Saturday, May 31, 2014

May 31, 2014 … White As Snow

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2014 - Day 151

Devotional Song: Go to this link  … Please go this video link to hear The Maranatha Singers, singing White As Snow, reminding all of us sinners who were covered by the blood of Christ by our faith in His finished work, that our crimson sins have been made white as snow.
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Highlight Passage – NKJV: Isaiah 1: 18 [NKJV] …  
18 “Come now, and let us reason together,” says the LORD, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
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Highlight Passage [Context] – NKJV: Isaiah 1: 1-6; 12-18 [NKJV] … Go to this link 
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Reference Passage #1 – NKJV: Lamentations 3: 22-23 [NKJV] …  
22 Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. 23 They are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness.

Reference Passages #2 Ephesians 1: 7 …  
7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace …

Reference Passages #3 1st John 1: 9 …  
9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness …

My Journal for Today: “White as snow,” … the title of this morning’s Our Daily Bread devotional reminded me of something I need to keep reminding myself of occasionally; and that is the truth that Christ’s finished and atoning work on the cross has covered my sin – my flesh-tarnished – my selfishness until it appears white as snow to the Father.

Perhaps you’ve seen a scene like the one depicted in the attached photo, when big flakes of snow come down quickly and cover the landscape with a blanket of the white stuff, making an otherwise dirty earth look so clean and pure. Well, my dear one, that is a picture of the cleansing power of Christ’s blood; and as The Maranatha Singers sing in the linked song above, it makes our crimson-colored, filthy sin white as snow.

I need to remember that Jesus’ blood is there to cleanse even the worst of our sinfulness (see 1st John 1: 9). I need to remember that God’s mercies and His faithfulness cover our sins like new fallen snow every morning (see Lam. 3: 22-23). And … I need to remember that even though we’ve been so sinful and scarlet-covered to Him, our Lord is willing and able to cover our sins until they are as white as snow even today (see the highlight verse above from Isaiah 1: 18).

My Prayer for Today …Yes, Lord, … white as snow. … Amen

Blogger Note: Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online devotional blog entitled Our Daily Bread [TGIF], distributed online via email by RBC Ministries. If you GO TO THIS LINK  on the date of my blog, you’ll find a link to read the Our Daily Bread blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Friday, May 30, 2014

May 30, 2014 … His Strength In My Weakness!

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2014 - Day 150

Devotional Song: Go to this link  … Please go this video link to hear Steven Curtis Chapman singing the lyrics he wrote in the song His Strength Is Perfect, proclaiming the reality of God’s strength being available when our weakness is so apparent in times of weakness.
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Highlight Passage – NKJV: Philippians 4: 13 [NKJV] …  
13 I can do all things through Christ Who gives me the strength.
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Highlight Passage [Context] – NKJV: Philippians 4: 10-13 [NKJV] … Go to this link 
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Reference Passage #1 – NKJV: Isaiah 41: 10 [NKJV] …  
10 Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

Reference Passages #2 2nd Corinthians 12: 9-10 …  
9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

My Journal for Today: Ever had a time when your weakness could not provide the strength to overcome the circumstances of life? … Of course, we all have. And it’s in those moments when, as Paul wrote from prison to his beloved friends in Philippi [see today’s highlight passage], that it was God’s strength he could, and would, rely on to deal with his weakness. He also wrote about that to the Christians in Corinth when he had to deal with some physical pain which was almost overwhelming for him (see 2nd Cor. 12: 9-10copied above).

Paul had to learn that in spite of his own personal weakness, like the Prophet Isaiah wrote (see Isaiah 41: 10), that we need not fear in moments of weakness; because God’s strength is always available to help lift us up in our times of weakness. I hope you’ve taken the time to use the link above to see the video of Steven Curtis Chapman singing his song, His Strength Is Perfect because His lyrics had to be there when his little adopted daughter was killed accidentally and tragically by his own teenage son. Can one imaging the weakness one had to feel in such a moment? Only God’s enabling grace could cover one in such a time of weakness.

And I personally can attest to the truth and reality of today’s highlight verse, because it was that passage which, through an amazing set of circumstances, was used by God to show me that my search for spiritual strength could only be realized in a saving relationship with Christ; and in that moment of utter brokenness, I cried out for God’s strength to cover my weakness; and my Lord and Savior has done just that.

May I suggest a tool to use when you feel weak – too weak – to handle the crushing circumstances of life? This technique has never failed me. When I get down or am feeling too weak to handle life, …
… [1] I stop and quote ALOUD – as a prayer to God – the three verses copied above (see Isaiah 41: 10, 2nd Cor. 12: 9, and Phil. 4: 13). [Of course that implies that these verses are memorized and internalized by belief into our consciousness.] Then, I stop and pray to GOD, THE FATHER, thanking Him for sending His Son to save me.
… [2] Then, I repeat the three verses, again ALOUD as a prayer to God, followed by a prayer to GOD, THE SON, thanking Him for saving me.
… [3] And finally, for the third time, I recite, ALOUD, the three verses, followed by a prayer to GOD, THE SPIRIT, thanking Him for giving me the enabling and empowering grace to cover my weakness.

As I wrote above, that technique/tool has never failed to do what those three verses declare when I’m feeling too weak to handle life. Why don’t you try it the next time you’re feeling weak; and then write me at my email address – billb13@bellsouth.net – and let me know if it helped?!

My Prayer for Today … Lord, I can do all things with Your strength to cover my weakness.… Amen

Blogger Note: Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online devotional blog entitled Our Daily Bread [TGIF], distributed online via email by RBC Ministries. If you GO TO THIS LINK  on the date of my blog, you’ll find a link to read the Our Daily Bread blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

May 29, 2014 … The Quest of Discipleship

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2014 - Day 149

Devotional Song: Go to this link  … Please go this video link to hear Brian Littrell singing the old hymn I Surrender All, proclaiming the totality of surrendering to the discipleship of Christ.
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Highlight Passage – NKJV: Matthew 4: 19 [NKJV] …  
19 Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
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Highlight Passage [Context] #1 – NKJV: Matthew 4: 18-22 [NKJV] … Go to this link   =============

 Reference Passages #1 Luke 9: 23 [also Matt. 16:24; Mark 8:34] …  
23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily,[a] and follow Me…. “

Reference Passages #2 John 1: 35-42 …Go to this link … The first encounter Andrew and Peter had with Jesus …


My Journal for Today: In today’s Our Daily Bread devotional entry, I was taken back to that beach near Capernaum, a beach I have walked myself [see beach photo above with my wife walking on that beach where Jesus called His disciples]; and I was reminded of that day when Jesus, as depicted in the first attached photo, encountered the fishermen, Andrew and Simon (later renamed “Peter” by Jesus) in their boat. Andrew had already had an earlier encounter with Jesus and had told his brother, Simon about believing Jesus to be The Messiah (see also the linked passage of John 1: 35-42).. But when Jesus called them to follow Him, they just surrendered – completely – to His call to become “fishers of men,” which led to a little over three yeas of becoming disciples of this God-man, Jesus.

