Sunday, January 31, 2016

January 31, 2016: Free Indeed

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2016 - Day 31

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a video of Nichole Nodeman singing her song … Finally Free, expressing the truth that Christ came to set us free from the bondage of our sin and selfishness.

 
Highlight Passage:   Luke 4:18 [NKJV] …
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; … to proclaim liberty to the captives … “ 
… He came for me (and for you)!!
============
Highlight Context – Luke 4:18-30 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK  …  
… Jesus proclaims His mission from the prophesy of the Messiah in Isaiah 61:1-2.
============     

Reference Passage #1 - John 3: 16-17 [NKJV] …
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 
… He came to save those He loves … everyone who believes on His Name.

My Journal for Today:  Today’s Our Daily Bread author, Bill Crowder, used an atheist author, Franz Kafka, to make a point. He wrote: In his novels The Trial and The Castle, Franz Kafka (1883–1924) portrays life as a dehumanizing existence that turns people into a sea of empty faces without identity or worth. Kafka said, “The conveyer belt of life carries you on, no one knows where. One is more of an object, a thing, than a living creature.” 

Really, without the intervention of Christ, Franz Kafka’s non-believing portrayal of life is absolutely accurate. Life, without a God intervening to save us, is totally meaningless. It is dog-eat-dog or the man with the biggest stick wins. Without Christ’s bloodshed on the cross as the Lamb of God, life would be a death sentence of selfishness and bondage to sin.

But over 700 years before Christ died on that cross, a Prophet predicted that a Messiah would come to set us free [see Isaiah 61:1-2]; and one day a man named Jesus walked into a Jewish synagogue and declared that HE was the one anointed to set mankind free [see Luke 4 linked above]; … and He did just that by dying on the cross, being raised again from the dead, and ascending into Heaven; … one day to come again and take all who believe and live in Him to be with Him in eternity.

He came for me in my prison of sin and set me free. And my friend, he came for you too.

My Prayer Today:  Heavenly Father, … I’m free at last and forever because of 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, distributed online via email by RBC Ministries.  If you GO TO THIS LINK on the date of my blog, you can read/study the ODB blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

January 30, 2016: Peace From His Name

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2016 - Day 30

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a video of an anonymous praise group singing … As Close As The Mention of His Name, expressing the truth expressed by our Lord Himself in His upper room discourse (i.e. John 16). And THEN ON TO THIS LINK for the Maranatha Singers sharing the song, There’s Just Something About That Name, with much the same message.


Highlight Passage:   John 16:22 [NKJV] …
22 Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you. 
 … Focus on His Name for He has overcome our sorrows.
============
Highlight Context – John 16 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK  …  
… Jesus to His disciples to help them focus on Whom He really was when He went away. ============     

Reference Passage #1 - Isaiah 26: 3 [NKJV] …
3  You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. 
… The prophesy of peace for this who trust in The Messiah and focus on His Name.

Reference Passage #2 - Matthew 28: 19-20 [NKJV] …
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” 
… Jesus’ charge and commission to all believers … as well as His promise to be with us ALWAYS!!

Reference Passage #3 - John 16:33 [NKJV] …
33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” 
… if we believe and focus on the reality of His Name, … we can be overcomers too.

Reference Passage #4 - Hebrews 13:5b [NKJV] …
5 For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” [Deut. 32:5, 8] 
… God’s promise that He will never forsake those who call on His Name.

My Journal for Today:  Today’s Our Daily Bread author, Dave Eiger, taught about the natural feeling of separation we can have from lost loved ones. He wrote: We’ve all experienced times of separation from our loved ones. A child marries and moves far away. Parents are separated from us because of career or health. A child goes off to school in another state or country. True, we have texting and Skype. But we are here and they are there. And then there is the separation of death.

And I bet that any reader here has felt such separation anxiety when taken from a loved one, either in death or relational separation. We actually ought to be able to empathize with Jesus’ inner core of Disciples as their Messiah addressed them in that upper room the night before He would be led to the cross. Just imagine their confusion, fear and consternation as He told them that they were about to lose Him (read and meditate on John 16).

But Jesus told them that He would come again; and as He was elevated back into heaven, the disciples (so many of them besides the inner 11) heard Him promise that He would never leave them nor forsake them. And that is His promise to all who are true born-again believers … to me and you. And as the songs above sing, and the Scriptures proclaim, all we have to do is focus on the Name of JESUS and we can find peace in His presence and His promises.

Say it with me, … JESUS … JESUS … JESUS!! And don’t you feel it? As the song sings (linked above), … “there’s just something about that Name.” 

My Prayer Today:  Heavenly Father, … Oh Lord … You are with me always!! 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, distributed online via email by RBC Ministries.  If you GO TO THIS LINK on the date of my blog, you can read/study the ODB blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Friday, January 29, 2016

January 29, 2016: Every Creature Beautiful

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2016 - Day 29

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK       …  Please take the time to take in a video of Ray Stevens singing his hit song …  Everything Is Beautiful,  expressing the truth that all of God’s creatures and his children are beautiful in His eyes.

Highlight Passage:   1st Kings 4: 34 [NKJV] …
34 And men of all nations, from all the kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom, came to hear the wisdom of Solomon.. 
 … Solomon, the wisest of all.
============
Highlight Context – 1st Kings 4: 29-34 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK  …  
… Solomon became the wisest man on earth in his day.
============   

Reference Passage #1 - 1st Kings 10: 21-23 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK
 … Solomon brought exotic animals to his court from the far east.

Reference Passage #2 - Proverbs 12: 10 [NKJV] …
10 A righteous man regards the life of his animal, … but the ender mercies of the wicked are cruel. 
… David’s son, Solomon, also knew His God would direct His steps.

Reference Passage #3 - Matthew 19: 14 [NKJV] …
10 But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to ME, and do not forbid them, … for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” 
… Jesus was pretty clear on how we should treat our children, wasn’t He?

My Journal for Today:  Today’s Our Daily Bread author, Mart DeHaan, related a story about the development of Chester Zoo in England. He wrote: June Williams was only 4 when her father bought 7 acres of land to build a zoo without bars or cages. Growing up she remembers how creative her father was in trying to help wild animals feel free in confinement. Today Chester Zoo is one of England’s most popular wildlife attractions. Home to 11,000 animals on 110 acres of land, the zoo reflects her father’s concern for animal welfare, education, and conservation. 

God’s word does point us, as God’s highest creation, to take care of God’s other, lower, creations, … the animals. Solomon was touted as the wisest of all in God’s kingdom in his time; and he obviously had a penchant for animals, as he imported wild beasts from the far east to his court (see 1st King 10:22). And he also wrote in his Proverbs that man was to be kind to animals (clearly in Prov. 12:10).

