Friday, December 15, 2017

December 15, 2017 … My Super-Hero Savior

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 349 

Devotional Song: … GO TO THIS LINK …   Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of the acapella group Pentatonix singing a contemporary version of the old Christmas classic … Joy To The World … singing of the joy we should feel, in this Advent season, … that God would send us the ultimate Super-Hero to save mankind thru His free gift of King Jesus, … born incognito in a manger.


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Highlight Verse[s]: John 1:14 [NLT] … 14 So the Word became human [or “flesh"] and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness [or “truth and grace”]. And we have seen His glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. 
… Jesus is our Super-Hero Savior!!
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Highlight Passage [context]: John 1:1-5, 9-14 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Jesus came to save us all from ourselves!!
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Reference Passage : … Isaiah 9:6-7 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… The prophesy of the coming Super-Hero Savior … 700+ years before He came.

Reference Passage : … Philippians 2:6-11 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… And our Super-Hero came by setting aside His majesty to humbly show Himself in a manger and then go to a cross to save all of those willing to receive His free gift of grace.

Reference Passage : … 2nd Timothy 4:18[NLT] … 18 Yes, and the Lord will deliver me from every evil attack and will bring me safely into his heavenly Kingdom. All glory to God forever and ever! Amen. 
 …Yes, as King Jesus was for Paul, He is my Super-Hero … Who has saved me from my self and is taking me with Him to glory. … HALLELUJAH!!!

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, David C McCasland, used a modern-day movie hero to illustrate how God sent the ultimate super-hero in His Son, Jesus, to be the King Who would save the world. The ODB author wrote: As Star Wars fans around the world eagerly await the release of Episode 8, “The Last Jedi,” [see photo] people continue to analyze the remarkable success of these films dating back to 1977. Frank Pallotta, media reporter for CNNMoney, said that Star Wars connects with many who long for “a new hope and a force of good at a time when the world needs heroes.” 
At the time of Jesus’s birth, the people of Israel were oppressed and longing for their long-promised Messiah. Many anticipated a hero to deliver them from Roman tyranny, but Jesus did not come as a political or military hero. Instead, He came as a baby to the town of Bethlehem. As a result, many missed who He was. 

And I find it interesting that the Star-Wars phenomena in the last decade or so, along with the many DC Comics movies, play to our need, as humans, to seek a super-hero to save us from ourselves. But God, in His eternal plan, put the ultimate Super-Hero in a manger in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago to be our Savior! In that regard, that King, born in a stable, is the first and the last Jedi Knight Who has saved us from our humanity.

But this Super-Hero baby confused the people in the first century AD, because they were looking, as many are now, for a super-strong image-bearer to be their (our) savior. But, as Pentatonix sings in the linked song, “Joy To the Word!”

Yes, … our Super-Hero has come; and, as we read in the Scriptures above, He did His Super-Hero work on the cross so that we can be saved from our selves for eternity.

I can only pray that any reader here believes - completely and utterly - in our ultimate Jedi Savior; … that HE IS KING JESUS!!!

My Prayer Today: Abba Father, … King Jesus, … Precious Spirit … O Lord, You are my HERO … and You came to save me from myself. HALLELUJAH!! … Amen

Blogger Note:  Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online devotional blog entitled Our Daily Bread, 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, December 14, 2017

December 14, 2017 … Here I Am … Send Me!

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 348 

Devotional Song: … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of images and lyrics from Kari Jobe singing … You Are For Me … poignantly and powerfully singing of the reality that our Lord will always be there for us … no matter what we face in life.


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Highlight Verse[s]: Joshua 10b-11 [NLT] … 10 … Today I am eighty-five years old.  11 I am as strong now as I was when Moses sent me on that journey, and I can still travel and fight as well as I could then. 
… Caleb knew that His God would be with him for the remainder of his life; and so he knew that he could serve his Lord.
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Highlight Passage [context]: Joshua 14:7-15 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Caleb, at 85, still knew that he could serve His Lord.
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Reference Passage : … Isaiah 6:8 [NLT] … 8 Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” … I said, “Here I am. Send me.”. 
 … The question is how we will answer God’s call to serve Him.

Reference Passage : … Philippians 4:11-13 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… No matter what the circumstances in life, our Lord is always there to give us the strength to serve Him.

Reference Passage : … 2nd Corinthians 12:9 [NLT] … 9 Each time He said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 
 …Jesus reminded Paul that God’s strength would always be there to cover his (our) weakness.

Reference Passage : … Hebrews 13:5b [NLT] … 5  … “ I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” [from Deut. 31:6] 
…We can ALWAYS rely on God to be there for us and with us.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Linda Washington, used a story about God’s servant, Caleb, who, at 85 still had the faith to take on whatever God would lay before him. The ODB author wrote: As I’ve grown older, I’ve noticed more joint pain, especially when cold weather hits. Some days, I feel less like a conqueror and more like someone conquered by the challenges of becoming a senior citizen. 
That’s why my hero is an older man named Caleb—the former spy sent by Moses to scout out Canaan, the Promised Land (Num. 13–14). 

As I write this, just last week I turned 74; and there are times I identify with what the ODB author writes about feeling my age and weakness. But, like Caleb in the highlight passage and in today’s ODB entry, I’m reminded that no matter how creaky these old bones are, I can stand up (as in the photo) and realize that I serve a God that is so big and so willing to give me the strength to cover my weaknesses [see the reference scriptures above].

As Kari Jobe sings in the linked song, my God is with me! And in Him and for Him, I can know that (as in Heb. 13:5) my God will NEVER leave me or forsake me. But with Him, “I can do all things through Christ, Who gives me the strength.”

So, no matter what we face today, let’s go out there, and serve our Lord just as Caleb knew he could.

My Prayer Today: Abba Father, … King Jesus, … Precious Spirit … O Lord, just as Isaiah declared to You, I declare, … “Here I am, … send 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.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

December 13, 2017 … It’s All His Doing!

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 347 

Devotional Song: … GO TO THIS LINK …   Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of images and thoughts from Natalie Grant and Dennis Jernigan singing his song … You Are My All In All … poignantly and powerfully singing of the reality that without our Lord, we are nothing!


