Thursday, January 31, 2013

January 31, 2013 … “How Can I Help You?”

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 31

Passage of the Day: 2nd Samuel 24: 24-25 [NLT] …  
24 But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on buying it, for I cannot present burnt offerings to the LORD my God that have cost me nothing.” So David paid him fifty pieces of silver for the threshing floor and the oxen. 25 David built an altar there to the LORD and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. And the LORD answered his prayer, and the plague was stopped.  

Contextual Study of today’s passage: 2nd Samuel, Chapter 24 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: 2nd Corinthians 9: 6-7 : [NLT] … {Do we give with a rightly-tuned heart?} …  6 Remember this — a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. 7 You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”
Reference Passage #2: Proverbs 3: 9-10 : [NLT] … {When we’re willing to give JOYFULLY with no expectation of return; God will provide in return for such a heart of giving.} …  
9 Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce. 10 Then he will fill your barns with grain, and your vats will overflow with good wine. 

My Journal for Today: The offering plate at church just was passed and you dropped your tithe into the plate; but what were you thinking when you gave that check? Isn’t it true that often we give; but we don’t give with the right attitude? God only wants our gift to Him in return for His providence when our heart is filled with joy in the giving [see the reference passages above].

David understood that principle, which is called “God’s Law of Reciprocity,” when he was offered a freebie way of honoring God by building an altar to God during a plague on God’s people. But David knew that God would only honor his gift if it was offered out of a heart of sacrifice – and with a heart of cheerful sacrifice at that. And when we read this story in 2nd Samuel 24, we see that God honored David’s gift at his altar of sacrifice with the generosity of the Lord’s providence.

That’s the principle behind the Scriptures I’ve lain out this AM in this, my journal entry. And Os Hillman, my devotional editor, related a story for me (and his readers) of a man who lived by this “reap what you sow” principle. When this man met Hillman, his genuine first words to Hillman were, “How can I help you?”. And that’s what I’ve titled this devotional entry for today.

My friends and any readers here, … If we have hearts to help others before helping ourselves, God is going to pour out His providence for that heart of sacrifice. But I’m afraid that we now live in a time plagued by an entitlement mentality. Wouldn’t you agree that most today think “I deserve better for myself” … rather than “how can I give more of myself for others.” And because of that, I believe God cannot pour His providence of love and generosity into a people who first think “what’s in it for me!”

And I firmly believe that God will withhold His providence from any nation which does not understand and live by what David knew and exercised in today’s highlight passage of scripture. I’m afraid this nation is going to feel the stinging plague of its own selfishness until we – as a country and a people – can develop a heart which honors God’s love by a heart of “How Can I Help You?”

My Prayer for Today … Lord, help me to have and model a giving heart of Your love. … Amen

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

January 30, 2013 … Life Is God’s Call To Worship

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 30

Passage of the Day: Exodus 6: 9 [NLT] … So Moses told the people what the LORD had said, but they wouldn’t listen anymore. They had become too discouraged by the increasing burden of their slavery. 

Contextual Study of today’s passage: Exodus, Chapter 6 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Proverbs 13: 12 : [NLT] … {Life in bondage to self often blunts or blocks our hope of deliverance.} … Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when dreams come true, there is life and joy. 

Reference Passage #2: 1st Corinthians 10: 13 : [NLT] … {God never brings or allows circumstances into our lives which we cannot handle.} …  But remember that the temptations [Greek “peirasmos” ... also translated “tests or trials or tribulations or troubles”] that come into your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it..

My Journal for Today: … Today in my devotional study, Os Hillman referred to the truth of Proverbs 13: 12; … because it is so true that we find it so difficult to hold on to our worship of God and choose to find joy in life when hope is deferred or delayed or we find ourselves in excruciatingly binding circumstances. That’s where the Israelites were when God sent Moses to be their deliverer. They had been down and out, in the doldrums of slavery, for hundreds of years; and then along came Moses with God’s promise to set them free. And we know from the history of Exodus, it took plague after plague for God to soften Pharaoh’s heart to allow the Israelites to leave Egypt. Really tough for God’s people to be called to worship the Lord in the midst of all of that.

It is not uncommon for God to lead us or allow us to enter into tough times – sometimes even seemingly unbearable circumstances – for His plan to work itself out and for Him to be worshipped and get the glory He seeks for Himself and for His children. Sometimes, it is almost impossible to hold onto our faith in the truth of 1st Corinthians 10: 13, copied above because life has gotten so rough. But the reality is, as the title of my blog entry today indicates, “life is our call to worship;” and quite often life is tough. And the truth is that God is never going to allow His children to enter into any portion of life, no matter how tough it is, without faithfully being there to lead us through to the other side.

Really, … that’s what Psalm 23 is all about, isn’t it? So, if you’re in a tough place as you read this, please go back and meditate on that old and very popular Psalm; and see that even though we traverse the valley of the shadow of death, we should never fear … for the Lord, our Good Shepherd, will lead us to His green pastures so that we will be able to worship with Him always. It is also the promise of Revelation 3: 20, which I hope you know by heart this morning; so, … as The Lord, knocks on the door to your heart today, … let Him in … so that you can worship with Him and find His joy and love today.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, I hear You knocking; and I open the door to dine with You today. … Amen

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

January 29, 2013 … Being “IN THE ZONE!”

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 29

Passage of the Day: Joshua 1: 7-8 [in the context of verses 6-9] [NLT] …  
6 “Be strong and courageous, for you will lead my people to possess all the land I swore to give their ancestors. 7 Be strong and very courageous. Obey all the laws Moses gave you. Do not turn away from them, and you will be successful in everything you do. 8 Study this Book of the Law continually. Meditate on it day and night so you may be sure to obey all that is written in it. Only then will you succeed. 9 I command you—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” 

Contextual Study of today’s passage: Joshua 1: 1-9 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Proverbs 3: 5-6 : [NLT] … {Yes, … AGAIN! … I repeat this bit of truth and wisdom from God’s word } …  
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 6 Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.. 

My Journal for Today: As my devotional editor, Os Hillman, pointed out this morning, any high level athlete knows what it’s like to be “IN THE ZONE,” which is an area of performance – for a period of time - where everything seems to slow down, … where performance, no matter what the sport, is maximized, … and where observers are amazed at one’s abilities.

Well, if you’re reading along with me, perhaps you’re not a high-performance athlete; and maybe you’ve never been IN THE ZONE in tennis, basketball, or some other sport. But if you’re a Christian, you can move IN THE ZONE with God. And that degree of Godly performance was what God was pointing Joshua towards in the Bible passage my devotional used to illustrate God’s truth today.

Joshua, of course, was in a downer place in the context of Joshua, Chapter 1, verses 1-9. Moses had just died; and God was charging Joshua to take His people across the Jordan River into the promised-land; and it was a scary prospect for Joshua. But God, in this passage, not only gives Joshua a Spirit-level pep talk. He also gives him the way for Joshua (or any believer) to be IN THE ZONE from God’s perspective.  

OBEDIENCE (i.e., seeking God’s way and His will from His word) is being IN THE ZONE with/for God. As God laid it out for Joshua in today’s passage; and Solomon did for God’s people in Proverbs 3: 5-6, if we want to experience God’s performance ZONE, we will only get there and perform there when we’re in the “sweet spot” of God’s truth, trusting Him completely from His word. And God’s prescription for us to be there – IN HIS ZONE – is found in today’s highlight passage of Scripture.

Only when we choose to go in, be in, and stay in God’s zone of truth – i.e., His word – can we ever expect to be successful and prosperous – i.e., IN THE ZONE – with regard to God’s will. But when we do, and we live out our lives in the center of God’s will, found clearly in His word, we will find ourselves moving and working IN THE ZONE, i.e., … God’s zone of maximal, Spirit-driven, performance.

That’s why, BTW, I’m right here where I am right now, my follower! That’s why EVERY MORNING, you can find me delving into God’s word and doing all I can to drive God’s truth into my mind/heart. I want to be IN GOD’S ZONE; and He’s clear on how I’m to get there and stay there … and that is to be in His word daily and to follow it … i.e., just as Christ commanded His followers (yes, again I lead you to Luke 9: 23). For only when we diligently pursue our Lord, in obedience from His word, can we expect to be IN THE ZONE for God’s glory.

My Prayer for Today Lord, take me from Your word to Your will and allow me to work IN THE ZONE for You this day. … Amen

Monday, January 28, 2013

January 28, 2013 … Just Do It – God’s Way!

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 28

Passage of the Day: 1st Chronicles 21: 14 [NLT] …
14 So the LORD sent a plague upon Israel, and seventy thousand people died as a result. 


Contextual Study of today’s passage: 1st Chronicles 21 [NLT] … Go to this link

Reference Passage #1: Romans 1: 24-25 : [NLT] … {When we choose to seek selfish ways, rather than the Savior’s, God will often let us to show us the brokenness our pride will produce. } … 
24 So God let them go ahead and do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. 25 Instead of believing what they knew was the truth about God, they deliberately chose to believe lies. So they worshiped the things God made but not the Creator himself, who is to be praised forever. Amen.  