Yes, it is true that mankind should be the care takers for the animal kingdom, because they are part of God’s kingdom. However, it’s interesting to me that many who are animal activists, crusading for animal rights in P.E.T.A. (i.e., People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) often are the most rabid people to demonstrate for retaining abortion rights. …

So, what’s wrong with that picture, may I ask? 

For sure, we should treat animals with respect and kindness, as they do in the Chester Zoo in England; but common, folks; … if we’re passing laws, as we should, to protect the fertilized eggs of Bald Eagles, should we not also be passing laws to protect the fertilized eggs of human beings as well? Jesus said, [see Matt. 19:14] that we should not stand in the way of our children coming to Him. Well, to me a fertilized embryo in the womb is a “CHILD,” and we should not be standing in the way of those children coming to Jesus by aborting them.

Just a thought … in accord with God’s word, I believe.

My Prayer Today:  Heavenly Father, … Forgive us, in this culture of death, LORD, for forbidding so many children from coming 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, distributed online via email by RBC Ministries.  If you GO TO THIS LINK on the date of my blog, you can read/study the ODB blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

January 28, 2016: No Cell To Call

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2016 - Day 28

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a video of the lyrics from the group Hillsong singing … You Have Made Me Glad, expressing the trust King David had in His God in time of need.

 
Highlight Passage:   Psalm 18: 6 [NKJV] …
6 In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried out to my God; [and] He heard me from His temple, and my cry came before Him, even to His ears. 
 … A servant of God relying on His God in need.
============ 
Highlight Context – Psalm 18:1-6 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK  …
… David in dire need of help, relies on His God for the Lord to help him in time of need. 
============     

Reference Passage #1 Psalm 116:1-2 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… The Psalmist just knew God would bend down to hear His pleas.

Reference Passage #2 Proverbs 3:5-6 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… David’s son, Solomon, also knew His God would direct His steps.

Reference Passage #3 1st Peter 5:7 [NKJV] …
7 Casting all your care on Him, because He cares for you. 
  … Peter's advice to all who call on the Name of the Lord for help.

My Journal for Today:  Today’s Our Daily Bread author, Keila Ochoa, related a personal story to illustrate where our reflexes often take us when we feel desperate for help. She wrote: As a mom of young children I’m sometimes susceptible to panic. My first reaction is to call my mom on the phone and ask her what to do with my son’s allergy or my daughter’s sudden cough. ... Mom is a great resource, but when I read the Psalms, I’m reminded of how often we need the kind of help that no mortal can give. In Psalm 18 David was in great danger. Afraid, close to death, and in anguish, he called on the Lord. 

Oh how dependent we have become on those little boxes we carry around with us [see attached photo]; and they certainly can be powerful helpers when we’re in need of 911 assistance or the feedback from mom when a kid is wheezing or crying. But what if we had no little talking box which can connect us to mom or a 911 operator. David certainly had no cell phone when King Saul was trying to kill him. All he had was his trust in God; and when he was in dire need of help, he trusted that his God would be there. And He was!!

 Maybe the next time we reflexively pick up our cell phone to call mom or the government for help, we’ll also send up a prayer to the Lord of lords, Who certainly is willing - and most able - to help us [see Prov. 3:5-6 and 1st Peter 5:7]. But … if you need her, pick up that cell phone and call mom too!!...   [;>)  

My Prayer Today:  Heavenly Father, … Help me, Lord, in my time of 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, distributed online via email by RBC Ministries.  If you GO TO THIS LINK on the date of my blog, you can read/study the ODB blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

January 27, 2016: Really, God?!!

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2016 - Day 27

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a video of the lyrics from Laura Story singing her poignant song … Blessings, expressing the reality that often we have trouble recognizing God’s blessings because of the challenges of life.


Highlight Passage:   Exodus 16:14-15 [NKJV] …
14 And when the layer of dew lifted, there, on the surface of the wilderness, was a small round substance, as fine as frost on the ground. 15 So when the children of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. 
 … Sometimes we have trouble recognizing God’s blessings, because of life’s challenges hiding them.
============
Highlight Context – Exodus 16:11-31 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK  …  
… God’s people had trouble recognizing God’s “manna;” but it was His provision for their sustenance and needs.
============     

Reference Passage #1 - Habakkuk 3: 17-18 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… Habakkuk was a confused Prophet, who finally was led to see that God is totally in control and always loves His children and provides for our needs.

Reference Passage #2 - Romans 8: 28 [NKJV] …
28 All things work together for the good of those who love the Lord and are the called according to His purposes. 
… But do we really trust Him to provide for our needs when we’re challenged to blindness for His providence.

Reference Passage #3 - Hebrews 13:5-6 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… Repeating from Deut. 31: 6 and Ps. 118:6, the Author of Hebrews exhorts our confidence in a God which we sometimes just don’t understand, especially when we end up with more questions than answers.

My Journal for Today:  Today’s Our Daily Bread author, Jennifer Benson Schuldt, reminded me of God often masquerading His providence from His children, showering them (us) with His blessing even when we don’t recognize it as such.

 That’s what Laura Story sings about in today’s linked devotional song; and it’s what happened to God’s people just as Moses and Joshua led His children into the wilderness, where they would wander for 40 years. Above, in Exodus 16, we read of God providing food for the people in the form of “manna” (see attached photo). But the people, when the manna rained down from heaven, were saying, “Really, God, what is it?” Hence the name “manna,” which comes from the Hebrew word meaning, “WHAT?”

 And that’s what happens many times with us when we have trouble recognizing what’s going on around us or in our lives. It happened to the confused Prophet, Habakkuk, who called out to God in his song of dismay and discouragement. But finally, after much consternation and concern, God led the Prophet to realize that nothing could/would steal his joy if he was able to trust God and have faith that the Lord would provide … as Jehovah Jireh, … our Provider [see Habakkuk 3:17-18].

 At times - especially tough times - it’s hard to see and believe in the truth of Romans 8: 28 or Hebrews 13:5-6, isn’t it? But God’s word is either true or false; and I choose to believe in the former. … How about you?

My Prayer Today:  Heavenly Father, … Reign down Your providence and help me to see it as Your blessing and mercy. 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, distributed online via email by RBC Ministries.  If you GO TO THIS LINK on the date of my blog, you can read/study the ODB blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

January 26, 2016: More Questions Than Answers

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2016 - Day 26

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a video of the lyrics from Big Daddy Weave singing the old classic … Trust and Obey, expressing our hearts as disciples of Christ when we are faced by more questions than answers.

 
Highlight Passage:   Job 23:8 [NKJV] …
  8 “Look, I go forward, but His is not there, and backward, but I cannot perceive Him; … 
 … Sometimes, wherever we look for God’s answers, we still have questions.
============
Highlight Context – Job 23:1-12 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK  …  
… Job had much faith; but he still had many questions …
============     

Reference Passage #1 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 will make your paths straight. 
… At times all we can do is trust and obey.