And all of this reminds us of Jesus’ call to anyone who would become His disciple (see Luke 9: 23, which I hope you have memorized). And as Brian Littrell sings in today’s linked song, discipleship in Christ takes TOTAL SURRENDER.

So, my question today - to me - is … “Am I really surrendered to my Lord and Savior; … or am I just saying I am His for others to see me as a Christian?” Am I becoming a fisher of men; and have I given up ALL of myself to follow Him? …

Tough questions … but then again, He’s a tough Savior, … demanding a tough follower.

My Prayer for Today Yes, Lord, I do surrender all. … Amen

Blogger Note: Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online devotional blog entitled Our Daily Bread [TGIF], distributed online via email by RBC Ministries. If you GO TO THIS LINK  on the date of my blog, you’ll find a link to read the Our Daily Bread blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

May 28, 2014 … He is risen!!

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2014 - Day 148

Devotional Song: Go to this link  … Please go this video link to hear Daniel Thornton singing the old hymn Up From the Grave He Arose, proclaiming the glory Christ’s victory over death and sin.
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Highlight Passage – NKJV: Micah 7: 8-9 [NKJV] …  
8 Do not rejoice over me, my enemy; when I fall, I will arise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD will be a light to me. 9 I will bear the indignation of the LORD, because I have sinned against Him, until He pleads my case.
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Highlight Passage [Context] #1 – NKJV: Micah 7:8-9,18-20 [NKJV] … Go to this link 
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Reference Passages #1 Micah 7: 18-19 …  
18 Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy. 19 He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. 

Reference Passages #2 Matthew 28: 5-6 …  
5 But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

My Journal for Today: Today’s Our Daily Bread points me back to the prophesies of Micah, to which I made reference in my devotional from yesterday (SEE THIS LINK) where I was reminded that God has – with His finished victory on the cross – buried my sins in His “sea of forgetfulness.” And that was what Micah was prophesying for God to His divided tribes who were, at that point in their history, being consumed by their enemies.

Micah was saying that there would come a day when God’s Messiah would subdue all of His enemies and He would reign in glory, forgiving all the sins of His disobedient people. And, in Christ, God has done exactly that!! And He has arisen in victory over sin and death … just as Micah and other prophets foretold.

And I, for one, am one of that remnant of faithful about whom Micah prophesied; and I can declare a loud HALLELUJAH!!, praising God for His finished work on the cross, defeating sin and death forever!

My Prayer for Today … Yes, Lord, … HALLELUHAH!!! … Amen

Blogger Note: Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online devotional blog entitled Our Daily Bread [TGIF], distributed online via email by RBC Ministries. If you GO TO THIS LINK  on the date of my blog, you’ll find a link to read the Our Daily Bread blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

May 27, 2014 … The Sea of Forgetfulness

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2014 - Day 147

Devotional Song: Go to this link  … Please go this video link to hear the contemporary group singing East to West, proclaiming the glory of just how far Christ brought us in taking ALL our sins on his shoulders on that cross.
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Highlight Passage – NKJV: John 10: 9 [NKJV] …  
9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 
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Highlight Passage [Context] #1 – NKJV: John 10: 1-10 [NKJV] … Go to this link
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Reference Passages #1 Psalms 103: 11-12 …  
11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; 12 As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.

Reference Passages #2 Jeremiah 31: 34 …  
34 No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.  

Reference Passages #3 Micah 7: 18-19 …  
18 Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy. 19 He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.

 My Journal for Today: You know, … it’s hard – maybe impossible – for my finite mind to grasp the distance Christ brought me when He died on that cross for my sins, casting my sinfulness, as today’s Our Daily Bread reminded me, into the “sea of forgetfulness.” And if you challenged me on the concept, it would be difficult for me to explain how an omniscient – all knowing – God can choose to forget my sin even though He knows all sins I will commit before I ever commit them. Just too mind boggling; but PTL … true!!

I hope you’ve taken the time to use the God-Tube link above and hear the group, Casting Crowns, sing the poignant song, East to West, because that’s the conceptual distance God has allowed me to be separated from my natural sinfulness; and then as the song professes and the attached photo depicts, God took my sins and cast them into His “sea of forgetfulness” where He would never see them when He looks upon me. …

No, … PRAISE THE LORD [!!!]; all my Heavenly Father sees when He views me is His Son, Jesus; and because of my faith to receive His Saving grace, my Lord’s atoning death on the cross has separated me from my sin as far as it was between Christ’s two nailed hands on the cross … as far as the east is from the west. ...

I can't explain it.  I just accept it so very gratefully. 

My Prayer for Today … Oh, Lord, thank You for choosing to place me forever separated from my own sinfulness. And may my life reflect that gratitude… Amen

Blogger Note: Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online devotional blog entitled Our Daily Bread [TGIF], distributed online via email by RBC Ministries. If you GO TO THIS LINK  on the date of my blog, you’ll find a link to read the Our Daily Bread blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Monday, May 26, 2014

May 26, 2014 … Called to Comfort Others

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2014 - Day 146

Devotional Song: Go to this link  … Please go this video link to hear Laura Story singing her poignant, very personal, and pertinent song Blessings, reminding us that God’s comfort and His blessings are often found in the challenges or pain in life.
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Highlight Passage – NKJV: 2nd Corinthians 1: 3-4 [NKJV] …  
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
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Highlight Passage [Context] #1 – NKJV: 2nd Corinthians 1: 3-11 [NKJV] … Go to this link 
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Reference Passages #1 Psalms 23: 1-4 [NKJV] … Go to this link

Reference Passages #2 Romans 8: 28 …  
28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

My Journal for Today: Today’s devotional from Our Daily Bread touched a timely cord, especially in that it is Memorial Day here in the USA, … the holiday set aside annually to honor those who’ve given their all to preserve our freedom or way of life in our military or as first responders. And the devotional today was taken, so appropriately, from Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians [see copy or links above] where God, through this Apostle, called all Christians to use the tragic or painful circumstances of life to reach out in empathy and to comfort others who were currently feeling similar pain.

And the image of today’s attached photo and the song, written and sung by Laura Story, certainly can help for us to mediate on the call of God through these images, lyrics, and Scriptures, as God calls us to be a blessing to others by comforting them as God comforts us in our life-altering, and often painful, trials.

Perhaps you’re going through a burdensome or hurtful time right now. I am. And having dear, empathetic, brothers and sisters in Christ, like my wife or others from our church, has been helpful in keeping my attitude afloat when I feel like I’m treading water at best and often feeling like I’m going under.

