Wednesday, July 31, 2013

July 31, 2013 … Waiting = A Patient Walk of Faithfulness

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 212

Devotional Song: Go to this link  … Oh, dear friend, … please use this link and hear a song sung by the Steve Green, singing “Find Us Faithful”, pleading for us, as Christians, to be found faithful in our walk with the Lord.

Highlight Passage of the Day: Psalm 27: 14 [Often our faith is measured by waiting faithfully.] … [NLT] …  
14 Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD. 
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Contextual Study involving today’s passage found in Psalms, Chapter 27 Go to this link … 
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Reference Passage of the Day #1: Hebrews 11: 1 [Often our faith is measured by waiting faithfully.] … [NLT] …  
1 What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see. 2 God gave his approval to people in days of old because of their faith.

Reference Passage of the Day #2: Proverbs 3: 5-6 [We won’t go wrong if our relationships and partnerships are choices following God’s Spirit.] … [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: Today my morning time with the Lord brought me to hear one of my favorite Christian singers, singing one of my favorite Christians songs, … Find Us Faithful; and my devotional study reminded me that waiting on God to reveal His will and His way for us in life is often an active matter of patience in our walk with the Lord.

 And Os Hillman’s highlight verse to declare this truth was take from Psalm 27: 14, … one of King David’s psalms, … this one (read it with the link above) singing about David’s desire for protection in his walk with the Lord as well as his desire to live in the house of the Lord forever. But David closes this song with a powerful reminder that our walk through life with the Lord often requires a very active patience in waiting for God to reveal His will and His way for us. And certainly David had learned this lesson, having been anointed as King at a very young age and having to actively wait for years for God to bring David into God’s watch-care as King.

My friend, have you learned, as I have, that being patient and faithfully waiting on God is not a passive process? No, … it requires a lot of very ACTIVE faithfulness, … often enduring some pretty tough circumstances in life to find what God’s will and purpose is for us. Yes, again as I so often find myself citing Proverbs 3: 5-6, trusting and waiting on God can be a very active and rigorous process before God reveals the path on which He wants to lead us to be faithful followers of Christ, as Steve Green sings about in his song.

Yes, as Steve Green sings, “… may all who come behind us find us faithful!” … But for that to happen, we’re often going to have to stretch and exercise our muscles of patience, … waiting on God to show us His will in His good – and perfect – timing.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, I wait on You today. Show me Your way; and I will follow You. … Amen

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

July 30, 2013 … Beware of Bad Alliances

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 211

Devotional Song: Go to this link  … Today please use this link and hear a song sung by the Kathy Troccoli, singing “I Will Choose Christ”, reminding at least this Christian to do all I can to insure that my choices are in following Savior rather than self.

Highlight Passage of the Day: Isaiah 30: 1-3 [With whom do we choose to partner or establish alliances?] … [NLT] …  
1 “Destruction is certain for my rebellious children,” says the LORD. “You make plans that are contrary to my will. You weave a web of plans that are not from my Spirit, thus piling up your sins. 2 For without consulting me, you have gone down to Egypt to find help. You have put your trust in Pharaoh for his protection. 3 But in trusting Pharaoh, you will be humiliated and disgraced. 4 For though his power extends to Zoan and Hanes, 5it will all turn out to your shame. He will not help you even one little bit.” 
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Contextual Study involving today’s passage found in Isaiah, Chapter 30 Go to this link … 
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Reference Passage of the Day #1: Luke 9: 23 [When we ally with someone, are we following Jesus in the partnership?] … [NKJV] …  
23 If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 

Reference Passage of the Day #2: Proverbs 3: 5-6 [We won’t go wrong if our relationships and partnerships are choices following God’s Spirit.] … [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 of the Day #3: 2nd Corinthians 6: 14-15 [Always striving to be in the Spirit rather than letting self get ahead of the Savior. ] … [NLT] …  
14 Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can goodness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? 15 What harmony can there be between Christ and the Devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever?

My Journal for Today: Same song from yesterday’s journaling and many of the same Bible passages cited as well; but the life topic of Os Hillman’s devotional today was the relationships and partnerships which we go with in our life, … choices which guide us toward or away from God’s purposes in life.

When you were growing up, did your parents want to know the kids with whom you “ran with” in your formative years? … Mine did. … And as I grew into my teen years, I thought they were medaling a bit when I established new alliances with certain groups of new “friends.” But my parents knew the old adage that … “we become like the people with whom we associate.”

God wanted the best for His chosen people, the Israelites; and so quite often, through His Prophets, the Lord would send His word, like He did through Isaiah in today’s highlight passage in Isaiah 30: 1-3. In this case His people under King Hezekiah in Judah were trying to protect themselves against a threatening King Sennacherib of Assyria; and so, without even consulting or following God’s will, King Hezekiah established an alliance with Egypt. … BAD CHOICE!!! … It was not the alliance God would sanction; and as we know from history, not consulting God would always lead His people to very bad outcomes.

And as we move into the New Testament, Jesus and His Disciples, would continually be trying to keep God’s people on track by teaching them to seek God’s will when they had choices to make or relationships to establish. How many times, in my devotionals do I end up quoting Proverbs 3: 5-6 and Luke 9: 23 where God, through Solomon and Christ Himself, steers believers away from our selfish choices, trying to get us to choose God’s path in life and not our own?

 And when those paths involve relationships or alliances in any part of life (perhaps in a marriage), do we choose to follow the heart of God or do we want to do what is comfortable or seemingly safe? How often are we driven to set an alliance or partnership in motion because of fear of loss or the selfish desire for gain; and how many times do we establish such alliances without ever seeking God’s direction or guidance? That’s why the Apostle Paul advised the Christians in Corinth (and us by extension) not to set up partnerships or alliances which unequally yoke us with unbelievers (see 2nd Cor. 6: 14-15 copied above).

And you may know that this last passage is often use by Christian Pastors in pre-marital counseling, when the counselor perceives that one in the marriage is a Christian and the potential spouse is not. But that passage would also apply to any Christian going into a permanent business relationship with a non-believer as well. God wants us to be in accord with HIS will in ALL parts of life; and entering into important alliances or partnerships are some of the most important choices we’ll make.

So, when we are confronted with making relational choices or establishing important partnerships in life, can we strongly and confidently say what Kathy Trocolli sings in today’s highlight song, … that ”I Will Follow Christ!” Well, I leave it to you to answer that one for yourself. Because ignoring that wisdom, or even more so the wisdom of the Scriptures above, could prove disastrous in our lives, couldn’t it?

My Prayer for Today … Yes, Lord, again I declare that I will follow You in all the relationships which I pursue; and may those choices be for Your glory. … Amen

Monday, July 29, 2013

July 29, 2013 … Presumption Versus Faith

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 210

Devotional Song: Go to this link  … Today please use this link and hear a song sung by the Kathy Troccoli, singing “I Will Choose Christ”, reminding at least this Christian to do all I can to insure that my choices are in following Savior rather than self.

Highlight Passage of the Day: 1st Chronicles 13: 10 [In the context of verses 9-10] … [NLT] …  
9 But when they arrived at the threshing floor of Nacon, the oxen stumbled, and Uzzah put out his hand to steady the Ark. 10 Then the LORD’s anger blazed out against Uzzah, and he struck him dead because he had laid his hand on the Ark. So Uzzah died there in the presence of God. 
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Contextual Study involving today’s passage found in 1st Chronicles, Chapter 13 Go to this link
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Reference Passage of the Day #1: Jeremiah 17: 9 [Beware our deceitful flesh!] … [NLT] …  
9 “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?

Reference Passage of the Day #2: Proverbs 3: 5-6 [We won’t go wrong if our choices are centered in the Spirit rather than in the self.] … [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 of the Day #3: Galatians 3: 3 [Always striving to be in the Spirit rather than letting self get ahead of the Savior. ] … [NLT] …
  3 How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?

My Journal for Today: Oh, my fellow Christian, it is so easy to let human presumption and to jump out ahead of doing all we can to live in and by the Spirit. Take it from one, as they say today, who’s … “been there, done, that and has several t-shirts to prove it.” And the tragic story which Os Hillman used today in his workplace devotional to illustrate this very human tendency was the story of Uzzah, a Priest, who was chosen by King David to be one of the leaders when the Ark of the Covenant was transported back to the Temple. You probably remember the story from 1st Chronicles, Chapter 13, linked above, where the oxen carrying the ark stumbled; and Uzzah, reacting in the flesh, reached out to stabilize the ark, touching it against God’s specific command; and Uzzah’s reaction – in the flesh – caused him his life.