Reference Passage #2 Isaiah 55: 8-9 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… Some day we’ll get it … that God is God and we are not! … And He has the answers when all we have is questions.

Reference Passage #3 Habakkuk 1:1-4 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… Habakkuk was a confused Prophet, who had many questions of God, where God led Him to trust that God had all the right answers.

Reference Passage #4 Romans 8: 28 [NKJV] …  
28 All things work together for the good of those who love the Lord and are the called according to His purposes. 
… But do we really trust Him on this one.

Reference Passage #5 Hebrews 13:5-6 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… Repeating from Deut. 31: 6 and Ps. 118:6, the Author of Hebrews exhorts our confidence in a God which we sometimes just don’t understand, especially when we end up with more questions than answers.

My Journal for Today:  Today’s Our Daily Bread author, David C McCasland, reminded me of conundrum or dilemma I often face, where I’ve exhausted all my human reason and even searched exhaustively to answer a “WHY” question in my life; but I come up with more questions than answers. Ever been there? I’d bet that almost all reading here with me have that T-shirt, don’t you? 

My ODB author today wrote as follows, Throughout life we may experience sorrows for which there are no adequate explanations. Some are catastrophic events with far-reaching effects while others are personal, private tragedies that alter our individual lives and families. We want to know WHY, but we seem to find more questions than answers. Yet even as we struggle with “Why?” God extends His unfailing love to us. 

The questions become, as Big Daddy Weave sings in the linked song today, … Do we trust … and can we obey, … our God? So many things in life present more questions than answers; and we simply, but most challengingly, are forced to just “trust and obey.”

All of the above great names in the Bible [see scriptures above], … Job, Isaiah, Habakkuk, the Apostle Paul, and the Author of Hebrews, ... were faced with a serious time in their lives where there were far more questions and answers; and they simply had to surrender to the “trust and obey” conundrum as do we many days and times in our lives. 

Because let’s face it, … God is God and we are not.

My Prayer Today:  Heavenly Father, … Today, Lord, at least in this moment of humility, I trust You and seek to obey. 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, distributed online via email by RBC Ministries.  If you GO TO THIS LINK on the date of my blog, you can read/study the ODB blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Monday, January 25, 2016

January 25, 2016: Words: Helping or Hurting!

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2016 - Day 25  

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  … Please take the time to take in a video of the BeeGees singing their love song, … Words, declaring the power of words to bring love in our human relationships.

 
Highlight Passage:  James 3:8-9 [NKJV] …  
8 But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. 
 … We are warned by God, thru James, to beware of how we use the tongue (i.e., our words) to build up or tear down our human relationships.
============

Highlight Context – James 3:1-12 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK  …  
… James gives a dire warning to Christians about the power of our words to do good or evil. 
============      

Reference Passage #1 - Matthew 12:36-37 [NKJV] …  
36 “… But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
… Jesus exhorts His followers that we’ll all be judged for what we say at the judgement of God.

Reference Passage #2 - Ephesians 4:29 [NKJV] …  
29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 
 … Paul tells us that our words to others should only reflect human edification or Godly grace; … or we should shut up!!

My Journal for Today:  Today’s Our Daily Bread author, the late Marion Stroud, teaches on a premise all Christian should heed … the power of the tongue in human relationships.

 Fellow readers … you may remember the old ditty we used to repeat as youngsters, … “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me!” … And I’m sure you agree, how wrong that old platitude was and is. Words can - and often do - hurt, especially when they’re leveled against young people by peers or parents in the formative years (see attached photo).

 And God’s word (i.e., His truth) is clear in warning disciples of Christ about how we use words; and I loved finding the old love song, written and sung by the BeeGees, entitled Words this morning, which expresses how we build our love relationships - with words!

 In fact, several New Testament authors warn Christians how we should avoid using hurtful words with others, expressing only those things which build up or give grace to our hearers (see Eph. 4:29). That was the Apostle Paul; but besides him, James, the brother of Jesus, almost shouts out how dangerous our tongues can be when we use them to light the fires of hatred and prejudice [see James 3 above]. … And Jesus, Himself, warned that we all will be judged by God for what we say at the final judgement [see Matt. 12:36-37 above].

 So, do we get it? How about it, fellow wordsmith, … let’s go out and watch what we say today, … doing all we can to avoid spewing forth any damaging words; and even more so, consciously speaking forth Christlike edification and grace to our hearers, … especially those we love.

My Prayer Today:  Heavenly Father, … Help me speak as You would speak; and let others hear You in my words. 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, distributed online via email by RBC Ministries.  If you GO TO THIS LINK on the date of my blog, you can read/study the ODB blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

January 24, 2016: Fruitfulness in Christ

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2016 - Day 24  

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a video of the group Hillsong singing in leading worship, … Jesus You’re All I Need, expressing reality of total surrender in fruitfulness to Christlikeness, allowing the fruit of the Spirit to be manifest in our lives.

 
Highlight Passage:  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. 
 … Jesus tells us (His disciples) to be connected to/with Him to be fruitful in this life. 
============
Highlight Context – John 15:1-8 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK  …  
… Jesus taught in the Upper Room about being fruitful as His Disciples.
============      

Reference Passage #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.” 
 … Being obedient to Christ and His word = Fruitfulness in Christ

Reference Passage #2 - Romans 12: 1-2 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK  …  
… Fruitfulness is “living sacrifice,” avoiding the worldly deterrents to a fruit-filled life.

Reference Passage #3 - Galatians 5:22-23 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… Being fruitful in Christ produces these nine characteristics of Christlikeness - Also see attached photo.

My Journal for Today:  Today’s Our Daily Bread author, Lawrence Darmani, helped his readers appreciate what it takes to be a fruitful Christian. What about it, friend? And the question today is, “Do we consider ourselves to be fruitful disciples of Christ?”

 And Jesus, the night before His perfectly fruitful sacrifice on the cross, called His inner 12 Disciples [and all Christians] to be fruitful and He taught them what it would take to live as fruitful disciples. They didn’t really get it at that time; but later, after the resurrection and God’s Spirit coming upon them at Pentecost, they did get it; and they began to live out the fruitfulness of born-again Christians. 

And when we, as disciples of Christ, do what Christ preached in John 15:1-8, we too will demonstrate - in our lives - the fruitfulness of Christlikeness, which was delineated by the Apostle Paul in Romans 12:1-2 and Galatians 5:22-23 (see also the attached photo). And in that fruitfulness we’ll internalize and realize the truth of what Hillsong sings in the linked song today … that Jesus is all we need!!

 So let’s go forth today, dear one, completely connected to The Vine and displaying His fruit of Christlikeness for all to see in our lives.

My Prayer Today:  Heavenly Father, … Help me to be fruitful and display Your fruit 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, distributed online via email by RBC Ministries.  If you GO TO THIS LINK on the date of my blog, you can read/study the ODB blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

January 23, 2016: Teach Me To Teach Them!

