Saturday, November 30, 2013

November 30, 2013 … Obedience-based Outcomes

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 334

Devotional Song: Go to this link  – Please take your time to see a video of a powerful old hymn, performed by Brian Littrell, … I Surrender All, which exhorts Christians to live as God charged all His children to live … in surrender to Him. … And then to this link  to hear Sara Groves sing the truth about how all will be okay when we surrender all to God’s Spirit and let God’s outcomes unfold today.
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Highlight Passage - NLT: Acts 5: 32 …  
32 “… We [Peter leading the Apostles] are witnesses of these things and so is the Holy Spirit, who is given by God to those who obey him.”  
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Highlight Passage: Acts, Chapter 5, Verses 17-42… GO TO THIS LINK … [NLT] 
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Reference Passage #1: Luke 9: 23 … … [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 #2: Galatians 3: 2-3 … … [NLT]  
2 Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. 3 How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?

Reference Passage #3: 1st Peter 5: 7… … [NLT]  
7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

My Journal for Today: I think Os Hillman, in his devotional entry for today, has nailed much of Christian living to the truth of our results-oriented lives. We, who claim to surrender to and follow Christ, so often get wrapped up in numbers that we set aside the discipleship commands of Jesus (see Luke 9: 23).

Common, admit it; … we do, … don’t we?

I’m so guilty here. So, often when I’m planning some “Christian” event, I get so focused on how many people will be there that I end up letting the numbers of those who attend be my criteria for success rather than letting God’s Spirit guide the outcomes or results for God’s glory, … NOT Bill Berry. But how many times do we judge the Spirit’s power in a church by the number of people in the pews?

We all need to meditate on the truth of the song to which I returned in my meditation today, … that old hymn, “I Surrender All.” Because if we do surrender all to God, doing all we can do and praying as if it all depends on God [see 1st Peter 5:7 above], the outcomes, being in HIS control, will come out exactly as HE decides; … and that will be the PERFECT outcome.

So, I’m praying this morning that we go into this day in COMPLETE surrender to God’s Spirit, making our decisions based on our following God’s Spirit and then just leaving the outcomes of today in HIS hands. And as Sara Groves sings in the second song above, “It’s Going To Be Alright.”

My Prayer for Today … Lord, I yield to 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.

Friday, November 29, 2013

November 29, 2013 … God Plans – We follow!

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 333

Devotional Song: Go to this link  – Please take your time to see a video of a powerful old Irish hymn, performed by the group Selah, … Be Thou My Vision, which reminds us Christians to let God’s mind and HIS heart lead us through the battles of life … day-by-day.
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Highlight Passage - NLT: 1st Kings 22: 19-20 …  
19 Then Micaiah continued, “Listen to what the LORD says! I saw the LORD sitting on his throne with all the armies of heaven around him, on his right and on his left. 20 And the LORD said, ‘Who can entice Ahab to go into battle against Ramoth-gilead so he can be killed?’
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Highlight Passage: 1st Kings, Chapter 22, Verses 10-28… GO TO THIS LINK … [NLT]
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Reference Passage #1: Proverbs 3: 5-6 … … [NKJV]  
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on our own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him; and He will direct your paths. 

Reference Passage #2: Luke 9: 23 … … [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: Romans 8: 28 … … [NKJV]  
28 All things work together for good for those who love God and are the called according to His purposes.

Reference Passage #4: Mark 12: 30 … … [NLT] 30 And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ [Jesus quoting Deut.6:4-5]

My Journal for Today: I worked in healthcare management and I can recall many, many strategic planning sessions like the one depicted in the attached photo where we so-called “managers” were trying to project the future … sometimes short-range, but often trying to see things 3-5 years ahead.

What if one could sit in on a strategic planning session in the heavenlies with God and the angels were setting their plans for mankind in accord with God’s plans? Well, that’s exactly what two tribal kings, Jehoshaphat and Ahab were trying to do in the highlight section of today’s text. And the kings called on a Prophet of God to seek God’s will in trying to go to battle with the Arameans of their day. And in 1st Kings, Chapter 22, linked above, we read of how the Prophet Micaiah was given vision into heaven’s plans for God’s people; and the Prophet said the would fall if they did battle at that time, a prophesy which went against almost 400 other of the kings’ prophets.

Today the song to which I’ve linked any readers is the lilting old Irish hymn, Be Thou My Vision, which cries out for us, as followers of Christ to internalize, activate, and apply three of the Bible passages I end up quoting most often from my memory bank of Scripture. They are the wise words of God, thru Solomon, in Prov. 3: 5-6 to trust God’s ways and not our own; … then there’s the words of Jesus, Himself, to His disciples, in Luke 9: 23, for us to be willing to deny our selves in following Him; … and that most difficult exhortation from Paul in Romans 8: 28 for Christians to realize that we often must encounter and overcome the challenges of our lives to be able to become effective followers of Christ.

Just listen to the song linked for you; and then meditate on the Scriptures for today; and in doing so realize that our planning is fine … as long as it seeks to find God’s will, follow His ways, and glorify Him in all that we think, say, and do [see Mark 12: 30, which is Jesus quoting Deut. 6: 4-5]. That’s my goal today and tomorrow … how about you?

My Prayer for Today … Lord, let my planning reflect Your will … ALWAYS! . … 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, November 28, 2013

November 28, 2013 … Signs and Wonders … Yes, TODAY!

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 332

Devotional Song: Go to this link  – Please take your time to see a video of a powerful song, performed by the group Phillips, Craig, and Dean, … Your Grace Still Amazes Me, which reminds all believers that God’s grace will work signs and wonders in our world and lives just as God did among all those stories of faith in the Bible. … And then on to this link  to hear Brian Doekersen sing Creation Calls, powerfully telling of how God’s creation is enough of a miracle to declare God’s existence.
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Highlight Passage - NLT: Acts 15:12 …  
12 Everyone listened quietly as Barnabas and Paul told about the miraculous signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles. 
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Highlight Passage: Acts, Chapter 15, Verses 1-21… GO TO THIS LINK … [NLT] 
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Reference Passage #1: Psalms 19: 1 … … [NLT]  
1 The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship.

Reference Passage #2: Romans 1: 20 … … [NLT]  
20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. 

My Journal for Today: When one reads/studies the Bible, with all the wondrous miracles occurring which showed God’s power and might, it’s pretty easy to lose perspective of the same God working His signs and wonders today. Os Hillman, in his devotional entry today tells of how in his days as a Pastor, he observed an incredible sign of God’s power through a personal encounter with a TV evangelist. It led him, as a Pastor, to begin preaching about God being able to work wonders in the lives of his flock. However, his liberal denomination, not believing that his preaching was consistent with their more liberal views of Scripture, had Hillman defrocked as a Pastor. So, Os Hillman went into business and discovered that God’s grace could work through him in wondrous and miraculous ways in the workplace, which led to the “Workplace Ministries,” which he now leads and from which he writes the devotional I study daily.

