Thursday, October 31, 2013

October 31, 2013 … God’s Wrath or His Mercy

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 304

Devotional Song: Go to this link -  Please take the time to meditate on this powerful song with Steve Green, singing Find Us Faithful, … reminding us that we, as those vowed to faithfulness in our Lord, must let our “YES” be “YES” … finding us faithful all the days of our lives. … And then GO TO THIS LINK to see a video of the lyrics of Phillips, Craig, and Dean singing Let My Words Be Few, which is the truth from Ecclesiastes 5: 1-7 found by the link below.
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Highlight Passage: Joshua 9: 20… [Making vows before God is serious business!] … [NLT]  
20 “… This is what we must do. We must let them live, for divine anger would come upon us if we broke our oath!”

Highlight Passage: Joshua, Chapter 9… GO TO THIS LINK … [NLT] … 
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Reference Passage #1: Psalms 50: 16-23 … [God’s wrath awaits those who will not keep their vows to God.] … [NLT] GO TO THIS LINK ... 

Reference Passage #3: Ecclesiastes 5: 1-7… [Talk is cheap! … If you make a vow – keep it!!] … [NLT] … GO TO THIS LINK ...  

Reference Passage #3: Matthew 5: 33-37 … [Let your yes be yes and your no be no!] … [NLT] …GO TO THIS LINK ... 

My Journal for Today: Today the photo I’ve attached should signal the title for my blog today, which is all about making and keeping vows before God. But how many times to people make marriage vows, many made by Christians in a church before and to God about being faithful to their spouse; and then the statistics show us that over 50% of them break those vows and the marriage ends in divorce. Yes, the message of my journaling today is that taking and making vows is serious business.

And even Jesus, our LORD, in His Sermon on the Mount, preached about the seriousness of making vows before God (see the link to Matthew 5: 33-37 above). And Solomon, later in his life, after repenting in the book of Ecclesiastes of how he had lived out much of his life in disobedience to God, wrote about letting our “words be few” but truthful when it comes to making and keeping promises before God. And that’s what both Steve Green and Phillips, Craig, and Dean sing about in the two songs to which I’ve linked any reader here today. I hope you’ve taken the time to view the videos, take in God’s truth in the lyrics, and hear these powerful songs.

But after hearing and meditating on those powerful lyrics and then taking in God’s strong words about His wrath coming down on those who make and then break their vows, what impact do these truths have on how we live our lives? Well, long ago I realized both the wrath of God and His faithfulness and mercy when I had to confess being unfaithful to my wife. That’s too long of a story to journal here; but the first 12 years of our marriage were a sham; and I had to come before God – and most certainly my dear wife – to confess and repent of my unfaithfulness to her and to God. And now, living out the last 37 years of our marriage in a repentant walk of faithfulness to my wife and to God, I’ve learned the reality of God’s merciful forgiveness and His blessing on those who keep their vows to Him and to each other.

 So, … perhaps this short blog will cause any who read here to re-evaluate any promises you’ve made to others, and most certainly to God, which need confession and genuine repentance to set them right and to put you in line to receive God’s merciful forgiveness and love rather than His wrath.

Our choice … and enough said!!

My Prayer for Today … Oh, dear Lord, let my yes be my yes and my no be my no! … Amen

Blogger Note: Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online blog entitled Today God Is First [TGIF], authored by Os Hillman. If you GO TO THIS LINK  on the date of my blog, you’ll find a link to read Hillman’s TGIF blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

October 30, 2013 … God’s Power

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 303

Devotional Song: Go to this link -  Please take the time to meditate on this powerful song with the group Hillsong, leading worship, singing Jesus, You’re All I Need, … reminding us to overcome any spirit of fear being used by Satan to defeat our purpose to follow our Lord. … And then GO THIS LINK  to hear another song, sung by Stephen Curtis Chapman, singing His Strength Is Perfect, … reminding Christians that God gives us what we need to cover our weakness.
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Highlight Passage: 1st Samuel 17: 37 … [No fear of any Goliath!] … [NLT]  
37 The LORD who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!” … Saul finally consented. “All right, go ahead,” he said. “And may the LORD be with you!” 
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 Highlight Passage: 1st Samuel, Chapter 17, Verses 32-51… GO TO THIS LINK … [NLT] … 
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Reference Passage #1: 2nd Timothy 1: 7 … [Subbing God’s power for our weakness.] … [NLT]  
7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

Reference Passage #3: 1st John 4: 4 … [He that is in us is ALWAYS more powerful than he who rules this world.] … [NLT] …
4 But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.

Reference Passage #3: 1st Corinthians 12: 9 … [God’s strength for our weakness; … a good swap.] … [NLT] … 9 Each time He [Jesus] said,My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 

My Journal for Today: I think all Christians are drawn to the story of David & Goliath because we all have “goliaths” in our lives where Satan is trying to use our very human fears to waylay us and deter us from our pursuit of Christ in faith. Hence, Os Hillman today refers me and his readers back to that Old Testament class in 1st Samuel, Chapter 17 where a young, brash and anointed David was able to overcome Goliath because he KNEW that his God was stronger that the giant.

It’s like Paul declared to his young protégé, Timothy, … [see 2nd Tim. 1: 7 above] … that we need not succumb to a spirit of fear in our lives because, as Paul also declared, with God’s inspiration, in 1st John 4: 4 and 2nd Cor. 12: 9 that our God is ALWAYS stronger than Satan, who will almost always try to use a spirit (His Spirit) of fear to discourage or distract us from pursuing a deep and abiding relationship with Christ.

The question is … are we going to let Satan use his spirit of fear to overcome THE SPIRIT of the living God within us to deter, distract, or discourage us from our carrying out God’s will for our lives?

I think NOT, my fellow Christian; and I pray not today!!

My Prayer for Today … Lord, as we hear in the songs linked here today, give us Your strength to overcome any spirit of fear which Your enemy uses to discourage us. … Amen

Blogger Note: Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online blog entitled Today God Is First [TGIF], authored by Os Hillman. If you GO TO THIS LINK  on the date of my blog, you’ll find a link to read Hillman’s TGIF blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

October 29, 2013 … God’s Rock

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 302

  Devotional Song: Go to this link -  Please take the time to meditate on this powerful song and testimony with Lawrence Chewning, the man who wrote the song The Anchor Holds, … his testimony and singing declaring how there are times in our lives which challenge and test the strength of the anchor of our faith to be secured to the Rock, … yes, even when our ship of life is battered and our sails are torn.
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Highlight Passage: Numbers 14:44 … [Presumption can be the mother of all failure.] … [NLT]  
44 But the people defiantly pushed ahead toward the hill country, even though neither Moses nor the Ark of the LORD’s Covenant left the camp. 
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Highlight Passage: Numbers, Chapter 14, Verses 26-45… GO TO THIS LINK … [NLT] 
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 Reference Passage #1: Psalms 46: 1, …10a … [Does our anchor hold when the troubles come?] … [NLT]  
1 God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. … 
10 “Be still, and know that I am God! …”

Reference Passage #2: Proverbs 3: 5-6 … [Can we avoid presumption and let God take us through the storm?] … [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.

Reference Passage #3: Romans 8: 28 … [Following God when it makes sense is one thing; but believing and following when God’s way takes us through the storms of life is another.] … [NLT] …  
28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are [the] called according to His purpose for them.

My Journal for Today: Today Os Hillman took me to one of many stories where God’s people, being led into and through the Promised Land, let their own presumption disengage themselves from God’s protection and guidance. And what happened? With their anchor chain of faith broken from God’s rock of promises and protection, they were left adrift; and as we read in Numbers, Chapter 14, they became defeated by the storms of life.