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2016 - Day 23  

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a video of Phillips, Craig, and Dean singing their song … I Want To Be Jesus Like You, expressing the desire of God for us as parents … for us to model Christlikeness for our kiddos.

 
Highlight Passage:   Proverbs 22: 6 [NKJV] …    
6. Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it. … Great - and Godly - advice for parents.
============
Highlight Context – Proverbs 22:1-16 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK  …  
… Many of the Proverbs were written from the standpoint of a father teaching his child. 
============      

Reference Passage #1 … Deuteronomy 6:4-7 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… God’s desire that we, as parents and shepherds of the children He gives us, teach those kids in the ways of the Lord.

Reference Passage #2 … Proverb 3: 1-12 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… God’s guidance for the young in the Proverbs of Solomon.

Reference Passage #3 … Luke 9: 23 [NKJV] …  
23 Then He (Jesus) said to theme all [His followers], “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. … “ 
… We follow Christ, as parents, and in doing so, we do all we can to lead our kids to follow Him.

My Journal for Today:  Today’s Our Daily Bread author, Jennifer Benson Schuldt, was teaching for parents today about letting life shape the minds of those young ones (see attached photo). And as one might expect author, Schuldt, taught from the book of Proverbs, which was given to believers as a guidebook for teaching wisdom to our kids.

If you’re a parent, or a grandpa like me, you’d probably agree that life itself becomes one of God’s greatest teaching methods for shaping the minds of our kiddos. And you may be able to remember some of those “teachable moments” which helped your kids, as Phillips, Craig, and Dean sing above, to become more like you, … which prayerfully was allowing them to become more like Christ.

And it’s tough, isn’t it? Many times we’d like to lecture our kids; but allowing them to make mistakes and learn the outcomes of those life lessons is really one of God’s best ways to teach His children. It’s probably how you learned the ways of the Lord the best, isn’t it? … And that is really what God teaches in His word (see Deut. 6: 7 and Prov. 22:6), to help us be good, Godly, parents. So, … being the loving parent, modeled by our loving God, that’s what we do as stewards of those young lives, whom God gives us to shepherd.

We guide them; and we watch over them. We lead them, as the Good Shepherd would lead His sheep; and we patch up the boo-boos when life brings those painful moments; and we do all we can to model our Lord into the lives of our kids. And when we do so, Prov. 22:6 teaches us that the outcome will likely be a child which follows the ways of God, denying self and following Christ (see Luke 9: 23).

My Prayer Today:  Heavenly Father, … Oh how I want our kids and grandkids to follow Your ways; so help me to follow You and lead them. 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, distributed online via email by RBC Ministries.  If you GO TO THIS LINK on the date of my blog, you can read/study the ODB blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Friday, January 22, 2016

January 22, 2016: Freedom and Surrender!!

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2016 - Day 22  

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a video of Nichole Nordeman singing her song … Finally Free, expressing the reality of all who are freed of our bondage of sin by Christ’s blood … And THEN ON TO THIS LINK to hear the a poignant song by Brian Littrell, singing I Surrender All - and calling for all who need God’s freedom to come to our Savior and surrender all of self to Him.

 
Highlight Passage:   Romans 7:15 [NKJV] …  
15 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. 
… Paul’s set up for the greatest freedom chapter in all of the NT - Romans 8.
============
Highlight Context – Romans 7:14-25 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK  …  
 … Our bondage of our sin nature is only broken by our faith that Jesus freed us on the cross.
============      

Reference Passage #1 … Romans 8:1-11 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… Here is the greatest declaration of independence (from the bondage of sin) in all the Bible.

Reference Passage #2 … Revelations 1:4-5 [NKJV] …  
4 … Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. … To Him who loved us and washed us [i.e. set us free] from our sins in His own blood, … 
… John writes, … for Jesus, … to the seven churches in Asia Minor (and to all Christians) of our freedom from the bondage of sin by our faith the covering blood of Christ.

My Journal for Today:  Today’s Our Daily Bread author, Randy Kilgore, tells a personal story which may be the feeling of many who read here, including yours truly. He wrote for today’s ODB entry, A middle-aged man approached me after I led a workshop at his place of employment and asked this question: “I’ve been a Christian nearly my whole life, but I’m constantly disappointed in myself. Why is it that I always seem to keep doing the things I wish I didn’t do and never seem to do the things I know I should? Isn’t God getting tired of me?” Two men standing next to me also seemed eager to hear the response. 

And Kilgore told them that they were in good company, because, as we read in the Romans 7 passage, linked above, the Apostle Paul wrote that he, too, at times felt encumbered by his sin nature, having to deal with stuff he did, but hated, and stuff he wanted to do, but didn’t. … Yeah! … I expect there are some here saying, “Been there, … got that T-shirt.”

Well, several years ago, I wondered why one of the most mature and grounded Christians and the author of two-thirds of the NT would be compelled to write with such vulnerability about his bondage to sin in Chapter 7 of his letter to the Romans. But God’s Spirit, I believe, helped me understand that Paul wanted all of his readers to bask and bathe in the truths of the next Chapter (meditate on Romans 8:1-11 above).

So, I believe he used himself as an example of the reality that all Christians (see Romans 3: 23) will have times when we wallow in the weakness of our sin nature. Paul didn’t want to cast blame and guilt by accusing his readers of their weakness. So, he used himself for identification; and then … he launches, in Romans 8, into probably the greatest declaration of victory and freedom from sin in all of the New Testament.

I hope, and pray, that all who read here today identify with the human weakness of ROMANS 7; but my prayer, for me as wall as you, is that we all believe and genuinely seek to live our lives basking in the freedom found from the truth of ROMANS 8.

Where are you living today?

My Prayer Today:  Heavenly Father, … Lord, … From the truth of the songs linked above, … I am blessed by Your blood … to be free at last … as I surrender my all 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, distributed online via email by RBC Ministries.  If you GO TO THIS LINK on the date of my blog, you can read/study the ODB blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

January 21, 2016: The Prodigal

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2016 - Day 21  

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a video of Alan Jackson singing the old hymn … Softly and Tenderly, expressing the desire our prodigal Father for all sinners to come home … And THEN ON TO THIS LINK to hear the a poignant song by Chris Rice, singing Come To Jesus also calling for all who need God’s prodigal love to come to our Savior.


Highlight Passage:   Luke 15:20 [NKJV] …  
20 “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. 
… Jesus tells of a Father’s “prodigal” love, waiting and watching for His “prodigal” son. ============
Highlight Context – Luke 15:11-24 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK  …  
… Jesus’ story of the “PRODIGAL.”
============      
Reference Passage #1 … Lamentations 3: 22-23 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… Our Father’s love is “prodigal,” … merciful and new every morning … always faithful.

