Friday, April 20, 2018

April 20, 2018 … Prodigal Forgiveness

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 110 

Devotional Song: … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of images and song from Phillips, Craig, and Dean singing their song … He’ll Do Whatever It takes … poignantly singing of wondrous forgiveness and saving grace offered by our Abba Father to any wayward lamb who has strayed from His flock as our Good Shepherd and comes back for the Father’s love.


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Highlight Verse[s]: Psalm 98:1a [NLT] … 20 “So he [the wayward son] returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 
… Jesus telling a parable to illustrate just how far God, our Father, is willing to go to take a wayward son back into he family.
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Highlight Passage [context]: Luke 15:11-24 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… The wonderful parable of the lost son and the prodigal father, so faithfully willing to forgive a wayward son.
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Reference Passage : … Isaiah 53:6 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… All of us are wayward sheep. But The Father, our Good Shepherd, was (and IS) willing to do whatever it takes to bring us back into the flock, … including sacrificing His own Son for us.

Reference Passage : … Romans 3:23 [NLT] … 23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 
… We’ve all fallen short of God’s mark of holiness, steeped in sin. And none of us is deserving of His lavish forgiveness.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Kirsten Holmberg, used a personal story about how we can sing praises to the Lord with a joyful heart even if we are not talented singers. … The ODB author wrote: One afternoon I spent two hours at an art exhibit—The Father & His Two Sons: The Art of Forgiveness—in which all of the pieces were focused on Jesus’s parable of the prodigal son (see Luke 15:11–31). I found Edward Riojas’s painting The Prodigal Son especially powerful. [See photo] … 
I was deeply moved by realizing once more how God’s unchanging love has altered my life. When I walked away from Him, He didn’t turn His back, but kept looking, watching, and waiting. His love is undeserved yet unchanging; often ignored yet never withdrawn. 

Oh, how this tale (i.e., Jesus’ parable from Luke 15) has so defined my life as well. For 22 years of my life I had wandered away and lived in the pig-sty of my own sin; and yet, … when I came back to The Lord 35 years ago, He was there, receiving me with the open arms of a Good Shepherd who’d just found His wayward lamb. And with “prodigal” [which actually means “extravagant”] love, my Lord welcomed me into His arms and He’s never (and will never) quit loving me extravagantly.

After taking the time to hear the entire linked song and taking in the verses above, I hope all reading here feel the way I do about our loving, forgiving, PRODIGAL Father.

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My THANKFULNESS: … Oh Lord, Jesus, thank You for waiting on me and then lavishly giving me Your love.
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My Prayer Today: Abba Father, … King Jesus, … Precious Spirit … May I crawl back into Your arms today for some of Your prodigal love. … 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 19, 2018

April 19, 2018 … PERFECT Peace

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 109 

Devotional Song: … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of song and yrics of Steven Curtis Chapman singing … His Strength Is Perfect … poignantly singing of how God’s strength is always available to cover our weaknesses when we’re willing to focus on the Lord rather than on our selves.


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Highlight Verse[s]: Mark 4:39 [NLT] … 3  You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You! 
… When we focus our lives, trustingly, on our relationship with Christ rather than our own desires, He will impart His “perfect peace” to us.
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Highlight Passage [context]: Isaiah 26:1-4 [NLT] …USE THIS LINK
… God, thru Isaiah gives His prescription for peace … i.e., trusting in and focusing on our relationship with the Lord.
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Reference Passage : … Proverbs 3:5-6 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… We can only follow God’s way when we focus on Him rather than our own understanding or perception of life.

Reference Passage : … Matthew 11:28-30 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
 … Jesus wants to give us healing rest; but we have to be willing to yoke ourselves His strength.

Reference Passage : … Philippians 4:6-7 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK … God’s “peace that passes all understand” can be ours when we take our concerns to God in prayer rather than stewing in our own worries.

Reference Passage : … 1st Peter 5:7 [NLT] … 7 Give ALL your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you. 
… It’s God’s invitation; but do we take Him up on it?

