Wednesday, February 21, 2018

February 21, 2018 … Scary Spider

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 51 

Devotional Song: … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video with song and lyrics with Josh Groban and Brian McKnight, singing … Bridge Over Troubled Waters … poignantly singing of how, in our relationship with Christ, we always have a bridge to walk over our troubled waters of life.


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Highlight Verse[s]: Ephesians 3:16 [NKJV] … 16 … that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, …
 … God’s promise is Paul’s wish for us all … that we be strengthened and uplifted when we’re feeling fearful or weak.
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Highlight Passage [context]: Ephesians 3:14-19 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK
… God, thru Paul, trying to show believers of His presence/power in times of fear or trial. 
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Reference Passage : … Isaiah 41:10 [NKJV] … 10  Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, … yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ 
 … God, thru the Prophet, promises to lift us up when we’re feeling weak.

Reference Passage : … 2 Corinthians 12:9 [NKJV] … 9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 
 … Paul learned, as should we, that our spiritual well-being and our strength ONLY comes from His grace.

Reference Passage : … Hebrews 13:5 [NKJV] … 5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 
 … God’s promise of His presence and protection, … no matter what!!

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Adam Holz, uses a personal illustration to show how we can rely on our God to give us His strength in fearful times of trial. The ODB author wrote: Spiders. ... I don’t know any kid who likes them. At least not in their rooms . . . at bedtime. But as she was getting ready for bed, my daughter spied one [as in the photo] dangerously close to her bed. 
 “Daaaad!!!!! Spiiiderrr!!!!!” she hollered. Despite my determination, I couldn’t find the eight-legged interloper. “He’s not going to hurt you,” I reassured her. She wasn’t convinced. It wasn’t until I told her I’d stay next to her top bunk and stand guard that she agreed to get in bed. 
As my daughter settled in, I held her hand. I told her, “I love you so much. I’m right here. But you know what? God loves you even more than Daddy and Mommy. And He’s very close. You can always pray to Him when you’re scared.” That seemed to comfort her, and peaceful sleep came quickly. 

What a pertinent and powerful picture of how we all are when fearful or extremely trying times envelope us. But when we can focus on God’s truth, especially if God’s always true word is buried deeply in our consciousness, we can feel like that little girl did when her dad held her hand, … protected and sheltered by our Heavenly Father. In other words, we can have, as the song declares, a “bridge over troubled waters.”

If God’s promises are true, … and of course, they are, … He will never forsake us (Heb. 13:5); and we need never fear because He’s always there to lift us up when we’re feeling weak (Isaiah 41:10 and 2Cor. 12: 9), giving us His strength to cover our weakness and belay our fears.

Obviously it’s true, because it’s in His word. But the question alway is … do we trust His promises and then let His presence hold our hand when we see spiders in our lives?

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My THANKFULNESS: … Oh Lord, Jesus, thank You for ever-present hand to lift me out of my fears.
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My Prayer Today: Abba Father, … King Jesus, … Precious Spirit … Give me Your empowering grace to deal with my fears 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.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

February 20, 2018 … Heal Thyself

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 51 

Devotional Song: … GO TO THIS LINK …   Please take the time to take in a YouTube video with song and lyrics with Queen Latifah, in the movie “Joyful Noise” singing … Fix Me Jesus … poignantly singing of our need to rely upon and seek the healing grace of Jesus as our Jehovah Rapha - our healer God.


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Highlight Verse[s]: Matthew 4:23 [NKJV] … 23 And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. 
 … Jesus showed His followers physical healing to point to their need for spiritual heading which could only come thru Him.
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Highlight Passage [context]: Matthew 4:23-5:12 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK
… Jesus was followed by those who sought His physical healing; but He desired that they see their need - thru Him - for emotional/spiritual well-being.
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Reference Passage : … John 15:4-5 [NKJV] … 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. … 5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. … “ 
… Jesus teaches that we can only be fruitful in life IF we abide in Him.

Reference Passage : … 2 Corinthians 12:9 [NKJV] … 9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 
 … Paul learned, as should we, that our spiritual well-being and our strength ONLY comes from His grace.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Mart DeHaan, uses the story of a real physician who seeks more than just physical healing in seeking after the emotional well-being of his patients. The ODB author wrote: When Dr. Rishi Manchanda asks his patients [see photo], “Where do you live?” he’s looking for more than an address. He has seen a pattern. Those who come to him for help often live in conditions of environmental stress. Molds, pests, and toxins are making them sick. So Dr. Manchanda has become an advocate of what he calls Upstream Doctors. These are health care workers who, while providing urgent medical care, are working with patients and communities to get to the source of better health. 

