Tuesday, January 31, 2017

January 31, 2017 ... The Tree of Life

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 31 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of images and lyrics from an old Lutheran hymn with an anonymous soprano singing … The Tree of Life … poignantly expressing how God used “a tree” to bring life and death to the Garden and then to be the instrument of redemption with Christ’s blood being shed on that “tree” to atone for that sin in the Garden.


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Highlight Verse[s]: Colossians 1:19-20 [NLT] … 
19 For God, in all His fullness, was pleased to live in Christ; 20 and through Him God reconciled everything to Himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross. 
… Nehemiah, having faith in God’s power of restoration, commits to leading the people rebuild the walls around the City of David.
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Highlight Passage [context]: Colossians 1:15-20 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Paul lays out the supremacy of Christ and His sacrifice to pay our penalty for sin on the cross. 
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Reference Passage #1 [NKJV] : …1st Peter 2:24 [NLT] …
24 He personally carried our sins in His body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By His wounds you are healed. 
… God, thru Paul, states His promise to rebuild anyone into the newness which is the image of Christ Himself.

Reference Passage #2 [NKJV] : … Revelation 22:1-2 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Seeing heaven, John saw the restored “tree of life” from which all mankind could then partake of its fruit forevermore.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Dennis Fisher, used a rather obscure reference to an 8th century English poem to teach about how God has used the image of “a tree” to depict man’s sin as well as His plan of redemption. You can USE THIS LINK to read the ODB entry for today.

However, reading this ODB devotional and meditating on the Scriptures referenced (see above), my mind was taken back a few years when my wife and I sojourned to the Holy Land; and I had the opportunity to stand on the very stones where Jesus as nailed to that “TREE” (i.e., the Cross). In the attached photo you see my feet standing on those stones.

And it was there it impacted me how it was my sins which nailed my Savior to that tree; and I wept almost uncontrollably. And I’ll pray today that we all realize the extent of God’s use of Christ’s shed blood on “a tree” that ultimately will allow sinful man to be reconciled to God so that one day all who do so in faith will be able to partake of another tree, … “the tree of life” in Heaven (see Rev. 22:1-2).

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … Thank You, Lord, for Your atoning blood which paved the way for all who come to you in faith to partake of the fruit of the eternal tree of 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.

Monday, January 30, 2017

January 30, 2017 ... Rebuilt In Christ

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 30 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of images from Phillips, Craig, and Dean singing … He’ll Do Whatever It Takes … poignantly expressing how God can (and will) do all it takes to rebuild, restore, remake, and renew someone from selfish destruction into a semblance of Himself.

See image of “Berlin Before Restoration” 

See image of “Berlin After Restoration”  

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Highlight Verse[s]: Nehemiah 2:17 [NLT] … 
17 But now I said to them [God’s remnant in Jerusalem], “You know very well what trouble we are in. Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire. Let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and end this disgrace!” 
… Nehemiah, having faith in God’s power of restoration, commits to leading the people rebuild the walls around the City of David.
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Highlight Passage [context]: Nehemiah 2:11-18 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Nehemiah, coming from Babylon to Jerusalem inspects the destroyed gates/walls and sets a plan (God’s plan) into motion to rebuild the walls.
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Reference Passage #1 [NKJV] : … John 21:15-19 [NLT] ... USE THIS LINK
… After the resurrection and before His ascension, Jesus appears to Peter and restores him from the brokenness of his denial to a recommitment to surrender to Christ’s love and serve the Lord faithfully for the rest of Peter’s life.

Reference Passage #2 [NKJV] : … 2 Corinthians 5:17 [NLT] … 
17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 
… God, thru Paul, states His promise to rebuild anyone into the newness which is the image of Christ Himself.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, David McCasland, uses a personal story to teach on how Christ remakes/restores His beloved into some brand now. The OBD author wrote today: When Edward Klee returned to Berlin after being away for many years, the city he remembered and loved was no longer there. It had changed dramatically, and so had he. Writing in Hemispheres magazine, Klee said, “Returning to a city you once loved tends to be a hit-or-miss proposition . . . . It can be a letdown.” Going back to the places of our past may produce a feeling of sorrow and loss. We are not the same person we were then, nor is the place that was so significant in our lives exactly as it was. 

In reading this story here in my quiet time with God here this morning, I thought about how much Berlin was transformed into rubble after WW2 (see photo #1) and then restored to a new and beautiful city after the wall fell more recently (see photo #2). And then the OBD devotional entry helped me remember the true story of now Nehemiah was called by God to rebuild the temple walls in Jerusalem after God’s remnant was led back there following decades of captivity in Babylon (see Neh. 2:11-18).

And then my mind took me to the story of how Jesus restored the Apostle Peter on that beach in Capernaum after the resurrection, … when Peter was absolutely broken by his denial of Christ [see John 21:15-19. And then, from my memory of God’s truth, the reality of 2nd Cor. 5:17 bubbled up in my consciousness, reminding me that, as the linked song proclaims today, God will do whatever it takes in the mind/heart of a born-again Christian to rebuild our hearts and lives into a semblance of our living Lord.

I know that’s what my Lord is doing in my life. How about yours?

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … I am not the old, lost, Bill Berry. I’m totally becoming new by You and in You and for You. … Amen

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

Sunday, January 29, 2017

January 29, 2017 ... “I AM”

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 29 

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 expressing the reality of Whom we worship as our God.


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Highlight Verse[s]: John 8:58 [NLT] … 
58 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I am!” 
… Jesus clearly declares that He is “Yahweh,” a reference the Jewish leaders understood from Exodus 3:14; and they thought this man, claiming to be the God of Abraham was committing blasphemy.
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Highlight Passage [context]: John 8:48-59 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Jesus declares the reality of just WHO HE IS to the Jewish leaders; and they couldn’t handle the truth, desiring to kill the God-Man.
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Reference Passage #1 [NKJV] : … Matthew 16:15 [NLT] … 
15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 
… Jesus asks the most important question anyone can ever answer in their lives, one that everyone must answer to decide their eternal destiny.