For yours truly, my walk into ministry happened in the other direction. I was in the workplace; and having been saved by God’s grace working miraculously in my life, I began sharing my story of my deliverance from atheism and a life of addictive sexual sin; and some, who heard my story, asked me how God transformed my life; and when I shared that miracle, I noticed that their lives began to change and become more fruitful as Christians as they applied some of the action steps of my transformation story. And it was God’s amazing grace, unfolding in lives touched by my testimony, that became God’s calling for me to “retire” from the workplace and go into the ministry.

What about you, my friend? Do you have trouble seeing God’s grace and His signs and wonders working in your life and in the world around you? Take a look at the photo I’ve used to illustrate my blog today. Have you forgotten that you are one of God’s miracles? Perhaps you need to look around you at creation, as Brian Doerksen sings in the latter song link I’ve provided above. Yes, and as Phillips, Craig, and Dean sing in the first song link above, God’s grace most certainly amazes me; and I, for one, don’t have to look very far to see His signs and wonders unfolding in nature, my own life, or in the lives of those God’s sends to our ministry.

Perhaps, on this Thanksgiving Day here in the USA, you’re a bit greedy like me, involving God’s grace, and you just want to see MORE of it today. Let me pray for all of us that we take time and vigilance to look around and see God’s glory and His wondrous grace unfolding for all to see today and in the days His grace gives for us in our future.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, show off a little today; and let me see more of your grace on this Thanksgiving day where it’s so easy to see how much I’m thankful for all of Your grace I can see unfolding in my own 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.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

November 27, 2013 … Staying Connected

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 331

 Devotional Song: Go to this link  – Please take your time to see a video of a powerful song, performed by an unknown soloist, … Surely The Presence of the Lord Is In This Place, a quiet reminder of those times when we have a quiet time each morning, staying connected to the God of the Universe.
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Highlight Passage - NLT: Psalms 143: 8 …  
8 Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.
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 Highlight Passage: Psalms, Chapter 143… GO TO THIS LINK … [NLT] 
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Reference Passage #2: Psalm 119 … GO TO THIS LINK … [NLT]

My Journal for Today: Here I sit in this quiet place in the home of our daughter in Montana; and God has given me this wonderful/powerful tool, … my laptop, to be connected with my Lord, … the God of the Universe. Just how cool is that?

With my laptop, I can call up, with a couple of clicks, the power of God’s word in several different translations to study a point of personal insight; and I can call on an insightful Bible teacher, like Os Hillman this morning, or any morning, to bring out some issue which can help me to get to know my God more deeply today than yesterday. And then I know, by coming to a similar quiet place tomorrow with this tool, I can know my God more deeply tomorrow than I know Him today. Now, I repeat … HOW COOL IS THAT?!!

But even if I didn’t have my laptop each morning to help me know my God more intimately, I know that I have God’s word and I know I can find some time in the mornings – my health and wellness considered – to stay connected to my God through His word. David, the shepherd boy who became King, knew this too; and we read in his soulful song, Psalm 143, verse 8, that he stayed connected with His Lord in the mornings by going to God’s word and reflecting on its truth. The author of Psalm 119 also used God’s word as the light for his path in life (see Ps 119: 105).

So, when I take this powerful tool – my laptop – and I get alone with my God, as I am doing this morning, the lyrics to the poignant song to which I’ve linked any reader here above come alive, because most surely I feel the Lord’s presence in this place; and I know I’m connected with Him through His word which His Spirit authored to be a light unto my path.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, thank You for being here with me this morning and every morning in/through 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.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

November 26, 2013 … Boundaries Yielding Freedom

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 330

Devotional Song: GO TO THIS LINK  – Please take your time to see a video I’ve posted several times to illustrate our breaking free from our selves, … a powerful song, performed by Nichole Nordeman, Finally Free, an exhortation that we can have freedom in Christ when we’re willing to be slaves to HIS boundaries.
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Highlight Passage - NLT: Genesis 3: 2-3 …  
2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” 
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 Highlight Passage: Genesis, Chapter 3… GO TO THIS LINK … [NLT]
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Reference Passage #1: Matthew, Chapter 4: Verses 1-11… GO TO THIS LINK … [NLT]

Reference Passage #2: Proverbs 3: 5-6… … [NLT]  
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 
6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

My Journal for Today: Not too long ago two Christian counselors, Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend, wrote a book, entitled, Boundaries, which helped their readers set appropriate, biblically-based boundaries which can help them break free from behavioral shackles such as addictions and to help repair relational brokenness in the lives of Christians. The book became a best-seller, … even among non-Christians as well.

Going all the way back to the Garden of Eden, God has always established boundaries to protect the vertical relationship between Himself and mankind as well as to bind and guard the horizontal relationships between man and other men or women. As we read in Genesis, Chapter 3, linked above, God gave Adam and Eve a whole lot of freedom; but there was that fruit tree which was off limits; and these proto-gype humans then blew off their wondrous relationship with God by listening to the Serpent, Satan, whom God had allowed into the garden.

Even Jesus had a boundaries confrontation with Satan, which we read about in both Matthew 4 or Luke 4, the Matthew passage linked above. And we know that Satan tried to tempt Jesus with the same sin temptations he used with Adam and Eve, … the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, trying to get Jesus to breech the relationship He had with His Father in Heaven. But Jesus, as we know, would not step over the line in the sand (see the attached photo) which The Father had established with His Son.

So, often we have boundaries in our lives which we simply know we cannot breech because the resultant outcomes would be disastrous. The sober alcoholic knows he cannot take a drink; because, to step over that self-imposed line in the sand would bring disaster and drunkenness. God established His boundaries, such as the Ten Commandments, to protect His relationship with mankind; … not just to be a cosmic kill-joy.

No, … Christians come to know that our obedience to God’s boundaries is ALWAYS for our own good, … to protect us from our own weaknesses and selfishness, … AND … to give us the freedom of a fellowship with God which we can have with The Lord, … IF … and only if, we’re willing – in faith – to be slaves of our chosen obedience to God’s boundaries.

What about it, fellow Christian? … Where is the line drawn in the sand for you? What are the boundaries, which, if maintained, will give you the freedom you can have in your relationship with Christ? The line-in-the-sand is drawn. Let us choose not to cross it!
  