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Highlight Verse[s]: 1st Corinthians 11:8 [NLT] … 9 For I am the least of all the apostles. In fact, I’m not even worthy to be called an apostle after the way I persecuted God’s church. 
… Even when Paul compared himself with his fellow Apostles, he recognized his own weaknesses. 
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Highlight Passage [context]: 1st Corinthians 15:1-11 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Note the opinion Paul had about himself realizing that without Christ, he was NOTHING! 
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Reference Passage : … Psalms 25:5, 145:4 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… The psalmists description of whom we are with/without our God.

Reference Passage : … John 15:4-5 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Jesus showed His disciples without an abiding relationship with Him they could not be fruitful in their lives.

Reference Passage : … Galatians 2:20 [NLT] … 20 My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me. 
 … Paul recognized (and taught) that he (we) must die to self so that we can serve the One Who died so that we might live in/for Him.

Reference Passage : … 2nd Corinthians 12:9 [NLT] … 9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 
 …Jesus reminded Paul that his strength could only come thru His humble surrender to His Lord.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Mart DeHaan, used a story about Arturo Toscanini to show how we must always think of ourselves dependent on our relationship with Christ, … always an attitude of humble surrender to His grace. The ODB author wrote: As one of the most celebrated orchestral conductors of the twentieth century, Arturo Toscanini [see photo] is remembered for his desire to give credit to whom credit is due. In David Ewen’s “Dictators of the Baton,” the author describes how members of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra rose to their feet and cheered Toscanini at the end of a rehearsal of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. When there was a lull in the ovation, and with tears in his eyes, Arturo’s broken voice could be heard exclaiming as he spoke: “It isn’t me . . . it’s Beethoven! . . . Toscanini is nothing.” 

The great conductor’s attitude toward Beethoven, according to our ODB author, was much like that which the Apostle Paul held for himself when he was comparing himself to the other Apostles (see 1Cor. 15:8) or most certainly with His Lord and Savior (see Gal. 2:20). Paul knew the truth of what Jesus taught His Disciples in John 15:4-5 … that without an abiding, surrendered relationship with our Lord, WE ARE NOTHING!

But with that humble relationship, we can receive His enabling/empowering grace [see 2Cor. 12:9] to overcome our humanity and become fruitful in/for God’s kingdom.

And that is my prayer for myself and all who read here today.

My Prayer Today: Abba Father, … King Jesus, … Precious Spirit … O Lord, help us to be fruitful for Your glory as we humbly surrender 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.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

December 12, 2017 … Worried? … Stop and pray!!

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 346 

Devotional Song: … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of images and lyrics from Ryan Stevenson singing … Eye of the Storm … poignantly and powerfully singing of the strength we can receive in the storms of life, anchored by our faith in Christ.


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Highlight Verse[s]: Philippians 4:6-7 [NLT] … 6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. 
… Anxious?!! … Well, here’s God’s prescription for your worries.
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Highlight Passage [context]: Philippians 4:1-9 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… God, thru Paul, teaches us how to handle the anxieties of life
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Reference Passage : … Proverbs 3:5-6 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… God’s prescription for worry is trusting in Him.

Reference Passage : … Luke 8:22-25 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Jesus showed His disciples that He was in control - total control - even when we’re in life-threatening storms.

Reference Passage : … 1st Corinthians 10:13 [NLT] … 13 The temptations [or also “tests, trials, tribulations, troubles”] in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. 
 … If we truly believe it, we’ll be okay - no matter what comes.

Reference Passage : … 2nd Corinthians 12:9 [NLT] … 9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 
 … In the presence of dire pain, Paul remember Jesus’ promise that His grace was enough to give him the power to handle his own pain/weakness.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Karen Wolfe, in the midst of anxieties about a move, remembered Paul writing about how God promises to be with us and provide us with His strength and direction when we pray. The ODB author wrote: We were excited about moving for my husband’s job. But the unknowns and challenges left me feeling anxious. Thoughts of sorting and packing up belongings. Looking for a place to live. My finding a new job too. Making my way around a new city, and getting settled. It was all . . . unsettling. As I thought about my “to-do” list, words written by the apostle Paul echoed in my mind: Don’t worry, but pray (Phil. 4:6–7). 

The simple - but life-affirming - question is … do we trust our Lord … especially when we’re in the “Eye of the Storm,” as Ryan Stevenson sings in the linked song. And that song reminds me of a powerful teaching miracle where Jesus showed His Disciples, when they were worried about their lives in the midst of a storm (see Luke 8: 22-25), that He was in control - no matter what!!

But, as the remainder of the reference passages teach, do we really trust God [see photo] enough to quell our anxieties when we’re faced with the storms of life? That’s the focus of my prayer today.

My Prayer Today: Abba Father, … King Jesus, … Precious Spirit … O Lord, You are in control … 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.

Monday, December 11, 2017

December 11, 2017 … The Gift of Living Waters

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 345 

Devotional Song: … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of images and lyrics from the group Keith & Kristyn Getty singing … Living Waters … poignantly singing of God’s greatest gift to all of us who thirst in sin, free access to His living waters.


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Highlight Verse[s]: Ephesians 2:8 [NLT] … 8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 
 … And what a gift it is!!
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Highlight Passage [context]: Ephesians [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… God, thru Paul, teaches on how His greatest gift brings mankind from death to life. 
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Reference Passage [NLT] : … John 3:16 [NLT] … 16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. …” 
… The greatest gift of all !!!

Reference Passage [NLT] : … Revelation 3:20 [NLT] … 20 “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. … “ 
… Jesus offers to come in and dine with us … but we must open the door and let Him in.

Reference Passage [NLT] : … Revelation 22:17 [NIV] … 17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life. 
… The water of life … for us desperately thirsty sinners … is a free gift for those who would come to receive it in faith.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Sheridan Voysey, uses the illustration of a restaurant in London which gives away free meals as God gives away His wondrous gift of living waters and the access to eternal life. The ODB author wrote: London’s Café Rendezvous has nice lighting, comfortable couches, and the smell of coffee in the air. What it doesn’t have are prices. Originally started as a business by a local church, the café was transformed a year after it started. The managers felt that God was calling them to do something radical—make everything on the menu free. Today you can order a coffee, cake, or sandwich without cost. There isn’t even a donation jar. It’s all a gift. 
I asked the manager why they were so generous. “We’re just trying to treat people the way God treats us,” he said. “God gives to us whether we thank Him or not. He’s generous to us beyond our imaginations.” 

