Tuesday, April 30, 2013

April 30, 2013 … Real-deal Faith

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 120

Passage of the Day: 2nd Corinthians 5: 7 [in the context of verses 6-8 [NLT] … 
6 So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. 7 That is why we live by believing and not by seeing. 8 Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. 
Contextual Study of today’s passage: 2nd Corinthians, Chapter 5 [NLT] … Go to this link

 Reference Passage #1: Proverbs 3: 5-6: [How many time does God have to bring me back to this one before I just live by this truth?!!] …[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 #2: John 3: 16 : [Do you really BELIEVE?] …[NLT] …  
16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

 My Journal for Today: Take in what Os Hillman has referred to as the highlight passage for his devotional entry today - 2nd Cor. 5: 7 - and ask yourself, as I have this morning, “Am I living with the REAL-DEAL kind of faith; or am I relying more on my own sight for this walk through life?”

Hillman reports that he’s heard many men, in his experience with workplace ministry, say something like, "Whenever I get things in order in my business, I want to get more involved in ministry." However, my devotional editor reports that he’d like to hear one in the workplace declare, ” I have spent my life in this business. The Lord has blessed me with great resources. But now God has told me to give away my wealth and to trust Him to provide for me through new ways."

And what Hillman is saying is that most men aren’t willing to walk in faith and see their workplace calling as their personal ministry. They are not walking in “real-deal” faith; but rather they are relying only on what they can see and produce themselves to move ahead in life. It’s what I would call a “Missouri Mentality” for faith and life … OR … a What you see is what you get!” type of faith.

Today, as reference passages, I’ve copied above two of the most quoted and memorized passages in the Bible; and both of them get at the core of whether we’re living in the biblical concept of faith or belief, … what I’m getting at today – i.e., REAL DEAL faith. You’ve probably got John 3: 16 memorized; and above I’ve emboldened and underlined one word, “BELIEVES,” which is translated from the Greek term ”pisteuo.” Now, I’ve written about this in my devotionals past; and our English version of that Greek term, “pisteuo,” is a weakened form of “belief.”

Our English term “believe” refers to intellectual understanding or agreement with something. But when the 1st century Greeks used their term “believe” or “pisteuo,” they meant to bank their whole life on having faith in something. In other words, in John 3: 16, Jesus was saying, in the Greek, that one will only find eternal life when one follows Him in being willing to bank one’s entire life on that following faith.

Unfortunately, most of us only follow Jesus as far as we can see our own selves walking the walk … in other words, … “if I can see it, I will walk it!” But are we willing to step out in REAL DEAL faith and walk-the-walk of belief when we can’t see it … when we have to believe it to walk it? I dare say that many of us falter in our walk of faith, going only where we can safely see the road ahead of us – financially or in terms of personal security.

Some years ago I felt “called” to retire from my work, taking about a 50% pay cut for my retirement pension, to step out in faith and lead BATTLE PLAN MINISTRY. But I knew that I couldn’t keep doing my healthcare job and direct the ministry into which God was leading me. So, my wife and I stepped out in faith about 10 years go; and we did the “pisteuo” thing … we BELIEVED that God was going to provide for our needs; … and He has.

 So, let me close by linking you to a testimony and a song written/sung by Jeremy CampWalk By Faith. Please listen to this testimony of faith in word and song; and let’s ask ourselves – as I’m challenged to do so this morning – if we’re truly walking the REAL DEAL walk of faith, not relying on our own sight but just following the Lord to lead us in a true “pisteuo” walk of faith.

My Prayer for Today … Today I walk by faith and not by sight. … Amen

Monday, April 29, 2013

April 29, 2013 … Faithful First Fruits

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 119

Passage of the Day: Joshua 6: 19 [in the context of verses 16-19 [NLT] … 
16 The seventh time around, as the priests sounded the long blast on their horns, Joshua commanded the people, “Shout! For the LORD has given you the city! 17 The city and everything in it must be completely destroyed as an offering to the LORD. Only Rahab the prostitute and the others in her house will be spared, for she protected our spies. 18 Do not take any of the things set apart for destruction, or you yourselves will be completely destroyed, and you will bring trouble on all Israel. 19 Everything made from silver, gold, bronze, or iron is sacred to the LORD and must be brought into his treasury.” 
Contextual Study of today’s passage: Joshua, Chapter 6 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Proverbs 3: 9-10: [It’s all God’s… but He only asks for the first-fruits – in faith – to recognize His providence.] …[NKJV] …  
9 Honor the LORD with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase; 10 so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine.

Reference Passage #2: 2nd Corinthians 9: 6-8: [And His first fruits should be given cheerfully and faithfully] …[NKJV] …  
6 But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.

My Journal for Today: When the plate is passed for tithes and offerings in your church; and you put your faith-led offering into the plate, what are your feelings in that moment? ... Do you drop an amount which reflects your faithful and cheerful recognition of God’s providence in your life; or do you put the money in reluctantly and begrudgingly, feeling that the money could have been used in other venues of your life?

When Joshua led the Israelites to their first victory in the newly engaged “Promised Land,” their culture would have dictated that the spoils of victory would go the victors. However, God, through Joshua, used this moment to teach God’s people His lesson in the worship of giving; and that lesson is that everything is God’s anyway; but all He demands is a worship of our returning the “first-fruits” as a recognition of God’s providence and His promise to take care of those who willingly and cheerfully give back the first portion of His providence to/for God’s kingdom and for His glory.

 And that first-fruit giving is our sign of worship and the recognition that we believe God’s promises about our worshipful giving in such passages as those (memory verses) above which popped into my consciousness as I read and meditated on the story of Joshua taking Jericho in Joshua, Chapter 6, linked here for our study.

Please take in Proverbs 3: 9-10 and 2nd Cor. 9: 6-8, copied above, … and ask yourselves, as I’m reminded to do so here this morning, … ”Is my attitude in tithing and giving to my local church done with a cheerful and faithful attitude of my thankfulness for God’s providence in my life … as well as a recognition that it all comes from God anyway and I’m just giving back what He asks for – the first fruits – as a recognition of His providence and provision?”

I’ll leave it to you to ponder that one as I have today.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, may my giving of time, talents, and treasures be a “first-fruit” recognition of Your faithful providence in my life. … Amen

Sunday, April 28, 2013

April 28, 2013 … Testing, Testing!!!

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 118

Passage of the Day: Deuteronomy 8: 1-5 [NLT] … 
1 “Be careful to obey all the commands I am giving you today. Then you will live and multiply, and you will enter and occupy the land the LORD swore to give your ancestors. 2 Remember how the LORD your God led you through the wilderness for forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would really obey his commands. 3 Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people need more than bread for their life; real life comes by feeding on every word of the LORD. 4 For all these forty years. your clothes didn’t wear out, and your feet didn’t blister or swell. 5 So you should realize that just as a parent disciplines a child, the LORD your God disciplines you to help you.” 
 Contextual Study of today’s passage: Deuteronomy, Chapter 8 [NLT] … Go to this link …  ============

Reference Passage #1: 2nd Corinthians 13: 5-6 : [Often, we should run an honest Spirit-test to see if we’re being true to our faith.] …[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: Matthew 5: 16 : [How clearly are our lives reflecting the light of Christ into a very dark world?] …[NKJV] …  
16 Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven.

My Journal for Today: Invariably when somebody tests out a microphone to see if the sound is clear and loud enough for a room or auditorium, you hear the audio-tester say, “Testing, testing, testing!!!” rather loudly. Or maybe it’s “Testing, One, Two, Three, Four!!” In any event, the person doing the test is trying to see whether the audio system in question is adequate to project the sound into the area being tested.

 I hope we, in the faith – as Christians – realize that every now-and-again it’s a good idea for us to run a spiritual sound-check in our lives as to the clarity of our faith, .. just as the Apostle Paul exhorted the church in Corinth (see 2nd Cor. 13: 5 copied above). In other words, periodically we need to get with a mature Christian whom we trust, asking such questions as …  
1. Do you think, I need any areas in my faith-walk where I need to mature or surrender more to God’s Spirit? 
2. Are there any of the fruit of God’s Spirit (see Gal. 5: 22-23) which clearly need maturation?
3. Do you think I’m shining Christ’s light into the world through my life; and if so, how?
4. What do you think are my personal Spiritual gifts; and how am I using them for God’s glory?

That would be a revealing “sound-check” of our faith, wouldn’t it? And we also need to pause, especially when we are in the midst of spiritually challenging times in our life, to realize that God is always running His own Spirit-imparted tests to see how we’re doing in our covenant relationship with Him. That’s what God was clearly saying to His people, through Moses, in Deuteronomy 8: 1-5, my primary scriptural passage for this devotional, copied above. God always wants our life to be a “testing, testing, testing” scenario; so that we can make sure our lives clearly reflect His light and His will to the world [see Matt. 5: 16 - also above].