Reference Passage #2 [NKJV] : … Colossians 1:15-17 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… The Apostle declares the reality and supremacy of Christ , the one to Whom we must bear witness as our Lord and Savior.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Bill Crowder, teaches about the confrontation everyone must have with the reality of Jesus being the great “I AM.” The OBD author wrote today: Jesus, when challenged by the Jewish religious leaders about His identity, also claimed to pre-date Abraham. “Very truly I tell you,” He said, “before Abraham was born, I am!” (John 8:58). His bold assertion shocked those who were confronting Him, and they sought to stone Him. They knew He wasn’t referring to a chronological age but was actually claiming to be eternal by taking the ancient name of God, “I am” (see Ex. 3:14). But as a member of the Trinity, He could make that claim legitimately. 

But in this confrontation above, the Jewish leaders couldn’t handle Jesus’ claim that He was Yahweh, … i.e., the very same “I am” Who confronted Moses at the burning bush. They felt Jesus was committing blasphemy and wanted to kill Him, which they ultimately did when He proved WHOM He truly was (and IS) … the Son of God.

And that confrontation with the reality of Jesus being the God Paul wrote about to us in Colossians 1:15-17 is the reality everyone has to confront, answering the question Jesus asked His disciples … “Who do you say I am?” [see Matthew 16: 15] And that, my friends, the most important question anyone will ever answer and one which will decide our eternal destiny.

I hope and pray that we all have answered Jesus’ question as Paul wrote about in Romans 10:9-13 (check it out if you don’t know the passage).

So, my friend, how do you answer Jesus’ question? … Prayerfully you join me with the essence of what Kari Jobe so poignantly sings in the song linked above.

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … Your Son is my Lord and my Savior; and He is the great “I AM!” … Amen

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

Saturday, January 28, 2017

January 28, 2017 ... God’s Love is ALWAYS!

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 28 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of images and lyrics from the group Sidewalk Prophets singing … You Love Me Anyway … poignantly expressing the reality of a God Who loves me … NO MATTER WHAT!


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Highlight Verse[s]: Romans 9:35, 37 [NLT] … 
35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? … 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. 
… Do we really get it … God loves us NO MATTER WHAT!
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Highlight Passage [context]: Romans 8:31-39 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Paul strongly declares that God’s love depends on NOTHING. It’s just Who He is! 
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Reference Passage #1 [NKJV] : … 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. …” 
… I expect you know this … but really? … DO WE?!

Reference Passage #2 [NKJV] : … 1st John 4:9-10, 15-16 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… If we are in Christ, God loves is in us … FOREVER … NO MATTER WHAT!

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Randy Kilgore, emphasizes a truth that I believe many lost people often miss and some Christians forget. The OBD author wrote today: Oh, it’s true that God wants us to work to feed our families and to responsibly take care of the world He created. And He expects us to serve the weak, hungry, naked, thirsty, and broken people around us even as we remain alert to those who have not yet responded to the Holy Spirit's tug on their lives. … And yet we serve a God who loves us more than our work. 

Often our work is in outflow of our love and service to the God who first loved us enough to send His son to atone for our sinfulness. But if we’re truly born again - in Christ - NOTHING we do - or not do - can, as Paul wrote “separate us from the love of God.”

Recently, I trapped my self - with my pride - into thinking that certain things I was doing for my church were indispensable to God’s kingdom; but I almost burned out to a frizzle in doing so much good stuff that I was forgetting the most important stuff … i.e., what He’s called me to do.

So, my friends, after you taken in the photo and song for today and you’ve meditated on the truths provided by God’s word, let’s all ask ourselves, … Am I letting my pride lead me to forget what Randy Kilgore strongly writes today … that … We serve a God who loves us more than our work. AND … The reason we exist is to be in fellowship with God. 

And so, … let me pray Randy Kilgore’s OBD prayer today …

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … “help us never lose sight of the unconditional love You have for us, and let us hold on to that hope when our labor—and the fruit of our labor—are gone”. … Amen

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

Friday, January 27, 2017

January 27, 2017 ... No Lone Rangers

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 27 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of images and lyrics from Kari Jobe singing … I Am Not Alone … poignantly expressing the reality of our constant togetherness as Christians, with other Christians, but even more so in our relationship with the God of the Universe.


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Highlight Verse[s]: Exodus 17:12 [NLT] … 
12 Moses’ arms soon became so tired he could no longer hold them up. So Aaron and Hur found a stone for him to sit on. Then they stood on each side of Moses, holding up his hands. So his hands held steady until sunset. 
… As with Moses, we need others to come along side us to help us do life TOGETHER. Lone Ranger Christianity just doesn’t cut it!!
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Highlight Passage [context]: Exodus 17:8-15 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Moses needed the help of Aaron and Our to hold up his hands in order that God would defeat the Amalekites.
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Reference Passage #1 [NKJV] : … Exodus 18:13-22 [NLT] ... USE THIS LINK
… Moses learns a lesson in delegation and togetherness from his faither-in-law which we all need to learn to avoid trying to be a “Lone Ranger” Christian.

Reference Passage #2 [NKJV] : … Deuteronomy 31:6, 8 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK ...  
… God’s promise to never forsake His children. We are NEVER alone in Christ.

Reference Passage #3 [NKJV] : … Galatians 6:9-10 [NLT] … 
9 So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. 10 Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith 
… Let’s do it together, especially in the family of God.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Amy Boucher Pye, uses the lessons Moses learned in leading God’s people (see passages from Exodus 17 - 18 linked above) to illustrate how we must avoid trying to be “Lone Ranger” Christians in this life. These two scenes involving Moses really illustrate how we should seek out and rely on the help of others, especially fellow Christians, in getter our God-led purposes accomplished in this life. I especially like the illustration in the attached photo, illustrating this principle of Christians working TOGETHER to get God’s job done.

Yes, it is true that, in Christ, and as Kari Jobe sings in the linked song, … we are never alone. God is always with us and will never forsake us (see Deut. 31:6, 8); but at the same time, He never expects us to go it alone in this life. That’s why He established the “family of God, “ His Church, so that we could be His bride and take on life TOGETHER.

I’m afraid, all-to-often, I tend to try to let my pride (and Satan’s temptation) suck me into being a Lone Ranger Christian. However, I think, in my later years, I’m learning to lean on others and get help just as Moses learned from his father-in-law Jethro (see Exodus 18); and how Paul exhorted his fellow Christians in Galatians 6:9-10.

