Sunday, June 30, 2013

June 30, 2013 … “Finders Keepers!!”

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 181

  Passage of the Day #1: Psalm 53: 2 [God seeks the seekers.] [NLT]  
2 God looks down from heaven on the entire human race; He looks to see if there is even one with real understanding, one who seeks for God.

Passage of the Day #2: Deuteronomy 4: 28-29 [True seekers will be truth finders.] [NLT]  
28 And there you will serve gods, the work of men’s hands, wood and stone, which neither see nor hear nor eat nor smell. 29 But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.


Reference Passage #1: Acts 17 … Use this link [NLT]

 Devotional Song: Go to this link -  … Dear one, hear the Brooklyn Tab, singing “In the Presence of Jehovah” … And in this moment of seeking God in this place, I can honestly declare … “Finders keepers!!!”

 My Journal for Today: When you were a kid; and you discovered some treasure as you sought your way through life, do you ever remember declare “finders keepers” to your friends? Well I did.

We used to live close to a creek which wound its way through our town; and we kids used to go down to the creek to see what we could find, … maybe things floating down the little stream, … maybe stuff which had been deposited along the banks. And most of our findings were junk. But every now and again our seeking would produce a finding of some worth; and we would loudly shout out, … “Finders keepers!!”

Well, today Os Hillman, in his devotional, asks if we are seekers after God; and if so, where do we find Him? Because in today’s highlights passages, quoted above, one of the Psalmists clearly declares that God is a seeker of those who seek Him; and according to Moses in Deuteronomy 4: 29 when anyone seeks God with all his heart/soul, that one will find God and could rightfully claim, … “Finders keepers!!”

The Apostle Paul, after his conversion and discovery of the Messiah, really wanted others to be able to find God by seeking after Him; and as we read in Acts, Chapter 17, Paul discovered a number of seekers who sought God in all the wrong places; but he also found some who found the LORD by seeking God diligently and with determination. In Acts 17 we read of the Thessalonians [Acts 17: 1-9], who sought “god” through the results of their business and ended up running Paul out of town. Then Paul encountered the Bereans [Acts 17: 10-15] who sought after God by pursuing His truth in God’s word; and they were able to find God though knowing that Paul was preaching the truth from their study of God’s word. And finally in the remainder of Acts 17, we read of Paul going to Athens to encounter the Greeks, who heard Paul preach from Mars Hill about their misguided search for God through man-made idols. And there on the Areopagus, some of these Greeks were able to see a new way of seeking and finding God and some of them were able to come away, claiming … “Finders keepers!!”

 What about you? Are you a seeker after God and His truth? And if so, where are you seeking Him? Are you trying to find Him in the humdrum of everyday life, … in the tyranny of the urgent … and the informational tirade of smart phones, computers, and the upward mobility demands of your job or career? Are you seeking the Lord in modern-day idols and pleasure-seeking such as p0rnograpy, drugs, or pseudo-relationships? Because if those are your modes of seeking God, you will never be able to claim, “Finders keepers!”

 But perhaps you’ve discovered, as have I, that God can be found as the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir sings in the song to which I’ve linked you above … ”In the Presence of Jehovah.” Yes, dear one, I came to this place this morning, and I genuinely sought after the presence and power of God; and I can honestly say that I found Him here … in the solemnity of this quiet place … in the richness of the treasures found in His word … and in just knowing that someone like you might just come along after me, reading what He has given me in the treasures of these thoughts, … and perhaps you can declare, as I can here today, … “FINDERS KEEPERS!!!”

My Prayer for Today … Lord, thank You for making Yourself known to me here today!! I have found You here; and I’ll be back tomorrow to seek You again. … Amen

Saturday, June 29, 2013

June 29, 2013 … Settling Differences

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 180

Passage of the Day #1: Proverbs 18: 18 [Letting God decide.] [NLT]  
18 Casting lots can end arguments and settle disputes between powerful opponents.
 Passage of the Day #2: Proverbs 16: 33 [Letting God decide.] [NLT]  
33 We may throw the dice, but the LORD determines how they fall.

 Reference Passage #1: Acts 1: 23-26 [God knows – let Him decide!] [NLT]  
23 And they [the remaining inner 11 Disciples] proposed two [to replace Judas Iscariot]: Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, “You, O Lord, Who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen 25 to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.” 26 And they cast their lo ts, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

Reference Passage #2: 1 Peter 5: 6-7 [Sometimes putting a dispute in God’s hands is the best way to decide differences] [NLT]  
6 So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and in his good time he will honor you. 7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about what happens to you.

My Journal for Today: If you’re a parent of two or more kiddos, perhaps you’ve been in this scenario. You’re driving down the highway; and the kids get into a dispute over a toy and they can’t decide who gets the desired play thing. What do you do? … Well, summoning up the wisdom of Solomon, you let the kids flip a coin if there’s just two of them. If there were three, perhaps you let them do a “rock-paper-scissors” to decide the issue. But before you did this “game of chance” to decide, if you’re very wise, you got an agreement from the kids that whoever won the coin flip or the rock-paper-scissors was going to abide by the outcome … no matter what!

I hope you realize just how biblical that decision-making technique is. In fact the Book of Proverbs, written by Solomon, recommends using such techniques to help rectify decisions that just don’t seem to be able to be resolved by us humans [see highlight passages above]. In fact, if you read the Acts 1 passage copied above, the eleven remaining disciples (after Judas Iscariot committed suicide) used the casting of lots to decide Judas’ replacement; and the only thing they added to the simple game you might use to help the kids decide the toy scenario was to pray to God to help them decide what couldn’t be decided by the Disciples, which is a very wise thing to do when casting lots to make a decision.

Fellow seekers/readers, if you believe, as do I, that God is totally in control; and that there are no accidents before an omnipotent and omniscient God, then if we take the attitude of 1st Peter 5: 6-7 and we humbly go before God and submit a decision to Him, because we know and believe He cares for our very well-being, casting lots to decide an issue, when we cannot decide on our own, is not only very rational, it is a biblically-endorsed decision-making strategy.

Now, let me very clear on one disclaimer, ... I’m not trying to sanction you going to the local casino to let God help you decide your financial woes by casting lots. No, ... that’s a matter of other biblically mandated decision-making techniques, … mostly having to do with prudent biblically-directed stewardship of your finances. And “casting lots” at a local casino in that scenario is certainly not the way to cast all your financial cares on God.

But for seemingly un-decidable issues, which we humans simply cannot decide "yea or nay," perhaps praying and leaving the decision humbly to God in the flip of a coin might be the most Godly way to decide the issue … well, at least to decide which child gets the toy in the back seat of the car.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, thank You for caring enough to help us make decisions by the casting of lots. … Amen

Friday, June 28, 2013

June 28, 2013 … The Sweet Aroma of Brokenness

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 179

Passage of the Day #1: Leviticus 6: 19-21 [Our sacrifice to God can only have a sweet aroma in our brokenness.] [NLT]  
19 And the LORD said to Moses, 20“On the day Aaron and his sons are anointed, they must bring to the LORD a grain offering of two quarts of choice flour, half to be offered in the morning and half to be offered in the evening. 21 It must be cooked on a griddle with olive oil, and it must be well mixed and broken into pieces. You must present this grain offering, and it will be very pleasing to the LORD. 
Contextual Study for today’s passages above: Leviticus, Chapter 6 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Romans 12: 1-2 [Living sacrifice in brokenness is sweetness to the Lord.] [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.

  Reference Passage #2: Philippians 2: 5-11 [The ultimate example of the sweetness in brokenness.] [NLT]  
5 Your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had. 6 Though he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God. 7 He made himself nothing; he took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form. 8 And in human form he obediently humbled himself even further by dying a criminal’s death on a cross. 9 Because of this, God raised him up to the heights of heaven and gave him a name that is above every other name, 10so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Devotional Song: Go to this link -  … Dear one, hear the group, Hillsong, singing “Here I Am To Worship” … And Please do not miss worshipping in brokenness to this powerful song!!

My Journal for Today: Do you know just how sweet the aroma of our living sacrifice can be in worshipping our Lord when it is presented on His altar of grace in brokenness?