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Amy Boucher Pye, used a a quote from Dallas Willard about how we need to focus on Christ in our stressful lives to dampen the worries and take on God’s perfect peace. … The ODB author wrote: “Ruthlessly eliminate hurry.” When two friends repeated that adage by the wise Dallas Willard to me, I knew I needed to consider it. Where was I spinning my wheels, wasting time and energy? More important, where was I rushing ahead and not looking to God for guidance and help? In the weeks and months that followed, I remembered those words and reoriented myself back to the Lord and His wisdom. I reminded myself to trust in Him, rather than leaning on my own ways. 

Then the ODB author highlights a God-imparted prescription for obtaining and holding on to God’s peace … by referring to a prophecy of Isaiah’s in his journal - Chapter 26, Verse 3, which I memorized years ago and call it to my mind when I’m feeling stressed or worried. May I challenge any reader here, especially if one is feeling stressed now, to read that verse ALOUD [and slowly] three times and then see how you feel afterward … i.e, if of the worries have dissipated.

In that verse Isaiah makes reference to God giving His PERFECT PEACE to the one who focuses, with a humble/surrendered heart (implied), on his/her relationship with the Lord. And what God promises is “shalom-shalom” (look it up in the Hebrew), which means God’s “perfect, infinite, or eternal” PEACE.

And in the NT, Jesus promised that same “rest” from worry (see Matt. 11:29-30 as well as The Apostle Paul promising the Christian who takes his worries to God in prayer, God’s “peace that passes all understanding.” (See Phil. 4:6-7) In practical sense, all of this is saying that we can be concerned with circumstances in life; however, when we focus on our selves, that lapses into WORRY, which is sinful.

But when we’re willing to take our cares to a caring God (see 1st Peter 5:7) and focus on Him rather than ourselves [again, Is. 26:3], He will impart to us His grace to give us His peace. … Personally, I like that prescription; don’t you?

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My THANKFULNESS: … Oh Lord, Jesus, thank You for making Your PERFECT peace available to me.
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My Prayer Today: Abba Father, … King Jesus, … Precious Spirit … Load me up with a big dose of Your peace to cover my selfish doubts, Lord. … 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 18, 2018

April 18, 2018 … Fickle Feelings

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 108 

Devotional Song: … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of images and lyrics of Jason Gray singing his song … Glow In The Dark … poignantly singing of we need to look past our feelings and stereotypes and see people with the light of our relationship with Christ.


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Highlight Verse[s]: Judges 11:29[NLT] … 29 At that time the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah, and he went throughout the land of Gilead and Manasseh, including Mizpah in Gilead, and from there he led an army against the Ammonites. 
… In the final accounting of his life Jephthah’s abilities and gifts rose above his heritage with his people coming for him to lead the people in battle.
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Highlight Passage [context]: Judges 11:1-8, 29 [NLT] …USE THIS LINK
… Jephthah was a mighty warrior, rejected by his people because of a rather questionable heritage. 
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Reference Passage : … Proverbs 3:5-6 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Often people misjudge our present based upon faulty perceptions or assumptions about our past. But when we simply trust God to lead us, … HE WILL.

Reference Passage : … Hebrews 11:32-34 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… God, thru Isaiah, promises to ALWAYS be there to lift us up in moments of trial/trouble.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Tim Gustafson, used a reference to a common question which is often used to delve into one’s life and make judgements on that person’s life base on his past or heritage. … The ODB author wrote: “Where are you from?” We often use that question to get to know someone better. But for many of us, the answer is complicated. Sometimes we don’t want to share all the details. 

How often do we stereotype and make judgements about people based on surface observations, like skin color, or partial information about one’s past? And often such profiling can lead to inaccurate or improper judgments about someone’s current abilities. That was the case in today’s highlight Old Testament passage about a leader of the people of Gilead named Jephthah.

