Saturday, August 31, 2013

August 31, 2013 … REAL Repentance = TOTAL Surrender

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 243

Devotional Song: Go to this link  ... PLEASE use this link and take in this touching old hymn, sung at a Vineyard Fellowship … I Surrender All, capturing the essence of true repentance … i.e., being in TOTAL surrender to our Savior and Lord.

Highlight meditation passage – 2nd Corinthians 7: 10 [NLT]:  
10 For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death. 
Highlight reading study #1 of 2nd Corinthians, Chapter 7: Go to this link

Reference Passage #1: Matthew 4: 17 [Jesus followed what John The Baptist had been preaching with The Messiah’s own message on repentance.] … [NLT] …  
17 From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”

  Reference Passage #2: Romans 7: 14-15 [Paul recognized how difficult it can be to be in total surrender to His Lord.] … [NLT] …  
14 So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. 15 I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it.

My Journal for Today: Before you read my journal entry, if you’re meditating with me here, please use the link above and take in the devotional song which touched my heart so deeply this morning, … especially the lyrics written by Judson Van DeVenter in 1896 which are found in almost every hymnal and sung even by contemporary worshipers and singers today.
 All to Jesus, I surrender; 
All to Him I freely give; 
I will ever love and trust Him, 
In His presence daily live. 
I surrender all, 
I surrender all, 
All to Thee, my blessed Savior, 
I surrender all.

Repentance, and I mean “real-deal” repentance, may be one of the toughest things for humans to do because it takes what my hymn today sings about … and that is total surrender of self to The Savior.

 Before one can be saved by a merciful and loving Savior, one must be willing – in faith – to surrender one’s will to that of a loving God who so desires to pour out His saving grace into anyone who is willing to humbly receive His merciful and eternal gift. However, to be able to receive the gift Jesus came to earth as the God-man to offer, one has to recognize that he/she is a sinner, repent of that sinfulness, and confess their need of a Savior – THE One and only Savior (see Romans 10: 9-13 ... linked here).

Now, I’m assuming that anyone reading here has done that (but assumptions can be fool hardy; so, if you’re not sure of your eternal salvation, feel free to contact me via email – – and we can discuss the matter). However, if you know you’re saved, do you, as do I as a born-again Christian, often find yourself being unwilling to repent of your own convicted sinfulness or rebellion against God?

The Apostle Paul even recognized this strong human tendency in himself… i.e., to hold on to our selfishness and our unwillingness to surrender to God’s law of love (see the Romans 7: 14-15 reference above).

But, … oh how God wants to pour out His enriching, enabling, and empowering grace in our lives, giving us the ability to reflect all of the fruitfulness God wrote about through Paul in Galatians 5: 22-23. However, we foolish and sin-bearing creatures, so often desire to hold on to the fruit of the flesh Paul also wrote about in Galatians 5: 19-21. Common; admit it!!  This repentance deal is tough, isn't it? 

Surrender all? … Ouch!!! … Are we going to be able to do that today? … If we do, Godly fruitfulness will be our reward. … And if we cannot fully repent and receive God’s grace of forgiveness, we will languish in the darkness of our own selfishness. I pray for the former and for us to be cleansed from the latter.

My Prayer for Today … Oh, Lord, help us to see our sinfulness clearly so that we can confess it and receive your cleansing grace. … Amen

Friday, August 30, 2013

August 30, 2013 … THE Defining Moment

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 242

Devotional Song:   Go to this link ...  PLEASE use this link and take in this powerful song written by Bill Gaither and sung by his Gaither Vocal Band, singing He Touched Me, reminding us that when Jesus comes into our lives He transforms us. His touch of saving grace is the primary defining moment in our lives as Christians.

Highlight meditation passage – Acts 9: 3 [NLT]:  
3 As he [Saul of Tarsus] was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him.
Highlight reading study #1 of Acts, Chapter 9: Go to this link … 

My Journal for Today: As Os Hillman writes in his devotional today …  
"For Moses, it was the burning bush. 
For Peter, it was walking on water. 
For Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, it was walking through the burning furnace untouched. 
For Daniel, it was deliverance from the lions' den. 
For Joshua, it was parting the Jordan River and crossing into the Promised Land. 
For Saul of Tarsus (becoming the Apostle Paul), it was being blinded and spoken to by Jesus on the Damascus road.”

For these men to be used of God, these were defining moments in their lives. And that’s what Bill Gaither and his Vocal Band are singing about in Gather’s rendition of He Touched Me, his song linked for your hearing and meditation above.

When Jesus brings a lost person to that Spirit-prepared moment of brokenness; and through His prevenient grace, The Lord touches that one with His saving grace, it is THE defining moment in the life of any Christian. It is that moment when our humility is readied to the place of being able to recognize and receive the grace of salvation offered by a forgiving and loving God Who wants to transform us into His own image. And in that eternally powerful defining moment, we are changed forever.

Perhaps, like me, you can remember your life-changing, defining moment. During the years Jesus walked this earth in ministry, there were many such moments for those God, The Father, led His Son to touch, … people like the bleeding woman who touched Jesus’ robe, … or the woman at the well, whom Jesus showed such compassion, … or Saul of Tarsus, whom the resurrected Jesus was willing to knock Saul off his horse on that road to Damascus; and from the blindness and healing which followed, Saul became Paul and through His changed life and God-inspired writings, the Apostle Paul has changed the world.

And I can remember, as if it was yesterday, my Damascus Road experience on April 13th, 1983, which God took my brokenness and showed me, through His truth in Philippians 4: 13 (note it was on 4/13/83) that He was the only One Who could give me the Spirit-imparted strength to cover the weakness I had recognized in myself. And from that day forward – to today – He has been carrying out His promised transformation of my life.

I will pray this morning that you’ve had a touch from the Savior which has transformed you; and it’s never too late for anyone who recognizes himself or herself as a sinner in need of a Savior to receive God’s saving grace. And all it takes is the willingness – in the faith He will provide – to receive His touch of grace; and when it happens and one is willing to confess it before others (see Romans 10: 9-13 - linked here ), if you’re that one, God will provide the saving touch that will change you forever.

So, if you need The Savior’s touch today, … just receive it and then go out, in faith, and tell others how He has changed your life for eternity.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, I pray that any who meditate with me here today have been touched with Your eternal, life-altering, grace, … they will be willing to share the good news with others. I know I have; and I declare it so here to You in gratitude for Your mercy and to any who might read and be so touched today. … Amen

Thursday, August 29, 2013

August 29, 2013 … Going Against the Flow

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 241

Devotional Song: Go to this link ...  PLEASE don’t bypass this link and take in this poignant and powerful song sung by Kathy Troccoli, singing I Will Choose Christ, exhorting Christians to be willing to give their all in service to our Lord.

Highlight meditation passage – Numbers 14: 5-10 [NLT]:  
5 Then Moses and Aaron fell face down on the ground before the people of Israel. 6 Two of the men who had explored the land, Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, tore their clothing. 7They said to the community of Israel, “The land we explored is a wonderful land! 8 And if the LORD is pleased with us, he will bring us safely into that land and give it to us. It is a rich land flowing with milk and honey, and he will give it to us! 9 Do not rebel against the LORD, and don’t be afraid of the people of the land. They are only helpless prey to us! They have no protection, but the LORD is with us! Don’t be afraid of them!” 
10 But the whole community began to talk about stoning Joshua and Caleb. Then the glorious presence of the LORD appeared to all the Israelites from above the Tabernacle. 
 Highlight reading study #1 of Mark, Chapter 10: Go to this link … 

 Reference Passage #1: Joshua 1: 9 [God’s calling will always be His empowerment.] … [NLT] …
9 [God speaks to Joshua] “ … I command you—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

Reference Passage #2: Luke 9: 23 [Yes, I know – repeating again – Jesus’ call to discipleship.] … [NLT] …  
23 Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross daily, and follow me.

Reference Passage #3: Proverbs 3: 5-6 [But do we trust 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 direct your paths.

My Journal for Today: Before you began reading with me today, I hope you took the time to use the You Tube link above and listen to Kathy Troccoli, especially paying attention to the powerful lyrics which are included in the You Tube piece. It’s a powerful song which gives a witness to what we Christians must do when we choose to be disciples of Christ. And if you’ve read my reference passages, copied above, you’re probably saying something like, “Bill, how many times do you have to repeat the Luke 9: 23 and Prov. 3: 5-6 citations?”