Living in brokenness and surrender just doesn’t fit the mold of modern mankind, does it? Our culture is one which values independence and strength and control; and for a Christian like myself to call on myself and other fellow Christians to follow the example of our living model, Jesus, and to live out a life in complete surrender, just as Christ did while on earth, just doesn’t fit the post-modern world view.

BUT … just like the ancient sacrifice to the Lord had to be broken and burned on the Altar before God [see Lev. 6: 21 above] to become a sweet aroma in Heaven, we must TODAY become broken on the altar of our self-sacrifice to be sweetness to The Lord on His altar of grace (see Romans 12: 1-2 copied above). Our lives must be a “living sacrifice” in order to worship Him (as the song by Hillsong above declares).

The Apostle Paul also laid out what it takes to live as did Christ in his letter to the Philippians, where, in Phil. 2: 5-11, God led him to write about how Jesus laid all His glory and majesty aside in the brokenness of humanity and was broken completely before His Father on the cross so that you and I, in our brokenness and surrender, could live for Him and be lifted up into glory.

So, … today, my friend, … we must decide if we’re going to be a living sacrifice in brokenness so that the aroma of our living worship will be sweetness on His altar of grace.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, may I come to this alter of Your grace in living sacrifice and become a sweet aroma in Your presence. … Amen

Thursday, June 27, 2013

June 27, 2013 … God’s Counselor of Truth

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 178

Passage of the Day #1: John 14: 26 [Christians have the counsel of truth from God’s Spirit through His word.] [NLT]  
26 “ … But when the Father sends the Counselor as my representative — and by the Counselor I mean the Holy Spirit — He will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I myself have told you.
 Contextual Study for today’s passages above: John, Chapter 14 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Joshua 1: 8 [Staying in God’s word gives us His counsel of truth.] [NLT] 8 Study this Book of the Law continually. Meditate on it day and night so you may be sure to obey all that is written in it. Only then will you succeed. 

Reference Passage #2: Isaiah 55: 11 [God’s word will always speak the power of truth into our lives.] [NLT]  
11 It is the same with My word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.
Reference Passage #3: 2nd Timothy 3: 16-17 [God’s word provides all the information we need to deal with life.] [NLT]  
16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. 17 It is God’s way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do.

Devotional Song: Go to this link  … Dear one, hear Kristyn Getty singing “Speak, O Lord” … And I beg you not to miss this!!

My Journal for Today: Please! I beg you. If you’re reading along with me here, take the 4 minutes necessary to go to the You Tube segment to which I’ve linked you above; and hear a lovely and powerful song which really summarizes and enlightens you to all I have to share in my journal entry for today. Because, … what I have to share today is not a new message with me. In fact, if you know me, having read my journal entries in the past and today, you’ll likely be saying “Old news!” from what I’m going to share.

My subject matter, and that conveyed by Kristyn Getty in the poignant song she and her brother present in the You Tube piece above, concerns the ministry of enlightenment of God’s Spirit through His word as well as how we can live a much more productive and fruitful life for God’s glory the deeper we’re into God’s word and the deeper God’s word is in our consciousness.

In truth that’s the very clear message Jesus was trying to convey to His disciples in the “Upper Room Discourse,” one passage of which is the highlight verse Os Hillman cites today. And it’s the repetitive message provided by all of the reference passages I have copied above for your review. In fact, as I copied and pasted the John 14: 26 passage into this journal entry this morning, the other reference passages I’ve cited above bubbled up into my consciousness from my memory and knowledge.

And what’s that all about? … Well, it’s really quite simple. God’s Spirit is our counselor of truth; and one of the main components of His ministry to our spirit as believers and born-again Christians is to guide us and protect our walk with Christ through the enlightenment of God’s word. That’s why God, when He was giving Joshua encouragement and conviction to take God’s people into the Promised Land, charged Joshua to BE in and STAY in God’s word continually to insure Joshua’s success in the task before him [see Joshua 1: 8 above].

And it’s why, in Isaiah 55: 11 and 2nd Tim. 3: 16-17above, we are told – BY GOD HIMSELF – that knowing and living by His truth (i.e., from His word), He will always give us what we need, in the way of conviction/direction, to accomplish God’s will for our lives. Now, the question is … do we believe God’s counselor – the Holy Spirit – Who is the inspired author of God’s word? Because if we do believe those passages above, as well as the message of that powerful song, we will do exactly what God told Joshua to do … and that is to go deep DAILY into God’s word so that we can know God more, love Him more, obey Him more, and serve Him with more power than we could ever serve Him without God’s Counselor of truth.

 I’ll leave it to you to decide if you’re going deep enough into God’s word to allow God’s counselor to guide your steps. Go meditate on Psalm 119, verse 105 and decide if God’s truth counselor is being the light unto your path which His word promises.

My Prayer for Today … Oh dear Holy Spirit, You light my path every day as I come here to go deeper and deeper into Your truth. … Amen

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

June 26, 2013 … Staying Vertical

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 177

 Passage of the Day #1: 1st Peter 2: 21-23 [Jesus held to the Vertical no matter what!] [NLT] 21 This suffering is all part of what God has called you to. Christ, Who suffered for you, is your example. Follow in His steps. 22 He never sinned, and He never deceived anyone. 23 He did not retaliate when he was insulted. When He suffered, He did not threaten to get even. He left His case in the hands of God, Who always judges fairly.  
Contextual Study for today’s passages above: 1st Peter, Chapter 2 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

 Reference Passage #1: 2nd Cor. 12: 9 [Going vertical in the midst of horizontal challenges.] [NLT]  
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.

Devotional Song: Go to this link   … Hear Joni Lamb singing “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”
Sing the chorus along with her ...
 Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
 Look full in His wonderful face;
 And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
 In the light of His glory and grace.

My Journal for Today: In the midst of all the horizontal demands and challenges from this world and from our own horizontal perspective on life, it’s so hard to remain focused on our vertical relationship with God, isn’t it? … And anyone reading along with me here today, knows that is true, don’t you?

Jesus faced that very human dilemma when He walked this earth; but our Savior, as documented in today’s highlight passage from 1st Peter 2: 23 never lost His focus on His vertical relationship with His Father’s will for Him as well as on the Spirit’s presence and power in that Godhead relationship to give The Son all He needed to handle His very horizontal trek to the cross as the Lamb of God. Oh, yes, … as the 1st Peter passage documents, when He was being spat upon, scourged, and marched to the cross, with the horizontal demands of Satan and the world were at the heaviest upon our Savior, Jesus could have called down a legion of angels to intervene on His behalf. He could have relented to the horizontal expectations of the people of His time, who wanted Him to become their warrior King to defeat the Romans and take over as “The King of the Jews,” as He was labeled on that cross.

But (and it’s an enormous BUT), in that passionate moment of extreme horizontal trial, Jesus remained totally focused on the Vertical demands of His Father; and therefore, He became our most salient model to do all we can to remain in the Vertical in the midst of the horizontal.

One of my favorite true stories in the New Testament involving a very human figure exhibiting this principle was the story of Paul dealing with that “thorn,” which God allowed Satan to give him just after the Apostle had been given a very vertical image of heaven. And then, immediately thereafter (see 2nd Cor. 12: 1-11) Paul was thrown into a very human and painful horizontal challenge, being overtaken by some physical/emotional pain, which was almost overwhelming. And Paul responded just as almost any of us would have to this horizontal attack. He humbly prayed to God, over and over again, that the Lord would lift the “thorn” from him.

But then Paul remember something Jesus had said to him (at sometime in their interaction); and Jesus’ red-letter words are quoted from that challenging time for Paul, when Jesus said, “My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness.” And in remembering that message from His Lord, Paul realized that in the very horizontal pain he had experienced from the “thorn,” he had taken his eyes off of his vertical relationship with Christ; and he was able to see that he, Paul, needed that “thorn” to keep him humble enough to receive God’s enabling/empowering grace from his vertical relationship with the Lord.

What about us? In the midst of all the horizontal demands of this world as well as from any horizontally focused personal trials, do we have trouble keeping our eyes vertically focused on Jesus … as the song to which I’ve linked you above exhorts?