But my trials pale in comparison to that of losing a comrade in battle as the attached photo depicts; and we all need to pray for and comfort others from our military when circumstances present themselves to do so. Or perhaps it’s closer to home as we can comfort a dear friend who has lost or is losing a dear one in his/her life. But whatever the circumstances, we – as those comforted by God – are called to comfort others who need His or our comfort.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, help me to be a comfort to others as you have comforted me through others in my life. … Amen

Blogger Note: Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online devotional blog entitled Our Daily Bread [TGIF], distributed online via email by RBC Ministries. If you GO TO THIS LINK  on the date of my blog, you’ll find a link to read the Our Daily Bread blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

May 25, 2014 … Pace Yourself

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2014 - Day 145

Devotional Song: Go to this link  … Please go this video link to hear Sara Groves singing her poignant and pertinent song I’ll Wait, reminding us that there is a time when we need to stop and wait on God’s grace to give us the strength to go on.
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Highlight Passage – NKJV: Mark 6: 31 [NKJV] …
  31 And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.
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Highlight Passage [Context] #1 – NKJV: Mark 6: 30-36 [NKJV] … Go to this link 
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Reference Passages #1 ... Luke 5: 16 … Jesus often needed to get alone, wait, and pray to His Father [see also – Matt. 14:13,23; 26:36; Mark 1:35; 6:46; Luke 4:42; 6:12; John 6:15] …  
Luke 5: 15 However, the report went around concerning Him all the more; and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by Him of their infirmities. 16 So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.

My Journal for Today: Today my Our Daily Bread quiet time with God reminded me that there are times in our lives when it’s best to STOP, … WAIT, … or even REST, waiting on God. How often do we feel overwhelmed by the world or by circumstances which swamp us, or when our health is compromised in some way? Sometimes the so-called “tyranny of the urgent” causes us to quit trying to keep pace with the demands of life, and it leads us to just stop and wait on God to do His thing, … in His time, … and for His purposes.

Even Jesus had that dilemma at times, didn’t He? In His humanity, he would get overwhelmed by the demands of those who followed after Him, often demanding much; and so our Lord would choose to get alone somewhere in a quiet place to pray to the Father and to wait on His timing and to be rekindle by the strength provided by His Spirit [see reference passages above]. Why would we think that we are stronger than Jesus and try to keep taking on Satan and the world all on our own?

As Sara Groves sings [see link above] and the attached photo depicts, sometimes it’s just best to wait and rest in the love of God and let His timing and His ways prevail; … and then to accept both.

Need I say more; … I don’t think so.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, right now I needed to be reminded of this. I’ll wait on You. … Amen

Blogger Note: Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online devotional blog entitled Our Daily Bread [TGIF], distributed online via email by RBC Ministries. If you GO TO THIS LINK  on the date of my blog, you’ll find a link to read the Our Daily Bread blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

May 24, 2014 … What’s In A Name?

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2014 - Day 144

Devotional Song: Go to this link  … Please go this video link to hear John Starnes singing the wonderful Gaither song Jesus, … There’s Just Something About That Name, as well as singing Jesus Is the Sweetest Name I Know, proclaiming the special Name of our Savior, Jesus, which, in the Hebrew, “Yeshua,” … means The God Who Saves.
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Highlight Passage – NKJV: Matthew 1: 21: 10 [NKJV] …  
20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS , for He will save His people from their sins.”

Highlight Passage [Context] #1 – NKJV: Matthew 1: 18-25 [NKJV] … Go to this link
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 Reference Passages #1 Isaiah 7: 14 …. Go to this link … The prophesy from Isaiah of the Christ Child being born and called “Immanuel” – which means “God with us” …  
14 Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.

My Journal for Today: This morning’s Our Daily Bread points to the power of the Name of our Savior, “Yeshua,” in Hebrew, which means literally, “God Who Saves,” which I think you would agree sort of fits our Savior, doesn’t it? And seven hundred plus years before Jesus was born in that manger, the Prophet, Isaiah, prophesied the birth of the Messiah and said He would be called “Immanuel,” which means literally, “God with us,” … also a name that gives great purpose in the naming of Messiah.

 In the days of Jesus, names were often given or changed to designate character traits or rolls in the world. We know that “Abram” became Abraham … “Saul” became Paul … and “Simon” was renamed by Jesus Himself to be “Peter.” As to character or roll, the name of “Yeshua,” or the designation of “the God who saves,” was also given to Joshua (which in Hebrew is also “Yeshua,”); and Joshua, like Jesus, was a man who was given the roll of a savior, becoming the leader of God’s people into the Promised Land.

Names are important; and I never recognized how important personally until I realized how my name came to designate something very personally meaningful in my life. I was given the name “William” at birth; and the name actually means “helmeted warrior.” Well, that name didn’t take on very much meaning until later in my life it was pointed out to me that my name meant something special, having been delivered out a past life of habitual sin and weakness and having become a warrior in a ministry dealing with spiritual warfare. And then I saw that I was called to found and lead a ministry called “Battle Plan Ministry,” which helps Christian men walk free from weakness to sexual sin to strength in their relationship with Jesus Christ. After founding and leading in this ministry for some time, someone pointed out that I had become what my given name designates, “a warrior, wearing the helmet of Salvation (see Ephesians 6: 17), and one who carries the sword of the Spirit into battle every day (same verse reference).

 I’ll not speculate on the how God used my given name at birth to shape – or should I say RESHAPE – my life; but I do see how a name can be meaningful to shape one’s character; and there simply no name which means more, as the song link declares today – than the Name, which is the Name above all names; and that is the Name of Jesus.

My Prayer for Today … Jesus, Your Name is WONDERFUL!! … Amen

Blogger Note: Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online devotional blog entitled Our Daily Bread [TGIF], distributed online via email by RBC Ministries. If you GO TO THIS LINK  on the date of my blog, you’ll find a link to read the Our Daily Bread blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Friday, May 23, 2014

May 23, 2014 … “Way better’n I deserve!”

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2014 - Day 143

Devotional Song: Go to this link  … Please go this video link to hear Phillips, Craig, and Dean singing their wonderful song Your Grace Still Amazes me, reminding us that the grace extended to God as a free gift to us sinners is always the Amazing Grace written by the slave trader John Newton in his classic hymn, which can also be heard going to this link 
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Highlight Passage – NKJV: Psalms 103: 10 [NKJV] …  
10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. 
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Highlight Passage [Context] #1 – NKJV: Psalms 103: 6-18 [NKJV] … Go to this link 
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Reference Passages #1 Romans 3: 23 …. Go to this link All are sinners – yet God’s grace is there for all who believe in Christ …

Reference Passages #2 Romans 5: 8 … Go to this link What love God demonstrated for sinners such as we !!! …

Reference Passages #3 Hebrews 9: 27 … Go to this link …  And all we have to do is accept – in faith – His amazing grace … just once before we die …

My Journal for Today:…  

“Always better than I deserve!”

That’s almost always my response when someone asks me, How’re you doing?” And I’ve learned that this retort is often attributed to Dave Ramsey, the popular Christian financial counselor. However, I heard it over 20 years ago from my mentor; and I’ve adopted it for my own conversational use ever since.

And when I use that phrase, it’s interesting how often I will get a reply from someone like, “Oh, surely not;” which opens the window of conversation wide for me to witness my faith in Christ to the one who inquired about my life. If you’re a Christian and you desire to share your faith, you ought to try this interactive method of sharing who you are in Christ. … It works!!