Well, I think I end up repeating them so often because I personally (BTW, this is MY devotional journal) need to have them repeated so often. So often, as today, these verses just bubble up out of my consciousness as I’m generating these journal entries; and I just know it’s God’s Spirit speaking to me, reminding me – with emphasis – how I need to be a closer, more trusting, follower of where God is leading me. And then when I reheard Kathy Trocolli’s song, which also came to my attention today, I was under total conviction that I need to be much more serious about following where God is leading me as I do life in this counter-God culture.

Today’s highlight passage, brought forth by Os Hillman’s devotional today was from Numbers, Chapter 14, where Joshua and Caleb, after spying the Promised Land, were confronting the people who’d become convinced by ten other spies that they should avoid going into that land promised by God because, in their estimation, it was too dangerous. But Joshua and Caleb, as we know, bucked the tide of public opinion, having total faith in God’s promises, that God would give them this land of “milk and honey,” and their stance for God almost cost them their life.

But from all of these passages in God’s word, and Kathy Trocolli’s song, we’re reminded that God’s calling and His promises will always become His empowerment and enablement to follow Him to what He’s promised.

Has God called you to take a stand that’s unpopular in our culture? Is He leading you to email your congressional Representatives or Senators about unGodly governmental laws or proposals? Is God calling you to minister or witness to people who need help; and He has given you the gifts or experience to help those in such need? And perhaps the trek God is calling you to take is way against the poplar tide of opinion or the “politically correct” ways of doing things.

Well, I certainly identify with Joshua and Caleb, being called to lead a ministry which daily calls me to take a stance for righteousness and against the public will to take the actions which God would lead us to take. Sometimes, being director of Battle Plan Ministries (see this link –, I feel like God has called me to empty the ocean with a tea cup. But I know it’s the right thing, and even more importantly, I know it’s what God has called me to do. So, …….. I move onward … and prayerfully upward!!

What about you? What’s God calling you to do to empty the ocean with your teacup? How about it, … join me and dip your cup in with me? Let’s do it together!! Let’s choose Christ today, … no matter who is standing against us.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, I stand with You and follow You wherever You lead me. … Amen

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

August 28, 2013 … God’s Calling

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 240

Devotional Song: Go to this link ... Today take in this poignant and powerful song sung by Steve Green, singing People Need The Lord, reminding us that we may pass person after person today who need Jesus.

 Highlight meditation passage – Mark 10: 47-49 [NLT]:  
47 When Bartimaeus [a blind beggar] heard that Jesus from Nazareth was nearby [there in Jericho], he began to shout out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 “Be quiet!” some of the people yelled at him. But he only shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 When Jesus heard him, He stopped and said, “Tell him to come here. 
 Highlight reading study #1 of Mark, Chapter 10: Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Matthew 7: 7 [If we have needs, we need to ask Jesus to meet them>] … [NLT] …  
7 “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. … ”

Reference Passage #2: Revelations 3: 20 [He’ll come into us, if we but ask.] … [NLT] …  
20 “Look! Here I stand at the door and knock. If you hear me calling and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal as friends. 

Reference Passage #3: Matthew 5: 15-16 [Shining Christ’s light so that those who need Him will see Him.] … [NLT] …  
15 Don’t hide your light under a basket! Instead, put it on a stand and let it shine for all. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. 

My Journal for Today: The 50-cent theological term for Jesus’ calling the lost is “prevenient grace.” It’s God’s grace which calls us out of our need to recognize that we need a Savior, a Redeemer, … Our Lord. It’s what the blind beggar, Bartimaeus, experienced when Jesus came through Jericho on His way to Jerusalem; and the blind man had a need that only Jesus could provide; and so when Jesus came near he called out to the One Bartimaeus knew was the Messiah; and when the Lord called to this blind man, he responded [see the highlight passage above].

 I can remember the time when I was blind and needed a Savior. Well, maybe I wasn’t physically blind; but I was most certainly spiritually blinded by my own selfishness; and I most certainly was in need of a Savior. And then He came close to me on April 13, 1983; and in my brokenness I was able to reach out and receive His call, i.e., Jesus’ prevenient grace; and on that day, this one, who had been spiritually blind for the first 39 years of my life, began to see life with new and different eyes. And like Bartimaeus, I began to follow Jesus.

How many people will we pass today who, as Steve Green sings in my devotional song for today, need the Lord? And how many of them have a need which is strong enough for them to make it known to you or those around them? I just pray today that if we come into contact with someone who needs Jesus, and their actions identify them as “blind” to the Lord, that we have the wherewithal to shine Christ’s light and share Him with anyone in need of our Savior.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, today help me to see and discern any who are blind to You and need Your saving grace. … Amen

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

August 27, 2013 … Grace ... AMAZING grace!!

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 239

Devotional Songs: Go to this link ...  Please take in this poignant and powerful song sung by Phillips, Craig, and Dean, singingYour Grace Still Amazes Me, exhorting all to remember how deep, how wide, and how strong God’s grace is for anyone willing to receive it today.
And there is the classic old song, at this link ... written by John Newton, Amazing Grace, sung in this more contemporary version, by Chris Tomlin.

Highlight meditation passage – John 20: 19-20 [NLT]:  
19 That evening, on the first day of the week, the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” He said. 20 As He spoke, He held out his hands for them to see, and he showed them His side. They were filled with joy when they saw their Lord! 
Highlight reading study #1 of John, Chapters 20: Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: John 13: 33-34 [God’s love abounds in His grace to all who come to Him in faith.] … [NLT] …
34 "... So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

Reference Passage #2: Revelations 3: 20 [And to receive His love and grace, all we need to do is open the door.] … [NLT] …  
20 “Look! Here I stand at the door and knock. If you hear me calling and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal as friends. ... "

My Journal for Today: Do you remember the scene at the end of Chapter 20 of John’s Gospel? Jesus had just materialized in that upper room to the disciples gathered there; and the first thing out of His mouth was “Peace be with you …;” and today, as I do, we might read that casually; but the astonishment of the disciples had to be overwhelming as Jesus came to His followers after His resurrection into that same upper room where He had tried to reassure them in Chapters 13-16 before He went to the cross.

But here He was in the midst of the eleven who had bolted in fear in the Garden that night when Jesus was taken by the Jewish guards. And there they were in the midst of their post-cross grief; and all of a sudden Jesus appears from seemingly no where; … and what were the first words out of His mouth? Yes, … “Peace be with you!” And perhaps they remembered that same quiet voice of assurance when Jesus had spoken to them several days earlier (see John 13: 34-35 copied above). But in the meantime, before that moment of reassembly in the upper room, the disciples had scattered in fear and had denied they knew Jesus. He had been unjustly tried and skewered on a “tree” unto death. And a few of them had seen the empty tomb after Jesus was buried. But here He was, having appeared out of no where, right there in front of them, … able to show them His scars and let doubting ones, like Thomas, touch Him. And the first words out of His mouth were words of love and amazing grace.

Do you identify with the disciples in that room that night? I do; … because my life is a poster-boy for what those men received that night; and that is God’s amazing grace. No, those men didn’t deserve God’s grace (just as I don’t); but they got it anyway. And that’s what Phillips, Craig, and Dean and Chris Tomlin sing about in the songs to which I’ve linked you this morning. God’s grace toward those of us who believe in Him is nothing short of AMAZING to those of us – none deserving it – who are willing, as Jesus said to His church in Rev. 3: 20, to merely open the door at His knocking and let Him in.

I don’t know about you; but I’m opening the door to My Savior and Lord today!

My Prayer for Today … Lord, I hear You knocking; and I’m here to open the door. Come in; let’s hang out today together. … Amen

Monday, August 26, 2013

August 26, 2013 … My Plans – God’s Plans

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 238

Devotional Song: Go to this link ...  Please take in this poignant and pertinent song sung by Alison Krauss, leading in worship and singing the old hymn Be Thou My Vision, encouraging us to make the Lord’s way our vision rather than seeking our way in life. … And then, with this link ... please take in the song, written and performed by Laura Story, entitled Be Thou My Vision, which help us to realize that many times the tragedies of life can be some of God’s greatest blessings in reshaping our lives.

Highlight meditation passage – Proverbs 19: 21- [NLT]:  
21 You can make many plans, but the LORD’s purpose will prevail. 

