Sunday, March 31, 2013

March 31, 2013 … An Eternal View of Life

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 90

Passage of the Day: Philippians 1: 12-13 [in the context of verses 5-8] [NLT] …  
12 And I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. 13 For everyone here, including all the soldiers in the palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ. 
Contextual Study of today’s passage: Philippians, Chapter 1 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Luke 4: 18-19 : [A restatement by Jesus of Isaiah 61: 1-2 – and the fulfillment of the mission statement of Messiah.] …[NKJV] …  
18“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, for he has appointed Me to preach Good News to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the downtrodden will be freed from their oppressors, 19 and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.”

My Journal for Today: Hey, … it happens to be Easter Sunday this morning as I write this; and I know that Os Hillman edited and wrote this devotional at a time when it wasn’t Easter; but no matter, what he wrote today certainly fits to advance the very thing Easter is all about … remembering and perpetuating THE GOSPEL.

Hillman began his entry for today with some very challenging questions, ” Are your life circumstances advancing the gospel? Can you see the Lord's hand in your life in such a way that all of your life experiences, joys, sorrows, hardships, and training have resulted in advancing the gospel?” And then Hillman cited a passage from Paul’s prison epistle to the Philippians in challenging his readers even more. Paul was in prison as we know when he wrote to his beloved Christian friends in Philippi. And Chapter 1 (as you can read by using the link above) of that letter expresses his love for his friends in Philippi; but it also demonstrated just how Paul saw his life mission as eternal; and he knew that other Christians, like those in Philippi, were going to experience trials, tribulations, and temptations, just as he (Paul) was experiencing in prison when he wrote to fellow believers. Paul wanted His Philippian friends to have the same eternal view of their mission in life that he (Paul) had gleaned from the mission of His Savior … and that is the perpetuation of the gospel (what we now know is our Great Commission – see Matt. 28: 19-20).

How about us – you and me? How do we see our mission in life in reflecting on what we do in life? Is what we’re doing or where we’re headed in life directed by the Great Commission? Am I motivated by Christ’s charge for living in Acts 1: 8 … to be His witness wherever I am and whatever I’m doing?

Sometimes, I believe, we Christians float through life without a gospel focus on what we’re doing, or even more importantly WHY we’re doing what we’re doing. Personally, I’ve learned that my mission in life ought to be influenced, not only by the gospel focus of “WHY” in the Great Commission; but I think the “HOW” of what I do ought to be influenced by Christ’s mission in life. And if one is looking for a good way to see how life should be focused, a Christian can go back and see how the life we’re living fits into the life Jesus expressed was His life mission. And that mission statement was a restatement of the prophesy about the life of Messiah stated in Isaiah 61: 1-2 and then restated about 750 years later by Jesus in Luke 4: 18-19.

These words were Christ’s, stating the “WHY” He had come to fulfill God’s gospel plan; and they also outlined His mission statement, giving us real focus on “HOW” we should be living. When Jesus stated that His mission was to preach the gospel, … to proclaim the captives be released, … to give sight to the blind, … and to free the oppressed, … there we have a mission for life which should guide our living as well. Don’t you think we should get our mission in life from Christ’s? If a mission is good enough for Jesus, don’t you think, as Paul was expressing to the Philippians, Christ’s gospel mission should be ours as well.

I think so; and so I charge any who’re reading along with me here today to go back and meditate on Philippians 1, Acts 1: 8, Matt. 28: 19-20, and Luke 4: 18-19 and see if our life focus and mission is, as it was for Paul, on the furtherance of the gospel.

 I don’t know about you; but though God has given me a life ministry/mission which is directed by those gospel truths, I’m still WAY CHALLENGED to make sure that all I’m doing, when I do it, is to confirm to Jesus’ mission in life. And on this Easter day, as we remember all Christ did for us, … I’ll leave it to you to be challenged as well by this charge.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, may all I do conform to Your charge for my life. … Amen

Saturday, March 30, 2013

March 30, 2013 … Going Deep To Thrive In Christ

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 89

Passage of the Day: Jeremiah 17: 7 [in the context of verses 5-8] [NLT] …
5 This is what the LORD says: “Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans and turn their hearts away from the LORD. 6 They are like stunted shrubs in the desert, with no hope for the future. They will live in the barren wilderness, on the salty flats where no one lives. 
7 “But blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence. 8 They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they go right on producing delicious fruit. 
Contextual Study of today’s passage: Jeremiah, Chapter 17 [NLT] … Go to this link

Reference Passage #1: Proverbs 3: 5-6 : [Repeated for the nth time this year!] …[NKJV] … 
Trust in the LORD with all your heart; and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him; and He will direct your paths.

Reference Passage #2: Psalm 1: 3 : [Driving the roots of our relationship with God deep in the soil of my faith produces fruit. ] [NLT] … 
3 They [faithful believers] are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season without fail. Their leaves never wither, and in all they do, they prosper.

Reference Passage #3: John 15: 5 : [Being connected to the Vine.] …[NLT] … 
5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in Me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. ..."

My Journal for Today: Today Os Hillman and God’s Spirit took me all over His truth with God’s enlightening reminder that I need to remain connected deeply in my relationship with my Lord to have the sustenance to grow and thrive. And staying “connected” to the Vine is essential to be a fruitful believer, as is the word picture of both David, the Psalmist, and Jesus, my Savior (see verses from Psalm1 and John 15 copied above).

 And Jeremiah taught this forcefully as well (see the highlight passage above) … that God can only bless the believer with His “amazing grace” who trusts in the Lord; and, as Prov. 3: 5-6 reminds us again, that believer leans not on his own understanding, but relies fully and deeply in God’s love and His sustenance, which only comes when we’re deeply connected to Him in faith.

 And Hillman uses a very descriptive word picture to make his teaching point today. He writes, “…whenever a plant lives in an arid climate, the roots drive deeper and deeper into the soil to get the water they need. This forces the plant to develop a root system that is far beyond the normal plant because it is forced to go deeper to gain the water it needs. Sometimes God forces us to go deeper into the grace of His love in order to build a greater foundation in our own lives. These lean times are designed to accomplish this in us. If you find yourself in this condition, ask the Lord who provides the water for our soul for the grace you need today to continue to bear fruit in the desert.”

 And again, If you look. as I indicated above, that was also the word picture developed by both David and Jesus in Psalm 1: 3 and John 15: 5.

 My friends, we will not be fruitful as Christians unless and until we let our roots go deep into the soil of God’s love and His grace so that we can tap into the rich supply of living waters He has for the believer whose faith drives those roots deep so as to grow in Him. I pray that I’m willing (as are you) to drive my (our) roots deep in faith into the sustaining grace our Lord has for us to thrive in our relationship with Him.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, I go deep to receive Your grace. … Amen

Friday, March 29, 2013

March 29, 2013 … Clearly Our Calling

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 88

Passage of the Day: John 21: 22 [in the context of verses 19-22] [NLT] …  
19 Jesus said this to let him know what kind of death he would die to glorify God. Then Jesus told him, “Follow me.” 
20 Peter turned around and saw the disciple Jesus loved [referring to John] following them — the one who had leaned over to Jesus during supper and asked, “Lord, who among us will betray you?” 21 Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?” 
22 Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You follow me.”  
Contextual Study of today’s passage: John, Chapter 21 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Luke 9: 23 : [Likely a truth you have memorized by now – or should have.] …[NKJV] …  
23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow Me. …” 

Reference Passage #2: Philippians 1: 6 : [His until we are completed in Him.] …[NLT] … 
  6 And I am sure that God, Who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on that day when Christ Jesus comes back again. 

My Journal for Today: How often in our work-a-day lives do we end up comparing ourselves and what we do to others, feeling that others are getting favored or treated differently? Am I the only one who’s felt that I was being treated unfairly or should be recognized more by my boss for what I was doing? …I doubt it. … You probably have felt that way too … somewhere along the way in life.

Well, in the highlight Scripture text above, chosen by Os Hillman today, we see a very human scenario unfold just after the resurrected Jesus had helped Peter be restored to his relationship with His Savior, so that Peter would/could move out and follow Christ as a leader in the Church. … But Jesus also, in stark reality, let Peter know that he would one day die for following his Messiah. And immediately we see Peter’s very human reaction to ask Jesus about John; and Jesus told Peter that this was Jesus’ concern, not his, … indicating that Peter’s concern was only to follow Christ.