I don’t think any reader here would deny that we are most definitely a people (or culture) starving and thirsting for God’s grace and His living waters. And as we read in the highlight passage, God was (and is) willing to make His saving grace and sanctifying living waters available to ANY/ALL who thirst and desire to come and receive it freely from our Lord.

As long as we’re willing to humbly come, repentant of our sins, … just as we can enter the Cafe Rendezvous in London and receive a plate of food (see photo), … we can simply open the door of life and partake of God’s life-giving bread of life and living waters. … Dear one, … He’s paid for it; … for us IT’S FREE!!

So, as Jesus knocks on the door of our hearts today (see Rev. 3:20, let’s open the door and dine with Him.

My Prayer Today: Abba Father, … King Jesus, … Precious Spirit … Come on in, Lord, I’m thirsty for your bread of life and Your living waters! … 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, December 10, 2017

December 10, 2017 … Redeemed and Restored

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 344 

Devotional Song:GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of images and lyrics from the group Big Daddy Weave singing … Redeemed … poignantly and powerfully singing of how God’s grace redeems and restores ALL who truly believe on Christ as LORD.


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Highlight Verse[s]: Psalm 145:14 [NLT] … 14  The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. … God’s promise, thru David, that He will lift up and restore all who are down.
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Highlight Passage [context]: Psalm 145:1-16 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… King David praises His Lord, our redeemer!!
============= Reference Passage [NLT] : … Romans 12:1-2 [NLT] … 1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. 
… In Christ we are to avoid the patterns of the world which try to lead us astray as we are transformed in His image.

Reference Passage [NLT] : … 2nd Corinthians 3:18, 5:17-18 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK 
… Paul strongly teaches fellow Christians that we have been reconciled to Christlikeness and are made over in His image.

Reference Passage [NLT] : … Colossians 3:1-17 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK 
… In Christ we can now put on His robes of righteousness and be free from our dirty, sinful past.

Reference Passage [NLT] : … Philippians 1:6 [NLT] … 6 being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. 
… God’s grace will complete His work on me in glory, when I will become like my Lord.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Leslie Koh, uses the illustration of a transformed group of singers who sang their praises to the God who has redeemed them. The ODB author wrote: A guest band was leading praise and worship at our church, and their passion for the Lord was moving. We could see—and feel—their enthusiasm. [See photo] 
Then the musicians revealed that they were all ex-prisoners. Suddenly their songs took on special meaning, and I saw why their words of praise meant so much to them. Their worship was a testimony of lives broken and restored. 
The world may embrace success. But stories of past failure offer people hope too. They assure us that God loves us no matter how many times we have failed. Pastor Gary Inrig says that what we call the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11 could well be entitled God’s Hall of Reclaimed Failures. “There is scarcely an individual in that chapter without a serious blemish in his or her life,” he observes. “But God is in the business of restoring failures . . . . That is a great principle of God’s grace.” 

Is there anyone reading here who has not had some failure in the past? No one, I assume!!

Well, I’m certainly one who can, as did King David in Psalm 145 linked above, lift my enthusiastic praises to God for how He, as Big Daddy Weave sings, has redeemed me from the pits of hell.

If you saw my blog yesterday, it was all about God changing believers from in “Inside Out” (see link here), you’ll note that I’m using the same reference scriptures today to lend truth to the reality that our God redeems/restores any/all who come to receive our Lord’s saving and sanitizing grace.

I pray that all who read here are in that number. Being one I certainly raise my hardy … HALLELUJAH!!!.

My Prayer Today: Abba Father, … King Jesus, … Precious Spirit … Dear Lord, … Again today I praise You for my make-over into Your image. … 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, December 09, 2017

December 9, 2017 … Outside In vs Inside Out

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 343 

Devotional Song: … GO TO THIS LINK …   Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of images and lyrics from Natalie Grant singing … Clean … poignantly singing of how God’s grace makes a true Christian cleanses a believer from the inside out.

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Highlight Verse[s]: Galatians 3:27 [NLT] … 26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
… In Christ, as Christians, we now wear His robes of righteousness to cover our rags of sin. 
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Highlight Passage [context]: Galatians 3:19-29 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… God, thru Paul, promises that we are changed in Christ from the inside out.
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Reference Passage [NLT] : … Romans 12:1-2 [NLT] … 1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. 
… In Christ we are to avoid the patterns of the world which try to lead us astray as we are transformed in His image.

Reference Passage [NLT] : … 2nd Corinthians 3:18, 5:17-18 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK 
… Paul strongly teaches fellow Christians that we have been reconciled to Christlikeness and are made over in His image.

Reference Passage [NLT] : … Colossians 3:1-17 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK 
… In Christ we can now put on His robes of righteousness and be free from our dirty, sinful past.

Reference Passage [NLT] : … Philippians 1:6 [NLT] … 6 being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. 
… God’s grace will complete His work on me in glory, when I will become like my Lord.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Monica Brands, uses a personal story to illustrate how God’s grace, which we don’t deserve, changes our lives. The ODB author wrote: “Change: From the Inside Out or the Outside In?” the headline read, reflecting a popular trend today—the idea that outward changes like a makeover or better posture can be an easy way to change how we feel on the inside—and even change our lives. 
It’s an appealing concept—who wouldn’t want improving our lives to be as easy as a new look? Many of us have learned the hard way that changing deep-rooted habits can seem nearly impossible. Focusing on simple external changes offers hope that there is a quicker path toward improving our lives. 
But although such changes can improve our lives, Scripture invites us to seek a deeper transformation—one that is impossible on our own. 

About 30 years ago, Christian Counselor, Larry Crabb, wrote a book entitled Inside Out (see Photo), which challenged the worldly premise mentioned by our ODB author - that we can change our character on the inside by changing our image on the outside. Crabb’s book taught what the Apostle Paul was trying to convey to Christians thru his letters [see Reference Passages above] - that we are made new in Christ; and His Spirit will do a complete make-over in our character and behavior - from the INSIDE - OUT.

I’ll let you (and I hope you do) take in the song and scriptures above; and then realize that our Lord is giving us the ultimate make-over; and we can - if we choose to surrender to Him - become completely new in Christlikeness.

And I pray that is our goal as we contemplate moving into the New Year. Let’s all walk in the newness of Christ’s robes of righteousness covering our rags of sin.

My Prayer Today: Abba Father, … King Jesus, … Precious Spirit … Dear Lord, … I sit in this chair of life and I surrender to Your make-over. … 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, December 08, 2017

December 8, 2017 … Truly Amazing Grace!!