But it’s all based in the reality of God’s amazing grace, isn’t it? And how amazing is that grace as the links to the songs above proclaim for your meditation as you read this. We’re all sinners, aren’t we (see Romans 3: 23); and we all deserve death (see Hebrews 9: 27); but God’s love and His amazing, saving grace is there, by His sacrifice on the cross, for anyone who believes in Him and desires to receive that salvation before they die (see Romans 5: 8).

So, if you run into me and ask me how I’m doing, be prepared for me to respond, Way better’n I deserve; and I’ll mean every word of that reply.

How about you? ”How’re you doing?” 

My Prayer for Today … Oh, Lord, I’m doing WAY, WAY better than I deserve today!!! … Amen

Blogger Note: Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online devotional blog entitled Our Daily Bread [TGIF], distributed online via email by RBC Ministries. If you GO TO THIS LINK  on the date of my blog, you’ll find a link to read the Our Daily Bread blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

May 22, 2014 … Listening

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2014 - Day 142

Devotional Song: Go to this link  … Please go this video link to hear Sara Groves singing I’ll Wait, reminding us that sometimes instead of taking action, the best way to live out our faith is just to wait … and then we often need to learn to listen to the needs of others before dealing with our own desires.
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Highlight Passage – NKJV: Job 31: 35 [NKJV] …  
35 Oh, that I had one to hear me!
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Highlight Passage [Context] #1 – NKJV: Job 2: 11-13 [NKJV] … Go to this link 
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Reference Passages #1 ... Job 1: 13-22 … Go to this link ...  Job loses everything but his life … 

Reference Passages #2 ... Job, Chapter 42 …. Go to this link .... Job finally really listens to God, repents, and all is restored unto him…

Reference Passages #3 ...  Philippians 2: 3-4 ….   
3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

My Journal for Today: I don’t know about you; but often I find myself with someone who is in dire circumstances; and I want to fix things for them rather than just wait, listen, and hear their heart, which is the best thing I can be doing for them when they’re hurting.

The lessons about really listening with a heart of love (hear the Sara Groves song linked above) is brought out clearly in Job’s sorrow-filled journal. If you take in the highlight and reference passages above, we know that Job had lost about everything that meant anything in his world; and he did have friends that came to him and fulfilled the grieving customs of the day (see Gen. 50:10; 1 Sam. 31:13; Isa. 3:26; Lam. 2:10; Jonah 3:6). However, when it comes to really listening to Job’s heart, his “friends” really didn’t LISTEN and were only able to offer self-driven theories and advice. Perhaps you’ve been with someone in a time of dire loss or need in your own life; and you sensed that they were preoccupied with themselves rather than really listening to your heart. Such a so-called “friend” really doesn’t help at all, does he/she?

So, today’s Our Daily Bread uses a focus lesson on the life and losses of Job, helping us to realize the truth of what Paul wrote in the New Testament (see Phil. 2: 3-4 above); because to really consider and hear the hearts of other, especially those in dire need, as was Job, one needs to listen, as the attached photo declares, with a heart of love.

So, as we go about life – maybe even today – let’s all tune out our selfish desires and REALLY LISTEN to the lives of others who need our listening love more than just our presence and our words of advice.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, help me to share Your love by listening intently to the hearts of others in need. … Amen

Blogger Note: Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online devotional blog entitled Our Daily Bread [TGIF], distributed online via email by RBC Ministries. If you GO TO THIS LINK  on the date of my blog, you’ll find a link to read the Our Daily Bread blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

May 21, 2014 … The Anchor Holds – YET AGAIN!

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2014 - Day 141

Devotional Song: Go to this link  … Please go this video link to hear Lawrence Chewning giving the story behind the song he wrote The Anchor Holds, also singing the song which declares that our faith in Christ is the anchor which holds our boat of life afloat in the midst of any of the storms of life.
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Click on photo to enlarge

Highlight Passage – NKJV: Joshua 1: 9 [NKJV] …  
9 The LORD your God is with you wherever you go ... 
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Highlight Passage [Context] #1 – NKJV: Joshua 1: 1-9 [NKJV] … Go to this link
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Reference Passages #1 Psalm 56: 3 [NKJV] …  
3 Whenever I am afraid, … I will trust in You.

Reference Passages #2 Proverbs 3: 5-6 [NKJV] …  
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.  
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. 

Reference Passages #3 Mark 4: 35-41 … GO TO THIS LINK ...     Jesus calms the storm and the disciples lose their anchor …

Reference Passages #4 Hebrews 6: 19a [NKJV] …  
19 This hope [i.e., in Christ] we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, …

My Journal for Today: If you follow my blogs, journaling from the Our Daily Bread daily devotionals, you may sense a feeling of redundancy here today; because IF YOU GO TO THIS LINK,  you’ll find a blog I did on April 29th of this year which also covered our “anchor of faith,” as does this morning’s ODB entry.

I once had a mentor who used to say often, “Redundancy teaches!” And that certainly is a strategy God’s Spirit used in Authoring the Bible; because some subjects are covered over and over and over again for God’s followers to note the impact and learn from the redundancy of repeated subject matter. And most certainly having faith in Christ is at the heart of the Gospel message which is proclaimed over and over again by all of the Holy Spirit inspired authors of the New Testament.

And the word picture which often proclaims this repeated message of trusting God is of our anchor of faith being affixed to our ROCK of salvation, … Jesus, the Christ. And today’s highlight passage from Joshua 1: 1-9 is God encouraging Joshua, the new spiritual leader of God’s people after Moses had died, to go forth, trusting God, with Joshua’s anchor of faith tied securely to his Lord, Who was promising to be with Joshua and God’s people no matter where they were as they entered in and took God’s promised land; … and this was to be their reality as long as they remained true to God’s word and His commands.

 And that is the very redundant message for us today, isn’t it? We are charged as wall to go forth as witnesses for Christ and His finished work on the cross [see Acts 1: 8 and Matt. 28: 19-20]; and as we go forth, in both of these passages, God promises that He will be with us every step of the way. So, as the passages from Scripture above proclaim, we must go forth with our anchor of faith affixed securely to the ROCK, Who will always hold and keep us safely, especially when the storms of life try to blow us off course.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, I go forth with my anchor tied securely to You. … Amen

Blogger Note: Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online devotional blog entitled Our Daily Bread [TGIF], distributed online via email by RBC Ministries. If you GO TO THIS LINK  on the date of my blog, you’ll find a link to read the Our Daily Bread blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

May 20, 2014 … Once Upon a Time

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2014 - Day 140

Devotional Song: Go to this link …  Please go this video link to hear Phillips, Craig, and Dean singing his powerful song I Choose To Believe, expressing my faith to believe, even when others to discount the validity of the Book of Truth, the Bible.
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Highlight Passage – NKJV: Matthew 12: 40 [NKJV] …  
40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
Highlight Passage [Context] #1 – NKJV: Matthew 12: 38-42 [NKJV] … Go to this link 
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Highlight Passage – NKJV: Matthew 24: 37 [NKJV] …  
37 But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. …
Highlight Passage [Context] #2 – NKJV: Matthew 24: 32-44 [NKJV] … Go to this link
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Reference Passages #1 Genesis 7: 1 [NKJV] …  
1 Then the LORD said to Noah, “Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation.

