Monday, February 29, 2016

February 29, 2016: Once For ALL

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2016 - Day 60  

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a video of Matt Papa singing It Is FInished… declaring the reality Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice of His blood to save all who believe in His completed work on the cross.

 
Highlight Passage:  Hebrews 9:22, 26 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK  
… Only once He had to shed His blood; and as He said from the cross, “It is finished!” 
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Highlight Context – Hebrews, Chapter 9 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… Blood was sacrificed under the Old Covenant … only One shed His blood for all in the New Covenant.
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Reference Passage #1 - John 19:28-30 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… Once for all and “IT IS FINISHED!”

Reference Passage #2 - Hebrews 9:27-28 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… He died once for us; we die once to self and are raised forever by His blood.

My Journal for Today:  Today’s Our Daily Bread author, Keila Ochoa, told of a friend who had trouble understanding the blood Jesus sacrificed on the cross. She wrote: Mary Ann believed in God and His Son Jesus, but she struggled with why Jesus had to shed His blood to bring salvation. Who would think of cleansing something with blood? Yet the Bible says, “The law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood” (Heb. 9:22). That, in Mary Ann’s opinion, was disgusting! … Then one day she had to go to a hospital. A genetic condition had altered her immune system, and doctors became alarmed when the illness started attacking her blood. As she was in the emergency room she thought, If I lose my blood, I will die. But Jesus shed His blood so I can live! 

The author of the book of Hebrews in the NT wanted the Jews following Jesus’ resurrection to understand that the New Covenant, with Jesus’ blood on the cross, had fulfilled the Old Covenant [see Hebrews, Chapter 9 linked above]. That when Jesus said, “It is finished!” on the cross and died, His blood was the blood of the Lamb of God; and it was all that was necessary to satisfy God, the Father, and to give faithful mankind all that was necessary to save them at their judgement (see Hebrews 9:27-28 and John 19:28-30).

Do you get it, dear one? Oh, how I pray that we do. Because if we do, and in faith have received the power from Christ’s blood, we will spend eternity with Him. If not, … we will not; and our pain will never end.

My Prayer Today:  Heavenly Father, … Oh, Lord, thank You for Your blood, which was shed for 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.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

February 28, 2016: Teamwork

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2016 - Day 59  

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a video of the group 4HIM singing The Basics of Life… declaring the reality of the Church today … to return to the basics of the faith … TOGETHER!!


Highlight Passage:  Ephesians 4:16 [NKJV] …  
15 … but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. 
… All Christians need to “grow up” in the faith, … but we need to do it TOGETHER, exhorting and encouraging one another …
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Highlight Context – Ephesians 4:1-16 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… Coming TOGETHER in Christ and growing in the faith as His body.
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Reference Passage #1 - Romans 12:1-13 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
 … Christians, coming TOGETHER, in the unity of the Body of Christ to edify one another and grow in the faith.

Reference Passage #2 - 1st Corinthians, Chapter 12 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
 … In Christ we are ONE BODY, using our gifts TOGETHER to be Christ’s Body on earth.

Reference Passage #3 - Hebrews 10: 24-25 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… Coming TOGETHER as the body of Christ, especially in these troubled times, to get back to the basics of the faith and grow in Christlikeness.

My Journal for Today:  Today’s Our Daily Bread author, Tim Gustafson, related a personal story to illustrate his teaching about the Church growing TOGETHER in Christlikeness. He wrote: Watching my young grandson and his friends play T-Ball is entertaining [see attached photo]. In this version of baseball, young players often run to the wrong base or don’t know what to do with the ball if they happen to catch it.  If we were watching a professional baseball game, these mistakes would not be so funny. … It’s all a matter of maturity. 

In my estimation, T-ball is a good word picture for the Church. When we’re newbies in Christ, we’re ushered into a new team game called “the body of Christ,” … the Church; and we really need coaching and the encouragement of more mature “coaches and players” (i.e. Disciples of Christ) to grow in the skills, given to us by God, to contribute (one day) to the “team.” And in the beginning, we need to learn and practice the basics and then apply those skills, as a team, to become a more effective and unified body, coming TOGETHER to glorify God.

I hope you’ve taken the time to hear that linked song above and to mediate on the Scriptures provided. The Apostle Paul (and the author of Hebrews), really wrote a lot, inspired by God’s Spirit, to exhort Christians to come together in His Body, developing our gifts and talents (i.e., on “God’s team”), … to edify one another and grow in the basics of the faith.

And as 4HIM sings above, we need to get back to the basics in the game of life, don’t we? It’s Sunday as I write this, and as the author of Hebrews 10:24-25 wrote, I pray that we’re all coming together, wherever we are in the Body of Christ today, to encourage one another and to help one another grow in Christlikeness.

My Prayer Today:  Heavenly Father, … Oh, Lord, help us, as Your Body, to come together today, … and all days, … helping one another to grow in our faith and to glorify 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, February 27, 2016

February 27, 2016: Count Your Blessings

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2016 - Day 58 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a video of Guy Penrod singing the old hymn Count Your Blessings… Helping us to remember God’s blessings in the face of life’s challenges.


Highlight Passage:  Job 38:4 [NKJV] …
[GOD to Job] Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? … 
… Job begins to see the perspective on his life from GOD’S viewpoint.
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Highlight Context – Job, Chapters 37-40 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… God helps Job remember what is really important.
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Reference Passage #1 - 1st Kings 19:1-4 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… Elijah forgets how God worked miracles in his life in the face of fatigue and Jezebel’s pursuit.

Reference Passage #2 - Isaiah 6:1-5 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… Isaiah, even getting a vision of heaven, can only see how unclean he was.

Reference Passage #3 - Luke 5:4-8 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… Jesus performs a miracle of the fish catch; and all Peter can see is how much of a sinner he is.

Reference Passage #4 - 2nd Corinthians 12: 1-9 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… How quickly Paul forgot his vision of glory in the face of the thorn Jesus allowed Satan to bring into his life.

My Journal for Today:  Today’s Our Daily Bread author, Julie Ackerman Link, related a personal story to illustrate a very human tendency we all likely exhibit at times. She wrote: When I clean my house for a special event, I become discouraged because I think that guests won’t notice what I clean, only what I don't clean. This brings to mind a larger philosophical and spiritual question: Why do humans more quickly see what's wrong than what's right? We are more likely to remember rudeness than kindness. Crimes seem to receive more attention than acts of generosity. And disasters grab our attention more quickly than the profound beauty all around us. 

