Morning Light From Heaven

A world in darkness. Living in the shadow of death. Longing for the darkness to break. Longing for peace.

That sounds pretty much like 2021, doesn’t it?

A special issue of the Boundless devotionals is now available. Its focus is on God’s love and kindness for a dark world. Because of His tender mercy, the morning light from heaven broke into our darkness to give light to those who live in the shadow of death and to guide us to the path of peace. (Luke 1:78-79)

In this special issue, 31 devotionals remind us of God’s great gift to this dark world.

Order your copy now, so you’re sure to have it to begin on December 1. (Paperback or ebook)

Here’s the meditation for December 1. (And no, there’s not a typo in the first line. The Christmas described really was 2012.)

December 1:  In the Dark Streets

His life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it.
John 1:4-5 (NLT)

In December 2012, the usual holiday preparations were in full swing when the darkness settled in, heavy and oppressive.

The flu bug arrived in our community and would not leave. Most families were visited by sickness and were forced to adjust schedules and activities; even church services were postponed or canceled. In my family and circle of friends, a series of events left us weary and saddened. Two cars broke down during travel in a snowstorm. Yes, there was snow—so heavy that travel plans had to be changed. A necessary appliance quit working, and a big repair bill dampened spirits. A friend’s mother died. Other friends were in a serious accident. I spent that Christmas Eve in the waiting room while my dad had emergency surgery. And hanging over all of the world was the horrifying evil of a man shooting children at Sandy Hook School.

Every December since then, I have thought about that 2012 Christmas, a month of darkness, disappointment, evil, and death. That year, when Christmas decorations, gifts, and traditions were mostly set aside and ignored, I began to see what really happened in the dark streets of Bethlehem: Christ stepped into our darkness, was willing to live right in it with us, so that He could battle and defeat its power. The real story is light and hope coming to the dark and hopeless places in which we live.

We sing “Joy to the World” every year. There’s one line that now means so much to me, it often brings tears of gratitude and joy: He comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found. Jesus brought light to our own dark streets. He came to make all God’s blessings flow into our own cursed darkness.

Joy to the world!                                                                   

New Boundless devotional

A cup of coffee’s good. Laughter and/or commiseration with friends helps. A walk in nature refreshes.

But none of those will help get you through the day like the assurance, the absolute knowing that the Shepherd of your soul is with you every minute of the day, caring about you, acting for you. 

A new Boundless issue is now available on Amazon. 31 devotionals to remind you of His constant presence and provision.

With contributions from Vicki VanNatta, Elaine Starner, Mary Jane Smith, Stephanie Moniger, Bonnie Merrill, Emily M. Leonard, and Tammy Blake.

Available as a paperback with space to journal, or as an ebook with hyperlinks to make reading additional Scriptures even easier.

Also coming very soon: A special Advent issue of Boundless, Morning Light from Heaven. Devotionals for the month of December.  


“What’s a painted bunting doing here?”

I would guess that question has been repeated dozens of times in the last few weeks. Sighted in a nearby town, the brilliant bird has been visiting a backyard feeder, drawing visitors from near and far who stand in the cold and snow, hoping for a glimpse, or even better—an amazing photo. Click on the photo below for amazing detail.

(Thanks to Kris Schmucker)

Who knows what has brought that bird to our area? It doesn’t belong here. This is probably a once-in-a-lifetime for local birders.

Maybe God simply thought these gray, frigid February days needed that splash of joy? (Seriously, I’ve often thought that this is the only reason for the amazing, intricate delicacy of design and color. God didn’t crank out birds on an assembly line. He hand-painted them strictly for our enjoyment.)

In one of Paul’s sermons, he says that joy filling the heart is one of God’s good gifts, “evidence of himself and his goodness,” given even to those who do not believe (Acts 14:16-17). Have you seen evidence of His presence today? How has He shown himself or spoken to you today?

The evidence is there in the natural world: the birds, the pine trees laced with snow, the sun behind the clouds. And even as we entered the deepest, coldest part of our winter, we had a long string of stunning sunsets and sunrises in the last two months.

There is no doubt that God wants people to know that He is here, and He is here now, in this day. He wants us to hear Him speaking to us.

He speaks in many ways and languages. For you, it may not be nature. It might be music, science, a personal interaction, some kindness, a miracle, His Word, the Spirit within.

Rebecca Hatch, one of the writers in the devotional I announced yesterday (Boundless: 40 Devotionals on Living the Gift), put it this way: “You and I were designed to soak up God’s presence in unique ways.”

Tell us in the comments: How have you seen Him, heard Him, and soaked in His presence today? You were designed for that!

“Boundless” – On living the full experience

God cares about your day. We might think of “salvation” as God saving our souls for a future life in heaven, but there’s so much more to the story: He cares about what is happening to our soul today.

When He saves us and moves us to His Kingdom, His “salvation package” includes boundless gifts of heaven for our lives today. Peter wrote that we should crave spiritual nourishment so we can live the “full experience” of our salvation (1 Peter 2:2).

I’ve had the privilege of working with a group of writers who created a 40-day devotional on some of those gifts of salvation. We know that the wonderful things God has for us are “too numerous to list (Ps. 40:5),” but these writers have made a start, sharing some of the ways His salvation changes their lives.

In the Scriptures, the number 40 has transformative significance. Rain for 40 days and nights changed the world.  Moses lived in the wilderness 40 years as God prepared him for a huge assignment. Jesus, after a 40-day testing in the wilderness returned to begin His ministry “filled with the Holy Spirit’s power.”

Our prayer is that 40 days of meditating on these gifts of salvation will change us, too, and help us all live more fully in the boundless blessings.

Boundless: 40 Devotionals on Living the Gift is available on Amazon. The paperback booklet includes additional Scriptures for further study and space to journal your own thoughts and prayers. An ebook is also available.   

(And the word Editor should follow my name, not Author. Twelve others dedicated themselves to do most of the writing!)

“You feed them.”

Has Jesus said this to you lately? Maybe not those exact words, but something like, “Here’s what I want you to do…”

My reading in Mark this morning was the loaves and fishes story in chapter 6, and it made me squirm a bit. This week, the Spirit has been probing my thinking, shining a light in some corners that need to be cleaned out and renovated. Yeah, He made this passage pretty personal today.

It had been a long day. Jesus had news of his cousin John’s death at the hands of Herod. A scandalous story. When he tried to take some personal time, the crowds followed him. Wouldn’t let him alone. He saw their need, and his compassion could not turn them away. He spent the entire day teaching them.

Everyone’s stomachs eventually started rumbling. The disciples looked around, and the facts of the situation were daunting. They were miles from a town. Thousands of people were hungry. No food trucks waited in the parking lot.

It’s time to send everyone home.

But Jesus said, “You feed them.”

Put yourself there as one of the disciples. Jesus has just told you to do the impossible. I’d be speechless. What do you say to instructions like that, instructions to do something that is so clearly impossible? My default setting is to look at all the reasons why not.

The disciples weren’t speechless; they voiced their bewilderment.

“How much bread do you have?” asked Jesus. “Go and find out.”

Ah. Get yourself in gear. Take inventory. Make the assessment: What CAN I do? When Jesus presents us with a challenge, aren’t we too often focused on making a long list of reasons why we CAN’T do anything and why this is surely impossible?

Gather what you do have. Then report back to Jesus and follow his next instructions.

And see what he does with what you do have.

Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then breaking the loaves into pieces, he kept giving the bread to the disciples so they could distribute it to the people. (Mark 6:41 NLT)