 And therein lies the clarification of our role and our walk in life as Christians. How many times have you read me cite Jesus’ clarion call to discipleship in these morning journal entries – that verse from Luke 9: 23 [that hopefully you have memorized by now – but it’s copied above, too]? And that’s what Jesus was clarifying for Peter in the scenario Hillman uses to illustrate that our focus in our life and work should always be on Jesus and following Him … and not on what others are doing.

Let me close by linking you – again – to that old hymn, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus, which I’ve linked others to often in my blogs, and which really expresses today’s point about as well as it can be said … and with such melodic clarity. 

My Prayer for Today … Lord, I turn my eyes on You; and Your call is clear to follow. … Amen

Thursday, March 28, 2013

March 28, 2013 … Remembering Whose We Are

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 87

Passage of the Day: Psalm 24: 1-2 [NLT] …  
1 The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to Him. 2 For He laid the earth’s foundation on the seas and built it on the ocean depths. 
Contextual Study of today’s passage: Psalms, Chapter 24 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Proverbs 16: 18-19 : [Beware!] …[NKJV] …  
18 Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. 19 Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud. 

Reference Passage #2: Proverbs 3: 5-6 : [Yes, … again we’re reminded] …[NKJV] …  
Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart; and lean not on your own understanding. In ALL your ways, acknowledge Him; and He will direct your paths. 

My Journal for Today: Today, Os Hillman, in his workplace devotional, quotes the renown devotional writer, Oswald Chambers, who wrote, "Not every man can carry a full cup. Sudden elevation frequently leads to pride and a fall. The most exacting test of all to survive is prosperity."

Hillman raises Chamber’s warning because we all have a tendency to default to human pride when we’ve worked hard and accomplished much and we’re rewarded for what we’ve done. … Aw common, … admit it; we all have a feeling, in such an instance, what we did something good to feel that we deserve the adulation … don’t we? Well, today’s highlight Bible truth and the supporting reference passages remind us WHOSE WE ARE?

We are God’s; … and ALL was created in and through … and FOR Him. And we must HUMBLY remember anything we do is because of our Lord and for our Lord. It’s all His; and if we accomplish anything, we did it because He allowed it done; and it should have been done for His glory.

So, … how are we sitting on these truths today? Well, I’m under conviction, bigtime!! Yes, I’m convicted because I often swell with pride when I’m recognized for what I’ve done; and how often I forget what HE, my Lord, did for me. And this reality is heightened on today of all days; because here, in this year, this is Holy Week; and today, a Thursday, is the day we, who were saved by what our Lord did on the cross, need to remember that this was that day when Jesus was nailed to the cross.

 [Click on photo for larger view]

Four years ago, with a group of Christian pilgrims, I was led to the very spot where Jesus was hung on that tree on Golgotha. The photo attached here was taken by me looking down at my feet, standing on the very stones where the Roman soldiers nailed my Lord to the cross; and I wept, … realizing that it was my sins which nailed Him there; and yet He was wiling to die for me. So, today, more than most days, I’m led to remember WHOSE I AM.

All was created by Him for God glory – not mine! And, I need to remember ALWAYS that anything I do should be for His glory. And, no matter where I am or what I’m doing, He gave His all (on the cross) so that I could reflect His glory into a fallen and barren world through my faith in Him and what He did for me. So, my friends, if you’re reading here, take in the photo I’ve attached and remember who you are IN CHRIST and above all reflect on WHOSE you are for His glory.

My Prayer for Today … Oh, Lord, I’m again overwhelmed with the remembrance of what You did for me on Calvary and I acknowledge that all I do needs to be a reflection of Whose I am in You. … Amen

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

March 27, 2013 … Treasures in Darkness

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 86

Passage of the Day: Isaiah 45: 3 [In the context of verses 1-3] [NLT] …  
1 This is what the LORD says to Cyrus, his anointed one, whose right hand he will empower. Before him, mighty kings will be paralyzed with fear. Their fortress gates will be opened, never again to shut against him. 2 This is what the LORD says: “I will go before you, Cyrus, and level the mountains. I will smash down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. 3And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness—secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name. 
Contextual Study of today’s passage: Isaiah, Chapter 45 [NLT] … Go to this link …  ============

Reference Passage #1: Job 28 : [Mining in the mind (i.e., word) of God is mining for His jewels of wisdom.] …[NKJV] … Go to this link ...  

Reference Passage #2: 2nd Cor. 12: 8-10 : [Yes, sometimes Jesus will lead us into dark places to be able to see His glory.] …[NLT] …  
8 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it [an unknown physical or emotional “thorn”] away. 9 Each time he said, “My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me. 10 Since I know it is all for Christ’s good, I am quite content with my weaknesses and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 

My Journal for Today: Have you ever prayed to God for Him to give you light in the midst of your darkness; … or maybe for relief in the midst of your pain; … or quite possibly to be able to come out from the midst of some heavy burden? If you’re a Christian, it’s not a stretch for me to bet that this has happened, as it has for me, on more than one occasion. And can you recall in some of those incidents, as I have generalized above, God giving you what I call a “glimpse of His glory?”

Os Hillman in his devotional for today describes a very dark time in his life when God led him, through the truth of today’s highlight passage from Isaiah 45: 3 to a light in his own dark place. And likewise, when Christ revealed Himself to me – at the time of my salvation, I believe – the Lord led me out of a very dark place into His light of saving grace; so, I know what it’s like to experience what God was promising to His children in today’s highlight passage, … that He, Yahweh, would lead them – by using an enemy King (Cyrus) - to bring them back to Jerusalem from captivity in Babylon. It must’ve been a hard thing for God’s people to believe … that He would use a Gentile ruler to release them from their captivity so that they could go back to His promised land and rebuild the Temple there.

Some time ago a contemporary Christian song writer and singer, Laura Story, wrote a song which captured some very dark times in her life and how God used those dark times to show her (and her husband who was suffering from a brain tumor) some blessings from the light of God’s love, shining for them in the midst of their darkness. Let me link you to that song on GodTube so that you can be impacted by the truth it espouses in such a poignant song.

Job had to learn that lesson too; and when he did, he wrote about it his journal about coming from darkness into light in Chapter 28 of Job, the book by his name. And in that Chapter, Job likens our search for God’s way, … for His mind, … as a search as in a dark mine where we are lowered into darkness to find God’s jewels or His precious ores of truth.

Yes, my friend, sometimes God’s greatest blessings come from those times when we’re covered by our most profound darkness. As Laura Story sings, sometimes God’s blessing come after He’s led us, by His grace, into some of the darkest places in our life; and we realize that God led us there to be able to show just a glimpse of His glory. Now, it is also true that God’s glory may not be seen on this side of His veil … that He may be leading us home to see His ultimate glory; but no matter where we are or what “thorn” we’re experiencing in life, as Jesus told Paul in the midst of a very dark time for the Apostle (see the passage above from 2nd Cor. 12: 9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” [NKJV]

 So, if you’re in a dark place right now, possibly experiencing pain or privation, God very likely has you in a place for you to search for, as Laura Story so eloquently sings, … “God’s blessing in disguise.”

My Prayer for Today … Lord, today I have mined for Your truth; and You have brought me a jewel. … Amen
Blogger’s PS … After I wrote my thoughts above, it dawned on me (God’s light coming on, I believe) that this day just happens to be the Wednesday of Holy Week). And I also realized that Os Hillman didn’t write his devotional in 2013; so it wasn’t written with any knowledge of it being published during Holy Week this year on the day when Jesus’ disciples, the ones who had witnessed His death on the cross, were about to get the greatest display of God’s light shining in the midst of their worst darkness. But on that fateful Wednesday, for them, Jesus was in the grave; and they were grieving the physical darkness of losing the One Whom they had believed was their Messiah. But in just a few short days, they would begin to see God’s greatest miracle of light shining through the darkness, because they would see – as we will celebrate Sunday – HE LIVES!!!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

March 26, 2013 … A Life of Spirit-led Conviction?

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 85

Passage of the Day: 1st Thessalonians 1: 4-5 [In the context of verses 2-5] [NLT] …  
2 We always thank God for all of you and pray for you constantly. 3 As we pray to our God and Father about you, we think of your faithful work, your loving deeds, and the enduring hope you have because of our Lord Jesus Christ. 4 We know, dear brothers and sisters, that God loves you and has chosen you to be his own people.5 For when we brought you the Good News, it was not only with words but also with power, for the Holy Spirit gave you full assurance that what we said was true. And you know of our concern for you from the way we lived when we were with you. 
Contextual Study of today’s passage: 1st Thessalonians, Chapter 1 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: 2nd Cor. 13: 5-6 : [Pop Quiz! … Are we living a life of deeply held, Spirit-led, convictions?] …[NKJV] …  
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. 

