This Little Light of…His

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I came across this rather interesting lighthouse which was appropriately named Twisted Upright House. It was one of the 30+ effigies that got consumed by fire at a Burning Man’s  event in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert back in 2012. Like all the other structures that are part of this annual pyro art ritual, this non-operational lighthouse was carefully engineered and constructed out of wood. They even managed to decorate the top portion of it with real stained glass panels. The light that you see, however, is not part of the lighthouse. It is actually the moon! Photographer Leasha pop6Hooker managed to creatively capture (at the right time/angle) a full moon as it rose and shone right through the tower’s lens room. An incredible shot indeed. After its completion, the structure was ignited and it eventually collapsed after burning for a few hours. Although that is the whole idea behind this event that attracts thousands every year, I don’t think I would have enjoyed watching that amazing piece of art being destroyed on purpose, especially since it was a lighthouse!

Like the temporary Twisted Upright House, we too are here for just a short amount of time. The Bible says that while our inner self is being renewed each day, our outward self is being wasted away (2 Corinthians 4:16). We do not know the day nor the hour when we will cease functioning as lighthouses for God here on earth, but until then, and regardless of how young or old we may be, we are to reflect the glorious light of Christ in this dark and also temporary world. Not only by witnessing to others, but most importantly, by living a life in obedience to God’s Word. We must commit to do as that old traditional hymn suggests,

This little light of mine I’m gonna let it shine.
This little light of mine I’m gonna let it shine.
This little light of mine I’m gonna let it shine,
let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

I must confess that I have become overly critical about the songs we sing at church today, especially the contemporary ones. So the last time I heard someone singing this old time classic I couldn’t help but to analyze it as well. Theologically speaking, the light that we are encouraged to shine (in this song) is really not our own. Jesus did say that we are the light of the world, but we must understand that He is the exclusive source of that poplight and that the only way we can be light is if He lives in our hearts. Otherwise, we will end up like those pagans who believe that our “inner light” is the reflection of good deeds, happy thoughts, and good intentions. All of which are nothing more than “filthy rags” according to Scriptures (Isaiah 64:6). The only light that can guide people out of the darkness of sin is the (guiding) light of Christ. The only light that can save people from eternal damnation is the (saving) light of Christ. And the only light that will continue to shine forevermore is the (eternal) light of Christ. So, the next time you find yourself singing along to This Little Light it’s OK if you change it a little. Just don’t go and alter the church’s hymnal, please!

This little light of His in me I’m gonna let it shine.
This little light of His in me I’m gonna let it shine.
This little light of His in me I’m gonna let it shine,
let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

The Twisted Upright House may have stood tall and strong for just a short time before its demise, but the light that shone through it on that hot dessert night can still be seen all over the world today!

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Likewise, the glorious light of Christ will continue to shine brightly long after we are gone. And prayerfully, our legacy will testify of its power far beyond our neighborhoods and our churches.

Let’s finish the song, shall we?

Won’t let Satan blow it out. I’m gonna let it shine.
Won’t let Satan blow it out. I’m gonna let it shine.
Won’t let Satan blow it out. I’m gonna let it shine,
let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Let it shine til Jesus comes. I’m gonna let it shine.
Let it shine til Jesus comes. I’m gonna let it shine.
Let it shine til Jesus comes.  I’m gonna let it shine,

let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Hide it under a bushel – NO! I’m gonna let it shine.
Hide it under a bushel – NO! I’m gonna let it shine.
Hide it under a bushel – NO! I’m gonna let it shine,

let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Let it shine over the whole wide world,
I’m gonna let it shine.
Let it shine over the whole wide world,
I’m gonna let it shine.
Let it shine over the whole wide world,
I’m gonna let it shine,

let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

(Lyrics found at songandpriase.org)

Prayer: This little light of Yours Lord, I want to let it shine. Let it shine so that anyone and everyone who sees me will see You. Let it shine where it is needed the most and not just in church or among other believers. And let it shine so that others will be encouraged to do the same. In your precious name I pray, amen. 

Burning Lighthouse photo courtesy of wandering-through-time-and-place.me
Other images from Google search images. No copyright info available.

Like Little Red

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One of my goals for this summer is to visit at least 6 local lighthouses. A couple of weeks ago I visited the third one on my list (pictured above). This little red lighthouse is located in Fort Washington Park along the Hudson River in New York City. It is actually known as, The Little Red Lighthouse (officially Jeffrey’s Hook Light) and it sits on a small sharp rocky point just a few feet away from the George Washington Bridge a.k.a the GWB.