Oh how easy it is, when our lives are tossed and turned by the storms of life, to let our anchor chain of faith become disengaged from the Rock, the One Who holds us in the storm. I hope you’ve taken the time to view the video to which I linked readers above. It is the testimony and story of the man who wrote the song, The Anchor Holds. And I know all who hear his story and song will identify that the anchor chain of our faith must be affixed to the Cross, as the attached depicts, which certainly gets tested when we’re in the midst of often unpredictable and even life-threatening storms.

I don’t think I need to go on with this after you’ve heard Lawrence Chewning’s story and his song and meditated on the passages from God’s word above. I think we’ll all see the application to our lives.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, help me to affix my anchor to You as my Rock as I face the storms of life. … Amen

Blogger Note: Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online blog entitled Today God Is First [TGIF], authored by Os Hillman. If you GO TO THIS LINK  on the date of my blog, you’ll find a link to read Hillman’s TGIF blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Monday, October 28, 2013

October 28, 2013 … God’s Vision

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 301

Devotional Song: Go to this link -  Please take the time to meditate on this poignant worship song and video, sung by Alison Kraus, leading a group in worship and singing Be Thou My Vision, … calling all Christians to let Jesus, our Messiah, to be our vision in life.
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Highlight Passage: 2nd Kings 6: 17 … [May our eyes of faith be opened to see life with God’s eyes.] … [NLT]  
17 Then Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes and let him see!” The LORD opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.
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Highlight Passage: 2nd Kings, Chapter 6, Verses 1-23… GO TO THIS LINK … [NLT] 
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Reference Passage #1: Hebrews 11: 1-3 … [Faith becomes our eyes of God, letting us see glimpses of His glory.] … [NLT] …  
1 Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. 2 Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation. 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.

Reference Passage #2: Acts 2: 14-21 … [The vision from Joel 2: 28-32 becomes reality on the day of Pentecost.] … [NLT] …GO TO THIS LINK


My Journal for Today: Have you seen the movie, Field of Dreams, where an Iowa farmer has this vision of building a baseball field, fashioned from his cornfield? He hears a voice saying, “Built it and they will come.” At first, quite logically, he resists the vision and the voices. But finally, he surrenders to the vision; and he begins to follow the dream, building the baseball field of his dreams. And when he does this, of course, those around him think the farmer crazy; but he forges ahead to build the ball field. And when he finishes, baseball players from the past, including the man’s father, come to the field to play ball. Nobody else can see the famous big leaguers, except for the farmer; but he doesn’t care, because he knows – by faith – that the vision was real.

Of course, the movie is a fantasy; but it illustrates a startling and wonderful reality. And it’s a reality which came true in my life. Oh, … be assured, I’ve never had voices telling me to build a baseball field; but I have had glimpses of God’s glory in my life which have become the very real dreams of being with God one day and letting my faith allow me see visions of His glory … just as Elisha’s protégé was allowed to see way beyond the here-and-now, being able to see God’s vision on the hope of our future [see the passage, linked above, from the Old Testament in 2nd Kings, Chapter 6].

Hundreds of years before Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the prophet Joel had a vision and prophesied a time when God’s Spirit would descend upon His people; and we now know from Acts 2: 14-21, linked above, that this prophesy (i.e., God’s vision) became reality when the Spirit fell upon the people responding to the Apostle Peter’s Pentecostal sermon. Yes, we who come to surrender in faith and repent of our sins, desiring with all our heart to be obedient to God, will ultimately see the reality of our “field of dreams” when we are with Jesus in glory.

A little over thirty years ago, in my office, early in the morning, I set aside all my all my previously-held biases and prejudices against Christ; and God swept the blinders from my eyes, allowing me to see just a glimpse of His glory, … promising me the spiritual strength I had been seeking to cover my very human and habitual weaknesses. And He did just that! And from that moment where the scales were shed from my eyes, I’ve been allowed to see many more glimpses of glory down the road of my life, vision which has assured me that the greatest dream and reality lies ahead when I’m with my Savior in heaven.

Oh, how I pray that you’ve had the scales taken from your eyes; and you’ve been able to respond with the eyes of faith so that you could begin to build a field of dreams in your life.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, for any who’ve come here in faith, reading with me in this place, may we be given moments or seasons of vision so that we can follow Your light … all the way to Your glory. Amen

Blogger Note: Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online blog entitled Today God Is First [TGIF], authored by Os Hillman. If you GO TO THIS LINK  on the date of my blog, you’ll find a link to read Hillman’s TGIF blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

October 27, 2013 … God’s Absence

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 300

Devotional Song: Go to this link -  Please take the time to meditate on this powerful song and video, sung by The Maranatha Singers, singing Jesus, You Are My Life, … challenging Christians to run to and stay with our Savior all the days of our lives … all the moments of our lives.
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Highlight Passage: Luke 2: 43-44a … [Will we ever let our Lord slip from our attention?] … [NLT]  
43 After the celebration was over, they started home to Nazareth, but Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents didn’t miss him at first, 44 because they assumed he was among the other travelers. … 
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Highlight Passage: Psalms, Chapter 2, Verses 41-52 … GO TO THIS LINK … [NLT]  ============

Reference Passage #1: Deuteronomy 31: 6 … [He’s never going to forget us; but will we forget Him?] … [NLT] …  
6 “… So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” 

Reference Passage #2: Revelation 3: 20 … [Oh how our Lord wants to be a part of every moment of our lives.] … [NLT] …  
20 “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear My voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. … “



My Journal for Today: As a parent and a grandparent, I’ve always found the story related in Luke 2: 41-52 to be rather incredulous. The human parents of the One-and-Only God of the Universe, … their boy, The Messiah, … and they let Him slip from their attention as they traveled back home, leaving the Boy, Jesus, back in the Temple hob-knobbing with the Jewish leaders [see attached photo]. But before I point a finger of blame at Mary and Joseph, I have to realize that it’s very easy for any of us to do the very same thing in our relationship with our Lord.

Common, admit it!! … Don’t all of us, Who declare Jesus as our Lord, let the tyranny of the urgent or the hubbub of the world take our attention away from what the Maranatha Singers sing about in the song to which I’ve linked you above. They sing, Jesus, You Are My Life; but is He? Aren’t there moments – if not longer periods – when we let our God become absent in our lives as we get wrapped up in the things of this world or the selfish desires of our flesh.

Jesus, as He expressed to the church in Laodicea [see Rev. 3: 20 above], wants to be in fellowship with us 24/7; but He has given us the choice to open the door unto that fellowship … OR NOT. And I’m afraid, like Mary and Joseph, in the Luke 2 account, we can – and all too often probably do – let the things of this world get into the way of our fellowship with Jesus.

And so, … like me, this morning, … I’ll let you deal with this little devotional wake up call. But I have to say here that my being in this place, rather compulsively journaling, day-after-day-after-day each morning, is the result of an obsession of mine. And I’ve even given it a fake Greek name – “ALOGOSPHOBIA.” You see, I have developed “a fear of being without God’s word.”

I just don’t want to start any day without locating my Savior’s knock and then letting my Jesus into my day (i.e., opening the door to His knocking) by being in His very word TO ME – The Bible. I just don’t want to let my Jesus out of my attention … not for a day … not even for a moment if I can help it. Oh, … there are times, like with Mary and Joseph, where I let my attention wander and Jesus gets out of my sight; but coming here each morning to be with Him, at least I’ll start each day by locating Him in His word and spending the first-fruits of my time with my Lord.