If you haven’t done so, please go back and use that link above to hear and sing along with Joni Lamb, who so lyrically leads us to “turn our eyes upon Jesus.” Because in the midst of all the horizontal of this world and our own personal pain, that’s the only way that we’re going to hold on to our vertical focus in our relationship with God.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, help me to stay focused on You! … Amen

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

June 25, 2013 … God IS Our Provider

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 176

Passage of the Day #1: Philippians 4: 19 [He does provide all we need; but do we believe it?] [NLT]  
19 And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.
Contextual Study for today’s passages above: Philippians, Chapter 4 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Passage of the Day #2: Genesis 22: 14 [He does provide all we need; but do we believe it?] [NLT]  
14 Abraham named the place “The LORD Will Provide.” [In Hebrew “Yahweh Yir’eh” or “Jehohvah Jireh”] This name has now become a proverb: “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.”  
Contextual Study for today’s passages above: Genesis, Chapter 22 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Passage of the Day #3: Joshua 5: 11-12 [God provides manna for as long as His people needed it.] [NLT]  
11 The very next day they began to eat unleavened bread and roasted grain harvested from the land. 12 No manna appeared that day, and it was never seen again. So from that time on the Israelites ate from the crops of Canaan.
 Contextual Study for today’s passages above: Joshua, Chapter 5 [NLT] … Go to this link

 Reference Passage #1: Deuteronomy 8: 17-18 [God will always provide!] [NLT]  
16 He fed you with manna in the wilderness, a food unknown to your ancestors. He did this to humble you and test you for your own good. 17 He did it so you would never think that it was your own strength and energy that made you wealthy. 18 Always remember that it is the LORD your God who gives you power to become rich, and he does it to fulfill the covenant he made with your ancestors. 

 Devotional Song: Go to this link - Sing along with joy about God, Our provider! 

 My Journal for Today: Yes, … if you’re a follower or reader of my journal entry today, you maybe saying, “That’s a lot of scripture to take in!” … and I agree; but I did so provide these passages and links, even including a link to a Messianic Jewish praise song, so that we’d get the emphasis God gives in His word about one of His Names, … ”Jehovah Jireh” … or maybe even more accurately “Yahweh Yir’eh,” which means “The LORD Who Provides.”

I think many of us Christians know in our heads (intellectually) that “God owns it all” and that He provides what we need, as Paul wrote [above copied from Phil. 4: 19, “… according to His riches in glory.” The question, as so many intellectual challenges about the character and reality of God, is … DO WE REALLY BELIEVE IT?!!

From reading the Old Testament passages, linked above, in Deut. 8 or Josh. 5, we read the history of God providing manna for His people in their trek through the desserts of the wilderness; and what did the people do? They ignored the reality of the FACT that God was providing for their needs; and they grumbled. … But were they all that different from us now? … I think not.

The term “Jehovah Jireh,” or God’s name of being our provider, comes from the Genesis 22 story of God providing the ram to sacrifice in lieu of Abraham sacrificing Isaac; and Abraham, by God’s prompting, named the place where that miracle occurred to be “Yahweh Yir’eh” or “the place where God provides.”

Perhaps you can remember a “Yahweh Yir’eh” in your life … a place where you were in desperate need and God provided for your physical, emotional, and/or spiritual well-being. I sure can; and I’ll not go into my “Jehovah Jireh” story here because it would be too long for today’s entry; but I hope we all take a few moments, perhaps using the link above to sing along with the song I’ve provided, to worship God as our JEHOVAH JIREH … because … HE IS our provider!!

My Prayer for Today … And dear Yahweh Yir’eh, … You always provide my needs; and I praise Your Holy Name! … Amen

Monday, June 24, 2013

June 24, 2013 … Outcomes versus Obedience-Based Living?

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 175

Passage of the Day #1: Daniel 3: 28 [Three willing to live an obedience-based life.] [NLT]  
28 Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel to rescue his servants who trusted in him. They defied the king’s command and were willing to die rather than serve or worship any god except their own God."
Contextual Study for today’s passages above: Daniel, Chapter 3 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Romans 8: 28 [Truth; … but do we believe it?] [NLT]  
28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.

  Reference Passage #2: Romans 12: 1-2 [Truth; … but do we live it?] [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: Let’s get right to the application questions from Os Hillman today; and then I’ll get to God’s word on the matter. Hillman from his devotional entry for this date asks: ” Are you an obedienced-based Christian? Or are there situations that can move you based on the outcomes? God wants to know that we will stand firm on the issues that are important to HIM, no matter what the outcomes may be. God is looking for those who are radical in their obedience. Does this describe our commitment to Christ?”

Now let me present Hillman’s biblical support for such questions. In Daniel, Chapter 3, linked above for your review and meditation, Hillman uses the well known life story about Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, the three young Jewish friends of Daniel, who were renamed by the Babylonian king to be “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.” And we know the famous story about how these three stood in obedience to God in the face of King Nebuchadnezzar and were thrown into a fire for their beliefs but were protected by Jesus, Who came to them in the flames and kept them unharmed.

Do you see the immediate application on our application questions for today? Are we willing to live obedience-based lives, … no matter what the outcomes might be?

The Apostle Paul wrote a lot about this in His God-inspired letters, didn’t he? In one of his two passages, which I’ve copied above, we’re challenged to decide to believe and live, based upon Roman 8: 28, which flat-out states that, for Christians, everything which happens, no matter how cataclysmic, is for the good of God’s chosen ones. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego believed that, didn’t they; and they were willing to be obedient to God in the face of a fiery furnace to prove it, weren’t they? … What about you and me?

Then there’s God’s exhortation through Paul in Romans 12: 1-2 to live lives of “living sacrifice,” avoiding the temptations of Satan’s world, so as to worship our Lord with our living, looking to obedience rather than being influenced to live for selfish outcomes. … But do we?

Where do we set the boundaries of our belief and faith in Christ? Should we have any personal or worldly boundaries? Should our boundaries of obedience in life be anything short of those exhibited by Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? I think not! But I think we all need to do another self-inventory to see, in our Christian living, whether we’re willing to walk-the-walk of obedience-based [Savior] living rather than to fall short in outcomes-based [selfish] living.

Personally, I’m challenged by these questions to set my boundaries much farther out in the direction of glorifying my God with my obedience than I have. … What about you?

 And to help us contemplate these questions, let me link you to one of my favorite hymns, on God Tube and the classic version sung by Faith Hill -  or a little more contemporary version with lyrics by Brian Littrell.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, I surrender all! … Amen

Sunday, June 23, 2013

June 23, 2013 … God’s Calling = God’s Enablement

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 174

Passage of the Day #1: Matthew 10: 16, 20 [In the context of verses 16-20] [NLT]  
16 “Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. Be as wary as snakes and harmless as doves. 17 But beware! For you will be handed over to the courts and beaten in the synagogues. 18 And you must stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. This will be your opportunity to tell them about me—yes, to witness to the world. 19 When you are arrested, don’t worry about what to say in your defense, because you will be given the right words at the right time. 20 For it won’t be you doing the talking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. ..."
Contextual Study for today’s passages above: Matthew, Chapter 10 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Matthew 28: 19-20 [God’s Great Commission!!] [NLT]  
19 “… Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Reference Passage #2: Acts 1: 8 [Called out as Christ’s witnesses – but called with His power.] [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 #3: 1st Peter 3: 15-16a [Be prepared!!] [NLT]  
15 Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if you are asked about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. 16 But you must do this in a gentle and respectful way. ...

My Journal for Today: It can be scary at times being a witness for Christ, can’t it? Yet, we’re most certainly called by Christ Himself and by God’s word to “GO” … and be His witnesses, wherever we are and to whomever He establishes divine appointments to do so in His Name.

And if you’ve read and meditated on all the passage I’ve copied or linked you to above, there is no doubt that Christ’s disciples, (and I assume that’s you and me) are called out to witness in His Name and for His glory. We read how Jesus called out His inner 12 in Matthew, Chapter 10, linked above. And then we read how Jesus, Himself, just before He ascended back to Heaven, called all disciples out to be His witnesses anywhere and everywhere they (we) would be sent. And then one of Jesus’ prime-time Apostles, Peter, who was in constant threat of death as a disciple of Christ, exhorted all Christians to be ready AT ALL TIMES to give an answer when we’re challenged as disciples (see 1st Peter 3: 15-16).