It is so easy – at least for this presumptuous and gullible Christian – to react in the flesh, rather than to make my choices in the Spirit, doing life God’s way rather than on my own. Yes, I know, from believing Jeremiah 17: 9 (copied above) that my heart (i.e., my flesh) is naturally deceitful; and I can so easily react out of presumption rather than to respond in the Spirit. And sometimes I genuinely wish God had not given us His “gift” of free will, especially after He imbedded His Spirit in us when we came to Him in faith, at least surrendering our will to Him at that moment of conversion and salvation.

BUT (and there’s that dangerous “but” again!) … as Paul wrote about to the recalcitrant Christians in Galatia (see Galatians 3: 3 above), so many of us – as born-again Christians – can all too easily, because of our presumptuous flesh, try to jump ahead of God’s Spirit, Who will always try to help us choose Christ, in the Spirit, rather than to choose our own way, … in the flesh.

And I can almost predict that you’re thinking – RIGHT NOW – of some foolish and/or selfish choice or action which you have taken, or are in the process of taking now, which was or is based in selfish presumption rather than Spirit-led faith. But we can’t fall prey to self pity and self condemnation. That’s exactly how Satan would want us to respond to our falling prey to presumption.

NO, … take the time to take in the song to which I’ve linked you this morning. Kathy Troccoli sings the truth and we must CHOOSE CHRIST; and the more we do exactly that, following His admonition in Luke 9: 23 (Oh surely you know that one by now!!), we will get in the habit of making choices to walk HIS way rather than presumptuously choosing to walk our own way.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, I choose to walk Your way today. Please shine Your Light brightly on my path. … Amen

Sunday, July 28, 2013

July 28, 2013 … Worth the wait? Oh, yes !!

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 209

Devotional Song: Go to this link   … If you’re reading here with me, please use this link and hear a song sung by the Sara Groves, singing “It’s Going To Be Alright”, exhorting Christians to the patience required by faith as God works out His plan for our life.

Highlight Passage of the Day: Habakkuk 2: 2-3 [God’s plan may seem slow at times; but His plan is ALWAYS worth the wait.] … [NLT] …  
2 Then the LORD said to me, “Write My answer in large, clear letters on a tablet, so that a runner can read it and tell everyone else. 3 But these things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.
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Contextual Study involving today’s passage ...Habakkuk, Chapter 1-3 Go to this link … 
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Reference of the Day #1: Isaiah 30: 15, …18 [And God blesses the faithful ones.] … [NLT] …
15 The Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says, “Only in returning to Me and waiting for Me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. But you would have none of it. … 18 But the LORD still waits for you to come to Him so He can show you His love and compassion. For the LORD is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for Him to help them.

Reference of the Day #2: Proverbs 3: 5-6 [We won’t go wrong if our expectations are centered in the Savior rather than in the self.] … [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 of the Day #3: Roman 8: 28 [Faith based in God’s truth will avoid doubts, disappointments, and discouragement. ] … [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.

My Journal for Today: If you’ve followed along with my daily journal entries for any period of time, you would have discovered that I end up commenting on my impatience quite often; and the reason for that is that of all of the fruit of the Spirit (see Galatians 5: 22, 23), PATIENCE is the one that seems the most resistant to maturation in my life. Oh so often, in my years as a Christian, I’ve had moments where I just didn’t understand WHY God was seemingly moving so slowly in my life. … Ever been there?

Well, one place I often go when I’m feeling confused and unclear as to God’s planning is into the book of Habakkuk; and I’ve linked any co-reader here today to that short book, written by a confused Prophet, … a man who was totally discouraged and dismayed over what he saw going on in his life. And as we read in the opening chapter of Habakkuk’s journal, he went right to God with his confusion (always a good strategy!).

And then in our highlight verses in Chapter 2 of Habakkuk’s book, God sits the Prophet down and tells him to wait on God to unfold The Lord’s plans; and God even warns the Prophet that things were going to get worse before they would got better. And then if you read on into Chapter 3, you see Habakkuk’s faith coming around and he learns that with patience nothing can steal the joy from a believer who’s willing to wait on God for HIS way to unfold in HIS time.

Today, in my reference quotations above, I’ve presented some passages from God’s truth, which many of us (well, at least me) find difficult to faithfully believe at times. First there is the word of God through Isaiah to God’s people (see Isaiah 30: 15, 18 above) that God will bless those who are willing to wait on the Lord. … Ugh!; … sometimes I can so be like Habakkuk, wondering so desperately why God is not willing to do things on MY time table?

Then there are those two excruciating passages, (i.e., Prov. 3: 5-6 and Rom. 8: 28) which I’ve quoted quite often in my daily blogs (the last time on July 21st, just a week ago – look it up!), because they bubble up from my consciousness, me having memorized those Scriptures. I just anguish sometimes in my lack of faith that God knows best and that His timing is perfect. … But why does He so often seem to ignore MY timing?

 Perhaps we all ought to take in the devotional song, which I listened to again this morning by Sara Groves, singing It’s Going To Be Alright. And life is going to be alright … if we’re willing TO BE PATIENT and wait on God to unfold HIS plan in HIS good time.

My Prayer for Today … Okay, Lord, forgive my impatience. … I’m waiting! … Amen

Saturday, July 27, 2013

July 27, 2013 … Pressing On For God’s Glory

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 208

Devotional Song: Go to this link   … If you’re reading here with me, please use this link and hear a song sung by the group Selah, singing “Press On”, exhorting Christians, in the face of daily challenges in our work and our lives … find the strength to press on.

Highlight Passage of the Day: Philippians 3: 12-14 [No matter where God has planted us, we press on!] … [NLT] …  
12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection! But I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.
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Contextual Study involving today’s passage found in Philippians, Chapter 3 Go to this link … 
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Reference Passage of the Day #1: Romans 12: 1-2 [Our life is our living sacrifice – for His glory.] … [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 of the Day #2: Philippians 2: 6-8 [Even Jesus put in His prep time before His time of ministry.] … [NLT] …
6 Though He was God, He did not demand and cling to His rights as God. 7He 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.

My Journal for Today: Wherever God has planted or led us in our every day work-a-day world, it may seem like a drag. And do you wonder whether God has somehow made a mistake with us, placing or allowing us to be where we are? Well, if that’s your current (or your past) plight, I hope you realize that we’re not alone when we consider the history of God’s chosen ones.

 Moses worked for 40 years as a shepherd out in the deserts of Midian, with God prepping him for his later-life of ministry for God’s glory. Joshua was led by God and Moses to wonder, along with God’s people, for 40 years in the wilderness in preparation for his leadership of God’s people into the Promised Land. And then there was Jesus, … Who, being God, yet was humbled as a man to serve 30 years as an apprentice carpenter, being prepped by His Heavenly Father to humbly serve in ministry to all mankind, marching in ministry, day-by-day for three years, to the cross [see the Philippians 2 passage above].

Yes, God has planted us where we are; or He has put us through what we’ve experience as Christians, for a reason; and we may have wondered what God is doing or why He’s doing it the way we’re experiencing life; but Paul nailed it clearly in Romans 8: 28 that “… all things work together for good … for those who’re are the called according to His purposes.”

So, when we feel down as to where we are or why we got to the place in life where we are, … what is all of this saying to us? Well, if you’ve listened to Selah’s wonderful song, linked above, and you’ve internalized the highlight scripture passage today from Philippians 3, copied above, God is exhorting us to PRESS ON, isn’t He? We are where we are and we’re doing what we’re doing for a reason? What we need to do is to press on to find out where God is leading us and to do what we’re doing as a “living sacrifice” in worship of His Holy Name and for His glory [see Romans 12: 1-2 above]. And if we press on for His glory, He will lead us to the prize which awaits us in glory.