My Prayer for Today … Lord, thank You for Your boundaries which give me Your freedom and maintain my relationship with 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, November 25, 2013

November 25, 2013 … Enlarging Our Territory

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 329

 Devotional Song: Go to this link  – Please take your time to see a video I’ve posted a number of times to illustrate our faithfulness, … a powerful song, performed by Steve Green, Find Us Faithful, a prayer of commitment to go forth, being faithful to follow Christ in all things. … And then on this link - for the powerful song, written/sung by Laura Story, Blessings, which reminds us that God’s blessings in life may be disguised as trials and troubles.
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Highlight Passage - NLT: 1st Chronicles 4: 9-10…  
9 There was a man named Jabez who was more honorable than any of his brothers. His mother named him Jabez because his birth had been so painful. 10 He was the one who prayed to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!” And God granted him his request.  
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Highlight Passage: 1st Chronicles, Chapter 4… GO TO THIS LINK … [NLT] 
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Reference Passage #1: Matthew, Chapter 25: Verses 14-30… GO TO THIS LINK … [NLT] 

Reference Passage #2: 2nd Corinthians, Chapter 12: Verses 6-10… GO TO THIS LINK … [NLT]

My Journal for Today: We don’t know a lot about the man named Jabez, described in 1st Chronicles, Chapter 4, verses 9-10, yet we know a lot more about him than we do all of the others listed in that chapter, where the tribes of Israel were being chronicled by God’s word.

In fact, a modern Bible teacher, Bruce Wilkinson, wrote a little book about Jabez and his prayer a few years ago, … a book which practically became a modern Christian industry due to its popularity. And though not much was written about this man in the Old Testament, as Wilkinson points out in his book, what was written spoke chronicles about the man.

Yes, Jabez was the only Israelite listed in the chronicles of God’s people who had any descriptors mentioned at all about him; and he was described as “… more honorable than any of his brothers.” And going on in that passage, we see that this, so-called HONORABLE man, was seen by God as quite special, because Jabez prayed to be shielded from trouble and pain; and God is said to have granted Jabez his desire. And that was one point of Bruce Wilkinson’s very popular book was making, … i.e., that if we can be seen by God as “honorable” in His sight, and our desires seek and follow God’s will, we will be “blessed” with the desires of our hearts which are fully in line with God’s will.

This, of course, sparks some theological and practical discussion on what faithfulness and blessing are all about in God’s word. The Apostle Paul was certainly a faithful man, wasn’t’ he? Yet, we read in 2nd Corinthians, Chapter 12 that Paul prayed and prayed and prayed to have a painful “thorn” lifted from him. And how did God honor Paul’s prayer? He allowed Satan to keep visiting Paul with the pain of that “thorn.”

So, what’s up with that?

Well, as Laura Story sings in the song, “Blessings,” Christians need to know that God is going to BLESS His children based on their faithfulness and our needs, .. not our own selfish desires. Some, like Jabez, may be blessed with trouble-free living. Others, like Paul, will be “blessed” by God’s grace, being disguised in painful trials. But no matter what the shape of the “blessing” might be, God’s grace, when we pray for it as Jabez and Paul prayed, will be granted … based on our faithfulness AND our needs, … NOT our selfish desires!!

If and when we grasp that truth, we’ll live far more fruitful lives in Christ; because in our faithfulness, God will provide us with EXACTLY the “blessings” we need to grow us into Christlikeness (see Matt. 25: 14-30 – the parable of the talents). So, let’s pray to remain faithful, as Steve Green sings [linked above]; and to have God expand our territories as Jabez prayed … so that we can obey and serve God as did both Jabez and Paul – as honorable servants of their LORD.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, I pray to remain faithful and for You to expand the territory of my service for Your glory; … and that I may grow ever more faithful in serving You, in spite of any pain I may experience. 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, November 24, 2013

November 24, 2013 … Check Under the Hood

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 328

Devotional Song: Go to this link  – Please take your time to see a video of a healing song performed by Queen Latifah, Fix Me, Jesus, a prayer of brokenness for the only One Who can really repair the damage in our souls … Jesus.
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Highlight Passage - NLT: Colossians 3: 8…   
8 But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language.
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 Highlight Passage: Colossians, Chapter 3, Verses 1-17… GO TO THIS LINK … [NLT] 
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Reference Passage #1: Romans 6: 11 … [Dead to sin – alive in Christ.] … [NLT]  
11 So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.

Reference Passage #2: Philippians 4: 6-7 … [NLT] … [Anxious for nothing!] …  
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

My Journal for Today: How many of us have let anger simmer in our souls too long; and finally it explodes to damage a relationship … maybe even a total breakdown. Well, Os Hillman, in his devotional today, uses the word picture of a warning light coming on in our car; and if we ignore it, the scene in the attached photo might result; … an engine breakdown on the side of the road.

It doesn’t take someone with a Ph.D. in counseling to see where Hillman’s word picture is taking us, does it? No, … we all too often ignore the warning light of anger in our lives; and such lack of vigilance, at least driving us to check under the hood of our emotional engine, can lead to a serious blow-up in the vehicle of a marriage, friendship, or some other relationship.

It’s a truism that our pride and desire for control can lead us to let frustration in a relationship move into anger; and even with this emotional warning light, we quite often let things go on far too long until … POWEE [!!] … an explosion and breakdown in a relationship. The Apostle Paul was doing all he could to help Christians avoid such relational and/or spiritual damage when he warned them (well, us too!) about doing something when we sense our anger boiling (see the highlight verse above in Col. 3: 8). And in other of Paul’s letters he exhorted Christians to avoid letting the power of sin get a foothold in our soul (see Romans 6: 11).

No, … God’s advice, again through Paul (e.g., in Phil. 4: 6-7) was (and is) to “check under the hood” of our emotional engine and PRAY, as Queen Latifah prays in the song link for today, Fix me, Jesus, fix me!” Therefore, my fellow Christian, let’s pay attention when our warning light of anger comes on, allowing us to “check under the hood” and set aside the anger to get our spiritual engines fixed, avoiding the breakdown WHICH WILL RESULT if we let anger prevail too long.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, I will do what You said through Isaiah (26: 3), focusing on you, to let Your peace take away my anger. … 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, November 23, 2013

November 23, 2013 … Good things versus God things

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 327

Devotional Song: Go to this link –  – Please take your time to see a video of a telling song performed by Kathy Trocolli, Each Moment, reminding us how we, as Christians, must live, move, and have our being in/for Christ.
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Highlight Passage - NLT: Romans 8: 14…   
14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. 
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Highlight Passage: Matthew, Chapter 10, Verses 1-17… GO TO THIS LINK … [NLT] 
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Reference Passage #1: Proverbs 3: 5-6 … [Choosing God things over good things is following God’s Spirit] … [NLT]  
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 
6 Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.