And historically, we know that God’s people failed the sound-check of obedience with the lives and times of the Israelites being muddled by disobedience and sinful distortion. So, maybe today it’s time to get with a strong, biblically sound, Christian – whom you know and trust – and ask him or her those questions above; and see if the “sound check” of your faith is coming through loudly and clearly. And if not, what adjustments need to be made to allow our lives to reflect Christ more clearly and loudly into the world.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, thank You for testing me and allowing me to project You through my life; but Lord, help me to be able to see if any adjustments need to be made, dear Holy Spirit, so that I can shine Your light even more clearly into the world. … Amen

 Blogger’s PS: I challenge and implore any reader of this devotional journal entry to openly contact me [email me @ billb13@bellsouth.net] and honestly give me feedback, answering any of the questions above FOR ME … to help me sound out my faith more clearly into the world. I would covet any such feedback and any prayers from you as to my growth in Christ.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

April 27, 2013 … Doing Life God’s Way

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 117

Passage of the Day: Nehemiah 5: 6-7, … 9 [NLT] …
 6 When I heard their complaints, I was very angry. 7 After thinking about the situation, I spoke out against these nobles and officials. I told them, “You are oppressing your own relatives by charging them interest when they borrow money!” Then I called a public meeting to deal with the problem. … 9 Then I pressed further, “What you are doing is not right! Should you not walk in the fear of our God in order to avoid being mocked by enemy nations?
 Contextual Study of today’s passage: Nehemiah, Chapter 5 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

 Reference Passage #1: 2nd Chronicles 7: 14 : [Desiring to see change in our world, God’s people must live God’s way.] …[NLT] …  
14 Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land. 

 Reference Passage #2: Psalm 119: 9, ... 11 : [Living God’s way paves the way for productive living in a Godless world.] …[NKJV] … 
 9 How can a young man cleanse his ways? By taking heed according to Your word … 
11 Your word, I’ve hidden in my heart that I might not sin against you.

  My Journal for Today: Today, my devotional blogger, Brother Os Hillman, gets to the essence of why we as Christians are ill-effective in the workplace of life these days; and it’s the same dilemma faced by Nehemiah when he got to Jerusalem with God’s charge to rebuild the walls upon their return to the Promised Land from their captivity in Babylon.

Nehemiah, in scoping out the socio-political situation at the time, discovered that the Hebrew people were living by unGodly and unlawful practices such as charging exorbitant interest for the use of land which forced many of the Hebrews to sell their children into slavery. And Nehemiah knew that before these people were ever going to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, they would have to get their act together and live according to God’s principles and follow His ways. And so, Nehemiah’s first task of leadership was to preach the truth and get the people to see that living by God’s will and according to His word was their only channel to successful living in a Godless world.

And having read the passages referenced above, from Nehemiah, Chapter 5, along with the other reference verses I’ve copied here today, I’m sure you’re beginning to see the application I am seeing from Hillman’s devotional for today’s world.

Until those in this world, especially Christians, live according to God’s will – taken from His word – we’re never going to see a Godless society become a God-fearing and God-following world. And what does that imply? Well, the reference I’ve made to Psalm 119 above gives that Godly prescription. We, God’s people, must know and live by God’s word in order to avoid sinning against God. However, when we live by the world’s way, instead of by the Word’s way, we become vulnerable and essentially powerless against our spiritual enemies, … Satan, the world, and our own flesh.

So, we (Christians) must choose. Are we going to live according to God’s way, following His will, from His word; or are we going to persist in doing life our own way, the world’s way, following Satan’s lead? Because if we choose to know God’s word and live according to His will, repenting of our sin as God’s people, we can exercise the truth of 2nd Chron. 7: 14, praying to God for revival and seeing Him heal our land; … and yes, even our world.

My Prayer for Today … Heavenly Father, … oh my Lord, … help us, Your people, called by Your Name, to live by Your precepts and follow Your ways in this wicked, war-torn world. … Amen

Friday, April 26, 2013

April 26, 2013 … Overcoming Fear and Flesh

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 116

Passage of the Day: Luke 8: 37 [NLT] … 
37And all the people in that region begged Jesus to go away and leave them alone, for a great wave of fear swept over them.
Contextual Study of today’s passage: Luke, Chapter 8 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

 Reference Passage #1: John 6: 65-66 : [Sometimes we have trouble following Jesus because of fear and the flesh. ] …[NLT] …  
65 Then He said, “That is why I said that people can’t come to Me unless the Father gives them to Me.”  66 At this point many of His disciples turned away and deserted Him. 

My Journal for Today: Have you ever had trouble following where Jesus seems to be leading because of your fears or your instinctive desire to follow the flesh. Well, you’re not without company in the Bible, … even for those who were eye-witnesses to some of the miracles wrought by Jesus as He walked the earth.

Today Os Hillman uses the example of the people witnessing Jesus call out the demons from the man named Legion. They simply couldn’t handle the truth of what they saw; and many, who had followed Jesus in curiosity, fled at what they witnessed, not understanding what they had seen. Then, … I also use the example of the followers who walked away from Jesus [see the example in John, Chapter 6] when He said things that went against their religious understanding.

Let’s face it; sometimes we just can’t handle Jesus, can we, … especially when He’s continually calling us (yes, Luke 9: 23 again) to deny our selves and follow Him? Following Jesus can be WAY HARD at times! Sometimes what He calls us to do, in challenging our flesh or convicting us in our sinful desires, is just too much to handle, isn’t it? And what do we do? Oh, so often, we bolt and turn away; or … in our fleshly habits, we try to deal with our flesh by, almost reflexively, using fleshly strategies rather than faith-driven, Jesus-following strategies. And if there is one bit of wisdom that I learned years ago from a wise mentor, it’s “YOU CAN’T FIGHT THE FLESH WITH THE FLESH!!”

Is there something in your life which produces fear that you won’t be able to overcome that selfish pursuit by pursuing or following Jesus? When these temptations or troubles appear, is it difficult to seek out and find Jesus or to follow what you know to be HIS way?

Well, my friend, only knowing and believing that Jesus will ALWAYS be there and will lead us to victory can we follow Him in faith. So, I pray – as I do below – that we, mediating in this place, will internalize the truths of Deut. 31: 6 … Isaiah 26: 3 … Isaiah 41: 10 … 1st Cor. 10: 13 … Phil. 4: 13 … and 2nd Tim. 1: 7 [if you don’t know them by heart, look them up] so that in our faith, we’ll turn to God’s Spirit for His amazing, enabling, and sanctifying grace; and we will become the overcomers God intends for us to be.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, that is my prayer for me and any all who read here with me today. … Amen

Thursday, April 25, 2013

April 25, 2013 … Due Diligence ... OR ... DO Diligence?

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 115

  Passage of the Day: Psalms 127: 2 [In the context of verses 1-2] [NLT] … 
1 Unless the LORD builds a house, the work of the builders is useless. Unless the LORD protects a city, guarding it with sentries will do no good. 2 It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones. 
 Contextual Study of today’s passage: Psalms, Chapter 127 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Proverbs 3: 5-6 : [Does our work reflect our trust?] …[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.

My Journal for Today: Wouldn’t we say that being diligent at our work, our career, or our profession was a good ethical value? Of course we would. Didn’t Ben Franklin say it? “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise?”

Yes, … I think we’d agree that diligence is a good value in the workplace or in life; but is it “DUE DILIGENCE or rather “DO diligence?” By that I mean if we’re working hard, even driving our self for whatever we define as “success,” … why are we doing it? Is it for the outcomes; … maybe it’s to be seen by others – possibly the boss – as better than others; … or perhaps, as a Christian, our “due diligence” is to honor God and to shine HIS light of obedience, knowing that obedience to His will through His word will have all the providence we need to live in this life … as God has provided for us.

BINGO!!! … That’s the essence of what my devotional editor and blogger, Os Hillman, is trying to get across in his workplace devotional entry for today. As he puts it, “God has made it clear that obedience is the assurance of provision. Whenever we go beyond the normal workday due to fear of non-provision, we are operating in unbelief. We are saying that it is up to us to make things happen. Sure, there are times when we work longer hours due to a deadline, but we must be sure the motive is not out of fear of loss or fear of non-provision. If we are obedient to what God has called us to, He will provide our every need. This can be a hard lesson for goal-oriented workplace believers.”