Jephthah’s people had driven him out of their tribe based on the fact that his mother was a prostitute; but later when Gilead was threatened by the Ammonites, they came back to Jephthah, who is mentioned in God’s NT “Hall of Faith” (see Hebrews 11:32-34, to lead them in battle because of Jephthah’s then recognized leadership in warfare.

Lesson: We should “judge” people based on the fruit of their relationship with God and not on surface observations or past heritage. Watch the linked video, take in the attached photo, and then realize that we must not rely on our fickle human feelings to lead us, but rather God’s guiding light of truth (see Prov. 3:5-6).

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My THANKFULNESS: … Oh Lord, Jesus, thank You for leading us with Your light of truth. 
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My Prayer Today: Abba Father, … King Jesus, … Precious Spirit … Help me avoid letting my faulty perceptions and narrow sightedness get in the way of following Your truth. … 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 17, 2018

April 17, 2018 … YES, He Is My God!

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 107 

Devotional Song: … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of song and lyrics from Steven Curtis Chapman singing … Be Still and Know … poignantly singing of how we need slow down, or even stop, to see that God is God and His love is ALWAYS there for us.


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Highlight Verse[s]: John 6:19-20 [NLT] … 19 They had rowed three or four miles when suddenly they saw Jesus walking on the water toward the boat. They were terrified, 20 but he called out to them, “Don’t be afraid. I am here!” 
… Jesus shows His Disciples His divine power over everything.
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Highlight Passage [context]: John 6:16-21 [NLT] …USE THIS LINK
… God tries to show more of Himself in the Person of Jesus walking on the water.
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Reference Passage : … Psalm 63:1 [NLT] … 1  O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you.
… Keep searching and KNOW that He is God.

Reference Passage : … John 10:30 [NLT] … 30 “I and the Father are one!” 
… Jesus’ clearest statement of Who He was (is).

Reference Passage : … Romans 8:28 [NLT] … 28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them. 
… We know that God is in control … even in the storms of life.

Reference Passage : … Hebrews 13:8 [NLT] … 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever! 
… True … but do we really believe it?

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Monica Brands, used a personal story to illustrate that God is still and ALWAYS God no matter what storm we may have to endure.. … The ODB author wrote: For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a mother. I dreamed about getting married, getting pregnant, and holding my baby in my arms for the first time. When I finally got married, my husband and I never even considered waiting to expand our family. But with each negative pregnancy test [see photo], we realized we were struggling with infertility. Months of doctors’ visits, tests, and tears followed. We were in the middle of a storm. Infertility was a bitter pill to swallow and left me wondering about God’s goodness and faithfulness. 

In all of those three years that Jesus walked the earth with His 12 Disciples, He had to use miracles like that one in John 6 where He walked on water in a horrible storm to show His sovereignty over even the storms of life; … to show them that He was [and is] God!

When we go thru a personal storm, like the one the couple did in today’s ODB story above, God is taking us thru that storm to help us to get to know Him more intimately, … to see that He remains in control no matter our circumstances, … and to draw us closer to Himself [see Romans 8:28]. So, if any reader here is going thru a storm, stop and take in today’s linked song and realize that God is OUR GOD [Psalm 63]; and He will be in control no matter what storm we may be going thru. And the more intimately we get to know Him, the more we will love Him, obey Him, serve Him, and be blessed by Him.

But it all begins by getting to know Him more intimately today that yesterday; and even more abidingly tomorrow. That’s why you find me here … EVERY DAY … doing all I can to get to know my King, Jesus, in His word; because I know getting to know my Lord is getting to know my God (see John 10:30]. And EVERY DAY the truth of Hebrews 13:8 is confirmed … that our God never changes!

Our God loves me! And our God even walks on water!!