My Prayer for Today … So, my Lord, I press on!! … Amen

Friday, July 26, 2013

July 26, 2013 … Becoming An Overcomer

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 207

Devotional Song: ... Go to this link  … If you’re reading here with me, please use this link and hear a song sung by Brian Littrell, ...  “I Surrender All”, declaring the route of surrender all Christians take when they decide – in faith – to make Christ their Lord and Savior.

Highlight Passage of the Day: John 16: 33 [In the context of verses 29-33] … [NLT] …  

29 Then his disciples said, “At last you are speaking plainly and not figuratively. 30 Now we understand that you know everything, and there’s no need to question you. From this we believe that you came from God.” 
31 Jesus asked, “Do you finally believe? 32 But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—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.”  
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Contextual Study involving today’s passage found in John, Chapter 14-16 Go to this link … 
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Reference Passage of the Day #1: 1st Corinthians 10: 13 [God never promised freedom from troubles. He only promised to help us overcome the troubles] … [NLT] …  
13 But remember that the temptations [which can also be translated “tests, trials, troubles, or tribulations”] 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.

Reference Passage of the Day #2: Acts 1: 8 [God wants us to be HIS overcomers and He gives us the power to do so.] … [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 were like I was and became a Christian later down the road of life (for me it was at age 39), did you notice how things go so much easier and all the trials of life just seemed to melt into the background and life was like a glorious slide into a gorgeous meadow of beautiful flowers?

NOT!!!

It didn’t work that way, did it? And maybe you, as I did, wondered if surrendering my all was really worth it. Yes, as Brian Littrell’s version of the old hymn renders from the link above, when we become a Christian, we do give it all in life to Jesus, our Lord and Savior; but when I did that, I just didn’t realize that things were going to get tougher … not easier, … as I imagined they would.

That was the message that Jesus was trying to warn His inner Disciples about when he led them up to a room in Jerusalem to share a final meal with them, … a Passover meal, which would take on new significance forever after the events which were about to transpire. Jesus knew that His closest followers were troubled and confused; but He also knew that they were going to face even bigger emotional and spiritual challenges ahead; and as our Lord closed that “upper room discourse,” as it’s called, He proclaimed in Whom and how they would become overcomers in the world of hurt they were going to face ahead of them [see the highlight verse above].

Besides hearing Brian Littrell’s song, I hope you take the time, as I did this morning, to use the link above and re-read and meditate on Jesus’ message to His disciples in that Upper Room. It is Christ’s truth, which is for you and me too. And we need to realize that the life of a surrendered, true-believing, Christian is not going to be a walk in the park or a stroll in a bed of roses.

As the Apostle Paul discovered after Jesus knocked him off his steed on the road to Damascus, becoming a Christian is a battle … every day! But Paul also discovered the truth of what he declared in 1st Corinthian 10: 13 … that we, as Christians, though we’re not promised a free pass away from troubles, we are promised – by a faithful God – that He will always be there to give us the way to be overcomers – like Christ – and to deal with the tests, trials, troubles, and temptations of life. Jesus even gave us that promise as He ascended into heaven (see Acts 1: 8 quoted above), telling us that He was going to send His Spirit to give us the power to be overcomes and to deal with life.

So, I pray that you and I are learning to become the OVERCOMERS whom Christ in reshaping us to be in His Name and for His glory.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, help me to be an overcomer, in Your Name, today. … Amen

Thursday, July 25, 2013

July 25, 2013 … Faith Living in our Work

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 206

Devotional Song: Go to this link   … If you’re reading here with me, please take the time to use this link and hear a song sung by the group The Gettys, singing “By Faith”, showing us – as Christians – that a life lived by faith honors and glorifies our God.

 Highlight Passage of the Day: Hebrews 11: 1 [Is our work reflecting our own planning or is it reflecting our faith in God?] … [NLT] …
1 What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see. 2 God gave His approval to people in days of old because of their faith. 3 By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.

 Highlight Passage of the Day #2: Hebrews 11: 6 [God’s reward is always there for the faithful.] … [NLT] …  
6 And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him.
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 Contextual Study involving today’s passage found in Hebrews, Chapter 11 Go to this link  … 
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Reference Passage of the Day #1: Proverbs 3: 5-6 [God will always lead those who faithfully desire to follow Him.] … [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 show you which path to take.

My Journal for Today: Pop quiz; … if you, fellow Christian, had to go to one book in the Bible which helped you – or anyone – define and illustrate the concept of FAITH in God, where would you lead someone in Scripture? BINGO!! It would be Hebrews, Chapter 11, wouldn’t it?

Yes, Chapter 11 of Hebrews, that chapter of God’s word, written by an unknown but Spirit-anointed author, we know of as the “Hall of Faith,” because the explanation of the concept of “faith” is illustrated by a description – by name – of the great figures of faith in history and how they lived for God. But the chapter begins with a rhetorical question where “FAITH” is defined for any seeker who is looking to find a living definition for our faith; and that definition is found Hebrews 11: 1, my highlight versed for today. And it is my hope that we all have memorized this definition and that we are living it out in our lives … every day. That’s what the song I’ve linked you to today above proclaims; … that we only really can really live out our God-directed purpose in life when we live by faith.

So, that brings us to the application quiz for the day, where Os Hillman, and now Bill Berry, is asking … Can a life lived for self, and not from faith in God, be a purpose-driven life? 
… OR …
If we’re not driven in life to live by faith, does what we do honor God?
And your answer to both of these is a cold-core negative, isn’t it? That’s what Hebrews, Chapter 11 strives to show in answering the question “What is faith,” … illustrating the answer by showing how real believers lived out their faith with lives which gave honor to God.

So, I don’t think it takes a rocket-scientist or one with a Ph.D. in theology to see the application of the scriptures and the song I’ve meditated upon and shared with you above. And just like you are very likely doing right now, I’m asking myself if the life I’m living is a faith-based life which honors my God … or … am I living a life to honor myself rather than my Lord? I’ll leave it to you to ask those questions for yourself.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, I pray that what I will do today reflects a genuine belief in what You will do through me to glorify You. Help me to live by the faith You give to me. … Amen

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

July 24, 2013 … Meaning In Our Labor

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 205

Devotional Song: Go to this link   … Today I hope any readers will use this link and hear a song sung by Steve Green, singing “ Find Us Faithful”, calling all Christians to lives of faithful service.

Highlight Passage of the Day: Isaiah 49: 1-4 [Our work is never in vain when it is done to honor our God.] … [NLT] …  
1 Listen to me, all of you in far-off lands! The LORD called me before my birth; from within the womb he called me by name. 2He made my words of judgment as sharp as a sword. He has hidden me in the shadow of his hand. I am like a sharp arrow in his quiver. 3 He said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, and you will bring me glory.” 4 I replied, “But my work all seems so useless! I have spent my strength for nothing and to no purpose at all. Yet I leave it all in the LORD’s hand; I will trust God for my reward.” 
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Contextual Study involving today’s passage found in Isaiah, Chapter 49 Go to this link … 
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Reference Passage of the Day #1: 1st Thessalonians 5: 23-24 [God will always be faithful to honor His faithful servants.] … [NLT] …  
23 Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until that day when our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. 24God, Who calls you, is faithful; … He will do this.

Reference Passage of the Day #2: 1st Corinthians 15: 58 [Any work for God is never in vain.] … [NLT] …  
58 So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless. 

Reference Passage of the Day #3: Hebrews 11: 6 [God’s reward is always there for the faithful.] … [NLT] …  
6 And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him.

My Journal for Today: Have you ever been at a place in your life when you felt that all that you’re doing in life is worthless or fruitless? Well, yesterday in my devotional entry I wrote about Jonah becoming so despondent in his calling that he prayed for God to take his life; and we know that Moses became battle weary as he led God’s grumbling people in the wilderness. And there was Jeremiah, the “weeping prophet,” who wrote the book of Lamentations, seeing the destruction of Jerusalem when God’s people rejected his prophesies. And finally one of my favorite Prophets in the Old Testament, Habakkuk, came to God with doubts and confusion and feelings of despondency when he saw Gods’ people being so disobedient and rebellious in the face of Gods’ law.

