Monday, February 27, 2017

February 27, 2017 ... Glowing in the Dark

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 58 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of images and lyrics from Jason Gray singing … Glow In The Dark … declaring in song the reality of how Christians should be able to glow Christlikeness in this very dark world.


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Highlight Verse[s]: John 3:20 [NLT] … 
20 All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. 
… Those who are in Christ glow with His light in the darkness of this world.
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Highlight Passage [context]: John 3:16-21 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Jesus makes it clear why He came to save those who come to Him in faith … to bring us from the darkness of sin into the light of truth.
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Reference Passage #1 [NLT] : … Acts 1:8 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK ...  
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be My witnesses, telling people about Me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 
… Jesus promises us that we will shine forth in this world as His witnesses.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Mart DeHaan, tells a story about Plato to illustrate how a Christian’s character will be very visible and never invisible. The ODB author wrote: The Greek philosopher Plato (c. 427–c. 348 bc) found an imaginative way of shining light on the dark side of the human heart. He told the story of a shepherd who innocently discovered a golden ring that had been hidden deep in the earth. One day a great earthquake opened up an ancient mountainside tomb and revealed the ring to the shepherd. By accident he also discovered that the ring had the magical ability to enable the wearer to become invisible at will. Thinking about invisibility, Plato raised this question: If people didn’t have to worry about being caught and punished, would they resist doing wrong? 

This ancient philosophical illustration was much like that of Jesus relating to Nicodemus one dark night how man must be born again to come out of the darkness of sin into the light Christ offers to all who believe on His Name [see highlight passage]. And that’s what happens for those of us in Christ in this world. Living in Christ and being His witnesses, we become very visible - even repugnant - to the world.

As Jason Gray sings in the linked song, when we openly witness for Christ (see Acts 1:8), we begin to glow Christlikeness in a sin-darkened world. And as the images in the You Tube of today’s song illustrate, the world will not like the light which emanates from us as Christians. And they will do all they can to shut down our Light, … even trying to snuff out that glow.

Let me pray that as we go about in this ever-darkening world, … even today, … that we glow like Jesus in the dark (see photo).

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … Lord, shine Your light thru me. … 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 26, 2017

February 26, 2017 ... He’s My Friend ALWAYS!

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 57 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …   Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of images and lyrics from Phillips, Craig, and Dean singing … I Am A Friend of God … powerfully declaring what Christ’s sacrifice has brought into the lives of those now in faith can call God a friend and not an enemy. Hey friends, God is my friend!!! Hallelujah!!!

Professional Golf Hospitality Tent
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Highlight Verse[s]: Ephesians 3:12 [NLT] … 
12 Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence. 
… Christ’s finished work on the cross gives me (you too!) direct access to His presence. 
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Highlight Passage [context]: Ephesians 2:11-13, 3:7-13 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Paul teaches Christians on our ability to come boldly and directly to God as a child to his/her Father.
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Reference Passage #1 [NLT] : … Matthew 28: 20 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK ...  
20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” 
… Jesus promises to be with His disciples … ALWAYS.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Bill Crowder, used a sports analogy to show that we ALWAYS have access to our God. The ODB author wrote: A few years ago, a friend invited me to join him as a spectator at a pro golf tournament. Being a first-timer, I had no idea what to expect. When we arrived, I was surprised to receive gifts, information, and maps of the golf course. But what topped it all was that we gained access to a VIP tent behind the 18th green [see photo], where we had free food and a place to sit. I couldn’t have gained entry to the hospitality tent on my own though. The key was my friend; it was only through him that I had complete access. 
Left to ourselves, we would all be hopelessly separated from God. But Jesus, who took our penalty, offers us His life and access to God. 

The Apostle Paul, who had once been an arch enemy of Jesus, The Christ, had intimately come to know His Lord; and he wanted all Christians to know that any/all who were born-again by faith in Christ could, as the linked song above declares, now come to the Lord as a friend. Yes, even the Gentiles, whom Paul once hated, were called by God to be His family members and friends [see highlight passages above].

Jesus certainly declared that truth in His Great Commission, didn’t He (see Matt. 28:20]?! … The question is, … do we believe it; and then, do we live out the reality that we can come to the God of the Universe and tell or ask Him anything as our friend?