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 342 

Devotional Song: … GO TO THIS LINK … Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of images and lyrics from the group Phillips, Craig, and Dean singing … Your Grace Still Amazes Me … poignantly singing of how God’s grace, which pours out to surrendered Christians every day, is so, so amazing!


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Highlight Verse[s]: Acts 9:11-12 [NLT] … 11 The Lord told him [Ananias], “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.” 
… God gives Saul the grace of sight again as Saul is being called out to be an Apostle of Christ. 
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Highlight Passage [context]: Acts 9:1-19 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Saul of Tarsus, becoming the Apostle Paul, at his conversion, receives a return of his sight thru the hands of Ananias, who was called by the Lord to be God’s agent to Paul.
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Reference Passage [NLT] : … 2nd Corinthians 5:17, 12:9 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK 
… God’s amazing grace gives the lost a make-over into Christlikeness; and His grace is sufficient for all of our lives.

Reference Passage [NLT] : … Philippians 1:6 [NLT] …  6 being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. 
… God’s grace will complete His work on me in glory, when I will become like my Lord. My 

Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Randy Kilgore, uses a personal story to illustrate how God’s grace, which we don’t deserve, changes our lives. The ODB author wrote: It was an early Saturday morning in my sophomore year of high school, and I was eager to get to my job at the local bowling lanes. The evening before, I had stayed late to mop the muddy tile floors because the janitor called in sick. I hadn’t bothered to tell the boss about the janitor so I could surprise him. After all, What could go wrong? I thought. 
Plenty, as it turns out. 
Stepping in the door, I saw inches of standing water, with bowling pins, rolls of toilet paper, and boxes of paper scoresheets bobbing on top. Then I realized what I had done: While doing the floors, I had left a large faucet running overnight [see photo]! Incredibly, my boss greeted me with a huge hug and a big smile—“for trying,” he said.

Oh, … dear one, … as I read that story, allegorically illustrating God’s grace, and I hear today’s linked song [PLEASE take the time to let it touch you], I’m almost overwhelmed by how God’s grace has changed me like He did Saul of Tarsus (see the story in Acts 9, linked above.

Like Paul I was once an antagonistic non-believer, trying to persecute Christians. Oh, maybe I wasn’t trying to kill them as was Saul of Tarsus; but I did everything I could, for many years, trying to rip the faith out from under those who called themselves “Christian.” But as God did with Saul, who became Paul, His Spirit came after me and broke me with His prevenient grace to a place where I could become a called out agent of King Jesus.

Who would’ve ever thought that an angry atheist could become an ordained Minister of the Gospel of Christ? And that, my friends, is God’s grace in action in me.

Certainly, I’m no Apostle, like Paul became; but God’s grace is making me over, even as reluctant as I can be at times, into my Lord’s image [see 2Cor. 5:17]. And one day God’s grace will complete its work in me and I will be transformed COMPLETELY into a spiritual clone of my Savior [see Phil. 1:6].

And all I can say to that now is … ”HALLELUJAH!!!”

My Prayer Today: Abba Father, … King Jesus, … Precious Spirit … Dear Lord, … You grace will ALWAYS amaze 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.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

December 7, 2017 … Breathing In Christlikeness

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 341 

Devotional Song: … GO TO THIS LINK …   Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of images and lyrics from the group 4Him singing … Back To The Basics … poignantly singing of how we must do all we can to maintain the basics of our faith … grounded in Christlikeness. … And ON TO THIS LINK to hear Joy Williams singing of the desire to which we all should aspire to have others see Christlikeness in us.


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Highlight Verse[s]: 1st Timothy 4:16 [NLT] … 16 Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you. 
… Paul instructing Timothy (and us) to watch over their (our) salvation, continuing to maintain the disciplines of the faith.
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Highlight Passage [context]: 1st Timothy 4 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Paul as Timothy’s mentor so wanted the young Pastor to succeed that he warned (exhorted) him to watch over and maintain the basics of the faith.
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Reference Passage [NLT] : … Joshua 1:7-8 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK 
… Moses passes the torch of leadership to Joshua, giving him God’s encouragement and exhortation to stay tuned to God thru the basics of the faith, primarily thru God’s word.

Reference Passage [NLT] : … 1st Chronicles 28:9-10 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK 
… The charge from David to his son, Solomon, to stay grounded in the faith passed to them from God thru Moses.

Reference Passage [NLT] : … Matthew 5:14-16 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK 
… Jesus exhorts His followers (that’s us!) to shine His own light brightly into a very dark world.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, C.P. Hia, teaches about what it takes to stay true to the basics of the faith to maintain our pursuit of Christlikeness. The ODB author wrote: When you travel by air, before the flight takes off an airline employee presents a safety briefing, which explains what to do if there is a loss of cabin pressure. Passengers are told that oxygen masks will drop from the compartment above and they are to put one on themselves before helping others. Why? Because before you can help anyone else, you need to be physically alert yourself. 

Everyone who has flown has heard these instructions; but many may not know the “WHY” behind them. They are primarily for parents so that they will overcome their natural desire to take care of their child first; and to recognize that they will not be able to give life-giving oxygen to their child if they don’t take care of their own needs first. [SEE PHOTO]

And this is an apt word picture of what we, as CHRISTIANS, need to do as well. We need to maintain and stay in the basics of the faith, primarily thru God’s word, to be able to hold onto our Christlikeness and to radiate His light to a very dark world [see Scriptures].

Really, … if any reader with me here today has taken the time to hear the two linked songs above, God will speak to you, as He did to me today, … exhorting us to get back to and stay in the basics of the faith so that others can see Jesus in us.

That’s why you find me here EVERYDAY, doing all I can to glean enough of God’s Spirit from prayer and His word … to be able to exhibit a small amount of Jesus’ light into the ever-darkening world around me.

And I do so, praying that we ALL are doing all we can to stay in His word and glean His life-giving power to share with others.

My Prayer Today: Abba Father, … King Jesus, … Precious Spirit … Dear Lord, … shine thru what I write here that others may get a breath 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.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

December 6, 2017 … Even If ???

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 340 

Devotional Song: … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of images and lyrics from the group Mercy Me singing their personal song … Even If … poignantly singing of how we can trust in a God Who never changes and will always be there with His grace to cover our weakness of faith.