Reference Passage #2: Luke 9: 23 : [Are our convictions following Christ?] …[NKJV] …  
23 Then He said to them all (i.e., His true disciples), “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me…. ” 

My Journal for Today: In my devotional disciplines, I often find myself having to take a Spirit-led “pop-quiz” … in the Spirit of Paul’s admonition of 2nd Cor. 13: 5 (copied above). It’s a test of my faith and my Spirit-led convictions; and today’s devotional, taken by Os Hillman’s reference to 1st Thes. 1: 4-5, is certainly one of those tests of my faith and Christian direction.

 Os Hillman, in opening his journal entry for today declares, ” Everyone lives a life of conviction. Whatever we give our greatest time, our greatest energies, and our greatest resources to is a good indication of where our convictions lie. Some live a life of conviction about sports. Some live a life of conviction around pleasure. Still others live a life of conviction about very little that matters at all.”

So, I ask myself (and perhaps you are joining me in this Spirit-led pop-quiz), “What are my convictions these days?” Am I walking as Jesus commanded His disciples to walk [see Luke 9: 23, denying myself and taking up my Spirit-led cross in a daily walk, closely following Christ?” Or is my conviction and direction more wrapped up in selfish direction and purposes?

It has been said that we can get a pretty accurate answer to this pop-quiz of faith by looking at our personal calendar as well as our check-stubs (or these days our online banking records), because how we devote our time and money can give us a pretty good look as a measure of our convictions. If we’re denying self and following our Savior, our calendars and financial records will reflect Christ, won’t they?

So, my friend, where are we investing our time, talents, and treasures? Do our convictions these days reflect Christlikeness or more of a self-likeness? I’m going to have to stand before God’s Spirit today and look at the results of this pop-quiz. How about you?

My Prayer for Today … Lord, I stand before You today, being led by Your Spirit, convicted to do more for You. … Amen

Monday, March 25, 2013

March 25, 2013 … Casting My Nets …

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 84

{Click on photo for better view}

Passage of the Day: John 21: 6 [In the context of verses 1-6] [NLT] …  
1 Later Jesus appeared again to the disciples beside the Sea of Galilee. This is how it happened.  2 Several of the disciples were there—Simon Peter, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples. 
3 Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.” “We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night. 
4 At dawn the disciples saw Jesus standing on the beach, but they couldn’t see who he was. 5 He called out, “Friends, have you caught any fish?” 
“No,” they replied. 6 Then He said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get plenty of fish!So they did, and they couldn’t draw in the net because there were so many fish in it. 
Contextual Study of today’s passage: John, Chapter 21 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Proverbs 3: 5-6 : [Yeah! Back again to this truth which keeps yelling at it so do life God’s way. ] …[NKJV] …  
3 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths. 

My Journal for Today: What do they say is the modern-day definition of “INSANITY?” Isn’t it “… doing something the same way over and over again and expecting different results?”

Sometimes, to achieve some change in our lives which we know must take place, we find ourselves doing life in a “same-ole-same-ole” groove. Some might call it a “rut,” and they’d probably be right. Well, that’s why I love the opening story in the last chapter in John’s gospel as illustrative of something we may all need in our lives … CHANGE … for God’s sake (and I mean that literally and spiritually).

The story in John 21 opens with many of the disciples, moping around after Jesus’ death, resurrection, and re-ascension into heaven. They felt alone; and God’s Spirit had not yet come to them to be their comforter and helper. So, what do they find themselves doing? Well, many of them returned to what they knew best, … fishing; and in this opening scene we find the fishermen returning to the very same beach where Jesus had called them out to be disciples. And my wife and I have had the opportunity to walk on that very beach, which is pictured in the attached photo [see above].

 And so Peter, being the leader sort he was, tells the men he’s going out fishing; and a bunch of the disciples follow and go with him. However, their return to their comfort-zone produced nothing. Net after net was thrown out with nary a fish to show for it. And then enters someone on shore, calling out to Peter to cast their nets in a different direction; and somehow – without recognizing that it was Jesus calling out to them – Peter, likely leading the others, casts the net, as suggested by the stranger, in a different way; … and VOILA! … Fish galore!

What does this story say to us?

First of all, it reminds me a bit of the story of the disciples going out into the storm (the story found in Matt. 14, Mark 6, and John 6). And in that faith-building event, the disciples should have learned that in the face of trials or troubles, that Jesus would never abandon them; and they were also shown in that storm that they should look to do life the way Jesus calls to them to follow Him in the midst of their storms.

Well, here they were, floundering a bit in their own “insanity,” and low and behold, Jesus appears to them again – unrecognized – showing them, again, how to do life. And when they followed His call (i.e., His way), things happened, … didn’t they?! And so, are we getting the message from these wonderful stories in the life of these disciples. Well, … here are a few of the lessons I’m getting – or re-getting - today.

First, … when we’re feeling down and out, we need to beware of trying to return to our comfort zones to make life happen God’s way. Oh, that doesn’t mean just doing something wild and crazy just to bring about change. But, like the modern definition of “insanity,” just doing things the comfortable old way is not likely to produce the change God wants for our life.

Next, … we need to look for Jesus and His call toward change. Perhaps it means paying attention to God’s Spirit in our prayer life. Maybe we need to listen to a sermon on a Sunday morning which convicted us. Perhaps, it’s a matter of digging harder into God’s word to find the exciting and valuable jewels God has for us, … providing direction in our lives (like the recurring reference verse calls us to trust in God’s word – from Prov. 3: 5-6).

And finally, … when we sense a leaning from God, as the old Nike motto says, “Just do it!” … If you have a leaning to change directions or to do life a new way; and you have God’s peace (that peace that surpasses all understand from Isaiah 26: 3 or Phil. 4: 6-7), perhaps it’s time to cast your nets in a different way, following God’s leaning, and see if God will fill your nets with His catch.

Change is tough; but when God calls for change, if we do life His way, He will fill our nets.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, I hear You calling! … Amen

Sunday, March 24, 2013

March 24, 2013 … God’s Peace, … My Super-weapon!

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 83

Passage of the Day: Psalms 23: 4 [NLT] …  
4 Even when I walk through the dark valley of death, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.  
Contextual Study of today’s passage: Psalms 23 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Isaiah 26: 3-4 : [Only one way to have God’s peace.] …[NLT] …  
3 You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, whose thoughts are fixed on you! 4 Trust in the LORD always, for the LORD GOD is the eternal Rock. 

Reference Passage #2: 2nd Corinthians 12: 9 : [God’s grace is found in the peace of the trust we have in God’s strength to overcome our weakness.] …[NKJV] …  
9 "... My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in your weakness."

My Journal for Today: How does one deal with the chaos and confusion created by Satan and the world? King David had discovered the answer to that one early in his life; and he exhibited that battle strategy when he faced down Goliath; and he wrote about his weapon for chaos in the oft quoted “rock song,” … the 23rd Psalm. And Os Hillman refers to David’s battle strategy against bedlam with Psalms 23, Verse 4, copied above.

David was not afraid of Goliath when he walked into that “valley of death,” because David had his mind on God’s strength, not on his own weakness or Goliath’s strength. That’s why Jesus’ words help the Apostle Paul to quell his anxiety about “the thorn” which God had allowed Satan to give Paul. And that is Isaiah’s word (from Isaiah 26: 3) is God’s prescription against fear and worry anytime/anywhere we face troubles in our life.

In our lives I think we have all faced the fears associated with walking in that “valley of the shadow of death,” where Satan and the world, along with our own flesh conspire to let fear become our own worst enemy. But God give us the answer that David and Isaiah found and which the Apostle Paul discovered through his “thorn.” If we keep our eyes on Jesus and keep focused on the truth that His strength is always greater than that of Satan or the world (see 1st John 4: 4), God’s peace because our greatest weapon against Satan’s promise of chaos, giving us God’s vision of life in the face of the shadow of death.

And how do we capture and hold on to God’s peace in the midst of the world’s caldron of chaos? Well, I’m doing that right now, coming here every morning, being with God in the peace of my “quiet place,” taking the high ground for battle in prayer, and being armed for battle by sharpening my Spirit Sword, taking God into my mind through His word. God’s word from Isaiah (in Chapter 26, verse 3) comes alive for me when I’m here each morning; and when I walk from this quiet place out into Satan’s world, my mind is stayed on God, by trusting in His word, and I’m ready for battle today.