My Journal for Today: Wow! In today’s lead devotional Bible passage, we’re reminded, in 1st Chronicles 21 of David letting pride get in his way and doing battle his way rather than following the Lord’s will; and it cost him, and especially the Israelites, dearly, as it brought a plague upon the army, costing them 70,000 lives. Seems like David, when he made a prideful mistake, really needed a big chastisement lesson from God to get it right, didn’t he?

 But the principle is truth. God wants us to do life HIS way, because when we try to do things our way, … it can be disastrous. And sometimes God uses some pretty wild scenarios in Scripture to show us the way of faith. Remember how Moses led the people out of Egypt through the Red Sea; … and how Gideon defeated a whole army with just a few men; … and Jehoshaphat led his army into battle with a few singers; … and Joshua defeated Jericho by having his army, following God’s lead, march around the city playing trumpets and shouting. Each scenario showed that God’s way is the right way … the only way to do battle; and when we do life’s battles God’s way, He not only gets the victories, … He is glorified in the process.

 But woe to the believer, i.e., God’s soldier, who decides to battle the forces of life, doing life his own way. And certainly this is illustrated by today’s Bible passage/story. And it reminded me of the passage the Apostle Paul wrote about in Romans 1 [please read verses 18-32 besides the section copied above for reference].

 We humans, primarily because of a spiritually defective heart (see Jeremiah 17: 9) so often want to do life – or the battles of life – OUR OWN WAY in the default of denial or defensiveness; and so God, quite often, just has to let us go it on our own for a time – sometimes a long time in our estimation – for us to learn our lesson. Certainly we would hope that our prideful foolishness would not cost the lives of so many others as it did for David. However, our pride, when followed instead of obedience to God’s ways, can be costly … even to those we love, … can’t it? Maybe, like me, you’ve been there and you have a t-shirt on that one.

I grieve these days, seeing America going the way of prideful foolishness, rather than following the ways of God as laid out in His word; and I ache to see God allowing us to go down that wide road of selfishness rather than following His narrow road of truth. America cast her vote of confidence collectively in this last election; and I’m afraid we’re going to reap the whirlwind of our national whims. And … what will be the outcome of our national foolishness? Well, if it is anything like that of what happened to God’s people for David’s mistake, it’s not going to be pretty.

My Prayer for Today … Oh, Lord, have mercy on us! … Amen

Sunday, January 27, 2013

January 27, 2013 … Finding God In Rough Waters

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 27

Passage of the Day: Psalm 107: 23-24 [NLT] …  
23 Some went off in ships, plying the trade routes of the world. 24 They, too, observed the LORD’s power in action, His impressive works on the deepest seas.  

Contextual Study of today’s passage: Psalm 107 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Matthew 14: 22 : [NLT] … {Jesus sends His disciples out on the open seas to let them see God’s mighty works. } …  
22 Immediately after this, Jesus made his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake while he sent the people home. 
Reference Passage #2: Mark 6: 47-48 : [NLT] … {God sometimes has to send us out into tough times for us to see Him for Whom He really is – GOD!} …  
47 During the night, the disciples were in their boat out in the middle of the lake, and Jesus was alone on land. 48 He saw that they were in serious trouble, rowing hard and struggling against the wind and waves. About three o’clock in the morning He came to them, walking on the water. 
Reference Passage #3: John 6: 18-21 : [NLT] … {Sometimes, only in the midst of rough seas can our Lord show Himself. } … 
  18 Soon a gale swept down upon them as they rowed, and the sea grew very rough. 19 They were three or four miles£ out when suddenly they saw Jesus walking on the water toward the boat. They were terrified, 20 but He called out to them, “I am here! Don’t be afraid.” 21 Then they were eager to let him in, and immediately the boat arrived at their destination! 

My Journal for Today: I find it fascinating to read Psalm 107 from this morning’s devotional leading, … a Psalm written by an anonymous psalmist, celebrating God’s deliverance of His people from the captivity in Babylon. And my fascination lies in how well Psalm 107, especially Verses 23-32 almost tells the story of when, centuries later, Jesus sends His disciples out on the waters of the Sea of Galilee into a deadly storm and then He comes out to them walking on water and rescues them from the storm, show them exactly Whom they were following – i.e., God Himself in the flesh. [see the reference passages above from Matt. 14, Mark 6, and John 6 relating some of that story].

Os Hillman, in today’s workplace devotional, is trying to help his readers see that sometimes God has to send those who seek to know Him out into the storms of life so that we can really appreciate and know our Lord through faith. Really the concept of “faith” is somewhat meaningless to us when all is warm and fuzzy and there are no rough seas to negotiate in life. That was the WHY behind Jesus sending His men out onto the lake that night just after they had seen him feed thousands with just a few loaves and fishes. Jesus knew that His disciples really didn’t have enough of a faith picture of Who they were following; so, He sent them out into that storm; and they were able to see Jesus fully as the God-Man He really was.

Have you ever been cast into the storms of life; and when you came out of the other end of the storm, you were able to know God more clearly or through the eyes of faith than ever before? I sure have; and I would have never wanted to go into the storm God led me through; but now I’m so glad I went through it because it really showed me so much more of my God than I would’ve ever seen in drifting on the calm waters of life.

Yes, God does say, “Be still and know that I am God.” [see Ps. 46: 10a] … But at times He has to really show off Whom He is in the storms of life; and I pray that we all seek Him to know Him more deeply than ever from those storms.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, I am still in this place this morning; and I do know that You are God; but I’m also grateful for those storms in my life which really showed You to me more clearly than ever. … Amen

Saturday, January 26, 2013

January 26, 2013 … First the Anointing … Then the Testing

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 26

Passage of the Day: 1st Samuel 28: 17b [NLT] …  
17 The LORD has done just as he said he would. He has taken the kingdom from you and given it to your rival, David.

Contextual Study of today’s passage: 1st Samuel 28 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

My Journal for Today: When God calls and one is called for a task of God’s choosing, the Lord pours out His grace (i.e., His anointing) upon the one He calls to follow His will. If you’ve followed me in my journaling here, you’ve read a truth I learned from my mentor years ago … that God’s calling comes with His enablement. Perhaps you’ve experienced a definite calling in your life to carry out some Spirit-led task or ministry or mission; and along with it, you witnessed or felt the anointing come along with the task, drawing you to be able to use your talents and gifts at “God levels” to fulfill the calling.

Os Hillman, in my devotional today, writes that such an anointing usually comes along with some testing which takes place after God’s calling so that God’s Spirit can determine whether the anointing will remain on the called one. Hillman posits that these tests can come in several forms testing four areas of character or resolve; and these areas are in the form of CONTROL, POWER, GREED, AND BITTERNESS.

In today’s highlight passage and contextual reading we read 1st Samuel, Chapter 28, we read of King Saul being run through this gauntlet of testing after the anointing of God had fallen upon him to become the first king of the Israelites. And as we know Saul failed the test miserably; and then historically, we read how God had to move on to anoint young David as the later king. But in the process of his anointing, Saul went through the testing of God’s Spirit.

When we’re called to a task of God’s willing and leading, He will often test how we handle CONTROL. Will we simply follow what Jesus taught in Luke 9: 23, denying self and following the Lord; or will we, like Saul do all we can, in our own flesh, to arrest and hold on to the control vested in us?

Then there’s the POWER test. As Hillman points out, self-driven power-mongering is the opposite of what God is looking for in His calling; and that is the character of humble servanthood. Jesus, of course, was our New Testament model of that servanthood in meekness and humility serving His Father; but Saul was just the opposite, doing all he could to take any power away from anyone surrounding him, especially young David.

Then there’s the test of GREED because, along with God’s calling, as I said above, comes His providence and often His empowerment; and it’s very easy, given the nature of our inner being (see Jeremiah 17: 9), to let our own deceit-ridden hearts drive us to be greedy with God’s anointed grace and try to use it for our own aggrandizement, rather than humbly using God’s Grace for HIS GLORY as He would intend.

And finally, over the long haul of God’s calling, we will be tested as to BITTERNESS. In other words, how do we avoid becoming angry and bitter when we face those who challenge us? As Hillman points out, … every anointed leader will have someone come along to challenge him. Saul certainly did – many of them, including the prophet Samuel and his perception of young David. Jesus had his challenge in the handling of Judas. But we know that these two handled their challenges 180 degrees in opposition to one another. Saul tried to kill his challenger, David; and Jesus anointed the feet of Judas.

 So, as a fellow Christian today, how do you think you’d do with the test of anointing and leadership? Personally, having been called into leadership in my church and God’s kingdom, I’m a bit sobered by the test today; and I need to take these factors into account with more vigilance so that I can be used maximally for God’s glory rather than to squander God’s anointing as did Saul.

So, my testing goes on; … what about yours? 