So, there’s no denying that we Christians are called out to be God’s emissaries in this world; but, as I said above, it can be a scary proposition to be a Christian these days in a world which is growing increasingly hostile to God. But let’s keep things in perspective. The hostility we encounter as Christians now is no where near the level of threat which those to whom Jesus or Peter addressed in the 1st Century. Many of those Christians were under threat of being stoned to death or thrown to the lions for their witness. And yet, we disciples of Christ today cower in fear when we discover that we’re given an opportunity to witness to our family or to a new neighbor whom we discover is not a believer.

But go back and read the red-letter passages above; and remember that, as my mentor used to remind me, “God’s calling is His enablement!” In other words, God will never put us into any situation, especially any divine appointment which He engineers, where we, with His faithful enablement, won’t be able to handle the situation. And I’d almost bet that some of you Bible memory warriors who’re reading this are remembering 1st Corinthians 10: 13, linked here for those who might not have it memorized.

So, my fellow witness for Christ, as we go out today, we need to be praying that God will send us somewhere or to someone where we can be witnesses for the good news of the Gospel and where we can give our testimony of what Christ has meant in our lives. And when the opportunity presents itself, we need to be ready to give an answer in respect and love for the glory of God.

Are you ready? … Let’s go!!!

My Prayer for Today … Lord, take me to someone who needs You as their Savior? … Amen

Saturday, June 22, 2013

June 22, 2013 … Salt and Light

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 173

  Passage of the Day #1: Acts 5: 13 [In the context of verses 12-14] [NLT]  
12 Meanwhile, the apostles were performing many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. And the believers were meeting regularly at the Temple in the area known as Solomon’s Colonnade. 13 No one else dared to join them, though everyone had high regard for them. 14 And more and more people believed and were brought to the Lord—crowds of both men and women.  
Contextual Study for today’s passages above: Acts, Chapter 5 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Matthew 5: 13-16 [We must be salt and light in the world.] [NLT]  
13 “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it useful again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. 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. …”

Reference Passage #1: Acts 1: 8 [We’re called out to be witnesses to/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.”

My Journal for Today: When the world sees or hears you or me, do they see or hear anything which shines out as being different from themselves or do they sense values which are like salt in a wound?

In today’s Hillman devotional, the editor points back to a time after the resurrection when the people were drawn to the Apostles, … yet many stayed their distance. Most certainly the people were attracted to the wonders/deeds performed by the Apostles; but perhaps they were fearful because of what had happened to Ananias and Sapphira [see Acts 5: 1-11] or maybe because of the opposition imposed by the Jewish religious leaders of the day. But the people were drawn to the Apostles and the Gospel nonetheless; and many were converted because of the Apostles doing what Jesus had called them to do and to be … i.e., salt and light in the world (see Matt. 5: 13-16, copied above).

Okay, pop-quiz of application: … Are we the salt and light in the world to which we were/are called to be by Jesus? You know what has been asked: ”If someone accused you of being a Christians, would there be evidence enough to convict you?” And another word picture question, “Is our light strong enough in the darkness of this world to draw others to us … like moths to the light in the night?”

Certainly, if we look, say, and act like the world, no one in the world is going to be drawn to us … or repelled by us … because we are exactly like the word. If our values are worldly, who would feel the healing pain of our salt in the wounds of their living pain? If our words do not shine out as the witnesses we were called to be [see Acts 1: 8 above], how would the world be drawn to us or repelled from us?

If you’ve ever had cockroaches in your home, what happens when you turn on the light in their presence? They run to the darkness, don’t they? Does the world run from you or me because we are a light in their darkness? What happens when you put salt in a paper-cut? It hurts, doesn’t it; but it heals at the same time?! Do people sense the pain from your living values; but do they ultimately come, even in pain, to be healed by the truth we have to offer as Christians witnessing to the Gospel of Christ?

Well, enough of my “salt and light” quiz for today. I’ll let you deal with your own answers from this self-inventory. I certainly know that I need to do more to shine Christ’s light through my living and be willing to be salty enough to be felt by those around me who need the healing power of the Gospel.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, whatever it takes, shine Your light through me; … and help me to be salt when those around me need Your healing touch.… Amen

Friday, June 21, 2013

June 21, 2013 … Yielding to God’s Authority

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 172

Passage of the Day #1: John 14: 30-31 [Jesus speaking to His perplexed and fearful Disciples … ] [NLT]  
30 “I don’t have much more time to talk to you, because the prince of this world approaches. He has no power over Me, 31 but I will do what the Father requires of me, so that the world will know that I love the Father. Come, let’s be going."
Contextual Study for today’s passages above: John, Chapter 14 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: 2nd Corinthians 10: 3-4 [Our battles go way beyond our human realm.] [NLT]  
3 We are human, but we don’t wage war with human plans and methods. 4 We use God’s mighty weapons, not mere worldly weapons, to knock down the Devil’s strongholds.

Reference Passage #2: 1st John 4: 4 [We can choose to be winners!] [NLT]  
4 But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won your fight with these false prophets, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world. 

Reference Passage #3: Acts 1: 8 [We have, as Christians, the very power of God's Spirit to be His witnesses.] [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.”

My Journal for Today: Fellow Christian, I hope you are far enough into your walk of discipleship as a believer and follower of Christ to recognize and realize that every day we’re in a battle; and these battles go way beyond our flesh with angels and demons waging war for us and around us every moment of every day. That’s what Jesus was anticipating (see today’s highlight passage) as He was about to enter the period of His passion, death, and resurrection. But The Lord reminded His Disciples that the “Prince of this world” (i.e., Satan) had no authority over Him. No, … Jesus only yielded to the authority of His Heavenly Father; and He did so completely and willingly during His human ministry, giving us the perfect model of surrender for us as we encounter our spiritual enemies, … Satan, the world, and our own flesh.

Jesus, during His earthly ministry, continually chose, in perfect surrender to the Father, to yield His spirit to that of the Holy Spirit; and that is the model we must follow (see Phil. 2: 5), continually humbling ourselves as born-again disciples of Christ to God’s Spirit, Who dwells in our being (i.e., our hearts) to provide us with the weaponry, through His grace, to do battle with our spiritual enemies. And as Paul and John pointed out (see reference passages above), these weapons we have in yielding to God’s Spirit are way beyond what we might use in our human capacities to do warfare in this world.

But the irony comes in that we find our strength in yielding or surrendering our selves to the Spirit. We cannot and will not win in these battles if we try to fight our flesh with our flesh.

Of course, it’s true that Satan cannot have our souls if we’re truly born-again; but he will use all his craftiness and his army of demons in the world he rules to try to strip away our testimony and our power of witness. Because, if Satan can lure our flesh to yield to him with the free will God has given us, getting us to worship Satan in our choices and actions, he will render us useless as witnesses for Christ.

But, Praise God, the opposite is also true. If we can stay in a constant posture of surrender to the power Christ left within us, i.e., His Spirit, we can and will win these battles as we witness for God by worshiping Him with our surrender (see also Romans 12: 1-2, which I hope you have memorized and internalized). Let me pray that we’re in constant surrender to the essence of our Heavenly Father, His Son and Spirit in our very being so that we can do battle in His Name for His glory.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, I come again this morning in surrender to You, Holy Spirit, to give me the strength and weapons to do battle for the glory of The Father in the Name of His Son, Jesus! … Amen

Thursday, June 20, 2013

June 20, 2013 … Real-deal Faith

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 171

Passage of the Day #1: Romans 4: 20 [In the context of verses 18-22] [NLT]  
18 When God promised Abraham that he would become the father of many nations, Abraham believed Him. God had also said, “Your descendants will be as numerous as the stars,” even though such a promise seemed utterly impossible! 19 And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though he knew that he was too old to be a father at the age of one hundred and that Sarah, his wife, had never been able to have children. 20 Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. 21 He was absolutely convinced that God was able to do anything He promised. 22 And because of Abraham’s faith, God declared him to be righteous. 
Contextual Study for today’s passages above: Romans, Chapter 4 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Hebrews 11: 6 [God’s hall of faith!] [NLT]  
6 So, you see, it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that there is a God and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him.
 Contextual Study for today’s passage above: Hebrews, Chapter 11 [NLT] … Go to this link

My Journal for Today: Two people, same age, sex, and life conditions … both claim to be Christians. Both receive the same diagnosis of terminal cancer with the same prognosis of just a few months to life. One of these “christians” immediately commits suicide; and the other fights the cancer and lives well beyond the time predicted by the doctors, though ultimately succumbing to the disease. … What’s with that? Why does one give up and the other fights on in faith?

