Distracted.

I come from a family that loves sports almost as much as they love me.

Maybe more.

Just joking.

In my younger years we were heavy into softball. I can vividly remember my dad, and my big sister, telling me to keep my eye on the ball.

Because let’s be honest – I am easily distracted. I have a creative spirit. I’m a dreamer. Focusing on one thing is hard for me.

Since I’m focusing on how to focus this year, I’m working my way through Philippians 4:8. I had a huge a-ha moment while digging deep into “whatever is just”. Just comes from the Greek word dikaios which means deemed righteous by God. When we relate our lives back to this scripture the question is: Are we focusing on what’s deemed righteous by God, or are we focused on what’s deemed righteous by the world?

My dad and my big sister knew that for me to be successful I couldn’t let my eye wander. They knew that I could easily be distracted by shiny things, butterflies, or friends eating french fries in the bleachers. I had to have unwavering focus.

God knows that, too.

Today, I challenge you [and me] to be unwavering in your faith and your focus. If Godly success can be attributed by focusing on what’s deemed righteous by God, then that’s what I want to do. That’s what I need to do. And if that’s what I need to do, don’t you know the devil’s gonna be slanging all kinds of glitter my way.

Don’t take your eye off of God, y’all. And rest assured that He never takes His eye off of you.

Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 1 Peter 1:13

The Will of God

The will of God

As Christians we spend a considerable amount of time wondering about the will of God for our lives, or at least I have in the past. In the last year or so God has been showing it to me in black and white.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 tells me His will is for me to rejoice, pray, and give thanks in all things. 1 Peter 2:15 tells me His will is for me to do what is right, to silence the ignorance of foolish men. Seriously, if I just work on those I’m going to be pretty busy.

In order to follow His will in these things I’m going to have to battle my flesh and keep it crucified. My flesh wants to stress out, discuss the problem with whoever will listen, and gripe when things don’t go as planned. To win the battle I have to stay in the Word and fill my mind with His truth. I have to obey Colossians 3:2 and set my mind on things above.

Things just look different from there y’all. God knows all the things. Things I can’t even fathom. He knows about pandemics ✔️, elections ✔️, and all the general craziness that swirls around in our personal lives✔️✔️. He has it all in the palms of His hands and that allows me to rejoice, pray, and give thanks. It allows me to continue to do what is right and not say or do things that would prove the foolish men right.

When we are obedient, when we focus on Jesus and strive to stay in His will in the small things then the big things will follow. (I think our host Daisy is a great example of that. ❤️.) We don’t do for the blessing, we do out of gratitude and love, but there are so many promises that say blessings follow obedience ( Psalm 91, Psalm 128, 1 John 2:17, James 1:25 ………) and God is faithful to His promises.

So today go forth, rejoice, pray, give thanks, do right, repeat.

Hope.

Yesterday Dianne Smith Timberlake and I were deep in conversation, and she said this to me, “What we think is hardship could actually be hope.”

That’s good stuff.

I’ve been all over the Bible, the dictionary, and commentaries this morning looking at “hope”. Here is one of the definitions I found in the dictionary for hope: a person or thing that may help to save someone.

Y’all.

We all know that person is Jesus. Today, I pray for anyone reading this that needs that hope. He is right here to save you. Just ask.

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,” Ephesians 1:8

May the Lord bless you and keep You

Guest Post by Mrs. Stacy Shultz

My whole life has been a direct result of different individuals and their impact on my life.

When I think of people, who I admire, respect and treasure I remember their words of wisdom, their actions, and most importantly how they made me feel in their presence. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

These influences, whether they knew their part in my life or not, truly resembled and embodied this scripture. As I look at my life as a mom, aunt, and educator, I am always questioning myself wondering did I do or do I give enough?

Growing up, there was always one scripture that was said weekly at youth group, and when I think back to that scripture, it is one that truly holds a special place in my heart. When I began my current job, I decided that my sweet little school needed this scripture too. It is said with a purpose each week at chapel.

We explain to the students that this is our benediction or blessing and that we offer this not to just ourselves, but to those who cannot be with us. Our benediction is Numbers 6: 24-26.

“May the Lord bless you and keep you; May the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious unto you; May the Lord lift his countenance upon you and give you peace; now and forever more. Amen!”

Oh, how this has truly blessed my life, but how do I know that by sharing this with others I am blessing them? This past week, I saw this scripture in action letting me know that people are listening and paying attention. Due to COVID-19, we have not been able to have chapel every week, but when my fabulous students ask to close our day with the benediction so we can remember those that cannot be with us, my heart warms.