Reference Passage #1: Proverbs 3: 5-6 [Faith in action is God’s witness to the world!] … [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 in my workplace devotional, by Os Hillman, he told the story of Samuel Morse, whom you may know of as the father of my digital blogging today or other many other devices which we now use daily, like texting or emailing. All of them were off-shoots and advances in the electronic telegraph, which Morse invented in 1837. We also know his name from the development of “Morse” code which he developed along with the telegraph to send messages more efficiently; … and now many of us do our own “Morse coding” by shortening our language when we text with abbreviations like “THX” or “LOL” or “BFF.” So, we can “THK” Samuel Morse for things we do so casually to communicate our ideas these days.

But I didn’t know, until Hillman told Morse’s story today, that Samuel Morse wanted to be an artist; and had even gone to France to paint and reflect on his life after a series of personal tragedies. But on his trip back from France in casual conversations, Morse picked up the idea for using electricity to send coded messages; and we now know that the telegraph and Morse coding resulted from that, … which then evolved into many of the forms of communications we use right now to communicate.

Wouldn’t you agree, as Alison Krauss and Laura Story sing (linked above), that many of the U-turns or redirections in life are created by God allowing the challenges of life to reshape our life directions or plans? Today’s biblical references to Proverbs 19: 21 or 3: 5-6 above, cry out the truth that God’s plans are HIS plans and many times in life God’s planning must be brought about in our lives by the interruptions or redirections from our own planning and choices.

And I’d almost bet right now you’re thinking of some event or roadblock or mountain you had to climb in life which took you to a redirection changing your life planning in some major way. That’s certainly the case for yours truly; because when I look back over the course or path of my life, I can see quite a few times when the directions of my life were forged by situations or circumstances that were way beyond my choosing; … and those paths, which led me from atheism to faith, … from addiction to sex to addiction to God’ word, … and from self-destruction to Savior discipleship, all were led by a God who cared much more about loving me than allowing me to make selfish choices which would ultimately lead me down Satan’s paths in life.

So, don’t let the difficulties or tragedies of life con you into thinking that God doesn’t care. God is in the reshaping and redirecting business in your life, just as He was for Samuel Morse; and sometimes it may take a tragedy or trial or test in our life to help us stay on God’s course in life rather than allowing us to keep on heading on our own chosen way, which God knows will be a spiritual disaster if we were to continue down that selfish path.

Go back and listen to those songs linked above again; and see if they don’t get you to realize that God only wants us to follow His paths, … in HIS timing, … and in HIS way; and only because He loves us so much.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, AGAIN … I’m following You today; … no matter where You lead me. … Amen

Sunday, August 25, 2013

August 25, 2013 … The Repentance of the Faithful

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 237

Devotional Song: Go to this link   ... Please take in this powerful, sung by Steve Green, singing Find Us Faithful, reminding us that we, the repentant remnant of the faith, must do all we can to do what God commanded of His faithful and that is to walk the walk of faith no matter what our spiritual enemies and unGodly worldly leaders say or do.

 Highlight meditation passage – 2nd Chronicles 34: 19- [NLT]:  
19 When the king [Josiah] heard what was written in the Law, he tore his clothes in despair. 20 Then he gave these orders to Hilkiah, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Acbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the court secretary, and Asaiah the king’s personal adviser: 21 “Go to the Temple and speak to the LORD for me and for all the remnant of Israel and Judah. Inquire about the words written in the scroll that has been found. For the LORD’s great anger has been poured out on us because our ancestors have not obeyed the word of the LORD. We have not been doing everything this scroll says we must do.”
Highlight reading study of 2nd Chronicles, Chapters 33-34: Go to this link

Reference Passage #1: Romans 1: 18-32 [God will not allow a nation to go on in absolute disdain for His commands.] … [NLT] … Go this link ... 

Reference Passage #2: Luke 9: 23 [Jesus’ call is simply to follow Him – no matter what the leaders of the country say or do.] … [NLT] …  
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. ... "

  Reference Passage #3: Hebrews 12: 1 [God’s call is always to avoid the sins of our predecessors and follow Christ.] … [NLT] …
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

My Journal for Today: Well, my friend, if you’re a history buff or a student of the Old Testament, you probably have read or studied in the books of 1st and 2nd Chronicles, where a lot of the history of God’s chosen people, is documented. And most certainly such reading may not be the most exciting of studies; but in those books a lot of what happened in God’s relationship with His people during the age of the Kings was laid out. And today Os Hillman leads his readers (that’s me!) to the accounts of the reign of Josiah, the young king who came to power in the southern kingdom of Judah after the rule of two successive evil kings, Manasseh and his son, Amon.

These latter two kings were really bad dudes; and they had led Judah way-way astray into evil practices which almost spit in the face of God. Josiah, on the other hand, when he became King in Judah at the age of only eight (8), began to turn things around; and somehow, and to me with the anointing and prevenient grace of God, led the people out of their previous rebellion, following what Josiah knew had been the past practices of King David.

However, when Josiah was 26, the priests in the Temple found the scrolls of God’s word, i.e., the Book of the Law. And when God’s word was read before Josiah, as you can read above in 2nd Chronicles 34: 19, he was deeply moved to grieve what God’s people had done during the evil years of Manasseh and Amon. And so, Josiah went into surrender and repentance mode; and though God ultimately had to punish Judah for the disobedience of His people, a merciful God spared Josiah and all of his family and the repentant remnant who had followed Josiah.

Reading these chapters (linked above), caused me to think about what is going on in our world today, especially in this country which was founded on Godly principles, following the lead of Godly leaders. However, now we’re living in a period of national choices and actions which would have to be akin to those years when Manasseh and his son were leading Judah. And I believe, in reading and knowing the truth of Romans 1: 18-32, God is in the process of lifting His merciful hand of protection from a nation which He has seemingly blessed for many, many ages after our founding.

Now however, knowing what Christ had commanded of His disciples (including nations) in Luke 9: 23 and His call for us to be His faithful followers (see Hebrews 12: 1 above), other than some wondrous act of mercy for God to protect His remnant of repentant faithful, I believe in the upcoming years, we’re going to see God, Who has already begun to lift His Spirit’s protection of America, let the leadership of the USA go into the hands of Satan for a season; and it could be an ugly spectacle! And oh, how I hate to think that my kids and grandkids may have to live through the upcoming agony.

But as Steve Green sings in the song to which I’ve linked you today, I pray that we can be of the faithful, as was Josiah in the Old Testament, and many of the faithful disciples of Christ in the 1st Century, remaining true to honor God no matter the circumstances … yes, even if it takes becoming martyrs for the faith.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, help me to be faithful! … Amen

Saturday, August 24, 2013

August 24, 2013 … God’s Faith-building Strategies

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 236

Devotional Song: Go to this link  ...  Again today, like yesterday, please take in this powerful, sung by three great Christian singers, Clay Crosse, Bebe Wynans, and Bob Carlisle, singing I Will Follow Christ, reminding us that no matter what happens in life, as the “called ones” according to God’s will (i.e., we Christians), we must follow Christ.

Highlight meditation passage – Hebrews 10: 35-36 [with verses 35-39] [NLT]:  
35 Do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord, no matter what happens. Remember the great reward it brings you! 36 Patient endurance is what you need now, so you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that He has promised. 
37“For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. 38And a righteous person will live by faith. But I will have no pleasure in anyone who turns away.” [Hab. 2: 3-4] 
39But we are not like those who turn their backs on God and seal their fate. We have faith that assures our salvation.
Highlight reading study #1 of Hebrews, Chapters 10: Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Romans 1: 12-15 [What has God called Christians toward; unrighteousness or righteousness? ] … [NLT] …  
12 Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. 13 For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.

Reference Passage #2: Luke 9: 23 [Jesus’ call is simply to follow Him.] … [NLT] …  
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. ... "

 Reference Passage #3: Matthew 6: 33 [God’s call is always to seek Christ first and His righteousness.] … [NLT] …  
 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.

My Journal for Today: How does God want us to live? And why does He seem SO OFTEN to have to put us through such agony to get us in a place to follow Him (see Luke 9: 23 above)?

As a fellow Christian, called by Christ Himself to “seek the Kingdom of God above all else,” (from Matt. 6: 33) have you ever found yourself having to go through what seems like hell to get to heaven? Yeah, I know, … been there, done that, and have that t-shirt, … don’t we?