It’s true, isn’t it? Have you noticed in the news (papers or TV), how the headlines are usually always negative, maybe even horrible, events? And in the face of great challenges in life, how easy is it for us to forget the many blessings God may have showered on us in our past.

 Job was the classical biblical example of this, wasn’t he? Oh, yes, when Satan was allow by God to visit Job with a series of horrible challenges, Job did exhibit great faith; but as time unfolded, we see that Job faith began to unravel; and he began to challenge God with the very natural “WHY” questions. And finally, God gave Job a series of faith-building questions and Job was able to see that God was in control - in spite of all of his pain and anguish (see Job, Chapters 37-40).

 But Job wasn’t the only example in scripture of our human tendency to focus on the negative and forget the positive. And in the reference passages linked above, we see Elijah so quickly forgetting how God brought down fire on his enemies, as he desired to die after being pursued by Jezebel. … And we see Elijah, seeing only how unclean he was, in the face of God allowing the Prophet to see heaven. … And there was Peter who immediately focused on his own sinfulness when Jesus called him to be a disciple. … And finally, Paul, having been given a glimpse of glory, fell victim to a “thorn” and finally needed encouragement from Jesus Himself to lift his spirits. All of these episodes are linked above for your reading.

 But the question from today’s ODB is … can we do what Guy Penrod sings in the linked song today, … i.e., count our blessings in the face of life’s trials? Or do we focus so much on the negatives of life, we can’t see or remember God’s blessings?

 Take a few moments here and write down the three most significant blessings God has wrought in your life; and then see if any current challenges don’t pale by comparison.

My Prayer Today:  Heavenly Father, … Oh, my Lord, You have so blessed 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.

Friday, February 26, 2016

February 26, 2016: Not For Sissies!!

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2016 - Day 57  

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a video of Steven Curtis Chapman singing His Strength Is Perfect… declaring the reality of God’s strength being always there for weakened believers

 
Highlight Passage:  Isaiah 46:4 [NKJV] …  
41 Even in your old age, I am He, and even to gray hairs I will carry you! … 
… God is there to sustain us … yes, even when we’re gray and worn out.
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Highlight Context – Isaiah 46: 4-13 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… God’s encouragement for any who feel weakened in themselves
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Reference Passage #1 - Psalm 90:12 [NKJV] …  
12 So teach us to number our days, … that we may gain a heart of wisdom. 
 … God’s says “patiently!”

Reference Passage #2 - Proverbs 3:5-6 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… Avoiding the weakened self and relying on the perfect strength of the Savior.

Reference Passage #3 - 2nd Corinthians 12:9 [NKJV] …  
9 And He [Jesus] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in [your] weakness.” … 
… When we’re at our weakest, He is there with His strongest.

Reference Passage #4 - Philippians 4:13 [NKJV] …  
13 I can do all things through Christ Who gives me the strength. 
… No matter when I feel weak, He is my strength.  

My Journal for Today:  Today’s Our Daily Bread author, Lawrence Darmani, wrote about Billy Graham dealing with the challenges of old age. He wrote: “Growing old has been the greatest surprise of my life,” says Billy Graham in his book Nearing Home. "I am an old man now, and believe me, it's not easy." However, Graham notes, "While the Bible doesn't gloss over the problems we face as we grow older, neither does it paint old age as a time to be despised or a burden to be endured with gritted teeth.” 

And when I read that, from somewhere in my own old brain, I remembered an oft-quoted phrase that I often dredge up and use when I’m feeling a bit down-and-out with the aches and pains of old age: … Old age ain’t for sissies!! … And in my quiet time with God this morning, I did a little googling and found out that that quote was attributed to the sassy actress, Bette Davis, in her later years (see attached photo).

So, for any of my readers here that are in their later years, like yours truly, perhaps you’d agree with Bette … that old age produces challenges of weakness which are burdensome at best and at times almost overwhelming.

But long ago, when I was younger, my mentor, who was then about as old as I am now, told me to store up in my heart God’s truth about His strength when I was feeling weakened by life … whether by my own weaknesses or by the circumstances of the moment. Most of those memorized Scriptures are found above; and as I grow older, now well into my 70s, I find myself rehearsing these verses and relying on the strength of my Lord to do what Steven Curtis Chapman sings (linked above) … and that is to give me His perfect strength to cover my aging weakness.

I pray that you also have God’s strong truth to help you shore up your weakness … whether it’s aging or inability dealing with burdensome circumstances.

My Prayer Today:  Heavenly Father, … Oh, today and everyday I need 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, 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, February 25, 2016

February 25, 2016: Waiting for His "GO Light"

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2016 - Day 56  

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a video of Daniel O’Donnell singing Here I Am Lord… declaring the true believers desire to diligently follow the Lord in surrender to His will.


Highlight Passage:  Numbers 14:41-42 [NKJV] …  
41 And Moses said, “Now why do you transgress the command of the Lord? For this will not succeed. 42 Do not go up, lest you be defeated by your enemies, for the Lord is not among you. 
 … God, thru Moses, warned His people; … but NO, they wouldn’t listen.
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Highlight Context – Numbers 13:23-36, 14:39-45 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… God’s people just couldn’t wait patiently for God’s hand to protect them.
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Reference Passage #1 - Psalm 37: 7 [NKJV] …  
7 Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him. 
… God’s says “patiently!”

Reference Passage #2 - Psalm 119:105 [NKJV] …  
105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. 
… Let’s wait for the go-light … HIS go light!!

Reference Passage #3 - Proverbs 3:5-6 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… Avoiding impulsive, irresponsible choices.

Reference Passage #4 - Luke 9:23 [NKJV] …  
23 Then Jesus said to His followers, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” 
… If we move forward, are we following Him?

My Journal for Today:  Today’s Our Daily Bread author, Tim Gustafson, wrote of the horrible tragedy when our Challenger astronauts died because the shuttle crew were impatient and didn’t heed the warnings about the infamous o-rings. He wrote: On January 28, 1986, after five weather-related delays, the space shuttle Challenger lumbered heavenward amid a thunderous overture of noise and flame. A mere 73 seconds later, system failure tore the shuttle apart, and all seven crew members perished. … The disaster was attributed to an O-ring seal known to have vulnerabilities. Insiders referred to the fatal mistake as “go fever”—the tendency to ignore vital precautions in the rush to a grand goal. 

How often in life do we have “go-fever,” plunging ahead impatiently and not waiting on or ignoring the leading of God through His Holy Spirit. Certainly we have biblical evidence of how disastrous “go-fever” can be in the highlight account in Numbers 13-14, linked above, don’t we? Like God’s people then, now we too, all too often, want to control things on our own and we plunge ahead in life, with “go-fever,” and disaster is the result.