What about us and our work? Are we one of those perfectionistic, Type-A people who are driven to do more, working later, or doing all we can to make sure we’re seen as better than the next guy (or gal)? Are we working hard to be seen as working hard and producing more because we’re fearful that we’re not producing enough? Or are we doing what we’re doing, knowing and trusting that God is leading us to do what we do; and we have faith that our “due diligence,” being for Him, will be rewarded by His due providence?

Because, … if our “do diligence” is for others or because of fear of reprisal, it is not “due diligence” for the Lord; and we need to re-evaluate why we’re working the way we work. Yes, I’ve quoted that verse again I do so often here in my blogs from Proverbs 3: 5-6, which just seems to apply over and over again, doesn’t it? Our Christlike “due diligence” should be a reflection of our “due trust” in our Lord to provide for us because we’re working for HIS glory and not out of our own fear that we’re not doing enough to produce what our own hands can produce.

I’ll leave it to you to ponder this, as I am this morning, … meditating on why we’re doing what we do and for whom (or should I say for Whom – with a Capital “W”?).

My Prayer for Today … Lord, I pray that what I do in life, and how I do it, is for You, knowing that You will provide all I need. … Amen

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

April 24, 2013 … Healing Before Battle

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 114

 Passage of the Day: Joshua 5: 8 [In the context of verses 6-8] [NLT] …
  6 The Israelites wandered in the wilderness for forty years until all the men who were old enough to bear arms when they left Egypt had died. For they had disobeyed the LORD, and the LORD vowed he would not let them enter the land he had sworn to give us—a land flowing with milk and honey. 7So Joshua circumcised their sons who had not been circumcised on the way to the Promised Land—those who had grown up to take their fathers’ places. 8 After all the males had been circumcised, they rested in the camp until they were healed.
 Contextual Study of today’s passage: Joshua, Chapter 5 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Romans 10: 9-10 : [The moment of Spiritual circumcision.] …[NLT] …  
9 For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.

My Journal for Today: The scenario in the Fifth Chapter of Joshua’s biblical journal had to have been a bizarre episode to witness as the Israelites had crossed over the Jordan River and were poised to enter into a series of battles in the Promised Land. And because the chosen people, who had been wandering in the wilderness for 40 years, needed to reestablish their covenant with God, all the males who had crossed over the Jordan had to be circumcised, especially those of fighting age. Wow!! What a bloody scene that must’ve been, … thousands of adult males having to be circumcised to show their commitment to God’s covenant and their future walk with God into the Promised Land.

As Os Hillman points out in his devotional entry today, the physical act of male circumcision is painful, bloody, and very personal. And after the circumcision of all these men took place, before they were led onward into the Promised Land and into battle, Joshua had all of the people rest for a season of time … to allow for the healing of the circumcised and for the people to re-grasp their surrender to God’s Holy Covenant.

My fellow seeker, have you been circumcised? Because anyone who is truly saved by God’s grace in faith (see Romans 10: 9-10 copied above) has had a circumcision of the heart; and quite often the radical change in one’s life – from being lost in sin to being saved in Christ – is a circumcision process which produces pain and bleeding in one’s soul; and consequently it requires a period of healing.

On April 13th, 1983 (or shortly thereafter), I went through the process of radical heart circumcision, having surrendered my heart to Christ from a wandering walk of years of selfishness and Spirit-less living. It was a bloody and very personal process; and in reality, it required almost seven years of healing, being purged of all those years of sinful living, to allow me to be placed on the road to my “promised land” … and especially before I could be effective in doing battle with our spiritual enemies or reaching out to minister to others.

Perhaps you have been saved (i.e., again see the Romans 10 passage above); and this has brought about a Spirit-imparted circumcision of your heart. If not, you will have to believe in the saving grace provided by Christ on the cross and confess Him as the Lord of your life to go through that heart circumcision. And if and when you’ve done that, you may discover that it will take some healing time before you’re ready to do battle in Christ’s Name in this very hostile world as we march toward our personal promised land.

As I said above, it took several years of healing, discipleship, and preparation for battle before I was able to walk with confidence in my new life of surrender to Christ. But when I did go through the healing process and the preparation for my walk with Christ after my Spirit-led circumcision, my walk – I believe – has been one of purpose and direction ever since. Oh, … have I faltered any along the way? Of course I have; but my healing and equipping as a circumcised warrior for Christ, has given me ways to recognize my weaknesses and to shore them up daily, to be cleansed, and to do battle with my enemies.

If you are a circumcised warrior for Christ, especially if that is a newly established circumcision and commitment to Christ, I pray that you’ll take the time to allow for healing; … and then, … once healed, to follow Godly leaders – who’re following Christ – into battle in marching to your “promised land.”

My Prayer for Today … Lord, I am Your circumcised warrior; and today I’m dressed and ready to do battle! … Amen

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

April 23, 2013 … Personal Roadblocks

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 113

Passage of the Day: Joshua 7: 7 [NLT] … 
[After the Israelites were soundly defeated by the Amorites] ,,, 7 Then Joshua cried out, “Sovereign LORD, why did you bring us across the Jordan River if you are going to let the Amorites kill us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side! 
 Contextual Study of today’s passage: Joshua, Chapter 7 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Hebrews 12: 1 : [Throwing off the sin which ensnares us … our choice to run God’s race.] …[NLT] …  
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

Reference Passage #2: 1st John 1: 9 : [We can choose to confess, repent, and be cleansed of our sin] …[NLT] …  
9 But if we confess our sins to him, He is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong. 

My Journal for Today: Don’t you just hate it when your driving down the highway and you run into a roadblock and probably a troublesome detour? And it’s bad enough when that roadblock and detour are out of your control; but what if the roadblock or detour is created by your own choice. Maybe you ignored or just got off God’s path and took a wrong road somewhere along life’s path; and now you run up against a roadblock in life.

That’s what happened to Joshua and the Israelites as they were moving to take the Promised Land which God had promised them. They had just taken Jericho in a miraculous way by being obedient to God’s direction; but then, as accounted in Chapter 7 of Joshua’s journal, linked above, Joshua’s army was soundly defeated by the Amorites in a battle it appeared would be easily won by the Israelites. And upon going to God, Joshua learned that it was because of disobedience, i.e., selfish sin, which ensnared the Israelites; and when they were able to confess, repent, and follow God’s Covenant with careful obedience, God’s power returned and allowed them to proceed in victory on their path into the promised land.

And when I was reading and re-studying this passage this morning, another New Testament passage, first directed at a Jewish audience of believers, came to my mind; and that is Hebrews 12: 1, copied above as a reference passage. And the OT and NT passages, taken together, spoke loudly to me for application.

How often do we run into roadblocks along the path of life; and we come to realize that the roadblock, or the detour we end up taking, was created by our own ill-begotten choice … quite possibly some unresolved pattern of sin. And our selfish choice – like the one taken by Achan in Chapter 7 of Joshua – has caused us to gut hung up in life. But fortunately we believers in this age of grace, under God’s New Covenant, can heed the warning of Hebrews 12: 1 and revel in the truth and reality of 1st John 1: 9, also copied above; and, … we can confess and repent of our sins, and we can be cleansed and move on in life, rather than having to be stoned to death as was Achan when he caused the roadblock to the Israelites.

Hit any roadblocks lately? Well, I’ll not belabor this self-exam today. It’s pretty transparent, isn’t it? …

But, in this moment of quiet contemplation, perhaps you’re reflecting on something in your life or soul which you feel needs “fixing” in your relationship with Christ so that God’s Spirit can set you back on God’s pathway in life. And so, let me refer you with this link to a beautiful song, sung by Queen Latifah, which might help you to throw off the sin which ensnares and has caused your roadblock in life   …

My Prayer for Today … Lord, Jesus, fix me! … Amen

Monday, April 22, 2013

April 22, 2013 … Hearing His Voice

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 112

  Passage of the Day: John 8: 47 [NLT] … [The Good Shepherd teaches]
  47Anyone whose Father is God listens gladly to the words of God. Since you don’t, it proves you aren’t God’s children.” 

 Passage of the Day#2: John 10: 1-5 [NLT] … [Again, ... Jesus teaching] 
  1 “I assure you, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! 2 For a shepherd enters through the gate. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they recognize his voice. 5 They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t recognize his voice.” 

Contextual Study of today’s passage: John, Chapter 8 [NLT] … Go to this link
Contextual Study of today’s passage #2: John, Chapter 10 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

 Reference Passage #1: Isaiah 53: 6 : [God describes His people as being like sheep.] …[NKJV] 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. 

Reference Passage #2: 1st Peter 5: 8 : [The enemy will do all he can to keep God’s flock in disarray so that they will have trouble hearing the Good Shepherd’s voice.] …[NKJV] …  
8 Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.