Well, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist or one with a doctorate in theology to understand the difference, does it? No, … one had a “real-deal” faith in God and the other, the one committing suicide, was likely stricken with hopeLESSness and didn’t have faith enough in his/her Lord to deal with the negative prognosis.

In the highlight passage above from Os Hillman’s devotional, we read in Romans, Chapter 4 of a man of “real-deal” faith, … Abraham. And when this man, called the “father of the faith,” encountered God, he was a rich man with all the where-with-all to feel that he had life under his own control so that he could reject God’s call on his life to pick up everything in faith and relocate to an unknown place. But in faith, REAL-DEAL faith, Abraham did exactly that.

 In Hebrews, Chapter 11 a whole list of believers with “real-deal” faith are listed with the proviso, documented in Hebrews 11: 6, that those listed were believers who KNEW that God not only existed but they had “real-deal” faith that God would reward those who diligently sought the Lord’s providence and protection. Therefore, in our hypothetical scenario above, the “Christian” who persisted in faith and lived beyond the time of prognosis was likely someone who could have been listed in Hebrews 11 as one with “real-deal” faith. However, the faith of the one who committed suicide would have to be questioned as false-faith and their claim to be “christian” would have to be questioned (though only God can judge the heart of such a person).

So, … what makes a person have “real-deal” faith? And I can summarize the answer to that one in one word … SURRENDER. Abraham was willing to surrender his life to that of a God Whom Abraham KNEW was worthy and able to lead Abraham and his family into an unknown future.

And so, risking all, Abraham surrendered all to the LORD. And in doing so he was justified unto an eternal life with God. And so in reading after Os Hillman today, the question before us is … do we have the “real-deal” faith; or is our faith just a surface declaration with no REAL surrender to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. You have to answer for yourself, but I’m here this morning, digging into the truth of God’s word, as I’m here every morning (as any who read along with me will attest), because I BELIEVE in and I have SURRENDERED faith in the same God to Whom Abraham surrendered.

But I have an advantage over Abraham.

I have the whole of the New Covenant [i.e., the New Testament], with God’s written history of His Son coming to save me; and believing that Jesus did exactly that, my surrender to His promises gives me the “real-deal” faith to know that I know that I know that I have eternal life in Christ. Do you have that “real-deal” faith, my follower, reading along with me today? Because if you have any doubts about your surrender to Christ, please contact me at and let’s “talk” about it.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, thank You for giving me the “real-deal” faith to believe that You sent Your Son, Jesus, to save me and give me life eternal. And, Lord, You know my faith is the real-deal! … Amen

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

June 19, 2013 … Strength In Brokenness

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 170

Passage of the Day #1: 1st Samuel 2: 4 [From Hannah’s prayer of praise] [NLT]  
4 Those who were mighty are mighty no more; and those who were weak are now strong.
Contextual Study for today’s passages above: 1st Samuel, Chapter 2 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: 2nd Corinthians 12: 7-9 [Paul’s brokenness becomes his strength.] [NLT]  
7 … even though I have received wonderful revelations from God. But to keep me from getting puffed up, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from getting proud. 8 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it 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.

My Journal for Today: As Os Hillman points out in his devotional entry for today, it’s one of those biblical ironies which is hard to deal with in life that there is strength in brokenness. But it’s a truth which is born out in the lives of character after character in the Bible; and I’d bet that your mind is racing ahead of me right now to document a number of those cases which illustrate what Hannah prayed about in the highlight passage for today - 1st Samuel 2: 4.

Gideon was found broken in a wine barrel by God’s Angel. Jacob was broken at Peniel in his wrestling match with God. David was broken after his sin with Bathsheba. Peter was broken after Jesus was taken prisoner. And Paul was broken, first on the Damascus road and then again when God allowed Satan to bring a physical “thorn upon Paul later in his life and ministry (see 2nd Cor. 12: 7-9 copied above).

How often we read in Scripture how God had to allow or bring serious brokenness into the life of one of His servants for God to be able to use that one mightily. And I’d bet that most – if not all – of you would agree that you’ve experienced more spiritual growth in your life from periods of brokenness than you have from being a part of some glimpse of God’s glory or a period of spiritual strength.

 So, does that mean we should pray for God to lower the hammer of His brokenness in our lives so that we can be strengthened to serve Him for His glory? Well, I don’t know about you; but I’m no spiritual masochist. I just don’t enjoy pain; and so you’re not going to find me praying very often for God to give me anguish and pain to teach me how to find His strength to cover my weakness. But I do know that in the midst of such anguish or brokenness, you will find me coming before God’s throne of grace and begging for Him to give me HIS strength to shore up my weakness.

It’s really not hard for me to be in full agreement and find application from today’s quiet time with God. I’ll leave it to you to find your own personal application. And I’m going to close here by linking you to one of my favorite Christian songs, written and sung by Steven Curtis Chapman, who was broken to the core of his being when one of his sons killed his little daughter in a horrible home accident. The song is His Strength is Perfect. 

My Prayer for Today … Abba Father, thank You for the many times You’ve given me strength to bring me to see life in Your Son out of the valleys of the shadow of death. … Amen

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

June 18, 2013 … Staying the Course of Obedience

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 169

Passage of the Day #1: 2nd Chronicles 15: 1-2 [NLT]  
1 Then the Spirit of God came upon Azariah son of Oded, 2and He went out to meet King Asa as he was returning from the battle. “Listen to me, Asa!” He shouted. “Listen, all you people of Judah and Benjamin! The LORD will stay with you as long as you stay with him! Whenever you seek him, you will find him. But if you abandon him, he will abandon you….”  
 Passage of the Day #2: 2nd Chronicles 16: 7-9 [NLT]  
7 At that time Hanani the seer came to King Asa and told him, “Because you have put your trust in the king of Aram instead of in the LORD your God, you missed your chance to destroy the army of the king of Aram. 8 Don’t you remember what happened to the Ethiopians and Libyans and their vast army, with all of their chariots and charioteers? At that time you relied on the LORD, and he handed them over to you. 9 The eyes of the LORD search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. What a fool you have been! From now on you will be at war.”  
Contextual Study for today’s passages above: 2nd Chronicles, Chapter 15-16 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: 2nd Timothy 4: 6-8 [Paul stayed the course of his life in the obedience of faith.] [NLT]
 6 As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. 8 And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.

Reference Passage #2: Romans 1: 28-32 [God will not stay with those who abandon Him in disobedience and rebellion [NLT] Go to this link ...

 Reference Passage #3: Romans 12: 1-2 [God’s prescription for Christian living.] [NLT]  
1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 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 learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

My Journal for Today: In today’s Os Hillman devotional, the staying power of faith in a living worship of obedience is emphasized; and Hillman goes back into the life of Asa, one of Judah’s kings, to illustrate his point that staying the course of our lives in obedience to God should be the goal of our Christian living, … all the days of our lives.

If you go back and read 2nd Chronicles, Chapters 15-16 (linked above), you’ll read the history of Asa’s reign of 41 years; and we read that Asa started well, but finished poorly. For most of his years as King of Judah, Asa was obedient to God; and God poured His grace upon Asa and the Israelites for their obedience of worship. However, in Chapter 16 (see verses 7-9 above) we read that Asa waned in his obedience and because of it God lifted His cloak of peace from Judah.