Reference Passages #2 Jonah 1: 17 [NKJV] …  
17 Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Reference Passages #3 ... 2nd Peter 2: 4-5 … 

4 For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; 5 and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly …

My Journal for Today: About 35 years ago, when I chose to label myself as an “agnostic” and cynically attacked the faith of well-meaning Christians, I discounted many of the stories in the Bible, like those involving Noah or Jonah as fairy tales, … wonderful fables which illustrated moral truths. And like the attached photo, I chose to deny the truth of such stories as children’s stories and render them as cartoon-like stories for kids.

But then, after my encounter with the real Truth, … Jesus, … where my mind and heart were transformed in my brokenness to belief in Christ, I began to see these “once upon a time” stories from the Bible, like the ones of Noah and the flood and Jonah and the big fish, as history and God’s relating of HIS STORY (i.e., “history”). Because to discount these stories as fables or mythical tales would be to render Jesus’ use of these stories [see the links above] or the Apostle Peter’s rendition of Noah’s story [see the reference from 2nd Peter 2 above] as null and void.

Jesus and Peter used these stories to illustrate God’s truths or prophetic realities, like the second coming, because the stories were historical truths, accepted by the people to whom these men related, … One God Himself. As the song, linked for your meditation above, sings, I choose to believe these stories as truth; because these stories tell of God’s greatness and His pointing to the reality that His Son, … my Savior, … is coming again and He will save all those who now come to him believing as I do.

And just as God saved Jonah from the fish and Noah from the flood, … so He has saved me. … How about you?

My Prayer for Today … Lord, those of us who choose to believe in Noah and Jonah, and more importantly, Jesus, are here with thankful hearts for Your salvation. … Amen

Blogger Note: Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online devotional blog entitled Our Daily Bread [TGIF], distributed online via email by RBC Ministries. If you GO TO THIS LINK  on the date of my blog, you’ll find a link to read the Our Daily Bread blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Monday, May 19, 2014

May 19, 2014 … Interruptions ... Really?!

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2014 - Day 139

Devotional Song: Go to this link …  Please go this video link to hear Nicole C Mullen singing his powerful song One Touch, reminding us to look at every incident in our lives as a touch of God rather than an purposeless accident.
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Highlight Passage – NKJV: Mark 5: 30 [NKJV] …  
30 And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My clothes?”
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Highlight Passage [Context] #1 – NKJV: Mark 5: 21-34 [NKJV] … Go to this link

Highlight Passage [Context] #2 – NKJV: Matthew 9: 18-26 [NKJV] … Go to this link

Highlight Passage [Context] #3 – NKJV: Luke 8: 40-56 [NKJV] … Go to this link 
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Reference Passages #1 Psalms 33: 11 [NKJV] …  
11 The counsel of the LORD stands forever; the plans of His heart to all generations.

Reference Passages #2 Romans 8: 28 ….  
28 And we know that ALL things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Reference Passages #3 James 1: 17 [NKJV] …  
17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

My Journal for Today: Often things in our lives happen and seem so purposeless, so random, … merely interruptions in the flow of our day-to-day existence. But today’s Our Daily Bread helped to reinforce and remind me that it’s all part of God’s design; but so often we just can’t see His purpose or plan for our lives.

Today’s highlight example is that marvelous story, told by three of the synoptic Gospel authors (see links above) about the woman with a chronic bleeding disorder who reached out – seeming randomly in a crowd with Jesus passing by – and touched the Savior’s garment; and immediately Jesus responded to what He felt had happened.

Jesus’ purpose in being on this earth was set by God; and nothing that happened during His walk to the cross was an “accident.” And this touch of the woman, He knew was purposed to heal and to save, two of His missions while He walked this earth (see Luke 4: 18-19). So the touch of a woman, seemingly a random incident, had great purpose, … that woman being sent to Him by the Father so that Jesus could stop and use this incident to show His disciples and the people that He was there to heal and save. And all of these events happened in the midst of a whole series of other seemingly random “interruptions” in Jesus’ walk, all of which were very much a part of the plan of God, the Father, to use the power of God’s Spirit through His Son, Jesus.

And this morning, as I write this, I needed to be reminded that everything I encounter today has been foreseen by my God and will be a part of His plan and purpose for my life. I may not see it at the time; but I’m reminded here to try my best to accept that God has a plan for Bill Berry and all of the seemingly purposeless incidents – the interruptions - in my walk will be part of God’s sanctifying plan for my life.

Well, since that’s the case, let’s go see what happens and have faith that God is in it all.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, help me to see Your purpose in today for me … but even more for You. … Amen

Blogger Note: Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online devotional blog entitled Our Daily Bread [TGIF], distributed online via email by RBC Ministries. If you GO TO THIS LINK  on the date of my blog, you’ll find a link to read the Our Daily Bread blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

May 18, 2014 … Our New Bucket List

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2014 - Day 138

Devotional Song: Go to this link …  Please go this video link to hear Chris Rice singing his powerful song Go Light the World, reminding us to use our spiritual gifts to light the world with our good works … a new kind of bucket list of good works to glorify our Heavenly Father.
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Highlight Passage – NKJV: Romans 12: 10-13 [NKJV] …  
10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; 13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. 
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Highlight Passage [Context] #1 – NKJV: Romans 12: 6-21 [NKJV] … Go to this link 
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Reference Passages #2 Matthew 5: 16 [NKJV] …  
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. … “

Reference Passages #1 Ephesians 4: 7-16 …. GO TO THIS LINK

Reference Passages #2 Philippians 2: 3-4 [NKJV] …  
3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

My Journal for Today: I think you probably know what a “bucket list” is … like the one illustrated in the attached photo – things one wants to accomplish before they die. Well, the Apostle Paul had a different kind of list which he felt compelled to accomplish from God’s calling on his life; and he did his best in his missionary travels and his epistles to help other, especially newer, Christians develop a CHRISTLIKE bucket list which focused on OTHERS rather than on self.

Paul was trying to live out what Jesus taught in His sermon on the mount (see Matt. 5: 16 above), … to use our good works, focused on others, to shine God’s light in our every darkening world. It’s God’s kingdom thinking which turns a selfish, inwardly directed, bucket list, like the one pictured, into a list which utilizes the gifts given to us when we become Christian (see Romans 12 and Ephesian4 passages above) to give back to others – FOR GOD and His glory!

May I be so brazen (but with every ounce of humility I can muster) to share the top four from my Christian bucket list …
1. Be the loving husband called for in Ephesians 5 … 
2. Walk in humility as exemplified by Jesus in Philippians 2: 6-11 … 
3. To use God’s gifts of teaching and encouragement to shine God’s light every day … 
4. Help as many men as possible during my life to walk free from the bondage of habitual sexual sin … What’s your bucket list for Jesus look like?