My Journal for Today: I’ve always been drawn to the word picture of Christ as the “Good Shepherd,” … the One who guides, protects, and leads His flock, … the Church. And God’s Spirit, through Isaiah, played into that image, writing about God’s flock as being “like sheep” in Isaiah 53: 6, so often going astray. Today’s two highlight passages from John 8 and 10 use this imagery to describe our Shepherd, Christ, calling out to His flock to follow Him.

And isn’t that so true about us Christians. Though we have a Good Shepherd in our lives, we do have a tendency, as the sheep in Christ’s flock, to wander and to wane from hearing His voice. And certainly, Peter, in his description of the our enemy in 1st Peter 5: 8, word-painted our enemy as being like the lion who is hunting God’s flock, roaring to confuse the flock and make it difficult to hear the voice of the “Good Shepherd,” Who is continually calling out to the sheep to lead them on His path of providence and protection.

So how do we sheep put ourselves in a place where we, as God’s Flock, can hear our Shepherd more clearly and not be so vulnerable to the roaring lion who seeks to devour us (see John 10: 10a)? Certainly there are many ploys used by the enemy to distract us and to turn our spiritual “ears” away from the Shepherd’s voice. There is the noisiness of the world, with information flooding our lives. There are the temptations to the flesh, which are like sirens, luring us with pleasure, … like the plague of internet pornography. There is the “tyranny of the urgent,” which calls us to do so many distracting tasks, many of which are good things, but not necessarily what God is calling us to do.

And all of these things, and other ploys of the enemy, make it difficult to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd, don’t they? So, how do we in God’s flock put ourselves in a place where we can clearly hear and follow the Good Shepherd? Well, the first thing is to stay as close to our Shepherd as we can; and we do that by maintaining the disciplines of the faith; … having a daily, devotional time, as I am right now, … getting alone with God and delving into God’s word, praying, and possibly even fasting occasionally, … doing all we can to stay as close as possible to the Good Shepherd EACH DAY (and even every moment) so that God’s voice comes through more clearly and without the distractions of Satan and the world.

And there are other intentional strategies to stay tuned in closely in hearing God’s voice calling and leading us. Prayerfully we hear from God’s Shepherd speaking through clarion sermons from our earthly sub-shepherd, the Pastor of our the local body 0f Christ where we’re connected to the flock closely in the fellowship of believers, … a local, Bible believing/preaching church.

Other ways to hear more clearly from The Good Shepherd are to be involved intentionally in, what I call, “cohorts of connection,” where any in God’s flock can go to get closer to God’s voice of truth. Perhaps that might include a Godly mentor, who knows and lives by God’s word, leading the lesser mature lamb to a closer and more abiding relationship with the Shepherd. … Perhaps it means being closely connected with the Flock by being in a “Sunday School” class or a smaller group, like a Bible-Study or accountability group, where the Flock hear God’s word and its Spirit-led interpretation and can apply the truth to their lives. … Perhaps it’s following others in the flock into God-glorifying service, where the Flock is led by the Good Shepherd to serve Him, hearing His voice to follow where He leads. … And one final strategy to hear God more clearly may be partnering with another in God flock, perhaps one’s mentor, to memorize, contextualize, and internalize as much of God’s word as possible, … so that God’s clear and true voice can be heard more clearly whenever the enemy tries to drown out God’s truth with His roaring ploys.

All of these “cohorts of connection” help to keep us closer to the Good Shepherd so that we can do what He instructed in Luke 9: 23 (and I sure hope you have that one memorized by now if you follow me here as I quote it so often in my daily blogs). We’re only going to be able to hear the Good Shepherd clearly when we can deny ourselves, take up our crosses of life daily, and follow our Shepherd.

How will we hear Him clearly and follow Him today?

My Prayer for Today … Lord, I hear You calling to me – LOUDLY – this morning; and I follow You, Good Shepherd. … Amen

Sunday, April 21, 2013

April 21, 2013 … Nothing Impossible With God

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 111

Passage of the Day: Matthew 17: 20 [NLT] …  
20 “You didn’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I assure you, even if you had faith as small as a mustard seed you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.”
Contextual Study of today’s passage: Matthew, Chapter 17 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

 Reference Passage #1: Luke 1: 37 : [In the context of the angel’s proclamation about the Virgin Mary’s and her sister, Elizabeth’s, pregnancies.] …[NKJV] …  
37 “ … For nothing is impossible with God.”

  My Journal for Today: An angel proclaimed to Mary about her divine pregnancy that “Nothing is impossible with God.” Jesus, the God-Man Himself, declared to His disciples (and that includes all Christians), that faith, even the size of a mustard seed, could move a mountain. Those are incredible and wonderful proclamations about God’s power; but do we believe them?

In the days of the New Testament, God’s word declared, and history testified, about wondrous miracles happening, especially those which declared the reality of Jesus’ divinity. But do such miracles happen today? And do we believe that our faith in such miracles can involve God in the moving of mountains of challenge in our lives?

 Anybody feeling convicted right now, … LIKE ME, … wanting to say to God, “Forgive me, Lord, of such little faith, especially when I see a mountain of circumstances in my life which overwhelms me; and my lack of faith paralyzes me from fasting and praying for You to intervene.”

I really don’t have much more to say here this morning; because my head so wants to believe that when I’m confronted with a “mountain” of challenge in my life that I “know,” in my head, God could move, I’m afraid that my heart balks at praying for the mountain to be moved … maybe because I don’t want to have to say “I prayed and the mountain was not moved.” Oh, the faithlessness of my heart!

The truth is that God may hear my prayers about my mountain and He might choose not to move the mountain; or … He may move that mountain; … but, … all He wants from me is my faith that He, my Lord, is capable of moving that mountain. And even if He doesn’t choose to move my mountain, it doesn’t change the truth that “All things are possible with God.”

My Prayer for Today … Oh, my God, give me the faith of a mustard seed today. … Amen

Saturday, April 20, 2013

April 20, 2013 … When Anger Is Our Warning Light

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 110

Passage of the Day: Ecclesiastes 7: 9 [NLT] …  
9 Don’t be quick-tempered, for anger is the friend of fools. 
Contextual Study of today’s passage: Ecclesiastes, Chapter 7 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: 2nd Timothy 1: 7 : [Anger from loss of control is our OWN spirit, never God’s warning message] …[NKJV] …  
7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 

Reference Passage #2: Psalm 4: 4 : [Also quoted by Paul in Eph. 4: 26.] …[NLT] …  
4 Don’t sin by letting anger gain control over you.

My Journal for Today: Ever had one of those warning lights go on in the dashboard of your car, warning you that something was wrong in the engine or the workings of your car? When it happens, don’t you feel so very out of control – unless you happened to be a trained mechanic who knows exactly what to do and you can do it yourself? But most of us – certainly me! – feel like we need immediate help when we see one of those warning lights on our dashboard.

Well, Os Hillman, in his workplace devotional for today, uses this word picture of anger being like God’s dashboard warning light when we feel SELF-DIRECTED anger going off in our emotional dashboard. And I’m careful here, qualifying the concept of anger with the capitalized qualifier, because there is a type of anger, “SELFLESS” or “RIGHTEOUS” anger, which Jesus even displayed when He cleansed the Temple of God. Such feelings of anger are directed outwardly toward elements of the world which are an affront to God. This type of anger is a RIGHTEOUS anger; and it does not lead to sin because it is God’s Spirit, through His grace of enlightenment and discernment, leading us into action for God’s glory, … just as the Spirit did for Jesus as our Lord was led to cleanse the Temple of thieves who were desecrating His Father’s House of Worship.

However, the type of anger, to which Hillman (and yours truly) is describing here is the more common, inwardly directed, feelings which occur when we FEAR that we are personally and inwardly out of control. And when this happens, we desire – in our flesh – to regain personal, inward control by striking out in some way impulsively and angrily toward others. Let me give any reader here a personal example to illustrate when anger becomes a warning light that we’re headed toward selfish and sinful self-control issues.

 When I was 15 years old and had an Indiana state learner’s permit to drive with an adult in the car supervising my driving, my father took me to Indianapolis, the big city, to help me learn how to drive in a metropolitan area. Well, at one stop light, when the light turned green and I began to enter an intersection, a foolish driver ran the light in front of me and we almost hit him (also because I accelerated a bit too quickly and rapidly). Well, I hit the breaks to avoid the accident (which we did); and immediately – in anger – I slammed the wheel and loudly declared some colorful expletive, which I don’t recall and couldn’t likely print here anyway. And all my father quietly – in control – said was, “Did he hear you?”

