his “wise men” could not interpret the meaning of his dreams. His wife, the Queen, came to the King to report that “There is a man in thy kingdom, in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of thy father light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him …” (Daniel 5:11).

When Daniel was brought to the King, here are the first words the King spoke to Daniel: “I have even heard of thee, that the spirit of the gods is in thee, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom is found in thee … And I have heard of thee …” (Daniel 5:14-16).

If God’s Spirit … the Light … is really in you … word will “get around.”

Make no mistake: Life is tough, and the world around us is dark. Let us all look to the words of Micah:
“Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD shall be a light unto me … he will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold his righteousness” (Micah 7:8-9).

Before I close, let’s go back to Daniel for the great soul-winning verse:  “And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever” (Daniel 12:3).
Amen!

Next time, the New Testament!

Blessings,
R.V.R.
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“A Little Light” Reading: Part One

Well, it all started on Saturday, when I looked at my neighbor’s driveway … and, then, looked at  my driveway. His driveway was completely cleared of ice and snow.
Neighbor Driveway

My driveway, on the other hand, except for tire tracks leading to the garage, was completely covered in snow.
Our Driveway

How can this be? His house is directly across the street … they got blasted with the same amount of snow … yet, here, days later, his snow is gone, and mine remains. There wasn’t enough snow to bring out the snow blower, and I know he hadn’t shoveled. Why the difference?

I then looked around my yard, and saw all the trees. Surrounded by trees. While my neighbor does
have trees … for a couple of hours a day … the sun hits his driveway, while mine remains in the
shade. It was then that I realized what a huge difference just a little light makes. Then, God started working on me. What a huge difference just a little light makes.

I know we are all called to be lights in a dark world. It is the darkest places that need the most light. And, the darker the place, the greater effect even a small light makes. This explains why God has placed so many of us in places where … let’s face it … we say (or cry out), “God … what am I doing here … in this place?” My own answer to that is another question (much like Jesus would answer a question), such as, “Yes … what are you doing in this place?”

Well? What are you doing in “your place,” the place where God has placed you? Yes, so often this refers to a work-place. Surrounded by unbelievers … what are you doing in your place? Are you, am I, being that light that God has placed us there to be? I heard someone say once that God will
surround us with exactly the right people … to do “in us” what He wants done in us.

Wow, the more I think about it, the more that question grabs me: “What am I doing here?” Am I doing what God put me here to do, to be?

We live in the great North Woods of New Hampshire, USA. According to statistics, our county receives less sunlight per year than any county in the contiguous United States … if not in first place in this category, we are sometimes listed as second. After heart disease, suicide is the leading cause
of death in adult males in the state. I don’t need to remind anyone that certain practices and lifestyles are legal here, which, well, are also legal in other states.

I think it’s safe to say that, spiritually, this is dark territory. But, is it any darker than other areas? One of the “darkest” areas I’ve ever visited, and I mean I could feel it, was a certain town in Georgia. I’ve seen others. I’ve “talked the gun” out of someone’s hand in “brighter” states, and, I’ve also gotten there too late. So, it may be fair to just say that the Bible is true … we live in a dark world, that darkness abounds “everywhere.” And, it’s not a geographic issue. I must admit that I do praise God for the opportunity to give the devil a black eye by operating a Christian business in the heart of this particular territory. That, from here, “out of the darkness,” we are able to bless people all over the world. From here. We are especially blessed to, from here, be allowed the privilege to bless Pastors all over the world. From here. And, to God’s glory, our writing has flourished here. From here.

Much as when I moved to New England from Georgia, when we moved to Northern New Hampshire, I had absolutely no doubt that it was God’s will for us to do so. It seems like every day, I get another confirmation that this is true. Yet, I also feel that we’ve only just begun. I hope that you feel this same way, too. About where you are, and “where you are.”

So, where I am doesn’t matter as much as “where I am.”

At the top of my list of “Other People’s Quotes,” is this quote, listed number one, from Helen Keller:
“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.”

So … as I look around, and mostly, inwardly, I must ask, “What am I doing here?” His will or mine?
Let’s face it, and I seem to know so many who share this same sentiment about where they live: The will of so many is to leave. “I hate it here.” “I can’t wait to get out of this place.” Sound familiar? I think the one thing that surprised me the most after moving here is how many people here hate the cold weather. I mean, they hate it! My first response often goes unsaid: “Well, then, what are you doing here?” I do, however, often add this bit of advice: “You can be miserable anywhere. “Here’s another “Let’s face it:” I get the feeling that these people would be miserable regardless of where they lived. Right? Sound familiar? We have a habit of leaving one area, moving to another … but, we carry the same bags with us. I think this may be another subject for another time. Another saying I’ve heard often: “When a man is right, his world will be right.”