So, how about it, my friends? Let’s do life working together to accomplish God’s will.

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … Help me to lean on the gifts and strengths of fellow Christians to get Your work done in my life. … Amen

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

Thursday, January 26, 2017

January 26, 2017 ... Freedom from Self

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 26 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of images and lyrics from Nichole Nordeman singing … Finally Free … poignantly expressing the reality of finding freedom from self in the Savior.


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Highlight Verse[s]: Romans 7:14-15 [NLT] … 
14 So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. 15 I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. 
… Paul states his constant struggle to break free from his bondage to his sin nature and to be set free by the completed word of his Savior.
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Highlight Passage [context]: Romans 7:14-25 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Paul writing of his own struggle with the human sin in himself, …
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Reference Passage #1 [NKJV] : … John 8:31-32 [NLT] … 
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.”
… Jesus declares that our freedom comes when we become slaves to our obedience to the truth, Who is Jesus Himself.

Reference Passage #2 [NKJV] : … Romans 8:1-2 [NLT] … 
1 So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. 2 And because you belong to Him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. 
… We find our freedom from self when we become slaves to Christ.

Reference Passage #3 [NKJV] : … Galatians 5:13 [NLT] … 
13 For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. 
… We are called to live in the freedom which Christ won for us on the cross.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Tim Gustafson, uses the Apostle Paul’s description of his own struggle with his sin nature as a Christian in the highlight passage linked above [see Romans 7:14-25]. And I believe Paul wrote about this tug-o-war with self [see photo] so that his readers would identify, as Christians, with the struggle to break free from selfishness and to live in the freedom of Christlikeness, which is so gloriously described in Romans, Chapter 8.

The Apostle Paul was like any Christian who seeks what Nichole Nordeman sings about in today’s linked song … to finally be free from the bondage of sin. And in Christ, He promises that freedom (see John 8:32) when, … and only when, … we’re willing to be faithful in living out our Lord’s teaching, which give us the power to become who we are in Christ … freedom from self by being a slave to the Savior.

So, today we must ask ourselves:… Do we want to live in Romans 7 or in Romans 8? As Christians, it’s our choice [see 2nd Cor. 5:17]… !!

Personally, I choose the latter!

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … I walk free from my self by being chained to Your truth and Your love. … Amen

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

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

January 25, 2017 ... Peace In the Storm

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 25 

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 expressing the peace we find in Christ in the midst of the storms of life.


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Highlight Verse[s]: Psalm 29:7 [NLT] … 
58 The voice of the Lord strikes with bolts of lightning. 
… Our Mighty God often speaks as with thunder and lightning.
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Highlight Passage [context]: Psalm 29 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… King David expressed His honor to God, even in the midst of His thunderous power (see v.7 above).
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Reference Passage #1 [NKJV] : … Isaiah 26:3 [NLT] … 
3  You will keep in perfect peace all who trust You, … all whose thoughts are fixed on You. 
… God, thru Isaiah, gives us His prescription for His peace.

Reference Passage #2 [NKJV] : … John 14:1 [NLT] … 
1 “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. … “ 
… Jesus is our peace … but only when we trust in Him.

Reference Passage #3 [NKJV] : … John 16:33 [NLT] … 
33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” 
… Jesus is very clear on when/where we can find peace from the storms and stresses of this world and our life.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, David Roper, tells of a lightning storm which produced shock and awe. You can read his his story AT THIS LINK .   But Roper’s ODB story reminded me of a personal incident when I was about 6 years old.

For many years our family lived with an older maiden lady, “Maude.” And Maude was like a third grandmother to me. And one night in the midst of a thunder storm, she beckoned me to go out on our front porch with her to watch the awesome display of thunder and lightning. And the thunder claps and the ribbons of lightning would have been frightening to a young boy; but, … laying on our porch swing in Maude’s lap, I can still remember being calmed by her presence and seeing God’s display with overwhelming peace. To this day, I enjoy watching God speaking, as King David wrote (in Ps. 29:7) as with a tongue of lightning.

And as the scripture references above tell us, our God wants to calm our hearts in the midst of the storms of life. Yes, … God’s voice can be like the thunder and lightning; but as none other than God Himself, in the person of His Son, Jesus, speaks His calm to us (see the passages in John’s gospel above), we find His peace in that He has overcome the storms of life. And the Prophet Isaiah exhorted us to find God’s peace when we focus, with trust, on our Lord.

And tho I’ve been in the midst of a thunderstorm of stress of late, each morning when I come to this place, and get on my knees to praise my Lord, and spend time with Him in His word, … I feel His peace, hugging me as He is … my Abba Father. I pray you find that peace - His peace - as well today and all days.

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … Thanks for hugging me with Your peace today, which I pray likewise for all who read with me here. … Amen

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

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

January 24, 2017 ... Our All for Him

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 24 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of images and lyrics from the group Hillsong leading in worship and singing … Lord I Offer My Life To You … poignantly expressing the need for all of us who love the Lord to offer our all in His service.


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Highlight Verse[s]: 1st Corinthians 15:58 [NKJV] … 
58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. 
… Clear enough encouragement, wouldn’t you say?!!
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Highlight Passage [context]: 1st Corinthians 15:50-58 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK
… Paul exhorting Christians to trust the Lord and follow Him diligently in that our faithfulness will never be in vain.
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Reference Passage #1 [NKJV] : … Proverbs 3:5-6 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK
… Solomon wrote of complete trust in God to show us His way and give us all we need to follow Him.

Reference Passage #2 [NKJV] : … 2nd Corinthians 9:6-8 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK … Paul exhorts Christians to willingly give our best for God’s glory… our time, our talents, and our treasures.

Reference Passage #3 [NKJV] : … Galatians 6:8-10 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK
… Once again God, thru Paul, exhorts Christians onward to not lose heart in doing good for God’s Name and His glory.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, David McCasland, writes from experience in teaching about following and serving our Lord. The OBD author wrote: A financial advisor I know describes the reality of investing money by saying, “Hope for the best and be prepared for the worst.” With almost every decision we make in life there is uncertainty about the outcome. Yet there is one course we can follow where no matter what happens, we know that in the end it will not be a wasted effort. 
The apostle Paul spent a year with the followers of Jesus in Corinth, a city known for its moral corruption. After he left, he urged them in a follow-up letter not to be discouraged or feel that their witness for Christ was of no value. He assured them that a day is coming when the Lord will return and even death will be swallowed up in victory (1 Cor. 15:52–55). 