And once again, I quiet my mind/heart for battle today, capturing God’s peace, … by taking in those wonderful lyrics in the song, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus … linked here in this version sung by Michael W Smith.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, as I walk into the valley of the shadow of death today, I will fear no evil, … for I know and trust that You are with me! … Amen

Saturday, March 23, 2013

March 23, 2013 … No Confidence in My Flesh

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 82

Passage of the Day: Philippians 3: 4 [In the context of verses 1-4] [NLT] …  
1 Whatever happens, dear brothers and sisters, may the Lord give you joy. I never get tired of telling you this. I am doing this for your own good. 2 Watch out for those dogs, those wicked men and their evil deeds, those mutilators who say you must be circumcised to be saved. 3 For we who worship God in the Spirit are the only ones who are truly circumcised. We put no confidence in human effort. Instead, we boast about what Christ Jesus has done for us.  
4 Yet I could have confidence in myself if anyone could. If others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more!  
Contextual Study of today’s passage: Philippians, Chapter 3 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Jeremiah 17: 9 : [In the context of verses 7-10 ] …[NKJV] …  
7 “But blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence. 8 They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they go right on producing delicious fruit. 9 “The human heart is most deceitful and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? 10 But I know! I, the LORD, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.” 

Reference Study #2 : 2nd Corinthians, Chapter 11: 16-32 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

My Journal for Today: In writing his letter to his friends back in Philippi from a prison in Rome [see today’s highlight passage], if there was anyone who could have confidence in his own accomplishments, strength, and purpose, it was the Apostle Paul. In fact, if we go back to 2nd Corinthians, Chapter 11 linked above, we read of all he had been through, … shipwrecks, floggings, rejection, and many other life-threatening trials. And Paul, who was formerly a well-recognized and considered Jewish leader in the Sanhedrin, was totally unwilling to put any confidence in his own personal prowess. … NO, … when one studies the Pauline writings from his letters to Philippi and Corinth, Paul clearly stated that his confidence and assertiveness came only from His relationship and dependence on Christ.

Paul recognized the truth to which all Christians must rely upon; and that is the FACT that we cannot rely on our own human strength and selfish reckoning. Jeremiah’s writing about the human “heart,” in his letter (in Jer. 17: 9 – a passage I end up referring back to often in my devotionals) totally nails this truth. Relying on self and rejecting our Savior, is just flat-out foolishness. Because our human heart is WICKED and will always lead us astray, back into selfishness, … that is, if we relent to our own spirit to guide us. And Paul had come to realize this; and was preaching it to those Christians he loved back in Philippi and Corinth in the passages to which Os Hillman refers us today.

 The question is … DO WE GET IT!  And unfortunately, many of us, and most certainly yours truly, tend to easily default back to the flesh or to our own sense of direction when we are challenged in life. And we want to impress others with our own direction and accomplishments, don’t we? But we need to learn the lesson Paul had learned when he confidently told the Corinthians (see 1st Cor. 11: 1 - NLT), " … And you should follow my example, just as I follow Christ’s. ”

Paul got it; and in his writings above he was trying to pass the truth of our need to surrender to Christ to his fellow Christians (and yes, that’s you and me!). And only when we get that message and surrender in obedience to our Lord will we be able to glean the grace and strength Christ has for us through His Spirit to handle the pressures and challenges of life. … Personally, I choose the surrender route.

How about you?

My Prayer for Today … Lord, I know how weak I am and recognize how strong You are. I yield! … Amen

Friday, March 22, 2013

March 22, 2013 … God’s Unfailing Love … Every Morning!

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 81

Passage of the Day: Psalm 143: 8 [In the context of verses 7-10] [NLT] …  
7 Come quickly, LORD, and answer me, for my depression deepens. Don’t turn away from me, or I will die. 8 Let me hear of your unfailing love to me in the morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I have come to you in prayer. 9 Save me from my enemies, LORD; I run to you to hide me. 10 Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing. 
Contextual Study of today’s passage: Psalm 143 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Proverbs 3: 5-6 : [Again and again, God leads me back to this truth. ] …[NKJV] …  
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 your paths. 

Reference Passage #2: Lamentations 3: 22-23 : [Jeremiah had it right from God’s unfailing love. ] …[NKJV] …  
22 Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, … because His compassions fail not. 23 They are new every morning; … great is Your faithfulness. 

My Journal for Today: My friend, if you’re reading along with me today, I’m humbled and honored by God leading you to do so. And for sure, Satan certainly didn’t lead you here! … And if you’re here on some morning, this is the time I write my journal (blog) entries; because it’s the time of each day when I’ve disciplined myself to come to this quiet place and be with my God (any my friend, make no mistake, it’s not a natural thing – my flesh would rather have me in bed getting some more zzz’s).

So, … why do I do this every morning?

Because, like King David likely learned, I don’t trust my own flesh and natural tendencies. Yes, God described David as “a man after His own heart.” But God knew this was not David’s nature. The Lord knew it was David’s choice; and in spite of David’s failings; and they were legend; David learned, from his failures, primarily in the Bathsheba incident, that he – David – needed to choose to allow God to develop a dependent/surrendered spirit in him. That’s what Psalms 51 and 32 are all about; aren’t they?

But Jeremiah, the weeping Prophet, who wrote the song in Lamentations, especially Chapter 3: 22-23, captured the heart of God’s faithful love in being new for any believer EVERY MORNING. So, knowing of my nature – i.e., my heart, also described by Jeremiah in Jer. 17: 9 - and fearing the failure I’m capable of, like David, … I CHOOSE to come to a place of solitude every morning and be with my God, … seeking to know Him more this morning than yesterday, … calling on His unfailing love in prayer, … finding His light on the path of my life, … and then, surrendering to His purpose/will for my walk. I just don’t think I could – or would – be able to make it through the minefields of life without coming to be with my God in my trek to know Him more … EVERY MORNING.

Certainly, I know that it’s not natural to do this. It’s SUPER-natural. And that’s what God wants from us … supernatural surrender. And I believe that coming here, choosing to spend time with my God, captures His faithfulness and desire (EVERY MORNING) to help me start my day off with Him leading and me following. Isn’t that why Jesus told His disciples (see Luke 9: 23 – AGAIN!) to deny our selves, … to take up our crosses daily, … and to follow Him? And my friends, I best follow my Lord by starting off every morning with Him. In fact, … I’m flat afraid not to rack out in the morning EVERY DAY to be with God; because if I don’t, I surrender to my selfish desires; and I become vulnerable to my Jer. 17: 9 heart and the desires of my flesh, … making myself more vulnerable to an enemy who stalks me to attack me in moments of selfishness (see 1st Peter 5: 8).

No, I’m here this morning – and I’ll be back here tomorrow morning – because I want to know my God more. I want to love Him more, … obey Him more, … serve Him more, … and by being here, receive more of His grace. How about you? Why are you reading this? I’d bet for the same reasons … and if so, you’re in a good place, my friend!

 And if you’re here with me today, go with me to this link and sing along with Michael W. Smith, this wondrous old hymn … as I am singing it with him right now -  - Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

My Prayer for Today … Oh, Lord, I turn my eyes and my heart to You this morning for Your unfailing, every faithful love. … Amen

Thursday, March 21, 2013

March 21, 2013 … God’s Perfect Practice

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 80

Passage of the Day: Psalm 144: 1 [NLT] …  
1 Praise the LORD, who is my rock. He trains my hands for war and gives my fingers skill for battle. 
Contextual Study of today’s passage: Psalm 144 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Ephesians 6: 10-11 : [We can’t avoid the battle. ] …[NKJV] …  
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. 

My Journal for Today: I love the story of Vince Lombardi, the legendary coach of the NFL Green Bay Packers. who was approached by a journalist at one of the team’s summer practices. The reporter noted how hard the coach was having his players practice in the heat; and he commented to the coach, “I can see why your team is so successful, … practice makes perfect;” … to which Lombardi, quickly retorted, “Absolutely not; … only perfect practice makes perfect!”

And the old coach is absolutely right; and Os Hillman used Psalm 144, verse 1, using David as God’s example of perfect practice. As we know from history, King David was the consummate warrior, having never lost a battle against Israel’s enemies. His only loss in life occurred when he was unwilling to be where he should be as a warrior … out on the battlefield, staying home that fateful spring when he had to confront a battle he was ill prepared and unable to confront and win – the temptation of dealing with his own flesh on that balcony when he saw Bathsheba bathing. And David was not prepared to fight that kind of battle … just as are so many Christian men are ill prepared for battling our spiritual enemies today in this hypersexualized world.