 Jesus warned his followers what it took to be His disciple (see Luke 9:23). It takes self denial; and patiently waiting on our Lord to lead us (see also Ps. 37:7 and Prov. 3:5-6).

 So, today, let’s avoid “GO-fever,” and wait on God to shine His light brightly on our path [see Ps. 119:105], so that we can clearly and diligently follow Him.

My Prayer Today:  Heavenly Father, … I pray it almost every day; … shine Your light brightly on my path so that I can’t help but see that it’s Your way, not my way, where I’m walking. … 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, February 24, 2016

February 24, 2016: Looking Forward Hopefully

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2016 - Day 55  

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a video of blind Christian singer, Gordon Mote, singing Don’t Let Me Miss the Glory… gloriously declaring the joy the hope we have in Christ … our Messiah … our Savior … our everlasting hope.

 
Highlight Passage:  Luke 2:25-26 [NKJV] …  
25 And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.
… The Holy Spirit resided in the hope of Simeon’s heart … to behold Messiah before he died. 
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Highlight Context – Luke 2: 21-35 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… Faithful Simeon was given the grand glimpse of glory by holding the baby Jesus in the Temple to fulfill God’s promise to him.
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Reference Passage #1 - Revelation 22:20 [NKJV] …  
6 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” … Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! 
… Oh yes, do so, come soon, King Jesus!!!

My Journal for Today:  Today’s Our Daily Bread author, David McCasland, writes of an unfinished painting by the Dutch Master, Rembrandt, which was found on his easel when he died (see attached photo). He wrote: When the great Dutch painter Rembrandt died unexpectedly at age 63, an unfinished painting was found on his easel. It focuses on Simeon’s emotion in holding the baby Jesus when He was brought to the temple in Jerusalem, 40 days after His birth. Yet the background and normal detail remain unfinished. Some art experts believe that Rembrandt knew the end of his life was near and—like Simeon—was ready to “be dismissed” (Luke 2:29). 

In meditating on the highlight passage today from Luke 2:21-35, one can only imagine the joy experienced by Simeon, a Godly Jew, who had been given a promise from God that he would not see death before beholding THE Messiah. And the glory Simeon must’ve felt when Mary laid the baby Jesus in his hands, there in the Temple where she and Joseph had brought him to be circumcised.

 I love the song, linked above, sung by one of my favorite Christian artists, Gordon Mote. I hope any reader here takes the time to use the link and hear Gordon singing of his desire to go through life with the hope of not missing the glory God has to show to us, which are, or will be, bare reflections of the same glory hoped for and experienced by Simeon … to be with and share place and time with Messiah.

 So, as we go through this day, perhaps God will show us a small experience or glimpse of His glory … maybe in the smile of a grandchild (oh, how I love those!!) … or the clean rain hitting our face as it rains here today … or a beautiful sunrise or sunset where you are … or … well, … don’t miss it when it happens! Because no matter what glimpse you get, it’s God showing us a sample of what our Messiah will show off when we’re with Him in glory.

 Oh, how I revel in the hope of Revelation 22:20 … Oh, yes, do so come soon, Lord Jesus!!!

My Prayer Today:  Heavenly Father, … Oh, the hope of being with You, Lord Jesus, one day!! … 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, February 23, 2016

February 23, 2016: Up A Tree

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2016 - Day 54  

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a video of Sandi Patty and Larnelle Harris singing I’ve Just Seen Jesus… gloriously declaring the joy of pursuing and seeing Jesus in our lives.


Highlight Passage:  Luke 19:2-3 [NKJV] …  
4 So he [Zacchaeus] ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him [Jesus], for He was going to pass that way. 
… Zacchaeus doing what it takes to see Jesus
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Highlight Context – Luke 19: 1-10 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… Zacchaeus desired desperately to see Jesus.
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Reference Passage #1 - John 6:66-69 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… When challenged by Jesus, the Disciples had to choose Whom they would follow.

Reference Passage #2 - Hebrews 11:6 [NKJV] …
  6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. 
… Pursuing Christ in faith will be rewarded for those, like Zacchaeus, who diligently pursue seeing Him for Whom He really is.

Reference Passage #3 - 1st Peter 5:5-7 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
 … Humility is the tree we must climb to see fully see and follow Jesus.

My Journal for Today:  Today’s Our Daily Bread author, Jennifer Benson Schuldt, told a personal story to highlight her teaching. She wrote: As a child, I loved to climb trees. The higher I climbed, the more I could see. Occasionally, in search of a better view, I might inch out along a branch until I felt it bend under my weight. Not surprisingly, my tree-climbing days are over. I suppose it isn’t very safe—or dignified. 

Schuldt’s primary teaching Scripture today came from the account of the hated tax-collector, Zacchaeus (in Luke 19, linked above), who desperately desired to see Jesus walking into his hometown of Jericho. So, being short of stature, he climbed a tree to see the Lord passing by. And Jesus noted him in the tree, and knowing his heart, invited Zaccheaus to come down and dine with Him; and from Zaccheaus’ sincere pursuit, in faith, he was saved that day.

 BTW, … I’ve seen that tree in Jericho (see attached photo). And according to archeo-biologists, that 2000+ year old Sycamore tree, which is still standing on the only road Jesus would have taken into Jericho that day, is very likely the very tree Zaccheaus claimed to climb to get a view of Jesus.

 And when I saw the tree on my only trip to the Holy Land, I was taken by the mental image of that little sinner, climbing up that tree to get one desperate look at Jesus. And it caused me ask myself, … what have I done in my life to do what Larnelle Harris and Sandi Patty sing about in the linked song today … to see and seek Jesus?

 Really, … I would declare to you that my being here this morning is Bill Berry, climbing up into a tree of life to get one little glimpse of the glory of my Lord through my prayer and pursuit of Him in Scripture. And each morning that I climb up in this tree of devotion, He shows up and invites me to get closer to Him … just as I feel His presence here this morning.

 My friend, what is standing in the way you seeing Jesus today? Is it pride or the pursuit of power or pleasure? God’s word declares that when we humble ourselves in diligently pursuing Him, … that He will reward our pursuits with His presence and His grace [see Heb. 11:6 and 1st Pet. 5:5-7].

 So, what tree can we climb today to see Jesus?

My Prayer Today:  Heavenly Father, … The view from this tree is great; and I can see You clearly 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, February 22, 2016

February 22, 2016: In Quiet Surrender

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2016 - Day 53  

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a video of the group Steven Curtis Chapman singing his song Be Still and Know… declaring the reality that our God is God; and we are not … that our God never never changes and we must always stand in awe of our Lord, … King Jesus!