How often in Scripture do we read of God putting His stalwarts through a lot of hellish stuff to hone and ripen them for His service. Think of the likes of Moses, Jonah, and the Apostles Paul and Peter, … just to name a few. Think of their life stories and how God used them for His glory, but even more so how He prepared them for His glory. … Now think of our own life story; and I would bet that you – like me – have gone (or are going through) some really crappy stuff (if you’ll pardon my crass language) in the process of reshaping us into His own image and to refine us through the fires of life to purify our testimony/witness.

So, as the author of our highlight passage exhorts today in Hebrews 10, who quoted from one of those whom God took through the fire of faith preparation, Habakkuk, (see the quote from Hab. 2: 3-4 above) we must do what my devotional song sings today; and that is to follow Christ in faith … NO MATTER WHAT!!

And I’m going to tell you, my dear one, that we must not be surprised or deterred from Christ’s call of Luke 9: 23 no matter what we must go through to follow our Lord. My friend, should we be surprised, when we turn – in repentance – and walk toward Christ, that our Lord’s powerful enemy, Satan, is going to do all he can to discourage us, to deter us, and to destroy our witness for our Savior? And Satan knows exactly where our weaknesses lie; and he’s going to do all he can to draw our worship/witness to himself and away from our witness for Christ.

So, my fellow Christian, I charge us all to review today’s devotional song and all of God’s word, upon which I’ve meditated and copied here today, so that we all will stay on the path where Christ, through His Spirit, is leading us. We all must “keep on keeping on in Christ” as my symbol … <'KOKO><  … reminds me. Let me pray for both of us …

My Prayer for Today … Lord, if I, or any who read here, must go through the pains of fire to be purified and readied for Your service, I, for one, thank You for these fires which prepare us to do battle in Your Name. Amen

Friday, August 23, 2013

August 23, 2013 … Waiting On God Is Work

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 235

Devotional Song: Go to this link ...  and take in this powerful song, sung by three great Christian singers, Clay Crosse, Bebe Wynans, and Bob Carlisle, singing I Will Follow Christ, reminding us that waiting on God is an active – very active – following process.

Highlight meditation passage – Psalm 37: 23 [with verses 23-24] [NLT]:  
23 The steps of the Godly are directed by the LORD. He delights in every detail of their lives. 24 Though they stumble, they will not fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand.

Reference Passage #1: Joshua 1: 8 [Having a command of God’s word is at the heart of waiting on God.] … [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: Proverbs 3: 5-6 [Waiting on God is a trusting and seeking process.] … [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 [Seeking God’s peace in prayer is essential in finding God’s will and His way.] … [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.

Reference Passage #4: 2nd Corinthians 13: 1 [Getting Godly counsel helps to confirm where God is leading us.] … [NLT] …  
18 Plans succeed through good counsel; don’t go to war without wise advice.

My Journal for Today: Waiting on God is never a passive process. When we have a task to accomplish or need direction from God, waiting on God is ALWAYS great wisdom. However, that process is not a “sit back and wait” kind of deal; is it? No, … It involves a following of The LORD and a lot of work!

And this morning’s song, to which I link you above, points to the following process. And the first thing we must do in waiting on the Lord is to do all we can to be following Christ; and this involves searching and seeking God’s will and His way from His word.

Do you remember what Joshua had to do after Moses died; and God laid out the task for Joshua to take God’s people into the Promised Land? And In Joshua 1: 1-9 God encouraged Joshua; but the Lord also gave him God’s prescription for success, which was to be in God’s word – day and night - and actively pursuing His way through His word. And my friend, that takes work.

Next waiting on God takes trust. And as you read a passage I refer to often in my devotionals, Proverbs 3: 5-6, we see that we must avoid selfishly doing life our own way; and we must seek God’s will and His way. And quite often – well, mostly – that takes work!

And then in waiting on God, we must avoid anxiety and worry; and in Philippians 4: 6-7 God, through Paul, gives His prescription for anxiety; and that, of course, is prayer; and when we’re praying we should be taking whatever leanings we have in our mind/heart to God for His confirmation. And according to the Phil. 4 truth, when we humbly bring a leaning to God which is solidly in His will, He will give us His peace, … taking away all our worry and give us His way to proceed. And all of this takes work!

Finally, waiting on God involves getting confirmation from counsel; and Paul also advised us (see 2nd Cor. 13: 1 above) that we’d never lead an army into battle without getting solid, God affirming, counsel. Therefore, as one is waiting on God’s will, for His way, it is wise to seek out advice from other Godly, trustworthy CHRISTIAN counselors. And you guessed it, that is work!

So, we see that waiting on God’s will and seeking His way is a VERY ACTIVE process and will never involve just sitting back and doing nothing. Therefore, … when we seek the Lord’s will and His way from His word, praying and getting counsel from other Christians, we may get worn out waiting for God.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, I seek Your way today; and I know that it’s going to be God’s work in the process. … Amen

Thursday, August 22, 2013

August 22, 2013 … Walking Out Of Darkness Into The Light

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 234

Devotional Song: Go to this link -  Take in this encouraging old hymn, sung by Michael W Smith, singing Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus, reminding us that the only way we can walk away from the darkness of this world is to pursue His light in our lives.

Highlight meditation passage – Exodus 20: 21 [with verses 18-21] [NLT]:  
18 When the people heard the thunder and the loud blast of the ram’s horn, and when they saw the flashes of lightning and the smoke billowing from the mountain, they stood at a distance, trembling with fear. 19 And they said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen. But don’t let God speak directly to us, or we will die!” 20 “Don’t be afraid,” Moses answered them, “for God has come in this way to test you, and so that your fear of him will keep you from sinning!” 21 As the people stood in the distance, Moses approached the dark cloud where God was.
Highlight reading study #1 of Exodus, Chapters 20: Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: John 3: 18-21 [NLT] [Jesus invites us to come the THE Light.]…  
18 “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. 19 And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. 20 All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. 21 But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.”

Reference Passage #2: Romans 12: 1-2 [Living a life bathed in light of Christlikeness.] … [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.

Reference Passage #3: 2nd Corinthians 4: 6 [We come to the light and out of the darkness when we do all we can to see and seek Jesus’ light.] … [NLT] …  
6 For God, Who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.

My Journal for Today: Have you ever been in a dark place of sinful living as a Christian, perhaps where you were unwilling or unable to confess your sin for a period of time, covering up the darkness in your life? … But then, … finally, … you came out from the darkness into the light by confessing your sin to God and to at least one other person? Do you recall the feelings of release and peace which you experienced in that moment of unburdening and your willingness to surrender to God’s Spirit and to come to the light of truth from the darkness of cover-up?

This morning I’ve linked you to one of my favorite hymns, in this case sung by Michael W Smith, which exhorts Christians to do all we can to turn our eyes on or toward Jesus. And this song is so powerful because it points us to the only way to come out of the darkness and into the light of Christ; and that is to seek His face by the way we live our lives [seek out above and meditate on Romans 12: 1-2 for Paul’s prescription for this kind of living].

 I’m not going to write very much here today; because, like myself, I think you know, from the conviction and enlightenment ministry of the Holy Spirit, what Jesus was saying to Nicodemus in John 3: 18-21 or the Apostle Paul to Christians in 2nd Cor. 4: 6, both copied above for our meditation. And just as Michael W Smith sings, we must willing to come to the Light and out of the darkness by seeking to look into the face of Jesus in order to live lives which reflect Christ’s Light of truth and not the Satan-inspired darkness we see in this world.

We must ask ourselves; … “Are we living in the light or in the darkness?” And if our answer is the latter, we must come to the Light and out of the darkness by seeking to do all we can to live and reflect God’s truth in our lives.

I don’t know about you; but I could do more to live in the light.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, as I so often pray in this place, shine Your Light on my path so that I can clearly see where to walk out of the darkness and reflect Your light through my life. … Amen

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

August 21, 2013 … God’s Strength and His Armor In Battle

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 233

Devotional Song: Go to this link  … Twelve Minutes of Viewing that could change your life … with the Ellerslie Mission Society presenting the power of the Gospel to give us God’s full armor in battle. … Then listen – with this link  to this encouraging song, sung by Steven Curtis Chapman, singing his lyrics in His Strength Is Perfect, also reminding us that the only way we can fight the battles of life is by wearing God’s full armor and by carrying His Spirit Sword.