When Jesus began His earthly ministry, He showed the people His power, as the God-Man, over disease and despair by healing many who followed Him (see highlight passage). But in that passage one also reads how He preached that His true disciples would also find spiritual healing - and well-being - in and thru Him.

This, of course, raises the self-diagnostic question as to whether we need what Queen Latifah sings about in the linked song … that we go to Jesus - maybe today - seeking His healing … possibly physical, … but most certainly emotional and/or spiritual as well.

Personally, I could use a lot of all of that! … How about you?

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My THANKFULNESS: … Oh Lord, Jesus, thank You for Your healing grace, given so freely. 
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My Prayer Today: Abba Father, … King Jesus, … Precious Spirit … Help me to connect more closely with You and abide in Your healing grace. … 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, February 19, 2018

February 19, 2018 … Sharing Our Goldfish

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 50 

Devotional Song: … GO TO THIS LINK …   Please take the time to take in a YouTube video with song and lyrics Brian LIttrell singing a modern version of the old hymn … I Surrender All … poignantly singing of the reality that Jesus demands of His disciples.


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Highlight Verse[s]: 2 Corinthians 9:7 [NKJV] … 17 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. 
… Our giving measures the extent of grace given from our hearts as Christians.
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Highlight Passage [context]: 2Corinthians 9:6-15 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK
… God, thru Paul, exhorts Christians to be willing to give willingly and generously to others. 
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Reference Passage : … Galatians 6:9-10 [NKJV] … 9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith. 
… Paul really was into showing fellow Christians the joy which comes from giving generously and sacrificially to others.

Reference Passage : … Philippians 4:19 [NKJV] … 19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. 
… God’s promise to provide all we need.

Reference Passage : … Hebrews 13:16 [NKJV] … 16 But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. 
… God’s smiles when we share with others.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Lisa Samra, uses a personal story about her daughter to illustrate how many people don’t share what God has given them. The ODB author wrote: On the way home from church, my daughter sat in the backseat enjoying Goldfish crackers as my other children implored her to share. [See photo] Trying to redirect the conversation, I asked the hoarder of snacks, “What did you do in class today?” She said they made a basket of bread and fish because a child gave Jesus five loaves and two fish that Jesus used to feed more than 5,000 people (John 6:1–13). 
“That was very kind of the little boy to share. Do you think maybe God is asking you to share your fish?” I asked. “No, Momma,” she replied. 
I tried to encourage her not to keep all the crackers to herself. She was unconvinced. “There is not enough for everyone!” 

Isn’t that just like our basic nature … to try to hold onto to our “goldfish,” rather than sharing them with others who have need? Actually, as Brian Littrell sings in the linked song, Jesus wants us to be willing to surrender our all to Him, Who has given His all for us. And thru all the Scriptures quoted above, mostly from the Apostle Paul, certainly we get the idea that God loves a cheerful, generous, and sacrificial giver.

I’ll leave it to my fellow readers to wrestle with God’s Spirit - as I am today - if we’re convicted to do more to share the bounty of need which God has provided for us (see Phil. 4:19 and Heb. 13:16). 

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My THANKFULNESS: … Oh Lord, Jesus, thank You for Your grace, given so freely. 
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My Prayer Today: Abba Father, … King Jesus, … Precious Spirit … Help me to be more willing to share my goldfish with others. … 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.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

February 18, 2018 … Persecuted And Blessed

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 49 

Devotional Song: … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video with song and lyrics of the group Mercy Me singing their song … Even If … poignantly singing of the strength we get from God’s grace and our faith to face times of trial and even persecution.


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Highlight Verse[s]: 1 Peter 3:14 [NKJV] … 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” [Isaiah 8:12]
 … Even quoting the Bible to give us courage is easier said than done sometimes when we’re being persecuted for our faith.
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Highlight Passage [context]: 1 Peter 3:13-18 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK
… Peter tries to lift up Christians who were being persecuted severely.
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Reference Passage : … Isaiah 41:10 [NKJV] … 10  Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ 
… God’s promise of His strength to carry us thru hard times.

Reference Passage : …Acts 1:8 [NKJV] … 8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 
… Jesus promises His power to help us be His witnesses to the world, … yes, even a hostile world.

Reference Passage : … 2 Corinthians 12:9 [NKJV] … 9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 
… Jesus helps Paul (and us) realize that God’s grace is sufficient to help us deal with our weaknesses in life.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Keila Ochoa, uses a fictional character from a novel to illustrate Christian courage in the face of persecution. The ODB author wrote: Fear is Hadassah’s constant companion. Hadassah, a young Jewish girl living in the first century, is a fictional character in Francine Rivers’ book A Voice in the Wind. After Hadassah becomes a slave in a Roman household, she fears persecution for her faith in Christ. She knows that Christians are despised, and many are sent to their execution or thrown to the lions in the arena. Will she have the courage to stand for the truth when she is tested? 