My Prayer for Today ... Lord, help me to pass Your tests and to use Your grace for Your glory from Your anointing. … Amen

Friday, January 25, 2013

January 25, 2013 … Vertical Motive – Horizontal Actions … Never Good

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 25

Passage of the Day: Exodus 2: 12 in the context with verse 11 [NLT] …
11  Many years later, when Moses had grown up, he went out to visit his people, the Israelites, and he saw how hard they were forced to work. During his visit, he saw an Egyptian beating one of the Hebrew slaves. 12 After looking around to make sure no one was watching, Moses killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand. 

Contextual Study of today’s passage: Exodus, Chapter 2 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: John 13: 37-28 : [NLT] … {Jesus knew Peter would go horizontal rather than vertical. … And he did! } … 
37 Peter said to Him, “Lord, why can I not follow You now? I will lay down my life for Your sake.” 38 Jesus answered him, “Will you lay down your life for My sake? Most assuredly, I say to you, the rooster shall not crow till you have denied Me three times. 
Reference Passage #2: John 18: 25-27 [Going horizontal before going vertical – always a bad choice!] : [NLT] …  
25 Now Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. Therefore they said to him, “You are not also one of His disciples, are you?” … He denied it and said, “I am not!” 26 One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of him whose ear Peter cut off, said, “Did I not see you in the garden with Him?” 27 Peter then denied again; and immediately a rooster crowed. 

My Journal for Today: If you’ve read the Bible, I’m sure you know these two stories, one from the Old Testament and one from the New, both describing great men of the Word, both of whom failed miserably at one stage in their lives. But God knew their potential and mercifully, and patiently, dealt with these men until they could be restored and renewed in faith to learn God’s strategy for His seekers and servers; and that it is to CHOOSE to go VERTICAL before one goes HORIZONTAL.

In Moses’ situation, being a young Jew, adopted to become an Egyptian ruler, and trying to learn about the people of his ancestry, … Moses saw great injustice being perpetrated on the Israelites; and in one heated moment, he murdered an Egyptian guard whom he witnessed beating an Israelite slave. Moses hadn’t yet learned to take his fleshly desires to God vertically before taking action personally and horizontally. And it led to Moses having to be seasoned to learn this lesson by God leading him to spend 40 years in the wilderness as a shepherd.

Peter in the New Testament was another impulsive believer, learning to serve God; and we know that story of Peter declaring that he’d die for God; but when push-came-to-shove in the Garden of Gethsemane as Jesus was being taken away, Peter took the horizontal route in fleshly fear, rather than taking his fears to His Lord. And Jesus, Peter’s Messiah, dying on the cross for his sin and being resurrection, taught Peter this lesson and allowed him to be restored and renewed to serve God mightily after the resurrection.

Os Hillman, in his workplace devotional for today, uses these biblical examples of great men of faith, showing that we all have the potential to make ill-begotten horizontal choices if we don’t learn to take our fleshly choices to God in prayer vertically first, before taking horizontally-based action. Think about it; and I’d bet that you can think of some decision that you’ve made in the past as a born-again Christian in which you ramped into horizontal, fleshly-led action before patiently took the decision to God to provide you with His peace and His vertical guidance. And what was the result? It very likely was disaster or at least a setback, right?!

We all have to learn and apply the truths of two passages of Scripture, which I’m going to assign any reader here to seek out, read (that is, if you don’t’ know them by heart), and then apply the truths in them. They are Proverbs 3: 5-6 in the Old Testament and Philippians 4: 6-7 in the New; and if we internalize these guiding truths, learning to trust God and take our flesh-driven desires and decisions to The Lord, VERTICALLY FIRST, rather than taking quick and ill-begotten HORIZONTAL ACTIONS, we will avoid much potential or real disaster in our lives as servers of God.

And as Lily Tomlin used to say as little Edith Ann from her pontificating high-chair in her signature lisp on Laugh-In go to this You Tube link “And thath the twuth!”

My Prayer for Today ,,, Lord, help me to avoid my horizontal tendencies, learning to take all things – ALL THINGS – to You vertically to make my choices in life. … Amen

Thursday, January 24, 2013

January 24, 2013 … Our Get Out of Jail Card!

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 24

Passage of the Day: Acts 16: 28 in the context with verse 27 [NLT] …  
27 The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself. 28 But Paul shouted to him, “Don’t do it! We are all here!

Contextual Study of today’s passage: Acts, Chapter 16 [NLT] … Go to this link

Reference Passage #1: Romans 8: 28 : [NLT] … {I make reference to this verse so often … I hope you have it memorized by now; but if not, here it is for your contemplation. } …  
28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 

My Journal for Today: It’s a fascinating story in Acts, Chapter 16. You may know it well; but if not, I hope you’ll take the time and use the link above to go back and read of Paul and Silas being beaten and slapped into a Philippian jail, … taken to the lowest dungeon cell and shackled there for security by the jailer. … And then it happened, God loosed an earthquake, which caused the doors of the prison to be opened, giving Paul and his ministry partner, Silas, along with the other prisoners the opportunity to escape. But the men didn’t bolt; and when the Roman jailer was about to commit suicide, knowing that any prison escape would mean his death, Paul shouted – in today’s highlight passage in Acts 16: 28 - for the jailer to desist from falling on his sword; and they took this Roman to his home and led the entire family to salvation. Oh what a story that jailer would have had after he was saved!

 Just recently I gave a talk to a group of college students; and I used another story (from Matt. 14, Mark 6, and John 6), the story of Jesus sending his disciples out into a storm; and from that encounter with nature and God’s control over all things in our lives, we learn that God brings or allows tough circumstances into our lives – not necessarily to punish us; but rather, more often, to test or build our faith. God wants us to recognize, realize, and internalize the magnificent truth I’ve copied above from Paul’s great victory chapter in Romans 8, in this case verse 28.

 Paul and Silas, in that jail in Philippi, had that truth down pat, didn’t they? Given their circumstances, and having been just beaten by the powers that be, it was totally UNNATURAL that they launched into praise songs after they were shackled in their cell. It was totally UNNATURAL that they did not bolt and run when the doors of their cell were opened by God’s providence. And it was totally UNNATURAL that they took a helping attitude in leading the jailer and his family to salvation.

No, there are tough times and very challenging circumstances which call for SUPER-NATURAL actions in faith rather than human logic. That was the case when Peter in the midst of that life-threatening storm, out on the waters of the Sea of Galilee, stepped out of the boat in faith when Jesus called him. And that was certainly the case when Paul and Silas stayed in their cells, showing the Philippian jailer that they cared for him enough to help him find God’s love and salvation by their willingness to do something totally selfless to save the jailer.

 So, the next time we are “thrown” into perilous-tough times or tribulations, we need to call up the truth of Romans 8: 28 and the memory of these two New Testament stories, remembering that God has us into the midst of the trial, the storm, or shackled us in the jails of life to build our faith and to give us the opportunity to witness for Him and show others His glory. And I charge us to remember two other scriptures, Acts 1: 8 and Matt. 5: 16, both words directly from Jesus, which charge us to be His witnesses, using His power, and shining His light .. NO MATTER WHERE WE ARE in life.

My friends, Jesus is always our “get out of jail card.”

My Prayer for Today Lord, let me be Your witness – for Your glory – in the prisons of life. … Amen

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

January 23, 2013 … In ALL Your Ways!

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 23

Passage of the Day: Joshua 5: 9a [NLT] … Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the shame of your slavery in Egypt.” …

Contextual Study of today’s passage: Joshua, Chapter 5 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Proverbs 3: 5-6 : [NKJV] … {Trust in God in ALL YOUR WAYS – that’s not SOME OF YOUR WAYS !! } …  
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct [or “make smooth” or “straighten”] your paths. 

My Journal for Today: My friend, I’m humbled if you’re reading along with me here; but if you are, may I exhort you to use the ink above and read ALL of Chapter 5 of Joshua’s Bible Journal.

Historically, Joshua had taken God’s chosen people across the Jordan, under God’s care and provision, and into the Promised Land. They had been wandering in the wilderness for 40 years, feeding off God’s provision of manna and watched over by His protection. Now their faith was to be tested as Joshua led them into harms way; and in Chapter 5 of Joshua, we read of God instructing Joshua to insure that all of the men were circumcised.

Ouch! …For orthodox Jews, male circumcision is a physical act of surrender to God. Concerning God’s chosen being led out of Egypt into the promised land, Os Hillman, in my devotional for today, personalizes this image for us as he writes … “Circumcision is bloody, personal, and it exposes all that you are. God was saying that before you can become His army, you must roll away the reproach of the Egyptian way of life. You are no longer a slave to the ways of Egypt. It is a time to put aside the old way of life. … Many are walking around as goats in sheep's clothes, practicing a form of religion without the true source of truth and power.” 

In other words, God wants HIS army … i.e., His chose/adopted ones … to set aside the ways of Egypt and to march into the promised land of His provision and protection by giving ALL of ourselves to Him … TOTAL surrender … voluntarily being circumcised of the heart to follow our Lord. Hillman points out that in that one act of circumcised surrender, following Joshua, God’s leader, God’s army of caterpillars became transformed into butterflies with their wings taking on the colors of God and given the power to fly, as long as they flew their course following God’s protection and provision in surrendered, circumcised obedience.