Highlight Passage:  Psalm 46:10a [NKJV] …  
10 Be still and know that I am God, … 
… Surrendering to God as God . …
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Highlight Context – Psalm 46 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… God, through the Psalmist, commands are surrender to His majesty.
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Reference Passage #1 - Proverbs 3: 5-6 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK  
… Do we acknowledge that God is God and we are not? Only when we do, can He show us the way, … HIS WAY, … in life.

My Journal for Today:  Today’s Our Daily Bread author, Phillip Yancey, reminds his readers of a very salient truth in this hustle-bustle, fast-paced world. He wrote: Years ago I responded to letters within a couple of weeks and kept my correspondents happy. Then came the fax machine, and they seemed content with receiving a response within a couple of days. Today, with email, instant messaging, and mobile phones, a response is expected the same day! 

Yancey reminded me of a day, 55+ years ago, when my wife and I, then courting, were at a distance, trying to keep our love vibrant; and we were forced to exchange “snailmail” messages about every 10 days. We exchanged long, lovely letters, which brimmed of our love. Today, we’d likely be texting back and forth and expecting responses immediately every time we texted (see attached photo).

 In today’s highlight and oft quoted passage from Psalm 46a, … “Be still and know that I am God, …” … God asserts the attitude we must have in coming before His glorious majesty … that of SURRENDER. And in today’s song link above, Steven Curtis Chapman sings of that attitude in his rendering of that Psalm. Take that exhortation from God in several different translations of Scripture ...

[NKJV, NIV, ESV, NASB] … “Be still, and know that I am God ” 
[TLB] … “Be silent! … Know that I am God!” 
[MSG] … “Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at Me, your High God, …”

That phrase “be still” in Hebrew is the term, “rapha,” which can be translated “go weak,” or “be in surrender”, or “let it go!” And in getting the true sense of God’s command, thru the Psalmist in Ps. 46a, I like The Message version, which says, “Step out of the traffic” to take a “long, loving look” at God.

And it’s true, isn’t it? … Today, in this information saturated, fast-paced world, we often find it difficult to do what God is exhorting us to do … to get alone and surrender our self to the Savior.

My friend, that’s why I’m here today and will be here tomorrow … to get alone … in solitude … and invest quiet-time, getting to know my Lord more intimately through prayer and His word. And it’s why I’m exhorting any who read with me here today to find a niche of your own quiet-time to be alone with God and acknowledge Him as LORD of our lives.

We need to let Him know that He is God and we are not!!!

My Prayer Today:  Heavenly Father, … I stand aside, my LORD, in surrender to Your majesty!! … 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, February 21, 2016

February 21, 2016: Taking the High Ground

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2016 - Day 52  

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a video of the group Selah singing the old hymn Be Thou My Vision… declaring the reality of our victory won by using the vision of King Jesus

 
Highlight Passage:  Philippians 4:8 [NKJV] …  
8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. 
 … To thing God-honoring thoughts is to take the high ground of prayer.
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Highlight Context – Philippians 4:8-13 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… Paul wanted his Philippian friends to be able to see the world from a Godly perspective 
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Reference Passage #1 - Psalm 119: 105 [NKJV] …  
105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. 
… We all need to use His truth (i.e., the Bible) as our mental GPS to help us see His path.

Reference Passage #2 - Proverbs 3: 5-6 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… We can see God’s path only when we trust Him to lead us.

Reference Passage #3 - Ephesians 6:17-18 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… God’s #1 battle strategy is to take/hold the high ground of prayer

Reference Passage #4 - Colossians 3:1 [NKJV] …
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.
… Going to the high ground of prayer is seeking the things which are above.

My Journal for Today:  Today’s Our Daily Bread author, Dave Roper, uses a personal view to show how God’s high ground is the perspective we need to seek for daily spiritual warfare. He wrote: Our valley in Idaho can be very cold in the winter. Clouds and fog roll in and blanket the ground, trapping frigid air under warmer layers above. But you can get above the valley. There’s a road nearby that winds up the flank of Shafer Butte, a 7,500-foot mountain that rises out of our valley [see attached photo]. A few minutes of driving and you break out of the fog and emerge into the warmth and brilliance of a sunlit day. You can look down on the clouds that shroud the valley below and see it from a different point of view. 

I think all who read with me here would agree that daily life is a battle; and the best place to be to fight a battle is on the high ground, isn’t it? And the Apostle Paul was trying his best in some of prison epistles to help fellow Christians in his day to seek, take, and hold the high ground in spiritual warfare, … which is PRAYER.

 Paul wanted them (us) to know that the way we choose to think is that high ground strategy for battling our spiritual enemies; and when he wrote to Philippi, and Ephesus, and Colossi (and to all who would follow him in battle), he pointed them to use prayer as the high-ground battle strategy. Paul wanted his fellow Christians to realize, as Selah sings above, that the only way our vision would be through God’s eyes was when we’re thinking Godly thoughts (see Phil. 4:8) and the best way to choose to think with God, especially in daily spiritual warfare, was in prayer (see Eph. 6:17-18 AND Col. 3: 1).

 So, my friend, join me at the high ground today as we do battle together here. Pray with me and hold that high ground for our Lord.

My Prayer Today:  Heavenly Father, … I come with You, here today, Lord, to take and hold the high ground of thought life in prayer and to use Your vision for battle. … 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, February 20, 2016

February 20, 2016: Seeing With New Eyes

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2016 - Day 51  

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a video of Crystal Lewis and Ron Kenoly singing Beauty for Ashes… declaring the truth that God is always willing to help us see beauty in the face of the ashes of life.

 
Highlight Passage:  Psalm 77: 13 [NKJV] …  
13 Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary; Who is so great as our God? 
… Asaph finally sees God the way we all should see Him.
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Highlight Context – Psalm 77:1-15 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… The Psalmist shows several ways to look at life
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Reference Passage #1 - Psalm 119: 105 [NKJV] …   
105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. 
… We all need to use His truth (i.e., the Bible) to help us see His path.

Reference Passage #2 - Proverbs 3: 5-6[NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… We can see God’s path only when we trust Him to lead us.

Reference Passage #3 - Isaiah 26: 3 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK …  
You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, [LORD] because he trusts in You. 
… We see best and find peace through the eyes of trust.

Reference Passage #4 - Habakkuk 1:3; 2:1; 3:17-18 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… Habakkuk’s vision changes as He comes to seek God humbly and trust in Him.