Every lighthouse has a story. Many of them have gained recognition because of 1407496528-150x150their history, design and/or location. However, this little red lighthouse’s rise to fame came about as a result of a 1942 children’s storybook titled,The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge” written by Hildegarde Swift and illustrated by Lynd Ward. But before I give you a summary of the book, which is the basis for this week’s devotion, let me tell you a little bit about the lighthouse.

This 40 ft cast iron tower was originally built in 1880 and served as the North Hook Beacon at Sandy Hook, NJ until it became obsolete and was decommissioned in 1917.  2 LHcAfter standing strong for almost 40 years it was dismantled and placed in storage until 1921 when it was reconstructed at its current location in NYC. However, ten years later and at the completion of the George Washington Bridge, the lighthouse was once again rendered obsolete. In order to prevent it from being auctioned off, an outpouring of support by fans (mostly parents and children) of The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge rallied against its removal and successfully prompted its preservation by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. Today, this little red lighthouse is the centerpiece of a small New York City park and a beloved children’s literary landmark.

I haven’t set foot in a library in decades! Luckily, my wife recently got a card from a library just a few yards away from her job. So obviously, I asked her to borrow The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge so I could read it. This story is about a small lighthouse whose job is to warn the boats on the Hudson River of the dangerous rocks nearby. Every night a man (the keeper) has to climb up its stairs to turn on the light. During foggy nights he must also wind a clock that is attached to its warning bell. 2 LHcThis gives the lighthouse a sense of purpose and importance, at least for a little while. One day the lighthouse becomes confound as it watches this great gray bridge being built right over it. Once completed, the bridge overshadows the little lighthouse making it feel small and insignificant. To make matters worse, the bridge has a very big light and the little lighthouse ends up feeling totally useless.

sometimes small can be mighty

One night, a storm arrives along with heavy fog, but the keeper never shows up IMAG4534_1to turn on its light or wind the bell’s clock. Now the lighthouse is convinced that it will never shine again. However, the dense fog does not allow the boats on the river to see the light atop the bridge and since the lighthouse’s light and bell are off a “fat black tug” helplessly crashes against the rocks. The bridge immediately calls to the lighthouse for help, reassuring it that it is still needed. The keeper suddenly appears and makes his way to the lighthouse to activate it once again. Little Red is now operational and very glad to know that it is still important. It realizes that sometimes “small can be mighty!”

Have you ever felt rejected, unimportant or insignificant like the little red lighthouse? Perhaps you have felt inadequate, unprepared, unqualified or even unworthy, especially when compared to others who are more eloquent, outspoken, talented or even “spiritual” than you are. The Bible says that once you accept Jesus as Lord and Savior not only are you a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) but you actually become a child of the living God (John 1:12). If that alone does not give you a sense of worth, importance, and confidence in regard to who you are, then how about this?

  1. You are holy, unblemished and blameless (Colossians 1:22)
  2. You are an heir of God and co-heir with Christ Jesus (Romans 8:16-17)
  3. You are part of a royal priesthood, God’s special possession (1 Peter 2:9) 
  4. You are a friend of God (John 15:14,15)
  5. You are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14)
  6. You are an ambassador of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20)
  7. You are God’s masterpiece, created with a purpose (Ephesians 2:10)
  8. You are blessed with every spiritual blessing (Ephesian 1:3)
  9. You are the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21)
  10. You are God’s beloved (Colossians 3:12)

It took a young shepherd boy to defeat a mighty warrior who terrorized the ranks of Israel (1 Samuel 17). It was a child who provided his small meal to miraculously feed over 6,000 hungry people (John 6).  Naaman was healed of leprosy because he trusted a little slave girl (2 Kings 5). God used the curiosity of a small man, who was actually despised because of his profession, to change his life forever (Luke 19).

So, no matter where you are, whether at church, work, school, incarcerated, in a hospital bed, among friends or just sitting there wondering what’s your purpose in life, know that you are important to God. So important and so loved by Him that he sent His only Son, Jesus, to die as a ransom for your sins and offer you eternal life (John 3:16). Don’t compare yourself to anyone, let alone those who appear to be “greater” than you. God is no respecter of persons. He does not show favoritism (Romans 2:11).  He has blessed us all with different gifts and as part of the body of Christ, we ALL play an important role in advancing His kingdom. As long as you remain humble, obedient, and willing to serve God, He can and will use you. Remember that (in God) small can be mighty!