Yes, … these were great and called servants of God; and they had their times when they felt worthless and even wanted to give up in the face of life as they saw it in their times. Ever felt like that? … I know I have, being called to help Christians walk free from habitual sexual sin; and I look around and see the proliferation of a culture becoming more and more hypersexualized. And I see men, who claim Christ as their Lord, being felled – right and left – by Satan’s deception and His XXX world of confusion and fleshly pleasure. I look out there and feel like I’ve been called to drain the ocean with a tea cup. Yes, … God’s calling can be disheartening at times, … can’t it?

But then I remember all that the Apostles John and Peter and Paul went through in their lives; and I recall Scriptures written by all of them, many of which I’ve memorized and bubble to the surface of my consciousness here this morning; … and I’m encouraged. I’ve quoted some of Paul’s uplifting thoughts above if you – like me – look around and wonder if anything you’re doing in God’s Name is really worthwhile. And don’t you just love that song, sung by Steve Green, to which I’ve linked any reader above, to encourage us to remain faithful to the calling on our lives by God.

If you’re reading along with me here today, take time to take in Steve Green’s song as well as those passages which I was led to study and copy above. And as the Apostle Paul wrote in 1st Cor. 15: 58, “… know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.”

My Prayer for Today … Lord, thank You for lifting me up with encouragement from Your own word today, showing me how working faithfully for Your kingdom is always fruitful. … Amen

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

July 23, 2013 … Our God of 2nd Chances

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 204

Devotional Song: Go to this link  … Again I ask any readers to use this link and hear a song sung by Phillips, Craig, and Dean, singing “He’ll Do Whatever It Takes”, which shows us, when we’re disobedient Christians, just how far our God will go with His grace to bring us back to Himself.

Highlight Passage of the Day: Jonah 4: 1-2 [Knowing God’s way and doing it – two very different things!] … [NLT] …  
1 This change of plans upset Jonah, and he became very angry. 2 So he complained to the LORD about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, LORD? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you were a gracious and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. I knew how easily you could cancel your plans for destroying these people.
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Contextual Study involving today’s passage found in Jonah, Chapter 4 Go to this link … 
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Reference Passage of the Day #1: Numbers 14: 17-19 [Moses praying for God’s mercy in the face of the sins of God’s people.] … [NLT] …  
17 “Please, Lord, prove that your power is as great as you have claimed it to be. For you said, 18‘The LORD is slow to anger and rich in unfailing love, forgiving every kind of sin and rebellion. Even so he does not leave sin unpunished, but he punishes the children for the sins of their parents to the third and fourth generations.’ 19 Please pardon the sins of this people because of your magnificent, unfailing love, just as you have forgiven them ever since they left Egypt.”

 Reference Passage of the Day #2: 2nd Corinthians 12: 8-10 [God’s grace is always sufficient in our times of weakness.] … [NLT] …
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. 10 Since I know it is all for Christ’s good, I am quite content with my weaknesses and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

 My Journal for Today: Ever been in a place where you clearly knew God’s will and His way, but you went your own way anyway, being flat-out disobedient and rebellious, … almost spitting in the face of God? And then when the deed was done – whatever it was – you were filled with anguish, guilt, and remorse? … Aw, common, admit it! … You’ve been there, haven’t you? Well, I sure have.

Well, Os Hillman calls attention to this type of very human scenario by using the life and journal of the Prophet Jonah as an example of our God of 2nd chances. Jonah knew that God wanted him to go to Nineveh to prophesy God’s word to those people; but Jonah had another idea and rebelled against God’s will; and we know the famous story of what happened when Jonah got his wake-up call in the belly of a great fish. And Jonah was so grief stricken at his own sin that he prayed for God to take his life. And aren’t we glad that God doesn’t always say “YES” to all our prayers.?

Jonah knew that his God – our God – was a God filled with mercy and grace for the people of Nineveh; but Jonah’s heart of hatred for those people caused Jonah to rebel in sinful selfishness. But God showed, as Paul writes about in 2nd Cor. 12, copied above, that His grace is sufficient to overcome our worst weaknesses. In fact that’s the poignant message of the song to which I’ve linked any reader here, helping us all to see and realize that God, Whose Spirit resides in the hearts of us as Christians, will do whatever it takes to bring us back from rebellion and sin into a harmonious relationship with Himself.

Moses knew this when he prayed for God’s recalcitrant and sinful people (see in the Numbers 14 passage above). Paul knew it when he prayed for God to relieve him of the horrible thorn which gripped his life. And Jonah knew it when he prayed to have God take his life in the remorse over his sinful rebellion.

They all knew that we serve a God of 2nd chances; … well, actually He’s a God of third, fourth, fifth, and sixth chances if that’s what is necessary to bring us back into a right relationship with Himself. Yes, sin always, always, ALWAYS has consequences. And all of these men of God, who’re quoted above, knew that; but when we’re faced with our own rebellion or disobedience, … with our very human weakness, … as we fail in carrying out God’s will, … we need to recognize, realize, and receive the grace of a God of 2nd chances to bring us back to Himself.

If you’re in a place where you need God’s grace to cover your weakness … or to come in surrender to receive God’s mercy, … as the old Nike slogan once said, … JUST DO IT! God will be there, … just as He was for Moses, … for Jonah, … and for Paul, … to pick you up and to give you the strength to walk on, … obediently following Him.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, thank You for being my God of 2nd chances. … Amen

Monday, July 22, 2013

July 22, 2013 … Be Prepared!!

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 203

[click on photo for larger view]
 
Devotional Song: Go to this link  … Please, before you take in my blog below, use this link and hear a song sung by the group, Selah, singing “Press on!”, which gives any of us encouragement to continue to walk the walk of faith, … no matter what the challenges or circumstances of life might be..

Highlight Passage of the Day: Luke 12: 38-39 [Be prepared!] … [NLT] … 39 “Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would not permit his house to be broken into. 40 You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.” 
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Contextual Study involving today’s passage found in Philippians, Chapter 1 Go to this link … 
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Reference Passage of the Day #1: John 10: 8-10 ...  [Always be vigilant; … our enemy stalks us incessantly.] … [NLT] …  
“… 8 All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. 9 Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. 10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”

Reference Passage of the Day #2: 1st Peter 5: 8 [Our cunning enemy, Satan, is always prowling to take us out. ] … [NLT] …  
8 Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.

Reference Passage of the Day #3: Philippians 3: 14 [Ever vigilant, never looking back, we press on!] … [NLT]  
14 I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.

My Journal for Today: When I was a young boy, I was encouraged by my parents to become an Eagle Scout [see photo]. To achieve that scouting rank, a boy had to strive and complete 21 merit badges, finishing tasks in many different categories of choice and action. Some of the tasks were required, some were optional; but they all were rigorous and required what I call “stickability,” or the willingness to stay with the task until it was completed as required by the standards set by scouting. And yes, maybe you can see it on my face in the photo, I was a proud young boy when I got my Eagle rank.

The motto of the Boy Scouts of America [BSA] back then was “Be Prepared!” Right now that motto has been seriously scarred of late by the admission of openly homosexual scouts into the BSA. However, that’s a separate discussion, which I’ll not encounter here. But we scouts, when I became an Eagle Scout, were taught that we had to remain vigilant and disciplined in our living, staying with a task until it was completed, … not falling prey to hardships or difficulties which will come our way [and they will!!], … and being willing to KEEP ON KEEPING ON until we persevered to complete the challenge before us.

That’s what Jesus was trying to get across to His disciples in His teaching above from the highlight passage in Luke 12, as well as in the first reference passage from John 10, both copied above. The Apostle Peter also wrote to Christians in the passage quoted above from 1st Peter 5 that we have an enemy, who will patiently prowl about and when we’re weakened, he will strive to do all he can to damage our testimony or our witness.

But, as the devotional song (linked above) charges us (as well as did Paul in Philippians 3: 14), we must PRESS ON, … being as prepared as possible and being ever vigilant, standing-in-the-gap with patience and fortitude to do what Jesus has charged us to become (see Acts 1: 8 and Matthew 5: 14-16, which I hope you have memorized and internalized by now).

So, I hope that you’ve been stirred to “BE PREPARED” and to press on by Selah’s song; and I pray that we all, as the Apostle Paul exhorted, “… strain to … receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.” 

My Prayer for Today … Lord, help me to always be ready and willing to stand for You, ever pressing forward in Your Name. … Amen

Sunday, July 21, 2013

July 21, 2013 … Expectations and Faith

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 202

Devotional Song: Go to this link   … Today I ask any readers to use this link and hear a song sung by Nichole Nordeman singing “What IF?”, which asks one of the most important questions anyone can ask in life.

