Thursday, March 31, 2016

March 31, 2016: Following Him

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2016 - Day 91 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …   Please take the time to take in a video of Daniel O’Donnell’s lovely tenor voice singing, Here I Am, Lord, declaring the intent of any Christian to follow Christ anyway, anytime, anywhere.

Highlight Passage:  Mark 2: 17 [NLT] …  
17 When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”
 … Jesus came to served the sick, not the well, and that even included sinners like Levi. 
Highlight Context – Mark 2:13-17 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK 
… Levi, the tax collector, was called by Jesus and he followed Christ, renamed by Jesus to become “Matthew,” the Apostle whose name means “gift from God”

Reference Passage #1 - Luke 5:27-32; 9:23 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK 
… Luke’s version of Jesus calling Levi to follow Him; and Jesus’ command to all who would follow Him.

Reference Passage #2 - 2nd Corinthians 5:17 [NKJV] …  
17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 
…The degree to which we surrender to Christ’s pursuit of our spirit is the degree to which he can reshape us into His image.

Reference Passage #3 - Acts, Chapter 9 [NLT] …USE THIS LINK 
… Read and meditate on how Jesus came after the ultimate sinner, … Saul of Tarsus

My Journal for Today:  Today’s Our Daily Bread author, Marvin Williams, used the story of Jesus calling out the tax collector, Levi [see attached photo], to become Matthew, a beloved Disciple of our Lord. Williams wrote: Two thousand years ago, Jesus came to call the spiritually unfit to follow Him. Levi was one such person. Jesus saw him sitting in his tax collector’s booth and said, “Follow me” (Mark 2:14). His words captured Levi’s heart, and he followed Jesus. Tax collectors were often greedy and dishonest in their dealings and were considered religiously unclean. When the religious leaders saw Jesus having dinner at Levi’s house with other tax collectors, they asked, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” (2:16). Jesus replied, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (2:17). 

And as I meditated on the ODB entry today, I vividly recalled how my Lord came after me, … a reprobate, recalcitrant sinner … calling myself an “agnostic,” though I was really an atheist, doing all I could to tear down the faith of Christians around me. And I was a sinner, deeply addicted to sex, wallowing in the pursuit of impurity and infidelity. And yet Jesus became my pursuer … and ultimately my healer (i.e., Jehovah Rapha), … just as he was for Levi, the tax collector (see Mark 2 and Luke 5 linked above), … as well as Saul of Tarsus, who was a persecutor and killer of Christians (see Acts, Chapter 9 above).

Perhaps you were one of those, like me, who was pursued and broken, and now is being reshaped by God’s Spirit. And you know that Jesus lives up to His reputation as “the Hound of Heaven.” On the other hand, maybe you were one of those fortunate ones who came to follow Christ as Lord and Savior at a very young age as my grandkids have/are. If so, following Christ has been a lifelong pursuit; and so I say “HALLELUJAH” … for you.

 So, my fellow Christian, … I’ve now become addicted to my pursuit of Christ, … as evidenced by my being here day-after-day-after-day, gleaning direction and joy from God’s word and blogging it for others to read, … like you today. But having been a flagrant unbeliever, like Levi and Saul of Tarsus, I truly appreciate how Jesus comes after even the worst of sinners; and He’s willing to lead a Levi or a Saul, and yes, even a Bill Berry, out of the pits of sin and heal us with His Spirit to become reflective images of our Lord and Savior.

 And if you’re one of those, like me, join me in singing along with Daniel O’Donnell in the linked song today, Here I Am Lord.

My Prayer Today:  Heavenly Father, … Yes, Lord, here I am … today and all days … to follow 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.

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