And in the highlight and reference passages above we read of God, thru Paul, encouraging and exhorting his fellow Christians (that’s you and me, too!) to stick in there and find our way to give all we can to serve our Lord, knowing that such service is our best eternal investment of our time, talent, and treasure. And the linked song also is a prayer to do just that.

And so, today’s OBD and my thoughts are simply a self-inventory for any readers here, asking if we’re truly giving our ALL in service to/for King Jesus, … knowing that any such service will never be in vain when it is offered in His Name and for His glory.

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … I believe I am serving you. Show me if I can do more in Your Name. … Amen

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

Monday, January 23, 2017

January 23, 2017 ... All I Need

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 23 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of images and lyrics from the group Hillsong leading in worship and singing … Jesus, You Are All I Need … poignantly expressing the truth in worship that our Holy King Jesus is all we need to supply our needs in this life.


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Highlight Verse[s]: Mark 6:7-9 [NKJV] … 
7 And He called the twelve to Himself, and began to send them out two by two, and gave them power over unclean spirits. 8 He commanded them to take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bag, no bread, no copper in their money belts— 9 but to wear sandals, and not to put on two tunics. 
… The Twelve learn to depend on Jesus for their needs.
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Highlight Passage [context]: Mark 6:7-12 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK
… Jesus tests the faith of His 12 Disciples.
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Reference Passage #1 [NKJV] : … Proverbs 3:5-6 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK
… Solomon wrote of complete trust in God to show us His way and give us all we need to follow Him.

Reference Passage #2 [NKJV] : … 2nd Corinthians 9:8, 12:9 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK
… Paul exhorts Christians to trust God for all our needs.

Reference Passage #3 [NKJV] : … Philippians 4:19 [NKJV] … 
19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. 
… True … but so tough to believe and live out when we’re tested by our human desires.

Reference Passage #4 [NKJV] : … 2nd Peter 1:2-4 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK
… Peter shows us the extent of God’s grace in supplying all our needs.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Poh Fang Chia, writes from the heart of his experience in teaching about trusting God for all our needs. The OBD author wrote: Imagine going on a trip without luggage. No basic necessities. No change of clothing. No money or credit cards. Sounds both unwise and terrifying, doesn’t it? 
But that’s exactly what Jesus told His twelve disciples to do when He sent them out on their first mission to preach and heal. “Take nothing for the journey except a staff,” said Jesus. “No bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra shirt” (Mark 6:8–9). … 
Yet later on when Jesus was preparing them for their work after He was gone, He told His disciples, “If you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one” (Luke 22:36). 
So, what’s the point here? It’s about trusting God to supply [all we need]. 

You’ve no doubt heard the old saying, “I couldn’t see the forest for the trees,” expressing our blindness to obvious truth in the midst of our human misperceptions. Well, … often, I’m afraid I can’t see the forest of God’s providence because of viewing only the trees of my desires.

Going thru today’s OBD and being led to the YouTube song (linked above), Hudson Taylor’s profound quote (see photo) rang loudly, with truth, for me. I needed to be reminded that when I’m truly pursuing God’s will, He will supply, with His grace, all I need. However, so often, I have trouble trusting my God to show me the way and give me all I need because I’m pursuing my desires rather than His will.

Enough said, right?!!

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … Help me to see Your way and trust You to provide me with all I 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.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

January 22, 2017 ... Why God?!

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 22 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …   Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of images and lyrics from Alan Jackson singing … Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus … poignantly expressing a plea for all who follow Christ to look at Jesus, … especially in moments where things seem dark and doubtful.


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Highlight Verse[s]: 2Corinthians 4:6 [NKJV] … 
6 For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 
… God will light the way
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Highlight Passage [context]: 2Corinthians 4:1-15 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK
… Paul exhorts all Christians to let the light of God shine in our hearts, especially when we’re surrounded by darkness.
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Reference Passage #1 [NKJV] : … Proverbs 3:5-6 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK
… Solomon wrote of surrender all in our hearts to follow the Lord God and avoiding doing life on our own.

Reference Passage #2 [NKJV] : … Isaiah 41:10 [NKJV] … 
10 Fear not, for I am with you; … be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, … yes, I will help you, … I will lift you up with My righteous hand. 
… God’s promise that He’ll be there for us in the tough times.

 Reference Passage #3 [NKJV] : … Romans 8:28 [NKJV] … 
28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 
… True … but so tough to believe and live out in the tough times.

Reference Passage #3 [NKJV] : … 1st Peter 5:7 [NKJV] … 
7 … casting ALL your cares on Him, for He cares for you … 
… Yes, … but do we really?

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Phillip Yancey, writes from the heart of his experience in teaching about following God in the tough times. The OBD author wrote: Much of my career as a writer has revolved around the problem of pain. I return again and again to the same questions, as if fingering an old wound that never quite heals. I hear from readers of my books, and their anguished stories give human faces to my doubts. I remember a youth pastor calling me after he had learned that his wife and baby daughter were dying of AIDS because of a tainted blood transfusion. “How can I talk to my youth group about a loving God?” he asked. 
I have learned to not even attempt an answer to these “why” questions. Why did the youth pastor’s wife happen to get the one tainted bottle of blood? Why does a tornado hit one town and skip over another? Why do prayers for physical healing go unanswered?  

I would imagine that all reading here with me identify with author Yancey in this ODB entry. Most, if not all, of us have come to our “WHY GOD?” moments, haven’t we? But as I meditated thru today’s song, by Alan Jackson, and the Scriptures above, I had to agree with something else Yancey wrote: One question, however, no longer gnaws at me as it once did: “Does God care?” I know of only one way to answer that question, and the answer is Jesus. In Jesus, God gave us a face. If you wonder how God feels about the suffering on this groaning planet, look at that face. 

My relationship with my Lord answers the “WHY GOD?” question; and the deeper my walk with Jesus becomes, i.e., the more faithful my walk, … the more I trust where He’s leading me … no matter where I’m led. And as the song rings true above, when I look to Jesus, “… the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … I’m following You, Lord, wherever You lead 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, January 21, 2017

January 21, 2017 ... All For God’s Team

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 21 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of images and lyrics from Brian Littrell singing a contemporary version of the old hymn … I Surrender All … poignantly expressing the need for all Christians to give our all for His team, becoming, as Paul called, “living sacrifices” to our Lord and King, Jesus.