My Prayer for Today … Lord, shine Your light through my bucket list for Your glory. … Amen

Blogger Note: Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online devotional blog entitled Our Daily Bread [TGIF], distributed online via email by RBC Ministries. If you GO TO THIS LINK  on the date of my blog, you’ll find a link to read the Our Daily Bread blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

May 17, 2014 … Surfacing for Air

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2014 - Day 137

Devotional Song: Go to this link …  Please go this video link to hear Michael W Smith leading in worship and singing his powerful song Breathe, helping us to realize that what we all think, say, and do is from our Lord and for our Lord … just as we breathe in the oxygen we need to live.
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Highlight Passage – NKJV: Colossians 1:16 [NKJV] …  
16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.
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Highlight Passage [Context] #1 – NKJV: Colossians 1: 15-23 [NKJV] … Go to this link
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Reference Passages #1 John 15: 5 [NKJV] …  
5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. …”

My Journal for Today: Philip Yancey, the rather well-known Christian writer, was the author of today’s Our Daily Bread devotional; and to make his key point, he used the picture of whales who must dive deeply into their domain of the deep to take in their food; but before they dive, they breathe enormously deeply, taking in as much oxygen as they can store in their prodigious lungs,often creating the spouts of water like that seen in the attached photo. Here’s what Yancey wrote about this …  

" Despite having its own lively habitat of marine plants and sea creatures, the whale must surface for oxygen from time to time or it dies. Though it knows little about the world above, it needs vital contact with it to survive. … I sometimes feel like that whale, coming up for spiritual air at regular intervals to stay alive. But there is no neat division between the natural and the supernatural. The world we live in is not an either/or world. What I do as a Christian—praying, worshiping, demonstrating God’s love to the sick, needy, and imprisoned—is both supernatural and natural.”

What Yancey is getting at with his word picture, is that Christ has given all born-again Christians the ability to breathe spiritually, as Michael W Smith sings in the linked song today, anywhere and at any time. As with whales, we don’t need to surface to breathe in our relationship with Christ in some special place or at some specially needed time. As our Lord’s Spirit dwells within us as Christians, we are completely connected to Him (see today’s key passage as well as that in John 15); and we can breathe in His essence wherever we are and whenever we must.

So, join me today and let’s breathe in Christ and then go move and thrive in His being.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, I breathe in You. … Amen

Blogger Note: Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online devotional blog entitled Our Daily Bread [TGIF], distributed online via email by RBC Ministries. If you GO TO THIS LINK  on the date of my blog, you’ll find a link to read the Our Daily Bread blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Friday, May 16, 2014

May 16, 2014 … Wise Counsel

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2014 - Day 136

Devotional Song: Go to this link …  Please go to this video link to hear an anonymous acapella singing a powerful and beautiful arrangement of the old hymn , Be Thou My Vision, … helping us to remember that God is the first source of all wisdom … though as scripture leads us (below) to seek Godly counsel of others with reputable Christian experience
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Highlight Passage – NKJV: Proverbs 15: 22 [NKJV] …  
22.. Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established.
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Highlight Passage [Context] #1 – NKJV: Proverbs 15: 16-21[NKJV] … Go to this link 
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Reference Passages #1 Exodus 18: 13-27 [NKJV] … Go to this link Jesus, the Good Shepherd prays for His flock …

Reference Passages #2 Proverbs 3: 5-6 [NKJV] …  
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; … 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

Reference Passages #3 Philippians 4: 6-7 [NKJV] …  
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Reference Passages #4 James 1: 5-6 [NKJV] …  
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.

My Journal for Today: Any time we have a significant problem or question, it is not wise to tackle the challenge with a Lone Ranger attitude. Therefore, I’ve learned from some painful episodes in my life, to throw up a red flag of warning anytime my spirit feels like “I can do this!” And another emotion I try to be wary of is the “No sweat; this is easy!” syndrome.

The highlight scriptures from Proverbs, mostly written by Solomon at a time in his life when he was humbly receiving and sharing God’s wisdom with his sons and other believers, clearly says (see highlight passages and other proverbs), that it is truly wise to seek out the advice of other Godly-wise counselors before taking action, especially when the circumstances are confusing (see photo).

Obviously we need to see God’s wisdom as James wrote about from God’s inspiration (see James 1: 5-6); but getting informed input from other trusted, Godly sources can be used by God to bring His wisdom and direction to bear in any prickly situation.

And in the process of seeking out God’s wisdom and direction, besides seeking Godly counsel, I’ve learned to use the direction of Phil. 4: 6-7, seeking God’s peace as a sign-post of direction to know if my choices are clearly from God. And anyone reading here who would like for me to send them a “how-to” use this process, just email me @ billb13@bellsouth.net; and I’ll be glad to send you instructions on how to use the Phil. 4: 6-7 protocol to make difficult decisions.

But for now, let’s just lean on God (see Prov. 3: 5-6), avoiding prideful self-indulgence and seek the counsel of wiser, more mature, Christians when we’re trying to find our ways through the morass and minefields we encounter in this life.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, as the song sings today, “Be Thou My Vision!” … Amen

Blogger Note: Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online devotional blog entitled Our Daily Bread [TGIF], distributed online via email by RBC Ministries. If you GO TO THIS LINK  on the date of my blog, you’ll find a link to read the Our Daily Bread blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

May 15, 2014 … Slow Healing

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2014 - Day 135

Devotional Song: Go to this link …  Please go this video link to hear Crystal Lewis and Ron Kenoly singing the poignant but powerful song Beauty For Ashes, reminding all in Christ that that, no what we’re going through, God provides His healing grace for those who need it.
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Highlight Passage – NKJV: Revelation 21: 3-4 [NKJV] …  
3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” 
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Highlight Passage [Context] #1 – NKJV: Revelation 21: 1-8 [NKJV] … Go to this link 
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Reference Passages #1 John 17: 20-23 [NKJV] … Go to this link Jesus, the Good Shepherd prays for His flock …

Reference Passages #2 Romans 8: 28-29 [NKJV] …  
28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.

Reference Passages #3 Philippians 1: 6 [NKJV] …  
6 … being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; …

My Journal for Today: Yes, if you noted my journal entry for yesterday, you’ll see that many of the same reference scriptures are cited today, even though the subject is slightly different. Today my Our Daily Bread devotional deals with the reality that healing IN THIS LIFE can often be slow and even agonizing.

As the devotional points out, if one sustains a physical or emotional trauma in life, sometimes it takes months, if not years (or maybe even an entire life) to be in rehab or recovery, dealing with the outcomes of the injury or wounding. Almost 15 years ago now God called my wife and I to cofound a ministry to help men walk free from the bondage of habitual sexual sin. And in this calling, my wife leads efforts to help wives have been wounded in their marriages by the reality of a spouse who has been unfaithful. And God has used our ministry to help couples find personal and marital healing following the relational damage which occurs in a marriage when the husband has been unfaithful. But these wounds take time in healing. The photo attached, however, represents the healing which can (and will) come from God; but the process many times takes years. Take it from two who know; because my wife and I have experienced God’s healing grace; … but it took years for God’s grace to be received and used for healing; and now God uses His grace through our ministry to help other couples to find such healing.

