Sunday, April 30, 2017

April 30, 2017 … God’s Love is FOREVER!

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 120 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of images and lyrics from a soloist from the Maranatha Singers singing … I Love You Lord … poignantly singing of the love we hold for the One Who loved us enough to die for us.


=============
Highlight Verse[s]: Psalm 4:3 … [NLT] … 
3 You can be sure of this: The Lord set apart the godly for Himself. [And] The Lord will answer when I call Him. 
… David’s confidence that he was loved and heard by his God … WHENEVER and FOREVER!
=============
Highlight Passage [context]: Psalm 4:1-8 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… David was in a bad place when he wrote this song; but He knew that His God loved him and would hear his pleas for help.
=============

Reference Passage #1 [NKJV] : … Jeremiah 31:3 [NLT] … 
3 Long ago the Lord said to Isreal: “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to Myself. ..."
… Do we get it that this prophesy means us Christians as well.

Reference Passage #2 [NKJV] : … John 15:12 [NLT] … 
12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 
 … We’re to love others with the same kind of love He has loved us.

Reference Passage #3 [NKJV] : … James 1:12 [NLT] … 
12 God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.
…We prove and receive God’s forever love when we endure in HIs Name and for His glory.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, David Roper, made a very practical statement in introducing his entry today and then quoted an early church father. The ODB author wrote: It’s almost impossible for us to get through a day without being snubbed, ignored, or put down in some way. Sometimes we even do it to ourselves. … [BUT] … 
 “The true measure of God’s love is that He loves without measure.” - Bernard of Clairvaux

I know it’s a big jump from Roper’s introduction to the truth quoted by Bernard of Clairvaux; but we, who’ve experienced the saving love and grace of Jesus by recognizing His Lordship in faith, have been called, as David wrote in Psalm 4 (see above), to experience God’s “without measure” love forever.

So, if you’re feeling down on yourself or we’re experiencing the pressures of the world or Satan, as was David in the highlight psalm above, just sing along with the Maranatha Singers in the linked song … that we love our Lord and lift our voice to worship Him … no matter what we’re experiencing. And take a few moments to meditate on the reference passages above and realize that God loved us enough to send His own Son to die for us.

Now that’s FOREVER LOVE!!

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … dear Lord, … Your love is mine … FOREVER. … Amen

Blogger Note:  Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online devotional blog entitled Our Daily Bread, distributed online via email by RBC Ministries.  If you GO TO THIS LINK on the date of my blog, you can read/study the ODB blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

April 29, 2017 … The “Son” Will Rise

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 119 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of images and lyrics from Maureen McGovern singing … The Morning After … poignantly singing of the faith all Christians need to see thru the foggy nights of life to see the SON shining in the morning.


=============
Highlight Verse[s]: Hebrews 11:1 … [NLT] … 
1 Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see. 
… We walk by faith and not by sight.
=============
Highlight Passage [context]: Hebrews 11:1-8 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Faith is our radar through the fogs of life.
=============

Reference Passage #1 [NKJV] : … Isaiah 26:3 [NLT] … 
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and do not depend on your own understanding. 6 Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take. 
… That’s walking by faith and not by sight.

Reference Passage #2 [NKJV] : … Proverbs 3:5-6 [NLT] … 
3 you will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, … all those whose thoughts are fixed on You. 
… When we’re troubled by what we see, our faithful focus on God give us peace.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Cindy Hess Kasper, used a personal story to illustrate how our faith gives us a view on the future that allows us to see the “Son” rising tomorrow even though the fog covers us today. The ODB author wrote: It was very late when we stopped for the night at a country inn outside of Munich. We were delighted to see that our cozy room had a balcony, although an oppressive fog made it impossible to see into the darkness. But when the sun rose a few hours later, the haze began to fade. Then we could see what had been grimly shrouded the night before—a completely idyllic scene [see photo]—peaceful and lush green meadow, sheep grazing with tiny tinkling bells about their necks, and big white clouds in the sky that looked exactly like more sheep—huge, fluffy sheep! 

