Sunday, April 30, 2017

April 30, 2017 … God’s Love is FOREVER!

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 120 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of images and lyrics from a soloist from the Maranatha Singers singing … I Love You Lord … poignantly singing of the love we hold for the One Who loved us enough to die for us.


=============
Highlight Verse[s]: Psalm 4:3 … [NLT] … 
3 You can be sure of this: The Lord set apart the godly for Himself. [And] The Lord will answer when I call Him. 
… David’s confidence that he was loved and heard by his God … WHENEVER and FOREVER!
=============
Highlight Passage [context]: Psalm 4:1-8 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… David was in a bad place when he wrote this song; but He knew that His God loved him and would hear his pleas for help.
=============

Reference Passage #1 [NKJV] : … Jeremiah 31:3 [NLT] … 
3 Long ago the Lord said to Isreal: “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to Myself. ..."
… Do we get it that this prophesy means us Christians as well.

Reference Passage #2 [NKJV] : … John 15:12 [NLT] … 
12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 
 … We’re to love others with the same kind of love He has loved us.

Reference Passage #3 [NKJV] : … James 1:12 [NLT] … 
12 God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.
…We prove and receive God’s forever love when we endure in HIs Name and for His glory.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, David Roper, made a very practical statement in introducing his entry today and then quoted an early church father. The ODB author wrote: It’s almost impossible for us to get through a day without being snubbed, ignored, or put down in some way. Sometimes we even do it to ourselves. … [BUT] … 
 “The true measure of God’s love is that He loves without measure.” - Bernard of Clairvaux

I know it’s a big jump from Roper’s introduction to the truth quoted by Bernard of Clairvaux; but we, who’ve experienced the saving love and grace of Jesus by recognizing His Lordship in faith, have been called, as David wrote in Psalm 4 (see above), to experience God’s “without measure” love forever.

So, if you’re feeling down on yourself or we’re experiencing the pressures of the world or Satan, as was David in the highlight psalm above, just sing along with the Maranatha Singers in the linked song … that we love our Lord and lift our voice to worship Him … no matter what we’re experiencing. And take a few moments to meditate on the reference passages above and realize that God loved us enough to send His own Son to die for us.

Now that’s FOREVER LOVE!!

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … dear Lord, … Your love is mine … 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.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

April 29, 2017 … The “Son” Will Rise

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 119 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of images and lyrics from Maureen McGovern singing … The Morning After … poignantly singing of the faith all Christians need to see thru the foggy nights of life to see the SON shining in the morning.


=============
Highlight Verse[s]: Hebrews 11:1 … [NLT] … 
1 Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see. 
… We walk by faith and not by sight.
=============
Highlight Passage [context]: Hebrews 11:1-8 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Faith is our radar through the fogs of life.
=============

Reference Passage #1 [NKJV] : … Isaiah 26:3 [NLT] … 
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and do not depend on your own understanding. 6 Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take. 
… That’s walking by faith and not by sight.

Reference Passage #2 [NKJV] : … Proverbs 3:5-6 [NLT] … 
3 you will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, … all those whose thoughts are fixed on You. 
… When we’re troubled by what we see, our faithful focus on God give us peace.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Cindy Hess Kasper, used a personal story to illustrate how our faith gives us a view on the future that allows us to see the “Son” rising tomorrow even though the fog covers us today. The ODB author wrote: It was very late when we stopped for the night at a country inn outside of Munich. We were delighted to see that our cozy room had a balcony, although an oppressive fog made it impossible to see into the darkness. But when the sun rose a few hours later, the haze began to fade. Then we could see what had been grimly shrouded the night before—a completely idyllic scene [see photo]—peaceful and lush green meadow, sheep grazing with tiny tinkling bells about their necks, and big white clouds in the sky that looked exactly like more sheep—huge, fluffy sheep! 

I think everyone (yes, even Christians) experiences those foggy nights in life where it’s frightfully hard to see a few feet in front of where we are. But then the morning sun rises, as in the author’s story, and we can see clearly. But what brings us thru the times where we’re in that fog? …

It’s our faith, isn’t it?!

We don’t need to see clearly ahead all the time as Christians, do we? NO; … we know that our “Son” is going to rise tomorrow to give us the light of faith to move ahead. It’s as Maureen McGovern so poignantly sings in the linked song. It may be frightfully dark tonight; but there is going to be a “morning after!” And for Christians, that’s when the “SON” rises in our hearts and we walk by faith.

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … dear Lord, … You’re leading me thru this foggy night; and I know Your Son is rising in my heart. … Amen

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

Friday, April 28, 2017

April 28, 2017 … Chilling Out With Grace

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 118 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …   Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of images from the group “Unspoken” singing … Call It Grace … poignantly singing that the only force we, as Christians, have to avoid anger and sin is God’s empowering grace.


=============
Highlight Verse[s]: Proverbs 20:3 … [NLT] … 
3 Avoiding a fight is a mark of honor; only fools insist on quarreling. 
… Me thinks some of us need to meditate on that one.
=============
Highlight Passage [context]: Proverbs 20:1-15 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… God gives us the power, thru His grace, to deal with our emotions … especially our anger. 
=============

Reference Passage #1 [NKJV] : … Isaiah 26:3 [NLT] … 
3 you will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, … all those whose thoughts are fixed on You. 
… God’s prescription to avoid sinful anger …

Reference Passage #2 [NKJV] : … John 14:27 [NLT] … 
27 “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. ... " 
… Jesus would give His disciples His Spirit [and to us] to provide them (us) with His peace.

Reference Passage #3 [NKJV] : … Galatians 5:22-23 [NLT] … 
22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, goodness, faithfulness, 23 GENTLENESS, and SELF-CONTROL.  There is no law against these things! 
… Notice how many of God’s fruit [in CAPS], from His grace, must mature in our spirit to allow His spirit to quell our anger.
Reference Passage #4 [NKJV] : … Ephesians 4:26 [NLT] … 
26 And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry,
… Paul teaching on how we, as Christians must surrender to God’s grace, which allows us to control our anger.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Jennifer Benson Schuldt, used a story from a friend’s life to illustrate how God’s grace allows us to have self-control over our anger. The ODB author wrote: One morning in Perth, Australia, Fionn Mulholland discovered his car was missing. That’s when he realized he had mistakenly parked in a restricted zone and his car had been towed away. After considering the situation—even the $600 towing and parking fine—Mulholland was frustrated, but he decided not to be angry with the person he would work with to retrieve his car. Instead of venting his feelings, Mulholland wrote a humorous poem about the situation and read it to the worker he met at the tow yard. The worker liked the poem, and a possible ugly confrontation never took place. 