Prayer: Almighty Father, thank you for being mindful of me. When I least deserved it you loved me and paid a great price for my salvation. You thought I was worth it and therefore I find my purpose and my worth in you. Lead me and guide me so that I may fulfill your plan for my life. In Jesus name I pray, amen. 

 

He Is The Painter, We Are His Glow

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The Bible says that every perfect gift comes from God and there is no doubt that He has blessed mankind with some pretty amazing (perfect) gifts. Painting, for example, is one of the most awe-inspiring God-given talents, especially Realism Art. The world has truly enjoyed the contribution of quite a number of exceptional painters and, in my opinion, the work of renown inspirational artist Thomas Kinkade, aka “The Painter of Light”, is definitely one of them. Pictured above is one of the 19 paintings in his Lighthouse Collection. It is titled, “The Light of Peace.” Although I would love to own a copy of this print (perhaps someday), I’ll settle to have it as a desktop wallpaper for now.

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Kinkade, a self-proclaimed Christian, attributed his inspiration to God and although most of his collection depict nature scenes if you ever come across his paintings you would immediately see why. His artistic style, though regarded by some of his colleagues as being overly sentimental, allowed him to imbue an almost heaven-like peace in all of his works. Whether he painted an imaginary or existing scenery he was able to transform it into a place that most of us only dream of—a world of living color and soothing tranquility. It is said that the magic behind his paintings was his incredible ability to perfectly incorporate the element of light (referred to by some as “The Kinkade glow“) in every brush stroke.

25posts“In the often hurried and complex world we live in, the images that Thomas Kinkade painted offer a place of refuge – a place where the transient things of life give way to the things that matter most.” -Thomaskinkade.com

Although there are actual places on earth where time seems to stand still and where the beauty of creation makes it feel almost like paradise, the truth is that we live in a fallen world that has been tarnished and darkened by the power of sin and death -a darkness that enslaves all those who live apart from God and causes the earth to yearn for its redemption. The Bible makes it clear that those who are without Christ are dead in their sin and transgressions. That is why when a sinner comes into a right relationship with God, through faith in Jesus, it is said that he passes from death to life and from darkness to light.

Unlike the “Kinkade glow,” the light of God is real. It is the only thing that can pierce through the darkness of sin and defeat eternal death. It is the life-saving and life-giving light that can transform any depraved and mundane life into a radiant testimony of God’s redeeming grace. Jesus (God incarnate) is the light of the world and all those who follow Him have come out of darkness and now possess His glorious light. Unfortunately, there are still many who are trapped in this world’s illusion of love, peace, and joy unaware of the darkness that engulfs them. Some have been able to see the light of God from a distance but find it very difficult to reach because there is no one to nonjudgmentally guide them towards it. Still, there are others who have received God’s light but are currently in the dark due to an unconfessed sin or a challenging time in their lives. That is why we cannot afford to keep the light of Christ to ourselves. We must step out of our comfort zones (churches, homes, and spiritual circles) and into the canvas of this dark world so we can be the light God called us to be.

Thomas Kinkade may have characterized himself as “The Painter of Light,” but when we consider that his inspiration was the God of all creation and the One who spoke light into existence we realize that there is only one true Master artist, his name is Jesus. And since He is the true Painter of Light, that makes us “God’s glow.” So, let us bring His light wherever we go!

Prayer: Dear Father of light. Your glory and your creative power are declared throughout all of creation. Yet I am your greatest masterpiece. Not only because you fearfully and wonderfully created me, but because you have deposited your light within me. Lead me wherever darkness abounds so that this light may bring salvation to lost and brighten the day of the broken-hearted. In Jesus name I pray, amen. 

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” –James 1:17
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins.” -Ephesians 2:1
“Arise, shine, for your light, has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.”  -Isaiah 60:1
“I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.” –John 5:24 (NLT)
“For you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light” – Ephesians 5:8 (NASB)
The ways of right-living people glow with light; the longer they live, the brighter they shine.” -Proverbs 4:18 (MSG)
-All Scripture is quoted from the NIV except where specified.