Highlight Passage of the Day: Philippians 1: 20 [Paul’s expectations were all wrapped up in Christ.] … [NLT] …
  20 For I live in eager expectation and hope that I will never do anything that causes me shame, but that I will always be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past, and that my life will always honor Christ, whether I live or I die.
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 Contextual Study involving today’s passage found in Philippians, Chapter 1 Go to this link … 
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Reference Passage of the Day #1: Roman 8: 28 [Faith based in God’s truth will avoid doubts, disappointments, and discouragement. ] … [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 of the Day #2: Philippians 3: 14 [Paul’s eyes were on a prize that would never produce doubts because his expectations were all in Christ.] … [NLT]  
14 I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.

My Journal for Today: The lyrics to the song, sung by Nichole Nordeman to which I link any reader here with me today, is one of the most provocative and important questions any person dealing with life must answer. Go and hear it to see where Nichole is leading you, … especially concerning the expectations of living with faith in the only One Who can fulfill all the assumptions and expectations of life, which so often can, when unmet, lead us to doubts, disappointments, and discouragement.

After the Apostle Paul had been broken and reborn in Christ, he developed a whole new set of expectations about life; and as he expresses to the Philippian faithful (and to you and me) in Philippians 1: 20, he wrapped all his “what ifs” about life into his relationship with Christ. He truly believed that his expectations of trust in Christ would never go unmet, no matter what happened in this life to him or surrounding him. He truly believed what he wrote in Romans 8: 28; and it raises the question today as I write this … DO WE?!

Somewhere, from someone, I remember the saying, “The road to hell is paved with unrealized assumptions?” And that old saying is absolutely true if any of us is basing our expectations, assumptions, or faith in our selves rather than in our Savior. So where are the unmet expectations of our lives leading us?

“What if” … or ... “IF I’d only” …are expectation-based assertions which can be deadly if they are causing us to become paralyzed by the deadly 3-Ds I mentioned above, … DOUBT, DISAPPOINTMENT, or DISCOURAGEMENT, … any of which are used by Satan to drag Christians down into pits of self-pity and selfishness, … all of which can dampen or damage our witness so that others can’t see the light of Christ shining in us.

So, I hope we all have the faith that the Apostle Paul wrote about in his many letters to Christians like you and me. I pray that we’ve all answered Nichole Nordeman’s “WHAT IF” question with a strongly proclaimed and living faith in Jesus Christ; and we all (as Paul wrote about in Phil. 3: 14) have our eyes on the prize which will never cause us to have doubts, disappointments, or discouragement.

 My Prayer for Today … Oh, LORD, You are my “what if;” and I put all my expectations in You … yesterday, today, and tomorrow!! … Amen

Saturday, July 20, 2013

July 20, 2013 … Obedience-based Living

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 201

Devotional Song: Go to this link   … Today, may I ask any readers to use this link and return to a song I used a few days ago with Phillips, Craig and Dean singing, “I Choose To Believe”, which shows the life of obedience-based living rather than relying on outcomes-based living.

 Highlight Passage of the Day: Proverbs 28: 20 [Sticking with faithful living to the end rather than succumbing to pursuing outcomes in life.] … [NLT] …  
20 The trustworthy will get a rich reward. But the person who wants to get rich quick will only get into trouble.
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 Contextual Study involving today’s passage found in Proverbs, Chapter 28 Go to this link
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 Reference Passage of the Day #1: Proverbs 3: 5-6 [God’s direction is where we all should be seeking, … no matter what the demands of the world may be.] … [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 of the Day #2: Luke 9: 23 [But Jesus will always demand the vertical !! ] … [NLT] …  
23 Then He said to them all, If anyone desires to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.

Reference Passage of the Day #3: John 10: 10b [Jesus’s promise for a life of obedience.] … [NKJV]  
10 “… I have come that they [the faithful] may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. …”

 My Journal for Today: If there is one theme that probably repeats itself in Os Hillman’s devotional series this year – yes, over and over again – it’s the outcomes of faithful living. And the key to faithful living is obedience-based choices or actions … as opposed to our human default which is outcomes-based living.

Wouldn’t you agree that we men and women of the world all too often set our goals and directions in life to produce outcomes, which are based on our work rather than relying on the outcomes of being obedient to God’s plan and leaving the outcomes to His providence? That’s why the lyrics of my devotional song for today, by Phillips, Craig, and Dean, are so meaningful – from verse two of their song and the chorus …

It's easy to believe when everything goes our way
But we are all gonna go threw fire to test our faith
Life hurts so much that we can hardly breathe 
We're begging to know why 
But it's such a mystery 

I Choose to believe
And never give up hope 
God is good 
He's in control 
I'll keep the faith 
I trust in His way 
Even when His face is hard to see 
I choose to believe

That about says it all when it comes to exhort us onward in the Christian life, doesn’t it? But we (well, most certainly, I) all too often get all wrapped up in performance-based living rather than simply trusting God and faithfully living an obedience-based life.

 Most certainly Proverbs 28: 20, copied above, promises a “rich reward” from our living a faith-based … obedience-based life; but that rich reward does not refer to worldly-defined wealth, does it? No, … the “rich reward” – or as Jesus referred to it in John 10: 10, the “abundant life,” is the ultimate result of faithfully living in/for Christ; and that outcome may not be realized in this life; but it most definitely will be the ultimate outcome of a life lived obediently for God’s glory.

But our challenge as Christians is staying in that obedience-based mode of living, rather than allowing our attitude and actions to slip into what is the natural and normal default; and that is performance-based or outcomes-based living. Hence I repeat, for the UMPTH time this year, Proverbs 3: 5-6 and Luke 9: 23, which should be so deeply engrained into our minds/hearts that they have become who we are and how we live.

Oh, I am praying so hard, for me today, and asking you to pray for yourself, the life outcomes which come from obedience-based living … IN Christ and FOR His glory. If we do that, the outcomes will be HIS; and no matter what they are, they will come FROM Him and be FOR His glory.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, help me, today and tomorrow, and for the rest of my life here on earth, to be deeply into living in obedience to Your will, seeking Your ways, from Your word … and most certainly all for Your glory! … Amen

Friday, July 19, 2013

July 19, 2013 … Holding to the Vertical

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 200

Devotional Song: Go to this link   … Today, as well as meditating on the Scriptures below which God led me to reflect upon today and most certainly before reading on in my blog, I implore you to use this link to hear Kathy Troccoli, singing, “I Will Choose Christ”, encouraging all Christians to use our choices to serve the Lord in the vertical when we are always tempted to live in the horizontal.

 Highlight Passage of the Day: 2nd Samuel 5: 17-19 [David staying vertical in a horizontal world.] …  
17 When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king of Israel, they mobilized all their forces to capture him. But David was told they were coming and went into the stronghold. 18The Philistines arrived and spread out across the valley of Rephaim. 19 So David asked the LORD, “Should I go out to fight the Philistines? Will You hand them over to me?” 
The LORD replied, “Yes, go ahead. I will certainly give you the victory.”
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 Contextual Study involving today’s passage found in 2nd Samuel, Chapter 5 Go to this link … 
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Reference Passage of the Day #1: Proverbs 3: 5-6 [God’s direction is where we all should be seeking, … no matter what the demands of the world may be.] …
  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 of the Day #2: Luke 9: 23 [But Jesus will always demand the vertical !! ] …  
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 of the Day #3: Philippians 3: 13-14 [Paul knew where the action was!! ] …  
13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven. 

My Journal for Today: In his workplace devotional today, Os Hillman invokes the image of the “entrepreneur” in the work world, … i.e., the one who sees an opening or an opportunity and lunges forward to grab the brass ring, … often moving ahead impulsively and horizontally without taking the vertical into account. And very often in our enterprise-oriented, western world such entrepreneurial spirit is encouraged. However, that kind of thinking, though assertive, and occasionally productive in the world, can go against God’s way of doing business and ultimately will fail in His eyes.

The young, Goliath-killing David most certainly had an entrepreneurial spirit. However, once David became the anointed and actual King of God’s people, he never lost a battle in war because he always sought God’s vertical direction and blessing before forging ahead into the horizontal battles of life.