Reference Passage #2: Luke 9: 23 … [NLT] … [Denying self to follow the Savior!] …  
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. …”

My Journal for Today: I’ve heard it said that one of the best measures of maturity as a Christian is the ability to discern the good things from the God things. … In other words, we may be given the opportunity, as followers of Christ, to choose between many good and worthy enterprises. However, not being able to do them all, we – as disciples of Christ – must be able to discern which of these GOOD choices are the GOD choices. In fact, watch out!! Satan will often, using his “tyranny of the urgent,” try to get us sidetracked from God’s will by tempting us with a large number of good things to keep us from seeing the one thing GOD would have us do.

That’s why Jesus spoke clearly to those who would follow Him that we must be willing – and able – to deny our own ways and to seek/follow HIS way (remember my most oft quoted NT passage - Luke 9: 23. And it’s why God’s Spirit led Solomon to pen my other oft-quoted passage - Proverbs 3: 5-6 [see also above]. However, quite often we find ourselves going for our own WANT TO, rather than seeking to follow God’s WILL TO.

So, as my attached graphic is asking, what is it that is standing in our way from getting on track and discerning God’s will [??];… and then, quite simply, what’s keeping us from following the old slogan of the Nike corporation, … to follow God’s will and “JUST DO IT! When we determine what is holding us back from denying our selves and following our Savior, we’ll be able to do more than just GOOD THINGS, … we’ll be choosing and doing the GOD THINGS.  

Okay … LET’S GO DO IT !! 

My Prayer for Today … Lord, … Your things today, not my things! … 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, November 22, 2013

November 22, 2013 … I surrender!

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 326

Devotional Song: Go to this link  – Please take your time to see a video of a telling song performed by Cece Wynans, I Surrender All, reminding us how we, as Christians, must give it all to Jesus to have Him as our Savior and Lord.
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Highlight Passage - NLT: Matthew 10: 39…  

39 If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for Me, you will find it.
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Highlight Passage: Matthew, Chapter 10… GO TO THIS LINK … [NLT]
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Reference Passage #1: Galatians 2: 20 … [Dying to self is at the heart of Christ being able to give us His free grace of salvation.] … [NLT]  
20 My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for Me. 

Reference Passage #2: Luke 18: 18-30 … [NLT] … GO TO THIS LINK ... [Yes, EVERYTHING!]

My Journal for Today: … “I have to do what?!!”

Though I’ve modernized the words a bit, that was the paraphrased emotional reply of the rich young ruler we read about in Luke 18: 18-30, linked for your study above (also found in Matthew 19 and Mark 10). Yes, when the young man asked Jesus what it takes to be saved, … The Messiah told the man he had to surrender all his wealth to follow Jesus. It was just too much for him; and he turned and walked away.

I’m afraid that’s the response of many to the demands of the Gospel in our culture today. We’ve become a culture of controllers; and “surrender” has become a rejected concept, … if not a dirty word. And even Christians, who’ve truly been born-again, often move out of fellowship in their worship and witness of Christ because they slip back into an unwillingness to be able to “surrender all” as Cece Wynans sings in her powerful rendition of that old hymn (also linked above for your meditation).

For us to have any power as Christian witnesses, we have to die to self to live in Christ as expressed by Paul in Galatians 2: 20, … a passage we all need to have memorized and internalized, recognizing that only when we SURRENDER OUR ALL can we capture the grace offered by the Savior to be able to be empowered to fully live as servants of the living God.

So, what about it, fellow Christian? Let’s give it ALL up today and live for Christ!!

My Prayer for Today … Lord, I surrender ALL to You today; … empower me to live fully for 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.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

November 21, 2013 … No Accidents

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 325

Devotional Song: Go to this link  – Please take your time to see a video of a telling song performed by Sara Groves, I Saw What I Saw, reminding us how we, as Christians, will be touched and changed by ALL of what life presents us in God’s providence and plan.
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Highlight Passage - NLT: !st Samuel 9: 3…  
3 One day Kish’s donkeys strayed away, and he told Saul, “Take a servant with you, and go look for them.”.  
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Highlight Passage: 1st Samuel, Chapter 9… GO TO THIS LINK … [NLT] … 
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Reference Passage #1: Proverbs 3: 5-6 … [Pay attention! On the confusing road of life God is leading us HIS 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 #2: Romans 8: 28 … [NLT] … [Yes, ALL THINGS!] …  
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: I was reminded by a truth brought out by Os Hillman’s devotional entry today; and it’s a truth to which I need to cling. And it really also reminds me how I recoil almost every time I hear a fellow Christians almost reflexively say, “I was so lucky!” Or maybe a brother might say, “I accidently went down this road.”

I recoil when I hear such proclamations because they say to me that the Christian making those statements either doesn’t understand or doesn’t believe that God is sovereign. Because if they grasped this truth – i.e., that God is ALWAYS in control – they would understand the premise or truth that there are NO ACCIDENTS; … hence the title for my journal entry this morning.

The graphic which I attached is a repeat from a journal entry I posted back on November 1 (if you want to go back and check it out); and the sign indicates that the roads in our life can be confusing at times; and we often are searching, given the circumstances of life, to find the right way – GOD’S WAY. That was the case in the highlight Scripture passage Os Hillman used today for illustration from 1st Samuel 9 (see linked above). This was the story of Saul, before he was the first king of Israel, being assigned by his father to go out to find a number of misplaced donkeys (a serious problem because of the value of donkeys to business people in those days). And Saul, through this search, and not finding the donkeys, was led to the Prophet Samuel; and that set of seemingly “accidental” circumstances became critical in the history of God’s people getting their first king. And we know, from biblical history, the so-called “rest of the story.”

As Christians we need to remember – and internalize – two scripture passages to which I very often end up quoting or making reference in my daily devotionals … Proverbs 3: 5-6 and Romans 8: 28. And both of these passages – if understood and believed – clearly dictate that THERE ARE NO ACCIDENTS. We believe these two truths, and live by them, as Christians … or we don’t! And if we do, we recognize that even our most confusing and confounding life circumstances are being engineered or allowed by God to bring something good or some direction to life.

So, as we step into life today, realize that everything we see, … everything we encounter, … and everywhere we go is God’s will unfolding for our good … and for our God. As Sara Groves sings in the song I recalled for today, what we see today will touch us to the core of our being with God’s love.

He’s leading us. … So, let’s follow Him!