Have we – i.e., you and me - crossed over the Jordan from Egypt into the promised land; and are we circumcised with hearts which are TOTALLY and UTTERLY surrendered to our Lord? Proverbs 3: 5-6, copied above, is truth; and it charges us to surrender our ways to God’s way. It commands us to trust God (i.e., with a clinging, abiding trust), surrendering ALL of whom we are to ALL of WHOM HE IS. So, … are we circumcised to leave Egypt behind and knowing His way from His word, to follow His will?

Answering “YES” to this challenged today likely means that we are experiencing all the fruitfulness God’s Spirit can pour into our lives (see Galatians 5: 22-23 linked here). However, answering “NO” likely means that our hearts may not be fully circumcised in surrender to our God; and we’re likely experiencing too much of Galatians 5: 19-21.

I’ll leave it to you to take that POP QUIZ from God today ... 

My Prayer for Today ... Lord, I stand circumcised and ready to enter Your promised land. … Amen

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

January 22, 2013 … Build It Right!

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 22

Passage of the Day: Psalm 127: 1a [NLT] …
Unless the LORD builds a house, the work of the builders is useless. Unless the LORD protects a city, guarding it with sentries will do no good. 

Reference Passage #1: 1st Chronicles 28: 9 [from the context of verses 8-10] : [NLT] … { It’s the motive behind the plans and the work which God judges. David had to learn this with life experiences. We need to learn it through God’s truth. } …  
8 So now, with God as our witness, I give you this charge for all Israel, the LORD’s assembly: Be careful to obey all the commands of the LORD your God, so that you may possess this good land and leave it to your children as a permanent inheritance. 9 “And Solomon, my son, get to know the God of your ancestors. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and with a willing mind. For the LORD sees every heart and understands and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. 10 So take this seriously. The LORD has chosen you to build a Temple as his sanctuary. Be strong, and do the work.” 

Reference Passage #2: 1st Corinthians 3: 11-13; 16-17 : [NLT] … {Why are we doing what we are doing? Are we building our lives with the wrong materials, … the wrong motives? } …  
11 For no one can lay any other foundation than the one we already have—Jesus Christ. 12 Now anyone who builds on that foundation may use gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. 13 But there is going to come a time of testing at the judgment day to see what kind of work each builder has done. Everyone’s work will be put through the fire to see whether or not it keeps its value. … 
16 Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? 17 God will bring ruin upon anyone who ruins this temple. For God’s temple is holy, and you Christians are that temple. 

My Journal for Today: “If you’re going to build it, … BUILD IT RIGHT! Sounds like a truth, doesn’t it?

Today in his devotional, Os Hillman, being in a “workplace ministry,” created a word picture with which many can identify. If we were to have an architect and a builder build our dream home; and the architect designed an incredible edifice; but the builder, though building the home to the design specs, creating what looked like a gorgeous house, but used shoddy materials. Certainly, when the structure was completed, when the inspector came to examine the house, if he was doing his job, he would be expected to reject the whole project because it didn’t meet the established, specs and codes. So the house may have looked good on the outside; but it was inferior workmanship on the inside.

And this is what King David was trying to impart to his son, Solomon, in the passage copied above from 1st Chronicles 3, where David had discovered how he had built a lot of his personal temple [i.e, his life] with shoddy workmanship; and David, the father, didn’t want Solomon to make the same mistakes, especially as Solomon was being charged with building the Lord’s Temple.

Fellow Christian, I hope we all realize that we are building God’s temple everyday with the choices we make and the materials we choose (especially the ideas of life) to build our lives. And as Paul wrote, copied above in 1st Corinthians 3, we’re building on the cornerstone of Christ; and we will all one day stand before the ultimate “Building Inspector,” and He will judge the structure of our lives on the motives and materials we’ve used to build our Temple (please also remember the charge of 1st Cor. 3: 16-17, also referenced above).

It’s such a tragedy that Solomon would build an architectural wonder as he built God’s Temple to the specs given to him by His father; but like his father, Solomon could not build his own personal/spiritual temple any more effectively than his daddy, David; and the entire book of Ecclesiastes, written in repentance by Solomon, is about how this man failed in building his own life on the specs given to him by God through His Heavenly Father’s word.

My friend, how are we building our own personal temple? Is it being built by our own personal designs and with our own selfish materials? Are we trying to build our lives on our desires to control things our way; or are we following the exacting specs and the designated methods outlined and specified in God’s word? And are we, for sure, building the Temple of our lives with Jesus Christ as our cornerstone? Because if we are not building our life-Temple as God designed it and as God provides the materials, it will one day be rejected by the Master Designer and Master Builder.

My Prayer for Today Oh, Lord, I’m building my Temple – as much as I can – Your way and with Your materials. Help me stay true with Your plans and always building with You as my Cornerstone. … Amen

Monday, January 21, 2013

January 21, 2013 … Do it right!

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 21

Passage of the Day: Proverbs 22: 29 [NLT] …  
29 Do you see any truly competent workers? They will serve kings rather than ordinary people. 

Reference Passage #1: Exodus 31: 1-5 : [NLT] … {When God sets forth a task – from His will – He provides the workers with the skills they need to complete the task. } …  
1 The LORD also said to Moses, 2 “Look, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, grandson of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. 3 I have filled him with the Spirit of God, giving him great wisdom, intelligence, and skill in all kinds of crafts. 4 He is able to create beautiful objects from gold, silver, and bronze. 5 He is skilled in cutting and setting gemstones and in carving wood. Yes, he is a master at every craft! 

Reference Passage #2: Colossians 3: 22-25 : [NLT] … { If we do it, do it for The Lord; and do right! } … 
 23 Work hard and cheerfully at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. 24 Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and the Master you are serving is Christ. 25 But if you do what is wrong, you will be paid back for the wrong you have done. For God has no favorites who can get away with evil. 

Reference Passage #3: 2nd Peter 1: 3-4 : [NLT] … { He gives us all we need to do His will. } … 3 3 As we know Jesus better, his divine power gives us everything we need for living a godly life. He has called us to receive his own glory and goodness!  4 And by that same mighty power, he has given us all of his rich and wonderful promises. He has promised that you will escape the decadence all around you caused by evil desires and that you will share in his divine nature. 

My Journal for Today: Os Hillman, in today’s workplace ministry devotional, brings out a principle unto which Christians all too often fall short; and that is doing what we’re called to do – for The Lord – with excellence. And today’s key verse, from Proverbs 22: 29, points to a truth which will take in every Christian. We are workers, working for THE KING; and being called to work for HIM and in His Name, we will be given whatever skill we need and all that we need to accomplish His will or purpose for our lives. Perhaps you recall, as I did this morning, the truth espoused by Peter in 2nd Peter 1: 3-4, which is copied for your review above.

And just recently [see my blog at this link – for Jan. 16] I entered a blog about how “God’s calling is His enablement,” where I reviewed the truth that God would never call us to do something within His will without providing the enabling/empowering grace to accomplish that task or purpose. So, whatever I’m doing – as I am studying His word to know Him more deeply at this moment, which I believe is God’s will for me in this personal pursuit – I should be doing all I can to complete the task with excellence and for His glory. Oh, how I pray that this is the case this morning!

Really … I don’t need to say any more, do I? And I will pray that what I’m studying in these few moments this morning is … #1 following His will and … #2 being accomplished with all the excellence I can muster to … #3 give my Lord all the glory I can in completing this task. And I pray for you to go to work today, joining me, to pursue our Lord’s will, doing all we can to let others see Christ shining His light through our work in His Name (see Matt. 5: 16).

My Prayer for Today Lord, as I do what You call me to do, may I do it all for Your glory! … Amen

Sunday, January 20, 2013

January 20, 2013 … You Gotta Want It !!

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 20

Passage of the Day: 2nd Kings 2: 9-20 [NLT] …
 9 When they came to the other side, Elijah said to Elisha, “What can I do for you before I am taken away?” And Elisha replied, “Please let me become your rightful successor.” 10 “You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah replied. “If you see me when I am taken from you, then you will get your request. But if not, then you won’t.” 

Passage of the Day: 2nd Kings 2: 9-10 [NKJV] …
9 And so it was, when they had crossed over, that Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask! What may I do for you, before I am taken away from you?” Elisha said, “Please let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.” 10 So he said, “You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so.”
Contextual Study of today’s passage: 2nd Kings, Chapter 2 [NLT] … Go to this link …  ============

Reference Passage #1: Psalm 42: 1 : [NLT] … {Do we thirst after God as if we were dying for Him?} … As the deer pants for the water brooks, … so pants my soul for You, O God. 

Reference Passage #2: Jeremiah 29: 13 : [NLT] … {When we seek the Lord He will be found. That’s His promise, now mine!} … If you look for Me wholeheartedly, you will find Me. 