But we recognize from God’s promise in today’s highlight passage from Revelation 21 that there will be a day in glory when all wounds will be healed and all tears will be tears of joy. However, now, in this life, we must deal with God’s here-and-now promises of His healing grace being there for all who need it and those who truly believe in the truth of the passages from God’s truth cited above.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, Your healing grace is there for all who need it. … Amen

Blogger Note: Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online devotional blog entitled Our Daily Bread [TGIF], distributed online via email by RBC Ministries. If you GO TO THIS LINK  on the date of my blog, you’ll find a link to read the Our Daily Bread blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

May 14, 2014 … Inside Out

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2014 - Day 134

Devotional Song: Go to this link …  Please go this video link to hear Queen Latifah singing the simple but powerful song Fix Me Jesus, reminding all in Christ that our main goal in life is to surrender to His transforming power to fix us from the inside out.
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[Click on photo to enlarge]

Highlight Passage – NKJV: Matthew 23: 25 [NKJV] …  
25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. …”
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Highlight Passage [Context] #1 – NKJV: Matthew 23: 23-31 [NKJV] … Go to this link 
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Reference Passages #1 Micah 6: 8 [NKJV] …  
8 He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?

Reference Passages #2 John 17: 20-23 [NKJV] … Go to this link … Jesus, the Good Shepherd prays for His flock …

Reference Passages #3 Romans 8: 28-29 [NKJV] …  
28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.

Reference Passages #4 Philippians 1: 6 [NKJV] …  
6 … being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; …

My Journal for Today: My Our Daily Bread devotional for this morning reminded me that Jesus had strong words for the religious leaders during His walk on earth, as evidenced by His strong exhortation to the Pharisees in Matthew 23 [see copy/link above]. But down deep, Jesus wanted these men to be sanctified from the inside out rather than from the outside in as they lived to show off their religious piety by the way they behaved and lived.

“Sanctification” is one of those big theological words that we really need to understand in the context of the way and the why of how we live our lives. The attached picture is a diagram of how sanctification works for the believer. Once we’re saved (i.e., justified), we live our lives being made over from the inside out by God’s Spirit, until one day the make-over is complete, and we are glorified in heaven.

And it’s this process of sanctification which Jesus prayed about for His disciples in John, Chapter 17. And Queen Latifah sings about this in the hauntingly beautiful song to which I link you above, as she sings, Fix Me, Jesus!. And sometimes we know that the fixing is not an easy process (see the passages above from Micah 6: 8 and Romans 8: 28). In fact our sanctification can be downright painful at times. But it is God’s promise (see Romans 8: 28 and Philippians 1: 6) that in the end, He’s going to make us over into Christ’s image; and it will be complete (see the attached diagram) when we are with Jesus in heaven.

So, let’s move out today, praying the prayer of today’s song, … ”Fix me Jesus, … fix me!”

My Prayer for Today … That’s my prayer today, Lord. Fix me! … Amen

Blogger Note: Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online devotional blog entitled Our Daily Bread [TGIF], distributed online via email by RBC Ministries. If you GO TO THIS LINK  on the date of my blog, you’ll find a link to read the Our Daily Bread blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

May 13, 2014 … The Babe Who Changed Everything

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2014 - Day 133

Devotional Song: Go to this link …  Please go this video link to hear Mark Lowry singing the classic Christ-child song Mary Did You Know, reminding all of the Baby Who changed the world.
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See video of “Baby Laughing” at this link -

 
Highlight Passage – NKJV: Psalms 139: 13 [NKJV] …  
13 For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb.
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Highlight Passage [Context] #1 – NKJV: Psalms 139: 7-16 [NKJV] … Go to this link 
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Reference Passages #1 John 3: 3-8 [NKJV] … Go to this link Being born again changes everything …

Reference Passages #2 1st Corinthians 15: 42-58 [NKJV] Go to this link … Being born again changes everything …

My Journal for Today: The Our Daily Bread for this date related a story which took me back to a tender time in my own life when my earthly dad was housed in a nursing care facility where my dear sister could do the watch-care required as he was totally in need of 24/7 care due to multiple maladies which rendered him almost helpless. But I remember the times I would come to visit him; and often there would be babies from various families who would be brought into the lounge area where the residents were gathered. And when such an infant – especially a new-born – would come into their midst, all would stop with all attention going to the child. All of these aged ones wanted to see this freshly born, cooing, smiling creature. It was fascinating to watch.

Today, I’ve copied a picture of a little, smiling babe; and I’ve also linked you to a short video of a baby laughing almost uncontrollably at a silly little repetitive action on the part of her daddy. What are your feelings as you see the photo or watch the video? I don’t think I’d miss it far if I thought you smiled when you saw the photo of the pretty little baby; and you probably at least giggled a bit with joy as you saw/heard the baby laughing. Babies expressing joy or laughter just make us feel good; don’t they?

[Please listen to the linked song above] What do you think it must’ve been like for the blessed mother of Jesus to look in the face of her Babe, the baby boy, as Mark Lowry sings in the linked video above, Who would change the world? Wow! That must’ve really been something, giving that Mother Mary a feeling of unmatched joy.

But back to my father in that nursing-car facility. And I recall him, every time I visited him, wanting me to read him a passage from the Bible (see the 1st Cor. 15 link above). And when I read that passage, talking with him about it’s meaning, he would smile almost like he did when a baby came into his midst; because he knew that one day, being born-again in Christ, he would not have to experience the pain he was experiencing at that time. Hearing this truth, my dad knew that one day he would have a new, incorruptible, body, which, dear friend, is the reality of where he is now. Because, right now, my father awaits that new body, and he has no pain, … just like a baby in the womb of his mother, as he is being nourished in the presence of the Savior. And one day my dad, in his new body, will rise again to be with Jesus forever.

And I’ll be there to join him. And in this reality, all I can say is … HALLELUJAH!!

My Prayer for Today … Oh, yes, Lord, HALLELUJAH!!… Amen

Blogger Note: Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online devotional blog entitled Our Daily Bread [TGIF], distributed online via email by RBC Ministries. If you GO TO THIS LINK  on the date of my blog, you’ll find a link to read the Our Daily Bread blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Monday, May 12, 2014

May 12, 2014 … Words To Live By

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2014 - Day 132

Devotional Song: Go to this link …  Please go this video link to hear an anonymous vocal ensemble singing the old hymn Trust And Obey, reminding all true believers that there’s only one way to walk in this life and that is in trusting God’s word and obeying it completely.
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Highlight Passage – NKJV: Deuteronomy 4: 5 [NKJV] …  
5 “Surely I have taught you statutes and judgments, just as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should act according to them in the land which you go to possess. … “
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Highlight Passage [Context] #1 – NKJV: Deuteronomy 4: 1-10 [NKJV] … Go to this link

Highlight Passage #2 – NKJV: Joshua 1: 8 [NKJV] …  
8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
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Highlight Passage [Context] #2 – NKJV: Joshua 1: 1-9 [NKJV] … Go to this link 
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Reference Passages #1: John 14: 21 [NKJV]  
21 He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”

Reference Passages #2: 1st John 3: 18-22 [NKJV] … Go to this link We are commanded to live as Christ lived and to love as Christ loved …

My Journal for Today: When will mankind get it?!! I’m afraid the prognosis is pretty grim. Old Testament into the New, God commands His people to obey; and what do we do? Isaiah said it (see Isaiah 53: 6). We’re like stupid sheep who wander off, unwilling to follow their shepherd; and they wander willfully to their peril.