Peter, in today’s highlight passage, was writing to Christians in his day in Asia Minor who were being severely persecuted, even tortured and killed, for their faith. And he was writing to them from first hand experience, knowing their fear, having run and denied Christ when Jesus was being persecuted (Luke 22:54:62). But later, having personally experiencing Christ’s forgiveness and grace (see John 21:15-19), Peter could encourage these persecuted Christians, knowing the blessing they would receive for their persecution in Christ’s Name.

Perhaps some readers here are in times of trial or even persecution; and your faith is being tried or tested severely. Well, … EVEN IF … that is the case (as the linked song sings), if we believe in the truths Paul exhorts in 2Cor. 12:9, knowing all the persecution he endured, we can be lifted up, as Isaiah encouraged in Is. 41:10 and be Christ’s witness of faith and courage (see Acts 1:8). 

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My THANKFULNESS: … Oh Lord, Jesus, thank You for your empowering grace when my faith is tested.
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My Prayer Today: Abba Father, … King Jesus, … Precious Spirit … Help any reading here to hold on to Your promises and receive Your grace … to stand in the face of persecution. … 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, February 17, 2018

February 17, 2018 … Fleeing To The King

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 48 

Devotional Song: … GO TO THIS LINK …   Please take the time to take in a YouTube video with song and lyrics with Natalie Grant singing … Clean … poignantly singing of the thankfulness we have that there is no sin that God can’t make clean.


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Highlight Verse[s]: 1 Corinthians 6:18-19 [NKJV] … 18 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 
… Running away from self/Satan to the strength Christ gives us from His Spirit to be cleansed.
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Highlight Passage [context]: 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK
… God, thru Paul, instructs Christians on how to live with a pure heart in Christ.
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Reference Passage : … 2 Corinthians 12:9 [NKJV] … 9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 
… Jesus helps Paul (and us) realize that God’s grace is sufficient to help us deal with our weaknesses in life.

Reference Passage : … 2 Timothy 2:22 [NKJV] … 22 Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 
 … Paul helping Timothy (and us) to move away from lust and toward purity in Christ.

Reference Passage : …1 John 1:9 [NKJV] … 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 
… If we’re willing, as Christians, to surrender and humbly confess our sins, God will cleanse us completely.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, James Banks, tells of our interracial church body, showing how mankind needs to come together and share the love of God. The ODB author wrote: “Parry four!” 
When I began fencing in high school, my coach would shout the correct defensive position (“parry”) against the move he was making. [See photo] When he extended his weapon and lunged, to repel the attack I had to listen and respond immediately. 
That active listening brings to mind the prompt obedience Scripture calls for in the area of sexual temptation. 

Sexual impurity (i.e., sin) is one of the most prevalent forms of sin against God and His “temple,” the body, in our culture today. The world has become “pornified,” and temptations abound in this hyper-sexual world. Hence, the instruction from the Apostle Paul in God’s word becomes every more pertinent than ever.

But if we realize that we can have victory over such impurity and temptation by surrendering to God’s grace, fleeing from this type of temptation, and relying on God’s empowering grace to be victorious, … that our Lord will cleanse us and keep us on the trek to purity in His name [see today’s linked song].

The key is the power we receive and can use from God’s grace; and the ONLY way we receive it and use it is to be in a constant state of surrender to follow Christ (hopefully you know the truth of Luke 9:23). When we deny ourselves and flee to Him, He will give us the grace to walk in purity and His power.

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My THANKFULNESS: … Oh Lord, Jesus, thank You for Your ever empowering grace. 
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My Prayer Today: Abba Father, … King Jesus, … Precious Spirit … Help keep me on the victorious cleansing walk of surrender to You … EVERY DAY. … 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, February 16, 2018

February 16, 2018 … Love Sweet Love

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 47 

Devotional Song: … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video with song and lyrics with Jackie DeShannon singing her hit song … What the World Need Now Is Love … poignantly declaring perennial need of mankind … always needing more of the Love of God to overcome the evil of our human nature.