The Apostle Paul, in my study and remembrance, was also a great example of living out the course of his life – post conversion – for the Lord; and at the end of his life, Paul testified to Timothy of a life which had been lived out in faith and obedience to the Lord (see 2nd Timothy 4: 6-8 copied above). But Paul also proclaimed a warning to the Church – to Christians who would listen to truth – about what happens when a people, especially the church, would wane in faith and begin to live in selfish rebellion and disobedience to God. You can read this warning in the Romans 1: 18-32 passage, linked above.

And to me, reading that passage is somewhat scary because it reads like the headlines of what is happening in this country (and world) today with people and nations waning from faithful rebellion to God’s will and turning away to live in disobedience to God’s word. How could God not turn away from a country, like this one, who disdains life, turns to be “tolerant” of homosexuality as normal, and begins to live in worship to p0rnographic images? Is it surprising that God has turned the USA over to its own desires and has begun to lift His hedge of protection in our world? … I think not!

And the only way that we will be able to find our way back into God’s favor will be for us as individual Christians, the Church, and our country to repent, to turn back in faithful obedience to God’s will and His ways, and to live according to His word.

And in this regard, very personally, I must live by the prescription which God gave to Christians for life when Paul dictated it in Romans 12: 1-2, which I really hope any reader here has memorized and internalized for their commitment to genuine Christian living.

Because if I can live this way for my entire life and prayerfully lead others to live lives of “living sacrifice” and obedient worship of God, then I will have done all I can so that at the end of my life I will be able to say, as did Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.” 

My Prayer for Today … Lord, I pray that You will help me and hold me in faithful obedience to Your will, … living in Your ways, as put forth in Your word. … Amen

Monday, June 17, 2013

June 17, 2013 … Learning To Stand By Waiting

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 168

Passage of the Day #1: Exodus 14: 13a [In the context of verses 13-14.] [NLT]  
13 But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand where you are and watch the LORD rescue you. The Egyptians that you see today will never be seen again. 14 The LORD himself will fight for you. You won’t have to lift a finger in your defense!”
Contextual Study for today’s passage: Exodus, Chapter 14 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Psalm 37: 7 and 39-40 [Waiting on God many times is the strongest act of faith.] [NLT]
7 Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for Him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes. … 
39 The LORD saves the godly; He is their fortress in times of trouble. 40 The LORD helps them, rescuing them from the wicked. He saves them, and they find shelter in Him.

Reference Passage #2: Proverbs 3: 5-6 [Searching for the answers sometimes means to wait on God.] [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 #3: Philippians 4: 6-7 [Searching for God’s peace by just waiting on God can sometimes be exhausting.] [NLT]  
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

My Journal for Today: Sometimes its toughest, as Christians, to stand-in-the-gap by faith by merely waiting on God to do His thing. As humans, we’re bent toward problem solving … on our own, especially us men; or we lean toward doing battle in faith, as Paul wrote about in Eph. 6: 13-18 [go look that one up if you don’t know what’s there], standing in the gap, wearing the full armor of God. We want to take action and fight in faith, don’t we?

In our illustration passage for today, however, those poor Jews who were being led out of Egypt by God and Moses; and they were backed up against the Red Sea (see the link to Exodus 14 above). They had no armaments and no where to do. God had forced them to take a stand of faith by WAITING and watching the Lord do His thing.

Ever been in a place where you had no battle plan, … no battle strategy other than waiting? We feel helpless, don’t we? It’s just like those Israelites must’ve felt, being backed up against the sea with the Egyptians in pursuit of their lives.

And the anointed young David had to learn this lesson of waiting on God to act when his predecessor, King Saul, was pursuing him in the desserts of Sinai. But he learned to wait on God, … to rest in the waiting, … and to watch, in faith, as God protected David and his followers. And we can read about that attitude of faith by waiting in the song David wrote about it all in Psalm 37, several of the passages from which are copied above.

What about it fellow seeker, when we feel threatened, are we willing to wait in faith and to rest in the belief – the absolute faith – that God will never leave us or forsake us; … that God will direct our paths (as He promises in Prov. 3: 5-7 if we refrain from leaning on our own understanding, … but when we’re willing to wait on Him and praying as Paul wrote about in Phil. 4: 6-7, also copied above.

Admittedly waiting in faith can be really a tough battle strategy at times. However, when we’re backed up against the Red Sea, it’s the only battle strategy. And when we have no where else to go in life but to wait on God, … WE WAIT!

 Let me close this AM by linking you to a wonderful song, written and sung by an Irish brother and sister, duo, Keith and Kristyn Getty. The song is entitled By Faith; and it says about everything we need to say about our waiting in faith. …

My Prayer for Today … Lord, I wait on You … in faith. … Amen

Sunday, June 16, 2013

June 16, 2013 … Taking Your Promised Land

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 167

Passage of the Day #1: Joshua 19: 47 [Taking the Promised Land.] [NLT]  
47 But the tribe of Dan had trouble taking possession of their land, so they fought against the town of Laish. They captured it, slaughtered its people, and settled there. They renamed the city Dan after their ancestor.
 Contextual Study for today’s passage: Joshua, Chapter 19 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Joshua 1: 2-5: [You have an inheritance with God; … go and take it!] [NLT]  
2 “Now that my servant Moses is dead, you must lead my people across the Jordan River into the land I am giving them. 3I promise you what I promised Moses: ‘Everywhere you go, you will be on land I have given you—4from the Negev Desert in the south to the Lebanon mountains in the north, from the Euphrates River on the east to the Mediterranean Sea on the west, and all the land of the Hittites.’ 5 No one will be able to stand their ground against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you.

 Reference Passage #2: Joshua 1: 8 [But to claim God’s promised land, they only way to succeed is to stay rooted in His word. ] [NLT]  
7 Be strong and very courageous. Obey all the laws Moses gave you. Do not turn away from them, and you will be successful in everything you do. 8 Study this Book of the Law continually. Meditate on it day and night so you may be sure to obey all that is written in it. Only then will you succeed.  9 I command you—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

My Journal for Today: In Chapter 19 of the Book of Joshua (linked above), you can read about various of the tribes of Israel taking the inherited lands which had been promised to them by God; and in verse 47 the focus was on the battle the tribe of Dan had to fight to claim their inheritance.

Going back the first chapter of Joshua, two passages of which are copied above, the inheritance of God’s people, i.e., the Promised Land, was laid out for Joshua by God. Moses having died, Joshua was charged to take God’s people across the Jordan river and claim their promised land. Now, God didn’t say it was going to be easy; but He did promise, through Joshua to God’s people, that He, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, would be there to give them their inheritance … IF … Joshua and the people would stay true to the covenant God made with His people, which is found in God’s Book of the Law.

Fellow Christian, do you know that God has an inheritance, a “Promised Land,” for you and for me; and God will be there with us as we strive to claim our inheritance. But we have to choose to cross the Jordan in our life and then to stay true to God’s word as we fight the daily battles of life to claim our promised inheritance. But just like God promised Israel and Joshua success in claiming their promised lands, we are guaranteed success as well.

First of all, I think you know that God has sealed our success in claiming our eternal “promised land” by the finished work of His Son, Jesus, on the cross; and if we’re willing to cross the Jordan of our sin nature, in repentance for our sins, and move forward in our relationship with the Living Lord, God will give us what He has promised us – eternal life; … BUT … we have to fight the battles day-by-day to take the promised land … just as did Joshua and God’s people.

But, fellow Christian warrior, I charge you to go back and read/mediate on Joshua’s journal (especially in Joshua 1: 1-9 and see that as long as we (you and me) stay in God’s world and abide by it’s truth, we have the same guarantee of success and power as God gave to Joshua to take our promised land … i.e., our inheritance for God’s glory.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, I have crossed my Jordan; and now I march to claim my inheritance in Your Name and for Your glory. … Amen

Saturday, June 15, 2013

June 15, 2013 … God Speaks and I'm listening!

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 166

Passage of the Day #1: Judges 6: 13 [God speaks to Gideon.] [NLT]  
12 The angel of the LORD appeared to him [Gideon] and said, “Mighty hero, the LORD is with you!”
 Contextual Study for today’s passage: Judges, Chapter 6 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Isaiah 55: 11 [God’s word is speaking. Time to listen! ] [NLT]  
11 It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.