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Highlight Verse[s]: Romans 12:1-2 [NKJV] … 
1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. 
… Truth … but way tough to live!!  
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Highlight Passage [context]: Romans 12:1-8 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK
… Paul exhorts all Christians to become Christ’s living sacrifices, giving our all for the Master. 
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Reference Passage #1 [NKJV] : … Proverbs 3:5-6 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK
… Solomon wrote of surrender all in our hearts to follow the Lord God.

Reference Passage #2 [NKJV] : … Luke 9:23-24 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK
… Jesus calls His disciples to deny themselves … and to follow Him as the coach and owner of God’s team.

Reference Passage #3 [NKJV] : … 1Corinthians 10:13 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK
… Paul explains that Jesus, as the coach of our earthly team, would never call on us to do anything that we couldn’t handle … following His lead.

Reference Passage #4 [NKJV] : … 2Corinthians 12:9-10 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK
… Following Christ, on His team, we ought to revel in giving our all for Him; because when we’re weak, He will be strong for us.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Dave Branon, used a sports analogy to teach about surrendering our all for Christ. The OBD author wrote: When I played college basketball, I made a conscious decision at the beginning of each season to walk into that gym and dedicate myself totally to my coach—doing whatever he might ask me to do. 
It would not have benefited my team for me to announce, “Hey, Coach! Here I am. I want to shoot baskets and dribble the ball, but don’t ask me to run laps, play defense, and get all sweaty!” … Every successful athlete has to trust the coach enough to do whatever the coach asks them to do for the good of the team. 

Wow! … I really identify with Branon’s ODB analogy, being born/raised in Indiana where basketball is called “Hoosier Hysteria.”   In Hoosierland most every boy/girl dreams of what was depicted in the Movie Hoosiers [SEE THIS LINK ], … doing our all to win the game for the coach and the team. But to accomplish that feat in basketball, being a fast, team sport, the individual players have to avoid selfishness and play for the team.

And that was what the Apostle Paul was calling Christians to do in his letter to the Roman Christians in the highlight passage today. He was exhorting them (us) to be willing to be “living sacrifices” for God’s team … with Christ as our team owner, coach, and star player. And when we do, as is described in today’s song link and the reference scriptures above, we will be winners in this life … on to the next … where we’ll revel in the heavenly team banquet of all times.

My challenge today was asking myself if I’m truly surrendering my ego, my SELF, my ALL … to be on Christ’s team. We all have to decide to play by His rules and leadership, don’t we?

How about you?  Are you willing to be on God's team today?

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … Lord, … I’m on Your team; … all the way to the finals!! … Amen

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

Friday, January 20, 2017

January 20, 2017 ... Breathe On Me, God

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 20 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK … Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of images and lyrics from the group Hillsong singing … Breathe On Me, Breath of God … poignantly singing the prayer that God’s Spirit breathes on and in me as a child of God. … And ON TO THIS LINK  to hear the Heritage Singers powerfully praying in song that God breathes on a faithful believer in Christ to provide the life needed to be transformed and empowered to serve our Lord.


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Highlight Verse[s]: Genesis 2:7 [NKJV] … 
7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. 
… God brings life to mankind, breathing life into him (us).
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Highlight Passage [context]: Genesis 2:4-8 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK
… God forms man from the clay of the earth and breathes the breath of life into him (mankind). 
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Reference Passage #1 [NKJV] : … Job 27:2-3 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK
… As long as breath was in him (i.e. the life of faith), because of his faith in God, Job recognized that God’s Spirit was in him.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Amy Boucher Pye, used a personal story to illustrate how we, as Christians, have Gods’ breath of life in us when we have and hold onto the faith our Lord gives us. The OBD author wrote: On a cold and frosty morning, as my daughter and I walked to school, we enjoyed seeing our breath turn to vapor. We giggled at the various steamy clouds we could each produce. I received the moment as a gift, reveling in being with her and being alive. Our breath, which is usually invisible, was seen in the cold air, and it made me think about the Source of our breath and life—the Lord our Creator. For He who formed Adam out of the dust of the ground, giving him the breath of life, also gives life to us and to every living creature (Gen. 2:7). All things come from Him—even our very breath, which we inhale without even thinking about. 

We take so much of our life as Christians for granted, don’t we? … Fellow Christian, follow and do what I write here. … Take in a deep breath; and let it out in a deep sigh. Do you recognize that you have that breath of life because of God’s favor? … THANK HIM!! …

And take a moment in your time with God here to listen - even if it’s a quiet time. What do you hear? I hear the furnace running; … but little else; and I need to praise God that I can hear anything at all. …

And I can feel my fingers typing on the keyboard as I type this journal entry; so, I’m stopping to thank God that He gives me my sense of touch. Are you getting where I’m going with this inspiration today? …

We may have a lot of tough stuff going on in our lives. We may even feel oppressed or depressed. But in Christ we should be thanking God everyday for even the breath we breathe … in and out … in and out … in and out. As Hillsong and the Heritage Singers sing (linked above), I will pray along with their songs.

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … Lord, … Breathe on me, breath of God, … fill me wilt life anew … Amen

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

Thursday, January 19, 2017

January 19, 2017 ... Sharing Our Luminous Treasure

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 19 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of images and lyrics from Chris Tomlin singing … Light of the World … powerfully singing of light of Christ we, as broken Christian jars of clay, we need to shine from our lives for others to see the light of our Lord shining for all to see His love.


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Highlight Verse[s]: 2 Corinthians 4:7 [NKJV] … 
7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. 
… God’s call for our witness of His light shining from our lives.
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Highlight Passage [context]: 2 Corinthians 4:1-7 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK
… The Apostle declares how we, tho broken jars of clay, need to shine the light of Christ from our hearts for all to see the glory of Christ in us.
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Reference Passage #1 [NKJV] : … Matthew 5:14-16 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK
… Jesus calls for believers to the the “light of the world …” as Chris Tomlin sings today.