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Highlight Verse[s]: Leviticus 19:34 [NKJV] … 34 The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. 
… But do we?
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Highlight Passage [context]: Leviticus 19:33-34 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK
… God commands His people - and that’s us too! - to love others as He loves us. =============

Reference Passage : … Mark 12:30-31 [NKJV] … 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. 31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’There is no other commandment greater than these.” 
… Jesus, quoting from the Old Testament, restates the commands, from HIs lips as our Lord and King, to love others as we would love God first and then ourselves as well.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Leslie Koh, tells of our interracial church body, showing how mankind needs to come together and share the love of God. The ODB author wrote: I worship in a church located in a large, open field—a rare commodity on the island of Singapore (we’re just twenty-five miles long and fifteen miles wide). Some time back, people from abroad who work in my country started gathering on the church property for a picnic every Sunday. 
This evoked a range of responses from fellow churchgoers. Some fretted about the mess the visitors would leave behind. But others saw this as a divine opportunity to extend hospitality to a wonderful group of strangers—without even leaving the church grounds!

Back in the years I was in college in the middle 1960s, Hal David and Burt Bacharach wrote a song which certainly expressed a desperate need for those of us going thru the throws of the racial and Viet Nam war division of that day. And the song, linked above and performed by Jackie DeShannon, poignantly expresses a deep need of our times as well, … that the world desperately needs more of what the Old … AND … New Testament commanded for all of God’s people (see highlight and reference Scriptures) … that the world needs more … MUCH MORE … of God’s love.

So, … really, … everyday - actually even every moment - we need to ask ourselves how we can show some of what God has given to us in His Son … His infinite and unending love.

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My THANKFULNESS: … Oh Lord, Jesus, thank You for Your love.
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My Prayer Today: Abba Father, … King Jesus, … Precious Spirit … Help me to share Your love with someone today who needs it. … 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, February 15, 2018

February 15, 2018 … Our Calling

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 46 

Devotional Song: … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video with song and lyrics with Clay Crosse, Bebe Winans, and Bob Carlisle singing … I Will Follow Christ … poignantly declaring their commitment to be fully surrendered disciples of Christ, just as we should be, following Him no matter where He would lead.


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Highlight Verse[s]: 1 Kings 19:21b [NKJV] … Then he [Elisha] arose and followed Elijah, and became his servant. 
 … When we’re called by God, … we go!
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Highlight Passage [context]: 1 Kings 19:19-21 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK
… Elisha’s calling was being anointed to follow Elijah as God’s leader, Prophet, and mentor. 
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Reference Passage : … Matthew 28:19-20 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK
… Christ’s “Great Commission” calls us all to go into the world and make disciples.

Reference Passage : … Luke 9:;23 [NKJV] … 23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.  ..."
 … Jesus’ calling for ALL those who would follow Him.

Reference Passage : … Acts 1:8 [NKJV] … 8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 
… All Christians are called to be witnesses for Christ, wherever we are to go.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Alyson Kieda, used a personal story to illustrate how all Christians are called to follow Christ and serve Him, wherever they (we) may be. The ODB author wrote: As a child, I looked forward to our church’s Sunday evening services. They were exciting. Sunday night often meant we got to hear from missionaries and other guest speakers. Their messages inspired me because of their willingness to leave family and friends—and at times, homes, possessions, and careers—to go off to strange, unfamiliar, and sometimes dangerous places to serve God. … 
 Though not many of us are called to leave family and friends behind to serve God as fulltime missionaries, God wants all of us to follow Him and to “live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to [us], just as God has called [us]” (1 Corinthians 7:17). As I’ve often experienced, serving God can be thrilling and challenging no matter where we are—even if we never leave home. 

Fellow Christian, may I ask, “What is your calling?” The ODB entry today led me to answer that question this morning. And when I awoke, my iPhone alarm caused me to hit the wrong button on my phone and it took a screenshot, which I have of my wife (see photo). And I chuckled as I realized that she was a big part of my personal calling as a Christian, … to be a Godly husband, a father to our two girls, and leader of what we call “The Berry Patch,” our family.

But even that high calling is subservient to my highest calling, which is expressed powerfully in today’s linked song above … that “I Will Follow Christ.” And as you meditate on the highlight passage of Elisha choosing to follow Elijah into God’s service as well as the other scriptures above, … with Jesus calling us all to follow Him as witnesses and servants, … we must all ask ourselves what our PRIME calling is as disciples of Christ.

So, I will leave it to you and God’s Spirit, as I’ve been challenged this morning, … to decide if we are walking strongly in our calling as followers of Christ. And if not, what should we do to turn ourselves around and do what He calls us to do in Luke 9:23?

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My THANKFULNESS: … Oh Lord, Jesus, thank You for calling me and giving me Your grace to be Your disciple.
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My Prayer Today: Abba Father, … King Jesus, … Precious Spirit … You call, I follow! … 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.