Now, it’s on with my day; and yes, …

My Prayer for Today … Yes, at least right now, here this morning, ”Jesus, You are my life!” … Amen

Blogger Note: Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online blog entitled Today God Is First [TGIF], authored by Os Hillman. If you GO TO THIS LINK  on the date of my blog, you’ll find a link to read Hillman’s TGIF blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

October 26, 2013 … God’s Isolation

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 299

Devotional Song: Go to this link -  Please take the time to meditate on this powerful song and video, sung by Phillips, Craig, and Dean, singing Let My Words Be Few, … reminding Christians that there are times when we just must stand silent in awe of he God Who created us and all around us.


Highlight Passage: Psalms 46: 1, …10a … [A time where we must wait on God.] … [NLT]  
1 God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. … 
10 “Be still, and know that I am God! …”
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Highlight Passage: Psalms, Chapter 46 … GO TO THIS LINK … [NLT] 
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Reference Passage #1: Isaiah 55: 8-9 … [Times of faith when our knowledge just stands in awe of our God.] … [NLT] …  
8 “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And My ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. 9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so My ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

Reference Passage #2: Proverbs 3: 5-6 … [There are times when our human reasoning just doesn’t cut it!] … [NLT] …  
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 
6 Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.

Reference Passage #3: Deuteronomy 31: 6 … [Times when we just trust that God will be there for us.] … [NLT] …
6 “… So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

My Journal for Today: Ever had a time when you just felt so, so isolated from God; …maybe a time when our prayers just seemed to be bouncing off the ceiling of our lives, … going nowhere? … Am I sensing a nod of your head, or at least your spirit? … I’d bet we’ve all been there, … and felt that way.

Yes, as Phillips, Craig, and Dean sing in the song to which I’ve linked you today, there are times of seeming isolation which are actually the times, as expressed in the song and in David’s song from Psalm 46, copied above, when we should just Let Our Words Be Few and just sit back in awe of our God, knowing – in faith – that our God is going ahead of us in His silence … but always being there for us (as Moses declared to God’s people in Deuteronomy 31: 6 just before they entered the Promised Land).

Yes, here’s another time when we must live out Proverbs 3: 5-6, trusting God to be God because we are not. It’s a time to realize and recognize, as Isaiah 55: 8-9 truthfully declares, that there are times when God’s ways are just going to be beyond us; and we need to reflect on God’s bigness – as in the attached photo – in the silence of our smallness.

In fact right now, I’ve chosen to come to this place, … this quiet morning, … and stop for a few moments; and after I quit writing here what God’s Spirit has given me to write, I’ll just go silent, reflecting on God’s greatness and my smallness, … and reflecting on what God’s word says from Psalm 46, verses 1 and 10 … that Go truly is my refuge … and I need to “… be still and know HE is God!”

My Prayer for Today … I stand in awe of You, Lord!!! … Amen

Blogger Note: Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online blog entitled Today God Is First [TGIF], authored by Os Hillman. If you GO TO THIS LINK  on the date of my blog, you’ll find a link to read Hillman’s TGIF blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Friday, October 25, 2013

October 25, 2013 … God’s Sweetness

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 298

Devotional Song: Go to this link -  Please take the time to meditate on this powerful song and video, the song written by Keith Getty and sung by Kristyn Getty, singing Speak O Lord, … reminding Christians that we feed on the sweetness of God’s word.
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Highlight Passage: Ezekiel 3: 1-3 … [God’s word is sweeter than honey to satisfy our spiritual hunger.] … [NLT]  
1. The voice said to me, “Son of man, eat what I am giving you—eat this scroll! Then go and give its message to the people of Israel.” 2 So I opened my mouth, and he fed me the scroll. 3 “Fill your stomach with this,” he said. And when I ate it, it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth. 
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Highlight Passage: Ezekiel, Chapter 3 … GO TO THIS LINK … [NLT]
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Reference Passage #1: Psalm 119: 102-103 … [God’s word feeds us with His sweetness.] … [NLT] …  
102 I haven’t turned away from your laws, for you have taught me well. 103 How sweet are your words to my taste; they are sweeter than honey.

 Reference Passage #2: Revelation 3: 20 … [Oh how our Lord wants to dine with us; and I’m sure He would bring His sweetness to the table.] … [NLT] …  
20 “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. … "

Reference Passage #3: 2nd Timothy 3: 16-17 … [Feeding on God’s word provides us with the sweet essence of God Himself] … [NLT] …  
16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

My Journal for Today: The Gettys sing it in the song link I’ve provided above … that God’s word is God communing directly with His beloved. It is our Lord coming to the table, once invited (see Rev. 3: 20) and laying out the sweetness of His truth for any/all who would partake of His Holiness consumed in His word.

Right now I’m teaching a 6 week discipleship course in my church on how to go deeper in our devotional and relational life with Christ; and as you can imagine I’m teaching on the WHY and HOW of getting into the disciplines of the faith by deciding and discipling our lives with daily devotions that extract us from the hubbub of the world and allow us to have a deeper devotional time with God daily. If you’re interested you can GO TO THIS LINK and listen to my class sessions [only two thus far – more in the next 4 weeks].

But aside from my shameless class promotions, I hope you know just how much God wants us to have the same “sweetness” in our lives that He desired for the Prophet Ezekiel to have when the Lord fed the prophet the sweetness of His word. Note the highlight Bible passage linked above in Ezekiel, Chapter 3, especially verses 1-3. And the Author of Psalm 119, verses 102-103, writing, with God’s inspiration, about his love affair with God’s word and how it fed him with the sweet essence of life, being “sweeter than honey.” And we also know of the Apostle Paul’s writing to young Timothy about just how “sweet” and powerful is God’s word for all believers (see 2nd Tim. 3: 16-17 above).

So, I’ll pray to day that we all invite God’s sweetness into our lives by partaking of His truth on a daily diet of the love He provides through His word. Take it in, dear one, in all it’s sweetness; and be filled with His living power.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, I come here daily to receive the sweetness and living power from Your word. … Amen

Blogger Note: Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online blog entitled Today God Is First [TGIF], authored by Os Hillman. If you GO TO THIS LINK  on the date of my blog, you’ll find a link to read Hillman’s TGIF blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

October 24, 2013 … God’s Deliverers

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 297

Devotional Song: Go to this link -  Please take the time to meditate on this powerful song and video, the song sung by Steve Green, singing People Need the Lord, … reminding Christians everyday we may pass by people who need the saving grace offered by our Lord and we may be the one who is called to God’s deliverer for one who is lost. … Then GO TO THIS LINK  and hear Big Daddy Weave singing about the One true deliverer, Jesus, Who has Redeemed us for eternity.
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Highlight Passage: Judges 3: 7-11 … [Are we, like Othniel, chosen to be one of God’s deliverers for someone in our lives who needs God?] … [NLT]  
7 The Israelites did evil in the LORD’s sight. They forgot about the LORD their God, and they served the images of Baal and the Asherah poles. 8 Then the LORD burned with anger against Israel, and he turned them over to King Cushan-rishathaim of Aram-naharaim. And the Israelites served Cushan-rishathaim for eight years. 9 But when the people of Israel cried out to the LORD for help, the LORD raised up a rescuer to save them. His name was Othniel, the son of Caleb’s younger brother, Kenaz. 10 The Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he became Israel’s judge. He went to war against King Cushan-rishathaim of Aram, and the LORD gave Othniel victory over him. 11 So there was peace in the land for forty years. Then Othniel son of Kenaz died. 
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Reference Passage #1: Luke 1: 56-80 … [As John the Baptist’s father prophesied, God has sent a Redeemer to save His people.] … [NLT] …GO TO THIS LINK 

Reference Passage #2: John 3: 16 … [Are we those loved and carried by our Redeemer?] … [NLT] …  
16 “For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. … “ 

My Journal for Today: … Hey you Bible trivia buffs, … who was Othniel? Anybody? … Well in today’s Os Hillman devotional, he reminds forgetful Bible students like me of this man, Othniel, found in today’s highlight passage, who was Joshua’s nephew, and who would become a deliverer for God’s people. Yes, God’s recalcitrant people, who had once again rebelled and were in desperate need of a redeemer. And so Othniel became God’s chosen and anointed “Judge” over Israel, … leading them to 40 years of delivered obedience and peace.