What my dad was trying to teach me – and he did – was that my anger did nothing to effect the person who ran the light. And my feelings, expressed because of my fear of loss of control, did nothing but hurt ME emotionally and did nothing to communicate my feelings to the perpetrator of the incident in question. And this is very often the case when anger leads us to behave in ways which damage our abilities to discern reasonable corrective action in any incident where we feel or fear we’re out of control. And I’d almost bet, right now, some personal experience is coming to mind where you remember reacting – in anger – because you feared the loss of personal control in your life.

Hillman’s right. When we feel really angry, we ought to train ourselves to let the anger be God’s warning light for us to evaluate exactly what’s going wrong under the hood of our life and likely why we’re feeling the way we’re feeling – also likely because we fear we’re out of control. Our anger may be God trying to blink a warning light for us to get help – and maybe to find a Spiritual repair technician or counselor. O maybe it’s God’s Spirit trying to provoke our willingness to take the time to go to God, His word, and especially THE COUNSELOR, God’s Holy Spirit, for a diagnosis of why we feel the way we feel. In this way we can carry out the warnings found above in the references passages of Psalm 4: 4, Eph. 4: 26, and 2nd Timothy 1: 7.

I’m convicted; … how about you?

My Prayer for Today … Lord, please be my warning-light to help me avoid letting my own feelings get in the way of Your Spirit guiding me to do only what glorifies You. … Amen

Friday, April 19, 2013

April 19, 2013 … Choosing to Believe!

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 109

Passage of the Day: Genesis 15: 14 [In context with verses 13-14] [NLT] …  
13 Then the LORD told Abram, “You can be sure that your descendants will be strangers in a foreign land, and they will be oppressed as slaves for four hundred years. 14 But I will punish the nation that enslaves them, and in the end they will come away with great wealth. 
Contextual Study of today’s passage: Genesis, Chapter 15 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

 Reference Passage #2: John 16: 33 : [The promise of being obedient in the face of trials.] …[NLT] …  
31 Jesus asked [His inner disciples], “Do you finally believe? 32 But the time is coming—in fact, it is already here—when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving Me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with Me. 33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” 

Reference Passage #2: Revelation 3: 20 : [Jesus, on the promise of His providence from our relationship with Him. ] …[NKJV] …  
20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come into him and dine with him, and he with Me.

My Journal for Today: God told Abram about a time when the nation God had promised would come from him would go through 400 years of slavery; but The LORD also promised that after those times of troubles would come a glorious time of providence [see the highlight passage above from Genesis 15 above].

When Jesus was about to go to the cross, He told His troubled disciples not to fear because He, Jesus, the Messiah, had overcome the world (see the reference passage above from John 16: 33) and He, their Lord, would send them His Spirit to give them all they would need to deal with the world.

Going through some tough times now? Well, if not now, maybe you remember a really tough stretch of time in your past when things really went bad and still you were able to remain obedient in faith. Yes, … for a die-hard believer, God’s promise, in the face of tough times, is that obedience and perseverance in faith will ultimately result in God promise of providence. And we Christians ALWAYS need to remember, as is taught in Psalm 23, that going through the valley of the shadow of death, with faith in our God, will lead us through that valley into a place of God’s promised providence.

Don’t you just love the promise of Jesus to His church (that’s you and me, fellow Christian!) that He’s always there – no matter how bad things are – ready to open the door of His relationship with us, IF (and yes, it’s a big “IF”) we hear Him knocking at the door of our hearts, ALWAYS ready to come in with us and to provide us with what we need. And we’ll always have what we need to deal with life if we believe in His promises and we’re obedient to His provision of truth (see 2nd Peter 1: 3-4 at this link ).

But these promises from God and His provisions come with a catch. Yes, it’s a provisional covenant of promise. God will give us all we need – and MORE – if (big “IF”) we’re obedient to His word and seek faithfully after His will. So, if we’re going through tough times, as God said to Abram and Jesus always says to us, His promise of great providence is ALWAYS there for us if and when we’re willing to go through the tough times faithfully and obediently following Him.

So, my fellow followers of Christ, … let’s keep on keeping on during these tough times, knowing His promises and believing that He has overcome the world. … Because HE HAS!!!

And this morning, I go to a song by Phillips, Craig, and Dean which helps me to choose to believe in the midst of the trials of my life … go to this link to hear them sing I Choose To Believe.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, in these darkened times, You provide the light for me to follow You. … Amen

Thursday, April 18, 2013

April 18, 2013 … Life-altering Priorities: Majoring on the Majors

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 108

Passage of the Day: Luke 9: 23-24 [NLT] …  
23 Then he said to the crowd [of followers], “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. "
Contextual Study of today’s passage: Luke, Chapter 9 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Matthew 7: 20 : [Jesus on how to tell a Christian is the real-deal or not. ] …[NLT] …  
20 Yes, the way to identify a tree or a person is by the kind of fruit that is produced. 

My Journal for Today: How do you tell the real or BIG-C “Christian” from the false or small-c “christian?” Well, it’s really quite simple. The “real deal” Christian lives and acts like Jesus.

In a nut-shell, a born-again Christian will ultimately major on the MAJORS, which reflect the values and attitudes of Christ The Apostle Paul Paul tried to get Christians to see that in Philippians 2: 5-11. It’s reality. The lives of real Chrsitians will be reflective of the fruit of the Spirit (see Galatians 5: 22-23); and the world will see that real-deal Christian shining the light of Christ into a very dark world (see Matt. 5: 16).

Oh, most certainly, some saved people will fool us as they grow into the likeness of Christ; and at early stages in the maturing of their Christian discipleship they may be developing and learning how to do what Jesus said in today’s highlight passage … to die to self and follow the Savior … to lose their selfish life while growing into the image of the selfless Savior. And during this process of discipleship, the fruit on the tree may not always reflect Christ’s light, but rather be a reflection of selfish darkness instead.

But ultimately, as a genuine, born-again Christian matures and grows and becomes more fruitful; and we will see that “BIG-C” Christian majoring on the MAJORS, which will be the values of Christ. And they will become fruitful, shining more brightly the light of Christ, with their values, choices, and behaviors reflecting Christ more and more.

The questions we need to ask ourselves today, desiring to be “BIG-C” Christians, are these …  
… Am I majoring on the MAJORS [i.e., Jesus’ values]? 
… Am I wearing Christ’s Robe of Righteous for all to see; or am I showing off my own rags of sin? 
… Can others see the fruitfulness of God’s Spirit growing and maturing in my life?

How’re we doing today?

My Prayer for Today … Lord, I so want to have others to see You in me rather than me in me. … Amen

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

April 17, 2013 … Wanted: Dead or Alive!

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 107

Passage of the Day: Ephesians 6: 12 [NLT] …
12 For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms. 
 Contextual Study of today’s passage: Ephesians, Chapter 6 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Acts 1: 8 : [Does our witness cause Satan to want us “Dead or Alive” as a witness for Christ? ] …[NLT] …  
8 "... But when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power and will tell people about Me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 

 Reference Passage #2: Matthew 5: 14-16 : [When we shine Christ’s light in the world, we become one who is “Wanted Dead or Alive” by Satan. ] …[NLT] …  
14 You are the light of the world—like a city on a mountain, glowing in the night for all to see. 15 Don’t hide your light under a basket! Instead, put it on a stand and let it shine for all. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. 

My Journal for Today: Today, in his devotional entry, Os Hillman remembers the wanted posters which were posted in the days of the old west in which the powers that be used to encourage the pursuit of the most dangerous of criminals. Then Hillman poses a question: Does Satan and his posse of fallen angels have a “WANTED – DEAD OR ALIVE!” poster out on you as a Christian?

In other words, do we, as disciples of Christ, pose any threat to Satan’s fallen kingdom here on earth; enough so that the sheriff of hell would want us eliminated? Or viewing our life choices and behaviors, would Satan just let us go on our own because we pose no threat to his pursuits of the lost and for the damaged testimonies of the saved?

Assuming I’m addressing a fellow Christian here, reading with me, God’s promise for all Christians is for us to use the resurrection power that the Lord has placed in each of us (i.e., the enabling grace from His Holy Spirit) to give us the power to shine Christ’s light in the world (see Acts 1:8 and Matt. 5: 14-16 copied above for referenced). And when we truly are LIT UP as witnesses for Christ in the world we become “WANTED – DEAD OR ALIVE!” by Satan. We become threats to his mission to keep the lost headed for hell and the saved headed for the trash heap of wasted Christian power.