Highlight meditation passage – Joshua 7: 10-12 [NLT]:  
10 But the LORD said to Joshua, “Get up! Why are you lying on your face like this? 11 Israel has sinned and broken my covenant! They have stolen the things that I commanded to be set apart for me. And they have not only stolen them; they have also lied about it and hidden the things among their belongings. 12 That is why the Israelites are running from their enemies in defeat. For now Israel has been set apart for destruction. I will not remain with you any longer unless you destroy the things among you that were set apart for destruction.
Highlight reading study #1 of Joshua, Chapters 7: Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Ephesians 6: 10-18 – Go to this link [Putting on God’s full armor to stand in our daily battles.] … [NLT] …

My Journal for Today: Today Os Hillman’s devotional takes me back to Joshua, Chapter 7 today, where God’s people, having crossed the Jordan and entered the Promised Land, and having taken Jericho in their first battle, now encountered a “small-time” enemy at Ai. This battle should’ve been an easy one for the Israelites; but as you read in Chapter 7 of Joshua’s book, the Amorites there soundly defeated God’s chosen peoples in battle.

 And you may recall why. Yes, it was because of the disobedience of only ONE of the leaders of God’s army. His name was Achan; and in rebellion and disobedience, he was not willing to obey God’s commands. And therein is the message reminder for yours truly, as a soldier in God’s army – and perhaps for you as well.

When we go into battle today in the daily spiritual battles of life; and you know we will; we must be surrendered to God’s will totally so that we can put on His full armor and carry His well sharpened and practiced Sword of the Spirit (see Paul’s description of the armor in Ephesians 6: 10-18 linked above). Because, as the videos to which I’ve linked you today depict, we can be victors in battle rather than victims … IF and only IF … we’re humbly willing to be surrendered soldiers to our Commander in Chief (i.e., God’s Spirit), who will daily give us His strength to cover our weaknesses (as Steven Curtis Chapman sings in the song to which I’ve linked you today).

What about it, fellow soldier? Are you wearing God’s full armor today? Are you carrying a well-practiced and sharpened Spirit Sword? Because if you are, as I am, we can cover each other’s back as we do battle together today and we’ll take that high ground of prayer to hold it in Name of our King Jesus!


My Prayer for Today … Today, Lord, my co-warrior and I, reading here with me, are wearing Your armor and carrying Your Sword, Holy Spirit; and we’re here today to take the high ground of prayer in Your Name. … Amen

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

August 20, 2013 … God’s Way – Our “GPS”

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 232

 Devotional Song: Go to this link  … Before you take in what I’ve written below, watch/listen to a poignant song sung by Alison Krauss, singing “Be Thou My Vision”, reminding us that God should be our direction-finder in this life, leading us to the next.

Highlight meditation passage – Philippians 3: 13-14 [NLT]:  
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. 

Highlight reading study #1 of Philippians, Chapters 3: Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Proverbs 3: 5-6 [Trusting God’s way is our GPS in life.] … [NLT] …  
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 6 Seek His will in all you do, and He will direct your paths.

Reference Passage #2: Luke 9: 23 [Following Jesus and never looking back!.] … [NLT]  
... “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross daily, and follow Me.

My Journal for Today: These days when we’re going to take a trip in a car and we don’t exactly know where we’re going, we use maps to help us stay on course, don’t we? Or in these modern techno-times, many of us use a GPS device to help us get to our destination. And when we’re on the road, driving to our goal, we keep out eyes on the road ahead, occasionally using our rear or side view mirrors to see where we’re going in order to insure that, with the help of our GPS, we get to our destination.

Now, … I realize that maps and GPS devices are not perfect; and they may not be able to help us get through some road construction, detours, and the like. But they still are helpers to get us where we’re going. Well, this word picture helps us see what the Apostle Paul was trying to get Christians to understand in the highlight passage for my devotional entry today. He wanted his fellow believers in Philippi to understand that he, Paul, had not yet arrived at his destination of Christlikeness; and that he was going to be keeping his eyes on the road which Christ was leading him to follow, straining to do what Christ had commanded His disciples to do; (see Prov. 3: 5-6 and Luke 9: 23 above) and that is to follow our Lord’s perfect “GPS” and to strain forward, following God’s way, to follow Jesus to where Paul’s Lord was leading him.

My friend, when I come here to this place every morning, that’s exactly what I’m attempting to do in life, and that is to follow God’s inerrant “GPS,” which I have in His word, … striving to see all I can and to travel through the often unpredictable roads in life, straining, by looking ahead, to see through what I can see in my wind-shield of life and to stay on God’s way, doing all I can to get to the destination which Christ has pre-programmed into His “GPS” for my life.

There’s another passage in Philippians, i.e., Phil. 1: 6, which states, 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. So, Christ has pre-programmed us in His Spirit to get to His destination of Christlikeness; and He has given us His perfectly-programmed “GPS,” i.e., His word, to help us stay on the road ahead as we drive toward THE GOAL to which Paul was writing about in today’s highlight passage.

But all too often we have a tendency to try to drive through life by using the rear-view mirrors more that keeping our eyes on the road ahead by using the front wind-shield. And you know I’m right, don’t you? We keep looking into our past; and by doing so, we blind ourselves to what’s ahead. And we also have a tendency to turn off God’s “GPS” and not use His perfect direction-finder from His word. And when we drive down the road through life in this way, we risk an almost certain crash.

So, I believe God is saying to me – LOUDLY – today, … “Bill, use My GPS; and keep your eyes on the road ahead; and I’ll get you where I want you to go!”    And that’s what I’m doing here today! And Allison Kraus sings these directions as well in the lilting old hymn to which I’ve linked you today.

Is God saying these same things to you about how we travel toward our common destination, that being heaven, today?

My Prayer for Today … Lord, I seek Your way. Shine Your light on my path as I keep my spiritual eyes on Your road ahead. … Amen

Monday, August 19, 2013

August 19, 2013 … How Great Is Our God!!

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 231

Devotional Song: Go to this link  … Please, Please, PLEASE, before you take in what I’ve written below, watch/listen to a powerful song sung by Chris Tomlin, singing “How Great Is Our God”, which I’m using as the title for my devotional entry today. In all the challenges of life, how many of us believe and rely on the greatness of our God?

Highlight reading study #1 of Isaiah, Chapters 36-37: Go to this link … 

Highlight reading study #2 of Isaiah 37: 9-20: Go to this link

Reference Passage #1: Ephesians 6: 10 and 18 [When we’re embattled, the most powerful battle strategy we have is PRAYER to our great God.] … [NLT] …  
10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. … 
18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.

My Journal for Today: You know, when any of you fellow readers take in the title which I’ve given to my devotional entry for today, I think most – if not all – of you would agree – at least intellectually - that we serve a GREAT GOD. But when we’re faced with the battles of life, just how much do we believe and rely on God’s greatness and His desire to show His greatness to His enemies and the world?

Going back today into the Old Testament history of God’s people and their embattlement, we read in Isaiah, Chapters 36-37, of one of God’s good-guy Kings, … Hezekiah, who was confronted in his day by the Assyrians. The Assyrians were an empire of bullies, led by a king, Sennacherib, who was out to destroy Jerusalem. And they besieged the City of David and had the kingdom of Judah, under Hezekiah, total surrounded and outnumbered. And you can read above in Isaiah, Chapter 37: 9-20, linked above, that Sennacherib sent a letter to Hezekiah mocking God and touting the power of the Assyrians. And so, what was Hezekiah’s primary battle strategy? It was PRAYER. And when you read the remaining historical documentation in Isaiah, Chapter 37, you see how God showed off His greatness in sending His angel to defeat and slaughter 185,000 Assyrians without Hezekiah losing one soldier in battle.

How truly great IS our God?!!

Yes, … but do we REALLY believe that, when we’re confronted and besieged in the battles of life, … we can totally rely on God for His greatness in our spiritual battles by taking our battles to the Lord in prayer. Paul recognized this battle strategy when he wrote about putting on the full armor of God, taking up a well-sharpened and well-practiced sword of the Spirit, … but then, … taking the high ground for battle by praying, … praying, … praying in the Spirit (see Ephesians 6: 10-18).