There it is, an impact made that will forever be in my heart and hopefully theirs. Then a few days later, BOOM again! The two middles of our family or the “blonde ones” we call them, both got their letterman jackets. As we are bragging on both of them and their accomplishments, there on the back of my niece’s jacket under her name is Numbers 6: 24-26. It is there because this scripture is one that has impacted her life, too.

When I look at both of my children, I see how they help others and how they provide kindness and generosity openly and freely with others. I have often wondered about what footprints I have left behind. All I need to do is simply just take a look around and keep my focus on God, and the footprint will be there for others to see.

Remember Matthew 5:16, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” This is my job, my career, my goal, to shine my light brightly, so that others will in return spread the love, joy and kindness that everyone deserves.

To all of you reading this, I truly mean this: May the Lord bless you and keep you; May the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious unto you; May the Lord lift his countenance upon you and give you peace; now and forever more. Amen!

Transformation

Guest Post by Miss Bailey Graber

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” -Romans 12:2-3

The definition of transformation is: a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance.

Transformation has to be thorough, which causes it to take time.

I’ve entered into a time of waiting. Waiting to hear hidden words in normal conversations, and waiting to become enlightened with what the next piece to the puzzle of my life will be.

While waiting on God’s time has proved time and time again to grow and groom God’s people for their future ministry, waiting isn’t easy.

I have always struggled with being impatient. By living in a world of immediacy, I think it has become way too easy to grow impatient.

“What do you mean my package won’t get here until Tuesday?”

“Why am I having to wait in line at the grocery store?”

” Why won’t the internet connect already?”

Even when I was just simply waiting for my sibling to get out of the restroom, I find myself growing more and more impatient. I find myself wanting instant gratification in everything.

The Bible speaks of seasons of waiting as seeds that will grow overtime. As Christians we use the word “growth” a lot. We might even pray that God would cause us to grow, but not many of us are willing to take the time to actually grow.

From seed to tree transformation occurs, but the tree does not appear suddenly after the seed is planted. The seed has to endure weather of all kinds, it has to dig through layers of dirt and rock to stay connected to its water source, and most importantly, it has to go through the process of growth.

Transformation takes time.

Most everything in the Bible always took waiting for the perfect time to occur.

When God told Abraham he was to have a son, Abraham was 75 years old. Abraham would only receive his son Isaac 25 years later. God promised the Isrialites that they would find The Promised Land, but before they did they wandered in the desert for 40 years. Even when God sent his Son to save us all from our sin, His son spent 30 years growing up so that he could complete His father’s will.

Yet, we still expect change and transformation should happen right after we ask. Sometimes I find myself wanting the fruit-bearing tree right after I planted the seed, but it doesn’t work that way. That is not the process.

Hebrews 6:12 states that through faith and patience we can inherit God’s promises.

If you, like myself, are entering or are already in that process of waiting, be patient with the process and be open to inherit God’s promises in 2021.

Transformation takes time.

The Missing Piece

Guest Post by Miss Maggie Marino

Maggie was not scheduled to write this month 😆 but she sent me this and asked me to share on Rays of Sunshine.

————————————————————————-

Feeling Puzzled?
Confused about what’s going on?
Not certain about what is supposed to happen?
Not sure what you want to do?

Maybe Jesus is the missing piece.

When Jesus is missing everything is blurry. You’re not sure what to do, when to do it, and why it’s happening.

But, when Jesus isn’t missing, things may still be blurry but you are able to trust in God that it is for his plan.

So, feeling puzzled? Find Jesus, because he IS your missing piece.

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭56:3‬ ‭

The Throne of Grace

Guest Post by Mrs. Kim Price

When our daughter, Payton, was little she believed candy to be essential to life. Healthy food held little to no appeal to her. One evening, when we violated her clear constitutional right to sweet goodness, she dramatically and tearfully declared that she absolutely had to have it. It was as ridiculous as you might imagine hearing our four year old reason that her greatest need in life is processed sugar.

Often, as children of God, we are not much different than our Payton. We pursue what is earthly, unnecessary, and sometimes unhealthy for us. We even convince ourselves these pursuits are essential for a happy life. All the while, we fail to recognize God’s abundant provision for our truest needs.

Ephesians 1:3 states, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.”

Paul, in Ephesians 1:3, tells us that God the Father, through Christ, has granted us every spiritual blessing. The word blessing used here translates well to benefit. Imagine the grandeur of this promise! Everything essential to abundant spiritual life is already ours in Christ. These never-ending spiritual resources are mediated to us through the Holy Spirit in the form of grace.