Some of the lyrics of Kathy Troccoli’s song, linked for you above, reflect this truth as well …
Some days are hard
And I fight to see the truth
But I'm gonna take a stand
In all I say and do.

I will choose Christ …
I will choose love …
I choose to serve.
I give my heart;
I give my life;
I give all to You. 

How often in this horizontally-oriented world, established and ruled over by Satan, do we see opportunities to move ahead and claim what we perceive to be THE PRIZE. However, is it God’s prize? David was always successful in battle because he ALWAYS sought God’s way, God’s direction, and God’s vertical blessing in his desire to serve God in the world of the horizontal and the battles placed before him in his time.

The question for us, meditating on the truths of the Scriptures above, is: … ”Are we moving ahead horizontally in life by staying in tune with and seeking our direction from a vertical confirmation from God?” That is my prayer today. And I pray you join me in staying vertically oriented in a horizontally focused world.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, do what You must to keep me looking UP … first … before I move ahead in my world and life. … Amen

Thursday, July 18, 2013

July 18, 2013 … Go Light Your World

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 199

Devotional Song: Go to this link   … Today, even before going to meditate on the Scriptures which God led me to reflect upon today and most certainly before reading on in my blog, I beg you to use this link to hear Chris Rice, singing, “Go Light Your World”, calling all Christians to take the light, which burns from God’s Spirit within us, and go as Jesus charged us in Matthew 5 to shine the light of our good works in an every darkening world.
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Highlight Scripture Passage of the Day #1: Matthew 5: 14-16 [Our testimony and lifestyle becomes our banner to shine Christ as our light into a dark world.] …  
14 “You are the light of the world — like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father…. “
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Contextual Study involving today’s passage found in Matthew, Chapter 5Go to this link … 
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Reference Passage of the Day #1: Acts 1: 8 [God’s power is always greater than the power of the enemy!] …  
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: Well, normally, when I’m addressing anyone who might be reading along with my daily blogs, I would first you to get into the highlight Scripture passage for the day; and I do want you, my fellow Christians, to do that before reading my journal entry. However, today the lyrics of the devotional song I chosen, sung by Chris Rice, lead the way in what I have to share with anyone today. So, let me copy the opening lyrics and the chorus in Rice’s song to lead my way today …

There is a candle in every soul, 
Some brightly burning, some dark and cold. 
There is a Spirit who brings a fire, 
Ignites a candle and makes His home. 
So, carry your candle, run to the darkness; 
Seek out the helpless, confused and torn. 
Hold out your candle for all to see it. 
Take your candle, and go light your world; … 
Take your candle, and go light your world! …

What do those lyrics say to you when coupled by the charge from Jesus from Matthew 5: 14-16, copied above from the Lord’s Sermon on the Mount? And what do they say to us as Christians when coupled with Jesus’ charge to His disciples in Acts 1: 8, just as the resurrected Lord was taken by God, the Father, back to His throne in Heaven?

 I’m not going to write very much more this morning; because that Chris Rice song and the red-letter words of Jesus, which I’ve highlighted above, really say enough to convict us all that we need to carry Christ’s light more effectively into an ever darkening world.

Think of the image of one candle entering a pitch-darkened room. Even the one candle begins to overcome the darkness. But when my candle lights yours and we begin to spread our lights by helping to light the candles of other Christians in the dark room, the darkness is dispelled and the light becomes brighter and brighter, overtaking the darkness. Join me today and let’s carry our candles into the darkness.

My Prayer for Today … Oh,, my Lord, … my precious Savior and powerful Spirit; … blow on my candle, and that of any who read here, so that we might shine Your light with our candles to dispel the darkness in this world. … Amen

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

July 17, 2013 … Our Banner In Battle

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 198

Passage of the Day #1: Exodus 17: 14-15 [God is always our banner in battle. ] [NLT]  
14 After the victory, the LORD instructed Moses, “Write this down on a scroll as a permanent reminder, and read it aloud to Joshua: I will erase the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” 15 Moses built an altar there and named it Yahweh-Nissi (which means “the LORD is my banner”). 
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 Contextual Study involving today’s passage found in Exodus, Chapter 17Go to this link … 
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Reference Passage of the Day #1: 1st John 4: 4-6 [God’s power is always greater than the power of the enemy!] …  
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. 5 These people belong to this world, so they speak from the world’s viewpoint, and the world listens to them. 6 But we belong to God; that is why those who know God listen to us. If they do not belong to God, they do not listen to us. That is how we know if someone has the Spirit of truth or the spirit of deception.

 Reference Passage of the Day #2: Ephesians 6: 10-12 [God is our armor and our banner in battle!] …  10 A final word: Be strong with the Lord’s mighty power. 11Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies and tricks of the Devil. 12 For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms.

Reference Passage of the Day #3: Matthew 5: 14-16 [Our testimony and lifestyle becomes our banner to shine Christ as our light into a dark world.] …  
14 “You are the light of the world — like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father… "

Devotional Song: Go to this link   … Today, again this day by using this link you will hear the group, Phillips, Craig, and Dean, singing, “Great Great God” which lifts us up with the truth that there is no one like our God. He truly is our Jehovah Nissi, … our banner in battle, … or strength in weakness, … and always our salvation.

My Journal for Today: Yesterday in my devotional blog (see this link) my lesson was that everyday is in a battle against the spiritual forces which come against our faith. However, my point was that we can go into a battle expecting victory because of the truth found in 1st John 4: 4 … that the God who resides in our hearts as Christians is greater and stronger than the forces of the spiritual enemies who come against us, … Satan, the world, and our own flesh.

Today, I revisit some of those same truths from the great story found in Exodus, Chapter 17 [linked above]. When Moses and God’s people, under the battle-field leadership of Joshua, went into battle with the far superior forces of the Amalekites, Moses stood on a hill and held up the same shepherd’s staff which God had fashioned for Moses at the burning bush and used to display God’s power when Moses held up the staff to part the waters of the Red Sea. As long as the Israelite forces could see that staff being held up by Moses, they prevailed in battle; but when Moses’ staff was no longer visible to God’s warriors, the Amalekites prevailed. And finally in Exodus 17: 14-15 we read that Aaron and Hur helped Moses hold up the staff; and the Israelites won the battle; and so Moses dedicated that place of victory, naming it “Jehovah (or Yahweh) Nissi,” which means “The LORD is our banner!”

So, my fellow warrior, … knowing that we must go into battle daily. what do we, who know that God is our armor, weapons, and power in battle, show forth as our banner? What do others see in us that becomes like the staff held up by Moses?

Well, I can almost hear some of you readers jumping ahead of me, having read those passages above which I’ve copied as references. And I can sense you saying, “We, as Christians, have our lives and testimonies, which become the “Jehovah Nissi” for others to see, declaring that God goes before us and declares HIS victory in our lives.”

Have you ever noticed what happens when you’re confronted by someone who is under Satan’s or the world’s influence and they give you, as a Christian, an opportunity to share your story, … openly, truthfully, and with personal vulnerability? It’s truly amazing what will happen. If they’re not hiding behind a shield of denial or defensiveness; and they’re willing to listen to your story of how Christ changed (and is changing) your life, you will experience – at least a momentary – victory over darkness. Why? … Because like Moses’ staff in the battle over the Amalekites, your testimony (or the way you live your life as a Christian) is your “Jehovah Nissi,” … your banner in battle.

When I started being honest and open and vulnerable, sharing my story of how Christ reformed my life from an unbelieving p0rn addict into a Christ-pursuing addict to God’s word, those who needed the power of God’s grace in their lives flocked to me like moths to a night light, asking me how God had changed me. And when I told them, and they applied the same truths their lives, they changed too. That’s Jehovah Nissi shining His light of truth (see Matthew 5: 14-16) into a dark world. It’s a Christian warrior wearing the full armor of God and carrying the sword of the Spirit (see Ephesians 6: 10-18) into battle, which becomes Jehovah Nissi for all to see God’s power working in your life.

 I hope you’ve taken the time to listen to the song, Great Great God, to which I’ve linked you here in this journal entry. My “fave” group, … Phillips, Craig, and Dean, … sing of a God Who goes before us as our banner and declares the victory that was won by Jesus on the cross, … which, of course, is the victory that any Christian can display to the world as our “Jehovah Nissi” if we are but willing to live as Christ and share our testimony of His victory in our lives with others.