My Journal for Today: If you’ve been following my journal entries for any time, you will know that I often quote Jesus’ definition of discipleship from Luke 9: 23. It was our Lord’s three requirements for anyone who would come after Him; … that they would #1 deny themselves, # 2 to take up whatever circumstances come their way daily, and # 3 follow Him. And when you analyze these discipleship requirements, being a disciple of The Christ (i.e., a totally surrendered follower of Jesus) was [and now IS] really, REALLY tough business. And if we say that we’re “DISCIPLES” of Christ, we’ve got to really want Him to be able to deny self, take up His cross daily, and follow Him.

When you read the target passage for today’s devotional above from 2nd Kings, Chapter 2, it’s obvious that Elisha really wanted to be a disciple of Elijah. In fact, he not only sought the same anointing which he had seen Elijah had received from God, but Elisha wanted a double portion of the same [see the highlighted portion copied above in two versions of Scripture]. But Elijah, who was becoming Elisha’s mentor, warned the younger disciple, who was seeking this anointing and this charge from God, to beware of that trek being a very challenging pursuit. But Elisha was like the deer, panting for the water, in Psalm 42: 1; and he was willing to do whatever God charged through the Prophet in Jeremiah 29: 13, seeking WHOLEHEARTEDLY after God’s anointing.

I often hear those who would call themselves “Christian,” reporting that they would call themselves “disciples” of Christ; but are they just wanting to be identified as “Christian” … or possibly to be members of that cultural group … or maybe a member of a certain “church?” Are they really DISCIPLES as Jesus defined His followers? AND, … are they really wanting the anointing which comes from pursuing Christ and all He is; … or do they just want to be labeled with the moniker, “CHRISTIAN?”

That’s a good self-inventory for the day, isn’t it? As “Christians,” i.e., as “DISCIPLES” of the Living Lord, do we really seek after His anointing as the deer pants for the water? How badly do we really want what God has for us as seekers after Him? My friend, as CHRISTIANS, we gotta really want it!

My Prayer for Today ,,, Lord, You know my heart; and You know how badly I want to Know You … to love You … to obey You … to serve You … and to be blessed by You! Lord, help me to overcome my unbelief. … Amen

Saturday, January 19, 2013

January 19, 2013 … The Refiner’s Fire

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 19

Passage of the Day: Ezekiel 22: 30 [in the context of verses 30-31] …  
3 Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but the LORD tests the heart. 

Reference Passage #1: Malachi 3: 2-3a : [NLT] … {The Lord is our refiner’s fire. } …  
2 “But who will be able to endure it when he comes? Who will be able to stand and face him when he appears? For he will be like a blazing fire that refines metal or like a strong soap that whitens clothes. 3 He will sit and judge like a refiner of silver, watching closely as the dross is burned away. 

My Journal for Today: One of the recurring word pictures used in the Bible to describe and explain the trials and tribulations we encounter in our lives is that of the refiner’s fire. The days in which the early books of the Old Testament were written took place in what archeologists describe as the “Iron Age;” and in those days (and to some degree even now) metal smiths would take rocks filled with iron ore or precious metals and put them into a heated caldron to burn away the metals. And as the metals were refined further and further by the heat, the slag or dross, i.e. the impure metals or elements, would collect at the top of the liquefied and purified metals and could be easily collected by the metal smith. Therefore, when the remaining purified metal was cooled it became purified iron, such as bronze, which could be used for fashioning implements of living or warfare. Also, of course, the more valuable fine metals such as gold/silver needed to be refined and purified to become the very marketable commodities of the ancient middle-east in the times of the Old Testament.

Therefore, it’s easy to see why this became such a common word picture to describe how God, who was pictured as the source of the “refiner’s fire,” in His judgment of the impurities of mankind (i.e., our disobedience and sin) would use heat of the crucible of life to burn away those impurities and reshape us into the image He created us to become, i.e., the image of His Son, … Who was the One He sent to become our ultimate Refiner and Redeemer. When one thinks of the fires of life that Old Testament characters, like Joseph and Moses, and in the New Testament, Jesus’ Disciples, went through, we can see that God used the fires of trial and tribulation to purify them to transform them into the image of God, the Son.

 So, we shouldn’t be surprised that God is still using the fires of life (i.e., the trials) to purify and reshape us into the image of our Lord. I would estimate that any Christian reading this can recall a time (maybe you’re in it right now) when we were put through a caldron of pressure or challenge; and when we came out of that fire we were a better, stronger, or purer person. In fact, we almost always look to the most heated times of our lives as those times when we grew the most in our lives.

So, if you’re reading this and reflecting on your life – maybe even what you’re going through now – realize and have faith that God has you in whatever fire you might be in to purify or refine you into His own image.

My Prayer for Today Oh, Lord, burn away the dross and reshape me in Your image. … Amen

Friday, January 18, 2013

January 18, 2013 … Those Who Stand With God

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 18

Passage of the Day: Ezekiel 22: 30 [in the context of verses 30-31] … 
  30 “I looked for someone who might rebuild the wall of righteousness that guards the land. I searched for someone to stand in the gap in the wall so I wouldn’t have to destroy the land, but I found no one. 31 So now I will pour out my fury on them, consuming them in the fire of my anger. I will heap on them the full penalty for all their sins, says the Sovereign LORD.” 

Contextual Reference Passage: … To study today’s highlight passage in context, go to Deuteronomy, Chapter 8by using this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Psalm 106: 19-23 : [NLT] … {Moses standing in the gap for God! } …  
19 The people made a calf at Mount Sinai; they bowed before an image made of gold. 20 They traded their glorious God for a statue of a grass-eating ox! 21 They forgot God, their savior, who had done such great things in Egypt — 22 such wonderful things in that land, such awesome deeds at the Red Sea. 23 So He declared He would destroy them. But Moses, his chosen one, stepped between the LORD and the people. He begged him to turn from his anger and not destroy them. 

Reference Passage #2: Ephesians 6: 10-13 : [NLT] … {Paul calling us to stand for God’s will in our world of evil. } …  
10 A final word: Be strong with the Lord’s mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies and tricks of the Devil. 12 For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms. 13Use every piece of God’s armor to resist the enemy in the time of evil, so that after the battle you will still be standing firm. 

My Journal for Today: As I write this journal entry today, I am on the campus of Wabash College, my alma mater, where I graduated with a A.B. Degree in 1966. Yes, it was a long time ago; but I remember those days all too vividly. They were days when I walked away from God into a self-induced pursuit of sexual idolatry which lasted 22 years of my life and almost resulted in the walls of my marriage, family, and career to come crumbling down around me. And I am here on this campus today – a man transformed by the grace of God, supporting the efforts of two young men who’ve decided to stand in the gap at Wabash College against their spiritual enemies who’re coming against their fellow students in the form of a vast array of sexual temptations in our culture, … temptations which threaten to take Christian men down and wreak havoc on families, churches, and whole communities.

And I’m here on this campus this week to stand in the gap with these two young men and do all I can to support their efforts to form a Christian discipleship organization to do battle against the wiles and wherefores of the enemy, Satan, who opposes all for which they stand in Christ’s Name.

Do you look around you, as did Ezekiel in his day (see my devotional verse for today in Ezekiel 22: 30), seeing the walls of righteousness crumble all around God’s people? Do you hear, as do I, God calling to the hearts of His people to STAND IN THE GAP for righteousness, and to do battle against the well-organized and powerful forces of evil raising havoc in the world? In Psalm 106, copied above, we read of Moses being one who stood in the gap against the unrighteousness exhibited by God’s people when they fell prey to those who would build a calf of gold to worship. In Ephesian 6: 10-13, also copied above, we read of the Apostle Paul calling on God’s people to stand in battle in his times of evil, … wearing God’s full armor and carrying a well-sharpened and practiced sword of the Spirit.

What about it? Are you standing in the gap to support God’s efforts to re-establish His kingdom of righteousness in this world? Jesus certainly stood in the gap for you and me, didn’t He? And so, should we not do the same in our times, … that is, to be willing to even die for His Name’s sake?

Today, on the campus of Wabash College, I’ve come to stand in the gap – as much as I can – asking others to join with me to support two young me who’re willing to do battle for Jesus in a very unpopular, politically incorrect, gap, standing with their Lord against the forces of evil in their lives on the campus of Wabash College.

Whom can you stand with in our times to do battle, … maybe against the evils of abortion, … maybe, like us, against the strong beachhead of internet p0rnography, … maybe against some other form of evil in our world? But wherever God is leading you to stand, let me pray that we will stand in the gap for our Lord … TODAY!!!

My Prayer for Today Yes, LORD, that is my prayer … that Your people with stand with and for You and do battle in Christ’s Name and for Your glory in our times; and this I pray in Your Holy Name; and that is the Name of Jesus! … Amen

Thursday, January 17, 2013

January 17, 2013 … Remembering Whose We Are

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 17

Passage of the Day: Deuteronomy 8: 18a [in the context of verses 15-20] …  
15 Do not forget that He [God] led you through the great and terrifying wilderness with poisonous snakes and scorpions, where it was so hot and dry. He gave you water from the rock! 16 He fed you with manna in the wilderness, a food unknown to your ancestors. He did this to humble you and test you for your own good. 17 He did it so you would never think that it was your own strength and energy that made you wealthy. 18 Always remember that it is the LORD your God who gives you power to become rich, and He does it to fulfill the covenant He made with your ancestors. 
19 “But I assure you of this: If you ever forget the LORD your God and follow other gods, worshiping and bowing down to them, you will certainly be destroyed. 20 Just as the LORD has destroyed other nations in your path, you also will be destroyed for not obeying the LORD your God.” 