Reference Passage #2 [NKJV] : … John 8:12 [NKJV] … 
12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” 
… Jesus’ light should be shining from our lives for all to see the “Light of the world” from us.

Reference Passage #3 [NKJV] : … 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.” 
… When Jesus left this world, He charged all Christians to be His witnesses of light to a dark world.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Bill Crowder, used an archeological finding to illustrate how we, as Christians, must share the treasure of the ages - Christ - to those who need to see Him. The OBD author wrote: In March 1974, Chinese farmers were digging a well when they made a surprising discovery: Buried under the dry ground of central China was the Terracotta Army—life-size terracotta sculptures that dated back to the third century bc. In this extraordinary find were some 8,000 soldiers, 150 cavalry horses, and 130 chariots drawn by 520 horses. The Terracotta Army has become one of the most popular tourist sites in China, attracting over a million visitors annually. This amazing treasure lay hidden for centuries but is now being shared with the world. 

Most assuredly such an archaeological/historical treasure should be shared with the world. However, we, who’ve given our lives to Christ, have a much greater treasure we should be shining from our hearts for all to see; and that is the light of Christ. And as Paul proclaimed from today’s highlight passage/verse, we are like broken/earthen vessels with Christ’s light shining forth from the cracks of our brokenness to let other see “the Light of the world” to brighten this very dark world [see photo]. 

The question this OBD author asks of me is the challenge/charge Christ Himself gave to all Christians when he spoke from that Sermon on the Mount (see Matt. 5:16) or when He ascended back to heaven after the resurrection (see Acts 1:8); and that question is: Am I witnessing His light to shine forth from my life for all to see the “Light of the World” shining from my heart? And that is what Chris Tomlin sings to challenge us all [linked above].

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … Lord, … Help me shine Your light brightly from my choices and actions; so that other will be drawn from the darkness of this world and their flesh to Your light/love. … Amen

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

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

January 18, 2017 ... Legacy Shadows …

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 18 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of images from three friends, Clay Crosse, Bebe Winans, and Bob Carlisle singing … I Will Follow Christ … powerfully singing of the legacy and long shadow of Christ which we follow to cast a legacy shadow of Christlikeness to the world as we live our lives for Him.


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Highlight Verse[s]: Psalm 100:5 [NKJV] … 
5 For the Lord is good; … His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations. 
… And what can we do in our lives to reflect the long shadows of goodness cast by our Lord. 
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Highlight Passage [context]: Psalm 100 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK
… The Psalmist writes of our serving our God to show that His mercy is everlasting. 
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Reference Passage #1 [NKJV] : … 2nd Chronicles 16:36 [NKJV] … 
36 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting. 
… King David sings, quoting Psalm 106 that God’s shadow mercy/love is cast through all generations.

Reference Passage #2 [NKJV] : … Psalm 96-99 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK
… Songs from the Jewish traditions which resonate praise for God thru the ages.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Joe Stowell, used a personal story to illustrate how we, as Christians, can cast a long shadow of Christlikeness for the world to see our Lord in us. The OBD author wrote: Several years ago, my wife and I stayed in a rustic bed-and-breakfast in the remote Yorkshire Dales of England. We were there with four other couples, all British, whom we had never met before. Sitting in the living room with our after-dinner coffees, the conversation turned to occupations with the question “What do you do?” At the time I was serving as the president of Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, and I assumed that no one there knew of MBI or its founder, D. L. Moody. When I mentioned the name of the school, their response was immediate and surprising. “Of Moody and Sankey . . . that Moody?” Another guest added, “We have a Sankey hymnal and our family often gathers around the piano to sing from it.” I was amazed! The evangelist Dwight Moody and his musician Ira Sankey had held meetings in the British Isles more than 120 years ago, and their influence was still being felt. 

And reading how Christians dedicated to following Christ can have Godly influence through generations to come, I had to ask myself … “What am I doing in following Christ to influence others with a legacy of Christlikeness?”

And then taking in Psalms 96 - 100 (linked above), I realized that God’s people long ago sang these songs to reflect the long shadows of love/mercy cast by our Lord for us to follow, reflecting His light into a world so darkened by the long shadows of evil cast by Satan.

I’d exhort all reading here to listen to a song I often use to illustrate my journal entries (linked above); and then we all need to ask ourselves if we are casting long shadows of Christliness; because Joe Stowell summarized his ODB entry today with this quote: "Only what’s done for Christ will last."

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … Lord, … Shine Your light brightly on my path; so that when I follow You I will cast Your shadow on those who follow 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.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

January 17, 2017 ... He Lives In Me

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 17 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of images and lyrics from Dolly Parton singing her song … He’s Alive … powerfully singing the reality of God Christ’s resurrection to live in the hearts of all who receive His finished work on the cross in faith and allow Him to live in our hearts forever.


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Highlight Verse[s]: John 14:19-20 [NKJV] … 
19 “A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. 20 At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. 
… And that day is now in the hearts of all who believe in Jesus as THE CHRIST and Lord of our lives.
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Highlight Passage [context]: John 14:1-21 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK
… Jesus teaching His Disciples what would come after His resurrection and who He would become to them.
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Reference Passage #1 [NKJV] : … John, Chapters 20-21 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK
… Sometimes our greatest blessings are when we discover God is with us all along when we come through the valley of the shadow of death (see photo).

Reference Passage #2 [NKJV] : … Romans 10:8-13 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK
… And Jesus will live forever in the hearts of all who believe on Him as LORD.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Poh Fang Chia, used the story of a young, lost soul to illustrate Jesus coming alive in one who comes to believe in Jesus as The Christ. The OBD author wrote: The words of Ravi’s father cut deep. “You’re a complete failure. You’re an embarrassment to the family.” … These thoughts haunted him, but he talked to no one. … 
So Ravi struggled alone. Then while he was recovering in the hospital after a failed suicide attempt, a visitor brought him a Bible opened to John 14. His mother read these words of Jesus to Ravi: “Because I live, you also will live” (v. 19). This may be my only hope, he thought. A new way of living. Life as defined by the Author of life. So he prayed, “Jesus, if You are the one who gives life as it is meant to be, I want it.” 