My Prayer for Today … Lord, everyday my road is where You lead 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.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

November 20, 2013 … Starting Over

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 324

Devotional Song: Go to this link  – Please take your time to see a video of a telling song performed by Sara Groves, It’s Gonna Be Alright, reminding us how we, as Christians, are never so low that God can’t raise us up to glorify Him. … And then to this link  to hear Woodrow Kroll recite a poem he wrote entitled Start Over, where he describes God’s call to us at anytime we’re feeling low in our lives.
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Highlight Passage - NLT: James 1: 9…  
9 Believers who are poor have something to boast about, for God has honored them.  
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Highlight Passage - NKJV: James 1: 9…  
9 Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, …
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Highlight Passage - KJV: James 1: 9…  
9 Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: …
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Highlight Passage: James 1: 1-18… GO TO THIS LINK … [NLT] …
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Reference Passage #1: Matthew 23: 11-12 … [NLT] … [Jesus, telling of the way to exaltation in life.] …  
11 The greatest among you must be a servant. 12 But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Reference Passage #2: Philippians 2: 5-11 … [NLT] … GO TO THIS LINK [Jesus – our model of humility and glory.] …

My Journal for Today: Ever been in a place of utter humiliation, feeling about as low as a human can feel? I would guess that’s the feeling of the one in the picture attached to illustrate a wondrous truth about the Christian life; and that is … we CAN start over!

Today in his journal entry, Os Hillman uses the human story of J. C. Penney, who built a retail giant back in the 1930s, just after the great depression. But when the market crashed in 1929, Mr. Penney lost everything; and he ended up in a mental institution. But after that low place in his life, he slipped into a worship service and found Christ; and in that new relationship with God, he learned that His Lord was the God of second chances. So, he started over; and, as a Christian, Penney built one of the great post-depression retail businesses.

Yes, as Jesus’ brother exclaimed in the first chapter of his treatise on living the Christian life, we are never so low that we cannot live to serve God and be exalted by Him. Jesus, declared that it is the lowest in life who serve others and will be exalted the most (see Matthew 23: 11-12 above). And Jesus, Himself, was the model of humiliation to glory in His birth, life, death, and resurrection (see Paul’s account of our following Christ’s model in Philippians 2: 5-11 linked above).

Every year on New Year’s Day, my computer prompts me to read a poem which Woodrow Kroll wrote many years ago; and you can stop for a moment and use the link above to hear Dr. Kroll, the great Bible teacher, read that poem, entitled, Start Over. And then use the other link to hear Sara Groves sing a song I often return to use as a meditation in music for my journal entries, It’s Gonna Be Alright.

My friend, if any of us find ourselves in a low place right now, maybe a place where we feel worthless or in total humiliation, I pray we’ll be able to recognize that God has us in the exact place where He can show off His best stuff and allow us to receive the grace to START OVER.

How about it? Will we take in the truths above and follow our God of second chances; or are we going to listen to the lies of the enemy and allow our selves to remain down-and-outers forever?

Common! Let’s start over!

My Prayer for Today … Lord, thank You for being the author of a new life, in 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.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

November 19, 2013 … Sold Out to the Spirit!

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 323

Devotional Song: Go to this link  – Please take your time to see a video of a telling song performed by Marty Goetz, The Spirit of the Lord, reminding us how we, as Christians, must be sold out to God’s Spirit as born-again believers just as Jesus was totally surrendered to His Father.
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Highlight Passage: Joshua 14: 14… [Caleb was one who led an anointed life because he was a sold-out believer.] … [NKJV]  
14 Hebron still belongs to the descendants of Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite because he wholeheartedly followed the LORD, the God of Israel.
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Highlight Passage: Joshua 14: 6-14… GO TO THIS LINK … [NLT] …
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Reference Passage #1: Romans 8: 13-14 … [NLT] … [Those who follow the Spirit rather than the flesh will experience victorious living.] …  
13 For if you keep on following it, you will perish. But if through the power of the Holy Spirit you turn from it and its evil deeds, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.

My Journal for Today: If you’re a Christian reading along with me today, I would expect you’re no different than I am to want to live a life marked by the victory over self describe by the Apostle Paul in Romans, Chapter 8, especially as I’ve marked that life by Verses 13-14 copied above. Well, it is in that passage I believe we find the way all believers can live the victorious Christian life as opposed to the impotent, death-marked, life of selfishness.

In the Old Testament, Joshua and Caleb were two of those victorious warriors for God who lived by and were anointed by God’s Spirit to live life for God rather than all the others who fell to selfish living. In today’s attached photo, you see Caleb and Joshua returning from their assignment by Moses to spy out the Promised Land; and they returned with excited, positive stories, encouraging Moses to lead the people into this land where they saw such fruitfulness. But the other 10 spies, in fear for self, saw nothing by potential danger and death.

And in today’s highlight passage from the OT, in Joshua, Chapter 14, copied & linked above, we read how God rewarded Caleb for his willingness to faithfully follow God, being anointed by God’s Spirit to live a fruitful life.

And therein, I believe, lies the application for me from this study today … that if I pursue life in the Spirit, God will anoint me with His grace-filled power, and I can expect to live as Paul promised in Romans 8. But if I live, mired in selfishness, greed, and fear, I can only expect to be rewarded only by the flesh, which always leads to death.

We choose!

My Prayer for Today … Lord, fill me with Your Spirit today that I may LIVE for 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, November 18, 2013

November 18, 2013 … Let Our “Yes” be YES

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 322

Devotional Song: Go to this link  – Please take your time to see a video of a poignant song performed by the group, Phillips, Craig, and Dean, Let My Words Be few, reminding us how we, as Christians, must do all we can to stand in awe of our God when we declare our love for Him by keeping our vows and promises.
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Highlight Passage: Ecclesiastes 5: 2-5… [Making vows or promises is serious business.] … [NKJV]  
2 Do not be rash with your mouth, … And let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; … Therefore let your words be few. 3 For a dream comes through much activity, … And a fool’s voice is known by his many words. 4 When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; … For He has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed—5 Better not to vow than to vow and not pay. 
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Highlight Passage: Ecclesiastes 5: 1-7… GO TO THIS LINK … [NLT] … 
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Reference Passage #1: Deuteronomy 23: 21-23 … [NLT] … GO TO THIS LINK [God’s word is clear about the seriousness of taking/making vows.] …

Reference Passage #2: Psalms 50: 19-23 … [NLT] … GO TO THIS LINK [There are always consequences for a loose tongue.] …

Reference Passage #3: Matthew 5: 33-37 … [NLT] … GO TO THIS LINK [Jesus warns about making oaths.] …

My Journal for Today: The photo I’ve attached signifies a day in our past when two business men shaking hands was a contract of fidelity; and if promises or vows were made, both parties could count on the other to fulfill those promises. However, our culture now has devolved into one of distrust, even when contracts are made and signed.

We know that well over 50% of those who make/sign marriage contracts, which are binding, legal documents, break those vows and marriages must be dissolved. Wouldn’t you agree that we have gotten to a place where almost NO ONE believes ANY promises made by politicians, especially those running for office? And how many promises are made to God or before God between Christians; and those promises are just so many words (and actually, many too many words) with the oaths falling to broken contracts or dissolved relationships. And we know how difficult it is for trust between two parties, when marriage vows have been broken, to be repaired and for the parties to interact with any degree of trust again.