I was one of those, early in my life, who had never been trained to deal with the battlefields of this hypersexual world; and I was brought down when I first – as a boy – was confronted with the confusing and exciting images of pornography. Unlike young David, when he went up against Goliath, I had not been trained to take on the enemy of porn. From my lack of practice on the fields of battle in life, I was not ready to fell this Goliath in my life. When David confronted Goliath, he had already learned how to fight off the enemies of his flocks, like bears and lions; and so he was ready and confident to handle his Goliath. But when I was thrown into the battlefields of temptation, seeing those raw sexual images, somewhat like the older David, who later in life was not prepared for that kind of battlefield, I fell hard to those tempting pursuits; and I could not handle that kind of battle field practice.

Hillman is right in his devotional for today. Christian men today need to recognize that we cannot avoid the temptations and the hypersexual battle weapons Satan has devised to bring down Christian warriors in today’s world. So the only way to deal with those battlefields is the way the Apostle Paul exhorted the Christians in Ephesus to prepare for war, … putting on the full armor of God, as he wrote about in Ephesians 6: 10-18. Paul was right on when he wrote that Christian warriors can’t practice our spiritual battles in a vacuum, protected from Satan’s powerful ploys. NO, … we have to be ready for battle everyday, practicing PERFECTLY, by strapping on God’s full defensive armor, carrying a well-sharpened and well-practiced Sword of the Spirit, and taking and holding the high ground for battle in prayer.

Are you ready for battle today?
>>> Are you wearing the breastplate of righteousness, the belt of truth, the shoes of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, and the helmet of salvation? …
>>> Are you well-practiced in God’s word, i.e., carrying a sharpened and practiced sword of the Spirit? … >>> And are you situated on the high-ground for battle, which is with a disciplined prayer life?

If you’re not doing battle daily by practicing that way … in God’s perfected practice for battle, i.e., God’s battle plan; … my friend, you are walking onto the battle fields today no where near ready to do battle; and you’re going to be out there … ill prepared and very vulnerable for an enemy who is out after your testimony.

 Remember: “Only perfect practice makes perfect!” And so, take about 11 minutes today, if you’re reading here with me, to GO TO THIS LINK  and prepare yourself for battle today by watching this piece of perfect practice.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, I’m dressed and ready to do battle today. … Amen

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

March 20, 2013 … Footsteps of Faith

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 79

[Click on photo to read poem]

Passage of the Day: Psalm 143: 7 - 10 [NLT] …
  7 Come quickly, LORD, and answer me, for my depression deepens. Don’t turn away from me, or I will die. 8 Let me hear of your unfailing love to me in the morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I have come to you in prayer. 9 Save me from my enemies, LORD; I run to you to hide me. 10 Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing.
Contextual Study of today’s passage: Psalm 143 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Proverbs 3: 5-6 : [I know; … here we go again! ] …[NKJV] …  
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 your paths. 

My Journal for Today: Have you ever noticed how many of David’s songs (i.e., the Psalms) begin in self-directed anguish and end in God-uplifting hopefulness. Psalm 143 is one of those; and when I was meditating on that Psalm this morning as Os Hillman’s devotional highlight passage, I thought of the oft quoted poem of confused authorship, ”Footsteps in the Sand,” depicted in the attached photo. … How often, like David in so many of his Psalms do we come to God in anguish; but in our surrender in the face of our disappointment or discouragement leads us to the hope we can ALWAYS find in the One who picks us up and carries us … our Lord and Redeemer, … Christ.

David was an interesting study in his life-long pursuit of the understanding this truth. And even his son, Solomon, who wrote the Proverb I probably end up quoting more than any other in my daily journal entries, Prov. 3: 5-6 (above again!), also had to go on a life-long quest of this truth, only to write about it in the Book we know of as Ecclesiastes.

 It’s an elusive truth, isn’t it; … that we can come to God in anguish … anytime, anywhere, and in any set of circumstances, … honestly bringing our surrendered heart to our Lord; and He will do what Carolyn Carty wrote about in her poem, … pick us up and carry us until we can get back on our feet again to walk with God, following Him in purpose and direction.

Where are you now? Are you in a place of discouragement or defeat, needing to come to God in honesty and surrender? … Or are you in a place where He has carried you further down the beach … to a place where you can now walk on your own, but following closely in the footsteps of the One Who picked you up and carried you for as long as you needed Him to be there for you? That’s why I wish that the picture attached here depicted the two sets of footsteps again on down the beach … with the smaller prints, not walking beside the larger ones, as in the outset of this foto, … but later in line with and closely following the larger ones.

I’ve been where David was in Psalm 143; and right now I’m walking down the beach with my Lord, doing all I can to put my footprints right in line with my Lord’s.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, I step where You step. … Amen

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

March 19, 2013 … Full-time Christian Ministry

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 78

Passage of the Day: Colossians 3: 23-24 [in the context of verses 22-24 [NLT] …  
22 You slaves must obey your earthly masters in everything you do. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. Obey them willingly because of your reverent fear of the Lord. 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. 
Contextual Study of today’s passage: Colossians, Chapter 3 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Romans 12: 1 : [As Christians, we are all in full-time “service” to Christ, … slaves to Him for life – eternal life.] …[NKJV] …  
1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

My Journal for Today: One of my favorite “ice-breakers” when I speak to a Christian group who has never heard me speak before is to tell them I’m trying to get to know my audience; and I ask all in the audience to stand if they consider themselves “disciples of Christ.” Of course, most – if not all – in the audience will stand. … Then I ask all who are in “full-time Christian ministry” to remain standing; and usually only a few will do so. … Then, I shake my head and I say, “I’m confused; …I thought most all of you said you were disciples of Christ; and yet there are only a few of you who say you’re “full-time” Christians in ministry. So I say, “Let me repeat that last point. Would all who are FULL-TIME [said loudly] Christian ministers please stand up.” And by this time some have figured out my ploy; and more will stand. Then, when I ask – for a third time – for all “full-time” Christian ministers to stand, and usually all in the audience will stand, understanding what I’m getting at.

And so, I ask you if you’re reading here with me, “Are you in full-time Christian ministry?” And if you’re a born-again Christian, you simply must answer affirmatively to that question, … right? And in today’s workplace ministry devotional, the author, Os Hillman, points to one of the Scriptures which brings that issue to the fore. In Colossians 3: 23-24, the Apostle Paul exhorts (no actually, he really COMMANDS) all Christians to do “whatever you [i.e., “we”] do as though you [we] were working for the Lord.” And are not all Christians under the “Great Commission” (i.e., Matt. 28: 19-20 as well, … charged to be “full-time” ministers of the gospel of Christ? Of course we are; but in this dualistic world in which we live, somehow when we say “full-time Christian Ministers,” most Christians have been duped into thinking of those who are working in the church for pay, especially those who’ve gone to seminary and have degrees, addressed as “Reverend” or “Father” or some other priestly designation. But we don’t think of ourselves as the ones who should be considered “full-time” ministers of the gospel.

As Os Hillman puts it today in his devotional blog, ”We are all in missions. Some are called to foreign lands. Some are called to the jungles of the workplace. Wherever you are called, serve the Lord in that place. Let Him demonstrate His power through your life so that others might experience Him through you TODAY and see your vocation as worship to His glory.”

I really don’t think any more need be said to any Christian reader here today, … do you? But above, I also pointed out another of the Apostle Paul’s exhortations in Romans 12: 1 (from the NKJV), which calls on ALL Christians to be living … 24/7, … giving our ALL, as “living sacrifices,” … which is our “reasonable service” to our Lord. And so, if you’re one who now considers yourself to be a “full-time” minister of the Gospel of Christ, what will you be doing in the place of your calling today?

And that certain is … NUFF SAID!!

My Prayer for Today … Lord, my Master, … give my Your grace to serve You today. … Amen

Monday, March 18, 2013

March 18, 2013 … Discerning God’s Ways

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 77

Passage of the Day: Jeremiah 6: 14 [NLT] …  
14 Remember, O my God, all the evil things that Tobiah and Sanballat have done. And remember Noadiah the prophet and all the prophets like her who have tried to intimidate me.”
Contextual Study of today’s passage: Jeremiah, Chapter 6 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Isaiah 55: 8-9 : [Sometimes we just don’t get it – i.e, we just don’t grasp the high workings of God. ] …[NLT] …  
8 “My thoughts are completely different from yours,” says the LORD. “And My ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. 9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts.... "

Reference passage #2 : 2nd Corinthians 12: 1-10 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

My Journal for Today: Ever been in a place in your life where you wanted to disclaim your circumstances and yell at God with something like, “Hey God, what gives; … this is not fair?!” Or maybe you were tempted to disclaim to God with something like, “Hey, Lord, … I’m doing Your work; I don’t deserve all these troubles!” Here you were (or are); out there in life, doing things the way you think God would want you to do them; and you run up against all kinds of worldly troubles or injustice. And not understanding the “WHY” behind your circumstances, it’s all too tempting to get angry at God, isn’t it?