I think everyone (yes, even Christians) experiences those foggy nights in life where it’s frightfully hard to see a few feet in front of where we are. But then the morning sun rises, as in the author’s story, and we can see clearly. But what brings us thru the times where we’re in that fog? …

It’s our faith, isn’t it?!

We don’t need to see clearly ahead all the time as Christians, do we? NO; … we know that our “Son” is going to rise tomorrow to give us the light of faith to move ahead. It’s as Maureen McGovern so poignantly sings in the linked song. It may be frightfully dark tonight; but there is going to be a “morning after!” And for Christians, that’s when the “SON” rises in our hearts and we walk by faith.

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … dear Lord, … You’re leading me thru this foggy night; and I know Your Son is rising in my heart. … Amen

Blogger Note:  Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online devotional blog entitled Our Daily Bread, distributed online via email by RBC Ministries.  If you GO TO THIS LINK on the date of my blog, you can read/study the ODB blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Friday, April 28, 2017

April 28, 2017 … Chilling Out With Grace

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 118 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …   Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of images from the group “Unspoken” singing … Call It Grace … poignantly singing that the only force we, as Christians, have to avoid anger and sin is God’s empowering grace.


=============
Highlight Verse[s]: Proverbs 20:3 … [NLT] … 
3 Avoiding a fight is a mark of honor; only fools insist on quarreling. 
… Me thinks some of us need to meditate on that one.
=============
Highlight Passage [context]: Proverbs 20:1-15 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… God gives us the power, thru His grace, to deal with our emotions … especially our anger. 
=============

Reference Passage #1 [NKJV] : … Isaiah 26:3 [NLT] … 
3 you will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, … all those whose thoughts are fixed on You. 
… God’s prescription to avoid sinful anger …

Reference Passage #2 [NKJV] : … John 14:27 [NLT] … 
27 “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. ... " 
… Jesus would give His disciples His Spirit [and to us] to provide them (us) with His peace.

Reference Passage #3 [NKJV] : … Galatians 5:22-23 [NLT] … 
22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, goodness, faithfulness, 23 GENTLENESS, and SELF-CONTROL.  There is no law against these things! 
… Notice how many of God’s fruit [in CAPS], from His grace, must mature in our spirit to allow His spirit to quell our anger.
Reference Passage #4 [NKJV] : … Ephesians 4:26 [NLT] … 
26 And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry,
… Paul teaching on how we, as Christians must surrender to God’s grace, which allows us to control our anger.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Jennifer Benson Schuldt, used a story from a friend’s life to illustrate how God’s grace allows us to have self-control over our anger. The ODB author wrote: One morning in Perth, Australia, Fionn Mulholland discovered his car was missing. That’s when he realized he had mistakenly parked in a restricted zone and his car had been towed away. After considering the situation—even the $600 towing and parking fine—Mulholland was frustrated, but he decided not to be angry with the person he would work with to retrieve his car. Instead of venting his feelings, Mulholland wrote a humorous poem about the situation and read it to the worker he met at the tow yard. The worker liked the poem, and a possible ugly confrontation never took place. 

These days we hear young people admonishing their friends to “chill out,” … because it’s so easy, isn’t it [?!}, in this fast-paced impersonal age, to let our anger boil out of control. Of all the fruit of God’s Spirit (see Gal. 5:22-23) the Lord has imparted to my spirit, several of them, which He gave us to control our anger, need some more maturing to allow God’s grace to help me quell my anger in situations which provoke my sinful desire to let anger burst forth from my humanity. … Can I get a witness?

In today's world, with all that Satan and the world does to divide and discourage us, it’s so easy to let our very human, and still sinful, spirits boil over with anger. But as Jesus said to His Disciples in that upper room before He went to the cross [see John 14:27] … that He would give us His grace through His Spirit, (as the linked song conveys) to allow us to have the choice to avoid our anger and to experience God’s peace (see also Isaiah 26:3).