How about you joining me today and let’s go to our Friend, Jesus, and USE THIS LINK ... listening to Andrew Gold and thanking Jesus for being our friend.

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … Lord, thank You for being my friend and being with me ALWAYS! … 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 25, 2017

February 25, 2017 ... Wholeheartedly His

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 56 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of images from Steve Green singing … Find Us Faithful … powerfully declaring what should be the goal of every Christian … to be WHOLEHEARTEDLY faithful in following our Lord.


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Highlight Verse[s]: Numbers 14:25 [NLT] … 
24 But my servant Caleb has a different attitude than the others have. He has remained loyal to me, so I will bring him into the land he explored. His descendants will possess their full share of that land. 
… God’s reward for Caleb’s wholehearted faithfulness - even thru the 40 years in the wilderness. 
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Highlight Passage [context]: Numbers 13:26-32, 14:20-24 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Caleb … a great picture of steadfast faithfulness and surrender to God’s will.
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Reference Passage #1 [NLT] : … Proverbs 3:5-6 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK …
...  God’s promise of His faithful leading, … and that’s what Caleb experienced and we can too, if we remain faithful to follow our Lord.

Reference Passage #2 [NLT] : … Matthew 22:35-38 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK …
... Jesus declares that God’s greatest commandment is to follow His will with all our heart, soul, and mind. Caleb did; … do we?

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, David McCasland, used this OT character of Caleb to illustrate steadfast, wholehearted, faithfulness in following God. The ODB author wrote: Caleb was a “wholehearted” person. He and Joshua were part of a twelve-man reconnaissance team that explored the Promised Land and gave a report to Moses and the people. Caleb said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it” (Num. 13:30). 
But ten members of the team said they couldn’t possibly succeed. In spite of God’s promises, they saw only obstacles (vv. 31–33). Ten men caused the people to lose heart and grumble against God, which led to forty years of wandering in the desert. But Caleb never quit. The Lord said, “Because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it” (14:24). 

Do I really need to go on to clarify the message of today’s ODB entry? I think not!

So, … after anyone reading with me here today hears the song I often repeat as the highlight message in music; and then you take in the story of Caleb in the highlight passages above, along with Jesus’ explanation of God’s greatest commandment (see Matt. 22:35-38), I think you will agree that we are under conviction to go deeper into wholehearted following of Christ; … and to also do what Jesus commanded in Luke 9:23. [I hope you have that one memorized. If not, look it up; and see if you’re His faithful follower.]

I’m certainly under conviction; … how about you?

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … Lord, help me to go deeper in my wholehearted surrender to be Your disciple. … 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 24, 2017

February 24, 2017 ... “What is!” vs “What if?”

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 55 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of images from Sara Groves singing her song … All Right Here … poignantly declaring who we are in our relationship with our Lord.


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Highlight Verse[s]: Psalm 46:1 [NLT] …  
1 God is our refuge and strength, and always read to help in times of trouble. 
… God’s there for us no matter the “What if?” we feel or when we in the deepest pif of our life. 
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Highlight Passage [context]: Psalm 46: 1-7 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… King David declares God's strength for us … NO MATTER WHAT !!!
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Reference Passage #1 [NLT] : … Psalms 23:4a [NLT] … 
4 Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for You are close beside me. … 
… No matter where we are, our Lord walks with us.

Reference Passage #2 [NLT] : … Proverbs 3:5-6 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK ...
… God’s promise of His faithful leading, … yes, even when we’re in the darkest places.

Reference Passage #3 [NLT] : … Hebrews 13:5 [NLT] … 
5 “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you?” 
… The Author of Hebrews quoting God’s promise to Moses and His people (Deut. 31:6)

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, David Branon, used a dark personal remembrance to illustrate living in the “WHAT IS” rather than the “WHAT IF?” The ODB author wrote: Even all these years after losing our seventeen-year-old daughter Melissa in a car accident in 2002, I sometimes find myself entering the world of “What If.” It’s easy, in grief, to reimagine the events of that tragic June evening and think of factors that—if rearranged—would have had Mell arriving safely home. 
In reality, though, the land of “What If” is not a good place to be for any of us. It is a place of regret, second-guessing, and hopelessness. While the grief is real and the sadness endures, life is better and God is honored if we dwell in the world of “What Is.” 

