Tuesday, January 01, 2013

January 1, 2013 … God is First

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 1

Passage of the Day: Genesis 13: 18 [NLT] … 18 So Abram moved his camp to Hebron and settled near the oak grove belonging to Mamre. There he built another altar to the Lord. 

Contextual Reference Passage: … Genesis, Chapter 13 To study this passage, go to this link

Reference Passage: Philippians 4: 13 : [NLT] … {This devotional entry caused me to think of the passage which God used – long story – to bring me to salvation. It’s a passage which you may have memorized; and it’s interesting that when Abraham made his choice to settle in the new land to which God had led him, he settled in “Mamre,” which in Hebrew means, “the place of strength.” When I mad my choice for Christ, I was seeking strength to cover my spiritual brokenness and weakness; and in Christ I found that strength.}  
I can do all things through Christ, Who gives me the strength. 

My Journal for Today: January One … Day 1 of 2013; and I’m excited to be in 2013 because anyone who knows me well, knows that “13” is a big number in the Berry Patch. ... Just a few highlights: … my wife and I had our first date on the 13th of a month and were married on the 13th of a month. Our first daughter was born on the 13th of a month; and I was awarded my doctorate on the 13th of a month. And when I started my first job after becoming “Dr. Bill Berry,” I opened that first clinic on the 13th of a month. But the biggest one for me was the day I was broken and became a Christian, … you guessed it, … on the 13th of a month.   It was on April 13th, 1983 (that’s on 4/13); and on that day God led me to be exposed to Phil. 4: 13, which I’ve copied above as my highlight reference verse for today.

And isn’t it curious that we begin the year, January 1, 2013 from the devotional source I’ve chosen to use this year with a reference from Chapter 13 of the first book in the Bible – Genesis on. Somehow, given the personal context of the number 13 in my life, I don’t think this is a coincidence, do you?

Well, let me get to my thoughts for this blog entry today.

In the Highlight passage for today, Abram was called by the one true God to uproot his family (see Chapter 12 of Genesis) and go to a land where God would lead him. And – in faith – that’s exactly what Abram did; and as this wealthy, extended family moved out, following Abram’s lead, they confronted a challenge. Abram’s nephew, Lot, and his family were with Abram; and they discovered that the land to which God was leading them would have to be divided; and so, Abram, being the leader of his family tribe, deferred to Lot to make the first choice as to which portion Lot would choose of the designated land where God had led them. We know that Lot looked out and chose the most fertile portion of the lands; and Abram was left with the more hostile looking portion of the Negev, which was a vast desert land.

And note from the highlight passage of the day (Verse 18 of Genesis 13), having faith that God would provide and continue to lead his family, Abram landed and settled in a place called “Mamre;” and the first thing he did – CHOICE # 1 – was to build an altar to God. With Abram, his life had come to revolve around a “GOD IS FIRST” mentality. When God called Abram, he went. When God gave Abram the choice of territories to live, Abram let God lead the family when he gave Lot the first choice. When Abram arrived in the place where God had led him, his first choice was to build an altar to the God in Whom he was placing all his faith.

I think it fascinating that Abram chose to settle in “Mamre,” … the name in Hebrew meaning, as I stated above, “the place of strength.” That has a personal fascination to me because it was spiritual strength which I was seeking in my life on 4/13/83, when God, through a rather bizarre set of circumstance revealed Phil. 4: 13 to me; and it broke me to the core that day; and I gave my life to Christ … desiring to make Him Lord of my life and to find the strength I was lacking by following Him.

And here we are in Genesis, Chapter 13, on January 1st, 2013, studying the life of one who learned to have faith and put GOD FIRST in his life. There’s a powerful message in the first act that Abram undertook upon arriving in Mamre. He built an altar to God, confirming that he had surrendered his life to his one and only LORD. And in this act of surrender in that place named “strength” (i.e., Mamre), Abram was saying to God, “You are always going to be first in my life.”

 A big question God has raised for me, as He has led me to this one devotional on JANUARY ONE in 2013. And that question from God’s Spirit (I firmly believe) is … “Bill, am I really your LORD?” And again, quite curiously, when my granddaughters created a birthday card for Jesus on Christmas and asked the family to write down something we’d give to Jesus during the year, I wrote that I would use my devotional blogging this year to make Christ more THE LORD of my life than ever before. And here I am, led by God on Jan 1, 2013, to reinforce that commitment.

And I do. I truly desire to make God #1 in my life this year. And I will pursue that goal heartily in 2013 with my devotional entries here each day!

How about you?

My Prayer for Today LORD, if there is anything in my heart or thinking that is keeping You from being FIRST in my life, strip it from me; and lead me to follow You COMPLETELY in 2013 … Amen

Blogger’s Note: After some consideration and prayer, during 2013 I have chosen to read and use a daily devotional blog authored by Oz Hillman, Director of Marketplace Ministries [see this link] . The devotional is published online daily by a group in Memphis, TN – Ministry To Men [see this link ]. The latter group has produced a conference annually for well over 15 years - the Maximum Man Conferences, which strive to help men of God to become more Godly men. I have been a speaker at these conferences for the last five years; and I look forward to sharing – through the mind/heart of one man after God’s heart – my thoughts on the passages of Scripture chosen by Oz Hillman daily to help any Christian who seeks to grow closer to their Lord in 2013. This year is going to be my “Christ is LORD” year; and I invite any Christian to come along with me as I blog daily at this site to go deeper than ever into a more abiding relationship with Christ.

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