Well, most certainly those so-called “Judges” in the history of God’s people we forerunners and people-pictures of THE One, …The Messiah, Who would one day come to be THE REDEEMER of all of God’s people, … prayerfully including you and me.

Don’t you just love the picture which I’ve attached here with this blog? It shows, as Steve Green sings in one of the songs I’ve linked you to on God Tube above, that people – ALL PEOPLE – need the Lord to carry us as our Redeemer in times where we’re broken and in need of a Savior. And as Big Daddy Weave sings in the other linked song above, we have truly been “REDEEMED” by this One Who was sent my God, the Father, to be our Deliverer.

Have you ever thought of yourself as one of “God’s deliverers,” as I’ve titled my blog today? Well, if you have someone in your family, or maybe a coworker, or perhaps a friend, whom you know in your heart is lost, they are like the man pictured in the attached photo. And perhaps God has brought this one into your life so that YOU can be, as was Othniel for Israel, the deliverer for at least one of God’s people.

My friend, let’s pray today that God, if He so chooses, will set up a divine appointment for us to share our Redeemer with someone who needs the Lord.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, If I can be Your delivery agent for someone today, put them in front of me and give me the opportunity to share You with them. … Amen

Blogger Note: Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online blog entitled Today God Is First [TGIF], authored by Os Hillman. If you GO TO THIS LINK  on the date of my blog, you’ll find a link to read Hillman’s TGIF blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

October 23, 2013 … God’s Rails

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 296

Devotional Song: Go to this link -  Please take the time to meditate on this powerful song and video, the song sung by Steve Green, singing Find Us Faithful, … a prayer, reminding Christians that the tracks we lay in life and the rails we follow through prayer will lead the way – in our faithfulness – for those who come behind us (our kids and grandkids) to follow.
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Highlight Passage: Luke 11: 1 … [Our prayers lay the rails for God’s engine to take us to glory.] … [NLT]  
1 Once Jesus was in a certain place praying. As He finished, one of His disciples came to Him and said, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”

Highlight Passage #2: Luke 11: 9-10 … [And persistent prayer becomes the rails which take us from where we are to where God powers us.] … [NLT]  
9 “And so I tell you, 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. 10 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. …” 

Highlight reading study of Luke, Chapter 11, Verses 1-13: Go to this link … 
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Reference Passage #1: Ephesians 6: 18 … [Persistent prayer provides the rails which take us to God’s will.] … [NLT] …  
18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.

Reference Passage #2: 1st Thessalonians 5: 17 … [Have we lain the tracks of prayer which God can use to get us where HE desires we go?] … [NLT] …  
17 Never stop praying.

My Journal for Today: If you’re reading along with me today and you read the title of my blog, I can almost read what you’re thinking: “God’s rails? … What does that mean, Bill?!” Well, maybe you guessed from the photo attached that somehow I’m dealing with prayer today; … and I am! Os Hillman in my devotional for this morning came up with an interesting – and I believe, powerful – word picture to describe the effectiveness of prayer in our lives as Christians. He wrote today, quoting from Watchman Nee’s book, Let Us Pray (New York, New York: Christian Fellowship Publishers, 1977), p.11, …

 • “Indeed, prayer is to God's will as rails are to a train. The locomotive is full of power: it is capable of running a thousand miles a day. But if there are no rails, it cannot move forward a single inch. … The engine may be able to travel over great distances; yet, it cannot go to any place where no rails have been laid. And such is the relation between prayer and God's work."

That’s a powerful word picture of what persistent and faithful prayer is for the Christian life. And I hope you have listened to Steve Green singing a prayer to which I linked you above, … the song praying that God would find us faithful; and I believe that living the Christian life without the discipline of faithful prayer (as Paul wrote about in Ephesians 6: 18 and 1st Thessalonians 5: 17) is like having the engine for a train but no tracks on which to travel.

Prayer, especially disciplined and persistent prayer, becomes the rails on which we channel the power God has for us to use His will for His glory. It’s as Jesus taught His disciples in Luke 11: 1-13, linked above to drive us from where we are in life to where HE wants to take us. The question becomes, … have we lain the tracks to allow God’s powerful engine of grace to get us down those prayer rails to His destination (I.e., His will) for our lives?

I don’t know about you; but I’m under serious conviction today … for not laying and using the rails of prayer to let God power me down the way to His will for my life. So, I going to work to lay a few tracks and pray here this morning.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, forgive me for not following your instructions and faithfully laying the rails of prayer often enough to bring me more effectively down the tracks of my life to get me to Your destination. I pray here today for your enabling grace to help me pray more effectively and more persistently … day-by-day … and to move me toward Your will for my life. … Amen

Blogger Note: Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online blog entitled Today God Is First [TGIF], authored by Os Hillman. If you GO TO THIS LINK  on the date of my blog, you’ll find a link to read Hillman’s TGIF blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

October 22, 2013 … God’s Double-Talk

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 295

Devotional Song: Go to this link -  Please take the time to meditate on this powerful song and video, the song sung by Phillips, Craig, and Dean, singing I Choose To Believe, … reminding Christians that we must CHOOSE to believe even when God’s leading doesn’t make much sense in human ways of thinking.
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Highlight Passage: Exodus 4: 21 … [Sometimes God’s leading doesn’t make human sense.] … [NLT] ... 
21 And the LORD told Moses, “When you arrive back in Egypt, go to Pharaoh and perform all the miracles I have empowered you to do. But I will harden his heart so he will refuse to let the people go.
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Highlight reading study of Exodus, Chapter 4, : Go to this link … 
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Reference Passage #1: Isaiah 55: 8-9 … [Sometimes God’s way is way beyond our ways of thinking and moving.] … [NLT] …  
8 “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. 9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

Reference Passage #2: Romans 8: 28 … [Following God when it makes sense is one thing; but believing and following when God’s way seems to be double-talk is another] … [NLT] …  
28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are [the] called according to His purpose for them.

Reference Passage #3: Proverbs 3: 5-6 … [We may have this one memorized; but do we really believe it … and live it? ] … [NLT] …
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 
6 Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.

My Journal for Today: “Lord, … You want me to do what?” …

Ever felt like that? … Today, in my devotional, Os Hillman took me back to read, study, and meditate on Exodus, Chapter 4, where Moses had to have some in-service training in faith up on that mountain where the Prophet had encountered God in the burning bush. God was giving him instructions which just seemed like double-talk, such as the instructions to go before Pharaoh and declare freedom for the people … but in the light of God hardening Pharaoh’s heart.

What’s that all about, God?!!