 However, fellow Christian, when we’re backed up in battle by a world which mocks and hates God and when Satan shows his powerful enmity for God in the world, do we really believe that we serve a God Who is greater and more powerful to overcome our spiritual foes? ….

I wonder!!

My Prayer for Today … Lord, today, I’m taking the high ground in prayer. … Amen

Sunday, August 18, 2013

August 18, 2013 … Vision in Faith Versus Fear

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 230

Devotional Song: Go to this link … Today watch/listen to a powerful song sung by Steve Green, singing “Find Us Faithful”, declaring that our faith in action must pave the way in everyday life for others to believe.

Highlight reading study #1 of 2nd Kings 4: 8-37: Go to this link … 

Highlight reading study #2 of Matthew 14: 21-36: Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: 1st Corinthians 10: 13 [When we’re faithful, God provides what we need to handle the circumstances of life.] … [NLT] …  
13 But remember that the temptations [or can 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.

My Journal for Today: Yesterday, if you were reading with me, we looked at how God honors faithfulness in action with His grace; and today Os Hillman has me re-exploring that issue, leading me to read and meditate on two stories, … one from the same chapter in 2nd Kings I read yesterday and another, one of my favorites, from Chapter 14 of Matthew’s Gospel. I hope you’ll use the links above to study these two passages, focusing on how our vision (i.e., what we see and experience in life) can effect our choices and actions, depending on our faith).

In the Old Testament story in 2nd Kings, Chapter 4, Elisha encountered and befriended a Shunemite woman who had had a son after Elisha’s prophesy of a miracle leading to the birth. Ultimately the woman’s son died; but she didn’t panic in her grief. Rather, she took the horrible tragedy to Elisha in her faith in the God of Elisha’s prophesy; and Elisha was led by God to raise the boy from the dead.

In the other story, which you probably know, Jesus’ Disciples encountered a death-threatening storm on the sea of Galilee; and Jesus came walking to them on the water. However, the Disciples, never having experiencing anything like that and deathly afraid in the storm, saw Jesus a ghost. But then, when Peter did recognize Jesus, faithfully he stepped out of the boat, at Jesus’ beckoning call, and walked on the waters himself – that is, until Peter’s faith waned, and he began to sink.

 So, I don’t think it takes one with a Master’s in Theology or a Ph.D. in rocket-science to grasp what these stories are conveying to us as Christians. No, it’s pretty simple, isn’t it? The message is that the degree of our faith can be – and often is – measured by how we handle faith-rattling situations in life. And when we can walk-the-walk of faith in the midst of such trials, as Paul wrote about in 1st Corinthians 10: 13, God’s faithfulness, when met with our own faith, always gives us the way to deal with the troubles of life.

 I know that you, as have I, have experienced some test or trial in life which challenged our faith severely; and how we come through those trials is going to determine, as Steve Green sings in the song offering I’ve left for you again today, whether we’ll be found faithful to walk the walk of faith in our Lord; … and maybe that could even be today.

My Prayer for Today … So, Lord, I come here, as faithfully as I can today, to pray that I have the faith to meet any circumstance You might bring or allow into my life which might test me to believe in Your faithfulness. Help me to pass any such test of my faith, Lord, and allow me to come out praising Your Holy Name!.… Amen

Saturday, August 17, 2013

August 17, 2013 … God Honors Faith In Action

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 229

Devotional Song: Go to this link  … Today watch/listen to a powerful song sung by Steve Green, singing “Find Us Faithful”, declaring that our faith in action must pave the way in everyday life for others to believe.

 Highlight Study passage found in 2nd Kings 4: 1-3 [NLT]  
1 One day the widow of one of Elisha’s fellow prophets came to Elisha and cried out to him, “My husband who served you is dead, and you know how he feared the LORD. But now a creditor has come, threatening to take my two sons as slaves.” 2 “What can I do to help you?” Elisha asked. “Tell me, what do you have in the house?” “Nothing at all, except a flask of olive oil,” she replied.
Contextual reading study of 2nd Kings, Chapter 4: Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Proverbs 3: 5-6 [Faith in action is God’s witness to the world!] … [NLT] …
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths.

  Reference Passage #2: Acts 1: 8 [Letting the world see God’s grace/power through our faithfulness.] … [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: Matthew 5: 16 [When we choose to act in faith, we shine the Light of our Lord to the world.] … [NLT] …  
16 “ … let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. 

My Journal for Today: Many times, through clouds of circumstances, it’s difficult to see that God has given enough of His enabling/empowering grace for us to be His witness by simply using what we have been given for His glory. That is the powerful lesson of the widow in 2nd Kings, Chapter 4 who was about to lose her sons to slavery because of indebtedness. But when she went to Elisha, God’s Prophet, and responded to His leadership in faith, God’s power was seen through her actions and faithfulness.

Sometimes we have trouble to live out our faith when we’re confronted with great challenges in our life; and the confusion of the challenges often causes us to be blind to what we have, i.e., God’s grace working through our faith, which can, when activated, witness to God’s purpose and His power through our faithfulness. And that was also the message Jesus was declaring when He ascended to heaven, proclaiming that He would always be with those who faithfully were His witnesses in the world … but only when we do so witness in faith [see Acts 1: 8].

But no matter what our own understanding or fears might be, as Solomon had declared in Proverbs 3: 5-6, when we put our trust in God, He will lead us on the path of witness which shines God’s light, … once again just as Jesus has declared for all of us to shine His light through our acts of faith [see Matt. 5: 16].

I’m afraid that all too often I let the cloudiness of my circumstances or the tyranny of the urgent drag me down into fearfulness and unfaithfulness; and when that happens my Spirit-ignited power becomes dampened by my own inability and inaction to witness. But like the widow of 2nd Kings 4, I need to use what God has given me, mixed with my faith, to be His witness to the world; and when I’m willing to surrender in this way to His will, He can and will use me to shine His light for His glory.

Hey, my friend, just as Elisha called the widow to act in faith, Jesus is calling us to be His witness today; and He has given us all we need to shine His light for the Father’s glory. Dear one, just listen to the powerful song to which I’ve linked you today; and then realize that we need to move forward – even today – faithfully using what God has given us – in His power – to shine His light in this darkened world.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, use my gifts with Your power to let others see You shining through my actions today. … Amen

Friday, August 16, 2013

August 16, 2013 … In Christ – Rejected!

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 228

Devotional Song: Go to this link  … Today watch/listen to a powerful song sung by Phillips, Craig, and Dean, singing “I Choose To Believe”, declaring that our faith must last when others find us an affront to their lives … that God is always worth choosing to believe.

Highlight Study passage found in Matthew 13: 57 [NLT]  
57 And they [i.e., the people of Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth] were deeply offended and refused to believe in Him.
Contextual reading study of Matthew, Chapter 13: Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: 2nd Corinthians 5: 16-17 [Always faithful – no matter what others may think about us in Christ.] … [NLT] …  
16 So, we have stopped evaluating others by what the world thinks about them. Once I mistakenly thought of Christ that way, as though He were merely a human being. How differently I think about Him now! 17 What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!

Reference Passage #2: Romans 12: 1-2 [Shining Jesus’ light in the world as our worship is going to cause ripples of rebellion.] … [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 #3: Matthew 5: 14-16 [Even if those from your past reject you, shine Christ’s light elsewhere to let others see Christ in you.] … [NLT] …  
16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

 My Journal for Today: In 1940 a book was released posthumously by Thomas Wolfe’s publishers entitled You Can’t Go Home. It was the story of a man, George Webber who’d written a book with his hometown characters depicted in the book; and when he went back home to visit, he was shocked by the attitudes of rejection about him which he confronted. And so he went on a quest to discover his own identity.

Well, though Jesus knew His identity with no doubts, when He went back to His home town, early in His public ministry, He, like the main character in Wolfe’s book, faced public reprisal. And Jesus, openly declaring God’s truth, became a mirror for the souls of those around whom He had known when He was growing up. Actually wherever Jesus went, He was a light reflecting in the darkness; but in His hometown, many of the people remembered Him and His family; and they just didn’t imagine that this carpenter’s kid could teach and preach truth the way He did. And it caused them to rebel against Him.

Have you noticed that when you’re willing to be true to the change Christ has brought about in your life [see Matthew 5: 16], others, especially those who’ve known you well in your pre-Christ past will find it hard to take the change they see in you? When I first was saved (i.e., converted) those who had known me as a cynical agnostic on my worksite found it hard to believe that I had become a Christian. And many of them, especially those who had been comfortable with me being a non-believer, rejected me as I openly witnessed my faith in Christ.