These days we hear young people admonishing their friends to “chill out,” … because it’s so easy, isn’t it [?!}, in this fast-paced impersonal age, to let our anger boil out of control. Of all the fruit of God’s Spirit (see Gal. 5:22-23) the Lord has imparted to my spirit, several of them, which He gave us to control our anger, need some more maturing to allow God’s grace to help me quell my anger in situations which provoke my sinful desire to let anger burst forth from my humanity. … Can I get a witness?

In today's world, with all that Satan and the world does to divide and discourage us, it’s so easy to let our very human, and still sinful, spirits boil over with anger. But as Jesus said to His Disciples in that upper room before He went to the cross [see John 14:27] … that He would give us His grace through His Spirit, (as the linked song conveys) to allow us to have the choice to avoid our anger and to experience God’s peace (see also Isaiah 26:3).

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … dear Lord, … as I focus on You, even here today, help me tap in to Your grace to help me quell my anger. … 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, April 27, 2017

April 27, 2017 … Love In Their Language

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 117 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video images from Steve Green singing the truth of sharing God’s love with others in the song … People Need the Lord … poignantly singing of the universal reality that we need to be sharing our Lord’s love with any and all who will listen.


=============
Highlight Verse[s]: Acts 17:22-23 … [NLT] … 
22 So Paul, standing before the council, addressed them as follows: “Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way, 23 for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about. 
… Paul did all he could to make those to whom he shared the Gospel message feel like he was speaking to friends rather than enemies.
=============
Highlight Passage [context]: Acts 17:22-32 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… The story of Paul on the Acropolis in Athens speaking to local dignitaries IN THEIR OWN LANGUAGE about THEIR OWN LIFE CUSTOMS to help him set the stage for the Gospel. 
=============

Reference Passage #1 [NKJV] : … John 14:6 [NLT] … 
6 Jesus told [His disciples], “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. … “ 
… Jesus shared the ultimate truth which needs to be conveyed to all thru our witness.

Reference Passage #2 [NKJV] : … 1st Corinthians 10:27-33 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Paul teaching on how to share God’s love with others who have different customs and lifestyles, doing all we can short of offending God to make those with whom we share feel comfortable and accepted.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Dave Branon, used a personal story to illustrate how sharing God’s love with others - in their own language - can help us sharing His love, making others see how much we care for them. The ODB author wrote: I stood before the gathering at a small Jamaican church and said in my best local dialect, “Wah Gwan, Jamaica?” The reaction was better than I expected, as smiles and applause greeted me. 
In reality, all I had said was the standard greeting, “What’s going on?” in Patois [pa-twa], but to their ears I was saying, “I care enough to speak your language.” Of course I did not yet know enough Patois to continue, but a door had been opened. 

Do my readers here agree that we all feel uncomfortable when we’re in the presence of someone trying to share their thoughts in a language we don’t understand? … Of course, we are! … And the opposite is also true, … that we feel more at ease and willing to listen when someone is trying to convey their thoughts to us … in our own language.

Well, that’s what the Apostle Paul was up against when we was called to speak to a group of influential Greek leaders on Mars Hill in Athens (see the highlight passage); but Paul knew their language; and in fact, he spoke them about their own spiritual customs to make them be more ready to hear about the truths he wanted to share with them about His great God. And that’s a lesson we all need to learn and apply when we’re trying to share God’s love with others. Everyone needs Jesus (hear the linked song); but they will hear Him better in their own language or as we share live with them in their own ways of living (see 1Cor. 10:27-33).

So, … if there are obvious differences, especially language differences, when we share God’s love with others who need Christ, we need to do all we can to share God’s love with others in “their own language” if possible. But remember, when you encounter someone - maybe today - who doesn’t speak our language, EVERYONE can understand a smile … or a sincere handshake … or even a hug. God’s love translates well through that universal language … to ANYONE … ANYWHERE.

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … dear Lord, … help me to do all I can to share your love with those who need You … even to those who live differently than me or speak another language. Let them see You in my smile or my touch - even today. … Amen

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

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

April 26, 2017 … He Touched Me

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 116 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of images from Elvis Presley singing the Gaither classic … He Touched Me … poignantly singing of the reality of what happens when one is “touched” by the grace of God in/through our Savior.


=============
Highlight Verse[s]: Luke 5:12-13 … [NLT] … 
12 In one of the villages, Jesus met a man with an advanced case of leprosy. When the man saw Jesus, he bowed with his face to the ground, begging to be healed. “Lord,” he said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.” … 13 Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared. 
… Jesus was willing to reach out and touch even a leprous outcast. Who are we willing to reach out today and touch with our lives, our testimony, … or a simple hug?
=============
Highlight Passage [context]: Luke 5:12-16 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Luke relates the encounter where Jesus reached out an touched (and healed) a leper. 
=============

Reference Passage #1 [NKJV] : … John 13:5 [NLT] … 
5 … Then [Jesus] began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him. 
… If Jesus is willing to wash our feet, who will we reach out to touch with His love today?

Reference Passage #2 [NKJV] : … Galatians 6:10 [NLT] … 
10 Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith. 
… When we have an opportunity today to touch someone’s life with God’s love … will we?

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Mart DeHaan, used a news story about an older woman’s frightful willingness to reach out and touch someone with motherly love. The ODB author wrote: Commuters on a Canadian Metro train witnessed a heart-moving conclusion to a tense moment. They watched as a 70-year old woman gently reached out and offered her hand to a young man whose loud voice and disturbing words were scaring other passengers. The lady’s kindness calmed the man who sank to the floor of the train with tears in his eyes. He said, “Thanks, Grandma,” stood up, and walked away. The woman later admitted to being afraid. But she said, “I’m a mother and he needed someone to touch.” While better judgment might have given her reason to keep her distance, she took a risk of love. 

Fellow Christian readers, … I’m assuming that we’ve all been touched by Jesus’ willingness to reach out to those, as was the leper in the highlight account or an outcast like me when He came after me, … i.e, those whom others would rather not even look at.

Those with leprosy in Jesus’ day were total outcasts, even required - by Jewish law - to walk about declaring loudly, “Unclean!” And when Jesus was approached by a desperate leper seeking healing [see highlight passage], … what did Jesus do? He didn’t hesitate, did He? No, our Lord simply reached out in love and touched the man, healing this outcast immediately.

He did that to me too a little over 35 years ago. No, I wasn’t a leper; but my sins had covered me with open sores of shame and I became untouchable to some.  But not Jesus! He came after me; and He was willing to hug me with His love and grace? And my friend, the least I can do, if I’m given the opportunity today, is to respond to His touch by reaching out and touching others, … maybe with my testimony … or even a hug.