Reference Passage #2 … Hebrews 13: 5b [NKJV] …  
5 … be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” [also Joshua 1:5]
 … God’s prodigal promise to all believers …

My Journal for Today:  Today’s Our Daily Bread author, James Banks, author of the book, Prayers for Prodigal, uses the Bible story which inspired his book from Luke 15 to submit this ODB entry. 

We often dub that parable in Luke 15 as the story Jesus tells of the “prodigal son,” don’t we? But really it might even be better labeled the parable about the “prodigal Father.” … Why? Because “prodigal” as an adjective mean “lavish;” and most certainly the boy went off and lived lavishly in sin. But think about the Father, … waiting patiently and longingly for His boy to return; and when he did, with repentance, the Father lavished His love on Him, running to him, hugging him, and then giving him a lavish welcome home banquet.

 And I so identify with that popular NT Bible story; because, for so many years of my life, I was far off from my God, lavishly living a Doctor Jeckyl - Mr. Hyde life of sin; but at age 39 I came back home to my loving Lord; and He lavished His love and mercy and grace on me. He truly was my “prodigal” Father.

 So, were are you, my friend? Are you in a loving place right now with our “prodigal” Lord? Or do you need to do what Alan Jackson and Chris Rice sing (in the linked songs) … and come running back to Jesus? If so, come home, my friend! He’ll be waiting for you; and He’ll run to you with lavish love , sharing His mercy and grace with you.

My Prayer Today:  Heavenly Father, … Lord, … thank You for being my “prodigal” Father. 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, distributed online via email by RBC Ministries.  If you GO TO THIS LINK on the date of my blog, you can read/study the ODB blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

January 20, 2016: Realness + Integrity = Leadership

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2016 - Day 20  

Devotional Songs:  … GO TO THIS LINK …   Please take the time to take in a video of Clay Crosse, Bob Carlyle, and Bebe Wynan singing … I Will Follow Christ, expressing the desire of all “real-deal” Christians … And THEN ON TO THIS LINK to hear the country classic singers, Patsy Cline and Willie Nelson, singing Just A Closer Walk With Thee 


Highlight Passage:   Philippians 3: 17 [NKJV] …  
17 Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.
… Paul was confident other could follow him; because he knew WHOM he was following … and that is Christ.
============
Highlight Context – Philippians 3: 17-21 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK  …  
… Paul was a real-deal Christian his fellow Christians could follow
============      

Reference Passage #1 … John 14: 6 [NKJV] …  
6 I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. 
… The only way we can lead others is by following Christ closely.

Reference Passage #2 … 1st Corinthians 11: 1 [NKJV] …  
1 You can imitate me; because I imitate Christ. 
… To lead others in a closer walk of Christlikeness, we must follow Him closely and openly lead others in that walk.

Reference Passage #3 … [NKJV] … 2nd Corinthians 11: 22-33 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK  
… Paul was a real-deal Christian whom other Christians could follow.

My Journal for Today:  Today’s Our Daily Bread author, Dave Branon, used his fellow contributors to ODB daily entries as examples of Christian integrity and leadership. He writes … Several years ago I received a letter from an Our Daily Bread reader after I had written about a family tragedy. “When you told about your tragedy,” this person wrote, “I realized that the writers were real people with real problems.” How true that is! I look across the list of men and women who pen these articles, and I see cancer and wayward children and unfulfilled dreams and many other kinds of loss. We are indeed just regular, real people writing about a real God who understands our real problems. 

Branon's point is that those of us who use the ODB entries for our devotional time with God daily can follow these writers because they are simply being vulnerable [i.e., real and honest] with their Christian integrity.

So, fellow Christian, do you see the formula here? … VULNERABILITY + Biblical Integrity = Solid Christian Leadership.

And that was the Apostle Paul in a nutshell. He was a real-deal Christian who walked-the-walk and was willing/able to lead others in that walk. In two different letters to fellow Christians, he openly and confidently wrote that other Christians could follow his lead because he knew exactly where he was walking; and that was to follow Christ [see Phil. 3:17 and 1st Cor. 11:1]. When a Christian openly and honestly follows Christ (see linked songs above); and then is open and vulnerable in that walk, he/she will certainly encounter opposition from the world; but that leader will be able to lead others in THE WAY of the Lord [see John 14:6].

 I’m challenged by today’s ODB entry to see if I’m following Christ’s footsteps closely enough; and then we, who do walk with Christ, must ask ourselves if we’re open and vulnerable in sharing that walk with others.

 Ask yourself: … Can I say what Paul said to his friends in 1st Cor. 11:1? If not, where/how should we walk to lead others, as Patsy and Willie sing above … to a closer walk with Christ?

My Prayer Today:  Heavenly Father, … Lord, … Help me to follow You and then lead others in that walk. 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, distributed online via email by RBC Ministries.  If you GO TO THIS LINK on the date of my blog, you can read/study the ODB blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

January 19, 2016: Christlike Humility

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2016 - Day 19  

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a video of Phillips, Craig, and Dean singing their song … I Want To Be Just Like You, expressing the desire, like a son to his father, to become just like our Heavenly Father, … i.e., into the image of our Lord, Jesus.

 
Highlight Passage:   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. … 
… And that’s true humility … just as Christ was humble (see v. 8)
============
Highlight Context – Philippians 2: 1-11 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK   
… Christ showed the way of humility for us all to follow
============      

Reference Passage #1 … Matthew 11: 29 [NKJV] …  
29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle [i.e., “meek] and lowly in heart [i.e., “humble”], and you will find rest for your souls.
… The only way we can find rest is to be like Christ … “meek and humble!”

Reference Passage #2 … Luke 9: 23 [NKJV] …  
23 Then He said to them all [His followers]If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow Me. 
… To be like Christ we must humble our selves and follow Him in Christlikeness.

Reference Passage #3 … 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.” 
… Christlikeness means showing our love for Him by being obedient to Him.

My Journal for Today:  Today’s Our Daily Bread author, Jennifer Benson Schuldt, uses a story of mountaineering to illustrate a teaching about Christlikeness, writing … Tibetan-born Sherpa Nawang Gombu and American Jim Whittaker reached the top of Mount Everest on May 1, 1963. As they approached the peak, each considered the honor of being the first of the two to step to the summit. Whittaker motioned for Gombu to move ahead, but Gombu declined with a smile, saying, “You first, Big Jim!” Finally, they decided to step to the summit at the same time. 

Schuldt’s story, of course, illustrates the quality of humility, … i.e., putting the needs of others first. And that was what the Apostle Paul was crediting his Christian friends in Philippi with when he wrote his thank-you letter to them (see highlight passages above from Philippians 2).