Like this young man, I once was lost in my sin and self condemnation, then one day Jesus showed Himself to be real and overcame my doubts. He came alive for me. Well, maybe not the same way He did for some of his inner followers in John 20-21. However, as Dolly Parton sings in her song linked above, I discovered, over 30 years ago, that Jesus is The Christ, and HE LIVES IN ME. And all I had to do to experience King Jesus living in my heart was to express the faith Paul wrote about to us in Rom. 10:8-13. And when we do, He will live in our hearts forever.

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … Lord, … I pray that all who read here today know you as King Jesus, … The Christ, … and they are experiencing Your living love every day of their lives as do I. ... Amen

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

Monday, January 16, 2017

January 16, 2017 ... Shadowed Blessings

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 16 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of images and lyrics from Laura Story singing her song … Blessings … poignantly singing the reality of God so often giving us blessings in disguise … those times our Lord is always there to deliver us from the trials of life … bringing us our greatest blessings.


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Highlight Verse[s]: 2nd Chronicles 20:9 [NKJV] … 
9 ‘If disaster comes upon us—sword, judgment, pestilence, or famine—we will stand before this temple and in Your presence (for Your name is in this temple), and cry out to You in our affliction, and You will hear and save.’ 
… Jehoshaphat cries out to God for His deliverance.
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Highlight Passage [context]: 2nd Chronicles 20:1-22 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK
… God’s people learn that God brings His people from the shadow of oppression into the light of His love.
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Reference Passage #1 [NKJV] : … Psalm 23 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK
… Sometimes our greatest blessings are when we discover God is with us all along when we come through the valley of the shadow of death (see photo).

Reference Passage #2 [NKJV] : … Isaiah 41:10 [NKJV] … 
10 Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, … yes, I will help you, … I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ 
… Yes … for all of God’s elect.

Reference Passage #3 [NKJV] : … 1st Peter 5:7 [NKJV] … 
7 … casting all your cares on Him because He cares for you … 
… True, … but do we?

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Jennifer Benson Schuldt, used an OT biblical story to illustrate how God is always with us … even when things appear dire or deadly. The OBD author wrote: Becoming ill, losing a job, or enduring heartbreak are examples of what some call “being in the valley,” where dread overshadows everything else [see photo]. The people of Judah experienced this when they heard an invading army was approaching (2 Chron. 20:2–3). Their king prayed, “If calamity comes . . . [we] will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us” (v. 9). God responded, “Go out to face [your enemies] tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you” (v. 17). 

I truly love the song I’ve used in this journal entry, and in others past, to highlight/illustrate what this ODB devotional teaches; because Laura Story wrote her song when she was in the “valley of the shadow of death,” and when she and her husband, who was diagnosed with brain cancer, were discovering that God often shows us his greatest blessings when all appears lost.

And aren’t the most astonishing blessings which we recall are those when God seemed so far away, … but then He delivered us from that valley of shadows into the light of Christ?   So, if any of us is going thru one of those valleys, as were Jehoshaphat and God’s people in the highlight passage today, take heart in the truths expressed above.

My friend, you may be, like me today, searching for God’s blessing, … because He seems so far away; but taking in the reference passages above, we must see God as our Good Shepherd, our Deliverer, and the One to Whom we can take our cares … because we know He truly loves us and is the only one Who can lift us up.

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … Lord, … You are my Deliverer and the only One I can come to in my time of need. Bring me thru this dark valley, Lord, into Your light. ... Amen

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

Sunday, January 15, 2017

January 15, 2017 ... Dying To Live

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 15 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of images from Fernando Ortega singing an old, old hymn … When I Survey the Wondrous Cross … poignantly singing the reality of the cost Christ paid for our living in/with Him eternally.


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Highlight Verse[s]: Matthew 10:39 [NKJV] … 
39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it. 
… Dying to self is living for Christ.
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Highlight Passage [context]: Matthew 10:37-42 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK
… Jesus on the cost of Christian discipleship.
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Reference Passage #1 [NKJV] : … Galatians 2:20 [NKJV] … 
20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
… The ultimate Christian paradox … to live in Christ is to die to self.

Reference Passage #2 [NKJV] : … Philippians 1:21, 3:13-14 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK
… Truth … but do we die to self to live it, … keeping God’s ultimate prize in focus.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Amy Boucher Pye, used a story to illustrate how often we must sacrifice in life to gain life itself. The OBD author wrote: When I married my English fiancĂ© and moved to the United Kingdom, I thought it would be a five-year adventure in a foreign land. I never dreamed I’d still be living here nearly twenty years later, or that at times I’d feel like I was losing my life as I said goodbye to family and friends, work, and all that was familiar. But in losing my old way of life, I’ve found a better one. 
The upside-down gift of finding life when we lose it is what Jesus promised to His apostles. When He sent out the twelve disciples to share His good news, He asked them to love Him more than their mothers or fathers, sons or daughters (Matt. 10:37). His words came in a culture where families were the cornerstone of the society and highly valued. But He promised that if they would lose their life for His sake, they would find it (v. 39). 

I’m grateful for the truth Paul expounded in Gal. 2:20 and Phil. 1:21 (see above). But fellow Christians, dying to self and living for Christ can be a painful process at times, can’t it? And so, … that’s why we must keep the ultimate prize in focus (see Phil. 3:13-14) so that the pain of dying to self can be overcome as the cost of discipleship in Christ.

That’s why I exhort any readers to hear Fernando Ortega, linked above, singing of the price Jesus paid on that wondrous cross so that we could, by dying to our selves, live in/with our Savior forever.

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … Yes, Lord, … Surveying the cross I’m brought to the reality of dying to myself so that I can live in You. ... Amen

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

Saturday, January 14, 2017

January 14, 2017 ... Who Is He?

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 14 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of images from the group Heartcry singing Dennis Jernigan’s song … I Stand Amazed … poignantly singing the reality of the One we worship and serve … Our Lord and Savior … Our Messiah … our God, … King Jesus, … The Christ.


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Highlight Verse[s]: Mark 4:41 [NKJV] … 
41 And they [the Disciples] feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!” 
… The disciples were learning that Jesus is God.
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Highlight Passage [context]: Mark 4:36-41 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK
… Jesus calms the storm; and His disciples are amazed that this man controls the winds/waves. 
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Reference Passage #1 [NKJV] : … Mark 6:45-52 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK
… The faith of the disciples is again challenged by a storm as they still had trouble believing who Jesus was/is. Our question is … DO WE KNOW AND BELIEVE JESUS IS GOD?!