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … dear Lord, … thank You for touching me with Your love and truth today in my morning time with You. And I do pray that You give me at least one opportunity to touch someone today with Your love through my touch. … 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, April 25, 2017

April 25, 2017 … All The Way To The Top

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 115 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video images from the group Phillips, Craig, and Dean singing their song … He’ll Do Whatever It Takes … poignantly singing of encouraging others that God will do whatever it takes to bring that lost one to Himself.


=============
Highlight Verse[s]: Galatians 6:9 … [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. 
… Paul may have been speaking to himself as he mentored men like Timothy or Titus or Luke to keep climbing toward the goal Christlikeness.
=============
Highlight Passage [context]: Galatians 6:1-10 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Paul’s charge to do whatever it takes (see today’s song) to help someone climb to the top of their Christian mountaintop.
=============

Reference Passage #1 [NKJV] : … 1st Corinthians 11:1 [NLT] … 
1 And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ. 
… Paul had been through so much in his quest to climb the mountain of life; and he so wanted others to follow him up the mountain (see photo).

Reference Passage #2 [NKJV] : … Ephesians 3:20 [NLT] … 
20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 
… God will do His part to draw us to Himself. And all we have to do is to latch on and hold to Him in climbing up the slopes of life.

Reference Passage #3 [NKJV] : … Philippians 3:13-14 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK … Paul realized how hard it was to keep moving forward toward Christlikeness; but he so wanted others to find what he had found in his discipleship.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, David McCasland, used a personal story about his mentor to teach on what it takes to disciple others toward their peak of Christlikeness (see photo). The ODB author wrote: Bob Foster, my mentor and friend for more than fifty years, never gave up on me. His unchanging friendship and encouragement, even during my darkest times, helped carry me through. 
We often find ourselves determined to reach out and help someone we know who is in great need. But when we fail to see improvement right away, our resolve can weaken and we may eventually give up. We discover that what we hoped would be an immediate change has become an ongoing process. 

Mentoring (or discipling) fellow Christians can be like being an experienced free climber and helping a “newbie” up the mountain of life (see photo). We so want the lesser-experienced Christian to find their way up that mountain of Christlikeness; and sometimes that process can be discouraging and exhausting. But, as the Apostle Paul, exhorts [see passages above], we Christians who’re father up the slopes of life, must … keep on keeping on … to help others up the steep slopes of life as God’s Spirit is calling us upward to Christ.

Paul had been thru so much in his life as an Apostle [see 2Cor. 11:22-33 on your own]; and he had found the way up that mountain. And as a mentor of men like Luke and Timothy and Titus, Paul so wanted these others to follow him. Hence, you read him, knowing the way (see 1 Cor. 11:1), encouraging others to follow him … with the message sung by today’s linked song … that our God will do whatever it take to pull us to His glorious mountaintop.

I pray all reading here, especially those who’re more mature climbers in life, will do what Paul exhorts in today’s highlight passage, doing whatever it takes to help others up that mountain of Christliness, … because, as Eph. 3:20 declares, what God has for those who keep climbing to Him, is SO, SO worth the climb.

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … dear Lord, … help me help others up that hill to get closer to You. … Amen

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

Monday, April 24, 2017

April 24, 2017 … Praise For My Deliverer

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 114 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of the group Hilsong singing… Made Me Glad … poignantly singing of the reality that our God is our delivered … IF … we believe in Him as our LORD and Savior.


=============
Highlight Verse[s]: Psalm 116: 6, 16 … [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… God saves all who believe in him.
=============
Highlight Passage [context]: Psalm 116 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… God had delivered this writer from some devastating disaster; and he sings out his gratitude 
=============

Reference Passage #1 [NKJV] : … Psalm 18:2, 46:1 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… God IS our Deliverer; but do we believe it; and are we grateful for His deliverance?

Reference Passage #2 [NKJV] : … Romans 10: 9-13 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… God declares He will save ALL who believe on Him as Lord and Savior.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Anne Cetas, used the grateful song of a psalmist who had been delivered from some calamity or potential disaster; and His praises for God resounded in his song. Please take the time to read and meditate on all of Psalm 116.

Like me, and like the Psalmist in the highlight passages above, has God ever delivered you from real or potential disaster? Certainly if one has been so delivered, it would be easy to sing along with Hillsong (in the linked song) that “God has made me [us] glad!” However, when we’re in the midst of some trial or tribulation, it is so, so difficult to see that God is truly the Deliverer of all who’ve surrendered to His Lordship [see Romans 10:9-13].

HE'S OUR SAVIOR!!! 

Yes, for any born-again Christ, Jesus has delivered us from even the perils of death; so join me today - no matter what we may be going through, and let’s just PRAISE HIS HOLY NAME! 

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … dear Lord, … You have saved me and I’m here to praise You as my Deliverer. … 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, April 23, 2017

April 23, 2017 … Growing In Christlikeness

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 113 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …   Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of the group Unspoken singing… Call It Grace … poignantly singing the truth that surrender to God’s saving/sanctifying grace reshapes Christians into Christlikeness.


=============
Highlight Verse[s]: 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. 
… Paul’s prayer for all born-again Christians.
=============
Highlight Passage [context]: Philippians 1:1-11 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Paul expresses his firm belief that his fellow Christians will be completed in their quest for Christlikeness and kingdom fruitfulness.
=============

Reference Passage #1 [NKJV] : … 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 on what it takes, in the process of sanctification, to become more like Christ. 

Reference Passage #2 [NKJV] : … Romans 12:1-2 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Paul exhorts Christians to surrender to God’s Spirit and avoid becoming like the world.

Reference Passage #3 [NKJV] : … 2nd Corinthians 5:17, 12:9 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… God, thru Paul, showing what it will take from God’s grace to make the transformation to Christlikeness complete.

Reference Passage #4 [NKJV] : … Galatians 5:22-23 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… As we grow in Christ, we become more and more like His character traits … i.e., more fruitful as the Spirit reshapes us into Christlike character.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Jennifer Benson Schuldt, used a personal story to illustrate that God grows us into His images and, in the process, the world changes in our perception. The ODB author wrote: For three consecutive years, my son participated in a piano recital. The last year he played, I watched him mount the steps and set up his music. He played two songs and then sat down next to me and whispered, “Mom, this year the piano was smaller.” I said, “No, it’s the same piano you played last year. You’re bigger! You’ve grown.” 

Yes, … and that’s how the world seems to a real Christian growing in Christlikeness. He/she is being transformed [2Cor. 5:17] and the world, over time, shrinks in it’s importance [Rom. 12:2]. And our fruitfulness in Christ (Gal. 5:22-23) becomes sweeter and our character matures into the character (i.e., image) of Christ.