When You’re Needed The Most

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On November 9, 1975, the legendary Edmund Fitzgerald, a 729-foot long freighter, set out on what would be its last voyage. On the evening of November 10, it encountered a massive storm packing 80 miles per hour winds and producing wave surges of up to 25 ft high. While struggling to stay on course, the winter tempest knocked out the ship’s radar. At the same time, a power outage disabled the nearest lighthouse. Some still believe that if the lighthouse had been operational the captain could have seen its light and steer the ship closer to the shore avoiding the mammoth wave that ultimately sank it, along with its entire 29-member crew, to the bottom of Lake Superior.

It’s sad enough to read about the countless shipwrecks that occurred before lighthouses were ever built, but it’s even more devastating to Image1know that a tragedy like this one could have been avoided if a lighthouse had been functioning as expected. I can only imagine the desperation of the captain searching for a beam of hope in the midst of that turbulence and not being able to find one. I think of how frustrating it has been the few times we have experienced a blackout and I have frantically run to get a flashlight only to find out that its batteries are either dead or missing!

Now, more than ever, we need to be conscious that we are in the last days before the imminent return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We are not only living in the days of 2 Timothy 3:1-4, but also of Isaiah 60:2. It is a time when the darkness of moral decadence and the powers of spiritual principalities are overtaking the world. Therefore, it is also a time to stand firm in our faith and boldly keep the Gospel light blazing! There are many stamp1who are spiritually lost and desperately seeking a light to guide them. And while they may find some sense of direction in the temporary things of the world, they will never escape the crippling darkness of sin unless they come to the saving light of Jesus. The light that you and I possess. That is why we cannot allow our own personal storms to extinguish that light, especially in a time when the world needs it the most. The darker the world gets, the brighter we ought to shine. However, the only way we can accomplish that is by remaining plugged into the power of the Holy Spirit. So let us keep shining, even when darkness appears to surround us. For we do not know if, during that very same time, our light may be the one to save a soul from sinking in despair.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, as the world continues to sink deeper and deeper into the darkness of sin, may my light continue to shine ever so brightly so that those who are lost may find their way to You. Remind me that no matter the magnitude of the storms that come my way my light must not be extinguished. For my light is the truth of your Gospel -the only hope for those navigating in darkness. Help me to keep shining especially when I am needed the most. 

“But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God…” -2Timothy 3:1-4  (NASB)
“For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people” – Isaiah 60:2
” For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” – Ephesians 6:12
“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 4:6
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” – John 1:5
-All Scripture is quoted from the NIV except where specified.

 

All Lights Matter

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Pictured above are two lighthouses. The one on the left is the Jeddah Light. Located in Saudi Arabia’s principal seaport, it is the world’s tallest lighthouse measuring approximately 436 ft. The one on the right is the North Queensferry Light Tower. At only 11 ft., it is the world’s smallest operational lighthouse and it sits on the pier of a small town in Scotland. If we were to compare these two towers side by side this is what we would see (below). The object in the red circle is the Queens Ferry Light.

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Considering the definition of a beacon (a light serving as a signal, warning, or guide), which one of these two structures is truly a lighthouse? Which one really matters to those needing navigational guidance? Of course, the answer to both questions is “both.” They may differ structurally, but these two towers share the same purpose. While the Jeddah Light was designed to signal ships along its 1,640-mile coastline, the Queensferry Light was designed to guide local ferries along the edge of a river stretching 29 miles in length.

I respect the ideologies behind the recent ALMslogans that proclaim the value of human life regardless of race, sexual orientation, or profession. But I am convinced that they are not accomplishing what they were intended to. In fact, I believe they are causing more harm than good. But since they are rather catchy and seem to awaken some degree of awareness, please allow me to suggest yet another slogan, only that this one is aimed specifically at the Christian community. How about, “All Lights Matter”?

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God is not a respecter of persons. His word declares that everyone is a sinner and destined to perdition, but it also affirms that anyone who comes to Him through faith in Christ is forgiven and receives the promise of eternal life. When Jesus said “You are the light of the world” he was referring not only to His immediate followers but to His followers throughout the ages, which includes you and me and all those yet to believe. 

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It’s not age, gender, stature, theological knowledge, or even years in ministry that qualifies a follower of Christ to be a light to the lost. Nor is there a specific place to shine that light. Every believer is called to proclaim the Gospel message right where they are. Whether in a small town or in a big city, through a bullhorn or via the internet, whether rich or poor, educated or illiterate, young or old, we are ALL lighthouses for God. So, don’t let anyone or anything discourage you from shining your light. It may be by contending for your faith, sharing your testimony, taking the time to listen, or performing a simple act of kindness, but your light is just as important and effective as Billy Graham’s, Mother Teresa’s, John Calvin’s, Charles Spurgeon’s, and even the Apostle Paul’s. We may be different in more ways than one, but we all share the same purpose – to light up the world with the message of hope. So, you see, to God all lights matter because they all lead to Him. 