That’s the way life seems at times, doesn’t it, … especially when life just seems to be going amuck and the ways of God’s leading seem like double-talk to us. It’s like Phillips, Craig, and Dean sing in the song to which I’ve linked you this morning. There are times, in those Romans 8: 28 or Proverbs 3: 5-6 moments in life in life, … where we have to CHOOSE to believe when God’s leading is totally confusing or doesn’t make sense in our human ways of thinking.

The question becomes one of BELIEF, doesn’t it? We may believe the passages I’ve shared above, including God’s own instructions concerning His ways in Isaiah 55: 8-9; but is our belief strong enough to follow God’s ways as Jesus, Himself instructed (yeah, back to my oft-quoted Luke 9: 23, which I won’t even copy above because I’m sure you know it by now)?

Moses went through a whole series of faith tests and trials from the time he encountered God in that burning bush until he was able to lead God’s people out of Egypt. However, in each confrontation with his logic versus the LORD, Moses CHOSE to believe and follow God’s ways.

Will we today?

My Prayer for Today … Oh, Lord, I will follow You. … Amen

Blogger Note: Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online blog entitled Today God Is First [TGIF], authored by Os Hillman. If you GO TO THIS LINK  on the date of my blog, you’ll find a link to read Hillman’s TGIF blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Monday, October 21, 2013

October 21, 2013 … God’s Gifting

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 294

Devotional Song: Go to this link -  Please take the time to meditate on this powerful song and video, the song sung by Stephen Curtis Chapman, singing His Strength Is Perfect, … reminding Christians that God gives us what we need, in our weakness, to prevail in this life in preparation for the next life.
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 Highlight Passage: 1st Samuel 17: 38-40 … [God gives us what we need to be effective witnesses for His glory.] … [NLT]  
38 Then Saul gave David his own armor—a bronze helmet and a coat of mail. 39 David put it on, strapped the sword over it, and took a step or two to see what it was like, for he had never worn such things before. ,,, “I can’t go in these,” he protested to Saul. “I’m not used to them.” So David took them off again. 40 He picked up five smooth stones from a stream and put them into his shepherd’s bag. Then, armed only with his shepherd’s staff and sling, he started across the valley to fight the Philistine. 
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Highlight reading study of 1st Samuel, Chapter 17, Verses 32-51 : Go to this link … 
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Reference Passage #1: Act 1: 8 … [His power as we witness for Him.] … [NLT] …
8 " ... But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be My witnesses, telling people about Me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Reference Passage #1: Ephesians 4: 1-10 … [His gifting … so that we can serve Him in a worthy manner.] … [NLT] … Go to this link

Reference Passage #1: 2nd Corinthians 12: 9 … [His strength to supplant our weakness. ] … [NLT] …  
9 Each time He said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 


My Journal for Today: Don’t’ we just love the true, historical story of young David victoriously defeating the giant, Goliath, and witnessing to God’s glory in battle. The story has so many personal applications for our lives, doesn’t it?

But Os Hillman today is using this Old Testament story to illustrate that we don’t have to try to put-on some armament that doesn’t fit us to be God’s witnesses … as King Saul was trying to convince David to wear his armaments. No, David chose to use the tools (i.e, the gifting) which fit him best, i.e., that of a shepherd, to do battle with Goliath; and of course, we know that God gave David exactly what he needed to cover whatever weaknesses David might have had as the young boy went to battle for God’s glory. And I hope we can see the direct application for our lives here today.

Stephen Curtis Chapman sings that truth in the powerful song to which I’ve linked you for meditation today. God’s strength is ALWAYS perfect to supplant our weaknesses. As Jesus said [see Acts 1: 8] when He ascended to heaven, He will give us all the power and gifting we need to be His witnesses in the world; but we have to receive and use the power of the Holy Spirit in the battles of life where we have to do battle in Christ’s Name and for His glory.

The Apostle Paul wrote about walking and battling in a worthy manner in Christ’s Name in the Ephesians 4 and 2nd Corinthian 12 passages to which I linked you or copied above. Take in these passages and realize that all Christians have been given at least one Spirit-endowed gift so that we can use His gifting for His glory. What is your Spirit-imparted gift? Mine is teaching and encouragement. Hence you find me, daily, exercising those gifts right here as I write this blog, praying that whomever reads it can take your own gifts and use them to be a witness for Christ today.

Let’s go with our gifting and serve our Lord today.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, may our gratefulness for Your gifting be exhibited as we witness for You today.… Amen

Blogger Note: Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online blog entitled Today God Is First [TGIF], authored by Os Hillman. If you GO TO THIS LINK  on the date of my blog, you’ll find a link to read Hillman’s TGIF blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

October 20, 2013 … God’s Lighthouse

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 293

Devotional Song: Go to this link -  Please take the time to meditate on this powerful song and video, the song sung by the group, Selah, singing Be Thou My Vision, … reminding Christians that our path as Christians is guided by God’s great light and HE is our vision to follow.
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Highlight Passage: Proverbs 3: 5-6 … [Again … His way … is ALWAYS … THE way.] … [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.
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Highlight reading study of Proverbs, Chapter 3, Verses 5-12 : Go to this link … 
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Reference Passage #1: Luke 9: 23 … [Oh, how I pray you have this one memorized and internalized.] … [NLT] …  
23 Then He [Jesus] said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross daily, and follow Me.

My Journal for Today: I think Os Hillman, my devotional author, is trying to hit hard on a point of God being our direction-finder in life, … what today I’ll call our “Lighthouse.” Just a few days ago (see my devotional at this link for Oct. 17) I used the word picture of God being our “GPS” for life; and here I am calling Him our “Lighthouse.” And in today’s devotional song link, you can hear the group Selah singing the old 6th Century Irish hymn, Be Thou My Vision, where we are reminded to seek and find God’s way by following HIS vision for life.


Well, I think a lighthouse is a good word picture to describe God being our directional source to travel in life, don’t you? Like the picture attached, He is our light in the midst of life’s storms. As Selah sings, linked above, God’s Spirit is our vision when life gets foggy or stormy. And as the ever repeated highlight verse for today proclaims, we need to seek and follow God’s light, avoiding our own faulty, human, directional systems to travel through the darkness … which is this world and life.

Probably my most oft-repeated daily prayer, which I’ll be repeating below, is for God to shine His light so brightly that I, with my narrow-sightedness, can follow His ways from His will; and most often from His word, to keep my ship of life from being broken up in the storms of life.

I don’t think I need go on with this. I would say that any Christian reading here with me can identify with this picture and Christ’s charge (yes, once again!) to deny our own feeble direction finders and to follow His (yes, again, see Luke 9: 23, which surely you have memorized by now).

My Prayer for Today … Oh, Lord, as I pray so often, … shine Your light so clearly today that I can’t help but see it and follow Your way for me. … Amen

Blogger Note: Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online blog entitled Today God Is First [TGIF], authored by Os Hillman. If you GO TO THIS LINK  on the date of my blog, you’ll find a link to read Hillman’s TGIF blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

October 19, 2013 … God’s Saltiness

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 292

 Blogger's Note: [6:45am] … [I’m Late today because I woke up later than usual; and I must go, because of a commitment, to an early Men’s Fellowship at my church. … But patience, please, I’ll be back for sure before the day’s done to post what God is giving me to share today!]

 Blogger’s Note #2: [9:35am] … “I’m back!” … As committed above, I’ve returned to decidedly complete this morning’s devotional journaling. May the words of my writing be acceptable to our Lord and helpful to myself and all who meditate herein. 