Today’s ODB entry causes us (well, at least me) to relook at the character of Christ in the fruit of the Spirit; and I do see that God’s Spirit has changed me from what I was like when I came to surrender to His saving and sanctifying grace [hear today’s song]. Those fruit of the Spirit (again, Gal. 5:22-23) have grown in my life. And the world does seem to be getting smaller in significance as my reliance on God’s grace grows (see 2Cor. 12:9). As Paul wrote to the Christians in Philippi, I see that He is completing me into His image [see the highlight passages].

Fellow Christian, ... how about you?

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … dear Lord, … help me to grow even more to be like You today … even more tomorrow. … 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, April 22, 2017

April 22, 2017 … He Hears

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 112 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of an unknown singer singing… You Hear Our Prayers … poignantly singing the truth that Jesus ALWAYS hears the prayers of any desperate believer.


=============
Highlight Verse[s]: Nehemiah 2:4-5 … [NLT] … 
4 The king asked, “Well, how can I help you?” … With a prayer to the God of heaven, 5 I replied, “If it please the king, and if you are pleased with me, your servant, send me to Judah to rebuild the city where my ancestors are buried.” 
 … God hears even the smallest prayer from those who believe in Him.
=============
Highlight Passage [context]: Nehemiah 2:1-9 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Nehemiah, in desperation, whispers a brief prayer; and God was listening.
=============

Reference Passage #1 [NKJV] : … Psalm 116:1-2, 145:18 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… God shows that He ALWAYS bends down to listen to even the smallest voice of a true believer.

Reference Passage #2 [NKJV] : … Matthew 7: 7-8 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Jesus promises that God ALWAYS HEARS those who keep on asking.

Reference Passage #3 [NKJV] : … Philippians 4:6-7 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Paul teaching on the fruitlessness of worry and our ability to take our needs to God ... anytime, … anywhere. 

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, James Banks, used a personal story to show the difference between our ability to shut down communication and God’s willingness to ALWAYS hear our prayers. The ODB author wrote: Dad was a man of few words. He had hearing damage due to years of military duty and wore hearing aids. One afternoon when Mom and I were talking a little longer than he thought necessary, he responded playfully, “Whenever I want peace and quiet, all I have to do is this.” Lifting both hands in a single motion, he turned off both hearing aids, folded his hands behind his head and closed his eyes in a serene smile. 
We laughed. As far as he was concerned, the conversation was over! 

Yeah, we can shut down and refuse to listen almost anytime we wan’t, can’t we? Well, maybe not by shutting off our hearing aid; but mostly just by attending to something else, we can shut out others. And that is becoming all too prevalent in our fast-paced, high-tech informational age, isn’t it? We all too often would rather pay attention to a smart-phone screen than to really hear the needs of others. 

But as we see from God’s truth and promises today above, … our Lord ALWAYS hears the pleas and prayers of any/all who believe on Him and bring their needs to Him. Yes, He may say “NO” or “WAIT,” but as the song linked above reminds us, Jesus always listens. In fact, according to the image I love in Psalm 116:1-2, our God bends down to hear even the quiet pleas of someone with the smallest voice (as He did with Nehemiah in today’s highlight passage).

And if we come to Him today, … even right now[!] … we need not worry about anything (see Phil. 4:6-7) because He will hear our prayers.

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … dear Lord, … thank You for hearing me even 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.

Friday, April 21, 2017

April 21, 2017 … For Goodness Sake

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 111 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of the group Newsong singing… For Goodness Sake … singing of our desire to follow Christ’s call to follow Him [see Luke 9:23] and give our lives to help others … “for goodness sake!”


=============
Highlight Verse[s]: Luke 3:10-11 … [NLT] … 
10 The crowds asked, “What should we do?” … 11 John replied, “If you have two shirts, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry.” 
… John The Baptist on giving to the poor.
=============
Highlight Passage [context]: Luke 3:7-14 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… John, The Baptizer, preaches to the people on giving to the poor
=============

Reference Passage #1 [NKJV] : … Psalm 72:13 [NLT] … 
13 He feels pity for the weak and the needy, and He (the Messiah) will rescue them. 
… Solomon’s prophesy of the caring generosity of the coming Messiah.

Reference Passage #2 [NKJV] : … Matthew 11:4-5 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Jesus declares, to John the Baptist, that He is fulfilling all this prophesies about the Messiah (see Isaiah 61:1-2) by his compassion for others.

Reference Passage #3 [NKJV] : … 2nd Corinthians 9:6-7 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… The Apostle Paul exhorted fellow Christians to give generously because God loves a cheerful giver.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Tim Gustafson, used a clever pastoral story to illustrate how we, as Christians, should be willing to give, literally, the shirt off our back to those in need [see candid photo taken in a subway]. The ODB author wrote: A pastor breathed life into the phrase “He’d give you the shirt off his back” when he gave this unsettling challenge to his church: “What would happen if we took the coats off our backs and gave them to the needy?” Then he took his own coat and laid it at the front of the church. Dozens of others followed his example. This was during the winter, so the trip home was less comfortable that day. But for dozens of people in need, the season warmed up just a bit. 

How many times, as Christians desiring to live like Jesus, have we heard it said, … ”It’s better to give than receive?” And does that grab any readers here with conviction like it does me? How often to I (or you) see someone appearing homeless on the street; and I want to give them something (as did the man literally the shirt off his back in the photo); and I walk on by. Oh, I have my excuses to ease my conscience; but the man may need my shirt … and I can certainly afford to give mine to him … but I don’t.

How often in God’s word does it exhort followers of Christ to have The Messiah’s attitude about giving to the poor (see all the Scriptures above)? Well, … I’m just going to have to leave it to us, … i.e., those who claim to be disciples of Christ, … and the Holy Spirit speaking to our conscience, to decide what we must do to be Christlike in our giving. Personally, I need to do more, as the group New Song sings, “For Goodness Sake,” to be like Christ.

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … dear Lord, … show me how to give of myself as you’ve given of Yourself for me. … Amen

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

Thursday, April 20, 2017

April 20, 2017 … Trusting Him Today

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 110 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of song and lyrics of Big Daddy Weave singing the old hymn … Trust and Obey … singing God’s call for us to trust Him to lead us … even tho we have such a default desire to control our own lives.

  See image of “Riding A Tandem Bike” below 
=============

Highlight Verse[s]: Genesis 12:1 … [NLT] … 1 The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. 
… Breaking with his instincts, Abram followed God’s command to follow Him.
=============
Highlight Passage [context]: Genesis 12:1-9 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… God called Abram; and He followed a God he had never known before.
=============

Reference Passage #1 [NKJV] : … Proverbs 3:5-6 [NLT] … 
3 Trust in the Lord with all your heart: do not depend on your own understanding. 6 Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take. 
… Solomon’s advice simply goes against our nature; but it’s the only meaningful way to go in life.

