Christmas Lights

by Marcia Clarke

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift. 2 Corinthians 9:15 NIV

Sitting alongside the mountains, the cabin windows beamed the radiant glow of burning wood. Bill and Gloria alighted from their car into the brisk wind and scurried into the warmth of the cabin. Gloria made hot chocolate, and they sat quietly reminiscing about how this quiet moment was once just a dream.

They recalled the hardship of losing their business and almost all the possessions they’d worked for. The couple didn’t have a relationship with God; the road to recovery took them through pain, discouragement, and frustration. They had held onto each other, but that proved to be insufficient to overcome the tide of adversity.

Adversity can serve to point us toward God. The Bible speaks of being in the right relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 3:22). Nurturing the spiritual aspect of our lives prepares us for good times and bad. God’s desire is that everyone will be in a relationship with him, with our eyes continually on him (Psalm 123:1).

In those dark days, Bill and Gloria hadn’t known how to crawl out of their despair and hopelessness. Their outlook on life was dark. They couldn’t think how to restore their joy and hope for brighter days.

Then, in the bright morning sun of Christmas morning, there was a knock on their cabin door. It was their neighbor of many years. Bill invited him in. In his hand was a brown leather book. Bill offered him a drink, and they sat for many hours talking about his relationship with God and his love for us. Light began to invade their darkness.

The neighbor invited them to his ministry, and their lives were never the same. They found meaning for their lives in the Word of God and began to walk in faith. The amazing love of God will plant us in divine places so that we can receive him. For example, Paul was in prison when the prisoners turned their hearts to God (Acts 16).

I have experienced adversity after adversity in my life. Nothing seems to ever go without issues. I struggled with confidence in myself and fear of rejection. While I always read the Bible, I lacked a truly intimate relationship with God. Then one day he announced himself to me, overwhelming my soul. From that day forward I have never looked back. He is my pilot. God reminds us to seek first his kingdom (Matthew 6:33). When we do, darkness is turned to light. We begin to see truth through the lies and hope through the despair.

It’s not too late for you. The Christmas lights we are seeing everywhere are a sign of how much God loved us when he sent his son, the Light of the World, to save us. You can begin where you are. Don’t discount God’s grace, mercy, and love toward you. He is waiting.

Father, thank you for the Christmas lights that remind me of the treasure of being in the right relationship with you. I cherish the moment I give my heart to you and thank you for your presence that is always with me. In Jesus’ name, amen.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Marcia Clarke is an author who writes daily encouragement for

meditation and spiritual enrichment. Helping people through difficult seasons through her writing is her greatest passion. She has a passion for sharing encouragement and practical devotion through her daily blog on and enjoys the practice of meditation, yoga, and daily affirmation to create balance in her life. She is the author of Journey to Abundance, which has content-rich affirmation for your meditation experience. Marcia most recent book, Thirty Days of Grace is prayer for every season. Visit her at marcia_clarke5.wixsite.com/todayissacred.

Join the conversation. What has God’s light shown you since he rescued you from darkness?

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Light

by Debb Hackett

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. Genesis 1:3 NIV

In the beginning, when the earth was still formless, the first thing God created was light. The very first thing.

When I look at the behavior of heroes of the faith, Abraham always makes me smile because, among his many flaws, whenever he arrived somewhere new, he built an altar and worshipped. That was the very first thing he did.

As a military wife with eight moves in twenty-three years (four of them transatlantic relocations, two of those while quite pregnant, and one during a global pandemic), I have a pattern. We get the keys, give thanks, then set up the kitchen, followed by bedrooms, including pictures.

God’s first move? He creates light. Just two chapters later, right after the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden, we see the Lord hint at a new plan to redeem us. A different kind of light is coming. We now know that light is Jesus (John 8:12). Light is clearly a crucial element.

Scripture teaches us that when we give our lives to Christ, He gives us the Holy Spirit to live within us. I love the picture of Pentecost. Before this event, the fire of God’s presence had to be kept apart from us. Moses, for example, couldn’t get near the burning bush (Exodus 3:5). Now the fire rests on Christ’s followers (Acts 2:3). Now, the light of the world dwells within and shines through us.

So, it occurs to me that we need to be careful with this light. Here are some questions to ponder:

What is our light source? Or, put another way, how are we feeding our soul? A steady diet of God’s word, prayer and worship is needed to keep it burning at it’s very brightest.