As we read in both of the highlight Old Testament verses which came from my Our Daily Bread today, God specifically gave, first through Moses and then through Joshua, the command to obey His word; and then under Christ’s New Covenant, we read through the Apostle John’s writings, some of it even in Jesus’ words, that only those who obey God’s commandments are the ones who truly love the Lord.

BUT … (and it’s a big “but”) … what do we so often do? We wander off and want to go it our own way; and what is the predictable result … DISASTER?!!

I don’t think I need to write any more here today. The attached devotional picture and the linked song really say it all; but God’s word is even clearer above. If we expect to walk through this world and succeed in God’s will for our lives, there’s really only one way to walk … and that is to “Trust and Obey!”

My Prayer for Today … I do, Lord. That’s why I’m here this morning … to trust and obey Your word. … Amen

Blogger Note: Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online devotional blog entitled Our Daily Bread [TGIF], distributed online via email by RBC Ministries. If you GO TO THIS LINK  on the date of my blog, you’ll find a link to read the Our Daily Bread blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

May 11, 2014 … Crossing the Finish Line

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2014 - Day 131

Devotional Song: Go to this link …  Please go this video link to hear Sara Groves singing her poignant song Keep Your Eyes On The Prize, reminding all believers that life is a marathon and we must keep our eyes on finish line and not as much on the agony of running the race.
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Highlight Passage – NKJV: 2nd Timothy 4: 6-8 [NKJV] …  
6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
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Highlight Passage [Context] #1 – NKJV: 2nd Timothy 4: 1-9 [NKJV] … Go to this link
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Reference Passages #1: Matthew 25: 21 [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.’ … :

Reference Passages #2: 1st Corinthians 9: 25 [NKJV]  
25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.

My Journal for Today: Today is Mother’s Day and in the Our Daily Bread for this date, there is a touching story of a mother who passed away finishing her life strongly in the faith; and to honor her passing, her son trained for and ran a marathon. And as he finished the race, much like the winner of the Boston Marathon pictured in the attached photo, the young man, honoring his mom, pointed to heaven, knowing that his mother had finished her life as a marathon, winning the prize God had for her in heaven.

It is said that life is more like running a marathon than a sprint; and as we live our lives, as Paul wrote to Timothy just before he was executed in a Roman prison [see 2nd Tim. 4: 1-8 linked above], we need to treat life much as the runner who runs a marathon, and as Sara Groves sings in the linked song today, we should keep our eyes on the prize which God will have for us when we cross the finishing line of life. And when we do cross that finishing line of life, we definitely want Christ to place the crown of victory on our heads as He said in the parable of the talents, declaring, “Well done, … good and faithful servant.”  

That’s why I ask myself today if I’m running my marathon with my eyes on the prize which the Lord has waiting for me one day as I cross the finish line, … which, who knows (?), could be today.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, help me keep my eyes on Your prize as I run the race for You. … Amen

Blogger Note: Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online devotional blog entitled Our Daily Bread [TGIF], distributed online via email by RBC Ministries. If you GO TO THIS LINK  on the date of my blog, you’ll find a link to read the Our Daily Bread blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

May 10, 2014 … No Temptation ??

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2014 - Day 130

Devotional Song: Go to this link …  Please go this video link to hear Steven Curtis Chapman singing the poignant song His Strenght Is Perfect, reminding all believers that we need His strength to cover our weaknesses and to give us direction when we’re confused in life.
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Highlight Passage – NKJV: 1st Corinthians 10: 13 [NKJV] …  
13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
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Highlight Passage [Context] #1 – NKJV: 1st Corinthians 10: 1-22 [NKJV] … Go to this link 
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Reference Passages #1: Deuteronomy 31: 7 – Moses to Joshua [NKJV] ” … 
8 And the LORD, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.” 

Reference Passages #2: Proverbs 3: 5-6 [NKJV]  
 5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on our own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.

Reference Passages #3: 2nd Corinthians 12: 9-10 [NKJV]  
9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Reference Passages #4: James 1: 12 [NKJV]  
12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

My Journal for Today: Hey Christian! Ever been confused, befuddled, felt lost, or just plain overwhelmed by life? Maybe you can identify with the attached photo, either now or sometime in the past. Well, in such circumstances perhaps you’ve had a well-meaning fellow Christian say something like, “Don’t worry, God never allows us into any of life’s circumstances that we can’t handle.” And when you heard that bit of advice, you, like me, probably just wanted to scream … “BALONEY!!!”

Well, your well-meaning, but misguided, friend may have been giving his/her advice based on a misinterpretation of the highlight scripture passage from today’s Our Daily Bread, … 1st Corinthians 10: 13, which is a passage that many have memorized and try to use to help believers realize that the “temptations” (or the Greek word can also be translated, “tests, trials, tribulations, or troubles”) of life are experienced by everyone. And, though we experience these trials, the truth is that God is always faithful to be there with us and to help us deal with those circumstances. In other words, as Steven Curtis Chapman sings in the linked song above, God will provide us with His strength to handle life when our strength is gone.

But don’t let anyone tell you that God never allows His children into anything that we cannot handle; because our Lord allows things like that to happen all the time, doesn’t He? He often allows such things to occur just to show us how much we need to depend on Him. What about Job; … or there was David after the Bathsheba incident? Or what about the Apostles out there in the storm on the Sea of Galilee or the confusion Peter felt after he had denied Jesus and watched His Lord be crucified? Or there was Paul when he prayed and prayed for that painful thorn to be taken from him; but God just wouldn’t do it (see 2nd Cor. 12: 9-10).

So, I think we know that God will allow temptations or trials or troubles into our lives which we cannot handle on our own. And that’s His strategy to show us that we need rely on Him for the grace to handle these trials or to follow Him from confusion to clarity. And when we do surrender to receive His enabling/empowering grace, He’s certainly able and very willing to provide us the strength or direction to handle the challenges of life. Just meditate on the reference Scriptures quoted above which came to my mind today in writing this blog, and you’ll realize that God will truly never forsake us; and in fact, He even goes ahead of us to provide us with the challenges which reshape us into His image.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, thank You for being there for me in my times of weakness or confusion. … Amen

Blogger Note: Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online devotional blog entitled Our Daily Bread [TGIF], distributed online via email by RBC Ministries. If you GO TO THIS LINK  on the date of my blog, you’ll find a link to read the Our Daily Bread blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.