Contextual Reference Passage: … To study today’s highlight passage in context, go to Deuteronomy, Chapter 8by using this link … 

Reference Passage #1: 2nd Corinthians 13: 5-6 : [NLT] … {Pop Quiz: “Whose are we? … Self or Savior?” } …  
5 Examine yourselves to see if your faith is really genuine. Test yourselves. If you cannot tell that Jesus Christ is among you, it means you have failed the test. 6 I hope you recognize that we have passed the test and are approved by God. 

My Journal for Today... “Pop quiz!”

Oh, how I hated it when one of my college profs would come into class and say those dreaded words. It meant we were about to have to write a theme about some book in English, or take a test over some text we had been assigned, … both usually involving a lot of reading.

The Apostle Paul, in 2nd Cor. 13: 5-6 [copied above], said that periodically we Christians needed to give ourselves a self-inventory (a self-induced “pop quiz”) to see if we were staying true to our faith, … i.e., putting God first, avoiding pride, and going deeper-deeper into our relationship with Christ. And Moses wrote much the same thing, with a tough “pop-quiz” of our faith in the Deuteronomy 8, which I have copied above from the Os Hillman devotional for this day.

Those are tough words from God to test His people, aren’t they, telling them (and us) to do all His chosen ones should to remember “Whose they were?” Certainly the Old Testament is replete with stories of how God’s chosen ones lapsed into forgetfulness, either grumbling when things were going badly or taking their own credit when things went well. And actually it’s more of a temptation for the human heart to forget God when things are going well for us, isn’t it?

Oh, how easy it is for us to deceive ourselves (remember the truth of Jeremiah 17:9 - if you don’t know that one – look it up and memorize it!), thinking that we’re the ones who’ve accomplished some good things in life, … when, in point of fact, as Deut. 8: 18a points out, it is always God who goes ahead of us (see also Deut. 31:8) to pave the way for our successes or accomplishments. So, when the latter, i.e., human success, becomes reality, do we remember WHOM is One Who deserves the credit?

 Because, if we fail this pop quiz from God’s truth, the outcomes could be disastrous, especially taking in the truth of Deut. 8: 19 above. Being prideful when we have been successful in producing wealth or riches, we could reap a whirlwind our own pride and selfishness if we forget WHOSE WE ARE. So, take God’s pop quiz today and do a self inventory of your faith, … remembering … as I so often say in my morning journal entries … “GOD is God and we are not!!!”

My Prayer for Today And I thank you, Lord, for giving us all we need to do the good stuff in life – Your stuff!! … Amen

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

January 16, 2013 … God’s Calling IS His Enablement

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 16

Passage of the Day: 1st Samuel 20: 1 [in the context of verses 1-4] … 
1 David now fled from Naioth in Ramah and found Jonathan. “What have I done?” he exclaimed. “What is my crime? How have I offended your father that he is so determined to kill me?  
2“That’s not true!” Jonathan protested. “I’m sure he’s not planning any such thing, for he always tells me everything he’s going to do, even the little things. I know he wouldn’t hide something like this from me. It just isn’t so!” 3 Then David took an oath before Jonathan and said, “Your father knows perfectly well about our friendship, so he has said to himself, ‘I won’t tell Jonathan—why should I hurt him?’ But I swear to you that I am only a step away from death! I swear it by the LORD and by your own soul!” 
4“Tell me what I can do!” Jonathan exclaimed. 

Contextual Reference Passage: … To study today’s highlight passage in context, go to 1st Samuel, Chapter 20by using this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Hebrews 5: 7-9 : [NLT] … {If it’s good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for all of us. } …  
7 While Jesus was here on earth, He offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could deliver him out of death. And God heard His prayers because of His reverence for God. 8 So even though Jesus was God’s Son, He learned obedience from the things He suffered. 9 In this way, God qualified Him as a perfect High Priest, and He became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey Him. 

My Journal for Today: My mentor taught me – and it’s true – that “God’s calling is His enablement,” … which means that whatever God’s wills and calls us to do (i.e., whatever He anoints us for in HIS purpose), He will prepare and empower us to accomplish that calling. And David, the young shepherd, who was called and anointed by God to be the King of the Israelites, is a great Old Testament example.

David was called out of the fields as a shepherd and anointed by the Prophet Samuel to be the future King of Israel during the previously anointed reign of King Saul. But Saul’s heart soured on God’s calling and the first King of Israel let his pride, arrogance, and human jealously dampen the presence and power of God’s Spirit, Who had resided in Saul’s heart as the first king of God’s chosen people. So, God’s calling was passed to young David; and we know the story of the young shepherd’s defeat of Goliath and his early affiliation with Saul, where David’s anointed power became evident to King Saul. But as David rose in prominence, the anointing left Saul and passed to David; but this didn’t mean that David had it easy from then on.

What we then see historically is that God prepared David for his kingship by sending him out into the desert as Saul pursued David, trying to kill him. In today’s vignette in 1st Samuel 20 we read of how God led David into a very close relationship with Saul’s son, Jonathan, whose love for David helped the anointed future king to be protected and to grow into the King David would become.

 My fellow Christian, I don’t know where God has you right now; but if we, as Christ’s servants, are headed toward the anointed calling which The Lord has for our future, we can be assured that God is preparing us for that calling. I know that I’m in the midst of doing what God called me to do, … i.e., to lead a ministry to help Christian men walk free from habitual sexual sin strongholds in their life – you can read about it at this link . However, to prepare me for this calling, God sent me through 22 years of a harrowing desert experience; … and then six more years of pursuing my soul before I was first led to Christ and then prepared, through sanctification [seven more years of growth], for the kingdom purpose He has me carrying out for His glory now.

And I’m uplifted by the reality that even Jesus, during His earthly ministry here on earth, was led through testing and trying times so that His Father in Heaven could prepare Him to become the High Priest of all mankind where He now sits in re-throned glory (see the passage in Hebrews 5, verses 7-9 I have copied/pasted above). And I always say, “If any process is good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for all of us!”

So, if you’re going through tough times now, dear one, know that it’s highly possible – even probable – that you’re being tested or tried in some way to prepare you for some anointed purpose God has for you in His future calling on your life. And for sure, His calling will be His enablement.

My Prayer for Today Lord, thank you for Your calling; but thank you even more for the anointing and testing which led me to be able to serve You, knowing that You’ll continue to grow me in the power You hold for me, Holy Spirit. … Amen

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

January 15, 2013 … Obedience vs Ability in Battle

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 15

Passage of the Day: 1st Chronicles 14: 14a; 15 …  
13 But after a while, the Philistines returned and raided the valley again. 14 And once again David asked God what to do. “Do not attack them straight on,” God replied. “Instead, circle around behind them and attack them near the balsam trees. 15 When you hear a sound like marching feet in the tops of the balsam trees, attack! That will be the signal that God is moving ahead of you to strike down the Philistines.” 16 So David did what God commanded, and he struck down the Philistine army all the way from Gibeon to Gezer. 

Contextual Reference Passage: … To study today’s highlight passage in context, go to 1st Chronicles, Chapter 14by using this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Proverbs 3: 5-6 : [NLT] … {Again, I say … I hope you know this one by now; but if not, please find, read, and meditate again on the deeper meaning of this passage for our lives, especially for our decision-making abilities.} … 

My Journal for Today: We’re in a spiritual war every-day! Can I get an AMEN to that statement? …

Well, if that’s reality, isn’t also true that we need to be vigilant and make prudent decisions in the throws of daily battles with our spiritual enemies – Satan, the world, and our own flesh? So, where do we get our marching orders? Well, King David gives us the answer to that one as a living example of an experienced warrior doing battles with his enemies in those days. David was a talented and war-proven leader in battle; and when confronted with the specific task of coming against his ever-present enemies, the Philistines, David could have depended upon his experience and his own talents/abilities as a leader in battle. BUT (big “but”), as we can see in the passage from 1st Chron. 14, copied above (especially the underlined text), David went FIRST to God for his marching orders, not relying on his own talents and abilities to carry the day in battle.

How often do we confront a worldly or fleshly battle in life and we default to our own abilities or past experiences to lead us in our decision-making? Well, TOO OFTEN, at least for this old soldier, I default to try things MY WAY first. Well, David had learned the essence and internalized truth of what his own son would later pen into God’s truth, which we find in Proverbs 3: 5-6, which, as I wrote yesterday in my blog and today again, I really hope you know by heart – and then do all we can to live it!