What gets in the way or filters our light? The Bible warns against hiding light “under a basket” (Luke 11:33 NIV). I’m not much of a photographer, or physicist, for that matter. But from watching my children learn how to take pictures and do well on science tests, I know that filters alter light.

Have circumstances altered your ability to shine that light? Is something stopping you from shining the joy of Christ to those around you? Where are you shining your light?

While fellowship is vitally important to the body of Christ, the darkness is where light is needed the most. We could volunteer locally, joining in a community effort, such as a food pantry—spending time shining the light of Jesus.

Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Matthew 9:37 NIV

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Writer, broadcaster, and speaker Debb Hackett  has been a radio journalist for more than twenty years. Married to a test pilot, Debb writes for military wives and lives in England with her husband and children. She’s having lots of fun working on an inspirational contemporary romance series. When she’s not writing, Debb can be found leading worship, playing bass, or skiing. Also, if you can swing by her house while she’s making scones, that would be a win. She blogs at: http://debbhackett.com

Join the conversation: Where are you shining your light?

Stalked by a Mountain Lion

by Linda Evans Shepherd

One summer afternoon, I found myself hiking up a mountain road alone. My young husband and friend had run ahead to secure a spot for our tents in an upper mountain valley. Paul assured me that he would return shortly.

But as the shadows stretched, I begin to worry. Where was my husband? Why hadn’t he come back for me? Had something happened to Him? At first, I was mad that he left me alone in the wilderness. But after a few hours ticked past, my anger melted into fear.

That’s when the lengthening shadows taunted me with the growl of a mountain lion, hidden in the boulders a few yards above me.

I knew I couldn’t outrun the beast, and any attempt I made to flee would tempt him to believe I was easy prey. So I did the only thing I could: I continued walking with my hands above my head, trying to look like a large, scary creature. Even though I was dizzy with fear, I added a deep growling yell to let the cat know my creature persona was not to be messed with.

At my sound, the mountain lion stopped growling, and I kept moving forward, hiking with hands up as though I was a bear. But where was my husband?

I soon found myself surrounded by darkness in a grove of trees and I was too tired to go on.  I had no idea if the lion was still stalking me and my husband still nowhere to be found.

I sat down, leaning against a tree.

That’s when someone call my name!  “Linda?” I had made it to the edge of basecamp, where I found my husband doubled over with altitude sickness, too sick to hike back down the trail to search for me. Our friend had recovered enough from this same illness to find me.

As I think about this story, I can’t help but compare it to what we are going through today. We clearly understand the dangers around us; wars, rumors of war, sky high gas prices, inflation at the grocery store, and dips in the stock market. 

Fear growls at us at every turn.  And we can’t help but wonder, Where’s Jesus?  Isn’t our bridegroom coming back to rescue us? Is He leaving us to face the darkness alone? 

In times like these we should lift our hands above our heads and use our voice to sing praises to God. As we resist the enemy in this way, he will not devour us but will flee.

Even when the darkness blinds us, God’s presence is with us. And one day, we’ll be with Him forever. In the meantime, it’s time to replace the batteries in our flashlights, because we don’t know how long this dark night will be. When His light is with us, we can always see our way to take our next step in the growing shadows.

“Keep your mind clear, and be alert. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion as he looks for someone to devour.”  I Peter 5:8 GW

About the author: Linda Evans Shepherd is the author of 38 books, including her latest, Prayers for Every Need, and is the publisher of Arise Daily and Leading Hearts magazine. She’s the CEO of Right to the Heart Ministries.

Join the conversation: How are you handling all the fears of this decade?

As Numerous as the Stars

by Cherrilynn Bisbano

In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.  John 1:4 NASB

While living in Honduras to help a missionary doctor, the town lost power. We prepared for many nights of darkness.

I looked to the heavens, holding my flashlight. as I walked the dusty street to Bible study. The stars pierced the sky and I was reminded of God’s covenant with Abraham. “Your descendants will be as numerous as the stars.”

I prayed, “Lord, use me to add to those descendants while I’m here in Honduras.”

As we studied John chapter eight by candlelight, we took turns reading verses. I loved hearing Scripture read in Spanish. Some ladies learning English read their verse in English with some help from me. What joy to share in God’s Word in any language, especially by candlelight. A few ladies did not know the Lord, but came because it was something to do in the quiet little mountain village. They just listened.