So, Hillman asks the following probing questions: ” Is there a "Wanted: Dead or Alive" poster in hell with your name on it? Are you a real danger to hell? Do you cause problems for Satan's legion of demons? Are you pushing back Satan's agenda on planet earth? [And further] … Are the unsaved in danger of receiving salvation through you? Will someone receive healing because you dared to pray for them? Will someone's life be impacted because you chose to reach out to them in your workplace during a difficult time? Will a city be impacted for Jesus Christ because of you?”

Personally, I know that I’m a wanted man, along with my wife; because we lead a ministry [go to this link] to help Christians to be redeemed, restored, and renewed in their relationship with Christ, having formerly been captive to the bondage to habitual sexual sin. Every day I do all I can to show anyone willing to surrender to the re-energizing power of God to walk away in freedom from the throws of all that Satan and his minions would do to damage their testimonies with his hypersexualized super-weapons, like internet pornography. And because of this mission, my picture is no-doubt all over the walls of hell with the label “WANTED – DEAD OR ALIVE!”

I don’t know about you; but if you’re not doing anything in your life to shine the light of Christ into this darkened world, it’s unlikely that Satan has a “WANTED” poster out on you. If you’re not doing anything to threaten his growing kingdom here on earth, he’ll leave you alone, … especially if your life worships him or poses no threat to the kingdom of hell by your witness. But I pray today that all who read here have big “WANTED – DEAD OR ALIVE” posters out on us; and we’re having to pray to God for legions of angels to protect us because we’re shining Christ’s light brightly into the world … EVERY DAY.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, protect those of us who’re shining Your light into Satan’s caves of darkness and desperation; and let our lives shine greatly with Your power and Your message of deliverance. … Amen

Blogger’s PS: I would covet your prayers for this humble servant of God who is WANTED – DEAD OR ALIVE by Satan! And for those who do pray for Battle Plan Ministries, you help us send a light of truth and power into the darkness of Satan’s world. …THANK YOU!!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

April 16, 2013 … Victory Over Injustice

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 106

Passage of the Day: Psalm 37: 6 [NLT] …  
6 He will make your innocence as clear as the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.
Contextual Study of today’s passage: Psalms, Chapter 37 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Luke 6: 35 : [Jesus on being tested and tried through the fire of injustice and false accusation. ] …[NLT] … 
 35 “Love your enemies! Do good to them! Lend to them! And don’t be concerned that they might not repay. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to the unthankful and to those who are wicked.

  Reference Passage #2: Luke 23: 34 : [Jesus, … under the most severe of all tests of injustice. ] … [NLT] … Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice.

 My Journal for Today: Have you ever lived through a trial or testing of false accusation, prejudice, or social injustice of some type? Perhaps you’ve experienced that type of injustice or personal challenge … on the job, in your family, … or maybe even in the church. You knew that you were in the right; but you were falsely judged by others or may lumped in with some prejudicial slur.

Well, yesterday – April 15th – was the anniversary of the first day that Jackie Robinson – in 1947 – became the first black major-league baseball player, being signed by Branch Rickey to play for the then Brooklyn Dodgers. And many of you may know the testing and trials of prejudice and injustice which Robinson went through to open the door for other African-American players to come into the big leagues in baseball. His story of Christian courage and raging quietness in the face of racial slurs and outright abuse is now legendary; and it has recently been documented in the movie, “42,” which was titled by Robinson’s number when he played for the Dodgers. Few of us will ever go through as much as Jackie Robinson did in going through the caldron of injustice and living up to the teachings and values of One Who went before him … Jesus, the Christ, … the One, Who was Jackie Robinson’s Lord and Savior … and the One Who suffered the greatest injustice of all … so that Jackie, you, and me could be saved from our own humanity.

 Perhaps you’ve gone through the pressures and challenges of false accusation, injustice, or even prejudice; and if so, you know the emotions which inevitably surface in our humanity … hatred and the desire for revenge for the perpetrators of the injustice. But – though one can’t minimize the pain of such emotional torture – such instances in our lives are God’s way of showing His love and His strength in the presence of our sin-generated emotions. When, and if, we can be like Christ on His way to the cross or like Jackie Robinson, when he was being abused by bigots when he entered big-league baseball, we can provide a light of witness like almost none other in our ever-darkening world.

It takes supernatural strength to remain silent when others are cat-calling names at us. It takes the Holy Spirit, giving us God’s empowering grace, to be able to stand up to personal injustice. Because, in and of our own strength, we won’t be able to do what Christ did, going to the cross or what Jackie Robinson did out on the ball fields of Brooklyn in 1947. Oh, how I pray that we can go through any testing or trials of being submitted to personal injustice; and that we shine Christ’s light into the darkness of worldly social injustice when we, personally, are being assaulted.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, Your grace is sufficient; and I pray for that grace of strength when I’m under the gun of false accusation or social injustice in my life and my weakness is being tested. … Amen

Monday, April 15, 2013

April 15, 2013 … Building a Blessed Life

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 105

Passage of the Day: Isaiah 28: 16 [NLT] …  
16 Therefore, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “Look! I am placing a foundation stone in Jerusalem. It is firm, a tested and precious cornerstone that is safe to build on. Whoever believes need never run away again.
Contextual Study of today’s passage: Isaiah, Chapter 28 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Psalm 118: 22 : [Messiah is our cornerstone; … a verse later quoted by Jesus in reference to Himself, in Matthew 21: 42.] …[NLT] … 
22 The stone rejected by the builders has now become the cornerstone.

Reference Passage #2: Ephesians 2: 20 : [Paul’s teaching on the “cornerstone.” ] …[NLT] …  
20 We are His house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. 

 My Journal for Today: Today, Os Hillman, in his workplace devotional, asks four questions which he feels must be answered if any Christian desires to live a God-blessed life. These four self-testing questions are as follows:
1. Is Christ the cornerstone (i.e., foundation) of our life-building process? 
2. In our life walk of faith, what life-building “faith experiences” has God used to prepare us to live for His glory? 
3. Is obedience the life-building attitude which drives our decisions and our actions? 
4. And finally, are we prepared in our discipleship in Christ to do what God is calling us to do to build in life for His glory? 

One could write a book – and some probably have – in answering all these questions; and we, as Christians, should definitely address them if we desire to be blessed by God’s Spirit in building a life which glorifies God. However, this morning I can’t even get by the first of these questions in my own discipleship analysis and for this blog entry. So, if I may, I’ll concentrate, through Scripture and personal reflection, on the first of Hillman’s points.

If we are to build a life which is blessed by God, Christ must be the cornerstone of that building process. So many times, at least in this humble Christian’s opinion, I think saved, born-again Christians never end up living God-blessed lives because they try to build their lives on the cornerstone of self-directed motives, decisions, and attitudes, rather than living, as Isaiah prophesied (above in Is. 28: 16) and Jesus later taught from Ps. 118: 22, that Christ, the Messiah, must be the cornerstone of our discipleship and life-building process.

 Unfortunately, I think that many, if not most, Christians, once saved, never truly build their discipleship on Christ as their cornerstone; and building on self-directed, rather than Savior-directed, motives, they never build their lives as Christ instructed His disciples to build in Luke 9: 23 (yes, there’s that verse that comes up so often in my journaling!). We don’t deny our selves and really follow our Lord; and therefore, our self-directed motives and life experiences never are built with the proper foundation; and the lives built on self will crumble and never reflect the blessing from God’s grace which could have been realized IF we, as CHRISTIANS, had built our lives on Christ as the cornerstone.

 So, it’s fine to answer all those questions above from Hillman’s devotional entry today; but, please focus first – and foremost – on the cornerstone question. Is Christ, our Lord, the cornerstone of our life-building and discipleship completion process? Because, if we are building our lives on self-directed attitudes and values, our life-building process will ultimately crumble. I will leave it to you to meditate on this. I, most certainly, am doing so.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, I pray that all of my life-building has You as my Cornerstone. … Amen

Sunday, April 14, 2013

April 14, 2013 … God’s Tough Love

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 104

Passage of the Day: 1st Corinthians 5: 5 [NLT] …  
5 Then you must cast this man out of the church and into Satan’s hands, so that his sinful nature will be destroyed and he himself will be saved when the Lord returns. 
 Contextual Study of today’s passage: 1st Corinthians, Chapter 5 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Galatians 6: 1 : [Judging not the heart, … but only the sin.] …[NLT] …  
1 Dear brothers and sisters, if another Christian is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. 