And can you imagine how difficult it must’ve been for the Jews of Saul’s day to imagine the change that came over the Apostle Paul when, after being away for a few years, the die-hard Christian-hater came back to Jerusalem spouting Christ’s love and the message of the gospel. So, really it’s not hard to see why Jesus was not well received in His home territory of Nazareth. Jesus, preaching the truth of Himself in the Synagogue there in Nazareth was, as I often depict Christians witnessing in the world, like a mirror; and quite often when people see themselves in a mirror they can often react in anger or denial at what they see; and they will either want to run from the mirror or they will desire to break the mirror and not see themselves reflected there anymore.

That is what may happen when you become a new creation in Christ (see 2nd Cor. 5: 17 above) and you begin to witness your new self in the world (see Romans 12: 1-2). Many, especially those who might have known you before your transformation, will not want to be around you; and you may just have to move on to others with your witness of faith and belief in Christ.

 My friend, if you have family or friends who just can’t take you as a mirror of truth in Christ, … move on and be Christ’s light for others, merely being a witness of who’ve you’ve become through Christ’s Lordship.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, no matter where I go with my witness of faith, help me to be true to You. … Amen

Thursday, August 15, 2013

August 15, 2013 … Blameless … Not Perfect … Just Redeemed!

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 227

Devotional Song: Go to this link  … Today watch/listen to a powerful song sung by Big Daddy Weave, singing “Redeemed”, declaring that being blameless is not being perfect; … it’s being new in Christ … redeemed!!

Highlight Study passage found in Psalm 84: 11-12 [NLT]  
11 For the LORD God is our light and protector. He gives us grace and glory. No good thing will the LORD withhold from those who do what is right. 12 O LORD Almighty, happy are those who trust in you.
Contextual reading study of Psalms, Chapter 84: Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Colossians 1: 21-22 [Reconciled and redeemed.] … [NLT] …  
21 This includes you who were once far away from God. You were His enemies, separated from Him by your evil thoughts and actions. 22 Yet now He has reconciled you to Himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, He has brought you into His own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before Him without a single fault.

Reference Passage #2: 2nd Corinthians 5: 16-17 [Not perfect; but new!] … [NLT] …  
16 So, we have stopped evaluating others by what the world thinks about them. Once I mistakenly thought of Christ that way, as though He were merely a human being. How differently I think about Him now! 17 What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!

My Journal for Today: Doing the right thing, … living the right way, … being the right kind of person. That’s a tough calling in living the Christian life, isn’t it? We’re called to live holy lives and to be blameless before God in glory; … yet, here we are, so imperfect in our human state.

Yes, my friend, we’re called unto righteousness and we’re still unrighteous; but fortunately that has been rectified by Christ on the cross; and now, IN CHRIST, having been redeemed by HIS blood through the faith I have placed in Him as my Lord and Savior, I can live my life as a new creation, … being molded into His image by His Spirit living in me.

Yes, … I should ALWAYS strive to be like my Lord, … Holy and Perfect; … but now my striving to blamelessness is covered by His redemption; and when I’m surrendered to Him, I AM BLAMELESS. It’s a hard one to fathom for any Christian; but even when I sin, being redeemed, He covers my transgressions with His blood. No, it doesn’t’ mean that I can recklessly sin, willfully and openly and chronically, without being convicted in my sin. Sin always has consequences. But it does mean that my redemption in Christ will lead me to desire to live blamelessly before God’s throne of grace.

So, today I’m praying, having taken in God’s truth above, that we all strive to live blameless lives before the Lord, Who died and was resurrected that we live for Him as redeemed and new creations in Christ.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, I surrender to Your grace to cover my humanity. Bring all who read here to live blameless lives, covered by Your blood, … REDEEMED!! … Amen

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

August 14, 2013 … < ?WGO,G? ><

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 226

Devotional Song: Go to this link -  … Today in my devotional journal entry, please take the time to watch/listen to a powerful song sung by Nicole Nordeman, singing “What IF”, challenging us go beyond our selves with the ultimate question about God, “What if it’s all true?!”

Highlight Study passage found in Job 42: 3b [NLT]
 1 Then Job replied to the LORD: 2 “I know that You can do anything, and no one can stop You. 3You ask, ‘Who is this that questions My wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I. And I was talking about things I did not understand, things far too wonderful for me.

Contextual reading study of Psalms, Chapter 145: Go to this link

Reference Passage #1: Romans 8: 28 [Really! … REALLY!!] … [NKJV] …  
28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 

 Reference Passage #2: Proverbs 3: 5-6 [Yes, …REALLY! … It’s all true!] … [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: If you’ve been with me, maybe reading here with me over the years, you’ve seen me use a few 1st Century type short-hand symbols to indicate some personal Christian expressions … like my symbol for my signature, which is “ <'wrb>< ” … which means “William Robert Berry is in Christ.” Or another I often use is “ <'KOKO>< ” … which would mean “Keep On, Keeping On in Christ,” my way of encouraging fellow Christians to stay strong in their faith.

Well, above I’ve used another such symbol; and perhaps you’ve already guessed what it might mean from the highlight scripture for my blog this morning. But if not, let me define it for you. It means, “What’s going on, God?!” And Os Hillman had titled his devotional for today: “Things I Cannot Understand;” … and he used Job as his biblical example of a righteous believer who probably has become God’s primary example from His word as to God allowing inexplicable, bad things to happen to people which cause the believer to ask, “What’s going on, God??!! 

But Job wasn’t the only example in Scripture of this syndrome of confusion, was he? No, … there was Moses at the burning bush; and Jonah in the belly of a big fish; and there was Habakkuk, asking “Why God?” in the midst of circumstances he couldn’t understand. And also in the Old Testament, there was old Abram and Sara, who just couldn’t get it when God laid His covenant on them; and finally there was Abe’s grandson, Jacob, who had to wrestle with God, in confusion, trying to get God’s blessing. And then we go into the New Testament; and how many times did Peter get confused, blundering forth with his “foot-in-the-mouth” impulsiveness; … or there was Paul, having to be knocked off a horse and healed from blindness to understand with Whom he was dealing; … or there was Thomas who just couldn’t get it until he could put his finger in Jesus’ wounds after the resurrection?

And I would bet that any who’re reading here with me, like myself, could recall an instance when we were asking, “What’s Going On, God!?” … Are you with me? … Right now, I’m recalling the morning when God used the number “13” so powerfully to break me to my core after He had relentlessly pursued me for so many years? Well, that’s too long of a story to tell (or retell) for you here; but save it to say that God had allow this hard-head agnostic (really, an atheist) to blunder about for over 20 years with me pushing Him away and questioning His existence and absolutely denying His place in my life. My story was much like the dilemma and question which Nicole Nordeman sings about in her song, “What If?” And I hope you’ve taken the time to go to You Tube and see/hear that song, which poses the ultimate question which all must ask themselves, “What if all God has said about Himself, in the Bible and elsewhere, is true?”

 But it’s even quite often the case that believers – yes, even we born-again Christians – can be in a place in our lives where we are asking “ <’?WGO,G?>< ” … What about you?

 Ever been there, done that, and now you have the t-shirt on that spirit of confusion. Well, God’s truth; and all of His promises in His word are there to lift you up with His declaration, … especially in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, … that IT’S ALL TRUE? And like Job, Moses, Jonah, and all the others, we can come to the conclusion which Jesus declared from the cross, “It is finished!” And then God the Father, through His Spirit, punctuated this reality by raising His Son from the grave, defeating death, and inviting all of mankind to see exactly what was and is going on for us to come to Himself in faith.

How about you, are you having a < moment right now? If so, go cling to the cross and realize that you can “ <’KOKO>< ” and be assured that it’s all going to be “ <’OK!!>< ” … i.e., yes, … Okay in Christ!