Reference Passage #2: 2nd Timothy 3: 16-17 [Need it be said again … God’s word is speaking. Time to listen! ] [NLT]  
16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. 17 It is God’s way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do.

My Journal for Today: That had to have been a shock to Gideon when an angel showed up in the wine barrel where the frightful Israelite was hiding one day; and what God had to say to Gideon was probably even more shocking, … God telling Gideon that he was to be a “mighty warrior.” And as we know from the story in Judges, Chapter 6, it took God, speaking through a whole series of events, to convince Gideon that he was to become the leader of God’s people in battle against the Midianites.

Has God ever spoken to you? … If so, how? … He speaks to me in various ways. Os Hillman, in his devotional for today quotes Henry Blackaby and Claude King in their book, Experiencing God, who wrote, “God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church to reveal Himself, His purposes, and His ways.” [Henry Blackaby and Claude King, Experiencing God (Nashville, Tennessee: LifeWay Press, 1990), 225]

Perhaps you’ve been sitting in a sermon; and what the Pastor said in his message hit you in your soul as if the preacher was speaking only to you. Maybe you’ve been through a set of circumstances in your life which resonated so deeply with you that you just knew God’s Spirit was speaking to you through the events in your life. Or have you ever had a friend who said to you EXACTLY what you needed to hear, perhaps even though it was not what you wanted to hear? And have you ever been reading or meditating on Scripture and the words almost raised off the page (or from your smart phone) like it was God speaking directly to you, convicting you or directing you in some way? Or finally, have you ever prayed and within a short period of time you had a very specific answer to your very specific prayer? I’ve had all of those happen to me and often enough to be totally convinced that God speaks to me, … maybe not as He did to Gideon; but He speaks nonetheless.

All of those circumstances could be – or maybe they have been for you – ways in which God speaks to us. The question becomes, ”Are we listening?” Because, though I don’t want to be pompous here; God may be speaking to you from what I’m writing here today. It’s possible, because of the truth found in Isaiah 55: 11 and 2nd Tim. 3: 16-17 above; and all I’m doing is trying to do is relay to anyone who needs to hear what God has spoken to me through His word this morning.  So, is God speaking to you through His word and through me today? I’ll leave it to you to decide that, … responding to God’s Spirit, not to Bill Berry.

But all of this has reminded me why I come to some quiet place EVERY DAY to be alone and to listen – through God’s word and through prayer – what God will bring to me in the way of His thoughts, His convictions, or His directions. And without fail, EVERY MORNING, He brings me something which I can use for my life or to relay to others for their lives.

He speaks; and I listen.

So, unlike Gideon, I’m going to keep coming, VOLUNTARILY and gladly, to this quiet place each day to seek out God’s word just for me. Oh, I’ll listen for him in my prayers, from other Christians, from my Pastor, and from the circumstances of life as well. But I know He speaks to me everyday from His word; and so, this is the place you can find me tomorrow morning, doing all I can to hear God speak to ME; and like I am today, … I’M LISTENING!

My Prayer for Today … Lord, You have spoken to my heart, even today; and I pray I have heard all You have to say. … Amen

Friday, June 14, 2013

June 14, 2013 … Perception Is Reality … NOT!!

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 165

Passage of the Day #1: 1st Peter 5: 8 [Just because we hear a roar doesn’t mean it’s really a lion!] [NLT]  
8 Be careful! Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour.
Contextual Study for today’s passage: 1st Peter, Chapter 5 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Matthew 14: 25-26 [Is it really a “ghost?” ] [NLT]  
25 About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”

Reference Passage #2: Jeremiah 17: 9 [We can be so gullible, can’t we? ] [NLT]  
9 “The human heart is most deceitful and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?

My Journal for Today: Os Hillman, the author/editor of my daily devotionals this year, was in the advertising business; and he reminds his readers (i.e., me) that in that business there is an old, tried, and seemingly true principle … that “perception is reality.” In other words, if the advertiser can get us to perceive that we need a certain fragrance to be more sexy or attractive, then we’ll more likely buy the product because we think [i.e., perceive] that we NEED it for our life. The reality is we actually just WANT the product; … we don’t really NEED it! So, … perception is not necessarily reality.

Hillman also reminded me today, through the highlight and reference passages (copied above) that Satan, whose name means “accuser” or “deceiver,” is a master of using perception to create a false reality. Many times we see or hear things in reality and our perception, filtered through a very deceivable heart (see Jeremiah 17: 9 above), becomes reality. For example, it’s like the lion (of 1st Peter 5: 8) who roars to get the fearful in the flock to flee away from the shepherd. Or it’s like the disciples, who (from the story of the storm in Matthew 14) thought they perceived a ghost walking on the water; and who was it? Yeah, … it was Jesus!

So, our perceptions are not always reality, are they? And we’ve got to be careful in this world, because we can often let our desires, fears, or mistaken perceptions create a reality which causes us to fall into Satan’s clever ploys or leads us down mistaken rabbit trails and right into a cleverly design worldly trap. How many of God’s children are led into the minefields of life, fleeing from the roar of a lion or because they think they see a ghost coming their way; … when in reality it’s simply Satan or the world playing with our very gullible perceptions.

Just because I perceive pain in my life doesn’t mean I need to take an opiate to relieve the hurt. Just because I need more intimacy in my life doesn’t mean that my need will be satisfied by p0rnography. Just because I desire to be perceived as younger than I am doesn’t mean I need a facelift or a tummy tuck. How often do we let our choices – in reality – be guided by what we perceive as NEEDS, which – in reality – are actually our WANTS?

Okay; … I’m having to do a life inventory here; and I have to admit that I too often bolt in fear when the lion roars or I begin to salivate with desire at certain TV commercials which create a false need in my heart, often leading me to pursue something I WANT rather than something I really NEED. I’ll leave it you, fellow Christian, to do your own inventory of the perceptions we so often make over into reality.

My Prayer for Today …Lord, give me the discernment from Your wisdom to know what I NEED, … not just what I WANT. … Amen

Thursday, June 13, 2013

June 13, 2013 … Thanks, I Needed That!!

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 164

Passage of the Day #1: 1st Peter 5: 5-6 [Humility … a rare trait in the world today! ] [NLT]  
5 You younger men, accept the authority of the elders. And all of you, serve each other in humility, for “God sets himself against the proud, but he shows favor to the humble.” [quote from Prov. 3: 34] 6 So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and in his good time He will honor you.  
Contextual Study for today’s passage: 1st Peter, Chapter 5 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Passage of the Day #2: James 4: 5-6 [God pleas again for humility! ] [NLT]  
5 What do you think the Scriptures mean when they say that the Holy Spirit, whom God has placed within us, jealously longs for us to be faithful? 6 He gives us more and more strength to stand against such evil desires. As the Scriptures say, “God sets himself against the proud, but He shows favor to the humble.” [quote from Prov. 3: 34]
 Contextual Study for today’s passage: James, Chapter 4 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Matthew 11: 29 [In the context of verses 28-30] [NLT]  
28 Then Jesus said, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29Take My yoke upon you. Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle (i.e., meek), and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light.” 

Reference Passage #2: Philippians 2: 5 [Looking for Christlikeness?] [NLT]  
5 Your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had.

My Journal for Today: Today is the 48th wedding anniversary for my wife and myself; and if you’re as old as I am, you may remember a TV commercial back in the 70s for Mennen After Shave lotion. It depicted a man putting the product on his face early in the morning and slapping himself with the after-shave across the face, saying, “Thanks, I needed that!” (see the commercial in this You Tube piece)  And today’s devotional by Os Hillman was somewhat like that commercial for me … a slap in my ego with a message that I needed to remember … certainly in my marriage, … but also in my life in general.

If you’re a Christian, I think all believers in Christ would agree with Phil. 2: 5, quoted above, which states that all disciples of Christ need to strive for the attitude of Christ. … So, what ia that attitude? Well, there’s only one place in the New Testament where Jesus is quoted describing His own attitude; and that is found in Matthew 11: 29, also copied for your review above. And in that verse Jesus described Himself as being “HUMBLE and GENTLE” (the latter also translated as “meek”). Well, the idea that I should strive to be more like Jesus in my attitude was a slap in the face for me today as Os Hillman led me to one Old Testament Scripture, Proverbs 3: 34, which is re-quoted twice, by two separate authors, in the New Testament (both of which are copied above).