 Reference Passage #2: Matthew 18: 15-17 : [Jesus on dealing with sin in the Church.] …[NLT] …  
15 “If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the fault. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back.  16 But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses. 17 If that person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. If the church decides you are right, but the other person won’t accept it, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector. ... "

My Journal for Today: What do you do when you see that you’ve got one rotten apple in within your perfectly good batch of apples? You get rid of the rotten apple, don’t you; because you know that if the rotten fruit is kept in with the good, it will cause the good apples to rot as well? It’s the same principle if you’re coaching a team and the attitude of one player, no matter how good he is as a player, is dragging down the team. You have to exercise tough love and extract the “bad apple” from the team, because his behavior is dragging down the team chemistry.

 Well, the Apostle Paul saw this principle at work in the church at Corinth, having gotten the report that the church was enabling sexual sin in its midst by coddling one of their members who would not repent of the sin of incest. And so, in today’s highlight devotional passage, we read of Paul telling his fellow churchmen to exercise tough love and to extract the “rotten apple” from their midst and let Satan deal with this sinner. It’s radical tough love in action; and unfortunately it’s not being exercised in the church today enough.

Today, all too often, the church has been infected with a pervasive attitude of “tolerance” and “inclusion,” being unwilling to exercise clear discernment [i.e., judgment] of chronic sin in the church. The world cries that we Christians are being too “judgmental” when we see sin in our midst and we desire to take action to address the sin at its core.

Yes, it is true that we, as a Church, are instructed, by the same Apostle Paul (see Gal. 6: 1 quoted above), to first be gentle when we discern someone openly sinning. We, as a church, are to humbly do all we can to confront the sinner and help him/her to be restored in repentance and fellowship with Christ. Even Christ addressed this process in his Matthew 18 teaching on church discipline. However, there comes a time, when it is clear that the person, who calls themselves a “ “christian” continues to wallow in clearly discernable sinful behavior; and that “rotten apple” must be extracted from the basket of fruit (i.e., the church).

And so, Paul – to his beloved fellow church leaders in Corinth – teaches that the Church must exercise tough love in such an instance, turning the offender out of the church body into the world for Satan to deal with the chronic sinner. And that is a course of action that I’m afraid many, if not most, churches these days don’t exercise enough. And the result is that the attitude of “bad apple” church members begins to spoil the whole church; and sometimes it can even bring division to split a church and cause the Holy Spirit to snuff out the lamp of love in that church.

So, as discerning and caring Christians we, as His Church, especially its leaders, must pray that God gives us the clarity of discernment to determine when we see a chronically unrepentant sinner in our midst; and after we’ve done all we can to lovingly confront that “rotten apple,” with the love of God, we then must be willing – if necessary – to pluck that apple from the fruit-basket to protect the remaining maturing fruit from spoiling. It’s God’s tough love in action.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, help us to be Your agents of tough love when it’s necessary to protect Your Church. … Amen

Saturday, April 13, 2013

April 13, 2013 … Reborn for His Workmanship

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 103

Passage of the Day: John 17: 4 [From Jesus’ high-priestly prayer to His Heavenly Father.] [NLT] … 4 I brought glory to You here on earth by doing everything You told me to do.  
Contextual Study of today’s passage: John , Chapter 17 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Ephesians 2: 8-10 : [Saved to be His workmanship. ] …[NLT] …  
8 God saved you by his special favor when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.

My Journal for Today: Have you answered the “Why am I here?” question about your life? It’s sort of an important one, don’t you think? And so, … if you haven’t answered that biggie for yourself, read on a bit further and I’m going to give you God’s answer to that life-driving question.

When Jesus was here with us on earth, He had a purpose; and that was to glorify His Heavenly Father with what He did; … and He did just that! And we see that when we read His prayer to the Father just before He did exactly what He came to earth to do [see John 17, linked above] – and that was to die on that cross so that you and I could be saved. That was Jesus’ earthy task; and I’d say He did a pretty good job of it, wouldn’t you?

And really finding and carrying out our earthy task is what we’re all about, too. And so … all of whom we are and all of what we do should be to the glory of God. We are God’s workmanship; and whatever we’re called to do, we should be doing it for His glory.

Really, it’s all summarized in the memory verse which was called up into my consciousness this morning as I read this morning’s Os Hillman devotional. You may have this section of Paul’s writings memorized as well; [see Ephesians 2: 8-10 above] and I hope you do because it summarizes the essence of our Christian life. We were saved BY God’s grace THROUGH our faith in His finished work on the cross UNTO the good works He has purposed for our lives. And there you have it … the Christian life in one sentence.

We were created to be GOD”S WORKMANSHIP? So, … are we? That is, are we doing what we do for the glory of our Lord? Are we doing what God called us to do? And if we are, do we see ourselves as doing HIS work … for HIM?

 I can’t answer those tough questions for you; but I can – and I must – answer them for myself; and today is a poignant day for me to answer them; because 30 years ago, on this date, April 13, 1983, I humbled myself to be able – in faith – to receive God’s saving grace. Yes, today is my re-birthday in Christ; and though it took a few years of discipleship and growth in my relationship with Christ after my rebirth, I finally responded to God’s calling and found my place in His work force, … doing His will, His way, for His glory.

I don’t know if you’re in a place where you can claim and hold on to the latter purpose … i.e., that place of becoming and being HIS workmanship. I will pray this morning that you have; because when we are working in the center of His will, … doing HIS work, … for HIS glory, there is no greater place to be in this life.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, I pray that all who read my thoughts here today have found that place where they can use Your Spirit-imparted gifts, working and doing all they can for Your glory. … Amen

Friday, April 12, 2013

April 12, 2013 … The Productive Christian Life

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 102

Passage of the Day: 2nd Peter 1: 8 [in the context of verses 3-9] [NLT] …  
3 As we know Jesus better, his divine power gives us everything we need for living a godly life. He has called us to receive his own glory and goodness! 4 And by that same mighty power, he has given us all of his rich and wonderful promises. He has promised that you will escape the decadence all around you caused by evil desires and that you will share in his divine nature. 
5 So make every effort to apply the benefits of these promises to your life. Then your faith will produce a life of moral excellence. A life of moral excellence leads to knowing God better. 6 Knowing God leads to self-control. Self-control leads to patient endurance, and patient endurance leads to godliness. 7Godliness leads to love for other Christians, and finally you will grow to have genuine love for everyone. 8 The more you grow like this, the more you will become productive and useful in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But those who fail to develop these virtues are blind or, at least, very shortsighted. They have already forgotten that God has cleansed them from their old life of sin. 
 Contextual Study of today’s passage: 2nd Peter, Chapter 1 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Galatians 5: 22-21 : [Living a fruit-filled Christian life.] …[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: Both of the major-league Christian Apostles, Peter and Paul, wanted the churches to which they wrote in Asia-Minor in their day (see the letters to Galatia and 1st and 2nd Peter) to live fully fruitful Christian lives; and today’s highlight passage from Peter, as well as the one I’ve copied above to the Galatians, declare this goal clearly. And both Apostles in these letters, list the qualities of a Christian life which are markers for spiritual productivity.

I’ve learned, and have often taught, that there is a chain of abilities which Christians much develop to become fully fruitful and productive as Christlike Christians; and they are these abilities … 1. AvailABILITY, leading to 2. TeachABILITY, leading to 3. VulnerABILITY, leading to 4. AccountABILITY, and finally leading to 5. StickABILITY, … all of which are necessary, beginning with availability or surrender, for a Christian to show forth as fruitful in our Christian living.

I won’t have the time, given my desire to keep this devotional entry brief, to develop this teaching; but the Apostles Peter and Paul were trying to get the same message across to those Christians they were addressing in their letters. They wanted these Christians to flex their Spiritual “muscles” and to live power-filled Christian lives; and so they exhorted them (and us) to take full advantage of the Spirit-imparted fruitfulness available to all Christians who are willing and able to surrender to the Holy Spirit and choosing to live in Christlikeness rather than involved in selfishness.

When we’re living fully-surrendered lives to God’s Spirit within us, doing all we can to activate the fruit of the Spirit available within us, we Christians can be powerfully productive, living and moving as Christ has given us the ability to live. However, it is just as easy for us to blunt or diminish our fruitfulness as Christians by choosing to pursue selfish goals, rather than to pursue the goals the Spirit wants us to pursue (i.e., God’s will and purposes for our lives). But when we choose to pursue Christlike fruitfulness, surrendering to the purposefulness of Christ-like living, God’s Spirit can impart in us all the power we need for living as Christ lived, not as we would choose to live on our own [see 2nd Peter 1: 3-4 above].

 So, … just how powerful and fruitful is our life being lived for God’s glory rather than for our own self-satisfaction and selfish purposes? If we can honestly see the fruit of the Spirit – listed by Paul and Peter above – being matured and developed in our lives, where we live for God rather than for our selves, then we’re on the productivity track for God’s glory; and all we can – or should – say is, “KEEP ON KEEPING ON IN CHRIST,” … which I always symbolize with the following … " <'koko>< " .