Reference Passage #2 [NKJV] : … Matthew 4:18-20 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… When Jesus called the fisherman away from their boats/nets to follow Him, … they did.

  Reference Passage #3 [NKJV] : … 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 call all His true disciples to deny self and follow Him.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Kirsten Holmberg, used a clever personal story to illustrate how we need to break from our nature and let God take control. The ODB author wrote: For our wedding anniversary, my husband borrowed a tandem bike so we could enjoy a romantic adventure together. As we began to pedal on our way, I quickly realized that as the rider on the back my vision of the road ahead was eclipsed by my husband’s broad shoulders. Also, my handlebars were fixed; they didn’t affect the steering of our bike. Only the front handlebars determined our direction; mine served merely as support for my upper body. I had the choice to either be frustrated by my lack of control or to embrace the journey and trust Mike would guide us safely on our route. 

And as with the ODB author, we have to realize and decide to go against our nature and let God take control of the tandem bike of life. It’s our “Adamic” nature to want to take control of the wheel of life, isn’t it? … We want to lead, now follow, … as we walk down the path of life; no matter how many forks in life we may encounter. It’s just not our nature to do what Big Daddy Weave sings in today’s linked song … to “trust and obey.”

So, when Abram was confronted by an unknown God (see highlight passage), a God Who called him to go into an unknown land, it took a special degree of surrender to do so. … When Jesus called Peter and Andrew away from their boats to follow Him, they had to break with their natural life to do so. … And when Jesus calls us to deny our self and follow Him [see Luke 9:23], it’s going to take a break from our natural default to control, to trust and obey our Lord … and let Him take the wheel of life.

The question for all who read here today is … WILL WE? Will we do what Solomon wrote in Proverbs 3:5-6; because, … as Big Daddy Weave sings in the old hymn … “there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.” 

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … dear Lord, …I trust You; show me the way … YOUR WAY. … 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, April 19, 2017

April 19, 2017 … The Aroma of Christ

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 109 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of penetrating views of God’s desire that others see Jesus in our lives with Joy Williams singing … Do They See Jesus In Me.

Can we put our names in the blank? 

=============
Highlight Verse[s]: 2nd Corinthians 2:14 … [NLT] … 
14 But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. 
… We should be the aroma of God’s love/grace to others.
=============
Highlight Passage [context]: 2nd Corinthians 2:14-16 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Paul’s word picture of how we should be sensed by others … as the sweet aroma of Christ. 
=============

Reference Passage #1 [NKJV] : … Ephesians 5:2 [NLT] … 
2 Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us[a] and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. 
… Another Pauline exhortation to live as if we are a pleasing aroma to God.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Sheridan Voysey, uses Paul’s charge for Christians to become the sweet aroma of God’s love/grace so that others sense our Lord in the way we live. The ODB author wrote: Author Rita Snowden tells a delightful story about visiting a small village in Dover, England. Sitting outside a cafĂ© one afternoon enjoying a cup of tea, she became aware of a beautiful scent. Rita asked a waiter where it was coming from, and was told it was the people she could see passing by. Most of the villagers were employed at a nearby perfume factory. As they walked home, they carried the fragrance that permeated their clothes out into the street. 
What a beautiful image of the Christian life! 

And it’s the image which the Apostle Paul used in two references to the Christian life in the NT (see scriptures above). Many times the only way non-believers can sense the love or grace of Christ is by sensing Him in the way we live our lives. So, we need to ask ourselves, as Joy Williams sings in today’s linked song, … do others sense Jesus in me? Do they sense the sweet aroma of His presence or see His grace when I’m in their presence?

I don’t know about others who read here today; but I’m doing all I can to rid myself of the stench of self and become a living incense of Christ for others.

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … dear Lord, … Holy Spirit, … may others smell the sweet aroma of your presence when they are in my presence. … 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, April 18, 2017

April 18, 2017 … A “Son Rise”

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 108 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of glorious views of God’s creation with Brian Doerksen singing … Creation Calls … poignantly displaying in song God’s wondrous creation, showing Himself to all who would see Him.

A sunrise over Athens, Greece 

=============
Highlight Verse[s]: Psalm 148:3 … [NLT] … 
3 Praise Him, sun and moon! … Praise Him, all you twinkling stars! 
… Look up and see His glory.
=============
Highlight Passage [context]: Psalm 148:1-6 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… The Psalmist praises God for showing Himself thru His creation.
=============

Reference Passage #1 [NKJV] : … Deuteronomy 10:14, 33:26 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… God displays His glory every day in what He has created all around us.

Reference Passage #2 [NKJV] : … Psalms 19:1, 89:11 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… God displays His glory every day in what He has created all around us.

Reference Passage #3 [NKJV] : … James 1:17 [NLT] … 
17 Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. 
… James knew that God created it all !!

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Jeff Olsen, tells a personal story to illustrate how we can see our God’s handiwork every day. The ODB author wrote: Sunsets. … People tend to stop what they are doing to watch them . . . snap pictures of them … and enjoy the beautiful view. 
My wife and I watched the sun setting over the Gulf of Mexico recently. A crowd of people surrounded us, mostly strangers who had gathered at the beach to watch this nightly phenomenon. At the moment the sun fully slipped below the horizon, the crowd broke out with applause. 

My wife and I love sunsets too; and we’ve seen some glorious ones, having lived in Hawaii and traveled in the Greek Isles. Me personally, … I’m a sunrise guy, … being a morning person. But my wife misses a lot of those, NOT being up too many mornings early enough to see God show off God’s glory in a sunrise.

I can recall one absolutely magnificent sunrise as we cruised into the harbor in Athens, Greece a few years ago with a group from Insight for Living Ministries. Note the attached photo, taken by a friend I met that morning on the deck of our cruise vessel, who shared God showing off that morning; and he was nice enough to share his photo with me [Thanks, Paul!]. It was magnificent! … God’s created sun rising over the Acropolis where Paul preached his famous Mars Hill sermon [in Acts 17]; and we also saw where that happened later that day.

And when I see a sunrise like that, I think of God’s “SON” (not “sun”), rising in my heart everyday because I believe in Him as Lord and Savior.  So, … the next time you see a glorious sunrise or sunset, remember that God’s Son rises in the hearts of Christians every day and will never set in darkness when we join Him in glory.

And PLEASE take the time to view the video and take in the images with the song linked above, … meditating on God doing a glorious show-n-tell everyday with His creation.