My turn came and I read John 8:12 from my ESV Bible. “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

As I declared the second “light,” all the lights suddenly came on. We looked at each other shocked, smiled, then jumped and cried “Gloria a Dios.”

We cried happy tears at God’s faithfulness and clear sign He was with us.

Rosa remained sitting, her mouth wider than her eyes. I had been told Rosa lived a life of gossiping, sexual immorality, and bitterness. She looked at me and said, “We never get power that quickly. I want your Jesus.”

That night, Rosa accepted Jesus’ free gift of eternal life and went home to tell her family. She had been rescued from the domain of darkness to the Kingdom of Light (Colossians 1: 13).

Rosa reconciled with her husband, and the family attends church and Bible study on a regular basis.

A few months later, I said my goodbyes with tear filled eyes, knowing, God continues to fulfill his promise to Abraham by shedding the light of the Gospel in the darkest hearts and tiniest places.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Cherrilynn Bisbano is an award-winning writer and speaker. As a certified Christian Life Coach Minister, and Ordained Minister, she aims to share the love of Christ wherever God leads. Cherrilynn is a speaker with Women Speakers. She contributes to the Blue Ridge Writers blog, is published in four compilations books, and her book Shine Don’t Whine released in 2020. Cherrilynn served in the military for twenty years, earning the John Levitow Military leadership award. She lives with her 19-year-old son Michael, Jr., and her husband of 22 years, Michael. She fondly calls them her M&M’s.

Join the conversation: Has God ever given you a sign that He is with you?

Time to Soak Up the Son-Shine

by Debbie Wilson

Riding home one Saturday night, I caught myself grumbling. My husband and I had picked up Thai takeout for dinner. While we waited for our food, I felt like an alien. Everyone wore facemasks and avoided eye contact. What happened to the friendly South? We rounded the bend and the bright moon interrupted my grumbling. “Look how bright that small sliver of moon is!”

The moon’s brightness stood in beautiful contrast to a day that had been gray, windy, and even briefly snowy. Seeing it helped me understand an admonition from Scripture I needed to ponder, especially with what is going on in our country now.

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said: ‘Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’ Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:8-16 NIV).

God wants His children to live as children of light. He warns us to be very careful in how we walk, because the days are evil. Evil and darkness are synonymous in Scripture. As the lines between good and evil blur, we need the light of true goodness to guide our steps.

How do we shine light in darkness? The same way the moon does.

When Astronauts Neil Armstrong and “Buzz” Aldrin walked on the moon they didn’t discover a glowing orb. Photos of the moon look like pocked concrete. Yet, who hasn’t felt the enchantment of a full moon? Even that small sliver of bright moon made me smile.

Craters and dark areas mar the moon’s surface. It’s beauty and light don’t come from the moon itself. The moon is beautiful only when it reflects the sun.

Whether we deal with the darkness of an inner attitude, bad habit, or what is going on in our nation and the world, we find our way through darkness, not by staring into it, but by following the Son.

Focusing on a bad habit won’t make it go away. In, fact, it’ll probably make it worse. Fretting over the evil and deception around us won’t heal our nation. But focusing on Jesus—the way, the truth, and the life—illuminates our paths and shines on those around us.

Have you felt overwhelmed by the darkness? I have. We become light when, like the moon, we allow a purer light to illuminate us. Here are some tips to help you soak up the Son.

  • Ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate any area where the world has shaped your thinking instead of the Word.
  • Write it down.
  • Write out 1 John 1:9 over your list. Then tear up the sheet and throw it away.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with His light and help you live wisely (Ephesians. 5:17-21).

The darker the night the more we must keep our eyes glued on Jesus, the true light. Then we will shine as light, walk wisely, and help others find their way.

Everything that is illuminated becomes a light. Ephesians 5:13 NIV


This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Drawing from her walk with Christ, and years as a Christian counselor, coach, and Bible teacher, Debbie W. Wilson helps women give themselves a break so they can enjoy fruitful and grace-filled lives. She is the author of Little Women, Big God and Give Yourself a Break. Her latest book, Little Faith, Big God, was released in February 2020.