Devotional Song: Go to this link Please take the time to meditate on this powerful song and video, the song sung by Phillips, Craig, and Dean, singing Tell Your Heart To Beat Again, … reminding Christians that we are being transformed by God’s grace so that we can have our heart beat in the service of God … to forgive ourselves and let our past be the saltiness God needs to use to bring others to Himself.
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 Highlight Passage: Mark 9:49-50 …  
49 “For everyone will be purified with fire. 50 Salt is good for seasoning. But if it loses its flavor, how do you make it salty again? You must have the qualities of salt among yourselves and live in peace with each other.”

Highlight reading study of Mark, Chapter 9, Verses 42-50 : Go to this link … 
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Reference Passage #1: Matthew 5: 13 … [God uses our saltiness for His glory] … [NLT]  
13 “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.

Reference Passage #1: 1st Peter 1: 6-7 … [We are purified by the fires of life.] … [NLT] …
6 So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. 7 These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

My Journal for Today: I’m sure most – if not all who read here – know that we, Christians, are to be salt and light in this world (i.e., see Jesus’ commands in Matthew 5: 13-16). And I want to focus on the former part of that command concerning our “saltiness.”

We certainly don’t want to become worthless for service to God, losing our “saltiness,” do we? So, in today’s highlight passage, from Mark 9: 49 we get a sense of how God prepares His seasoners with His saltiness so that we can be used effectively in His service and for His glory,.

And you’ve read me journaling about this in blogs past, haven’t you? God generally puts His salt-bearers (i.e., His disciples) through a purifying process which involves bearing up under the fires of life so that we can be “salty” enough to be effective as His servants. Therefore, we shouldn’t be surprised, as Christians, that we’re going trough various challenging “fires” in life, … i.e., those events or processes which burn off the dross from our souls and purify us, … i.e., making us SALTY enough to be used by God in the world for His purposes.

 I’ll pray this AM that we all bear up under the fires of life and be purified unto “saltiness” … so that we can be effective as His healing agents in the world.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, put all who read here through Your fires so that we can be strongly salty for your witness and for your work. … Amen

Blogger Note: Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online blog entitled Today God Is First [TGIF], authored by Os Hillman. If you GO TO THIS LINK  on the date of my blog, you’ll find a link to read Hillman’s TGIF blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Friday, October 18, 2013

October 18, 2013 … God’s Yoke

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 291

  Devotional Song: Go to this link -  Please take the time to meditate on this powerful song and video, the song sung by Scott Wesley Brown, singing He Will Carry You, … reminding Christians of Christ’s willingness and His ability to carry all who need Him. … And then at this link  –Stephen Curtis Chapman sings His Strength Is Perfect, declaring the truth that God’s yoke is strong enough to carry any burden we might have.
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Highlight reading study of John, Chapter 17 : Go to this link … 
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Reference Passage #1: Matthew 11: 28-30 … [His yoke is light; and He can carry ours.] … [NLT]   
28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light.” 

 Reference Passage #2: 1st Peter 5: 7 … [Surrender! … Let Him carry your burdens] … [NLT] …   
7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about what happens to you.

My Journal for Today: Have you ever been like or felt like the wounded one in the attached photo? Maybe you are right now; or perhaps you know of someone who feels like this. Well, dear one, I hope you know that we have a Savior whose not only willing; but He is able to carry those who cast their cares on Him.

It was the focus of Jesus’ prayer just before He went to the cross [please meditate on John, Chapter 17 linked above]; and it was the focus of His message to his inner group of disciples in the upper room discourse (see Jesus’ comforting message in the upper room – Chapter 14-16 of John’s gospel).

Jesus wanted his confused and concerned Disciples to know that He was not going to abandon them … that He was, as He declared in Matthew 11: 28-30 willing to be there with them and for His disciples – ALWAYS! And He wanted them (and us) to know that He was, as Peter learned the hard way, and later wrote (in 1st Peter 5: 7 see above) that we can cast all our burdens on our Lord because He cares just that much for us.

Now I hope you use the link above and meditate on Scott Wesley Brown and Stephen Curtis Chapman singing that Jesus can and will carry you and me if we need Him to take our burdens. But we’ve got to be willing to surrender them to Him in faith.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, carry me today. I need Your strength. … Amen

Blogger Note: Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online blog entitled Today God Is First [TGIF], authored by Os Hillman. If you GO TO THIS LINK  on the date of my blog, you’ll find a link to read Hillman’s TGIF blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

October 17, 2013 … God’s “GPS”

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 290

Devotional Song: Go to this link -  Please take the time to meditate on this powerful song and video, the song sung by my personal friend, Clay Crosse and two of his friends, Bob Carlisle and Bebe Wynans, singing I Will Follow Christ, … reminding all who are in Christ that we will ALWAYS be shown the way – GOD’S WAY – when we follow Christ.
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Highlight meditation passage – Isaiah 48: 17-18 : [Our God is our “GPS,” showing us HIS way to go in life.]
17 This is what the LORD says — your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow. 18 Oh, that you had listened to my commands! Then you would have had peace flowing like a gentle river and righteousness rolling over you like waves in the sea. …
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Highlight reading study of Isaiah, Chapter 48 : Go to this link … 
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Reference Passage #1: Proverbs 3: 5-6 … [His way … is ALWAYS … THE way.] … [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.

Reference Passage #1: Luke 9: 23 … [Yes, He’s a demanding direction-giver, isn’t He?] … [NLT] …  
23 Then He [Jesus] said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross daily, and follow Me. ... "

My Journal for Today: If you were going into a large city, trying to find a specific address; and you had never been in that city before, wouldn’t having an accurate “GPS” device be helpful? … DUH, … of course it would! … Well, I hope you, fellow Christian, realize that we have the best “GPS” available to us to find our way through the morass we know of as life; and that “GPS” is found in God’s word.

Think of the wonderful promise imbedded in the highlight passage for today’s Hillman devotional, Isaiah 48, especially the underlined, emboldened portion of verse 17, where the God of the universe promises to His people (that’s you and me, folks!) to show them the way they (i.e., we) should go. All we need to do is what my dear friend, Clay Crosse and his buddies sing about in the song to which I’ve linked you above proclaims; … and that is for us to follow Christ.

Solomon, for God's Spirit, also wrote this promise as well to his son (but also to you and me) in Prov. 3: 5-6, … that if we’re willing to set aside our own way and follow God’s will, He would lead us in the way we should go in life. And Jesus, Himself, told His followers, in my oft quoted passage, Luke 9: 23, that the serious disciples of His would be willing to deny themselves and do nothing but follow Him.

Okay … I don’t think I need to write much more here, do I? No, it’s time for self-evaluation. And here is our discipleship pop quiz for the day …
1. Am I willing to seek God’s way by delving deeply into God’s word – every day? 
2. When I sense God’s commands and His leading, will I follow His way? 

Just two questions … how’d we do?

When we’re really serious about using God’s “GPS” for our lives, He will show us THE WAY, … His way. And that’s not Bill Berry’s promise … that’s His!!!

My Prayer for Today … Lord, show me Your way. I will follow You. … Amen

Blogger Note: Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online blog entitled Today God Is First [TGIF], authored by Os Hillman. If you GO TO THIS LINK  on the date of my blog, you’ll find a link to read Hillman’s TGIF blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

October 16, 2013 … God’s Security and Strength

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 289

  Devotional Song: GO TO THIS LINK -  … Please take the time to meditate on this pertinent and poignant song and video, the song sung by Wayne Watson, Friend of a Wounded Heart, … reminding all who are in Christ that we ALWAYS have a friend who can give us the security we need to cover our wounds and weariness. … And then GO TO THIS LINK  – and hear Stephen Curtis Chapman singing, His Strength Is Perfect, … reminding Christians that we can appropriate God’s strength to cover our weaknesses. … Or finally, if we’re seeking God’s security in life, GO TO THIS LINK  – we need only Turn Our Eyes Upon Jesus and the things of earth will grow strangely dim.