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My THANKFULNESS: … Oh Lord, Jesus, thank You for ALWAYS being the same and ALWAYS loving me.
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My Prayer Today: Abba Father, … King Jesus, … Precious Spirit … Help me to know you more intimately thru Your word today than yesterday; … and even more tomorrow. … 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 16, 2018

April 16, 2018 … Capturing Time

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 106 

Devotional Song: … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of images and lyrics from the group 4HIM singing their song … The Basics of Life … poignantly singing of getting back to the basics of our faith to defeat the post-modern and darkness of these evil days.


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Highlight Verse[s]: Psalm 39:4 [NLT] … 4 “Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered—how fleeting my life is. 
… King David shows of his own (and our) vulnerability to our feelings and exhorts God’s people to take advantage of the time they (we) have for God’s glory.
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Highlight Passage [context]: Psalms 39:1-6 [NLT] …USE THIS LINK
… The Psalmist sings of remembering just how fleeting our time is here on earth
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Reference Passage : … Matthew 5:16 [NLT] … 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. 
… Jesus, exhorting His followers to let our light shine in all we say and do for others to see Christ’s light shining in the darkness of this world.

Reference Passage : … 1 Corinthians 7:29a [NLT] … 29 But let me say this, dear brothers and sisters: The time that remains is very short. … 
… Paul exhorting believers to remember what a brief and fleeting time we have in this life to give God the glory with how we use our time.

Reference Passage : … Ephesians 5:15-16 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Paul exhorts Christians to live wisely in these evil times.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Dave Branon, used a scientific reference to remind us of how important our time is for our witness while we have even a moment given to us by God for His glory. … The ODB author wrote: Scientists are pretty fussy about time. At the end of 2016, the folks at Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland added an extra second to the year. So if you felt that year dragged on a bit longer than normal, you were right. Why did they do that? Because the rotation of the earth slows down over time [see photo], the years get just a tiny bit longer. When scientists track manmade objects launched into space, they must have accuracy down to the millisecond. … 
For most of us, a second gained or lost doesn’t make much difference. Yet according to Scripture, our time and how we use it is important. 

And if you’ve taken in and meditated on God’s word above you’ll see that both King David (in Psalm 39) and the Apostle Paul (in the reference passages) admonished believers to take the time we have very seriously, … primarily because in the eternal scheme of things, we have so little of it; and in our humanity, we tend to treat it so blithely and foolishly.

So, let’s all dig and capture the meaning - especially - of Ephesians 5:15-16 and do all we can today (and onward tomorrow) to maximize our use of the time we have to shine God’s light in the way we live, especially in these dark times.

 Jesus preached it (see Matthew 5:16); and so, … as the Nike slogan exhorts … let’s “JUST DO IT!” And … as the song charges us, let’s just get “back to the basics” of our faith and go about shining Christ’s light in the way we live.

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My THANKFULNESS: … Oh Lord, Jesus, thank You for giving us Your light to shine in this darkened world.
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My Prayer Today: Abba Father, … King Jesus, … Precious Spirit … May I be or become Your light, shining from the way I live for Your glory. … 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, April 15, 2018

April 15, 2018 … Sing Our Praises

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 105 

Devotional Song: … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of song and lyrics of the Maranatha Singers singing … I Love Your Lord … poignantly singing of how must worship our Lord in song from joyous hearts which love our God.


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Highlight Verse[s]: Psalm 98:1a [NLT] … 1 Sing a new song to the Lord, for He has done wonderful deeds! … 
… God desires that we sing His praises … if not with a melodious voice, at least with a sincere heart. 
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Highlight Passage [context]: Psalm 96:1, 98:1, 104:33 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… The Psalmist capture our need to lift up praises to our Lord in song.
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Reference Passage : … Colossians 3:15-17 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… God, thru Paul, exhorts Christians to sing their praises to the Lord.