My Prayer for Today … LORD, You are my Yahweh Nissi!!! … Amen

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

July 16, 2013 … Ready for Battle?

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 197

Passage of the Day #1: Judges 7: 4-5 [Doing battle God’s way. ] [NLT]  
4 But the LORD told Gideon, “There are still too many! Bring them down to the spring, and I will sort out who will go with you and who will not.” 5When Gideon took his warriors down to the water, the LORD told him, “Divide the men into two groups. In one group put all those who cup water in their hands and lap it up with their tongues like dogs. In the other group put all those who kneel down and drink with their mouths in the stream.”
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 Contextual Study involving today’s passage found in Judges, Chapter 6-7Go to this link
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Reference Passage of the Day #1: 1st Peter 5: 8-9 [Never underestimate our enemy in battle. ] …
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. 9 Take a firm stand against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are. 

 Reference Passage of the Day #2: 1st John 4: 4-6 [Our power is stronger than the power of the enemy!] …  
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. 5 These people belong to this world, so they speak from the world’s viewpoint, and the world listens to them. 6 But we belong to God; that is why those who know God listen to us. If they do not belong to God, they do not listen to us. That is how we know if someone has the Spirit of truth or the spirit of deception.

Reference Passage of the Day #3: Ephesians 6: 10-12 [Every day is a battle!] …
10 A final word: Be strong with the Lord’s mighty power. 11Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies and tricks of the Devil. 12 For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms.

Devotional Song: Go to this link   … Today, please take the time to hear the group, Phillips, Craig, and Dean, singing, “I Choose To Believe” encouraging us to have faith and trust God in daily battles even when the odds seem to be stacked against us.

My Journal for Today: I most certainly hope that everyone who reads along with me here realizes, as I do, that every day, … every hour, … and in every moment of every day, we’re in a battle!

Jumping to one of the references passages in my devotional for today [i.e., 1st Peter 5: 8], Os Hillman helped me remember that we have a very powerful enemy who stalks us, as Christians, doing all he can to damage our testimony and witness with his battle ploys. And Satan is VERY POWERFUL; and he’ll try to shake our faith and cause us to be discouraged or to doubt our ability to fight him with discouragement or deception. But as the Apostles John and Paul reminded their readers (that’s you and me! … reading the passages above from 1st John and Ephesians copied above), our power to do battle is stronger than that of our formidable enemy, Satan. And we can win in battle – God’s way.

 Gideon had to learn that lesson, didn’t he? In Judges, Chapter 7, referenced above, we read of God asking a lot of Gideon’s faith, … paring God’s army down to 300 to do battle against the enemy with 100,000 warriors, who were known as battle-hardened soldiers. And to discern which 300 would be those to do battle, God proposed a rather preposterous sounding testing strategy. But Gideon had learned that no matter how preposterous God’s planning seemed to be, his job was to trust God; … and he did! And from history we know the result. God prevailed and Gideon’s 300 didn’t even have to raise their swords against the Midianites.

Questions: … fellow Christian warrior; … do we realize that we’re in a battle every day? And do we know that the enemy is powerful, trying to take us out as witnesses for Christ? And finally, do we believe that God will prevail for us in battle when we trust in Him and we prepare to do battle in His Name?

The song I’ve chosen to help me know that truth today is being sung by one of my favorite Christian groups, Phillips, Craig, and Dean; and their song expresses where we need to be as we face the battles of life today. Hear the song, praying with me today that we choose to believe and follow our Lord into battle and to win today’s battle in His Name and for His glory!

My Prayer for Today … Yes, Lord, I choose to believe and to battle in Your Name today! … Amen

Monday, July 15, 2013

July 15, 2013 … Finding Our Wings

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 196

Passage of the Day #1: Gideon 6: 12 [“Mighty warrior”] [NLT]  
12 The angel of the LORD appeared to him and said, “Mighty hero, the LORD is with you!”  

Contextual Study involving today’s passage found in Judges, Chapter 6Go to this link
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Reference Passage of the Day #1: Philippians 4: 13 [True; but do we believe it?] …  
13 I can do all things through Christ, Who gives me the strength.

Reference Passage of the Day #2: Ephesians 6: 17 [Me? Who could have known; – God did!] …  
17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 

Devotional Song: Go to this link   … Today, please take the time to hear Mark Harris, singing, “Find Your Wings” encouraging us to become all that God intended us to become in His Name and for His glory.

My Journal for Today: Don’tcha just love the true story of Gideon, … the “scardicat” young man, hiding in a wine-barrel from the mean old Midianites, … the man who was visited by an angel of God, who greeted Gideon by calling him a “mighty hero” (or “warrior”). That’s what God saw in Gideon; and from the story in Judges, Chapter 6 (linked above for your study), that’s who Gideon became. But did Gideon see himself as a “mighty warrior” when God’s angel came to him? Of course not!

It is often the case that God sees in us far more in and for us than we see in ourselves. Forty years ago, I could never have seen myself as “Rev. Bill Berry,” Director of a ministry on the front lines of spiritual warfare (see this link – http://battleplanministries.org ); because at that time I was a self-proclaimed “agnostic,” … one who even denied the presence of God, let alone think of myself as an ordained Christian minister. But like a Gideon, God saw more in my name and personhood WAY more than I did. … BTW, my name “William” actually means helmeted warrior, which certainly fits now that I know that I’m wearing God’s “helmet of salvation” and carrying his sword of the Spirit into battle each day [see Eph. 6: 17 above].

Forty years ago, though, I was in head-long pursuit of obsessive/compulsive sexual sin and denied that God even existed to thwart my sinful lifestyle. But God had other designs on this “William;” … one day to become HIS warrior, wearing HIS helmet, and carrying HIS sword into battle, which I wield each day, blogging from His word and for God’s glory in this place.

Do you have a child or grandchild for whom you’re praying that they become far more than they can see themselves becoming now? Do you pray the prayer of Mark Harris’ song for this child? Please, take the time to hear Harris sing, Find Your Wings to which I’ve linked you above.

The verse from God’s word which God used to draw me onto His road of transformation was Philippians 4: 13, which is above but you may well have memorized. And that is my prayer this morning for you … that you can loudly declare that commitment of faith to your Lord. Oh how I will pray for all of us that we’ve found our wings and are soaring like eagles to become all God sees in us and intends for us to become in His Name and for His glory.

My Prayer for Today … Oh, Lord, I pray that all who read here today are flying as high as You intend for us to fly, … becoming all You see in us and You know we can become for Your glory. … Amen

Sunday, July 14, 2013

July 14, 2013 … The Minefield of Pride

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 195

Passage of the Day #1: Deuteronomy 8: 17 [In the context of verses 15-18] [NLT]
 15 Do not forget that he led you through the great and terrifying wilderness with poisonous snakes and scorpions, where it was so hot and dry. He gave you water from the rock! 16 He fed you with manna in the wilderness, a food unknown to your ancestors. He did this to humble you and test you for your own good. 17 He did it so you would never think that it was your own strength and energy that made you wealthy. 18 Always remember that it is the LORD your God who gives you power to become rich, and he does it to fulfill the covenant he made with your ancestors.

  Contextual Study involving today’s passage found in Deuteronomy, Chapter 8Go to this link
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Reference Passage of the Day #1: Proverbs 16: 18 [How easy is it to walk into the minefield of pride?] …   
18 Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall.

Reference Passage of the Day #1: Luke 9: 23 [How many times does He need to say it to us for us to realize that following Him is all we need to do to avoid the mine fields of life?] …  
23 Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me….”

Devotional Song: Go to this link   … Today, please take the time to hear the group, Hillsong, singing, “Jesus, You’re All I Need” helping us to realize that following Him is all we need in our walk through this life.

My Journal for Today: Oh, fellow disciples of Christ, … if you’re reading here what I humbly submit God’s Spirit has given me this morning, please, … please, … PLEASE take the time to use the link I’ve provided to hear the You Tube segment of the Christian group, Hillsong, singing a song which you may, as I have this day, want to hear over and over again. The message of Jesus, You’re All I Need is so poignantly and powerfully pertinent in the lives of all followers of Jesus! When you’ve heard the song (oh, please do!), it’s really what Jesus said to thousands of His disciples on that hill near Capernaum, which you can read above – and as I so often quote – from Luke 9: 23, which I hope you have memorized by now.