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … dear Lord, … as I focus on You, even here today, help me tap in to Your grace to help me quell my anger. … Amen

Blogger Note:  Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online devotional blog entitled Our Daily Bread, distributed online via email by RBC Ministries.  If you GO TO THIS LINK on the date of my blog, you can read/study the ODB blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

April 27, 2017 … Love In Their Language

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 117 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video images from Steve Green singing the truth of sharing God’s love with others in the song … People Need the Lord … poignantly singing of the universal reality that we need to be sharing our Lord’s love with any and all who will listen.


=============
Highlight Verse[s]: Acts 17:22-23 … [NLT] … 
22 So Paul, standing before the council, addressed them as follows: “Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way, 23 for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about. 
… Paul did all he could to make those to whom he shared the Gospel message feel like he was speaking to friends rather than enemies.
=============
Highlight Passage [context]: Acts 17:22-32 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… The story of Paul on the Acropolis in Athens speaking to local dignitaries IN THEIR OWN LANGUAGE about THEIR OWN LIFE CUSTOMS to help him set the stage for the Gospel. 
=============

Reference Passage #1 [NKJV] : … John 14:6 [NLT] … 
6 Jesus told [His disciples], “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. … “ 
… Jesus shared the ultimate truth which needs to be conveyed to all thru our witness.

Reference Passage #2 [NKJV] : … 1st Corinthians 10:27-33 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Paul teaching on how to share God’s love with others who have different customs and lifestyles, doing all we can short of offending God to make those with whom we share feel comfortable and accepted.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Dave Branon, used a personal story to illustrate how sharing God’s love with others - in their own language - can help us sharing His love, making others see how much we care for them. The ODB author wrote: I stood before the gathering at a small Jamaican church and said in my best local dialect, “Wah Gwan, Jamaica?” The reaction was better than I expected, as smiles and applause greeted me. 
In reality, all I had said was the standard greeting, “What’s going on?” in Patois [pa-twa], but to their ears I was saying, “I care enough to speak your language.” Of course I did not yet know enough Patois to continue, but a door had been opened. 

Do my readers here agree that we all feel uncomfortable when we’re in the presence of someone trying to share their thoughts in a language we don’t understand? … Of course, we are! … And the opposite is also true, … that we feel more at ease and willing to listen when someone is trying to convey their thoughts to us … in our own language.

Well, that’s what the Apostle Paul was up against when we was called to speak to a group of influential Greek leaders on Mars Hill in Athens (see the highlight passage); but Paul knew their language; and in fact, he spoke them about their own spiritual customs to make them be more ready to hear about the truths he wanted to share with them about His great God. And that’s a lesson we all need to learn and apply when we’re trying to share God’s love with others. Everyone needs Jesus (hear the linked song); but they will hear Him better in their own language or as we share live with them in their own ways of living (see 1Cor. 10:27-33).

So, … if there are obvious differences, especially language differences, when we share God’s love with others who need Christ, we need to do all we can to share God’s love with others in “their own language” if possible. But remember, when you encounter someone - maybe today - who doesn’t speak our language, EVERYONE can understand a smile … or a sincere handshake … or even a hug. God’s love translates well through that universal language … to ANYONE … ANYWHERE.

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … dear Lord, … help me to do all I can to share your love with those who need You … even to those who live differently than me or speak another language. Let them see You in my smile or my touch - even today. … Amen

Blogger Note:  Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online devotional blog entitled Our Daily Bread, distributed online via email by RBC Ministries.  If you GO TO THIS LINK on the date of my blog, you can read/study the ODB blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

April 26, 2017 … He Touched Me

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 116 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of images from Elvis Presley singing the Gaither classic … He Touched Me … poignantly singing of the reality of what happens when one is “touched” by the grace of God in/through our Savior.