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Highlight reading study of 1st Samuel, Chapter 18, Verses 1-16: Go to this link … 
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Reference Passage #1: Philippians 4: 19 … [Jesus is the One – the ONLY ONE – Who can supply our security in life.] … [NLT]  
19 And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.

Reference Passage #3: 2nd Peter 1: 2-4… [But will we appropriate this grace into our lives and use to supply us with the security we need to overcome our own weaknesses.] … [NLT] …  
2 May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord. … 3 By His divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know Him, the one who called us to Himself by means of His marvelous glory and excellence. 4 And because of His glory and excellence, He has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share His divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

Reference Passage #3: 2nd Corinthians 12: 9 … [God’s grace, from our relationship with Christ, is sufficient to supply the security we need in this life.] … [NLT]  
9 Each time He said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. … “

My Journal for Today: Hey Christian, … do we really realize what we have through our relationship with Christ to overcome our own human insecurities and weaknesses? … I wonder.

Have you ever noticed how those who have some degree of power or position in life become more controlling the more they feel insecure? That was the case with King Saul when the very young David rose to prominence and position after he took down Goliath [see the account with the link provided above to 1st Samuel 16: 1-16]. Saul heard the people clamoring about David’s battle prowess; and he couldn’t handle their lauding David because of his own insecurities and jealousies, which led to God lifting His Spirit of leadership from Saul. And we know from biblical history how this led to Saul trying to kill the young man whom God had anointed as the next king of God’s people.

And it is not uncommon to see any of us lapse into insecurity and become more control-seeking when we feel our own human weaknesses. So where do we Christians turn when we feel insecure or weakened in life? Well, I challenge you to use the links above and listen to (and view) the music videos to which I was led in my quiet time today; and in doing so, you’ll know exactly where/why Saul became insecure; and you’ll also know the essence of the other reference Scripture passages copied above.

WE HAVE JESUS [!]; and He’s all we need! Enough said!!!

My Prayer for Today … Lord, Your grace is always sufficient for my needs. … Amen

Blogger Note: Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online blog entitled Today God Is First [TGIF], authored by Os Hillman. If you GO TO THIS LINK  on the date of my blog, you’ll find a link to read Hillman’s TGIF blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

October 15, 2013 … God’s Valleys

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 288

Devotional Song: Go to this link -  Please take the time to meditate on this poignant song and video, the song written and sung by Sara Groves, It’s Going To Be Alright, … reminding all who are in Christ to have faith when we’re in the valleys of life as we move toward the mountain-tops of life.

Highlight meditation passage – 1st Kings 20: 23, … 28 : [Abundance is not necessarily a “blessing.” ]  
23 After their defeat, Ben-hadad’s officers said to him, “The Israelite gods are gods of the hills; that is why they won. But we can beat them easily on the plains. …” 
28 Then the man of God went to the king of Israel and said, “This is what the LORD says: The Arameans have said that the LORD is a god of the hills and not of the plains. So I will help you defeat this vast army. Then you will know that I am the LORD.” 
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 Highlight reading study of 1st Kings, Chapter 20: Go to this link … 
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Reference Passage #1: Psalm 23: 4 … [Even through the valleys of life, God is ALWAYS with us.] … [NLT]  ...
4 Even when I walk through the dark valley of death, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.

Reference Passage #2: 2nd Corinthians 12: 1-10… [God’s grace is most evident when we’re trying to climb out of the valleys of life.] … [NLT] …GO TO THIS LINK ... 

Reference Passage #3: Romans 8: 28… [Again, we read it … but do we believe it?] … [NLT] …  
28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.

My Journal for Today: Being on the mountain-tops of life is great; and occasionally God allows us to experience those highs. However, I think most would agree, as Os Hillman was teaching in his devotional today, that we grow the most when we’ve come through one of those valleys in life where we experience the downers that challenge our faith and bring us closer to the dependence God desires from our relationship with Him.

Today, Hillman took me back, in his highlight Bible study from 1st Kings 20, which relates one of those times in the history of God’s people [they had many] when they were being led through one of those valleys. It occurred after they had been through a period of leadership when the king and the people ignored God’s will and His ways. And so God had to lead them through a valley-time when they could see that only their God could save them.

Ever had a time when you moved out of fellowship with God and He had to lead you through the “valley of the shadow of death” (see Psalm 23: 4) for you to see that our God is the God of the valleys as well as the God of the mountain-tops of life? I certainly have moved through my share of those valley experiences; and those were the times when I became the most dependent on God’s grace to bring me through.

One of my favorite passages in Paul’s epistles comes from 2nd Corinthians, Chapter 12: 1-10 where Paul is relating a personal story of having been allowed to see a vision of heaven – a real Spirit-led mountain-top experience; and then God allows Satan to give Paul some “thorn,” from which all of Paul’s prayers could not extract him from the pain. It was a real valley of death experience, for sure. But then Paul remembered the words of Jesus, Himself (in verse 9), where Jesus reminded Paul that God’s grace was sufficient to allow Paul (and any believer) to gain the strength we need to prevail in those times of weakness … i.e., those valley of life experiences.

In other words, as David wrote in Psalm 23, God will be with us in the valley of the shadow of death, leading us to His meadows (i.e., heaven) where we will be healed of all the “thorns” of life; and we will dine with Him … FOREVER.

Therefore, my friend, if you’re down in one of those valleys of life, … take heart! God is there with you; and He likely is leading you or allowing you to be in that valley to have you become more dependent on His grace to lead you through to that ultimate mountain-top place, … which we will share with our Lord forever.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, Your grace is truly sufficient. … Amen

Blogger Note: Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online blog entitled Today God Is First [TGIF], authored by Os Hillman. If you GO TO THIS LINK  on the date of my blog, you’ll find a link to read Hillman’s TGIF blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Monday, October 14, 2013

October 14, 2013 … God’s “Blessings”

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 287

Devotional Song: Go to this link -  Please, PLEASE, PLEASE [!!!] take the time to meditate on this poignant song and video, the song written and sung by Laura Story, Blessings, … which has become an anthem for many who’ve had to go through great trials in their lives to discover that the trials were actually, in Laura’s words, “God’s mercy in disguise.”

Highlight meditation passage – Psalms 66: 10-12 : [Abundance is not necessarily a “blessing.” ] …   
10 You have tested us, O God; you have purified us like silver. 11 You captured us in your net and laid the burden of slavery on our backs. 12 Then you put a leader over us. We went through fire and flood, but you brought us to a place of great abundance.
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Highlight reading study of Acts, Chapter 9: Go to this link … 
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 Reference Passage #1: 1st Peter 1: 6-7 … [Often it is the testing/trials in life which lead us to the “blessing.”] … [NLT]  
6 So be truly glad! There is wonderful joy ahead, even though it is necessary for you to endure many trials for a while. … 7 These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold. So if your faith remains strong after being tried by fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

Reference Passage #2: 1st Corinthians 10:13… [Yes, again; … no test, trial, tribulation should ever be considered “BAD” when God is leading us to His way, i.e., His “blessing.”] … [NLT] …  
13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you can endure.