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Highlight Verse[s]: Daniel 3:17-18 [NLT] … 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. 18 But EVEN IF he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” 
… Faith shown by three young boys in the face of life-threatening danger.
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Highlight Passage [context]: Daniel 3:15-25 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had an “even if” faith in their God …
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Reference Passage [NLT] : … Proverbs 3:5-6 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK 
… No matter what, … we can trust in God to lead us thru life.

Reference Passage [NLT] : … Isaiah 41:10 [NLT] … 10  Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. 
… We can trust our God … no matter what!!

Reference Passage [NLT] : … 2nd Corinthians 12:9 [NLT] … 9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 
… In spite of horrible pain, Paul realized that His Savior would be there for him … ALWAYS!!

Reference Passage [NLT] : … Hebrews 13:5, 8 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK 
… We can trust in God, no matter what; because God never changes.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Xochitl Dixon, teaches about trusting in God with the story of Shadrach, Mesach, and Abednego, who trusted their God even at the threat of their life. The ODB author wrote: Due to an injury that occurred in 1992, I suffer from chronic pain in my upper back, shoulders, and neck. During the most excruciating and disheartening moments, it’s not always easy to trust or praise the Lord. But when my situation feels unbearable, God’s constant presence comforts me. He strengthens me and reassures me of His unchanging goodness, limitless power, and sustaining grace. And when I’m tempted to doubt my Lord, I’m encouraged by the determined faith of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They worshiped God and trusted He was with them, even when their situation seemed hopeless. 

Today, I pray that all who read here have taken the time to hear Mercy Me sing of their hope and trust in God … EVEN IF … He seems far away, … EVEN IF … pain is great in our lives, … and yes, EVEN IF it our Lord doesn’t seem to care.

Jesus never changes (see Heb. 13:5, 8)! But EVEN IF our prayers seem to be bouncing off the ceiling, our Lord is there; and He cares. And as with Shadrach, Mesach, and Abednego in Daniel 3, our God will carry us thru the fires of life; … OR … He’ll be there to see us in Heaven if the fires of life consume us.

We believe and serve a God Who never changes; and He can be trusted yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

My Prayer Today: Abba Father, … King Jesus, … Precious Spirit … You’re there for me today … and tomorrow … and 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.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

December 5, 2017 … Real-Deal Love

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 339 

Devotional Song: … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of images and lyrics from Scott Underwood singing … This Is Love … poignantly singing of how God showed us the essence of His love for us when He sent His Son to die for our sins.


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Highlight Verse[s]: 1 John 4:9-10 [NLT] … 9 God showed how much he loved us by sending His one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him. 10 This is real love — not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. 
… God showed the heart of real love in His Son Jesus and how he lived and died to save us. 
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Highlight Passage [context]: 1 John 4:7-16 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… The Apostle so loved by Jesus teaches on the essence of “real-deal” love, … as modeled for us by our Lord.
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Reference Passage [NLT] : … John 3:16-17 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK  
… And this, dear ones, is REAL-DEAL love!!

Reference Passage [NLT] : … Romans 3:23, 5:8 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK 
… God, thru Paul, shows us that none of us deserve Christ’s redemption; but He gave His love to us anyway … by saving us with His Son.

Reference Passage [NLT] : … Philippians 2:6-8 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK 
… And this is how much God loved us … that He would set aside His glory to become a man and die for us on the cross. That, my friends, is love!!

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Alyson Kieda, uses a personal story  to illustrate just how much God loves His children (that's us!!). The ODB author wrote: When my sister Maysel was little, she would sing a familiar song in her own way: “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells Maysel.” This irritated me to no end! As one of her older, “wiser” sisters, I knew the words were “me so,” not “Maysel.” Yet she persisted in singing it her way. 
Now I think my sister had it right all along. The Bible does indeed tell Maysel, and all of us, that Jesus loves us. 

Today, as I do every morning I came here to my special quiet-place and I prayed that God would be here with me, … as, of course, I know He is. And as I do each morning I begin my quiet time with prayer, … beginning by asking my Lord to give me something special from His word, … something that I could share with others in my daily journaling. And as He does, … unfailingly, … EVERY day, … He touched me and gave me a word of love, an eternal hug, if you will, … a hug which I share with you now, just as the Apostles shared with us in God’s NT truth [see those love notes above]. 

And as Scott Underwood so touchingly sings in the linked song today, This IS Love, … the real-deal love of a Father Who loved us enough, even tho we were rebellious sinners, like myself, … to die for us and save us from our sins. And I know that if you take in the song and meditate on the Scriptures above, you’ll get a real-deal hug from our Savior as well.

My Prayer Today: Abba Father, … King Jesus, … Precious Spirit … Thank You, Lord, … I felt Your hug 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, December 04, 2017

December 4, 2017 … They All Need Him

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 338 

Devotional Song: … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of images and lyrics from Steve Green singing … People Need the Lord … poignantly singing of how we, as disciples of Christ, are the ones God has chosen to spread the word of His coming to save all who will believe on Him as Lord and Savior.


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Highlight Verse[s]: Luke 1:68 [NLT] … 68 “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because He has visited and redeemed His people. …” 
… Zechariah’s prophesy about King Jesus coming in fulfillment of God’s promise to His people. 
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Highlight Passage [context]: Luke 1:68-75 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… The Father of the baby who would become John, The Baptizer, prophesies about the coming of The Messiah.
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Reference Passage [NLT] : … John 3:16-17 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK 
… God sent us a Savior and He is Jesus! And we all need His saving grace.

Reference Passage [NLT] : … Romans 3:23, 5:8 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK 
… God, thru Paul, shows us that none deserve Christ’s redemption but all have been given His saving grace.

Reference Passage [NLT] : … Philippians 2:9-12 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK 
… One day all will declare that King Jesus is The Christ, our Lord.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Poh Fang Chia, uses a personal story of where he grew up to illustrate that everyone needs Jesus as their Lord and Savior. The ODB author wrote: About 230 families and individuals live at MacPherson Gardens, Block 72 in my neighborhood. [See photo] Each person has his or her own life story. On the tenth floor resides an elderly woman whose children have grown up, gotten married, and moved out. She lives by herself now. Just a few doors away from her is a young couple with two kids—a boy and a girl. And a few floors below lives a young man serving in the army. He has been to church before; maybe he will visit again on Christmas Day. I met these people last Christmas when our church went caroling in the neighborhood to spread Christmas cheer. 