And to summarize the comparison of doing battle MY WAY or GOD’s WAY, let me link you to two wonderful songs, sung by two great singers; and when you hear them, I think you’ll get the truth of what today’s passage is teaching us …
First – the signature song for Frank Sinatra … link to MY WAY -
Compared to – link to TURN YOUR EYES UPON JESUS … sung by Michael W Smith

I think the choice is clear, don’t you?

My Prayer for Today Lord, help me – lead me – pursue me … to keep my eyes on YOUR WAY and avoid doing battle MY WAY. … Amen

Monday, January 14, 2013

January 14, 2013 … Move On!

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 14

Passage of the Day: Exodus 14: 15 …  
15 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving!”

Contextual Reference Passage: … To study today’s highlight passage in context, go to Exodus, Chapter 14by using this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Proverbs 3: 5-6 : [NLT] … {I hope you know this one by now; but if not, please find, read, and meditate again on the deeper meaning of this passage for our lives, especially for our decision making abilities. } … 

  Reference Passage #2: Hebrews 11: 1, 6 : [NLT] … {Faith? Do we have enough to “move on?” } …  
1 What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see. … 6 So, you see, it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that there is a God and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. 

My Journal for Today: I’ll bet you know the story in Exodus 14. God had led Moses and the Israelites to the Red Sea, which was a curious move since they could have gone around the sea. But in the meantime, Pharaoh had done a 180 and came after the Israelites whom he had freed after all those plagues. He wanted to kill them all at the Red Sea; and the people, getting wind of Pharaoh’s pursuit, buckled in fear; but Moses, having faith in their deliverance, heard the message of God to “MOVE ON;” and we know the outcome. The sea parted and they walked across on dry ground.

Ever had a “Red Sea” experience in your life, … a place where your faith was severely tested by circumstances which seemed – by sight and logic – to be overwhelmingly oppressive or almost – if not – impossible? I sure have; and my faith was severely tested, especially since I seemed to be getting the same message from God that Moses got at the Red Sea … “MOVE ON!”

Take a look at (and meditate on) the verses from that great “hall of faith” chapter - Hebrews 11, especially verses 1 and 6 - in the New Testament [copied above]. And then put those in the context of God’s wisdom from Proverbs 3: 5-6, which, as I indicate above, I hope you have memorized and internalized. And those passages cry out to believers to seek God’s way, and as you may remember from the old Nike slogan, “just do it!”, but doing it God’s way!

But sometimes, God’s way (and His will) can lead us into Red Sea places in our lives, … places where things just cry out to our flesh to wrap it up, go home, and quit. But that’s where our proactive disciplines and our faith drive us to “move on” in spite of what we see or feel.

Besides, our feelings will often appeal to our Jeremiah 17: 9 hearts, which are deceitful; and Satan knows it. So, he just loves it when we get backed up to a “Red Sea” experience; and he’ll pour gas on the flames of our discontent or discouragement, making what seems difficult to seem impossible. He’ll make us want to just crawl in a hole of our self-pity and quit on going God’s way.

So, when, as Christians, we’re up against the Red Sea; and God’s Spirit is calling, nudging, or just flat out yelling at us, to “MOVE ON,” … that is what we must do … MOVE ON … in faith, trusting that God Spirit will show us the way to walk on dry ground to the other side of our Read Sea circumstances.

My Prayer for Today Lord, thank You for taking me – often – through my Red Sea places and delivering me to the other side for Your glory. … Amen

Sunday, January 13, 2013

January 13, 2013 … Streams of Living Obedience

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 13

Passage of the Day: Psalm 40: 8 [bold/underlined] in the context of verses 6 - 8 [NLT] …  
6 You take no delight in sacrifices or offerings. Now that you have made me listen, I finally understand — You don’t require burnt offerings or sin offerings. 7 Then I said, “Look, I have come. And this has been written about me in your scroll: 8 I take joy in doing Your will, my God, for Your law is written on my heart.” 

Contextual Reference Passage: … To study today’s highlight passage in context, go to Psalm 40 – a Psalm of Davidby using this link

Reference Passage #1: Hebrews 10: 1-10 : [NLT] … {Note that the passage above from Psalm 40: 8 was quoted – from Jesus – by the Author of Hebrews in Heb. 10: 7b } To study this passage in the context of Heb. 10, … go to this link

Reference Passage #2: Romans 12: 1-2 : [NLT] … { How much do we really desire to worship God by doing His will, … by becoming living sacrifices, worshiping Him by the way we live, move, and have our being – IN HIM? } … To study this passage, … go to this link

My Journal for Today: I once reported to my mentor, “I seem to have a lot of trouble finding God’s will for my life.” And in answer to my dilemma, my mentor asked me, “How much do you really KNOW God?”

Perplexed by this question, I asked my mentor what knowing God had to do with finding and doing God’s will, to which he responded, “To know God is to love God; … to love God is to obey God; … to obey God is to serve God; … and to serve God is to be blessed by God.”

 He went on to tell me that if I desired to be blessed by God in my life, I first had to get to know Him deeply, intimately, and abidingly. And my mentor asked me, as I’m asking any who read with me here, “How do we best get to know our God?” And I think you know the answer to that, … especially if you’ve taken in today’s Bible passages above.

Today Os Hillman, the editor of my devotional study, used the word picture of our lives flowing downstream in a river, directed by the river banks, changing course, seeking out the direction pre-established by the banks of the stream, and sometimes taking radical changes in direction because they are re-directed by the river banks. But we cannot flow down that stream of life unless we’re in that river and surrendering to the direction of its banks, … can we?

David, in Psalm 40, especially the highlight verse for today, Verse 8, showed that he was in total surrender – as Paul would put it in Romans 12: 1, “a living sacrifice,” to the directions of the God David was growing to know more and more through living in the stream of God’s will. David desperately wanted to know and live within God’s will for his life; and he knew that he could only do that if he knew God will and His way from His word.

How can we seek and know God’s will for our lives? Well, we do that by getting to know – REALLY KNOW – everything we can about our LORD. And how do we do that? And I think you know – as I do – the answer to that question. We get to know our God (primarily) by getting to know Him through His word. His word establishes the riverbanks which direct the flow of our lives downstream … i.e., when we surrender to God’s predetermined path for our lives. But we will not be able to flow with God’s will for our lives if we don’t know and surrender to God’s direction, … which is found in His word.

Have you ever taken the time to not only read, but to study and meditate in depth, on the longest Psalm in the Bible, Psalm 119? We don’t know the human author of that Psalm; but whoever it was, he had a deep love and desperate desire to know, love, and serve God by knowing His will through His “Book of the Law.” And so should we. If you haven’t done so, I’d charge you to take the time and really dive in and let God’s love take you downstream in your life by meditating deeply in Psalm 119.

If we really want to find and follow God’s will, I think we know that we’re not going to be able to do that unless we really know and desire to serve our God; and we’re not going to be able to do that unless we REALLY know and follow His will from knowing and following His word. So, it is the desperate desire of at least this seeker to be here EVERY DAY, digging into God’s word, seeking to know Him, love Him, and serve Him more abidingly. Because the deeper I know my God through His word, the more He will bless me by taking me down the stream of my life to that place at the end of life’s river where I’ll spend eternity with my Lord.

So, I’ll be here tomorrow too. How about you?

My Prayer for Today Lord, I desire to know You and follow Your will for my life by seeking and surrendering to You through Your word. … Amen

Saturday, January 12, 2013

January 12, 2013 … Who’s In Control?

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 12

Passage of the Day: Genesis 32: 31 [bold/underlined] in the context of verses 28-32 [NLT] … 28 “Your name will no longer be Jacob,” the man told him. “It is now Israel [Hebrew = “one who struggles with God”], because you have struggled with both God and men and have won.” 29 “What is your name?” Jacob asked him. “Why do you ask?” the man replied. Then he blessed Jacob there. 30 Jacob named the place Peniel —“face of God” — for he said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been spared.” 31 The sun rose as he left Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. 32 That is why even today the people of Israel don’t eat meat from near the hip, in memory of what happened that night. 

Contextual Reference Passage: … To study today’s highlight passage in context, go to Genesis, Chapter 32by using this link … 

Reference Passage: 2nd Corinthians 12: 7-10 : [NLT] … {Sometimes God has to give us “a thorn” to keep us humble enough to receive His saving/sanctifying grace.} … To study this passage, go to this link

 My Journal for Today: This morning in my Os Hillman devotional, he closes with a quote from a Christian colleague, stating, “Beware of the Christian leader who does not walk with a limp.” And this quote is in reference to the highlight passage today from Genesis, Chapter 32 where the story of Jacob’s wrestling match with God was related.

All of us, Christians or non-believers, have a very human default to try to control our circumstances, and some, like Jacob, a bit more strongly – even obsessively – more than others. In today’s vernacular we might have diagnosed Jacob as a “control freak,” or someone with “OCD” – Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. And Jacob came into the world that way, conniving and conning the family blessing away from his brother, Esau. But it took a major and cataclysmic encounter with God, a wrestling match for God’s blessing, for God to humble him to the place where God could truly bless Him, … even by giving Jacob a new family name, “Israel,” which would become the name of all of Jacob’s descendants and the nation of Israel.