 If I were to ask you, as a disciple of Christ, “Do you want to be like Christ?” You would, of course, respond, “Certainly;” … wouldn’t you? Well, fellow Christian, where do we start to become more like Christ tomorrow than today … and more like Him today than yesterday?

 Well, I think a good place to start would be to become like the way our Lord described Himself; and that is only found in Matthew 11:29 where one can find the only adjectives Jesus was every quoted describing Himself; and in that passage (above) you see He said that He was “meek” and “humble.” In other words, He, HIMSELF, was saying that His followers could follow Him (see Luke 9:23) by doing all they could to deny themselves and to be humble and meek themselves - just like Him [see above song].

 Okay, … we want to be like Christ, as Christians, don’t we? Well, my friend, there’s where we start; and I - for one - need to take stock of at least those two qualities of Christlikeness [meekness and humility] to be more like Him tomorrow than today. How about you?

My Prayer Today:  Heavenly Father, … Lord, … Help me to be more like You tomorrow than 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, distributed online via email by RBC Ministries.  If you GO TO THIS LINK on the date of my blog, you can read/study the ODB blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Monday, January 18, 2016

January 18, 2016: God’s BIG “R&R”

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2016 - Day 18

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a video of Big Daddy Weave singing his song … Redeemed, expressing the truth that all Christians are not who we used to be. … WE’RE redeemed and reconciled by Christ to be new creations in Christ … FOREVER!!! … Worth sharing with others, isn’t it? !!!

 
Highlight Passage:   2nd Corinthians 5:18 [NKJV] …
18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, … 
… No excuses! … Our charge is to be ministers of reconciliation.
============
Highlight Context – 2nd Corinthians 5:16-21 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK  …  
… Having been redeemed by Christ and reconciled to God, the Father, all Christians are charged with His ministry of reconciliation.
============     

Reference Passage #1 … Matthew 5:44-45 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… Jesus’ charge that we love our enemies … doing all we can to reconcile them to God in this life.

Reference Passage #2 … Acts 1: 8 [NKJV] …
  8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 
… Jesus’ charge that we become witnesses of His redemption and reconciliation to all who need His salvation.

Reference Passage #3 … Romans 5: 6-11 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… Christ paid our price, … reconciling those who come to Him in repentance and faith to be reconciled into peace with God.

My Journal for Today:  Today’s Our Daily Bread author, Tim Gustafson, refers to one of the toughest challenges we, as Christians face in our lives; and that is to love our enemies enough to become “ministers” of reconciliation. And Gustafson used Martin Luther King as his teaching example, writing … As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preached on a Sunday morning in 1957, he fought the temptation to retaliate against a society steeped in racism. … “How do you go about loving your enemies?” he asked the Dexter Avenue Baptist congregation in Montgomery, Alabama. “Begin with yourself. . . . When the opportunity presents itself for you to defeat your enemy, that is the time which you must not do it.” 

It is true that racial divisions have caused as much or more strife in the “big-C” Christian church than any other issue. But as today’s focus photo, song, and Scriptures are clear, we are, as Christians, are charged by Christ to be His “ministers” of redemption and reconciliation (i.e., “R&R”) in this world.

 As born-again Christians, as the photo depicts, we’ve been forgiven, redeemed, and reconciled by Christ, for Christ, and with Christ into the family of God. And in this redemption, we have been set free and transformed from our former self to be a new creation in Christ (see 2nd Cor. 5:17). Therefore, Christ gives us His Holy Spirit power (see Acts 1: 8) to be His witnesses of reconciliation in this world [see Romans 5:6-11 and 2nd Cor. 5:16-21].

 So, fellow Christian, if someone ever asks you if you’ve been called into Christian ministry, you have to answer “YES!” to that one. Because, as Christians, we are “ministers” of reconciliation, whether we like it or not, … called to be Christ’s witnesses of redemption in the world.

 So, as my Pastor preached this Sunday [go to www.centralchurch.com ], let’s all “GO BIG” in sharing what God has done for us with His BIG “R&R” in our lives (i.e., “redemption and reconciliation”); and let’s share our Redeemer and Reconciler with the world … even today!!!

My Prayer Today:  Heavenly Father, … Lord, … Help me to be an agent of your BIG R&R in this world. 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, distributed online via email by RBC Ministries.  If you GO TO THIS LINK on the date of my blog, you can read/study the ODB blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

January 17, 2016: In the Garden

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2016 - Day 17  

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a video of Gordon Mote singing his song … Don’t Let Me Miss the Glory, singing his prayer that God would not let any Christian to miss the glory He has for mankind in this life as we prepare to be with Him in His glory.


Highlight Passage:   1st Corinthians 14:26 [NKJV] …  
26 How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. 
 … We are to be His body in the garden - forever!
============
Highlight Context – 1st Corinthians 14:6-12, 26 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK  …  
… A God’s Body, we are to work together in unity for mutual edification and His glory. 
============      

Reference Passage #1 … Genesis 2:8-25 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… That first garden where mankind could work, walk, and worship with their God.

Reference Passage #2 … Romans 12 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… God’s body being a living testimony of sacrifice for His glory.

Reference Passage #3 … John 15: 1-8 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… Walking and living in the garden with and for our Savior.

My Journal for Today:  Today’s Our Daily Bread author, Julie Ackerman Link, uses the word picture of a garden to depict how God has pictured our life, walking with Him and serving Him in glory. She writes … The world-class botanical garden across the street from our church was the setting for an all-church community gathering. As I walked around the gardens greeting people I have known for years, catching up with those I hadn’t seen recently, and enjoying the beautiful surroundings cared for by people who know and love plants, I realized that the evening was rich with symbols of how the church is supposed to function—a little hint of heaven on earth. 

It is true for Christians, that God does give us what I call “glimpses of glory” as we walk with Him in life. And being in a beautiful, well-kept garden (see attached photo) can be such a “hint of heaven,” as the ODB author calls it. Of course, we all know that mankind’s original and glorious interaction with God took place in a garden of His creation. And it was a place where His primo creation, Adam and Eve, could walk with God, work for God, and worship their God in glorious surroundings [see Genesis 2]. But we know how that glorious scenario became perverted; and God’s chosen were banished from that garden.

 And the Apostle Paul, in his attempt to come back from a similar rejection of God, was teaching those who’d been given by Christ a way back into the garden how to walk with the Lord (see the 1st Cor. 14 and Rom. 12 passages); and he exhorted them to live in harmony, using their gifts and working for God’s glory TOGETHER so that they could experience any glimpse of His glory in this life.

 And Jesus, the Lamb of God, Who came to walk among mankind and let them see and experience God in the flesh, taught His beloved Disciples about what it took for them to experience Kingdom living by using a garden-like word picture in John 15 (see link above).

 Bottom-line, my fellow Christian, … we need to walk in the garden of life, with other Christians, serving our Lord TOGETHER in harmony … and for His glory. Because when we do, He will give us glimpses of what’s ahead in the final GARDEN OF LIFE in glory. And as Gordon Mote sings in the song linked above … I don’t want to miss the glory, … DO YOU?