My Journal for Today:  Today’s Our Daily Bread author, Anne Cetas, uses the nearsightedness of a tired mother [see attached photo] to teach about our clarity of vision as a Christian, coming through our degree of trust in God. The mother in according to Cetas, was tired and downhearted from her duties as a mom. And she went to church and got a new perspective on how to look at life. She heard of three ways to look at life through the eyes of Asaph, the author of Psalm 77 (see highlight passage linked above).

1.    Seeing life through HELPLESS eyes, … taking our hurts and hangups directly to God when we can’t see the forest for the trees. That’s what Asaph did in Psalm 77:7-9, being willing to honestly take the tough questions directly to God. It’s what the confused Prophet, Habakkuk, did as well (see Habakkuk 1:3).

2.  Seeing life through HONEST eyes, … being willing to try to see and remember what God has done for us in the past. Asaph (in Ps. 77: 10-12) stopped and remembered what God had done for His people. Habakkuk (in Chapter 2:1) also stopped to wait for God to show His ways to the Prophet. We all can see more and find more peace when we’re willing to wait on Him and to seek His mind (see Prov. 3: 5-6 and Isaiah 23:3).

3.   Seeing Life through HOPEFUL eyes, … choosing to trust in God and see Him though the eyes of faith rather than human reason. Asaph (see Ps. 77: 13-14) came to the place of simply trusting God by choosing to recognize and rely on His greatness and promises, … as did Habakkuk as well in Hab. 3:17-18. And when we are willing to view life through the hopeful eyes of faith, nothing can steal our joy.

 How about it, my following friend? How are we seeing life these days [?] … Through the eyes of fear or faith; … through the eyes of worry or worship, … through the eyes of confusion or clarity?  I pray it's the latter in each case.

My Prayer Today:  Heavenly Father, … Shine a light on my path clearly, O Lord, as You promise in Ps. 119:105, so that I can see and follow Your path. … 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, February 19, 2016

February 19, 2016: Trusting Anyway

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2016 - Day 50  

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a video of Don Moen singing the old hymn Trust and Obey… declaring the reality of our need to trust in God no matter the circumstances of life, … the only way to be happy in our relationship with Christ.


Highlight Passage:  Habakkuk 3: 17-18 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
 … Habakkuk learned that no event can steal his joy as long as He trusts in his God.
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Highlight Context – Habakkuk, Chapter 3 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
 … Habakkuk comes to faith, overcoming his fears, and trusting in His God.
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 Reference Passage #1 - Isiah 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 lift you up with My righteous right hand. 
… Trust and obey … there is no other way … especially when we’re out of control … to have faith in God’s control.

Reference Passage #2 - Matthew 11: 28-30 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
 … Jesus invites any and all to come to Him when our burdens are too heavy.

Reference Passage #3 - 2nd Corinthians 12: 9-10 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… We all need God’s enabling/empowering and sufficient grace to help lift us up in our moments of fear or weakness.

Reference Passage #4 - Hebrews 13: 5 [NKJV] …  
5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
… Faithful and true … because God will never forsake us …

Reference Passage #5 - 1st Peter 5:6-7 [NKJV] …  
6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. 
… No mater what the circumstances, we need to humbly trust in our God.

My Journal for Today:  Today’s Our Daily Bread author, Poh Fang Chia, teaches about trusting God and holding on to our faith, … even when we see tragedy coming. He wrote: Life had been going along so well, when it was abruptly interrupted and forever changed without warning. … Tragedy can come in many forms—the loss of a loved one, an illness, the loss of wealth or our livelihood. And it can happen to anyone at any time. 

I think of an event which occurred at night on Palm Sunday in 1965 near in my home town, … when my Aunt and Uncle were driving into their driveway; and they heard a “freight-train” noise as they looked up to see a tornado obliterated their home. They were miraculously saved from death; but they could do nothing to save their home on that devastating night. Their home and farm was gone in an act of God they certainly didn’t desire but one which certainly tested their faith.

In the Old Testament, the writings of the Prophet Habakkuk carry a message with which we can all identify and from which we can all learn. And that would most certainly be true for my Aunt and Uncle in dealing with the aftermath of that Palm Sunday tornado. Habakkuk was a Prophet during the times of Jeremiah and Daniel when Jews, faithful to God, watched helplessly as the people turned to idol worship and debauchery and as the Babylonians, under Nebuchadnezzar, were about to overtake Jerusalem, which ultimately occurred in 605 BC.

And in those times, Habakkuk had a crisis of faith, … confused in seeing His covenant God allow what was going on in the Prophet’s world, … as well as seeing that God would allow such an evil people as the Babylonians to capture God’s holy temple as well as His chosen peoples. But we know from Habakkuk’s book and song that the Prophet went from worry to worship and from fear to faith, teaching all of God’s people what is sung in today’s linked song … “that there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, than to trust and obey.” 

I hope we all take in today’s teaching and meditate on the Scriptures above, … with the assurance that our God is always in control and well never forsake any believer in Christ who trusts in our Lord.

My Prayer Today:  Heavenly Father, … Lift us up today, Lord … With all that is taking over our world, we need 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, February 18, 2016

February 18, 2016: Renewal In Christ

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2016 - Day 49  

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a video of Chris Rice singing Come To Jesus… declaring truth of God’s eternal promise to be there for His beloved in times of need … for us to come to our Savior for His strength when we are weak.


Highlight Passage:   Luke 9: 11 [NKJV] …  
11 But when the multitudes knew it, they followed Him; and He received them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who had need of healing. 
… Jesus was a “rock star” of His day; and the people flocked to see Him perform miracles of healing … to be fed by His charisma.
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Highlight Context – Luke 9:10-17 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK  …  
… The multitudes followed Jesus to be fed by His miracles.
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Reference Passage #1 - Matthew 11: 28-30 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK  
… Jesus invites any and all to come to Him when our burdens are too heavy.

Reference Passage #2 - Mark 6: 44-46 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… After Jesus feeds the multitudes …goes to a quiet, high place to be alone with His Father, Knowing that His disciples would need Him in the storm they were about to face.

Reference Passage #3 - John 6:1-14, 15 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… Jesus feeds the multitudes … then needs to be alone with His Father before going out to meet the needs of His Disciples in the impending storm - see John 6:15

Reference Passage #4 - 2nd Corinthians 12: 9-10 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… We all need God’s enabling/empowering grace to help lift us up in our moments of weakness.

My Journal for Today:  Today’s Our Daily Bread author, David McCasland, teaches about the need for solitude and renewal. He wrote: Comedian Fred Allen said, “A celebrity is a person who works hard all his life to become well-known, then wears dark glasses to avoid being recognized.” Fame often brings loss of privacy along with a relentless frenzy of attention. … When Jesus began His public ministry of teaching and healing, He was catapulted into the public eye and thronged by people seeking help. Crowds followed Him wherever He went. But Jesus knew that having regular time alone with God was essential to maintaining strength and perspective. 