Well, that was certainly Jeremiah’s deal in the text Os Hillman used today as his highlight passage from Jeremiah 6; and here was God’s designated workman, … Jeremiah, … doing God’s designated will, and what happens? He runs up against life and those who simply didn’t want him to live it God’s way. … Familiar?! … Maybe you’ve run up against it in life when you thought you were headed down God’s road, … God’s way; and people just kept wanting to get in the way or thwart your path.

Well, my friend, get in line with all of the rest of us … or at least be a follower of Nehemiah’s faithful walk. He simply would not be thwarted in moving toward finishing the task God had led him to carry out. And he just kept leaning on God and depending on the Lord to guide and protect him; and that should be the way we live, move, and have our being in this world.

Sometimes, as God’s word tells us in Isaiah 55: 8-9, copied above, we just don’t know the WHY in our circumstances; but when we do know the WAY, especially when it’s God’s way, it behooves us to move ahead in faith. If you go back and study one of my favorite practical passages in the New Testament (see 2nd Cor. 12: 1-11), where Paul had just been given a vision of heaven; and then following that, we read that, inexplicably, God allowed Satan to give Paul some painful malady – a “thorn” – which Paul first could not understand. And Paul prayed and prayed for God to take this “thorn” from him; but it just was not to be. Finally, Paul remembered something Jesus – somewhere/sometime – had told him, that “God’s grace is sufficient for us;” … and Paul saw that God had allowed the rough circumstances, this “thorn,” into his life to keep him humble enough to receive and use God’s grace.

Dear ones, … when we’re moving down God’s highway, … going His way, … it shouldn’t surprise us that Satan, his world, and even our own flesh will do all they can to thwart our path. So, if you’re doing life God’s way now; and things just seem unfair or unnecessarily hard, … join me in praising God to allow us to be part of building God’s walls for His Temple just as Nehemiah did.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, life is tough! But praise be that You are showing me the way; and I am following. … Amen

Sunday, March 17, 2013

March 17, 2013 … Our Refiner’s Fire

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 76

Passage of the Day: Malachi 3: 2b [in the context of verses 2-4] [NLT] … 
  2 “But who will be able to endure it when He [The Lord] 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. He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold or silver, so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the LORD. 4 Then once more the LORD will accept the offerings brought to Him by the people of Judah and Jerusalem, as He did in former times. 
Contextual Study of today’s passage: Malachi, Chapter 3 [NLT] … Go to this link …  ============

Reference Passage #1: Luke 9: 23 : [The shouldering of our cross daily is the refiner’s fire of sanctification.] …[NLT] …  
23 Then He said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross daily, and follow Me. ... "

My Journal for Today: Many Christians don’t want to “hear” (i.e., read) what I have to write today in journaling from Os Hillman’s devotional entry, or more importantly from God’s word in the last book in the Old Testament, written by Malachi, who was prophesying about the coming of our Lord as God’s ultimate messenger.

 And The Lord’s coming, as Malachi prophesied, was to be God’s refining fire in the lives of His children; and that is a process that we Christians don’t want to hear about. Sure, we love to hear about God’s everlasting love and His saving grace; but we’d rather not meditate in God’s word about the process we know of as “sanctification,” where our rough edges are burned off and we are refined by the fires of life into a purer, reformed, more Christlike image of our selves. And when Jesus charged His disciples to “take up our crosses daily” (see Luke 9: 23), He was warning us that we will be going through God’s refining fire to become a more purified or sanctified version of self. And that’s the part of Christianity we just don’t want to contemplate.

It was tough to read this morning; but Hillman writes, … “When God takes you through the refiner's fire, be encouraged because it is His overriding commitment to turn you from a rough, hard-edged stone to a precious metal. And He will do this through certain events in your workplace, your relationships, and other circumstances in your life. Our job is to avoid trying to blow out the fire.”

And how do we, as believers, desiring that our lives become “living sacrifices” (as Paul wrote about in Romans 12: 1) avoid blowing out the fire that purifies our worship and sacrifice into a life offering that is acceptable? Well, we do what Jesus told us to do (again, I repeat from Luke 9: 23), … we deny our self and follow our Savior. And in the process of living out our lives, we will be put through God’s refining fire; and when we surrender to that sanctification process, we will become the purified living sacrifice God desires from us.

I know what dampens God’s refining fire in my life. It is my pride, arrogance, and selfishness; and when I relent to these self-generated desires, trying to satisfy myself over my Savior, the fire is dampened in my life to burn off the rough edges and purify me the way God desires I be rendered for His glory. So, today I’m once again under conviction to relent to God’s refining and perfecting fire in my life, … surrendering to the process where He will purify my soul and allow me to be a more perfect, living sacrifice … for Him.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, I know the potential of this prayer; but if it’s necessary turn up the heat and purify me as a living sacrifice, worthy of Your Holiness. … Amen

Saturday, March 16, 2013

March 16, 2013 … Birth, Death, and Fulfillment – the Cycle of Life

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 75

Passage of the Day: John 12: 24 [in the context of verses 20-25] [NLT] …  
20 Some Greeks who had come to Jerusalem to attend the Passover 21paid a visit to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee. They said, “Sir, we want to meet Jesus.” 22Philip told Andrew about it, and they went together to ask Jesus. 
23 Jesus replied, “The time has come for the Son of Man to enter into His glory. 24 The truth is, a kernel of wheat must be planted in the soil. Unless it dies it will be alone — a single seed. But its death will produce many new kernels — a plentiful harvest of new lives. 25 Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who despise their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.  ..."
Contextual Study of today’s passage: John, Chapter 12 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Luke 9: 23 : [The cycle of life in discipleship.] …[NLT] …  
23 Then He said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross daily, and follow Me.

My Journal for Today: Os Hillman begins his devotional entry for this morning with this statement of truth: … “Almost every significant thing God births He allows to die before the vision is fulfilled in His own way.” And I seldom disagree with Brother Os; but I think he’s understated this truth here by saying “ALMOST every significant thing God births… .” Actually, in restating what Christ told His disciples in today’s highlight text [see John 12: 24] and then again in stating Jesus’ treatise on discipleship in Luke 9: 23, our Lord was much more inclusive and exhaustive in His stating what is God’s spiritual life cycle.

 As Jesus put it to His followers, for God to birth a vision, or a dream, or a prophesy in someone’s heart, that one must experience a death of self in order for God’s harvest to be realized. And Hillman went on, in his entry today to give several biblical examples …  
… Abraham had a vision of being the father of a great nation (birth). Sarah was barren and became too old to have children (death). God gave Abraham and Sarah a son in their old age. He became the father of a great nation (fulfillment). 
… Joseph had a vision that he would be a great leader and that many would bow down to him (birth). Joseph’s brothers sold him to some merchants and he became a slave. Later he was falsely condemned to spend his years in prison (death). God allowed Joseph to interpret the dreams of the butler and baker and later the king, whereupon, he was made a ruler in the land (fulfillment). 
… Moses had a vision of leading his people out of the bondage of Egypt (birth). Pharaoh as well as his own people drove Moses out of Egypt after Moses’ first attempt to relieve their bondage (death). God gave Moses signs and wonders to convince Pharaoh to free the people and bring them out of Egypt and into the Promised Land (fulfillment). 
… The disciples had a vision of establishing the Kingdom of God with Jesus (birth). The very ones He came to save killed Jesus, and the disciples saw Him buried in a tomb (death). God raised Jesus from the dead, and the disciples performed great miracles until the gospel had spread through all the world (fulfillment).

I don’t know where you are in your spiritual life cycle; but I know that God has a vision or a dream for the fulfillment of His purpose for you and why you are here on this earth. But for that seed to be harvested as God’s fulfilled wheat field, the seed must be planted in the soil of God’s field and then it must die unto itself before it is nourished, grows, and is ultimately harvested for God’s glory. Perhaps the seed of God’s dream for your life has yet to be planted. Perhaps it’s in the ground now and you are experiencing the death of self; or maybe you’re in the agonizing stage of growth where that seed has been morphed into the plant of God’s plan. And maybe … you’re in the stage of God’s life cycle where you’re experiencing the harvest God intended for your life.