I do know this: What is true for us here in the North Country is the same for every town, every city, every “Country” on earth: God needs people here, and He will always need people here. I know that, in this town, God has brought certain people here for a particular reason … I feel that the
same can be said for your town, any town. Because, it is God’s desire for us to show forth His glory to the world around us … regardless of where that “world” is.

And, the darker the place, the more light is needed. And, the greater effect light will have on the surroundings. Even a little light.

A Little Light does make all the difference!

A Little Light does make all the difference!

Next, in Part Two, we examine this matter of “light” in Scripture, beginning with the Old Testament.

Blessings to you, and your family,
R. V. R.
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Success as The Goal: The Word “In Season” From the Sidelines

Well, here it is in the middle of January, and I am still seeing emails, blog posts, and news stories about “the year that was” and what we wish for the New Year. I read these, always on the lookout for encouraging words, things that will inspire me for the days and months ahead … regardless of the time of year. You just never know where you’ll find that one word that you need that will “take you over the edge” to improving, being better, etc. I’ve also discovered that you just never know who that word, “in season” may come from.

I think of a famous NFL coach who, it seems, after every game, even if they win big, always says, “We need to improve … get better … We’ll go in … look at the film … find ways to improve … find ways to get better…” I know I’ve heard him say that when they were leading by 30 points at half-time … “There’s still some things we need to improve on … do better …”

I think, really, what a great statement that is for us in our Christian walk. Isn’t that what we really want? To have a better, closer relationship with Jesus? To improve, to get better? As we look ahead … tomorrow … the next day … the next day … the whole “New Year,” shouldn’t that be our goal? Let’s face it: Even those days when we “did great,” didn’t we lose our witness at a critical time, even though we had stayed in “prayer/thank you Jesus” mode all day … even on those rare days … there always seems to be at least a couple of times we wish we had said something different, not joked when maybe a Christian thought shared may have been better, or not had a certain thought … you get the idea.

I pray every day, asking God to help me think the right thing, do the right thing, and say the right thing. And, to write the right thing. To stay faithful to His calling, and to His Word.

Well … yet again, I started writing a certain post (had a great title and everything!), and in the middle of the first sentence, God changes it, and here I am, writing something completely different. The way I love to write: Not my hand, but His Heart.
I think God just gave me another great saying!
When I write, let it be His heart, not my hand.

When I think, let it be His thoughts, not my thoughts. I pray every day for Jesus to renew my mind. Philippians 2:5 says to “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”
Let’s not forget who we are in Christ. How powerful it is, when we see ourselves the way Jesus sees us. And, that’s only half of the battle: Perhaps our greatest need … the one which may bring our biggest improvement … is to see others … other people … the way Jesus sees them. If we just grab hold of that … what a difference that would make. Really, if we just did that … see ourselves, and others, the way Jesus does … think of how differently we would think, we would act … and, we would talk!

When I act, let me act like Jesus would. It was on these pages that I made the statement that, perhaps, the “thing” to ask is not “What Would Jesus Do?” but, “What Would Jesus Want Me To Do?” … Don’t worry … already working on developing that one …

My words. Ouch! I don’t know about you, but that’s the one that gets me in trouble the most. Not with students … but, with adults. I have so much joy in my heart that, sometimes, I just get too silly … I mean it … this is my biggest area needing improvement. Maybe. And, I don’t mean “trouble” like getting into trouble, just being too silly, or joking around too much. Deep down, I feel like, if I have a reputation for being a joker, how do I then turn it around and be serious, and witness to these same people? I want them, when they see me, to see Jesus, not a joker. To see Christ, not a clown. How about you? Maybe your words aren’t silly … they are sad … We have all known people, who, when they just walk in the room, they bring everyone down. I need to be more sincere, but that doesn’t mean to be negative. It’s just that I have so much joy, and God has blessed me so much, that it spills over … I need to control that … to improve … to get better. To let my words be His Words.

If I can think better, and can speak better, I will act better. So, if I think like Jesus, see myself and others the way Jesus does, and if I speak like Jesus … then it would have to happen that I would act more like Jesus. What a change this would make in tomorrow … the next day … the next day … the whole year. A successful week is a series of successful days … a successful month is a series of successful weeks … and, you get the idea.

One more thought about words: Proverbs 18:21 is right (of course it’s right!): “Life and death are in the power of the tongue.” You just never know how your words may affect others; or, how the words of others may affect you. I wonder if this famous football coach ever thought that his words would be a huge encouragement to Christians around the globe? That God would use his words to spread His Word?

So, for tomorrow … the next day … the next day … the whole Year, let’s follow his advice:
Let’s go in (go to a separate place, away from the crowd, to be alone with God)
Look at the film (Read the Word)
Look for ways to improve (Pray)

Hey! He’s right! If you’ll just do these three things, I guarantee we will all:
Improve
Get Better
Do Better

Blessings to you, and your family.
Now, and always.

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