The scriptures, highlighted and referenced above, show one such instance (see also the attached photo) where literally thousands had flocked to a hillside near Capernaum during Jesus’ ministry, to see this Spirit-led “rock-star” of His day, THE ONE some were saying was “The Messiah.” And in this one scenario, we know from these Gospel accounts above that Jesus fed almost 10,000 people one day with just a few loaves and fishes. And then He sent His inner disciples out on the waters of the Sea of Galilee to face a storm. But in-between these events, we see that the celebrity Messiah needed some alone time with His Heavenly Father; and He went up to a high-place to find solitude from the multitudes … to be alone and to receive regeneration from God, The Holy Spirit.

 If even Jesus needed some solitude … some times during His ministry to be refreshed and fed by God’s Spirit, … don’t you think we also need to get away from the madding times of our day to be alone and receive God’s empowering grace [see also Paul’s teaching in 2nd Cor.: 12:9-10 when he had a time of weakness]?

 Why do you think I’m here today, … as I was yesterday, … and as I will be tomorrow? It’s so that I can be alone with my Lord and receive His refreshing, renewing, and regenerating grace. Like Chris Rice sings in the linked song today, I come here to to be with my Jesus; and He is here for me every day.

My Prayer Today:  Heavenly Father, … Fill my spiritual tank again for the walk ahead 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.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

February 17, 2016: “Whosoever” Is Me

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2016 - Day 48  

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a video of Steve Green singing People Need The Lord… declaring truth of God’s great commission … that we need to GO and share the Gospel with all the “whosoevers” of the world.

 
Highlight Passage:   Matthew 28: 19a [NKJV] …  
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, … 
… To share the good news with EVERYONE
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Highlight Context – Matthew 28:16-20 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK  …  
… Christ’s great commission for His disciples (all of us) is to “GO” and “make disciples” of all the “whosoevers” in the world
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Reference Passage #1 - John 3: 16 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
…That “WHOSOEVER” believes in Him will have everlasting life … WHOSOEVER!!!

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.” 
 … God gives Joshua the success formal in following His will.

My Journal for Today:  Today’s Our Daily Bread author, Bill Crowder, used an interesting story to illustrate his teaching on the “Great Commission.” He wrote: Charlie Sifford is an important name in American sports. He became the first African-American playing member of the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) Tour, joining a sport that, until 1961, had a “whites only” clause in its by-laws. Enduring racial injustice and harassment, Sifford earned his place at the game’s highest level, won two tournaments, and in 2004 was the first African-American inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. Charlie Sifford opened the doors of professional golf for players of all ethnicities. 

When I was a young golfer in High School and College, I was angered and inspired, as with many stories of personal sacrifice in the 60s, as the truth about racism became known and the doors began to open to the “whosoevers” of the world, like Charlie Sifford. Doors of opportunity began to be opened to men like Sifford as the walls of racism were torn down. And the beat of that drum still goes on today.

 And really that’s the essence of what Jesus declared to His disciples when our Lord left this earth to return to heaven. In His charge to be His witnesses, in Acts 1:8 and in the Great Commission (see the highlight passage above), Jesus said we, who call ourselves by His Name, were to carry the good news of the GOSPEL to all the “whoseovers” of the world.

 And we read who the “whosoevers” were intended to be in John 3: 16, don’t we? And when it comes to sharing Christ’s message of redemption and salvation, NO ONE is to be excluded!! … And therefore, that included - PRAISE THE LORD - me! Yes, as the name card photo attached indicates, … My name is “WHOSOEVER!” … And so is yours! Yes, … our Lord came to save all the “whosoevers” of this world; and then He charges all the “whosoevers” He has saved to go out and share His good news with all the other “whosoevers” of the world.

 And maybe we’ll have an opportunity, or a divine appointment, to meet a “whosoever” today and share our Lord’s message with them.

My Prayer Today:  Heavenly Father, … Let me share You with a “whosoever” 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, February 16, 2016

February 16, 2016: God’s Guiding Light

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2016 - Day 47  

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a video of Amy Grant leading worship and singing Thy Word Is a Lamp Unto My Feet… declaring the power of God’s word to guide our footsteps in life.

 
Highlight Passage:   Deuteronomy [NKJV] …
  6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 
…Yes, on our hearts!
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Highlight Context – Deuteronomy 6:1-12 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK  …  
… God desires that we write His word into the depths of our heart and teach them to our children … and then live by the light provided by His truth.
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Reference Passage #1 - 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. 
 … God gives Joshua the success formal in following His will.

Reference Passage #2 - Psalm 119: 9-11 and 105 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… He will show us the way … by having His word imprinted on our hearts …

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 provides the essence of His presence ... by knowing and living by His commands.    

My Journal for Today:  Today’s Our Daily Bread author, Lawrence Darmani, taught a truth that all Christians should take to heart; and it is God’s prescription for being successful in finding and following His will.

 Years ago, a mentor of mine, realized what a biblical illiterate I was; and he asked me if I desired to know and follow God’s will for my life. Of course, I replied affirmatively; and He showed me what Lawrence Darmani taught in today’s ODB entry … that God’s word, if imbedded deeply into our hearts, will allow us to see and follow God’s will for our lives.

 So, my mentor took me on an 18 month quest to memorize God’s word topically; and when I went through that process, using the Topical Memory System, available from NavPress (SEE THIS LINK), my life changed for the Godly good like no other discipline I had ever undertaken. But when you take in the Scriptures from God through Moses and Joshua and Jesus above, this should not be surprising.

 God promises that when we fill our hearts with His truth (i.e., the Bible), He will use it as a light to guide our path (see Ps. 119: 105); and beyond that, when we keep His word ever before us (see Joshua 1:8), God will use it to help us be successful in carrying out His will for our lives. And Jesus, Himself, promised to reveal Himself to anyone who knew and followed His commands [see John 14:21].

 So, it’s up to us, isn’t it. If we want to know His will and follow it, the prescription was laid out to His people (you and me) by Moses (see the Deuteronomy 6 passage above); and all we need to do is imbed His word so deeply in our hearts that we will be compelled to follow it all our lives.

 That’s why I’m here today; … and why I will be here tomorrow.

My Prayer Today:  Heavenly Father, … Shine a light brightly on my path, O Lord, from 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, 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, February 15, 2016

February 15, 2016: Always Our Friend

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2016 - Day 46  

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a video of Wayne Watson, singing his song, Friend of a Wounded Heart… declaring the promise of God’s closeness when we’re in the deepest places of loneliness in our lives.