Prayer: Dear God, because you are no respecter of persons, your light has guided me to the cross where I have found my salvation. By your mercy and grace, you have now deposited that light in me so that I may show others the way to Jesus. Remind me that my light does matter so that wherever I am I may proclaim your truth with boldness. I rely solely on your Spirit for it is only through Him that you will draw the lost unto you. 

“Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:” -Acts 10:34 (KJV)
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” – Romans 3:23 (KJV)
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” -Romans 10:9
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” -John 3:16
“For this is what the Lord has commanded us: “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.'” -Acts 13:47
-All Scripture is quoted from the NIV except where specified.

 

 

Sands of Time

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The story of the Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse (pictured above) reminds me of one of my all-time favorite movies, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time. In this action fantasy film, a special dagger holds magical sands that have the power to turn back time. Whoever wields the dagger is able to alter the future by changing the past.

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In the case of the Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse, it was only a matter of time before shifting sands altered its future. Built in 1899, the lighthouse stood 75 feet tall on a dune-less cliff overlooking the North Channel of the Irish sea. 

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At the time of its completion, it was approximately 650 feet away from the ocean, but as years passed, unexpected beach erosions created growing sand dunes and began shortening the distance between its foundation and the cliff’s edge. Lighthouse_Rubjerg_Knude_1912

At one point the dunes got so high that mariners could neither see its light nor hear its foghorn. Consequently, due to the laboriously unsuccessful attempt to keep the sand away from the tower, it was decommissioned in 1968. 

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However, in order to encourage the continued patronage of visitors, the adjacent buildings, which had also been damaged by the sand, were remodeled and turned into a museum and a coffee shop. Unfortunately, they operated for only a few short years before succumbing to the force of nature. By 2002 the lighthouse was officially abandoned and it joined the list of dead sentinels of the sea.


As of today, the lighthouse can still be accessed on foot, but because it is estimated that by 2023 coastal erosion will cause it to crash into the ocean, it will most likely be a lighthouse I will never have the joy of visiting. Unless of course, I am velsignet (blessed) with a roundtrip fare to Denmark before its demise!

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Sand is typically made of rocks and minerals that have been finely grounded by the ocean waves. In the Bible, sand is often used as a symbol of innumerable quantities (Gen. 22:17, Josh. 11:4, Ps 78:27) and also as a symbol of weight and instability (Job 6:3, Prov. 27:3, Mat. 7:26).

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At times, the trials of life may feel as burdensome as carrying a sand-filled backpack. In fact, you may even feel that your personal struggles are as numerous as the sand. But remember, Jesus never promised us a trouble free life nor one with limited challenges. What He did promise, however, was that through every difficult situation He would be there with us right to the very end. He even encouraged us to be cheerful during trying times by reminding us that He overcame the world. If you ever feel like you cannot carry the load of your worries and cares don’t forget that Jesus also offered to give you rest if you bring your burdens to Him and submit to his Lordship. It’s all a matter of trusting Him and taking Him up on His word.

The sands of time will continue to blow around the Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse. They will eventually consume it, but probably not before the eroding shoreline reaches its foundation causing it to collapse into the sea below. Considering this terrible and imminent loss, be careful that your spiritual foundation is built solely on the word of God. The sands of immorality, dishonesty, hypocrisy and uncertainty will continue to blow around you, but if you remain faithful to God and to His word they will not overtake you. And even if you feel like the grounds around you are crumbling, if Jesus is the Rock on which you stand, you will not fall. 

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I humbly submit to you and lay my burdens at your feet. For there alone is where I can truly find rest for my weary soul. Thank you that you promised to never leave me alone and to be with me at all times. Help me to be mindful of your presence, especially when the sands of adversity blow in my direction. And when the world around me seems to cave in, I know that my faith in you and in your promises will sustain me. In your precious name I pray, amen.

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” -John 16:33 (KJV)
“…for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” -Hebrew 13:5-6 (ESV)
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” -Matthew 11:29
“If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways” -Psalm 91:9-11
-All Scripture is quoted from the NIV except where specified.