That is why Solomon in his later years, after living a life of broken promises to God, wrote what God’s Spirit inspired the King of Israel to write in Ecclesiastes, Chapter 5 copied/linked above. And this theme of the seriousness of making vows and promises is echoed in many other places in Scripture (see the reference links above), even with Jesus weighing in on the subject in his Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5: 33-37 where He said, “Let you yes be yes and your no be no!” 

In other words, when we make a promise to someone, especially under our New Covenant relationship with Christ, representing Him in all we say and do, we need to recognize that such vows are VERY SERIOUS BUSINESS! So today as we go about our business, and especially as we relate to those we love, as today’s devotional song declares, “let our words be few,” and let all we say be honest and true reflections of our love for our Savior and Lord.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, … let my words be few and true 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, November 17, 2013

November 17, 2013 … “Testing, Testing, Testing!”

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 321

Devotional Song: Go to this link   – Please take your time to see a video of a poignant song performed by the group, Selah, Press On, reminding us how we, as Christians, must GO continue to press on in spite of the testing our lives present for us. … and then to this link  again for Steve Green’s powerful song, Find Us Faithful, calling on our lives to be faithful no matter what our lives confront in the way of testing, trials, or troubles.
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Highlight Passage: Matthew 25: 21… [Jesus set about to do His Father’s business.] … [NKJV] 21 “ … His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ …” 
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Highlight Passage: Matthew 25: 14-30… GO TO THIS LINK … [NLT] … 
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Reference Passage #1: John 16: 33 [NLT] … [Yes, life is a test of our willingness to become overcomers.]  
33 “… In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Reference Passage #2: James1: 2-4 [NLT] … [Yes, we can even choose to express joy in the face of trails or testing.] 
 2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

My Journal for Today: If you view the photo attached of the auto testing which is done with dummies, we know that doing such tests is necessary for the auto industry to assure its customers that the autos they produce are safe. But when I see a photo like this and then think about my life, I realize that I’m the dummy in the testing of this life which God allows me to go through so that He can be assured that I’m the real-deal when it comes to my Christianity.

 And when you hear the two songs to which I’ve linked my readers today, … two which I’ve used in the past in my journaling, we hear that we’re to “press on” and be “faithful,” no matter what the testing we face in life.

Yes, my friend, as Os Hillman points us today, one of Jesus’ most challenging parables is found in Matthew 25: 14-30, the so-called “Parable of the Talents,” in which we see that we are going to be tried in this life; and the trials will test our faithfulness as declared believers in our Lord and Savior. The question is … WILL WE PASS THE TESTS and be declared faithful by our Lord?

I think of all the product testing done by various companies, like the auto-safety testing referred to above; and we know it’s absolutely necessary to insure that the products being tested are either safe or meet the standards the manufacturer is trying to uphold in marketing whatever product which is being tested.

So, I ask myself today, am I worthy of being labeled as “A CHRISTIAN” in this world; and one day when I’m standing before my Savior in heaven, will He say, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” as He declared in the highlight parable quoted above.

Oh, how I pray today that will be so.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, whatever the trials You take me through, may I be faithful and worthy of Your Name. … 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, November 16, 2013

November 16, 2013 … Lighting Our World

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 320

 Devotional Song: Go to this link  – Please take your time to see a video of a poignant song performed by Chris Rice, Go Light Your Candle, reminding us how we, as Christians, must GO and be a light in this very dark world. …
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Highlight Passage: Luke 2: 49-50… [Jesus set about to do His Father’s business.] … [NKJV]  
49 And He said to them [Jesus’ parents], “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” 50 But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them.  ============
Highlight Passage: Luke 2: 41-50… GO TO THIS LINK … [NKJV] … 
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Reference Passage #1: Matthew 5: 14-16 … [NKJV] … GO TO THIS LINK [Our business must be the sharing of Christ’s light in a very darkened world.] …

Reference Passage #2: Acts 1: 8 [NLT] … [So, as witness for Christ, we light the candle of others with our own shared candle.] 
  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.”

My Journal for Today: Today, taking the passage from Luke 2: 41-50, Os Hillman, writing primarily to a workplace audience in his devotional book, used the franchising of businesses as his word picture to describe how we, as Christ’s witnesses (see Acts 1: 8) should be about God’s business, as was his Son, by sharing Him with others and spreading His Kingdom by doing all we can to seek others to be a part of this kingdom spreading enterprise. It’s a good analogy; but I prefer another, more universally experienced word picture to illustrate this truth.

Have you ever been in a very dark room with a lot of other folks, all of whom have candles; and one person lights a candle? And the first thing that we see is than even just one candle will dispel much of the darkness in the room; but as one person lights the candle of another [see attached photo], … now there are 2 candles, then four, then 8; … and as the candle-lighting spreads, the darkness is dispelled to reveal the light. Perhaps you’ve been at a church service where this effect was used to illustrate how we need to fulfill the call of our Lord in Matthew 5: 14-16, where Jesus said we, His disciples, are to be the candle-bearers of His Gospel to the world – a very dark world.

After you’ve taken in the video of Chris Rice’s poignant song [linked above], … I’ll not go on here; because I think you get the picture. The question, out of my conviction from this word picture, is … Am I doing all I can to share Christ’s light in this world which seems to get ever darker?

My Prayer for Today … Lord, I pray I’m Your light today as I enter a very dark world. … 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, November 15, 2013

November 15, 2013 … Being Jesus to Others

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 319

Devotional Song: Go to this link – Please take your time to see a video of a poignant song performed by Nicole C Mullen, One Touch, reminding us how we, as Christians, must GO and be available to others to let the love of Christ flow from us. … And then to this link for the Heritage Singers singing the old Gaither hymn, He Touched Me, with the message that when we are touched by Jesus’ love, we are changed.
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Highlight Passage: Luke 8: 43-46 … [Jesus went out amongst the people with His healing love..] … [NLT]  
43 A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding, and she could find no cure. 44 Coming up behind Jesus, she touched the fringe of his robe. Immediately, the bleeding stopped. … 45 “Who touched me?” Jesus asked. Everyone denied it, and Peter said, “Master, this whole crowd is pressing up against you.” 46 But Jesus said, “Someone deliberately touched me, for I felt healing power go out from me.”
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Highlight Passage: Luke 8: 40-56 … GO TO THIS LINK … [NLT] … 
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Reference Passage #1: 1st Corinthians 2: 3-5 … [Paul learned that the best method of evangelism and ministry was to go and be available to people.] … [NLT] …
3 I came to you in weakness—timid and trembling. 4 And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit. 5 I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God.