Now, please note that it doesn’t say material or earthly blessings. God never promises those things. In fact, to help put this verse in perspective for us, we should observe that in 1 Corinthians 4:11-13, Paul gives an account of his earthly and material status. He wrote that he had nothing, was hungry, thirsty, homeless, dressed in rags, persecuted, slandered, and treated as scum of the earth. How can a man who clearly had so little good on earth teach us that the Father has given us everything we need? Paul understood that Christ, and the benefits of being found in him, are the only essentials for abundant life.

The year 2020 wreaked havoc on many of our earthly benefits. It wrecked our economy, our ability to freely move about and travel, our entertainment, our political stability, our health, and so much more. This left us all a little disoriented and perhaps even feeling hopeless at times.It seems that 2021 is already ushering in its own set of troubles as well. However, we can cling to this promise and all its hope: our Father has given us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms through Christ. Those benefits cannot be removed.

Let us go to the throne of grace and find the unending supply of spiritual blessings we need for this day and every day. If we are sinful, let us find mercy; if we are sorrowful, let us find comfort; if we are weak, let us find strength; if we are lonely, let us find friendship; if we are poor, let us find the riches of Christ. His blessings are immeasurable, unceasing, essential for life, and they are waiting for you. Now that’s sweeter than the sweetest of candy.

Here I Am.

Guest Post by Mrs. Sarah Sapp

I was a runner. As a young girl, if I saw my mother going for the paddle, I was outta there, instantly engaged in a game of cat and mouse. My impulsive, little brain could not see through to the end result of my actions (more punishment). I only knew in that moment, it didn’t make sense to me to stand there and take the discipline I deserved.

Hebrews 12:10 says, “Our parents corrected us for the short time of our childhood as it seemed good to them. But God corrects us throughout our lives for our own good, giving us an invitation to share his holiness.”

Now, I don’t know about you, but this past year has brought me my fair share of discipline from the Lord. I’ve become aware of things that I valued more than His presence: busy-ness, plans, conveniences. I’ve allowed discontent with my circumstances to take root in my heart, and I’ve been convicted of pride in my own ability to get things done. But God did not leave me in my sin.

Our holy God can’t be in the presence of sin, but because of His faithful love, He is constantly inviting us into His presence. As we move closer to Him, we must be willing to become more disciplined. His embrace is waiting on the other side.

“Now all discipline seems to be more pain than pleasure at the time, yet later it will produce a transformation of character, bringing a harvest of righteousness and peace to those who yield to it.” Hebrews 12:11 TPT

I’m not running anymore. If discipline means that I get to be pulled closer into the arms of Jesus, then Lord, here I am. Though this past year was sown in difficulty, the Lord promises that a harvest of righteousness and peace are coming for those willing to yield to Him. Because of this promise, we can look with anticipation and excitement at the coming year, no matter what may come!

Give it to God.

Give it to God, and go to sleep.

Y’all this is not just a catchy, Christian cliche found on cute signs in Hobby Lobbies across America. It’s for real.

God really wants us to give it to Him. Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit your works to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” Did you know that commit in this verse means to roll or roll away?

That meaning for that word actually stumped me. I had to reach out to one of my dear friends for explanation and clarification. Side-note: I hope you have a friend like that. You know – wise counsel. Someone that you can trust with all of your God-sized questions.

I digress.

This is how my sweet and incredibly wise friend explained this to me: “In my mind when I am carrying something on my back like a heavy burden, once I roll it off and release it to God, it’s super hard to get up under it again and heave it back onto my shoulders or even my arms.”

Isn’t that a great visual?

In essence, roll those worries and fears and burdens and dreams and plans off of your own shoulders and onto God’s. He wants them. He wants to take care of them and you. And from what I’ve heard He is a way-maker, miracle worker, promise keeper, and light in the darkness.

My God.

He can.

He will.

So, give it to God, gals. Give Him control. Then – and only then – can whatever you are handing Him be established. God can ready and steady us – we just have to let Him.

Check.

I am a list making – big note taking – kinda gal. I think it’s a good habit. It keeps me organized and productive – nothing wrong with that. And nothing makes me feel more accomplished than seeing those little checks all up and down my paper.

However, I have to be very careful not to make every single thing in my life merely a check mark.

Most importantly:

God is not a check mark. God is not a Bible study.

God is not a praise and worship service.

God is not Sunday morning church.

God is God.

He is a relationship.

And when you’re in a relationship you work at it – because you want to. Not because you have to.

Don’t just study the Bible to check it off your list. Study the Bible because you are so in love with God that you want to learn everything about Him that you can.

Don’t just go to church on Sunday morning because that’s how you were raised. Go to church on Sunday morning because you get to. Because you want to see God. Because you want to fellowship with other believers. Because you want to soak in every bit of God that you can.

God is not a check mark. Don’t make Him into one.

And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27