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … thank you, Lord, for showing Yourself in Your creation and especially, as today here, Your Son rises in my heart … Amen

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

Monday, April 17, 2017

April 17, 2017 … Headed Home

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 107 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of Susan Ashton singing, with lyrics, to … Love Will Be Our Home … poignantly describing how God’s love and home await all who believe in Him.


=============
Highlight Verse[s]: John 1:3 … [NLT] … 
3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. … Jesus has a home in heaven waiting for all who’ve received Him as Lord and Savior. 
=============
Highlight Passage [context]: John 14:1-4 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Jesus tries to comfort His Disciples in the Upper Room (and us today) with His promise of a home with Him which awaits all who are born again under His Lordship.
=============

Reference Passage #1 [NKJV] : … John 14:23 [NLT] … 
23 Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. 
… Another Upper Room promise from Jesus to believers that He will make His eternal home our home IF we believe on Him.

Reference Passage #2 [NKJV] : … 1st Peter 3:18 [NLT] … 
18 Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but He died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but He was raised to life in the Spirit. 
… Peter exclaims the truth about Jesus’ suffering on the cross so that He could receive all who believe in Him into His eternal home.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Amy Boucher Pye, wrote of a desire in all of us to find our “home.” The ODB author wrote: “There’s no place like home.” The phrase reflects a deeply rooted yearning within us to have a place to rest, be, and belong. Jesus addressed this desire for rootedness when, after He and His friends had their last supper together, He spoke about His impending death and resurrection. He promised that although He would go away, He would come back for them. And He would prepare a room for them. A dwelling-place. A home. 
He made this place for them—and us—through fulfilling the requirements of God’s law when He died on the cross as the sinless man. He assured His disciples that if He went to the trouble of creating this home, that of course He would come back for them and not leave them alone. They didn’t need to fear or be worried about their lives, whether on earth or in heaven. 

And that time in the Upper Room, as Jesus was telling His disciples where He was headed, … to die for them and all disciples on the cross, those 12 had trouble believing that the One they had followed as “Messiah” would die the next day on a cross. And Jesus tried to comfort them in their dismay with His promise that He would come back and take them to His eternal home [see highlight passages and John 14:23]. And that’s the promise that any true disciple has in Christ … that our HOME will be with our Lord and Savior forever in glory.

That’s God’s love promise - as the song sings today - to any of us who’ve received the One Peter wrote about (see 1Peter 3:18), dying to give all His disciples a home in heaven. And I pray that all who read this believe - and know - that any of us who believe on Christ as LORD AND SAVIOR are on our way to our home in heaven.

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … King Jesus, … thank You for preparing my way to my home in Heaven. … 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, April 16, 2017

April 16, 2017 … Yes, Really! HE’s ALIVE!!

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 106 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBmYrnU9RnY … Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of Dolly Parton’s stirring song … He’s Alive! … powerfully declaring the truth we, who know Jesus as Lord and Savior, declare today.


=============
Highlight Verse[s]: Matthew 28:5-6 … [NLT] … 
5 Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. 
… The Angel helps the women at the tomb see that HE IS RISEN!
=============
Highlight Passage [context]: Matthew 28:1-8 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
 … Those women who went to the tomb to bring spices to the grave first learned that HE’S ALIVE! 
=============

Reference Passage #1 [NKJV] : … Mark 16:1-8 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK …
... Mark’s account of the resurrection.

Reference Passage #2 [NKJV] : … Luke 24:1-11 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Luke’s resurrection story.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, David McCasland, made reference to the cross as we wrote about on Good Friday. However, I felt compelled to focus on the day we celebrate today … and on this day that we can declare loudly, HALLELUJAH! HE IS RISEN!!!

Can you imagine what it must’ve been like for those women to go to the grave that Sunday morning and to discover that Jesus, the one they had believed was the Messiah and the One they saw crucified on that Friday before … WAS NOT IN THE GRAVE. And then to have an angel tell them that Jesus, … THE CHRIST …, had risen. And then the excitement as they followed the instructions of the angel to go back to the Disciples and declare what Dolly Parton sings in her glorious song (linked above) … “HE”S ALIVE!"

I hope all who read with me here can feel some degree of that sense of that excitement and at least pray an exciting HALLELUJAH [!!] today, knowing what those 11 remaining Disciples found hard to believe, but later confirmed for themselves … that truly … HE’S ALIVE!!

My friends let us walk by faith today and celebrate that Our Savior is our Lord and He has defeated death and … MOST DEFINITELY … HE’S ALIVE!!

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … King Jesus, … I declare with any other true believers today … You died for us; and now YOU LIVE!! … 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, April 15, 2017

April 15, 2017 … Payback for His Love

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 105 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of his powerful song, sung by Chris Tomlin … Amazing Love … poignantly describing God’s price of love paid for us on the cross and our surrender to witness to/for that love to the world through our lives, lived for Him.


=============
Highlight Verse[s]: Isaiah 53:12 … [NLT] … 
12 I will give Him the honors of a victorious soldier, because He exposed Himself to death. He was counted among the rebels. He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels. 
… The price our Lord paid was eternally felt.
=============
Highlight Passage [context]: Isaiah 53:9-12 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Isaiah’s prophesy of the price The Messiah would pay - and now has paid - to save mankind from our sin.
=============

Reference Passage #1 [NKJV] : … John 1:14-17 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK …
... Christ paid the ultimate price of love on the cross so that we, who believe on Him, might be saved from our own sin. And our surrender to His Lordship is such a small price to pay to love others as witness to His love.

Reference Passage #2 [NKJV] : … Romans 12:1-2 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Such a small price we pay to be living sacrifices for Him … compared to the enormity of the price of love He paid for us.

Reference Passage #3 [NKJV] : … Philippians 2:5-11 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Paul tells of the price of love paid by Christ to surrender His glory to become a man, minister to mankind, and die on a cross for our sins so that we can be freed of our sin and become like Him.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Amy Boucher Pye, used a personal analogy to help her readers remember the price of love Jesus paid to save us from our sin. The ODB author wrote: Our daughter burst into tears as we waved goodbye to my parents. After visiting us in England, they were starting their long journey back to their home in the US. “I don’t want them to go,” she said. As I comforted her, my husband remarked, “I’m afraid that’s the price of love.” 
We might feel the pain of being separated from loved ones, but Jesus felt the ultimate separation when He paid the price of love on the cross.  

Tomorrow we pay [or should pay] homage in worship to our Savior and Messiah for His sacrifice of love on the cross to free us of our sin. Actually, we, who’ve benefitted from the love-price our Lord paid on the cross, should be paying homage in worship to Him every day by becoming living sacrifices and witnesses to His love gift on the cross (see Romans 12:1-2).