This morning, reading today’s ODB entry, and thinking back on my vacation trip last week, I’m under a bit of conviction. On our flight back home from the week of family time, my wife and I had to sit in separate rows; and I was in the middle seat of three for our two hour flight. And sitting between two people for all that time, I never once interacted with these two, either who could’ve been on their way to hell. UGH! … and I didn’t care enough to share my story of our Savior with them. 

During this Christmas season, as Steve Green sings in the song linked above, we’re going to be walking by many, many people who need the Lord. Some will be happy and know Him as their Savior. Others will be hurting and will not. But I pray that we all will take any opportunity to open up to those who might listen and share our testimony of salvation.

Who knows, one of them might respond and surrender to receive the greatest Christmas gift of all.

My Prayer Today: Abba Father, … King Jesus, … Precious Spirit … Forgive me, Lord, for not being enough of a trumpet of 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.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

December 3, 2017 … Waiting for Jesus

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 337 

Devotional Song: … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of images from Sara Groves singing her song … I’ll Wait … poignantly singing of how we, as disciples of Christ, so often have to work to overcome our impatient nature, waiting on our Savior to come and usher in His kingdom forever.

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Highlight Verse[s]: Micah 5:4 [NLT] … 4 And He [Messiah] will stand to lead His flock with the Lord’s strength, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. Then His people will live there undisturbed, for He will be highly honored around the world. 
… That time when all knees will bow and He will reign in peace forever.
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Highlight Passage [context]: Micah 5:2-4 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… The Prophecy for which we Christians await … that Jesus will come again to rule/reign over His Kingdom forever …
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Reference Passage [NLT] : … Mark 13:34-37 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK 
… Jesus’ teaching His disciples, thru parable, to be willing to wait and watch for Him as their Lord and Messiah.

Reference Passage [NLT] : … Acts 1:6-11 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK 
… When Jesus ascended into heaven, the angels promised that He would return; but He left the Holy Spirit to give them (us) the power to wait for His return.

Reference Passage [NLT] : … Romans 12:1-2 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK 
… Paul’s exhortation for Christians to avoid living as the world lives … but to live as Christ lived.

Reference Passage [NLT] : … Titus 2:11-14 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK 
… Another of Paul’s exhortations to live for Christ as Christ taught and lived.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Amy Boucher Pye, uses an illustration about children waiting on Christmas to illustrate our difficulty waiting for our Savior to come again. The ODB author wrote: “How much longer until it’s Christmas?” When my children were little, they asked this question repeatedly. Although we used a daily Advent calendar to count down the days to Christmas [see photo], they still found the waiting excruciating. 
We can easily recognize a child’s struggle with waiting, but we might underestimate the challenge it can involve for all of God’s people. 

Well, I think we understand how it’s difficult for kiddies to wait for Christmas day as they see the tree decorated with presents waiting to be opened on that magical day. It’s just part of the job description of “a kid” to be impatient, isn’t it?

Then why are so many ADULT Christians so impatient in the way we live, not being willing to live as Jesus and the post-resurrection Apostles taught (see NT Scriptures above)? Yes, … it’s just in our sin-nature to be impatient, isn’t it? It goes way back to The Garden when Adam and Eve were unwilling to trust God at His word, and they set us up to be impatient just as they were.

But as we come down to Christmas day, let us choose to do all we can to patiently wait on our Lord to come again and usher in His kingdom of peace/joy forever. Let’s do all we can to live as He has taught us, and modeled for us, in His word.

My Prayer Today: Abba Father, … King Jesus, … Precious Spirit … Oh, Lord, I wait on You! … Amen

Blogger Note:  Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online devotional blog entitled Our Daily Bread, 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, December 02, 2017

December 2, 2017 … Surrendered for His Strength 

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 336 

Devotional Song: … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of song/lyrics from Cece Winans singing… His Strength Is Perfect … poignantly singing of how we, as disciples of Christ, can fly free and above the winds of this world, … lifted and carried by His strength to empower us in our weakness


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 Highlight Verse[s]: Mark 9:35 [NLT] 35 He sat down, called the twelve disciples over to Him, and said, “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.”
… By the world’s standards this makes little sense. By Jesus’ standards it is TRUTH! 
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Highlight Passage [context]: Mark 9:33-37, 10:41-45 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Jesus teaches strongly about His “upside-down” kingdom where the first will be last, … where the slave will be king.
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Reference Passage [NLT] : … Proverbs 3:5a [NLT] … 5 Trust in the Lord with ALL Your Heart … 
… Not half-heartedly … but in TOTAL surrender.

Reference Passage [NLT] : … Isaiah 41:10 [NLT] … 10 Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. 
… God’s promise is to be there to lift us up when we are weak … but do we believe it?

Reference Passage [NLT] : … 2nd Corinthians 12:9 [NLT] … 9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 
… Paul learns that he can only glean God’s strength to cover His weakness when he is in surrender to receive God’s empowering grace.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Kirsten Holmberg, uses the punchline from an old fable to illustrate how our commitment has to be in total surrender to receive God’s grace. The ODB author wrote: In the fable of the chicken and the pig, the two animals discuss opening a restaurant together. As they plan their menu, the chicken suggests they serve ham and eggs. The pig swiftly objects saying, “No thanks. I’d be committed, but you would only be involved.” Although the pig didn’t care to put himself on the platter [see photo], his understanding of commitment is instructive to me as I learn to better follow God with my whole heart. 

In the fable of the pig and the chicken, we see the commitment necessary to be able to glean God’s empowering grace to overcome our weaknesses. The chicken was only involved partially in the menu; but the pig had to be TOTALLY committed to produce what you see in the photo.

And that’s what was illustrated by God’s word in the highlight story of how God’s people tried to overcome their weakness by bargaining with human leverage, … rather than being surrendered to God to use His strength against their enemies. It’s also illustrated in what Paul leaned when he was in dire pain [see 2Cor. 12:9], recognizing that he needed the painful thorn which God had allowed into his life in order to keep him humble enough to receive God’s grace to overcome his weakness.

That’s what Cece Winans sings about in the linked song, … that God’s grace is ALWAYS sufficient for our needs if we’re humble enough to receive it and use if in our weakness and for His glory.