Reference Passage #2 [NKJV] : … 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.” 
… Our King Jesus will never abandon us in the wind/waves of life.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Mart DeHaan, used a botanical analogy to write about our faith in Christ. The OBD author wrote: Imagine a world without wind. Lakes would be calm. Falling leaves wouldn’t blow in the streets. But in still air, who would expect trees to suddenly fall over? That’s what happened in a three-acre glass dome built in the Arizona desert. Trees growing inside a huge windless bubble called Biosphere 2 grew faster than normal until suddenly collapsing under their own weight. Project researchers eventually came up with an explanation. These trees needed wind stress to grow strong. 

On two separate occasions in the synoptic Gospel accounts John Mark (in Mark, Chapters 4 & 6 - linked above) writes about how Jesus had to use tests of wind/waves to show His Disciples just Who He was … i.e., God who could control nature. And even with these, and other astonishing miracles, these eye-witnesses to the reality of the God-Man, Who was their Messiah, really didn’t get Whom they were following until Jesus was raised from the grave and ascended into Heaven.

It’s not uncommon for our God to put us, His disciples, through the wind/waves of storms in our lives to test and grow our faith. Perhaps my readers may be going thru such a storm now; or maybe you remember such a “storm” in your past which revealed God’s promise that He’ll never leave us nor forsake us [see Hebrews 13:5].

Well, dear one, I pray we all know and grow in the reality that Jesus is The Christ. He is King Jesus, … our Messiah; and He will NEVER forsake us … no matter how strong the storm may be in our lives. Our Lord has overcome the world (see John 16:33).

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … Yes, Lord, … I believe You are The Christ; and I pray that all who read here share and live in that truth. ... Amen

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

Friday, January 13, 2017

January 13, 2017 ... Memories ...

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 13 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of images and lyrics from the great song from the musical “Cats” … Memory … poignantly singing of a new day which begins every day the moon sets and the sun rises. … AND THEN TO THIS LINK  to hear Chris Rice singing It Is Well With My Soul … expressing God’s desire for us to have His peace no matter our circumstances.


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Highlight Verse[s]: Psalm 126:3 [NKJV] … 
3 The Lord has done great things for us, and we are glad. 
… And let’s never forget it.
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Highlight Passage [context]: Psalm 126 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK
… A song sung by the Jews to remember their time of ascent from Babylon back to Jerusalem … from captivity to freedom.
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Reference Passage #1 [NKJV] : … Habakkuk 3: 16-17 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK
… The Prophet came to focus on the reality that we can CHOOSE joy no matter what our circumstances because of our God’s love for us.

Reference Passage #2 [NKJV] : …John 3:16 [NKJV] …
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 
… If we remember nothing else than this truth, we have eternal joy/peace/love.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, James Banks, used a very personal story to help his readers to do all we can to remember the good times when we’re in the midst of the bad times. The OBD author wrote: Our son wrestled with drug addiction for seven years, and during that time my wife and I experienced many difficult days. As we prayed and waited for his recovery, we learned to celebrate small victories. If nothing bad happened in a twenty-four-hour period, we would tell each other, “Today was a good day.” That short sentence became a reminder to be thankful for God’s help with the smallest things. 

In tough times - hard times - it’s so easy to rehearse a lament like “WHY ME, LORD?” But today’s ODB helped me to remember that we need to ask the same question in the good times?

In today’s highlight passage from Psalm 126, we read of God’s people praising God for His deliverance from captivity in Babylon with a song that the Jews still sing, especially when they are in the midst of very bad times. And that’s what the attached photo represents for me. When I’m down in the dumpers, I’ve learned to recall memories, as today’s linked song sings, of special, lovely times. That photo takes me back to a place/time when God reminded me of His love for me, a memory which always is there for Christians in the truth of John 3:16.

That’s what the Prophet Habakkuk learned and expressed in his journal [see Habakkuk 3:17-18] … that we can choose to praise God with joy no matter what’s going on in our lives. So, I pray that all reading here have some joyful memory jewel that you can hold onto and remember when things are not going well in our lives; and we can say what the second song above sings … ”It is well with my soul!”

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … Yes, Lord, … because of Your love and grace, it is ALWAYS well with my soul. ... Amen

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

Thursday, January 12, 2017

January 12, 2017 ... No Secrets

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 12 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of images from Daniel O’Donnell singing… It Is No Secret … poignantly singing of God’s omniscience and His promise to watch over His children.


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Highlight Verse[s]: Hebrews 4:12-13[NKJV] … 
12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. 
… Nowhere to hide from God.
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Highlight Passage [context]: Hebrews 4:12-16 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK
… NOTHING escapes God’s purview and power.
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Reference Passage #1 [NKJV] : … Psalm 139:1-4 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK
… As King David proclaimed in song … God knows it all !!!

Reference Passage #2 [NKJV] : … Romans 8:27-28 [NKJV] …
27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. … 28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 
… He knows all and allows all things to work together for the good of His faithful children.

Reference Passage #3 [NKJV] : … 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.” [also Deut. 31:8 and Joshua 1:5] 
… God will never leave His children without His watch care.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, David McCasland, used a modern day picture to teach on God’’s omniscience. The OBD author wrote: In 2015 an international research company stated that there were 245 million surveillance cameras installed worldwide, and the number was growing by 15 percent every year. In addition, multiplied millions of people with smartphones capture daily images ranging from birthday parties to bank robberies. Whether we applaud the increased security or denounce the diminished privacy, we live in a global, cameras-everywhere society. 

It’s becoming a reality that everywhere we go, surveillance cameras or cell phones capture where we are and what we’re doing. But mankind is in the “minor leagues” when it comes to watching over our every moment/movement; because as the scriptures above attest, God watches EVERYTHING and EVERYBODY. And as Daniel O’Donnell sings, “There Are No Secrets” from our omnipresent and omniscient God.

So, with no where to hide today, we, who call King Jesus “LORD,” might as well just surrender to the reality that our God is watching over us and directing us with His Spirit.

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … Your Spirit watches over everything and everywhere I go today and all days. So, shine Your light brightly on my path, Lord, so that I find it easy 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.