Highlight Passage:   Psalm 34: 18 [NKJV] …  
18 The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and delivers them out of their troubles. … And let us never forget!!! 
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Highlight Context – Psalm 34:15-22 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK  …  
 … God is always near and will reach out to those afflicted with loneliness
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Reference Passage #1 - Matthew 11:28-30 [NKJV] …  
28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
… He is always there to lift up the dispirited and lonely.

Reference Passage #2 - Hebrews 13: 5 [NKJV] …  
5 … He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 
… Always with us … ALWAYS!!!

My Journal for Today:  Today’s Our Daily Bread author, Dave Branon, reflected on a friend who was widowed suddenly and how God met her in her loneliness. He wrote: When a good friend suddenly lost her husband to a heart attack, we grieved with her. As a counselor, she had comforted many others. Now, after 40 years of marriage, she faced the unwelcome prospect of returning to an empty house at the end of each day. … In the midst of her grief, our friend leaned on the One who “is close to the brokenhearted.” As God walked with her through her pain, she told us she would choose to “wear the label widow proudly,” because she felt it was the label God had given her. 

I have several friends in our church who have lost spouses in the last couple of years; and in each case, the widows or widowers who have dealt with the grief more successfully are those, in my estimation, who have deeper and more abiding relationships with Christ. And they also respond more readily to the caring friendships of other Christians who are trying to come along side them in their time of grief or loss.

 For those of us who’re happily married, the prospect of being left alone with the sudden loss of a spouse is always there; and those with close, loving relationships with their loved ones are especially vulnerable to the grief following such a loss. But for them, or for a single person who loses a parent or close sibling or, God-forbid, a child, I believe seeking, finding, and holding on to a close and abiding friendship with Christ is the best proactive prescription to deal with the loss of a loved one should it happen.

 And Jesus has promised to be our friend, hasn’t He? He has promised ALWAYS to be there to help us carry the burdens of loneliness and loss [see Scriptures above]. And when we have a deep and abiding closeness to our Savior, we can know that He’ll always be there to be the Friend of a Wounded Heart … as Wayne Watson sings in the linked song above.

 So, if you need Him, my friend, go to Him. Let Him lift you up with His love. He’s there for you and will ALWAYS be there for you.

My Prayer Today:  Heavenly Father, … Thank You, Lord, for being my friend, especially when I’m feeling alone. … 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, February 14, 2016

February 14, 2016: So Easily Forgetful

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2016 - Day 45  

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a video of the group 3rd Day, singing the old hymn, Blessed Assurance… declaring what should be the story of all who declare Jesus to be Savior and Lord … blessed assurance … but oh how easy it is to forget in midst of trials.

 
Highlight Passage:   Hebrews 12: 28 [NLT] …  
28 Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe. 
 … And let us never forget!!!
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Highlight Context – Hebrews 12: 18-29 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK  …  
… God through this author helps believers remember our everlastingly merciful and protecting God. 
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Reference Passage #1 - Romans 8: 32 [NKJV] …  
32  He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 
… And don’t forget it!!!

Reference Passage #2 - Hebrews 13: 5 [NKJV] …  
5 … be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 
… How quickly we forget His promise.

My Journal for Today:  Today’s Our Daily Bread author, Randy Kilgore, fearful that a new used car would not be as safe as his previous car, was awakened to remember God as his windshield wipers gave him vision in a storm [see photo].

Kilgore wrote: The windshield wipers slamming back and forth trying to keep up with the pelting rain only added to my irritation as I adjusted to driving the used car I had just purchased—an old station wagon with 80,000+ miles and no side-impact airbag protection for the kids. … “Okay, God,” I actually said out loud, “now I can’t even protect my kids from side-impact crashes. If anything happens to them, let me tell You what I’m going to do . . .” … Thwip, thwap. Thwip, thwap. (Gulp.) . . . I was instantly ashamed. In the previous 2 years God had spared both my wife and my son from almost certain death, and yet here I was whining about “things” I had lost. Just like that I’d learned how quickly I could grow ungrateful to God. 

It’s true, isn’t it? How quickly we can become self indulgent in the midst of the storms of life and forget the very nature of our God! Circumstances change; and sometimes they can be almost unbearable; but God never changes, does He?

Today I needed that reminder. No matter where I’m traveling down the road of life, … even through storms where I have trouble seeing ahead (see attached photo), as the group Third Day sings (linked above), I ALWAYS have the blessed assurance that “Jesus is mine!” And He will never leave me, nor forsake me (see Hebrews 12:28 and 13:5).

 NO … NEVER! 

My Prayer Today:  Heavenly Father, … Thank You, Lord for always being there for 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, 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, February 13, 2016

February 13, 2016: Glowing for Him

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2016 - Day 44  

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a video of Jason Gray, singing his song, Glow In The Dark… Joyously singing how we can break through the darkness of this world by shining the light God’s Spirit is building into our hearts as Christians.


Highlight Passage:   1st Corinthians 12:4 [NLT] …  
4 There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. 
 … Each Christian has something special, imparted into our new nature to shine forth Christ in/for His Kingdom.
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Highlight Context – 1st Corinthians 12:4-14 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK  …    … All of God’s chosen are special in His Kingdom, with special gifts, molded into the character of each Christian to allow that one to function in a unique way for God’s glory.
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Reference Passage #1 - Ephesians 1:3-4 [NLT] …  
3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. 4 Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. 
… We are his chosen ones, endowed with spirit-imparted blessings so has to be united in Spirit with our Lord.

Reference Passage #2 - Ephesians 4: 7 [NLT] …
 7 However, He has given each one of us a special gift through the generosity of Christ. 
… At least one gift, maybe more, … to be used for His glory.

My Journal for Today:  Today’s Our Daily Bread author, Dennis Fishers, illustrated his teaching with a story of a young man who discovered the special beauty in snowflakes. He wrote: Fifteen-year-old Wilson Bentley was captivated by the intricate beauty of snowflakes. He looked with fascination through an old microscope his mother had given him and made hundreds of sketches of their remarkable designs, but they melted too quickly to adequately capture their detail. Several years later, in 1885, he had an idea. He attached a bellows camera to the microscope and, after much trial and error, took his first picture of a snowflake. During his lifetime Bentley would capture 5,000 snowflake images and each one was a unique design. He described them as … “ice flowers.” 