 So, back to the quote above, which may be taking on a more personal understanding now. Sometimes, after a long life of trying to “wrestle” control away from God, He has to break us in some way, like He did with Jacob’s hip to be able to humble that person to the place where the Lord can pour His grace into that one. And another story, in the New Testament, of such an instance is that, cited above, from 2nd Cor. 12: 7-10, where God had to wrestle the pride away from the Apostle Paul by giving him “a thorn,” which was some physical or emotional malady which Paul, through the pain of “the thorn,” recognized was necessary to keep the Apostle humble enough to receive God’s enabling/empowering grace.

What about you, fellow Christian, are you, like me often, in a wrestling match with God for control in our lives? On several occasions in my life, I had to “wrestle with God;” and he had to slam me with “His thorn” to show me that, as Jesus said to Paul in 2nd Cor. 12: 9, "My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness.”  Hence the quote above that we need to beware of anyone who doesn’t “walk with a limp” in life, feeling or declaring that they have “things under control.”

I’ve learned that one of my biggest “red-flags” of personal warning is when I’m beginning to feel like I’ve got things under MY own control. DANGER … DANGER … DANGER!! And if you ever compliment me on something I’ve done and I don’t give all the credit to God, please tap me on the hip and ask me where my limp has gone. That will help me to realize that my pride has taken me to a place where I need thank God for giving me His grace to accomplish whatever you’ve seen in me that you think is admirable.

And I will now pray that God ALWAYS helps me to realize – without needing a thorn or a broken hip – that His grace is sufficient for me in the face of my weaknesses; … no, … IN ALL THINGS!!!

My Prayer for Today Lord, I know the riskiness in this prayer; but please keep me humbled before Your throne of grace so that I will realize and be thankful that You give me Your mercy, in spite of my Jacob-like nature. … Amen

Friday, January 11, 2013

January 11, 2013 … Faith Under Fire – Or Not!

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 11

Passage of the Day: Exodus 5: 23 in the context of verses 19-23 [NLT] …  
19 Since Pharaoh would not let up on his demands, the Israelite foremen could see that they were in serious trouble. 20 As they left Pharaoh’s court, they met Moses and Aaron, who were waiting outside for them. 21 The foremen said to them, “May the LORD judge you for getting us into this terrible situation with Pharaoh and his officials. You have given them an excuse to kill us!” 22 So Moses went back to the LORD and protested, “Why have you mistreated your own people like this, Lord? Why did you send me? 23 Since I gave Pharaoh your message, he has been even more brutal to your people. You have not even begun to rescue them!”  
Contextual Reference Passage: … To study today’s highlight passage in context, go to Exodus, Chapter 5by using this link … 

Reference Passage: Proverbs 3: 5-6 : [NLT] … {Faith can wane in the midst of privation or trials; but God smiles when it holds up.}  
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths. 
Reference Passage #2: Hebrews 11: 6 : [NLT] … {Obedience is real faith under fire.} …  
6 So, you see, it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that there is a God and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. 

My Journal for Today: How many times in Scripture do we read of scenarios where God has to put His children through a life-fire to test their faith and to help them see that faith under fire – i.e., obedience in the face of tribulation – is necessary for God to really show off Whom He is and to receive the glory He deserves? Well, today’s text is one of those many biblical scenarios which we can read to show that God’s promises are ALWAYS true, but His timing and methods of revealing those promises very seldom fit into our time tables or our ways of doing life.

In today’s passage God gave Moses and His children His promise of freedom from Egypt. He just didn’t tell them how long it would take and what would have to transpire involving the Pharaoh to make God’s promise a reality. And when it took plague after plague after plague coming upon the Egyptians to break down the Pharaoh, God’s chosen ones found it harder and harder to extend their faith in their God and His deliverer, Moses.

Have you had any faith-building scenarios in your life where God just didn’t cooperate with your timing when you just knew God’s promise, … where God’s will just seemed WAY TOO LONG in coming? We know that God says to TRUST HIM no matter what comes our way and to avoid leaning on our own understanding (i.e., Prov. 3: 5-6 copied above). We know that’s impossible to please God without faith and He will only reward those who diligently seek after Him (i.e., Heb. 11: 6 also above). But when it comes to remaining obedient in the face of the trials of fire in our lives, our faith so often grows cold, doesn’t it?

CONVICTED!! … GUILTY!! …And I eed to take Oz Hillman’s devotional message to heart today. How often do I read, hear, and study the message in my daily Bible studies that God is God and I am not?! How often do I need to grasp the truth that I should focus my obedience on God’s promises and not on His timing or His method of showing me His way of receiving glory? How often does my faith in the truth of Romans 8: 28 [that’s one you should have memorized, if not internalized, by now] have to be tested in the fires of life?

I’ll not go on with this; because my conviction level is white hot right now; and it hurts!

My Prayer for Today Lord, I need Your faith; but I admit my weakness in being willing or able to go through the trials of life to be obedient and hold onto Your truths – in faith. Help me in my unbelief, Lord! … Amen

Thursday, January 10, 2013

January 10, 2013 … Ghosts Revealing Glory

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 10

Passage of the Day: Matthew 14: 26 in the context of verses 25-27 [NLT] …  
25 About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came to them, walking on the water. 26 When the disciples saw Him, they screamed in terror, thinking he was a ghost. 27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “It’s all right,” He said. “I am here! Don’t be afraid.” 28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you by walking on water.29 “All right, … come,” Jesus said. 

Contextual Reference Passage: … To study today’s highlight passage in context, go to Matthew, Chapter 14by using this link

Reference Passage: Isaiah 41: 10 : [NLT] … [It's like Jesus is shouting this to us in the midst of our storms.} ...   

10 Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.  

Reference Passage #2: Romans 8: 28 : [NLT] … {It’s true; but do we believe it; or is it just a Bible ghost to us? } … 
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.

My Journal for Today: Seen any ghosts lately? The “ghosts” in life are those circumstances which seem overwhelming and produce emotional “knee-jerk” reactions of fear in us. The circumstances are real; and the fear is, most definitely real; but when we gain the perspective of time, we often learn that there was no reason for us to have panicked because, in reflection and our 20/20 hindsight, we can see later that the circumstances were engineered, or allowed, by God Himself to teach us or train us to have more faith and to cling to the reality that God was in the circumstances for our good and His glory.

 And that’s the essence of today’s highlight passage of Scripture, one of my favorite teaching passages, in this case from Matthew 14; but also found in Mark 6 and John 6. I guess I’m drawn to this story of Jesus sending His Disciples out in a boat and He coming to them in the midst of a deathly storm … because once I had a storm in my life and Jesus came to me in my storm. But you know the story as pictured above, … when Jesus came to the Disciples, walking on the water, the men, deathly afraid in the storm, reasoned that He was a ghost. But later, they discerned that He was the One they believed was the Messiah (well, at least some of them did). And Peter even was willing, at Jesus’ calling, to jump out of the boat in faith and go to Jesus; but when he did and realized what was happening, fear gripped him; and Jesus had to rescue him as he sunk in fear. Great story … with a lot of application for our lives; don’t you think?

And I think the story means so much to me because I had a time, a storm in my life, when my marriage and even my career was sinking because of a self-induced storm we were in because a lot of very bad choices on my part. And knowing that this storm of my own weakness would sink my family, I began looking for a “savior;” and I looked for redemption in far-eastern religions and self-help gurus; but I kept sinking. Finally, through an almost perfect storm of circumstances, Jesus came to me; but He seemed like a “ghost” to me; but then, … in a moment of truth, … He showed Himself to me through His word – by exposing me to Philippians 4: 13 (it’s too long of a story to relate here). But through that storm, which occurred on April 13th, 1983 (and I hope you see that this date translates to 4/13), my eyes were opened to the reality that Jesus was calling me to step out of my boat of selfishness and come to Him in surrender. And I did; and though my faith has been just about as incomplete as Peter’s was in that picture above, Jesus has been there for me; and the reality of the other passage I’ve quoted above (i.e., from Isaiah 41: 10) has become very real for me as well.

Yes, there are times – stormy times – when it’s difficult to believe the truth of another reality passage which I often quote in my daily devotionals - Romans 8: 28; but ALL of the storms of life are God’s way of showing us that He’s ALWAYS there in the midst of our storms, even if He might seem like a “ghost” to us … or maybe we can’t even discern that He’s there.

 But He is; and He wants us to come to Him and let Him be our Savior. In fact, there’s another passage, which I haven’t quoted above, but which is Jesus calling to us as He bride in the midst of our storms. You may remember the verse from Revelation 3: 20. I hope you know it; because EVERYDAY, in every storm of life, that truth is Jesus calling to us saying … “Look! Here I stand at the door and knock. If you hear Me calling and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal as friends.”  

Any ghosts today? Look closely, Jesus is there!

My Prayer for Today Lord, thank You for always being there when the storms rage in my life. … Amen