Years ago, God birthed a dream in my life; … that I would become an agent for God to use in helping Christian men experience a walk from death into life … by shedding the chains of sexual sin to walk in freedom with Christ. But for this purpose to be fulfilled, I had to go through God’s life cycle of discipleship, dying to self, being transformed in Gods’ soil of change, and then seeing God’s purpose being fulfilled in the harvest of my being used by God to help others walk away from the bondage of habitual sexual sin into the light of freedom with Christ.

I don’t know where you are now in God’s plan and purpose for your life; but I do know that for God to birth a dream in your life, you are going to have to traverse His death-to-life cycle in order for God to bring the fulfillment of His purpose for your life. And I pray you will die to self, take up your cross daily, and follow Him in allowing God’s Spirit to birth a dream for you and to see it harvested for His glory.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, thank You for letting Your dream to be planted in my life so that I might see its continuing fulfillment in my lifetime. … Amen

Friday, March 15, 2013

March 15, 2013 … Doing Life God's Way

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 74

Passage of the Day: John 5: 19 [in the context of verses 18-19] [NLT] …  
18 So the Jewish leaders tried all the more to kill him. In addition to disobeying the Sabbath rules, he had spoken of God as his Father, thereby making himself equal with God. 19 Jesus replied, “I assure you, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what He sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does. 
Contextual Study of today’s passage: John, Chapter 5 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Luke 9: 23 : [Yes, again; in the context of verses 23-25! ] …[NLT] …  
23 Then He said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross daily, and follow me. 24 If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for me, you will find true life. 25 And how do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose or forfeit your own soul in the process? 

Reference Passage #2: Philippians 2: 5 : [Becoming like Jesus! ] …[NLT] …  
5 Your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had. 

My Journal for Today: Os Hillman begins his devotional today by asking his readers if we’ve ever really looked at a day in the life of Jesus, … especially during the last three years of His life with His disciples. And when one does, I agree with Hillman that most days [except when Jesus disciplined Himself to get off in solitude for prayer and fasting, which He did often] our Lord was a busy man. But as Os points out, He was not a man who seemed harried or stressed out. He always seemed purposeful, peaceful, and poised, didn’t He?

Hillman asks us to analyze why we think Jesus never seemed to be overly pressured; and the answer is found in the M.O. depicted when Jewish leaders of His day tried their best to put Jesus into a pressure caldron of challenge. In John’s Gospel account, in the fifth chapter, Jesus had just healed a man on the Sabbath, which the Jews contended – by God’s Law – was spiritually illegal; and Jesus really stepped into the hot waters (without even breaking a sweat), contending that He, God’s Son, was simply following the will of His Heavenly Father. And if you read on in John 5, you see that Jesus was, very clearly, claiming to be God’s Son; and as the Son, He would never do anything that was not under the will of God, His Father. And this caused the pursuit and pressure of the Sanhedrin to boil over into plans to kill Jesus.

But today, we’re looking at how we should live our lives by looking at how Jesus lived His; and it’s all found in how Jesus yielded – perfectly and powerfully – to the will of God – His Father. And in the great Godly order of things, as Jesus told His disciples in a passage I quote in my journaling, probably more than any other (i.e., Luke 9: 23), our Lord gives us (i.e., His followers) His instructions in Whom and how we are to remain calm, but powerfully purposeful, in life; … and that is to deny ourselves, to take up our crosses daily, and to follow Jesus.

You’ve heard the catch-phrase, ”What would Jesus do?”  But the Apostle Paul would have probably rephrased that discipleship motto by saying, “Are we becoming more like Jesus by living as Jesus lived?”

In Phil. 2: 5, quoted above, Paul said we should have the attitude of Christ in living our lives; and that attitude and Christ’s model for living is really expressed and put on display in John 5 for us. So, I would exhort any readers here with me to go back and meditate on this chapter to see that Jesus never did anything that was not first led by His Father and then enabled and empowered by God’s Spirit.

So, are we living our lives to follow our Savior (again, see Luke 9: 23); or are we living for self … or for the world … or to accommodate Satan? Do you remember Paul’s exhortation in Romans 12: 1-2? I hope you have that one memorized and internalized; because in it we read and learn exactly how we are live our lives in worship of our Lord … not by following worldly ways, but rather by becoming living, bodily sacrifices to God. And when we do, we may be tired at the end of each day; but it will not be a stressful tiredness. It will be peaceful (as we remember from Isaiah 26: 3); because just like Jesus, we’re just following our Lord and doing His will.

Good goal for the day, wouldn’t you say?

My Prayer for Today … Lord, today let me simply do Your will. … Amen

Thursday, March 14, 2013

March 14, 2013 … Spirit-grown Empathy In Ministry

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 73

Passage of the Day: Joel 1: 9 [in the context of verses 8-10] [NLT] …
  8 Weep with sorrow, as a virgin weeps when her fiancĂ© has died. 9 There is no grain or wine to offer at the Temple of the LORD. The priests are mourning because there are no offerings. Listen to the weeping of these ministers of the LORD! 10 The fields are ruined and empty of crops. The grain, the wine, and the olive oil are gone. 
Contextual Study of today’s passage: Joel, Chapter 1 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: 2nd Corinthians 1: 4 [in the context of verses 3-7] :  … [NLT] …  
3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. 4 He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 5 For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. 6 Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. 7 We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us. 

My Journal for Today: Have you ever felt you were put in a place or into a set of circumstances to be able to reach out and minister to others? Perhaps you’ve felt a clear calling to a personal ministry or to a mission-field to serve God because of your spiritual gifts and the leading of God’s Spirit to minister in Christ’s Name. Well, actually, if we’re born-again in Christ, we’re all called to be the eyes, ears, arms, and feet of Christ, aren’t we?

 If you know the calling of Acts 1: 8 or the “Great Commission” in Matthew 28: 19-20 - two verses I hope you have in your heart – all Christians are called to be “ministers” of the Gospel and missionaries, taking the light of Christ to a darkened world (see Matthew 5: 16). So, right now, wherever we are – perhaps in the workplace, or in “retirement” like me, or as a stay-at-home mom, or wherever we find our selves planted in life – we are called into ministry for Christ. Therefore, with that recognized and acknowledged, how do we reach out and minister in Christ’s Name and for the Father’s glory?

Well, Os Hillman begins his devotional entry today addressing that question? And to that end, he writes, … “ The first requirement for being used by God in the life of others is to mourn on their behalf. We must identify with their pain and suffering. Each of us must be broken for others first.” Yes, Hillman says that the first thing we can use as a prerequisite for ministry is our own experience and empathy for the hurts and needs of others. And he goes on to point out that, as ambassadors for Christ, we need to allow God’s Spirit to grow a heart of discernment (i.e., empathy) for others. And in this regard, Hillman goes on to write, ” What breaks God's heart? ,,, When we begin to answer this question, we begin the first step to becoming instruments of change for those things that are important to God.”

When we know the heart of God and can empathize – from life experience – with the hurts, needs, and desires of other, we’re in exactly the right place and frame of mind to be able to be agents for Christ. Have you ever been in a place where you know exactly how someone else is hurting or where they need to walk to be free from some misstep in life? Maybe it’s a place where you’re feeling, “Been there, down that, … got that T-shirt” and you know the heart of God – from your own experience – to help the person in question know exactly where to go or what to do. You can be the light of Christ in the darkness being experienced by that hurting soul.

That’s what the Apostle Paul was writing about to believers he loved in Corinth (and to all Christians by extension) in the reference passage from 2nd Corinthians 1: 3-7, which I copied for your study above. Paul wanted his fellow Christians (i.e., you and me) to know that they (we) go through the struggles, trials, and challenges of life to be seasoned and ready to be able to reach out and help others in their trials. Paul, himself, had experienced a whole boat-load of trials; and he knew that God had brought him through all of them so that he could be God’s agent of empathy to minister to the needs of others. And God wants us to know the same lesson.