Like snowflakes, each of God’s chosen ones, like you and me, as born-again in Christ, have been made special to do what Jason Gray sings about in his song, linked above, … to Glow In The Dark. Each of us is unique in God’s kingdom, … and we’ve been given special gifts so as to function as special lights in this very dark world, … shining Christ’s light for all to see Him … for His glory [see the Scriptures referenced above].

The question I had to ask myself from today’s ODB was/is … Am I living today as a glowing light for Christ in this ever darkening world? … Because my God has given me what I need to glow in the dark for His glory. So, … I pray …

My Prayer Today:  Heavenly Father, … I pray that I shine Your light, even as I write here today … and tomorrow … 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, 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, February 12, 2016

February 12, 2016: Heart Knowledge

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2016 - Day 43  

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a video of the group Hillsong leading in worship, singing their song, I Surrender… singing of the attitude every Christian should have when we come to our Lord or serve Him … the attitude of total surrender.

 
Highlight Passage:   John 8: 31-32 [NKJV] …
  31 Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. 32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 
… We become His disciples when we move our knowledge of Him from our head to our hearts in surrender to Him. And when we do, we walk free from the shackles of sin.
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Highlight Context – John 8: 31-47 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK  …  
… Jesus teaching religious leaders the difference between their head knowledge and what it took to be His disciple.
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Reference Passage #1 - Genesis 15:6 [NKJV] …  
6 And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith. 
… Jesus, in the John 8 passage above was trying to show the Pharisees that their head knowledge of the law was not enough for them to live as believers. They had do believe as did their father, Abraham.

Reference Passage #2 - Luke 9: 23 [NLT] …  
23 Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. …”
… Once again, my oft quoted passage of Jesus showing His followers what it takes to be His disciple.

Reference Passage #3 - John 14:21 [NLT] …  
21 Those who accept My commandments and obey them are the ones who love Me. And because they love Me, My Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”
 … Jesus teaches that it takes living heart knowledge of His commandments to show our love for Him by living out His teachings. Knowing them is one thing … living them is where the rubber meets the road.

My Journal for Today:  Today’s Our Daily Bread author, Tim Gustafson, quoted two reputable sources in his teaching head knowledge versus heart knowledge. He wrote: In his book on language, British diplomat Lancelot Oliphant (1881–1965) observed that many students give correct answers on tests but fail to put those lessons into practice. “Such undigested knowledge is of little use,” declared Oliphant. … Author Barnabas Piper noticed a parallel in his own life: “I thought I was close to God because I knew all the answers,” he said, “but I had fooled myself into thinking that was the same as relationship with Jesus.” 

And these two quotes reminded me of a personal incident when my discipleship mentor once asked me what my #1 goal was as a Christian. Well, remembering an answer to that question in the Presbyterian catechism I had once learned as a boy, I responded, from memory, “To glorify God.” But my mentor told me I was close; … but the life-applying answer to the question was “to know God.” He reasoned with me that until I could/would really know my Lord, I could never really serve Him and glorify His Name.

 And that’s when I learned that there was a difference between HEAD KNOWLEDGE and HEART KNOWLEDGE, where the former is knowing OF God and the latter is really knowing the essence of the One Who had saved me and was sanctifying me. And my mentor wanted to teach me … that … To KNOW God is to LOVE God; … to LOVE God is to OBEY God; … to OBEY God is to SERVE God; … and to SERVE God is to GLORIFY God. So, since then, it has been my #1 goal as a Christian to get to know my God more today than yesterday … and even more tomorrow than today. 

My friend, I hope you know that is why I’m here today, blogging about what my Lord has given to me from His word so that I can know Him more intimately. And because of it, I do know Him just a bit more today than yesterday. How about you? What can we do tomorrow which will show the attitude of surrender (see the song linked above) we all need to get to know our God more deeply than ever.

My Prayer Today:  Heavenly Father, … Thank you for showing up today to reveal more of Yourself to my surrendered heart. … 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, February 11, 2016

February 11, 2016: No Keeping Score

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2016 - Day 42  

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a video of the blind Christian singer, Gordon Mote, singing his song, If They Could See You Thru My Eyes… singing of the love he holds for his wife, even though he can’t physically see her face. And this is the type of love we should have for our Lord ALWAYS, the One Who sees everything in the love He holds for us.


Highlight Passage:   Ephesians 4:32 [NKJV] …  
32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. 
… Seeing the best in the beauty of the love God holds for us and holding that love out to others. 
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Highlight Context – Ephesians 4:25-32 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK  …  
 … Jesus is THE MAN!!! … He’s everything!! … Before anything!
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Reference Passage #1 - Psalm 103:12 [NKJV] …  
12 He has removed our sins as far as the east is from the west. 
… And this is how much God loves us … showing us how much we should love others, especially those close to us.

Reference Passage #2 - 1st Corinthians 13:4-7 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK 
… Especially note verse 5 “[Love] keeps no record of being wronged.” … Loving others the way God loves us.

My Journal for Today:  Today’s Our Daily Bread author, Joe Stowell used a personal story to illustrate how all married Christians should never keep score in their relationships. Stowed wrote: At his son’s wedding reception, my friend Bob offered advice and encouragement to the newlyweds. In his speech he told of a football coach in a nearby town who, when his team lost a game, kept the losing score on the scoreboard all week to remind the team of their failure [see attached photo]. While that may be a good football strategy, Bob wisely advised, it’s a terrible strategy in marriage. When your spouse upsets you or fails you in some way, don’t keep drawing attention to the failure. Turn off the scoreboard. 

Okay, … followers here with me. It’s coming up on the day of love, … Valentine’s Day. And on this day we think about those close to us whom we love the most, … perhaps a spouse, a child, a sibling, or a dear friend. … And I’m one of those “lucky” ones (tho I don’t believe “luck” exists). I have someone whom God has given me to love that really fits the mold of that love chapter (see 1st Cor. 13 linked above) where God spells out the character of His love for us [i.e., “agape” love] and how we should choose to give that type of love to others.

 It’s the type of love God shows for all of HIS DEAR ONES, separating us from our sinfulness as far as the east is from the west (see Psalm 103:12). And I pray that everyone reading here has someone to love like that … like one of my favorite singer/song writers, Gordon Mote, has in the love he wrote about for his wife. Please take the time to use the link above and hear Gordon singing his love song to his wife.

 That’s the kind of love I have for the little Dutch treat God brought into my life well over 50 years ago now; and I pray that I can always see her the way Gordon Mote, though blind, sees his wife. It’s the way my God, with His all-seeing, all-knowing sight, sees me.

My Prayer Today:  Heavenly Father, … Thank You for seeing me, knowing me, and still loving 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, 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.