Little Faith, Big God: Grace to Grow When Your Faith Feels Small by [Wilson, Debbie]

She and her husband Larry founded and run Lighthouse Ministries, a nonprofit counseling, coaching, and Bible study ministry. She is an AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) certified speaking and writing coach. Debbie enjoys a good mystery, dark chocolate, and the antics of her two standard poodles. Refresh your faith with free resources at debbieWwilson.com.

Join the conversation: Has darkness felt overwhelming to you this early spring?

Arise Under the Sun

by Christina Rose

“I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity, a futile grasping and chasing after the wind.” Ecclesiastes 1:14 AMP

King Solomon asked God for wisdom when he ascended to the throne, so that he could rule the people justly. God favored Solomon by giving him more wisdom and wealth than any other king of the earth. During his 40-year reign, Solomon wrote many proverbs and songs, amassed tons of gold, completed many building projects, including the Jewish temple, and built a fleet of ships.  Unfortunately, among the 700 wives and 300 concubines he had were many foreigners who led him into idolatry in his old age. This became a diversion that he reflected upon as he neared the end of his life.

Solomon considered his many accomplishments and the years of earthly striving. “But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere” (Ecclesiastes 2:11 NLT).  He had finally realized that after a lifetime of chasing everything the world had to offer, obeying God and fearing his word was the only thing that made sense. Once we put God first, we are free to enjoy the gifts of life he has bestowed upon us.

“So I recommend having fun, because there is nothing better for people in this world than to eat, drink, and enjoy life. That way they will experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives them under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 8:15 NLT

In the early years of my career, I enjoyed a glamorous life in San Francisco. I worked in one of the most prestigious offices in the city and was treated to extravagant restaurants, parties, and events. One evening on a dinner cruise under the Golden Gate, I noticed the colorful sails of windsurfers racing back and forth. Within weeks I had signed up for lessons, and before long, I was flying across the waves under “The Gate,” where I met and married another surfer. We were addicted to the thrill of chasing the wind under the sun until we learned we were expecting our first baby. My carefree life changed instantly when I was confined to bedrest out of concern for her. I was now slowly turning into a baby whale while I laid in bed, often alone, praying for my baby’s safe arrival. In the silence, I relentlessly searched for God and asked for his help.

Labor completely humbled me. I thought I had been so fearless surfing the waves, but as Solomon points out, there was a vanity in chasing the wind. It was easy to be fit and strong for all to see, but now I was a vulnerable, young mom in labor, hooked up to a monitor, dependent on those around me to help me give birth. Hours later when I laid eyes on my new daughter was the moment that I knew God was real.  There was no other explanation for such an exquisite miracle. Her birth was the beginning of learning to understand the greatness of God which continues to be an amazing journey each day, many years later.

Over time, many of my windsurfing friends stopped windsurfing.We came to see that we were just going back and forth across the waves but not accomplishing anything of significance.  Those years long ago of youth and adventure are glorious to remember, but having that life ripped out of my hands and confined to bedrest made me rethink everything. It was during those times of darkness and doubt that I searched for God and prayed for his help. He answered me with a perfect baby daughter that was a blessing far greater than the life I had been living.  

During this time of the Pandemic many, lives are being drastically altered. People are searching for answers in darkness and doubt, just as I did many years ago. They may be wondering if God is real and if he hears them. For those of us who know that he is real and hears our every cry, we are being called to arise to be a light to help others walk through this time of uncertainty.  In the process, God will birth something new and wonderful that one cannot see in the darkness as he draws us into his light.

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. Isaiah 60:1-3 NIV

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Christina Rose is an author, trainer and speaker certified by the John Maxwell Team of Leadership.  She is a DAR (Daughter of the American Revolution) whose ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. She is a world traveler, surfer, foodie, cappuccino loving chocoholic and a devoted mom to kids and dogs and auntie to many nieces and nephews who live around the world.

Christina’s book, My Appeal to Heaven, is her story. With her young family on the verge of falling apart, Christina finds herself in a desperate situation with no resources other than herself.  After appealing to heaven, the Lord takes her on a journey of awakening and miraculous empowerment. That power is available to us all, especially those who need hope and freedom.

Join the conversation: For what answers are you searching in this season of darkness?

Night and Day of the Zombies

by Patti Richter

We sat on the floor hugging our knees to our chest for protection, wide-eyed at the scene before us. Several people with the same ghastly appearance stumbled forward— not in living color but in half-dead black and white.