I think many - if not all - of us have been in that “If I’d only” place in life, where we take ourselves into a dark place of “WHAT IF” … where self doubt causes us to live in anguish as with our ODB author today. But God wants us to live in His gracious land of “WHAT IS,” which He has gifted all who would trust Him rather than questioning our selves.

What is? … Well, it’s God ALWAYS being there for us when we’re waking through the valley of the shadow of death [Ps. 23:4]. It’s our Lord being our rock and our strength, when the earth is shaking beneath our feet [Ps. 46:1]. It’s Jesus’ blood covering all our “what ifs” when we come to Him in faith and surrender to His finished work.

Hence, today I sing with Sara Groves, even though things look very dark and I’m pondering a lot of “what ifs” in my life right now, … singing her song, I am All Right Here.

And I AM, … because I do trust in my Lord to be my rock, my strength, and my light through the darkness. I pray we are all living in the WHAT IS rather than in the WHAT IF.

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … Lord, I anchor my faith to You, … my Rock! … 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 23, 2017

February 23, 2017 ... Focusing Forward

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 54 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of images from the group Selah singing … Press On … powerfully declaring the reality and truth of God’s wondrous saving grace.


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Highlight Verse[s]: Philippians 3:14 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK … 
14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. 
… God’s prize for us is way up ahead, … not in the past.
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Highlight Passage [context]: Philippians 3:12-21 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Paul showed fellow Christians that our focus for God’s kingdom must be forward and not on the past.
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Reference Passage #1 [NLT] : … 1st Corinthians 9:24-25 [NLT] … 
24 Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 
… All Christians are in the race of life to win God’s eternal prize.

Reference Passage #2 [NLT] : … 2nd Timothy 4:6-8 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK … At the end of his life, Paul could say to fellow Christians that he had run a good race and God’s prize awaited him in Heaven.

Reference Passage #3 [NLT] : … Hebrews 12:1-2 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK … The Author of Hebrews shows how Christ ran his race for His Father, showing how we must run ours.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Marvin Williams, used the word picture of a TV show to illustrate our running a strong race for God in life. The ODB author wrote: One of my favorite television programs is The Amazing Race. In this reality show, ten couples are sent to a foreign country where they must race, via trains, buses, cabs, bikes, and feet, from one point to another to get their instructions for the next challenge. The goal is for one couple to get to a designated finishing point before everyone else, and the prize is a million dollars. 

I love to watch that reality show with my wife. It’s one of her favorites on TV these days; and we both love to watch the paired contestants struggling forward through the struggles contrived by the show as they attempt to move all over the world to win the big monetary prize. It’s a good word picture of life, … as the Apostle Paul pictured himself (and fellow Christians), running the race of life, struggling to win the wonderful prize set before us by God.

So, … after any reader here with me takes in the glorious song linked above by Selah; and we’ve meditated on the highlight and reference scriptures, perhaps we all can answer the questions posed by ODB author, Marvin Williams, in today’s devotional, as he wrote: How are we able to press on toward our future hope? … Read Hebrews 12:1–2 … What are some practical things we must do to continue to press on and persevere?  

Challenging, huh?! … Well, years ago I was given a word picture by a mentor which has helped me when I get side-tracked by the world or circumstances in life. He told me, “You can’t drive your car down the road by using only the rear-view mirror.” And I think that admonition is clear enough for any of us as we Christians move on down the road of life, don’t you?

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … Lord, give me Your enlightening grace to stay focused on Your prize ahead. … 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, February 22, 2017

February 22, 2017 ... Amazing, Saving Grace

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 53 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of images and lyrics from Judy Collins singing the most popular Christian song ever … Amazing Grace … powerfully declaring the reality and truth of God’s wondrous saving grace.


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Highlight Verse[s]: Matt. 5:48, John 8:10-11 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… The extent of God’s amazing grace on display even to an adulteress.
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Highlight Passage [context]: Matthew 5:43-48, John 8:1-11 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Jesus on the extent of God’s grace.
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Reference Passage #1 [NLT] : … Acts 9:20-22 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK ...
… God’s amazing grace even saved a sinner like Saul to become the Apostle Paul.