My Prayer for Today … Yes, Lord, it’s totally OK in You!!! … Amen

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

August 13, 2013 … Our Faithful God

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 225

Devotional Song: Go to this link  … Today in my devotional journal entry, please take the time to watch/listen to a powerful song sung by the group, The Maranatha Singers, singing “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”, from Lam. 3: 22-23 God’s word reminds us that our hope for tomorrow is found in the faithfulness of our God

Highlight Study passage found in Psalm 145: 13b-14 [NLT]  
13b The LORD is faithful in all He says; He is gracious in all he does. 14 The LORD helps the fallen and lifts up those bent beneath their loads.
Contextual reading study of Psalms, Chapter 145: Go to this link

Reference Passage #1: Lamentations 3: 22-23 [Always faithful!.] … [NLT] …
22 The unfailing love of the LORD never ends! By His mercies we have been kept from complete destruction. 23 Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each day. 24 I say to myself, “The LORD is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in Him!” 25 The LORD is wonderfully good to those who wait for Him and seek Him. 26 So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the LORD

Reference Passage #2: Proverbs 3: 5-6 [Faithfulness is the foundation of trust.] … [NLT] …  
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths.

My Journal for Today: Ever had someone in your life with whom you could trust implicitly and completely, … maybe your spouse or a parent or a reliable, close “BFF.” If that person said they would be somewhere at a certain time, you could put it in the bank that they would be at the designated place … ON TIME! And if they were not there, ON TIME, you just KNEW that something had happened – maybe even something bad – which caused them to be late.

I’ve heard it said that “faithfulness is the foundation of trust.” And I know that to be true because for the first 12 years of my marriage I was unfaithful to my wife; and during that time she had no idea of my inexcusable indiscretions. But my unfaithfulness was finally uncovered and confessed; and all the credits which I had had in her bank of trust were gone. Then Christ came into our lives; and we began to put our trust in His love, … His mercy … and HIS faithfulness. And over time, through me walking, first with Christ and then, in exhibiting my faithfulness to my wife, she began to trust me because I was faithful; and now – YEARS LATER – she knows that I would do anything to retain her trust. But it took years for me to rebuild credits in her trust bank; and my primary walk in doing so was simply following the faithfulness of my Lord, …following Him in all I think, say, and do.

The Prophet Jeremiah, in his writings in Lamentations 3: 22-23 expresses – from God’s Spirit – the absolute truth about our God’s faithfulness. We can ALWAYS trust our God because He is ALWAYS faithful, … just like the “Son” comes up everday. And you can read about Him being faithful time and time and time again in the Old and New Testaments, and His faithfulness was completely and finally expressed in the life, death, and resurrection of the Lamb of God, our faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.

 Please take the time to use the link above and hear that wonderful old hymn about God’s faithfulness and His mercies, … which are new every morning in our faith-based relationship with our Lord. And then go back to the Song of faithfulness, written and sung by King David in Psalm 145, to see why our God can be trusted and why we can always put our hope in Him.

Yes, life can be tough at times. It sure was for all those years David ran from Saul in the dessert. It was for those years Joseph languished in slavery and prison. It was for Moses for all those years as a shepherd in the wilderness. And it certainly was for Jesus, Who was so unjustly put on a cross to die for you and me. But in all of those times and all of the challenges and trials of our lives, God is ALWAYS FAITHFUL to be there with His grace and mercy … WITH us … and FOR us. And in the end, it will be HIS faithfulness and HIS grace which will prevail in our lives.

My Prayer for Today … Yes, Lord, … great is Thy faithfulness!!! … Amen

Monday, August 12, 2013

August 12, 2013 … Our work is our worship

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 224

Devotional Song: Go to this link  … Today in my devotional journal entry, please take the time to watch/listen to a powerful song sung by the group, Hillsong, singing “Here I Am To Worship”, asking us if we’re living our lives in worship of our Lord. … And then at this link  there is a video of a very poignant prayer of a young man who desires to be all that Hillsong sings about by living his life in worship and outreach for Christ’s Name.

Highlight Study passage found in Colossians 3: 23-24 [NLT]  
23 Work hard and cheerfully at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. 24 Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and the Master you are serving is Christ.
Contextual reading study of Colossians, Chapter 3: Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Romans 12: 1 … [NLT] [All of our living and working is our “living sacrifice,” i.e., our worship.] … [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.

Reference Passage #2: Psalm 104: 23 … [NLT] [“Avodah” is our WORK.] … [NLT] …  
23 Then people go off to their work [“avodah”]; they labor until the evening shadows fall again. 

Reference Passage #3: Exodus 8: 1 … [NLT] [“Avodah” is our WORSHIP] … [NLT] …  
1 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh once again and tell him, ‘this is what the LORD says: Let my people go, so they can worship [“avodah”] Me.

My Journal for Today: There’s an Old Testament concept in Hebrew; and it is “avodah.” You can find it in OT Scripture referring to either “work” or “worship.” Two of those references can be found above as reference passages #2 and #3. Taken together, therefore, one can say that “our work – i.e., whatever we think, say, or do – is our worship.” And the Apostle Paul was certainly one who found himself called out for service to our Lord; and he picked up on this Jewish concept of “avodah” in the New Testament in his writings to Christians in the Colossians 3:23 and Romans 12: 1 passages above.

And the song to which I link you above shouts out the very same charge to our lives … i.e., that we need to be declaring by our everyday work is our “living sacrifice” and our worship of the One, our Savior, Jesus, Who served mankind all the way from His carpenter’s bench to the cross. Do I really need to go into depth here in reinforcing the Hebrew meaning of “avodah?”

No, I think not. I’m duly convicted to pray here this morning that I can go forth with all the works that I do today being both my work and my worship, … showing as much “living sacrifice” as I can as my work/worship of my Lord.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, whatever I think, say, and do today, may it be my worship and thankful praise for Your Lordship in my life. … Amen

Sunday, August 11, 2013

August 11, 2013 … Reflecting God’s Glory

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 223

  Devotional Song: Go to this link  … Today in my devotional journal entry, please take the time to watch/listen to a powerful song sung by Chris Tomlin, “How Great Is Our God”, reminding us that God’s greatness declares itself in creation and in how He relates with us in this life.

 Highlight Study passage found in Psalm 145: 11-12 [NLT]  
11 They will talk together about the glory of your kingdom; they will celebrate examples of your power. 12 They will tell about your mighty deeds and about the majesty and glory of your reign. 
Contextual reading study of Psalm 145: Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Matthew 5: 14-16 [Our lives reflect God’s glory or Satan’s deception.] … [NLT] …  
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.

 Reference Passage #2: Acts 1: 8 [We are God’s witness in the world.] … [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 Corinthians 2: 4-5 [In the context of verses 1-5] … [NLT] …  
1 Dear brothers and sisters, when I first came to you I didn’t use lofty words and brilliant ideas to tell you God’s message. 2 For I decided to concentrate only on Jesus Christ and his death on the cross. 3 I came to you in weakness—timid and trembling. 4 And my message and my preaching were very plain. I did not use wise and persuasive speeches, but the Holy Spirit was powerful among you. 5 I did this so that you might trust the power of God rather than human wisdom.

My Journal for Today: God’s desire – post New Covenant – is really quite simple and powerful. And it was even prophesied by King David in the Old Testament (see above in Psalm 145: 11-12) … that mankind – all mankind – would faithfully declare God’s glory. And Jesus, … the Light of the World, when He came to us in His incarnation, declared before/after His resurrection that we Christians, … i.e., His disciples, … should reflect His glory (i.e., His Light) through the way we live our lives. And the later Apostle, Paul, [see 1st Cor. 2 copied above] picked up on this when he wrote to the Corinthians (and all Christians) that his preaching was simply – and clearly - to reflect the power of God to all who would see/hear of His glory.

So, what does God intend for us to be? And I think, from God’s word and the song to which I’ve linked you to above, we should understand that we become reflections of God’s glory for all to see WHEN and IF we live, move, and have our being reflecting the Light of the world. And as we reflect His glory, by doing all we can to live in Christ’s likeness, others will see His glory as we wear His robes of righteousness rather than as we display our own rags of sin.

POP QUIZ: … let me reflect here the questions asked by Os Hillman in his devotional entry for today. • ” If you do not see His glory being reflected through your life, then you need to ask why. He has promised to do so if we will walk in obedience to His commands.”

Personally, there are times when I do shine Christ’s light through my life; but those times are fewer than I – and most certainly my Savior – would like. I’m praying today that I can reflect His Light through all I think, say, and do. …

 How about you?!

My Prayer for Today … Lord, as I so often pray, … shine Your light so brightly on my path today that I can’t help but see the way to reflect Your glory for others to see. … Amen