Reference Passage #2: Matthew 5: 16 [NLT] … [Will we shine His light today?]  
16 … let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

Reference Passage #3: Acts 1: 8 [NLT] … [As believers, In faith, our primary witness to the world is being a living Jesus to others.]  
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.”

My Journal for Today: Years ago, a dear mentor taught me that my primary goal as a Christian should be to know my Savior. He taught me a chain of results which comes from knowing God more intimately. He said, “To know God is to love God; … to love God is to obey Him; … to obey Him is to serve Him; and to serve Him is to be blessed by Him.” Therefore, if we desire to be blessed by God, we should do all we can to know Him, love Him, obey Him, and serve Him. In other words, we should have Jesus as our living model so that we can be like Jesus as we live out our lives in the midst of others who don’t know Him.

We often think that what we should BE as Christians is wrapped up in what we say to others. And when we see gifted evangelists like Billy Graham or theologians like ____________ (well you fill in that blank) preaching with powerful words, we come to think that this is (or should be) our model of ministry or missionary work. But shouldn’t Jesus be our model [?]; and He in His ministry life, He was more about being amongst the people and just being available to them as God, the Father, sent those in need to Him for His love.

There as so many examples; but the one which came to my heart/mind today was Jesus just out-and-about with the people; and a woman with a bleeding condition pressed through the crowd just to touch the hem of Jesus’ clothing [see the graphic above]. That moment is captured in the song to which I link anyone following this, sung by Nicole C Mullen; and a second song by the Heritage Singers about how Jesus changes lives when He touches them in a special, personal way.

Yes, and I know that touch myself; because a caring friend was Jesus for me a little over 30 years ago when I was an angry atheist seeking spiritual strength. He simply loaned me a cassette tape; and listening to that tape TOUCHED ME with Jesus’ love; and I was changed forever.

The message I get here today, and pass along to others, is that we, as Christ seekers, should do all we can to be Jesus to a hurting and dark world. The Apostle Paul learned that lesson even though he was a powerful preacher when he needed to be; but Paul used the Jesus model as he expressed in the 1st Cor. 2 passage copied above. He knew that following what Jesus Himself preached in Matthew 5: 16 and Acts 1: 8 was the way to GO and fulfill Jesus’ great commission (see Matthew 28: 19-20).

And that’s the model which I try to follow … to know God as much as I can, which leads me to love God more and more, … which leads me obey and serve my Lord by doing all I can to carry His light in what I say and do in a very dark world. And in that process, I have learned that He blesses me beyond anything I could have ever desired.

So, here I go again today … doing all I can to shine my Lord’s light in the world.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, I beg You to shine – somehow – through this humble servant so that others my be touched by Your love. … 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, November 14, 2013

November 14, 2013 … Sold Out … All In For Jesus!

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 318

Devotional Song: Go to this link –  – Please take your time to see a video of a poignant song performed by the group Hillsong, I Surrender, reminding us how we, as Christians, must surrender our all to God’s Spirit and let Him take control of all we are and how we live. ... And then to this link  - for the Vineyard Fellowship singing the old hymn, I Surrender All, with the expression of worship we all, as saved Christians, should give to our Savior, especially knowing all He surrendered to save us.
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Highlight Passage: Philippians 3: 7-9a … [Paul gave his all for His Jesus.] … [NLT]  
7 I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. 8 Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ 9 and become one with Him. 
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Highlight Passage: Philippians, Chapter 3 … GO TO THIS LINK … [NLT] … 
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Reference Passage #1: Acts 9: 1-19 … GO TO THIS LINK ... [NLT] [God had to knock Paul off his horse to get His attention – see Photo attached.]

Reference Passage #2: Luke 9: 23 [NLT] … [As believers, In faith, we have to choose to surrender all we are to serve Jesus as Lord.]  
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: Revelation 3: 20 [NLT] … [Jesus call His church to sell out and let Him in so that we can commune with Him daily.]  
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: If I were ask a church group here in the Midsouth, “With a show of hands here, how many of you are Christians;” … wouldn’t you guess that almost every hand in the audience would be raised? Yes, I’m sure that would happen; but what if I asked, “Stand up if you’re a DISCIPLE of Jesus Christ?” … Yeah, probably the same number would stand, wouldn’t they? But is that reflective of the truth … of reality? I wonder!

I dare say many who are genuinely saved, born-again, Christians would have trouble honestly declaring that they are sold-out, ardent followers and “disciples” of Christ as He, Himself, defined discipleship (see Luke 9: 23 copied above from the NLT). … Common, fess up, Christian; are we really denying our selves, taking up our crosses daily, and following our Lord in surrender 24/7 in our lives? I don’t know about you, fellow Christian, but I’m feeling a twinge of conviction right now.

Sometimes it takes a lot for God to even get our attention in order to save us. Certainly God had to really knock Saul of Tarsus off his horse and even blind the Jewish zealot [see the attached photo] so that, as the Apostle Paul, this man could see the truth and become one of Jesus’ most dedicated disciples. But Paul did surrender; and we now know from his letters and from history, that Paul was a sold out – ALL IN – Christian, living out his life, … surrendered … as a follower of Jesus.

I don’t think I have to go on here, do I? No, all of us who claim the name of Christ, all feel the call to the fellowship of Revelation 3: 20; but how many of us will open the door and let Him in today?

My Prayer for Today … Lord, I’m yours today; and prayerfully tomorrow too! … 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, November 13, 2013

November 13, 2013 … Blessing from Adversity

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 317

Devotional Song: Go to this link  – Pleas take your time to see a video of a poignant song written and performed by Sara Groves, It’s Going To Be Alright, reminding us how we much of the good of life comes out of the bad. … And then to this link  for Laura Story’s touching and very personal song, Blessings, which certainly shows Christians that many times God’s blessings come disguised as trials and troubles.
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Highlight Passage: Genesis 41: 51-52 … [Commemorating affliction and prosperity.] … [NLT]
 50 During this time, before the first of the famine years, two sons were born to Joseph and his wife, Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera, the priest of On. 51 Joseph named his older son Manasseh, for he said, “God has made me forget all my troubles and everyone in my father’s family.” 52 Joseph named his second son Ephraim, for he said, “God has made me fruitful in this land of my grief.”
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Highlight Passage: Genesis, Chapter 41, Verses 37-57 … GO TO THIS LINK … [NLT] … 
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Reference Passage #1: Romans 8: 28 … [Adversity is often God’s blessings in disguise.] … [NLT] …  
28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Reference Passage #2: Galatians 5: 19-21 … Go to this link … [NLT] … [As believers, In faith, we will choose the fruit of the flesh or the Spirit. ] 

My Journal for Today: Today Os Hillman uses the historical account of Joseph naming his two sons; and the photo attached is a Rembrandt painting of these boys being taken to their grandfather, Jacob, for his blessing. And we note what Joseph named these boys, the first being Manasseh, which means “desiring to forget;” and the second, Ephraim, which means “fruitful.” Their names commemorated the times in Joseph’s life which he’d rather forget; but they were the times which produced the most fruitfulness in his relationship with God.