That was my first encounter with zombies, when Mom allowed my sister and me to stay up late one Friday night to watch a scary movie. It may have been the only time I forgot to eat my popcorn.

Zombies have maintained a steady following for decades, which may have something to do with people facing their fear of disease, or death, or life after death. But it’s a gruesome type of therapy to entertain yourself with the walking dead—rotting flesh, infected and infecting.

I recently observed some modern-day, civilized zombies (although they might refer to themselves in another way since their particular form of mindlessness begins with exercise). I’d seated myself at the only empty picnic table under a shade tree for an hour of reading while my husband and son hiked.

The group of young women sat cross-legged in a circle on a blanket with several babies stowed in a playpen beside them. I assumed they gathered for social and health benefits, but after some low humming they rose and surrounded my shade tree. As they caressed the tree with long strokes, they chanted unintelligible words. When the women’s voices grew shrill with laughter, the babies began centering on their own self-actualization—wailing for their mothers’ attention.

I felt sorry for those women and children. They’re soaking in the world’s counterfeit light in place of “the light of the world” (John 8:12 NIV). Tim Keller says, “Christ gives us true things to think about that overcome the darkness of this life, while others say ‘just hum loudly and look away.’”

However, I do not condemn those who seek to fill a spiritual void since I, too, was once a zombie. According to the Apostle Paul, I was dead in my sins while I “followed the ways of this world” (Ephesians 2:2 NIV).

Paul, sent by the Lord to minister to Gentile nations that did not know God, explained that, without Christ, we are the walking dead. “All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts” (Eph. 2:3 NIV). He observed the futility of those “separated from the life of God,” who have “lost all sensitivity” (Ephesians 4:18 – 19 NIV).

The nations currently hope for a return to normal through an effective vaccine against the deadly virus that plagues us. But our normal world features untold suffering from the problem of sin. Greed, strife, deceit and all kinds of depravity will continue to plague our world. And troubled souls will still seek relief through escape mechanisms and mind-altering substances.

However, “a new and living way opened for us” that allows us to “draw near to God” (Hebrews 10:20, 22 NIV). We don’t have to stumble through life infected with sin.

Ezekiel 36:26 (NIV) foretold of the transformation the Messiah would bring: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” This Old Testament promise was fulfilled in Jesus Christ, who came to seek and to save the spiritually lost and confused, even those who were demon-possessed.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Romans 12:2 NIV  

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Night and Day of the Zombies – encouragement from Patti Richter on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Patti Richter lives in north Georgia with her husband, Jim. She is a freelance journalist and long-time faith columnist at BlueRibbonNews.com with more than four hundred published articles.

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Patti is the co-author of the award-winning Signs of His Presence—Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of Suffering. It is the story of Luann Mire, whose godly husband was blindsided by an indictment due to a former employer’s tax fraud. The resulting prison sentence and restitution took the once joyful couple into a long season of suffering as they fought judicial tyranny. Helpless to change her situation, Luann endured a painful examination of her life and found God faithful to His promises.

Join the conversation: Have you been transformed into the land of the living?

Let There Be Light

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

...God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.  1 John 1:5b

A wonderful part of the Christmas season is the plethora of lights on houses, trees, and shining from windows. The Christmas tree in our home glitters with white lights, reflecting off the ornaments and giving the room a festive glow. Light is a very appropriate symbol to be used at Christmas, since the holiday is all about the birth of Jesus Christ, the Light of the World.

God’s glory has been revealed in light since the beginning of time. In His first recorded words, God said, “Let there be light.” With a blinding flash, creation was revealed.   Genesis tells us that the sun, moon, and stars were not created until the fourth day. What was the source of light that lit up the formless, watery creation that existed at that command? Revelation 21 gives us a possible answer when it describes the future New Jerusalem: “And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it.” Creation was made to reveal God’s glory. Maybe God’s glory revealed creation as well.

We read of many examples where God’s glory is revealed as light. When Moses spoke with God on Mt. Sinai, his face had to be veiled when he came down the mountain because it shone. God’s presence filled the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle, revealed with a pillar of fire that glowed throughout 40 years’ worth of nights. At the Transfiguration, Matthew tells us Jesus’ garments became as white as light. The light of God’s glory stunned anyone in Scripture who was privileged enough to experience it.