So, as we move out this day as “double-agents” for Christ in a very dark world, realize that we’ve been equipped to reach out in Christ’s Name to be His ministry agents of change. And we need to pray that God will lead us to others where our Spiritual gifts and life experiences help us to empathize and help others who need exactly what we can bring to bear in their lives for God’s glory.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, lead me to someone today or soon whom I can be Your minister of glory to them. … Amen

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

March 13, 2013 … Obeying The Spirit

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 72

Passage of the Day: Acts 8: 26 [NLT] …  
26 As for Philip, an angel of the Lord said to him, “Go south down the desert road that runs from Jerusalem to Gaza.”  
Contextual Study of today’s passage: Acts, Chapter 8 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Proverbs 3: 5-6 : [Yes, again! ] …[NLT] …  
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 #1: Romans 12: 1-2 : [Doing life - in worship – God’s way, not the world’s ] …[NLT] …  
1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will accept. When you think of what he has done for you, is this too much to ask? 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is. 

My Journal for Today: Please go back and study the 8th chapter of Acts and read of how Phillip, a Spirit-led and gifted preacher, who, along with Peter and John, were having a big time in Samaria, healing and seeing big numbers delivered into the loving arms of Christ; and God’s Spirit led Phillip individually to take a very different course and head toward one specific place and one specific person, an Ethiopian Eunuch, Whom God led, through Phillip, to Christ.

 Hillman, in his devotional entry for today, uses this story to illustrate the reality that we, as saved disciples of Christ, need to be sensitive to the Spirit of God, Whom now resides in us as transformed believers in Christ. And sometimes, as happened with Phillip, God’s Spirit may lead us to head in a direction which seems counter-culture and illogical. Phillip could have easily gotten caught up in the excitement and frenzy of new conversions in Samaria; but when God called him to head South, even without knowing exactly why or what God had in store for him, Phillip obeyed; and he was led to just one, the Eunuch from Africa, who was saved, by Phillip reading from the text of Isaiah 53.

This story is in Acts and Scripture, I believe, to show us the truths from two other passages which I end up quoting as references often from my memory bank as directives from God’s Spirit to Christian disciples, … the two I have copied above – AGAIN – for your consideration - Proverbs 3: 5-6 and Romans 12: 1-2. And both of these passages instruct us to pay attention to God’s Spirit in our lives and – as did Phillip – avoid listening to the world or our own flesh and worship God by obeying the Spirit, Who will lead us in the direction HE wants us to go for God’s glory.

Remember the commands of Christ from Luke 9: 23 and Acts 1: 8 (if you don’t know these by heart – PLEASE – look them up!). We’re to avoid selfish leanings and become God’s witnesses in the world by following CHRIST, not by being led by Satan, the world or our own deceitful hearts (see Jer. 17: 9). And when we do as Phillip did, God will lead us to be His witnesses and others just might see Christ’s light shining in and through us [see Matt. 5: 16]; and perhaps we’ll have an opportunity to let the angels in heaven celebrate the conversion of one, like the Eunuch, in our own lives.

Maybe you have a family member or a co-worker whom God’s Spirit is leading you towards as His witness; and you have been chosen as God’s Spirit-guide to lead that one, as Phillip did the Eunuch, into God’s family. If you’re clearly feeling that leading from God’s Spirit, … as the old Nike motto says, “Just do it!” Do it for Christ and in His Name!!

My Prayer for Today … Lord, You are leading me today; and I will follow. … Amen

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

March 12, 2013 … The Source of Our Anger

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 71

Passage of the Day: Proverbs 29: 11 [NLT] …  
11 A fool gives full vent to anger, but a wise person quietly holds it back. 
Passage of the Day: Proverbs 29: 11 [NKJV] …  
11 A fool vents all his feelings, [or “spirit”] But a wise man holds them back. 
Passage of the Day: Proverbs 29: 11 [The Message] …  
11 A fool lets it all hang out; a sage quietly mulls it over.  

Reference Passage #1: Isaiah 26: 3 : [God is the source of our peace.] …[NKJV] … You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You. 

Reference Passage #2: Galatians 6: 22-23 : [Choosing peace over anger is a fruit of the Spirit.] …[NLT] …  
22 But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. Here there is no conflict with the law. 

My Journal for Today: Ever had a time at work or at home when you let the volcano of anger erupt and for a time thereafter all relational interaction was messed up bigtime. Today Hillman quotes from Proverbs 29: 11 as the highlight truth he discusses in his devotional; and it is certainly most pertinent, as a behavioral guide, for must of us.

I would bet that most here, reading along with me, have had their Vesuvius moments, when something inside of us, personal frustration or underlying jealousy or some root of emotional tension, built up to the point it exploded in an expression of anger, which, when vented, broke down all normal communications and made human interaction very difficult, if not impossible. And Hillman had a quote for his readers about this today, which influenced him deeply. He quoted Dr. Sam Peeples, a TV screenwriter who wrote on series like Star Trek, Gunsmoke, and others. … And he wrote this…  

"The circumstances of life, the events of life, and the people around me in life, do not make me the way I am, but reveal the way I am." 

Wow! That one just punched me in the gut with conviction. How about you? And Hillman himself, in his devotional today, further writes about anger explosions, … 

“It has been said that anger is like the warning panel on the dash of your car. It is the light that tells us something is going on under the hood and we need to find out what is the source of the problem.”Again, wow! That one really gets at the reality of anger, doesn’t it?

I can recall a time when my dad let me take over the wheel in a big city traffic when I first was learning to drive; and someone pulled in front of me rudely; and I reacted by pounding the steering wheel and yelling some almost obscenity (I never would cuss in front of my dad); and my father, quietly – as was his nature – asked me, “Did he hear you” He was trying to get me to learn that my outburst of anger had no effect on the one to whom it was directed. It only affected me. But when such an outburst is exploded in public, it does affect others and it causes severe damage to any attempts to communicate normally.

As Peeples quotes above and Hillman teaches, when we feel like exploding in anger, we should realize that the anger is but a symptom of something wrong deeper in our emotional engine which needs repair; and as today’s Proverb truthfully states, we should put a lid on our anger – especially in public interactions – until we can determine the source of the anger and possibly get an emotional repairman to help us fix the underlying cause of our near emotional eruption. I’ll let you mull over what this might mean for you.

Have you got any seething anger bubbling in your soul, about ready to erupt, at this time? If so, as a Christian, God’s word (see Isaiah 26: 3 and Galatians 5: 22-23 above) tells us that we have the Spirit-led ability to put a damper on the anger and let patience and self-control take over, … allowing us to do what it says in 1st Peter 5: 7 (and if you don’t know that one by heart, I’ll charge you to look it up and meditate on it as God’s prescription for anger).

If you need someone with Whom you can vent your anger today, GO TO THIS LINK , and let Wayne Watson’s poignant song help you to see that Jesus is always there to help you soothe over your anger and to let Him meet you where you are and to heal your scars. He is the “Friend of a Wounded Heart!”

My Prayer for Today … Lord, … thank You for giving me all I need to suppress my anger and allow You, Holy Spirit, to rule in peace in my soul. … Amen

Monday, March 11, 2013

March 11, 2013 … Being Christ In Their Eyes

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 70

Passage of the Day: Matthew 5: 11 [along with verse 12] [NLT] …  
11 “God blesses you when you are mocked and persecuted and lied about because you are my followers. 12 Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted, too. 
Contextual Study of today’s passage: Matthew 4 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Galatians 6: 7 : [Those who mock Christians mock God!] …[NLT] …  
7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 

My Journal for Today: Do you have anyone – especially someone close, … like a relative or a co-worker – who ridicules or derides you because of your faith or Christian discipleship? Well, according to Jesus, from His famous “beatitude” section of the Sermon on the Mount, which is today’s highlight Bible passage [i.e., Matthew 5: 11, you will be blessed by God if you hold on to your faith and continue to witness the love of God to your friend or loved one.

It’s tough when you have someone with whom you are close, maybe it’s a sibling or an old friend or maybe even someone at work, and that person mocks or makes fun of your faith. They don’t realize how serious such mocking is in the presence of God (see Gal. 6: 7, copied above). And our loving patience and tender understanding may likely be the only way this loved one or coworker or friend will ever be able to see Christ.

Our charge to be witnesses for Christ (see Acts 1: 8) can really be tough at times; but as it says in that verse, God will give us the power of His love and the qualities of His humility and meekness (see Matt. 11: 29) if we need them to be restrained in the face of another’s mocking or derision. Just remember our charge, also from the same Matthew 5 passage (i.e, in this case verse 16), is to shine the light of Christ for others to see Him … so that God, the Father, will be glorified by our witness and works.

Just stick in there, my friend; and let’s do all we can, in the presence of our lost friend or loved one, to be Christ for them until they know and love Him like we do.

My Prayer for Today …Lord, my wife and I have some in our life who think we’re fools for loving You. Help us to be You in their eyes until they know You too… Amen