My Prayer for Today … Lord help me to KOKO in You because I SO want to be fruitful for Your glory. … Amen

Thursday, April 11, 2013

April 11, 2013 … Living the Kingdom Gospel Life

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 101

Passage of the Day: 1st John 2: 5-6 [in the context of verses 3-6] [NLT] …
3 And how can we be sure that we belong to him? … By obeying His commandments. 4 If someone says, “I belong to God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and does not live in the truth. 5But those who obey God’s word really do love Him. That is the way to know whether or not we live in Him. 6 Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Christ did.  
Contextual Study of today’s passage: 1st John, Chapter 2 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Philippians 2: 5 : [Having the attitude and mind of Christ is living in HIM.] …[NLT] … 5 Your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had. 

 My Journal for Today: Os Hillman in his working-man’s devotional has a rather stark observation about Christians living in this world today. Perhaps it would be best to just copy it here for my discussion …  

"When Christ came to earth, He came to bring to mankind the gospel of the Kingdom. Over the centuries, the Church has tended to emphasize only a portion of the gospel. That portion is the gospel of salvation. However, Jesus came that we might have more than just salvation. He came to give us a whole new life that was accompanied by signs, wonders, and His Spirit living in us and revealing Himself to us daily. He came so that we might walk on this earth as He did. If our lives are not reflecting the same things as Jesus' did, we must ask why?"

Okay, ... Hillman’s question is a challenge for all of us, isn’t it? The Apostle Paul declared to the Church he loved in Philippi (and to us) that they (we) need to have the mind of Christ (i.e., His attitude) in order to live as Christ desired for those whom He died on the cross to save. But as Hillman points out, most of those who call themselves “CHRISTIAN” don’t live out the complete “KINGDOM GOSPEL” Christ has provided for born-again believers. Hillman postulates three levels of “CHRISTIANS” in today’s world.

 LEVEL ONE “Christians” are those who come to Christ at a time in their lives when they need salvation and they’re ripe in humility to believe in Christ’s atoning death; and these “Christians” enter the family of God with a “bless me, Lord” mentality.

 LEVEL TWO “Christians,” according to Hillman, live in their faith only when they are in a crisis of need in their lives, pursuing their relationship with Christ only when their faith is challenged by suffering or privation. These believers live out what Hillman calls a “help me, Lord” life; and they only pursue the kingdom gospel to relieve the pains of life.

However, LEVEL THREE “Christians are those few believers (and Hillman believes they are very few in this world) who DAILY pursue (as Christ commanded in Luke 9: 23) a deep and abiding follower relationship with Christ. They pursue all that Christ died to provide for them … the real-deal of the Kingdom Gospel .. . that “abundant life” that Jesus spoke of in the red letters of John 10: 10b). And these Christians have come to understand and live in a continual pursuit of the fruit of the Spirit (you know the list in Gal. 5: 22-23).

Level Three Christians know that God came to earth to save mankind from himself and to give us much more than just a ticket to heaven. Our Lord came, died, and was raised again to glory to give us a faith ride of glory, not only in heaven, but in this life as well. Oh, that we’d all become kingdom gospel, level three, Christians from this day forward. And all we have to do is believe it, claim it, and live it.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, I am Yours yesterday, today, and tomorrow; and I want it all! I want to live for You and receive all You have for me. … even when I’m being stalked by Your enemy and tested by life. I live for and with You, Lord, … in Your Kingdom today. … Amen

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

April 10, 2013 … Success = Yielding to God’s Planning

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 100

 Passage of the Day: Jeremiah 10: 23 [NLT] …  
23 I know, LORD, that a person’s life is not his own. No one is able to plan his own course.
Contextural Study of today’s passage: Jeremiah, Chapter 10 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Proverbs 16: 9; 19: 21; 20: 24 : [Following God’s will – the only way to real success.] …[NLT] …  
16: 9 We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps. …
19: 21 You can make many plans, but the LORD’s purpose will prevail. … 
20: 24 How can we understand the road we travel? It is the LORD who directs our steps.

My Journal for Today: Over the years in my Christian discipleship, I’ve discovered a couple of good rules by which to live. One is that when several Bible authors say the same thing or when one author says the same thing over and over again, it’s time to pay attention; because God is using a megaphone to get His point across. And the truth Os Hillman is trumpeting in today’s devotional is one of those.

So, PAY ATTENTION, my friend, to God’s truth as it was touted by the Prophet, Jeremiah [see today’s highlight verse], … that real success will only come when our plans are in accord with God’s will. And I can read your thoughts, fellow Christian. You’re thinking, “I knew that!” And I think few Christians, with any brains or from experience in their walk with Christ, would disagree with that, especially when Solomon, God’s man of wisdom, tooted that horn over and over again (see the three quoted verses above).

So, why then do we repeatedly fail to get God’s confirmation and seek His will before and/or while we’re doing our plans for living? It’s because of who we are; and our sin-ridden spiritual DNA leads us to want to have our own selfish control over our plans. And therefore, so often, being led by a deceitful heart (see also Jer. 17: 9, we default back to our own selfish ways instead of doing what Jesus commanded in Luke 9: 23 to deny our self and follow Him.

Are you feeling as convicted as I am right now? Oh so often I plow ahead – on my own – doing MY planning, even worrying about the outcomes, and I ignore the wonderful – God-given – advice of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 4: 6-7 [linked here] to avoid worry and to pray for God to give me HIS peace about some direction I might seek to walk on my own. Because if I come to my Lord, with a heart of thanksgiving, humbly asking for His confirmation for some plan I might have, if He gives me His peace about that direction, I know it’s in His will. If, however, in using this seeking posture, I don’t get His peace, I know I should either wait or abort the planned course of action.

This latter strategy has never failed me, i.e., when I’ve taken the time to seek God’s will and His way, especially using His word in the seeking process. Because when I know that I know that I KNOW God’s will when I’m forging ahead, I can do so, knowing that He is leading me and any outcome will be for HIS glory.

So, my fellow Christian, let’s plan to seek God’s plan today; … how about it?

My Prayer for Today … Lord, show me THE way – YOUR way; and I will follow. … Amen

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

April 9, 2013 … What Part of “Trust” Do We Not Understand?

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 99

Passage of the Day: 1st Chronicles 21: 1-4 [NLT] …  
1 Satan rose up against Israel and caused David to take a census of the Israelites. 2 David gave these orders to Joab and his commanders: “Take a census of all the people in the land—from Beersheba in the south to Dan in the north—and bring me the totals so I may know how many there are.” 3 But Joab replied, “May the LORD increase the number of his people a hundred times over! But why, my LORD, do you want to do this? Are they not all your servants? Why must you cause Israel to sin?” 
4 But the king insisted that Joab take the census, so Joab traveled throughout Israel to count the people. Then he returned to Jerusalem
 Contextual Study of today’s passage: 1st Chronicles, Chapter 21 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Proverbs 3: 5-6 : [When God says “ALL,” He means it!] …[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.

My Journal for Today: When God says He wants it ALL, what part of “ALL” do we not understand? How often do we see, in the Bible, God giving commands to His children, even men after His own heart like King David; and then we read how they rebel or do life their own way. And what is always the result? … Yeah, … bad things happen!!

That was the case in today’s highlight Scripture passage in 1st Chronicles, Chapter 21 where David, demonstrating little trust in his God, took a census of the people to see how many men of fighting age there were; and the result of this lack of trust was God sending a plague on the Israelites and 70,000 people died. You can read about it in Chapter 21 of 1st Chronicles using the link above.

And as I end up doing often in my devotional blogs, I make reference to my wife’s life verse from Scripture, Proverbs 3: 5-6, which would later be penned by David’s Son, Solomon; and as I said above, the pertinent inquiry of our lives is … “What part of the word “TRUST” do we not understand?”

So, often we claim to be followers of Christ; but do we really follow Him [see Luke 9: 23]? And it is said that the way to determine whether we’re truly disciples of Christ is to look at our calendars and our checkbooks (which for many of us today may have to be a look into our online time or expense management). And when God sees how we use HIS TIME and TREASURE, will He see that we’re using the time, talents, and treasures HE has provided for HIS glory or for our own?

That’s really enough to chew on today. So, I’ll just shut down my blogging here and let any who’ve come here meditate on today’s highlight passage and these questions raised about the depth of our trust relationship with our Lord and our commitment to His purposes.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, You know my heart! And I pray that it is ALL given over to Your will, … following Your ways, from Your word. … Amen