My Prayer Today: Abba Father, … King Jesus, … Precious Spirit … Oh, Lord, I come in surrender … TOTALLY; … because I need Your grace to overcome my ever-present weaknesses. … 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, December 01, 2017

December 1, 2017 … Upside Down Kingdom

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 335 

Devotional Song: … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of song/lyrics from John Waller singing… As for Me and My House … poignantly singing of how we, as disciples of Christ, must serve our Lord in His upside-down kingdom for His glory … not our own!


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Highlight Verse[s]: Mark 9:35 [NLT] … 35 He sat down, called the twelve disciples over to Him, and said, “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.”
… By the world’s standards this makes little sense. By Jesus’ standards it is TRUTH! 
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Highlight Passage [context]: Mark 9:33-37, 10:41-45 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Jesus teaches strongly about His “upside-down” kingdom where the first will be last, … where the slave will be king.
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Reference Passage [NLT] : … Luke 9:23 [NLT] … 23 Then He said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow Me. 
… What Jesus demands of His disciples (that’s you and me too!).

Reference Passage [NLT] : … Philippians 2:3-8 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK ... 
… Paul teaches that, as disciples of Christ, we must have the same humble servant’s attitude as Christ and serve others before self.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, James Banks, tells a personal story to illustrate the UPSIDE-DOWN kingdom philosophy taught and demanded by Jesus of His disciples The ODB author wrote: Recently I was among the last in line to board a large passenger jet with unassigned seating. I located a middle seat beside the wing; but the only spot for my bag was the overhead compartment by the very last row. This meant I had to wait for everyone to leave before I could go back and retrieve it. 
 I laughed as I settled into my seat and a thought occurred to me that seemed to be from the Lord: “It really won’t hurt you to wait. It will actually do you good.” So I resolved to enjoy the extra time, helping other passengers lower their luggage after we landed. By the time I was able to retrieve my bag, I laughed again when someone thought I actually worked for the airline. 
And that day’s experience made me ponder Jesus’ words to His disciples: Anyone who wants to be first, must be the very last, and the servant of all.” (Mark 9:35) 

Wow! … CONVICTION!!! … All too often when we’re in church at a potluck supper, where we’re asked to get in line to be served, I find myself angling to get in line early. It’s almost like I think I’m not going to get fed when usually there’s way too much food for the group being served.

UGH! … Here I am in church; and that’s certainly not what Jesus was teaching and demanding of His disciples, is it? So, the next time I’m given the opportunity to forge ahead on my own or wait and make sure others are being served, especially those who need help, I’m praying I’ll live up to God’s upside-down kingdom way of doing things.

My Prayer Today: Abba Father, … King Jesus, … Precious Spirit … Oh, forgive my impatience and selfishness, Lord; and help me look to be a servant-leader in Your upside-down kingdom. … 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, November 30, 2017

November 30, 2017 … Brokenness to Wholeness

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 334 

Devotional Song:GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video from the group Phillips, Craig, and Dean singing their song … He’ll Do Whatever It Takes … poignantly singing of how our God will do whatever it takes to bring our brokenness into the wholeness of His image.

"Wakeari" Cookies in Japan 

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Highlight Verse[s]: Luke 7:47-48 [NLT] … 47 “I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” 48 Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.” 
… And aren’t we who’ve been forgiven, like this woman, grateful for Jesus’ mercy and grace on sinners such as we?
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Highlight Passage [context]: Luke 7:36-50 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… When we’re willing to surrender our brokenness to Jesus, He can forgive us and make us whole again in His image.
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Reference Passage [NLT] : … Romans 5:8 [NLT] … 8 But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. 
… Christ came to save the broken and remake them into His own image.

Reference Passage [NLT] : … Philippians 1:6 [NLT] … 6 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. 
… And we can be assured that our Lord is going to do whatever it takes to make us over in His image in glory.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Albert Lee, paints a word picture of our brokenness and how our Lord can - and will - redeem us from our sin, making us over into His image of wholeness. The ODB author wrote: In Japan, food products are immaculately prepared and packaged. Not only must they taste good but they must look good too. Often I wonder if I am purchasing the food or the packaging! Because of the Japanese emphasis on good quality, products with slight defects are often discarded. However, in recent years wakeari products have gained popularity. Wakeari means “there is a reason” in Japanese. These products are not thrown away but are sold at a cheap price “for a reason”—for example, a crack in a rice cracker. 

Sometimes, as I read and meditate on these ODB entries each morning to start my day, some of them will really strike a chord of reality within me; and this one most certainly does. You see, like the “wakeari” products in Japan, (e.g., the broken cookies in the photo), I was once a broken man, lost in my own sinfulness. But Jesus, just as He did with the broken/sinner woman in Luke 7, was willing to come after me and save me from my own brokenness, … forgiving my sinfulness and beginning the process of remaking me into the wholeness and perfection of His own image.

Oh, … He’s not done with me yet, … for sure! But as the linked song proclaims, my Lord will do “whatever it takes” to complete the process of my redemption (see also Phil. 1:6). And when He’s done with me in glory, I’m going to be completely whole and have a beauty and usefulness akin to His. And I hope you share a robust HALLELUJAH!!! with me as He remakes you in His images as well.

My Prayer Today: Abba Father, … King Jesus, … Precious Spirit … Oh, Lord, praise your willingness to take me as I was and give me a “redo” to be with You in eternity. … 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, November 29, 2017

November 29, 2017 … Empathy Power

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 333 

Devotional Song: … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video and lyrics from Elvis Presley singing a Joe South song … Walk A Mile In My Shoes … powerfully singing about the power of true empathy to overcome our selfishness and to reach out to feel the pain of others.

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Highlight Verse[s]: Hebrews 13:3 [NLT] … 3 Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies. 
… He gave his own body so that we could identify with His sacrifice and give ours for others as He did.
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Highlight Passage [context]: Hebrews 2:14-18, 13:1-3 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… God becoming flesh so that he could die in perfect empathy to save mankind from our own flesh. 
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Reference Passage [NLT] : … 1st Corinthians 12:25-26 [NLT] … 25 This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. 26 If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. 
… Christ’s Body - the Church - has been created in His image that we can fully empathize with all the members of the body to serve each other for His glory.