And isn’t that the message of the songs to which I’ve linked you above, especially the latter one by Laura Story, who wrote a very personal song about how God’s blessings often come disguised as the worst troubles of our lives.

And the Apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 5: 19-23 that, as Christians, we will often be choosing our destiny by deciding whether to become the fruit of the flesh or the fruitfulness of the Spirit. And in the times of troubles and trials, it is so easy to turn, in temptation, to the flesh, when, if we live in/for the Spirit, God will sweeten and develop His Spirit-laden fruitfulness in our lives.

So, today which will we choose?

My Prayer for Today … Lord, help me to sweeten Your fruit in my life by the way I live. … 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, November 12, 2013

November 12, 2013 … Run the Race

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 316

Devotional Song: Go to this link  – A video taken from the movie Chariots of Fire about the 1924 Olympic victory of Eric Liddell … a story of faithfulness and God’s reward of honor; and then to this link   to see a video of a powerful song performed by Steve Green, Find Us Faithful, reminding us how we must live our lives in worship of the grace God has given us to do so in this life and the next.
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Highlight Passage: Ephesians 2: 10 … [In the context of verses 8-10.] … [NLT]  
8 God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.
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 Highlight Passage: Ephesians, Chapter 2, Verses 1-10 … GO TO THIS LINK … [NLT] … 
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Reference Passage #1: 1st Corinthians 9: 24 … [Running the race of life to win the prize!] … [NLT] …  
24 Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 

Reference Passage #2: Philippians 2: 16-17 … [Holding firm to God’s path and standards in the race we call life.] … [NLT] …
 16 Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless. 17 But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy. 

 Reference Passage #3: 2nd Timothy 4: 7 … [Paul finished his race, winning the crown of victory in Christ.] … [NLT] …  
6 As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. 8 And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing. 

My Journal for Today: Today, in Os Hillman’s journal entry, he uses the wonderful story of Eric Liddell, whose life was so poignantly depicted in the Oscar winning movie, Chariots of Fire. Liddell was a British runner in the 1924 Olympics [see attached photo] who was thwarted from running the race in which he was the favorite because, being a devout Christian, he refused to run on a Sunday when his race had been scheduled. However, on the following day, he was given the opportunity to run a somewhat longer race, one for which he had not trained; but as you can view in the You Tube clip linked above, he ran and won the 400 meter race. His story was a great life example of the song to which I’ve also linked readers above with Steve Green singing, Find Us Faithful, which I will pray today God finds me as I run this race we call life.

The Apostle Paul in his letters to beloved fellow believers, which we read in the New Testament, used the word picture of life being a race several times; and we as God’s runners, as he wrote, must do all we can to use the gifts and talents God has given us to win our own race. Reading and meditating on three of those references in the passages above (i.e., see 1st Cor. 9: 24, Phil. 2: 16, and 2nd Tim. 4: 7), I’m convicted to be doing all I can – in this life – training for and running my own designated race to honor God as Eric Liddell did in the 1924 Olympics.

In today’s highlight passage from Ephesians 2: 8-10, we know that God offers freely His grace unto salvation; … but also unto sanctification as well. In other words, we who’ve received God’s free gift of salvation must then daily receive and use God’s continuing sanctifying grace to be His workmanship in the race we call life. Once we are saved, it behooves all Christians to have the attitude of faithfulness exhibited by Eric Liddell and to run the race of life in faithful pursuit of God’s grace, setting our eyes on the prize (see Phil. 3: 13-14), and running the race with all God has given us to do so, glorifying God in the process.

So, the gun has been sounded; … let’s run the race today - all out  - to win for God’s glory.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, I run to and for You … and You alone. … 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, November 11, 2013

November 11, 2013 … Give Me Jesus

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 315

Devotional Song: Go to this link  – to see a video of a powerful song written and sung by Fernando Ortega, Give Me Jesus, with the video honoring the decades of powerful service to God by the preacher of our century, Billy Graham, who this week at age 95 left America with the only real message of hope Billy has ever preached … that we must, before it’s too late, repent of our sins and receive Jesus as our Savior and Lord.
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Highlight Passage: John 3: 16-17 … [The only message of real consequence for mankind.] … [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. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. …”
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 Highlight Passage: John, Chapter 3 … GO TO THIS LINK … [NLT] …
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 Highlight Passage #2: Romans 10: 9-13 … GO TO THIS LINK … [NLT] …

My Journal for Today: If you’ve followed my devotional journal entries this year, as the disclaimer paragraph below proclaims, I’ve been using the daily devotional blogs by Os Hillman from his Workplace Ministry website. However, today, on this “Veteran’s Day,” I want to honor the preeminent soldier for God of these past many decades; and that is Billy Graham.

This past week the Billy Graham Ministries to honor Billy’s 95th birthday, have broadcast a sermon, maybe Billy’s last major crusade sermon, illustrating what happens when lives come to Christ and are changed forever by God’s saving grace. On this day when we honor those who’ve served and died for our freedoms, it seems only fitting that I take this departure from my normal pattern of devotional blogging to pause and honor a consummate soldier for Christ and a man who’s only really had one message to preach for all the decades God has given Billy; and that the message of John 3: 16.

So, I hope you’ll do what I’m doing today and stop and meditate a bit, thanking God for the life of Billy Graham; and also stopping to thank God, the Father, for sending His Son to die on a cross and be raised again, proclaiming the reality that we all must repent of our sinfulness and receive His saving grace so that we can spend our eternity with Jesus. Yes, as Fernando Ortega sings, in the song he wrote and sung, let’s honor Jesus with our thankfulness for His saving us.

And if somehow today you don’t know you are saved – with no doubts, recognizing you’re a sinner in need of a Savior,… stop, as Billy Graham so often preached over the years, and acknowledge your sin and ask Jesus to save you, believing in your heart that He’s the only One Who can. And then go tell someone about it, sealing the deal forever as the Apostle Paul wrote about it in the passage copied above from Romans 10: 9-13.

And I’ll stop this morning to pray, with a thankful heart, for you being saved and with gratefulness for the service to God of Billy Graham and his continual message of truth and hope.

My Prayer for Today … Thank You, Lord, for Billy Graham and his service to You which has brought millions into Your kingdom. … 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.