=============
Highlight Verse[s]: Luke 5:12-13 … [NLT] … 
12 In one of the villages, Jesus met a man with an advanced case of leprosy. When the man saw Jesus, he bowed with his face to the ground, begging to be healed. “Lord,” he said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.” … 13 Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared. 
… Jesus was willing to reach out and touch even a leprous outcast. Who are we willing to reach out today and touch with our lives, our testimony, … or a simple hug?
=============
Highlight Passage [context]: Luke 5:12-16 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Luke relates the encounter where Jesus reached out an touched (and healed) a leper. 
=============

Reference Passage #1 [NKJV] : … John 13:5 [NLT] … 
5 … Then [Jesus] began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him. 
… If Jesus is willing to wash our feet, who will we reach out to touch with His love today?

Reference Passage #2 [NKJV] : … Galatians 6:10 [NLT] … 
10 Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith. 
… When we have an opportunity today to touch someone’s life with God’s love … will we?

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Mart DeHaan, used a news story about an older woman’s frightful willingness to reach out and touch someone with motherly love. The ODB author wrote: Commuters on a Canadian Metro train witnessed a heart-moving conclusion to a tense moment. They watched as a 70-year old woman gently reached out and offered her hand to a young man whose loud voice and disturbing words were scaring other passengers. The lady’s kindness calmed the man who sank to the floor of the train with tears in his eyes. He said, “Thanks, Grandma,” stood up, and walked away. The woman later admitted to being afraid. But she said, “I’m a mother and he needed someone to touch.” While better judgment might have given her reason to keep her distance, she took a risk of love. 

Fellow Christian readers, … I’m assuming that we’ve all been touched by Jesus’ willingness to reach out to those, as was the leper in the highlight account or an outcast like me when He came after me, … i.e, those whom others would rather not even look at.

Those with leprosy in Jesus’ day were total outcasts, even required - by Jewish law - to walk about declaring loudly, “Unclean!” And when Jesus was approached by a desperate leper seeking healing [see highlight passage], … what did Jesus do? He didn’t hesitate, did He? No, our Lord simply reached out in love and touched the man, healing this outcast immediately.

He did that to me too a little over 35 years ago. No, I wasn’t a leper; but my sins had covered me with open sores of shame and I became untouchable to some.  But not Jesus! He came after me; and He was willing to hug me with His love and grace? And my friend, the least I can do, if I’m given the opportunity today, is to respond to His touch by reaching out and touching others, … maybe with my testimony … or even a hug.

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … dear Lord, … thank You for touching me with Your love and truth today in my morning time with You. And I do pray that You give me at least one opportunity to touch someone today with Your love through my touch. … Amen

Blogger Note:  Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online devotional blog entitled Our Daily Bread, distributed online via email by RBC Ministries.  If you GO TO THIS LINK on the date of my blog, you can read/study the ODB blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

April 25, 2017 … All The Way To The Top

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 115 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video images from the group Phillips, Craig, and Dean singing their song … He’ll Do Whatever It Takes … poignantly singing of encouraging others that God will do whatever it takes to bring that lost one to Himself.


=============
Highlight Verse[s]: Galatians 6:9 … [NLT] … 
9 So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. 
… Paul may have been speaking to himself as he mentored men like Timothy or Titus or Luke to keep climbing toward the goal Christlikeness.
=============
Highlight Passage [context]: Galatians 6:1-10 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Paul’s charge to do whatever it takes (see today’s song) to help someone climb to the top of their Christian mountaintop.
=============

Reference Passage #1 [NKJV] : … 1st Corinthians 11:1 [NLT] … 
1 And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ. 
… Paul had been through so much in his quest to climb the mountain of life; and he so wanted others to follow him up the mountain (see photo).

Reference Passage #2 [NKJV] : … Ephesians 3:20 [NLT] … 
20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 
… God will do His part to draw us to Himself. And all we have to do is to latch on and hold to Him in climbing up the slopes of life.