Reference Passage [NLT] : … Philippians 2:3-7 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… His divine empathy so that we can empathize as He did with us and reach out help others.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, David C McCasland, uses a scientific invention, the “R70i Aging Suit” [see photo] to show how younger people can fully empathize with the conditions of the aged. The ODB author wrote: Put on the R70i Age Suit and you immediately feel forty years older as you experience impaired vision, hearing loss, and reduced mobility. The Age Suit was designed to help caregivers better understand their patients. Wall Street Journal correspondent Geoffrey Fowler wore one and wrote, “The unforgettable, and at times distressing, experience shed light not just on aging, but also how virtual reality equipment can teach empathy and shape our perceptions of the world around us.” Empathy is the power to understand and share the feelings of another. 

This is a fascinating scientific word picture of what Jesus did in becoming fully human and walking among His created humans like a slave to show His Body (the Church) how to empathize with one another in order to live for each other.

That’s why, as we read in the NT (see Scriptures above), when one member of Christ’s body hurts, the other members should hurt as well. And that’s why we can - and should - be able to serve other Christians - with Spirit-empowered empathy - instead of holding on to our own selfish desires.

The questions arise from this study … “Are we?” … AND … “Will we?”

My Prayer Today: Abba Father, … King Jesus, … Precious Spirit … Help me to discern the needs of others and to be able to walk a mile in their shoes, reaching out to help them when I see them in need. … Amen

Blogger Note:  Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online devotional blog entitled Our Daily Bread, 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, November 28, 2017

November 28, 2017 … Fill our Sails, Lord!

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 332 

Devotional Song: … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video and lyrics from Josh Groban singing … You Raise Me Up … poignantly singing about how our God raises us up with the power of His grace to overcome the weaknesses in our humanity.


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Highlight Verse[s]: Amos 4:13a [NLT] … 13 For the Lord is the one who shaped the mountains, stirs up the winds, and reveals His thoughts to mankind. 
… It is God’s empowering grace which sustains us.
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Highlight Passage [context]: Amos 4:12-13 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… God’s Prophet reminds His people of God’s creative and sustaining power.
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Reference Passage [NLT] : … John 3:8 [NLT] … 8 The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.” 
… Jesus teaches Nicodemus, and reminds us, that God’s Spirit is the power which saves and sustains us.

Reference Passage [NLT] : … John 15:5-7 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Jesus teaches His disciples that He is our sustainer and our power; and apart from Him, we can do NOTHING!

Reference Passage [NLT] : … 2nd Corinthians 12:9 [NLT] … 9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 
… Jesus reminds Paul and us of His power to give us strength in our weakness.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Amy Boucher Pye, uses a personal reflection of how windsurfing (see photo) is a picture of God’s empowering grace working to give us God’s power when we are weak in our humanity. The ODB author wrote: One day by the seaside, I delighted in watching some kite surfers as they bounced along the water, moved by the force of the wind. When one came to shore, I asked him if the experience was as difficult as it looked. “No,” he said, “It’s actually easier than regular surfing because you harness the power of the wind.” 
Afterward as I walked by the sea, thinking about the wind’s ability not only to propel the surfers but also to whip my hair into my face, I paused to wonder at our God the Creator. 

A powerful wind filling the sails of a windsurfer, or allowing golfers to hit the ball much farther than they are capable, are good pictures of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of believers doing what Josh Groban sings in the linked song; … i.e., to lift us up and give us the power the Apostle Paul wrote about in 2Cor. 12:9 … to give us strength when we are naturally weak.

I will pray this morning that all reading here are experiencing the energizing wind of God’s Spirit, empowering us to move way beyond our natural selves and to blow with Spirit-power to show others the power of God in our lives.

My Prayer Today: Abba Father, … King Jesus, … Precious Spirit … Fill our sails, Lord, and blow us strongly where You want us to go! … 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, November 27, 2017

November 27, 2017 … Our “Make-over” in Christ

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 331 

Devotional Song: … GO TO THIS LINK …   Please take the time to take in a YouTube video and lyrics from Chris McClarney singing … Beauty for Ashes … poignantly singing about how our God is willing to make us over from the ashes of death into the beauty of life.


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Highlight Verse[s]: Matthew 6:4 [NLT] … 11 When the king heard what was written in the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes in despair. … [Ordering the Priests] … 13 “Go to the Temple and speak to the Lord for me and for the people and for all Judah. Inquire about the words written in this scroll that has been found. For the Lord’s great anger is burning against us because our ancestors have not obeyed the words in this scroll. We have not been doing everything it says we must do.” 
… Josiah recognized that repentance and renewal were needed to follow God’s ways. 
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Highlight Passage [context]: 2 Kings 22:1-4, 8-13 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Josiah, the young King of God’s people, recognizes that the Israelites needed a “do-over” to follow God’s will and His ways from His word.
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Reference Passage [NLT] : … Luke 9:23 [NLT] … 23 Then He said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow Me.” 
… Jesus commands His disciples to change from selfishness to “Saviorness”

Reference Passage [NLT] : … 2nd Corinthians 5:15- 17 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK … Christians must realize that we are new in Christ, made-over by our repentance and surrender to the One Who made the do-over possible by His death on the cross.

Reference Passage [NLT] : … Philippians 1:6 [NLT] … 6 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. 
… The truth about God doing a complete make-over of our character into that of Christlikeness.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Kirsten Holmberg, writes about an adoption where doing things over changed everything for their new son (see photo). The ODB author wrote: When we brought our adoptive son home from overseas, I was eager to shower him with love and provide what he had lacked over the preceding months, especially quality food, since he had a nutritional deficit. But despite our best efforts, including consulting specialists, he grew very little. After nearly three years, we learned he had some severe food intolerances. After removing those items from his diet, he grew five inches in just a few months. While I grieved at how long I’d unwittingly fed him foods that impaired his growth, I rejoiced at this surge in his health! 

When I became a Christian over 3 decades ago, I came to recognize that I needed some serious repentance and a “do-over” from the way I had lived, sinfully and selfishly, to the way commanded by Jesus in Luke 9:23. And the remainder of my life has been a fulfillment of God’s promise (from 2Cor. 5:17 and Phil. 1:6), a “make-over” from my former selfishness into a character much more like my Savior Jesus.

And I pray we all know that this is a life-long process which will only be completed when we’re with Jesus in glory. So, PTL for His willingness to give us this “do-over” and to become more like our Lord today than yesterday and even more tomorrow than today.

My Prayer Today: Abba Father, … King Jesus, … Precious Spirit … Help me, Lord, to surrender to You today for Your complete make-over into Your image. … 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.