My Prayer Today:  Heavenly Father, … Lord, … As I walk with and for You, Lord, don’t let me miss the 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, distributed online via email by RBC Ministries.  If you GO TO THIS LINK on the date of my blog, you can read/study the ODB blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

January 16, 2016: Growing in Christ

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2016 - Day 16  

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a video of Mark Harris singing his song … Find Your Wings, singing of the desire of any Christian parent to see their children grow in God’s truth and to help them find their wings and fly free in Christ.

 
Highlight Passage:   Hebrews 5:13 [NKJV] …  
13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. … We only grow when we feed on the meat of God’s truth.
============
Highlight Context – Hebrews 5:11-14 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK  …  
… Spiritual nourishment comes from God’s word.
============      

Reference Passage #1 … Isaiah 55:11 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… God’s word, used for our growth in Him, will always yield what God purposes.

Reference Passage #2 … Luke 9: 23 [NKJV] …  
23 Then He (Jesus) said to them all (His followers), “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” 
… Jesus’ simple (but very difficult) instructions for any true disciple.

Reference Passage #3 … 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.” 
 … Jesus’ test of growth in/thru Him.

Reference Passage #4 … 2nd Timothy 3:16-17 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… We have all we need to grow in Christ … from His word.

My Journal for Today:  Today’s Our Daily Bread author, Keila Ochoa, uses a rather bizarre bological illustration to make her point this morning. She writes about a tiny Mexican salamander, The axolotl (pronounced ACK suh LAH tuhl) is a biological enigma. Instead of maturing into adult form, this endangered Mexican salamander retains tadpole-like characteristics throughout its life. Writers and philosophers have used the axolotl as a symbol of someone who fears growth.

What Ochoa was teaching … was that some Christians, like the little axolotl, simply don’t grow as disciples of Christ as they could, or should, … usually due to prideful or selfish pursuits as well as purposeful avoidance of God’s truth. If you take the time, and I hope you do, to hear Mark Harris sing his linked song (above); and then take the time to meditate on the Scriptures provided, I’m sure you’ll come away with the main point Ochoa was trying to make … and that is … we can - and will - grow in our relationship with Christ, but only if/when we go deep into God’s word and obey its tenants.

That’s what the author of Hebrews was trying to get across to the churchmen in his day [see the highlight passage linked above]. It’s why Luke and John quoted Jesus’ instructions for His Disciples [Luke 9:23 and John 14:21]. And it’s what Paul, as a key Christian leader of his day, desired for all Christians … i.e., to grow [2nd Timothy 3:16-17] by being fed from God’s truth. And it’s what Isaiah prophesied about God’s word 700+ years before Christ (see Isiah 55:11).

As the attached picture depicts, we will only grow and flourish in Christ if we’re well-rooted in God’s word. It’s why I’m here today - and every day - going deeply into God’s truth for His sustenance; … so that I can grow in Christ daily. And as Mark Harris sings about his kids, that’s my prayer for you as well.

My Prayer Today:  Heavenly Father, … Lord, … I pray that all who are here with me today are growing in Your truth. 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, distributed online via email by RBC Ministries.  If you GO TO THIS LINK on the date of my blog, you can read/study the ODB blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Friday, January 15, 2016

January 15, 2016: Credit ALWAYS Available

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2016 - Day 15  

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a video of Phillips, Craig, and Dean, singing … Your Grace Still Amazes Me, singing of the eternal cache of grace made available by the faithful sacrifice of our Lord on the cross. He paid the price and I carry His credit card FOREVER. Amazing grace, for sure!!


Highlight Passage:   Ephesians 2:4, 7 [NKJV] …  
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, … 
 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 
 … We can draw on Jesus’ riches of grace … FOREVER!!
============
Highlight Context – Ephesians 2:4-7 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK  …  
 … Jesus put His all up for us so that we could draw on His grace - FOREVER!!
============      

Reference Passage #1 … 2nd Corinthians 12:9-10 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… God’s grace is always sufficient for us to draw on it in our times of need.

Reference Passage #2 … Hebrews 4: 14-16 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… God put the down payment on the grace which He wants us to draw from Him - FOREVER!

Reference Passage #3 … 2nd Peter 1:2-4 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… Christ’s sacrifice put enough in God’s bank of grace for us to draw on it … FOREVER!!

My Journal for Today:  Today’s Our Daily Bread author, Cindy Hess Kasper, uses the testimony of a miracle pilot to make here point this morning. She writes In the winter of 2009, a large passenger plane made an emergency landing in New York’s Hudson River. [see the attached photo] The pilot, Captain Chesley Sullenberger, who landed the plane safely with no casualties, was later asked about those moments in the air when he was faced with a life-or-death decision. “One way of looking at this,” he said, “might be that for 42 years I’ve been making small, regular deposits in this bank of experience, education, and training. And on [that day] the balance was sufficient so that I could make a very large withdrawal.” 

And Sullenberger’s testimony rings true with His Christian faith and understanding. Christ paid the ultimate price on the cross for us to be able to draw on His eternal cache of grace for salvation and for sanctification … not only for our lifetime on earth … but for our eternity in heaven with Him. But we must be the ones who draw out what we need - BY FAITH - when we’re in need of the grace Christ makes available to us (see 2nd Cor. 12:9-10, Hebrews 4:14-16, and 2nd Peter 1:2-4).

In our lifetime we put in our faith credits by what Christ gives us; and we draw it out when we need it. Do you need some today? … I do!

My Prayer Today:  Heavenly Father, … Lord, … Thanks for making your eternal bank of grace available to me to carry Your credit card FOREVER. 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, distributed online via email by RBC Ministries.  If you GO TO THIS LINK on the date of my blog, you can read/study the ODB blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

January 14, 2016: See Ya Again Soon!

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2016 - Day 14  

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a video of Dennis Jernigan and his friend Annie Herring, singing Dennis’ song … Faithful and True, singing of the outcome of a faithful and true relationship with Christ … and ON TO THIS LINK with Brian Littrell singing I Surrender All, expressing what it takes to have a deep/abiding relationship with Christ.

 
Highlight Passage:   Luke 9: 23, 62 [NKJV] …
23 “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow Me. 
62 But Jesus said to him [a disciple], “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” 
… Jesus’ charge to what it costs to be His disciple.
============

Highlight Context – Luke 9: 23-27; 57-62 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK  …  
…The cost of discipleship … surrender in faith to Christ
============      

Reference Passage #1 … Deuteronomy 6: 5 [NKJV] …  
5 You shall love the Lord your God with ALL your heart, with ALL your soul, and with ALL your strength. 
… God’s command to all who would serve Him as the Good Shepherd to give their ALL to/for Him. Note the accent on the world ”ALL”!!