Reference Passage : … James 5:13 [NLT] … 13 Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. 
… We Christians to pray or sing praises at all times … whether we feel pain or joy.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Kirsten Holmberg, used a personal story about how we can sing praises to the Lord with a joyful heart even if we are not talented singers. … The ODB author wrote: When I was thirteen, my school required students to take four exploratory courses, including home economics, art, choir, and woodworking. On my first day in choir [see photo], the instructor called each student to the piano individually to hear their voices and place them in the room according to their vocal range. During my turn at the piano, I sang the notes she played multiple times, but wasn’t directed to a section in the room. Instead, after repeated tries, she sent me to the counseling office to find a different class to take. From that moment on, I felt I shouldn’t sing at all, that my voice shouldn’t be heard in song. 
I carried that thought with me for more than a decade until I read Psalm 98 as a young adult. The writer opens with an invitation to “sing to the Lord” (Psalm 98:1). The reason offered has nothing to do with the quality of our voices; He delights in all His children’s songs of thanksgiving and praise. Instead, we are invited to sing because God “has done marvelous things” (v. 1). 

There may be some among my fellow readers here who’ve been gifted/talented with great singing voices. Most of us have not. However, in today’s highlight and reference passages, God’s authors and psalmists charge US ALL to sing our praises to a God Who has done wondrous things and has blessed all of His children … even if it’s with the challenges of life which draw us closer to our God. 

So, join me this morning with whatever voice we’ve been given; and if nothing else, take a moment to listen and sing along with today’s linked song.

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My THANKFULNESS: … Oh Lord, Jesus, thank You for giving us a voice to lift to You in praise.
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My Prayer Today: Abba Father, … King Jesus, … Precious Spirit … As I join to worship You with my brothers and sisters in Christ on this Sabbath day, let us sing our praises to You in song … with united and joy-filled hearts. … 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 14, 2018

April 14, 2018 … Hope In the Storm

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 104 

Devotional Song: … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of live worship with lyrics of the group, Hillsong, performing live … Anchor … poignantly singing of how our faith in Christ is our anchor of hope in the storms of life.


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Highlight Verse[s]: Mark 4:39 [NLT] … 39 When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. 40 Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” 
… Jesus calming the storm showed His Disciples that they need not fear the storms of life; because He is in complete control.
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Highlight Passage [context]: Mark 4:35-41 [NLT] …USE THIS LINK
… Jesus shows His disciples that faith in Him is their anchor in the storms of life.
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Reference Passage : … Romans 8:29 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK … 28 And we know that God causes everything to work together[a] for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. 
… Yes, … even the worst storms of life.

Reference Passage : … Hebrews 13:5-6 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… God’s covenant promises that He will never forsake us and that we need not fear the storms of life. My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Adam Holz, used a personal story to illustrate how our anchor of faith can give us peace in even the worst storms of life. … The ODB author wrote: Wind howled, lightning flashed, waves crashed. I thought I was going to die. My grandparents and I were fishing on a lake, but we’d stayed out too long. As the sun set, a fast-moving squall swept over our small boat. My grandfather instructed me to sit in front to keep it from capsizing. Terror flooded my heart. But then, somehow, I began to pray. I was fourteen. 
I asked God for His reassurance and protection. The storm didn’t weaken, but we made it to shore. To this day, I don’t know if I’ve experienced a deeper certainty of God’s presence than that night in the storm. 

Ever been in a REALLY bad storm? Oh, it may have just been some emotional storm or circumstantial upheaval rather than a storm out on the waters as with the ODB story or the highlight passage relating how Jesus calmed the waters and showed His disciples that they need not fear anything in His presence.

But, ... do we really believe God’s promises that He’ll never leave us, nor forsake us [Heb:13:5-6]; … or, that ALL THINGS work together for our good [Rom. 8:29]; … yes, even the worst storms of life? Because if we do have faith in Him, there is NO NEED to fear the storms, is there? Because our faith in the promises and Person of Christ are all we need to find peace.

He’s ALWAYS in control of the wind and waves in our storms.

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My THANKFULNESS: … Oh Lord, Jesus, thank You for giving me my anchor of faith and being the Rock to Whom my anchor holds.
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My Prayer Today: Abba Father, … King Jesus, … Precious Spirit … Be with me in this storm, Lord. … 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.