His price, paid on the cross in love for His Father’s plan to save mankind (see Phil. 2:5-11), was so immense that I don’t think any of us, who've been saved by His sacrificial love, can truly grasp the extent of that price of love He paid on that cross.

But to the extent we can grasp it, let’s make today, especially TOMORROW, and all days future honor the price our Savior paid to save us from ourselves. And please, fellow Christians, take the time to use the song link above to hear Chris Tomlin sing of God’s amazing love and meditate on all the scriptures in that YouTube piece, truth which attests to God’s price of love paid on the cross and our surrender to live as living sacrifices for His love offering.

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … King Jesus, … may my life be a living sacrifice to/for You … to honor the price of love You paid for me and all who know you as Lord and Savior. … 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, April 14, 2017

April 14, 2017 … I Remember the Cross

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 104 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of song sung by Chantal Nelson … Remember the Cross … simply and poignantly declaring what all Christians should do every day, but especially on this Good Friday … to remember what He did for us on the Cross.


=============
Highlight Verse[s]: Mark 15:39 … [NLT] … USE THIS LINK … 
39 When the Roman officer who stood facing him saw how he had died, he exclaimed, “This man truly was the Son of God!” 
… Even a pagan soldier recognized Christ, the Son of God, at the foot of the cross.
=============
Highlight Passage [context]: Matthew 26:36-46 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Mark’s Gospel account takes us back to the Cross on that gory/glorious day when our Lord shed His blood for our sins.
=============

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. …” 
… At least today … let’s remember what He did for us.

Reference Passage #2 [NKJV] : … 1st Corinthians 11:23-26 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK …The Apostle Paul exhorts all Christians to remember the cross with our remembrance at the Eucharist.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Jennifer Benson Schuldt, took her readers back to Mark’s account of the goriest and most glorious time in human history … at the cross. The ODB author wrote: In the church I attend, a large cross stands at the front of the sanctuary. It represents the original cross where Jesus died—the place where our sin intersected with His holiness. There God allowed His perfect Son to die for the sake of every wrong thing we have ever done, said, or thought. On the cross, Jesus finished the work that was required to save us from the death we deserve. 
The sight of a cross causes me to consider what Jesus endured for us. Before being crucified, He was flogged and spit on. The soldiers hit Him in the head with sticks and got down on their knees in mock worship. They tried to make Him carry His own cross to the place where He would die, but He was too weak from the brutal flogging. At Golgotha, they hammered nails through His flesh to keep Him on the cross when they turned it upright. Those wounds bore the weight of His body as He hung there. Six hours later, Jesus took His final breath (Mark 15:37). A centurion who witnessed Jesus’s death declared, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” (v. 39). 

The opening line from Charles Dickens’ novel, The Tale of Two Cities, amply might have been written to describe what happened on the day we celebrate today. Dickens wrote, … ”It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, …” And on this day we call “GOOD Friday,” we’re called take our minds/hearts to the cross to remember what God, the Father, did for His beloved, but sinful, mankind. He allowed His Son, The Christ, to be sacrificed, cruelly and humiliatingly, … but yet lovingly, … so that we, who most certainly don’t deserve His love, can live and share His love eternally.

So, today … remember the cross with me.

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … King Jesus, … my Lord and Savior, … we remember !!! … 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, April 13, 2017

April 13, 2017 … Never Walk Alone

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 103 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …   Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of song from my favorite singer, Josh Groban, singing … You’ll Never Walk Alone … poignantly declaring the reality of our need to have confidence to never walk alone; and we. as Christians, don’t because of what our Lord did for us on the cross.


=============
Highlight Verse[s]: Luke 23:36-38 … [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Jesus so desired for His friends to pray WITH HIM; but they failed Him.
=============
Highlight Passage [context]: Matthew 26:36-46 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Jesus lacked the support of His closest friends in the Garden.
=============

Reference Passage #1 [NKJV] : … John 14:1 [NLT] … 
1  “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. …” 
… We need not be troubled in this life because our Savior ALWAYS walks with us.

Reference Passage #2 [NKJV] : … Hebrews 13:5-6 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Because Jesus walks with us we, as His disciples, will NEVER walk alone.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Amy Peterson, used a modern day research illustration to teach on Christians never needing to be alone because of our Savior’s sacrifice for us. The ODB author wrote: Does having a friend nearby make pain more bearable? Researchers at the University of Virginia conducted a fascinating study to answer that question. They wanted to see how the brain reacted to the prospect of pain, and whether it behaved differently if a person faced the threat of pain alone, holding a stranger’s hand, or holding the hand of a close friend. Researchers ran the test on dozens of pairs, and found consistent results. When a person was alone or holding a stranger's hand while anticipating a shock, the regions of the brain that process danger lit up. But when holding the hand of a trusted person, the brain relaxed. The comfort of a friend’s presence made the pain seem more bearable. 

Then author Peterson, took her readers to that time in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus felt SO, SO alone, even sweating blood, due to the anxiety of what was ahead for Him on he cross. But His disciples couldn’t even stay awake for an hour to support their Rabbi and pray for Him (see highlight passage). But as Jesus had promised His close friends just a few hours earlier in the Upper Room [see John 14:1], He was about to take that lonely walk to Calvary so that they would never have to walk alone again.

My friends, I hope all who read here today realize that, as the song proclaims, we, born-again believers in King Jesus, will never walk alone in this life [see Heb. 13:5-6], … no matter what trial we face. Our Savior ALWAYS walks with us and is ALWAYS praying for us.

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … King Jesus, … my Lord and Savior, … You walk with me and I’m never alone. … Amen

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

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

April 12, 2017 … Worship Is Surrender

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 102 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK … Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of song and lyrics from the group Hillsong United singing … Here I Am To Worship … poignantly declaring in song that we worship King Jesus in His worthiness as our Lord and Savior.


=============
Highlight Verse[s]: Luke 23:34 … [NLT] … 
3 Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar[b] of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance. 
 … Mary’s worship is the essence of complete surrender to King Jesus.
=============
Highlight Passage [context]: John 12:1-8 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Mary, the sister of Lazarus, worships her Lord, Yeshua Hamashia, by anointing his feet with expensive oil and cleansing his feet with her hair.
=============

Reference Passage #1 [NKJV] : … 2nd Samuel 6:21-22 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
... David explains to his wife how his joy in worshipping the Lord overwhelms his desire to please the judgment of others.