Reference Passage #3: Romans 8: 28… [One of God’s most difficult truths to swallow when we’re in the midst of rally bad stuff in our lives.] … [NLT] …  
28 And we know that God causes everything to work together[a] for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

My Journal for Today: When you hear or read the phrase “God’s blessings,” don’t we usually gravitate toward a warm-and-fuzzy connotation where we imagine rally nice happenings in our lives or God showering us with His abundance in some ways? … BUT … how many reading here have discovered, as I have, that abundance and “good stuff” coming our way can be a challenge in disguise? And just the opposite is true as well. Quite often, as Laura Story’s poignant song - linked above for your meditation - proclaims, the storms of life are quite often God’s greatest blessings in disguise.

I just love Laura Story’s story in song; because it was written by a woman who had to endure her husband going through surgery-after-surgery for brain tumor removal and see their relatively new marriage challenged by the testing God put them through. But from it all, her song – and the Scripture passages I was either led to this morning (above) or bubbled up from my memory – reminded me that we have a very skewed, and often unrealistic, view of the meaning of the phrase “God’s blessings.”

And when we can go through the testing fires of life at times and let God purify us from the process, it is then that we really discover the reality meaning of “God’s blessings,” … which are so often the outcome of our Romans 8: 28 experiences in life, … those things which don’t seem to be blessings but are, as Laura sings, ”God’s mercy in disguise.”

My Prayer for Today … Lord, keep my view of Your “blessings” in the realm of reality and Your truth. Your mercies are new every morning – as Your word declares in Lam. 3: 22-23 – GREAT IS YOUR FAITHFULNESS!!! … Amen

Blogger Note: Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online blog entitled Today God Is First [TGIF], authored by Os Hillman. If you GO TO THIS LINK  on the date of my blog, you’ll find a link to read Hillman’s TGIF blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

October 13, 2013 … God’s Calling

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 286


Devotional Song: Go to this link -  Please take the time to meditate on this poignant song, sung by Sara Groves It’s Going To Be Alright, … reminding us that sometimes we can get muddled in direction-finding battles; but as long as we keep heading in God’s direction He will get us to where HE wants us to go.

Highlight meditation passage – Daniel 10: 13 : [Jesus – An audience of One!]  
13 But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels, came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia. 
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Highlight reading study of Acts, Chapter 9: Go to this link … 
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Reference Passage #1: 1st Corinthians 10: 13 … [No test or trial is not worth finding Gods’ way through the maze of life.] … [NLT] …  
13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you can endure.

Reference Passage #2: Proverbs 3: 5-6 … [His way … that’s THE way.] … [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: When I run on to a so-called coincidence involving the number 13, I perk up and pay attention. If anyone has ever heard my testimony of how God used the number 13 to bring me to Himself [too long to relate here today], you’d understand why I pay attention when God uses that number in my life.

Well, today Os Hillman’s devotional led me to read in Daniel, Chapter 10, VERSE !3; and when I read his personal illustration about going through some rigorous set-backs and missed directions to arrive at a destination where God was to be honored, the first memory verse which popped into my head was 1st Corinthians, Chapter 10, VERSE !3; and my interest in the subject matter of today’s devotional perked up. Today we’re led to two verses from two chapters with the number 10: 13.

Coincidence? I doubt it; … especially when the messages of the two passages … one from the Old Testament and one from the New … are so similar. No, the message is clear to me today.

Have you ever been in a situation where you were pursuing what you strongly felt to be God’s calling or HIS direction; and you were thwarted at every turn with obstacles in your way or “unexplainable” events seemingly mis-directing you and putting road-blocks in your way? Maybe you felt like you were in one of those hedge mazes; but you still felt God’s calling to keeping on keeping on to go where He was calling you.

Well, that’s what Sara Groves sings about in the song to which I link you today; and it’s the strong message of my devotional today. And as I was meditating on this message, Proverbs 3: 5-6, which so often comes to my mind in daily devotions, also bubbled up from my consciousness to reinforce the message from Daniel, 10:13 and 1st Corinthians 10: 13, which are leading me to write about the charge of a message I often have to remember and repeat to myself when circumstances seem to have me fighting my way through a maze of challenges in life to get where I know God wants me to go. And that message is ”KEEP ON KEEPING ON IN CHRIST” or as Sara Groves sings is this morning, It’s Going To Be Alright!.

What about you [along with me]? Is God calling us to keep on fighting our way through this maze we call life and doing all we can to find HIS way; and then, … to do all we can to get there? I think we both know the answer to that question, don’t we?

My Prayer for Today … Lord, help me find Your way today. … Amen

Blogger Note: Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online blog entitled Today God Is First [TGIF], authored by Os Hillman. If you GO TO THIS LINK  on the date of my blog, you’ll find a link to read Hillman’s TGIF blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

October 12, 2013 … God’s Beckoning

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 285

Devotional Song: Go to this link -  Please take the time to meditate on this poignant song, sung by an unknown group, singing Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus, … reminding us that Jesus wants us to look to Him first as we encounter the tyranny of the world and the deceitful luring of our own heart.

Highlight meditation passage – Romans 12: 1-2 : [Jesus – An audience of One!]  
12 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.
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Highlight reading study of Romans, Chapter 12: Go to this link
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Reference Passage #1: Luke 9: 23 … [Yes, He’s a demanding Savior, isn’t He?] … [NLT] …  
23 Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross daily, and follow Me. 


Reference Passage #2: Revelation 3: 20 … [Every day, … every moment, He knocks.] … [NLT] …  
20 “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. ..."

Reference Passage #3: Jeremiah 17: 9 … [And every moment our hearts are vulnerable to the luring of the world.] … [NLT] … 9 “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?

My Journal for Today: Today in his devotional, Os Hillman, reminded his readers (and me) that we all will play our lives out before various audiences. Orchestra conductors will play to symphony audiences. Politicians will play to the audience of political polls. Salesmen will play out their spiels to potential customers. And Pastors will proclaim their sermons to their congregations. But when it comes to our Savior, He’s a demanding caller, isn’t He?

Yes, Jesus, … everyday, … really every moment of every day, … as He spelled out in Revelation 3: 20, desires that His disciples do what He also called them to do in the passage I probably paste in more of my journals than any other, … Luke 9: 23. Every day, … every moment, Jesus is knocking on the door of our hearts; and He wants us to be an audience of ONE, … at least for the first part of our attention span, knowing that we’ll be playing out our lives to many different audiences as we live for Him.

As the song to which I’ve linked you this morning sings, Jesus wants us to turn our attention to Him … FIRST; and then once we have our eyes fixed clearly on His will and His ways, we can play to the audiences which our roles in life demand. Today, the highlight passage, Romans 12: 1-2, we read one of the most demanding and powerful passages I’ve ever memorized (and I hope you have memorized it too!!).

But the song and today’s scriptures call out to us with God’s ever demanding call to have our life be a “living sacrifice” in 24/7 worship to and for our Lord. And in Verse 2 of Romans 12, God calls us to beware of the calling and the luring of this world (knowing also God’s warning in Jer.17: 9), which will play to our natural selfishness to take our eyes off of Jesus and His calling to follow Him in all we think, say, and do.

 So, if this is early in a morning, as it is with me writing this, let’s all turn our eyes upon Jesus and keep our way fixed on following Him through our day … today and tomorrow!

My Prayer for Today … Jesus, You are my Way, … my Truth, … and my Life. … Amen

Blogger Note: Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online blog entitled Today God Is First [TGIF], authored by Os Hillman. If you GO TO THIS LINK  on the date of my blog, you’ll find a link to read Hillman’s TGIF blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.