Do you believe, as do I, that when a concept or ideal is repeated over and over again in God’s word, we should wake-up and pay attention to that idea or concept? Well, reading those two verses above from Peter and James in the Scripture was like being slapped in the face and saying, “Thanks, I needed that!!” … Because I do!

I don’t know about you; but all too often I have trouble remembering that my primary goal in life is to strive to become like Jesus; and in that pursuit, I should begin by trying to become like Jesus described Himself … ”humble and meek.” But all too often in my marriage – and in life – I let my ego and pride blunt my ability to receive a good slap in the face from God’s Spirit, allowing me to choose to humble myself rather than elevate myself.

 So, on this, my 48th anniversary, I’m duly slapped in the face by God’s word; and I can honestly say to Him, … ”Thanks, I needed that!!”

My Prayer for Today … “Amen and … Amen!!”

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

June 11, 2013 … First Things First!

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 163

Passage of the Day #1: Haggai 1: 6a [Just how obedient are we living for God? ] [NLT]  
6 You have planted much but harvested little. …  
Contextual Study for today’s passage: Haggai, Chapter 1 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Luke 9: 23 [He said it. … Are we living it?] [NLT]  
23 Then He said to the crowd, ...“If any of you wants to be My follower, you must put aside your selfish d, ambition, shoulder your cross daily, and follow Me."

  Reference Passage #2: 2nd Corinthians 13: 5-6 [Time for a check up from the neck up!] [NLT]  
5 Examine yourselves to see if your faith is really genuine. Test yourselves. If you cannot tell that Jesus Christ is among you, it means you have failed the test. 6 I hope you recognize that we have passed the test and are approved by God.

My Journal for Today: If you’re reading along with me, how much do you remember or know about the Prophet Haggai, who became a Prophet in Jerusalem when the exiled remnant of God’s people were returned to Jerusalem by King Cyrus in order to rebuild God’s temple and live in their homeland. However, as you can read in Chapter 1 of Haggai’s journal, their priorities got out of whack; and they begin to live for themselves first and God second, not even thinking “my bad!” while they did it; and so God gave them a lesson in obedience and Godly priority setting.

Self inventory time, my friend (in the Spirit of following God and being tested in the faith (see the Reference passages above - Luke 9: 23 and 2nd Cor. 13: 5). Because that’s what God did in Haggai’s time, some nine centuries before Christ. However, God’s will is God’s will, whether it was in the time of Haggai and Zerubbabel, in the time of Christ, or today. God’s will is that we deny selfish desires as our priorities and as the wonderful old hymn (linked here) states, “… turn your eyes upon Jesus.”  ...  And so, dear one, it’s time to take God’s pop-quiz of faith.

Are we really setting our priorities within God’s will and turning our eyes on Jesus – FIRST; or are we living as the people in Haggai’s time, … living first for self in our lives? Because if we’re living first for ourselves, we can expect that God is going to intervene to help us turn our eyes back on Him – FIRST - and get our priorities in line with His.

My Prayer for Today … Oh, Lord, whatever it takes, help me see You first in my life! … Amen

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

June 11, 2013 … Is The Time Is Right?

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 162

Passage of the Day #1: Esther 4: 13-16 [We’re called to die to self to live in and for Christ. ] [NLT]  
13 Mordecai sent back this reply to Esther: “Don’t think for a moment that you will escape there in the palace when all other Jews are killed. 14 If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. What’s more, who can say but that you have been elevated to the palace for just such a time as this?” 
15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 “Go and gather together all the Jews of Susa and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will do the same. And then, though it is against the law, I will go in to see the king. If I must die, I am willing to die.” 
Contextual Study for today’s passage: Esther, Chapter 4-5 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Luke 9: 23 [It’s time – today – to be willing to die to self so that we can live for Christ.] [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. ..."

Reference Passage #2: Acts 1: 8 [Jesus declared why you will be empowered as His witnesses.] [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.”

My Journal for Today: If you had been Esther, the anointed Queen of Persia, confronted with a life-threatening situation, but in a place to be God’s agent and to speak out for the living God in a time which could influence the powers that be, … WHAT WOULD YOU DO? … Would you do what Jesus calls us to do as His witnesses (see Acts 1: 8 and Luke 9: 23 copied above)? Or would we do what comes natural and keep our mouths shut, letting the desires of self overcome the desires of the Savior?

 If you have read through Chapters 4-5 of the book of Esther we read of the remarkable sacrifice which Esther was willing to make in going uninvited before her husband, the King of Persia, to stand in the gap for her people and her God. And then we think where we are today, with people falling daily to the plague of p0rnography and babies being killed by the thousands, and many of us not being willing to die to self and come forward to speak out for our God in this godless world.

 Is today our time to stand in the gap for God as did Esther? What could we do – what CAN we do even today – to go before “the king” and declare that “enough-is-enough?!” Even if it would mean that our very lives might be threatened today, is the time right for us to be an Esther for our times?

I’ll leave it to you to deal with that poignant and pertinent personal question; but for me I must pray that I’ll be ready to stand up for Jesus if I’m given the opportunity today.

Listen to Daniel O’Donnell sing that poignant song, Here I Am, Lord at this link; and then decide if you’re willing to die to self today and take action for Christ in today’s world.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, … here I am; … send me! … Amen

Monday, June 10, 2013

June 10, 2013 … Do We Threaten the Darkness?

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 161

Passage of the Day #1: Acts 19: 15 [Do the demons know and fear you? ] [NLT]  
15 But when they [a group of Jews trying to cast out demons in Jesus’ name] tried it on a man possessed by an evil spirit, the spirit replied, “I know Jesus, and I know Paul. But who are you?”  
 Contextual Study for today’s passage: Acts, Chapter 19 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: 1st John 4: 4 [Why Satan knows you’re a threat.] [NLT]  
4 But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won your fight with these false prophets, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.

Reference Passage #2: Acts 1: 8 [Jesus declared why you will be empowered as His witnesses.] [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 #3: John 16: 33 [As Christians we can expect Satan to give us trouble. ] [NLT]  
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 #5: 1st Corinthians 10: 13 [God, our Father, will never allow us into any hot situation we cannot handle as His children.] [NLT]  
13 But remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it.

My Journal for Today: In his devotional for this date, Os Hillman poses an interesting hypothetical scenario. Take his questions for our discussion: …  
... “ Are you a threat to the kingdom of darkness? If Satan and his demons had a board meeting and your name came before the board, what would they say? Would they say that you are one of their most feared enemies and they needed to keep many demons harassing and opposing you? Or would they say, ‘Gentlemen, this person poses no threat to our activities. Leave him alone. He needs no help from us.’ There are millions of church-going believers sitting in pews Sunday after Sunday who pose little threat to the kingdom of darkness.” 

Well, what do you think Satan and his demons are saying about us? Are we a threat to Satan and his system, the world? Do we feel his heat in our life? Or do we fell like we’re floating, unchallenged, through life with no trials or troubles brought on from the kingdom of darkness?

 Jesus expects us to be His empowered witnesses in this world (see the Lord’s charge in Acts 1: 8 above); and He tells us that we can expect trials in this world (see John 16: 33a). But God’s word also tells us that He has overcome the world and that the power we have as His witnesses is greater than any power Satan can muster from the world (see 1st John 4: 4, also above).

So, my dear fellow Christian, if you’ve been feeling like you’re swimming up stream against the forces of evil or the world, … take heart. You’re likely headed in the right direction; and we always need to remember – as Christians – God will never allow us to be confronted by any temptation, trial, or trouble in our life without being faithful to give us the way of escape or the power to handle that trial (that’s God’s promise, not mine! – see 1st Cor. 10: 13).

So, here we go today; and as we come up against the trials of life, especially those we feel are Satan’s challenges, let’s praise God and move on in Christ’s Name!

My Prayer for Today … Oh, Lord, help me today to use Your power for my witness in Your Name. … Amen