Reference Passage #2 [NLT] : … Romans 5:8, 10:9-13 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK ...
… And God’s amazing grace will save ANYONE who humbly repents and declares that Jesus is LORD … yes, even a broken sinner like me!

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Phillip Yancey, went to scriptural examples of Jesus teaching and demonstrating God’s amazing/saving grace, … not the least of which was the miraculous conversion of Saul of Tarsus to become the Apostle Paul. The ODB author wrote: Jesus’ teaching about absolute ideals and absolute grace seem contradictory. … Jesus never lowered God’s perfect ideal. In His response to the rich young ruler, He said, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). 
Yet the same Jesus tenderly offered absolute grace. He forgave an adulteress [Matt. 8], a thief on the cross, a disciple who had denied ever knowing Him, and a man named Saul [Acts 9], who had made his mark persecuting Christians. 
Grace is absolute and all-encompassing, extending even to those who nailed Jesus to the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” were among the last words He spoke on earth (Luke 23:34). 

And any time the subject of God’s “AMAZING GRACE” is raised in my quiet times with God, I can’t help but reflect on the first verse of the poem by John Newton, a slave master turned Pastor, who wrote the lyrics to the most popular song in the history of God’s Church [linked above], … ”Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, Who saved a wretch like me.”

Why? … Because I was that wretch; and like the adulteress (from John 8) or the Jewish hit-man, Saul if Tarsus [see Acts 9], … I once was saved by surrendering to God’s amazing … saving … grace (see Romans 5:8 and 10:13). Perhaps you know personally of God’s AMAZING GRACE. … I pray so.

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … Lord, I pray all, who read here with me, have - like me - been saved by Your amazing 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.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

February 21, 2017 ... Good News Going Viral

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 52 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of images and lyrics from an old song … It Is No Secret What God Can Do … poignantly declaring the message of the Good News of God’s saving and sanctifying grace, … a message that needs to “go viral” to the world.


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Highlight Verse[s]: 1st Thessalonians 1:8 [NLT] … 
8 And now the word of the Lord is ringing out from you to people everywhere, even beyond Macedonia and Achaia, for wherever we go we find people telling us about your faith in God. 
… Paul had heard of how the Thessalonians had spread the good news of Christ throughout their area of God’s Kingdom and beyond.
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Highlight Passage [context]: 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Paul expressed His shared joy with fellow Christians at the word of their sharing the good news of Christ throughout Asia Minor in those days.
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Reference Passage #1 [NKJV] : … Matthew 4:18-20 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK …
... Jesus called His new disciples to follow Him and become “fishers of Men.” They did, shared God’s news with others and changed the world.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, David McCasland, used the modern techno-term “going viral” to illustrate how God’s truth was shared in the past. The ODB author wrote: The Viral Texts project at Northeastern University in Boston is studying how printed content in the 1800s spread through newspapers—the social media network of that day. [See attached photo] If an article was reprinted 50 times or more, they considered that “viral” for the Industrial Age. Writing in Smithsonian magazine, Britt Peterson noted that a nineteenth-century news article describing which followers of Jesus were executed for their faith appeared in at least 110 different publications. 

In today’s techno-world, a message can, thru social-media on the internet, reach thousands of people - even millions - in a matter of hours. In the 19th century, newspapers were the media which shared a story of interest to the masses. And in biblical times, a message might go “viral” in a matter of weeks or months because the only media available was “word-of-mouth” communication.

Hence, when we read of the Apostle Paul congratulating the Thessalonians for taking The Gospel “viral” in their day [see highlight scriptures], we see that God could even use the messaging system in the 1st Century to spread His Good News to much of the world in that day.  

The Thessalonians simply shared how their lives had been changed by Christ as often and to as many as they could; and God’s Spirit allowed the “Good News” to go forth as viral as possible in those days. What this ODB message did for me was challenge me to ask myself if I was doing all I can to help God’s Good News, of how Christ changed ME, … praying that the message “go viral” with whom I communicate today.

We have amazing tools today to share God’s love and His message of salvation and sanctification. Are we using them as we could for God’s glory? Certainly that is greatly the motivation which brings me here everyday to share God’s truth with others thru my blogging online.

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … Lord, I pray You use my meager messaging daily for Your glory. Take Your Good News viral to the world! … 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.