When the world was new, God’ glory continued to be revealed at the creation of Adam and Eve. Were they reflectors of a literal light? We do know that God made them in his “likeness.” As originally created, they certainly reflected God’s glory. Then came the moment when they submitted to the temptation placed before them by the Prince of Darkness. At the first bite of that forbidden fruit, the light went out. The curse of sin had descended on creation. Adam and Eve looked at each other, saw their nakedness, and for the first time, knew the sting of shame.

The world plunged into darkness. The sun, moon, and stars continued to provide physical light, but the darkness this time was much more crushing. Man was now spiritually blind. It would take a miracle for him to be able to “see” once more.

The people lived in darkness for many years until God once again gave the command: “Let there be light.” This time, instead of a blinding flash of brilliance, the command was fulfilled in the quiet, unseen miracle of the Holy Spirit planting a baby within a young girl. In a dirty animal stall one night in Bethlehem, the light snapped on for the lost. The Light of the World had come to a people who were blind and hopeless.

As he lived here on earth, he lit up the darkness around him. With his glory he exposed the sin of the proud, hard-hearted religious leaders. From place to place he traveled, healing all kinds of sicknesses and even reversing death, freeing fortunate ones of the consequences of living under the curse of darkness. His teachings exposed the darkness of the burden of sin and revealed the glory of God that had come to save.

Those living in darkness hated the Light and finally managed to orchestrate his death sentence. Even the skies went dark that day as the Light of the World hung on a cross, suffering under the unimaginable burden of the sin of the world. At his death, for a short while it seemed the light had been snuffed out and darkness had finally won.

But in a sunburst of glory that first Easter morning, the Light of the World banished the darkness, dealing Satan a fatal blow. No longer would darkness have the victory. Death had lost its sting.

The command continues today: “Let there be light.” Those who seek him are rewarded with the light of spiritual vision when they are given the priceless gift of salvation. Then they, in turn, are charged to be light reflectors to those within their sphere of influence. They bear witness to the truth, endeavoring to live lives of love while guiding others who remain in the darkness to come into the light.

As we string the lights around the tree and place candles in our windows, let us give thanks to the Light of the World whom these lights represent. The glory that is God’s continues to shine in the hearts of those who love him, made possible by his coming to Israel over two thousand years ago, when God said, “Let there be light.”

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Let There Be Light – encouragement from @JulieZColeman on @AriseDailydevo (Click to Tweet)

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About the authorJulie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or walking her neurotic dog. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.

Does the Bible depict women as second-class citizens of the Kingdom? Jesus didn’t think so. Unexpected Love takes a look at the encounters that Jesus had with women in the gospels. You will fall in love with the dynamic, beautiful, and unexpectedly personal Jesus.

Join the conversation: Is there another symbol present at Christmastime that reminds you of spiritual truth?

Dancing in His Light

by Janet Perez Eckles

For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption , the forgiveness of sins.                                                                                                                                                             Colossians 1:13-14 NASB

“Sit down,” my Mom said patting the sofa beside her. “Listen to this invitation that just came in the mail: The Foundation Fighting Blindness is sponsoring a dinner dance in the dark.”

I wrinkled my nose. “What in the world is that?”

“It’s kind of clever,” she said, “It’s a fund-raiser for research. And also to give folks a chance to experience what it’s like to be blind. The whole event will be held in the dark.”

“Crazy,” I said. “You can be sure hands will be in the mash potatoes. And who knows how many glasses of water will be spilled. And, with no lights, wait till they have to visit the bathroom.  Lots of fun there, for sure.”

Living for thirty years in physical darkness, I’ve grown accustomed to it. In fact, I often forget I’m blind. Okay, you can laugh. It’s kind of silly, but I do forget. In fact, that dinner dance in the dark is way too familiar to me.

But to be fair, I had time to adjust and it’s no big deal now. But for sighted folks to be thrown into a dark room, what a bizarre thing!

But…sigh… not as bizarre as living where spiritual darkness is not an event, a fund-raising dance, or even a temporary episode, but a life-long choice.

I’ve been there. While physically sighted but spiritually blind, I sunk into secret disobedience. In the darkness, I slammed into obstacles while I groped, vainly searching for happiness. Barriers like relentless pride, shameful stubbornness, and disgusting cynicism all blocked my path, resulting in emotional bruises, cuts, and wounds.