Reference Passage #2 … Romans 12: 1 [NKJV] …  
12 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 
 … Our lives, a “living sacrifice” to our Lord.

My Journal for Today:  Today’s Our Daily Bread author, C.P. Hia, is Chinese; and he uses the Chines pictogram for “good-bye,” [see attached photo] to illustrate his teaching on our attitude with Christ. His writes,  In the Chinese language there is no direct equivalent of the English word “goodbye.” The two Chinese characters used to translate this word really mean “see you again.” … Becoming a disciple of Christ may sometimes mean others will reject us, but it does not mean we say goodbye to people in the sense that we are to forget all our past relationships. Saying goodbye means that God wants us to follow Him on His terms—wholeheartedly. Then we will see people again from the right perspective. 

Luke, the New Testament writer, had that kind of expectant attitude, as a surrendered disciple of His Lord, as he wrote Chapter 9 of his gospel account [see link above]. And it fits with author Hia’s description of the Chinese concept of “good-bye” in the ODB entry for today.

When it comes to our attitude of following Jesus, to the degree that we are surrendered to Him, is the degree of our attitude that we never truly say “good-bye” to Him. He’s forever in our hearts, so we’re always saying, “see you again, Lord!” And knowing, and truly believing, that since He’s coming again for us, we always have His promise of a hope for Him, with Him, and in Him … FOREVER. 

So, take in the two songs above; and say it with me, today, as you read this … “See ya soon, Lord!!!” 

My Prayer Today:  Heavenly Father, … Lord, … I never say “good-bye” 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, distributed online via email by RBC Ministries.  If you GO TO THIS LINK on the date of my blog, you can read/study the ODB blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

January 13, 2016: All For You, Lord!

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2016 - Day 13  

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a video of the lyrics and images from the group, Hillsong, singing in worship… Lord I Offer My Life To You, declaring what should be the goal of all who call Jesus, Lord.


Highlight Passage:   John 10:9 [NKJV] …  
9 I am the door.  If anyone enters by Me he will be saved. 
… Jesus offers us the door of salvation.                  
============
Highlight Context – John 10: 1-18 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK  …  
 … Jesus, the Good Shepherd, willing to lay down His life for His sheep.
============      

Reference Passage #1 … Deuteronomy 6: 5 [NKJV] …  
5 You shall love the Lord your God with ALL your heart, with ALL your soul, and with ALL your strength. 
… God’s command to all who would serve Him as the Good Shepherd to give their ALL to/for Him.

Reference Passage #2 … Romans 12: 1 [NKJV] …  
12 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 
 … Our lives, a “living sacrifice” to our Lord.

My Journal for Today:  Today’s Our Daily Bread author, Dennis Fisher, illustrated his teaching by depicting an incredible work of art dedicated to Christ. He wrote, Italian artist Lorenzo Ghiberti (1378–1455) spent years skillfully crafting images of Jesus’ life into the bronze doors of Italy’s Florence Baptistery. These bronze reliefs were so moving that Michelangelo called them the “Gates of Paradise.” … As an artistic treasure, the doors greet visitors with echoes of the gospel story. 

Great artists in the days of Ghiberti, Michelangelo, and DaVinci or great musicians, like Beethoven, often devoted all of their talents, time, and treasure to creating masterpiece works which glorified God. And it struck me, as I read Dennis Fisher’s OBD piece today, that we are called by our Lord to do the very same thing.

Oh, we may not have the talents of a Michelangelo or a Beethoven; but all, who are born-again in Christ, have been given gifts and talents; and we can - and should - use them for the glory of God. Jesus, in teaching His disciples (see John, Chapter 10) about His role as the Good Shepherd, showed His willingness to give His all for His flock [that’s you and me]. Should we not be willing to give our all for Him?

So, as God’s word challenges us in Deuteronomy 6:5 and Romans 12:1, what do we have to give as a “living sacrifice” to/for our Lord? I know that what I have to give in writing here each day may not be as magnanimous as the Doors of Paradise in Florence; but my writing here each day reflects my gifts of teaching and encouragement; and I will continue to come here daily to share the thoughts which God’s Spirit shares with me with others; because I do so to give my all for my Lord.

What do you have to give in worship and living sacrifice today?

My Prayer Today:  Heavenly Father, … Lord, … I give you my all here 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, distributed online via email by RBC Ministries.  If you GO TO THIS LINK on the date of my blog, you can read/study the ODB blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

January 12, 2016: Hold On!!

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2016 - Day 12  

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a video of Sara Groves singing her song … It Might Be Hope, where she sings of the hope we hold onto in Christ despite the realities of our live in this world.

 
Highlight Passage:   Revelation 3:11 [NKJV] …  
11 Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. 
… Can you get your mind around that truth? I don’t know that I ever will; but I’m so, so grateful for it.
============
Highlight Context – Revelation 3: 7-11 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK  …  
… Jesus writes to His beloved Church (in Philadelphia) to hold on until He comes for them. 
============      

Reference Passage #1 … Proverbs 3:5-6 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… Holding on to God’s promises, trusting in Him … no matter what!!

Reference Passage #2 … John 16:33 [NKJV] …  
33 “ … These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” 
… Sometimes when things seem hopeless, we trust that God can help us be overcomers.

Reference Passage #3 … 1st Corinthians 10:13 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… NO TRIAL is too tough if we hold on … WITH GOD’S STRENGTH.

Reference Passage #4 … 2nd Corinthians 12: 9 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… Allowing His enabling - and empowering - grace to give us the strength to hold on.

My Journal for Today:  Today’s Our Daily Bread author, David C McCasland, used an interesting word picture to illustrate how we, as Christians, must HOLD ON to the hope we have in Christ. He described how cowboys in a rodeo (see attached photo) must often hold on - for dear life - to the powerful steer they are trying to wrestle to the ground to win the competition. And this in spite of the almost overwhelming strength of the beast with whom they wrestle.

It’s that way with circumstances in life at times, isn’t it? Things just seem overwhelming as we wrestle with the beasts of challenge. But if you’ve taken in and meditated on the truths above and listened to the poignant and powerful song by Sara Groves, I pray that we all realize that when we hold on to the hope we have in Christ, we can be overcomers of any circumstantial beast we’re trying to wrestle into submission.

That’s what Jesus had John write to the Church (in Philadelphia and to us - see highlight passage above). And if we believe it, along with the truth He exhorted Paul to write in 2nd Corinthians 12: 9, we can use God’s enabling/empowering grace to give us the strength to deal with any trial. … That’s my prayer this morning.

My Prayer Today:  Heavenly Father, … Give us the strength of Your grace to wrestle our beast to the ground 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, distributed online via email by RBC Ministries.  If you GO TO THIS LINK on the date of my blog, you can read/study the ODB blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.