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!

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 ‭

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

Remember When

Guest Post by Mrs. Britni Bryan

I think we can all agree that 2020 was a rough one. As I ponder what 2021 might hold, I’m hit with conflicting feelings— excitement for the new, anxiety for the unknown. And if I’m honest, sometimes the fear of the unknown can crush any desire to dream of the goodness that this new year could hold. Perhaps it’s a guard I’ve put up in effort to block the blows that may come. As I wade between my conflicting feelings, I feel the Lord gently whisper just one word: “Remember.”

This year throughout my study, it’s come to my attention how many times scripture calls God’s people to remember. In Joshua 3, we find the Israelites in the home stretch of their journey to the Promise Land. They found themselves standing before the Jordan River, where God, once again, split the waters as the priests stood with the ark of the covenant in the center. He was leading them out of the wilderness and onward toward promise.

In chapter 4, the Lord gave one final instruction as they transitioned from one season into the next. He commanded Joshua to choose twelve men, one from each tribe, to take twelve stones from the very place where the priests had stood, the place where the Lord delivered them safely across the river. The Lord commanded them to carry them with them. These stones would serve as a symbol of their deliverance from the wilderness, as well as the fruition of God’s promise.

Joshua said to the Israelites, “In the future, when your children ask their fathers, ‘What is the meaning of these stones?’ you should tell your children, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until they had crossed over, just as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed over. This is so that all people of the earth may know that the Lord’s hand is mighty, and so that you will always fear the Lord” (Joshua 4:21-24).

You see, God, in His kindness, knew His people would need reminders of His faithfulness. Why? Because life is hard. And just like the Israelites, we also need to be reminded of His faithfulness in our own lives. We will not always be on the mountaintops, and when we find ourselves in trial, we, too, must remember the countless times God has delivered us. It keeps us focused, trusting that the God of the universe and God of our hearts can do all things. And just like those stones, carry them with you–those moments He’s already shown himself faithful to you. Because it’s those moments that will also carry you. Write them down. Memorialize them however you choose, but remember.

So, if you find yourself discouraged or afraid to hope or dream this new year, recall these three words: Remember the Lord.

Big Dreams

The other day I had – what I thought was – a great plan brewing in my mind. I was telling God all about how to bring said dream to fruition, and you know what He said to me?

For real – clear as day – He spoke these words right to my heart, “Daisy, when are you gonna stop telling me what to do.”

Insert awkward side-eye emoji here.

Yikes. Are there any other Daisys out there? You know – someone that’s always telling someone else what to do including God. Honestly, I’m the worst about that.

I’m a planner and a dreamer and a big idea-haver, and boy can I delegate the how-to-get-it-done to the left and to the right. Listen, there’s nothing wrong with having big dreams if [and that’s a big IF] I keep the focus of all of these big ideas and dreams where my focus should be – and that’s on God.

Are these dreams:

God centered.

God driven.

God purposed.

Some days – ok most days – I have to remember to take off my bossy britches and hand them over to the one they belong to in the first place.

As we journey into a brand new year I’m going to reiterate to myself and to anyone else reading this – God’s plan is always the best plan. Let Him be the one in charge.

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21