But thank you, thank you, Lord. The day He turned on the light for me, the light of His Word, the splendor of His ways and the clarity of His path, new life began for me. Like a flower blooming, my heart opened up to joy and His reminder ever echoes in me: “… for you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible” (Ephesians 5:8-13 NIV  ).

…and for me, now visible is the dance floor where Jesus leads the dance, step by step, day by day, to the melody of His promises and the harmony of His grace.

TWEETABLE
Dancing in His Light – insight on accepting God’s Light from Janet Perez Eckles on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

janet perez ecklesAbout the author: Blindness tried to darken her life, but Janet Perez Eckles became an international speaker, best-selling author, personal success coach, radio host and best playmate to her grandchildren. Her books include Contagious Courage: a Thirty Day Journey to Overcoming Stress and Anxiety and Simply Salsa: Dancing without Fear at God’s Fiesta. You can learn more about Janet at www.janetperezeckles.com.

Janet’s book,  Hola, Happiness: Finding Joy by Dancing to the Melody of God’s Word is a brief Bible study to nudge you to the next level of triumph and joy. It is packed with deep reflections and answers from God’s Word. No matter what you face–disappointment, fear, heartache, shame, insecurity, sorrow–you will say “Hola” to happiness, peace, and the joy for which God created you.

Join the conversation: How does light make a difference in your life today?

British Beasties

by Sharon Tedford @61Things

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 NIV

I loved my pet rabbit with every bit of my teenage angst emotions. He was the very large listening ear to whom I whispered my problems, and the one who paid attention to me without judgment. He never questioned my choices, and always listened when I complained.

Honey (named for his golden fur and sweet personality) lived in a once discarded, now refurbished wooden playhouse. My Dad was a whiz with tools, and he’d created this palatial bunny kingdom. It would have been perfect, had it been adjacent to our house. However, my parents saw fit to put Honey’s dwelling far, far from my house, in the dark. You see, the dark was a big problem for me.

I grew up in rural Southern England where darkness falls around 5 p.m. in the winter. Most often I didn’t get in from school much before that. Every night I had to make the trip to the bottom of the yard alone. I was always terrified. Of course I put it off, which never helped, because each minute I procrastinated, the darkness grew deeper.

I would carry the biggest flashlight I could find and hum, cough, or make other noises to announce my arrival to any other creatures who might be skulking about. I had no desire to meet up with wild animals on my nighttime foray. I was pretty sure they were just outside the beam of my flashlight, ready to pounce on me at any second. (Let’s be honest, the only creatures around would have been wild rabbits, rats, or maybe a small fox. But in my imagination there were wolves, hyenas, and lions on the prowl!)

Why does the dark cause us so much consternation? What is it, still to this day, that can make this grown woman’s stomach flip when putting the rubbish out in the dark and hearing a rustle in the bushes?

Darkness veils and conceals. Darkness hides truth. The obscurity of the shadowy gloom seems to be where the unknown shelters itself. Darkness causes fear.

God is Light. He is bright, clear, present, illuminating and warm.

“God is light, in Him there is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5b NIV)

 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7 NIV)

When I live in the pure light of Jesus, He will kindly show me where the hidden messes of my heart dwell. With gentle intentionality He will shine His light on them, so their hold over me is beaten.

When we allow the light of Jesus to radiate within us, we have no need to fear. I can walk the path of this life with every confidence that Jesus is with me; I am never alone. No eternal harm can come to me, and with Jesus I cannot be overcome. There are no unexpected events for Jesus. He sees it all.

I will choose to walk in the light by Jesus’ side, as I trust Him to lead me. I have nothing to be afraid of. Not even the British beasties!

TWEETABLE
British Beasties and Using the Light to Face Our Fears – from Sharon Tedford, @61Things on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Sharon tedfordAbout the author: Sharon Tedford is an experienced British storyteller who uses her gifts as a singer, author, worship leader, and speaker to connect with her listeners, inviting them into a revitalized relationship with God.  Her humorous stories always end with an invitation to action.  Her book, Stand, is a devotional based on the stories behind her songs. Mother to three teenagers and the wife of an Irishman, Sharon encourages people to live a God-focused life. You can connect with her at www.61-things.com.

Join the conversation: What is it about the dark that scares you?