Reference Passage #2 [NKJV] : … Psalms 139:23-24 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… As the ODB Author declares: Our worship is right when we are right with God.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Julie Ackerman Link, used a biblical story to illustrate that the essence of our worship of Jesus, Our King and Messiah, is complete surrender to Him. The ODB author wrote: Shortly before Jesus was crucified, a woman named Mary poured a bottle of expensive perfume on His feet. [see photo] Then, in what may have been an even more daring act, she wiped His feet with her hair (John 12:3). Not only did Mary sacrifice what may have been her life’s savings, she also sacrificed her reputation. In first-century Middle Eastern culture, respectable women never let down their hair in public. But true worship is not concerned about what others think of us (2 Sam. 6:21–22). To worship Jesus, Mary was willing to be thought of as immodest, perhaps even immoral. 

Fellow readers, what do you think is the essence or true worship of our Lord, King Jesus? Well, the scene of Mary, the sister of her brother, Lazarus, whom Jesus had raised from the dead, anointing and cleansing the feet of the man she recognized as the Son of God and her Messiah, illustrates that the essence of true worship of our Lord is SURRENDER [see highlight passage above]. Mary was in complete surrender to her Lord when she cleansed His feet, even though some of the Disciples, like Judas Iscariot, felt her act was wasteful. King David illustrated the same surrender to his God when he danced almost naked in celebration of the Ark being returned to the Temple (see 2nd Samuel 6:21-22).

The question raised by this ODB entry, … at least to me, … is whether our worship of King Jesus has that attitude of complete surrender to our Lord that Mary or David displayed to their God. In fact, as any reader reads this, hopefully in an attitude of worship, as Hillsong sings in today’s song, is our heart in surrender mode in worshipping our Lord today? Or as we go to church this Sunday for Easter service, will we be there to surrender in worship to the one Who was raised from the tomb in glorious victory over death; … or will we be there merely to show that we are wearing fine clothes.

As the ODB author states today, … our worship can only be right when we’re right with God; and as was Mary that day, are we here to worship today with a clean and pure heart of total surrender to our Lord?

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … King Jesus, … my Lord and Savior, … here I am to worship 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, April 11, 2017

April 11, 2017 … Just Like His Forgiveness

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 101 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of song and lyrics from Matthew West singing … Forgiveness … poignantly declaring in song our desire to be like Christ in His willingness to forgive us as we attempt to do what at times seems impossible … to forgive those who’ve sinned us.


=============
Highlight Verse[s]: Luke 23:34 … [NLT] … 
34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” 
… Forgiveness which we should emulate.
=============
Highlight Passage [context]: Luke 23:32-34 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Jesus’ forgiveness from the cross.
=============

Reference Passage #1 [NKJV] : … Matthew 6:12 [NLT] … 
12 … and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven this who sin against us. … 
… Jesus teaching on how to pray, includes praying about forgiving others … just as He would ultimately forgive sinners on the cross.

Reference Passage #2 [NKJV] : … Matthew 18:21-23[NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Jesus teaches Peter (and us) that our forgiveness should be unlimited.

Reference Passage #3 [NKJV] : … Philippians 2:5 [NLT] … 
5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. 
… Paul teaching that our attitude, as Christians, should be like that of Christ. And are we like Him in our attitude toward forgiveness?

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, Amy Boucher Pye, used a personal story to illustrate our need to forgive others as Jesus modeled on the cross. The ODB author wrote: When a friend betrayed me, I knew I would need to forgive her, but I wasn’t sure that I could. Her words pierced deeply inside me, and I felt stunned with pain and anger. Although we talked about it and I told her I forgave her, for a long time whenever I’d see her I felt tinges of hurt, so I knew I still clung to some resentment. One day, however, God answered my prayers and gave me the ability to let go completely. I was finally free. 

At one point in his ministry years, the Apostle Paul, in writing to Christians, exhorted them to have (or develop) the same attitude as Christ (see Philippians 2:5); and what was Jesus’ attitude toward forgivingness? … Well, we can see His desire to have his disciples (and that’s us, my friends!) pray about forgiving others (see Matt. 6:12). And He even taught Peter that our forgiveness of others who’ve sinned against us should be unlimited (see Matt. 18:21-23).

Well, I hope my fellow readers here don’t have any unresolved issues of forgiveness that we need to care of today. Because if we do, God’s word above, and the charge of today’s song, should exhort us to do all we can to pray for a Christlike forgiving spirit; and to do all we can TODAY to forgive others the way our Lord forgave us on the cross [see the photo].

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … King Jesus, … Help me to have Your Spirit of forgiveness.  … 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, April 10, 2017

April 10, 2017 … Jesus, My Best Friend

Berry Patch Devotions in 2017 - Day 100 

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of song and lyrics from Alan Jackson singing the old hymn … What A Friend We Have In Jesus … poignantly declaring the reality of our friendship with Jesus as born-again Christians.


=============
Highlight Verse[s]: Hebrews 10:21 … [NLT] … 
21 And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, 22 let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. … 
… What a friend we have in Jesus … our High Priest in Heaven!
=============
Highlight Passage [context]: Hebrews 10:19-23 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… God expressing His deep friendship to all who believe on His Kingship.
=============

Reference Passage #1 [NKJV] : … John 1:12 [NLT] … 
12 But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God. 
… And as Jesus’ brothers and sisters, as true believers, He is a friend like no other.

Reference Passage #2 [NKJV] : … Philippians 4:6-7 [NLT] … USE THIS LINK
… Paul, exhorting Christians to take their worries to our friend, King Jesus.

Reference Passage #3 [NKJV] : … 1st Peter 5:7 [NLT] … 
7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you. 
… Peter realized what a friend he had in Jesus.

My Devotional Journal: Today's ODB author, James Banks, used a personal story to illustrate the closest friend any Christian has … that of our Lord and King, Jesus. The ODB author wrote: When I was twelve years old our family moved to a town in the desert. After gym classes in the hot air at my new school, we rushed for the drinking fountain. Being skinny and young for my grade, I sometimes got pushed out of the way while waiting in line. One day my friend Jose, who was big and strong for his age, saw this happening. He stepped in and stuck out a strong arm to clear my way. “Hey!” he exclaimed, “You let Banks get a drink first!” I never had trouble at the drinking fountain again. 

Have you ever had a friend like Jose to our ODB author? I did when I was a kid. We had a bully in our neighborhood; but when he saw me with my friend, Buddy, who was twice his size, the bully was no longer a bully. And today’s ODB reminded me that I have the “BESTEST" FRIEND of all; and one who is stronger than any bully we might encounter in this life.

So, as today’s Scriptures declare, … when we have a bully, … a person or thought, … which is burdening us, we should do what Alan Jackson sings and God’s word declares (see Phil. 4:6-7 or 1Peter 5:7) and take my bully into the prayer presence of my best friend, … King Jesus!

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … King Jesus, … Thank You, dear Lord, for being my friend. … 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.