 Oh, dear fellow Christian, it is so easy in life to get side-tracked into what I’ve taught here many times; and that is the MINEFIELD OF PRIDE. If you have followed my blogging for any length of time, you would likely have read me repetitively sharing the word picture my discipler and mentor gave me many years ago. And it was signaled by the question, ”If you knew you were going to have to walk through a minefield, would you want to do it on your own; or would your rather follow someone who knows where all the mines are?”

“Duh!!!” ...  The answer is a no-brainer, isn’t it? But then, why, why, WHY do so many disciples of Christ … so often … fall (as Prov. 16: 18 tries to warn us to avoid) by walking intentionally and headlong into the luring minefield of pride? And can I sense some of you – if not all – saying, “Been there, done that, and have that T-shirt several times over?!”

Perhaps it is because of the truth of Jeremiah 17: 9 (which I also hope you have memorized and internalize). Well, likely so; but it most certainly in our nature to want to do life on our own, which so often leads us and lures us into that minefield of selfishness and prideful decisions. So, I return to the message of my devotional song today, listening to it again; and I take in the truth which I need to ALWAYS remember and activate in my life … that Jesus is truly all I need.

My Prayer for Today … Oh, my Lord, Jesus, … You are ALWAYS, … everyday … and in every way … all I need! … Amen

Saturday, July 13, 2013

July 13, 2013 … Praying for Patience – Fix Me, Jesus!

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 194

Passage of the Day #1: Proverbs 19: 11, 14: 29, 16: 32 [Patience is one of God’s fruit.] [NLT]
19:11 People with good sense restrain their anger; they earn esteem by overlooking wrongs. 
… 14: 29 Those who control their anger have great understanding; those with a hasty temper will make mistakes. 
… 16: 32 It is better to be patient than powerful; it is better to have self-control than to conquer a city.
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  Contextual Study involving today’s passage found in Galatians, Chapter 5Go to this link … 
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 Reference Passage of the Day #1: Galatians 5: 22-23 [How ripe is the fruit of patience in our lives?] …
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.

Reference Passage of the Day #2: Philippians 1: 6 [Jesus is working in all Christians to make us more like Him … to fix us!] …
6 And I am sure that God, Who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on that day when Christ Jesus comes back again.

Devotional Song: Go to this link   … Today, please take the time to hear Queen Latifah singing, “Fix me, Jesus” from the Movie, Joyful Noise which has been a prayer of mine for years.

My Journal for Today: If you’re reading with me in this journal entry for today, you’re welcome to read along; but I recognize that God is using Os Hillman’s devotional and these messages from His word (and the song) above FOR ME. If what I write or what you hear in the song helps you, … fine; but this one was definitely for me.

When I saw today’s date was the 13th of a month (and in the 13th year of this century), my attention was peaked. Some of you know God’s use of the date of “the 13th” in my life, … having been married on a June 13th, having our first daughter on Aug. 13th … me getting my Ph.D. on a 13th, … me stepping into my first job on the 13th, … and God using Philippians 4: 13 on 4-13-83 to break me to the core when I was saved, … all of these dates used by God to bring me to Himself. So, when the 13th of a month rolls around, I usually look for God to send me something special. It doesn’t always happen; but it did today.

The highlight passage from Proverbs 19: 11, given to Os Hillman by God today and put in his devotional, clanged like a bell in my consciousness this morning. As you can read above in that passage and in a few related Proverbs, God’s wisdom wanted the reader to focus on the quality of PATIENCE, which the Lord wants to develop in all believers. I’ll let you ponder and meditate on these verses as I did this morning.

In my case, I was reminded that, from all of God’s “fruit of the Spirit,” which Paul documents in Galatians 5: 22-23, copied above, the one fruit which is most sorely undeveloped in my life is PATIENCE. And I can’t tell you how many times, as I’ve prayerfully developed as a disciple of Christ (always see Luke 9: 23 for that process), I’ve prayed the prayer which Queen Latifah sings about in that song to which I’ve linked you today, … ”Fix me, Jesus, … fix me!” I can’t tell you how many times over the years as a Christian (and it has been MANY!) that I’ve prayed, “Lord, help me to have more patience!”

And as you may know, when we pray prayers for more patience or maybe for more humility, God often uses very trying times or aggravating circumstances to mature these fruit of Christlikeness in our lives. So, every time my wife notices that I’m impatient, especially when I’m driving in traffic around our city, she will gently, and usually quietly, ask me, “Hey, Bill, what is it that God says about patience?” And it jogs me into realizing that once again I need to pray, … “Fix me, Jesus, … fix me!”

I’ll leave it to you to go through Paul’s list of God’s fruit basket above in Galatians 5. And, of course, we always need to realize that those qualities are nothing less than the qualities of Christ, which God has implanted in all true Christians; … yes, ALL of them. But because of our humanity, some of these fruit are not well-developed, … not ripened to completeness, as promised in Phil. 1: 6 (see above). But if I pray, “Fix me, Jesus!”; and I have PATIENCE (ugh!!), somehow on this 13th of a month God is going to do exactly what He promised in Phil. 1: 6; and one day I’ll even have the patience of Christ.

I just hope it happens in this life, rather than having to wait until the next.

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

Friday, July 12, 2013

July 12, 2013 … Independence Leading to Sin

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 193

Passage of the Day #1: Luke 15: 20 [in verses 20-21] [NLT]  
20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long distance away, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. …”
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 Contextual Study involving today’s passage found in Luke, Chapter 15Go to this link … 
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Reference Passage of the Day #1: Proverbs 16: 18 [Doing life on our own will only lead to a fall.] … 18 Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall.

Reference Passage of the Day #2: John 10: 10b [God’s promise of prodigal living!] …  
10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

Reference Passage of the Day #3: Luke 9: 23 [How many times do we need to hear this from God’s own word?] …  
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. …”

Devotional Song: Go to this link   … Today, once again this month, please hear the Maranatha Singers singing, “Jesus, You Are My Life” challenging all who claim to be in Christ to give all to Him our all and not try to do life on our own. God, the Father, in the Person of Christ, is the “pearl of greatest price!”

My Journal for Today: You know the story, … Jesus’ parable of the “prodigal” father and son tell us much about our default tendency to independent living and God’s promise of the abundant life. “Prodigal,” according to Webster’s dictionary, means “extravagance in living.” And we often refer to the parable told about the “prodigal son,” who went off and blew his inheritance on extravagant, excessive, and sinfull living. But we need to also recognize that the son came back to a “prodigal” Father, who wanted only to lavish His extravagant love on His child. And we also need to recognize from this story, and from the truth of Jesus’ story in John 10: 10, that we worship a “prodigal” Father in heaven who desires only to give us His best, His extravagant life, … living with Him forever.

However, all too often, we, like the “prodigal” son, desire to do life on our own; and we run off, ahead of God, trying to live pridefully and independently, on our own. Oh, if we’d only listen to and follow the wisdom of Solomon from Proverbs 16: 18 (above), which tells us that pride so often goes before a fall. And again, there are those echoing words of Jesus, Himself, which I so often end up quoting in my devotional entries from Luke 9: 23, where the Lord exhorts His disciples to deny ourselves and follow Him.

Jesus, in that last passage and in John 10: 10, is not trying to be a cosmic kill-joy. No, like the “prodigal” Father of Luke 15, The Lord wants us to have the ABUNDANT LIFE; and just as in the parable about the “prodigal son,” God, our Heavenly Father, will run to us when we return in repentance from any independent and extravagant selfishness; and He will do what His word promises (see 1st John 1: 9). He will clean us up; and as He promises in John 10: 10, He will lavish His “prodigal” love and eternal life upon us.

My friend, please take the time to use the link above and go hear the Maranatha Singers singing their version of Jesus, You Are My Life, … because my dear one, only running to and surrendering to the “pearl of greatest price,” … Jesus, … and repenting from “prodigal” and selfish living, can we find the abundant life which God, our Father, promises us.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, I run to You! … Amen