Reference Passage #3 [NKJV] : … Philippians 3:13-14 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK … Paul realized how hard it was to keep moving forward toward Christlikeness; but he so wanted others to find what he had found in his discipleship.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, David McCasland, used a personal story about his mentor to teach on what it takes to disciple others toward their peak of Christlikeness (see photo). The ODB author wrote: Bob Foster, my mentor and friend for more than fifty years, never gave up on me. His unchanging friendship and encouragement, even during my darkest times, helped carry me through. 
We often find ourselves determined to reach out and help someone we know who is in great need. But when we fail to see improvement right away, our resolve can weaken and we may eventually give up. We discover that what we hoped would be an immediate change has become an ongoing process. 

Mentoring (or discipling) fellow Christians can be like being an experienced free climber and helping a “newbie” up the mountain of life (see photo). We so want the lesser-experienced Christian to find their way up that mountain of Christlikeness; and sometimes that process can be discouraging and exhausting. But, as the Apostle Paul, exhorts [see passages above], we Christians who’re father up the slopes of life, must … keep on keeping on … to help others up the steep slopes of life as God’s Spirit is calling us upward to Christ.

Paul had been thru so much in his life as an Apostle [see 2Cor. 11:22-33 on your own]; and he had found the way up that mountain. And as a mentor of men like Luke and Timothy and Titus, Paul so wanted these others to follow him. Hence, you read him, knowing the way (see 1 Cor. 11:1), encouraging others to follow him … with the message sung by today’s linked song … that our God will do whatever it take to pull us to His glorious mountaintop.

I pray all reading here, especially those who’re more mature climbers in life, will do what Paul exhorts in today’s highlight passage, doing whatever it takes to help others up that mountain of Christliness, … because, as Eph. 3:20 declares, what God has for those who keep climbing to Him, is SO, SO worth the climb.

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … dear Lord, … help me help others up that hill to get closer to You. … Amen

Blogger Note:  Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online devotional blog entitled Our Daily Bread, distributed online via email by RBC Ministries.  If you GO TO THIS LINK on the date of my blog, you can read/study the ODB blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Monday, April 24, 2017

April 24, 2017 … Praise For My Deliverer

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 114 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of the group Hilsong singing… Made Me Glad … poignantly singing of the reality that our God is our delivered … IF … we believe in Him as our LORD and Savior.


=============
Highlight Verse[s]: Psalm 116: 6, 16 … [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… God saves all who believe in him.
=============
Highlight Passage [context]: Psalm 116 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… God had delivered this writer from some devastating disaster; and he sings out his gratitude 
=============

Reference Passage #1 [NKJV] : … Psalm 18:2, 46:1 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… God IS our Deliverer; but do we believe it; and are we grateful for His deliverance?

Reference Passage #2 [NKJV] : … Romans 10: 9-13 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… God declares He will save ALL who believe on Him as Lord and Savior.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Anne Cetas, used the grateful song of a psalmist who had been delivered from some calamity or potential disaster; and His praises for God resounded in his song. Please take the time to read and meditate on all of Psalm 116.

Like me, and like the Psalmist in the highlight passages above, has God ever delivered you from real or potential disaster? Certainly if one has been so delivered, it would be easy to sing along with Hillsong (in the linked song) that “God has made me [us] glad!” However, when we’re in the midst of some trial or tribulation, it is so, so difficult to see that God is truly the Deliverer of all who’ve surrendered to His Lordship [see Romans 10:9-13].

HE'S OUR SAVIOR!!! 

Yes, for any born-again Christ, Jesus has delivered us from even the perils of death; so join me today - no matter what we may be going through, and let’s just PRAISE HIS HOLY NAME! 

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … dear Lord, … You have saved me and I’m here to praise You as my Deliverer. … Amen

Blogger Note:  Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online devotional blog entitled Our Daily Bread, distributed online via email by RBC Ministries.  If you GO TO THIS LINK on the date of my blog, you can read/study the ODB blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.