WORDDEVO: "The Weekly Word with Mark Balmer" [11-25 thru 12-02] Discipleship

 

Seven Days of Devotion

 The Weekly Word is a Collection of Devotionals to be read on the Day Listed and presented freely as a service to and for the Body of Christ and Believers throughout the World that We may Hear God Speak to us as the Spirit of God gives us ears to hear and eyes to see what God would have for us daily in relationship to Him.

 

 

- “Quit Talking and Begin Doing”  

Preparing the Soil (Introduction): Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.  (Psalms 116:15) Walt Disney has been called a “folk hero of the 20th century.” He was a man of amazing creativity and foresight who attained worldwide popularity through his ideals of optimism, imagination and excellence, presented with whimsy and attention to detail. Born in 1901, he produced the first full-length animated musical feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937. During the next five years such childhood classics as Pinocchio, Dumbo and Bambi followed. Beyond the movie venue, he also became a television pioneer. Envisioning a clean, organized amusement park led to the opening of Disneyland in 1955. We of central Florida are well acquainted with the power of the Mouse. It has been estimated that Walt Disney World and its related businesses in our state generate $18.2 billion a year in economic activity.

Planting and Watering the Seed (Growth): Even a man of such amazing accomplishments and enough ideas and interests to last several lifetimes was ultimately faced with the same fate as all humanity. On Dec 15, 1966 Walt went to meet his Maker. Isaiah tells us The righteous perish, and no one ponders it in his heart; (Isaiah 57:1a) The prophet seems to marvel that the death of a good man does not cause those who see it to take it to heart and ponder what will become of them. We all would like to think we won’t have to face that day, but wouldn’t it be better to prepare for the inevitable? Whether we leave behind a powerful and long lasting legacy, such as Walt did, or slip away with barely a ripple on the sea of humanity left in our wake, we will all one day die and each one face the ultimate question: What did you do with Jesus Christ (Matthew 16:15)? Committing to follow Him is the only way to escape eternal separation from God. When Jesus is invited to be your Savior and Lord, the fear of death is diminished by the knowledge that we are headed for heaven when we die. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death. (Isaiah 57:2) A future in the presence of God, experiencing unimaginable wonders, is promised to His followers. We will probably be like five year olds on their first trip to Disney World when we find ourselves on those streets of gold.

Harvesting the Crop (Action/Response): If you have never asked Jesus to forgive your sins and become your guide through life, why not do it now? Why put such an important decision off for even one day when there is so much to gain? Listen to the words of Walt himself when he said, “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”

Cultivating (Additional Reading): 2 Corinthians 6:2; I John 5:11-13

 

 

 

MONDAY

 

“Validating the Resurrection” 

Preparing the Soil (Introduction): There never seems to be a shortage of “historical experts” to present the case against the Biblical accounts of a worldwide flood, the destruction of Sodom, the Exodus, or the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.  In the name of science we see people presenting theories as historical fact that are sometimes harder to swallow than the miracles they are attempting to refute. The Biblical account of the resurrection of Jesus has had many opponents throughout history. One of the original disciples, Thomas the Apostle, stated that he would not believe that Jesus had defeated the grave until he himself saw him and could touch the wounds he received at Calvary. A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.(John 20:26-29) Thomas received the validation he needed and went on to faithfully spread the Gospel outside of the Roman Empire, all the way into India.

Planting and Watering the Seed (Growth): We as Christ followers must be careful to not compromise the Biblical account of the resurrection. Christ did die on the cross and, after three days, rose from the grave. Jesus was a fully living person; he was not a ghost. Jesus was physical – He ate food, and His wounds were real. The resurrection of Christ is the foundation of our hope and salvation. The resurrection was necessary to prove the claim by Jesus that He was the Son of God (Romans 1:4), which is also why the religious leaders had him put to death. Through the resurrection of Jesus, God confirmed and vindicated His Son and His works. Jesus conquered death. If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. (1 Corinthians 15:13-14) For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. (1 Corinthians 15:16-17) The Resurrection of Jesus fulfilled hundreds of Biblical prophecies in the Old Testament, and because of it the Word is complete.

Harvesting the Crop (Action/Response): Be careful not to take the resurrection lightly. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the single most important event in the history of man. It is a fact that we cannot allow ourselves to bend on and potentially compromise our belief in. Our eternal destiny hinges on how we receive and interpret the resurrection of Jesus Christ. “…I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me shall live even if he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26) The Bible tells us that in heaven we will receive bodies that are perfect and unscarred for all of eternity. The only scars in heaven will be the same wounds that Thomas saw on Jesus. We need to make sure that we are not waiting to physically see them ourselves before opening our hearts to His salvation and grace.

Cultivating: (Additional Reading): Matthew 28:1-10; John 20:1-10

 

 

 

  

TUESDAY

 

- “Believe God's Truth”  

Preparing the Soil (Introduction): "Woman," he said, "why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?"  Thinking he was the gardener, she said, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him."  Jesus said to her, "Mary."  She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, "Rabboni!" (which means Teacher).  Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God." (John 20:15-17) The story of the resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of my all-time favorites. Mostly because it secured my Spiritual position and eternal destination, but also because it defies man’s reasoning! I just love it when God does something that is beyond man’s ability to explain. You know what I mean: parting seas, manna falling from heaven, plagues, floods, raising folks from the dead and feeding five thousand people with 2 loaves and 5 fishes--stuff that just causes our bottom jaw to hang loose for several seconds! Yet, for one reason or another, people just feel compelled to explain the unexplainable and disqualify the miraculous. The first humanistic alternative to Jesus’ death was that He never died in the first place! Genuinely deceived people actually believe that the natural anesthetic “mandrake” was mixed with the vinegar that was offered to Jesus on the cross. By swallowing this mixture, Jesus was rendered unconscious and believed to be dead. Once He was removed from the cross, Joseph of Arimathea took Him home, doctored His wounds and once He was well enough to travel, helped Him escape to an unknown destination. In Matthew 28:7 the angel told the women, “Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.' Now I have told you." He didn’t say He has risen from the swoon!  He definitely said, “He has risen from the dead”! Jesus Christ was undeniably dead when He was removed from the cross. The blood and water that flowed from His side was a sure sign that He was deceased!

Planting and Watering the Seed (Growth): The second manmade alternative to the story of His death, was that the disciples came in the night and snatched His body, or, that He never made it to the tomb at all and was buried in an unknown location. This theory is almost laughable. As we all know, Jesus had told His disciples over and over again that He would die and resurrect. But they never “got it” because if they had, they would have been camped out at that tomb, just waiting for His glorious resurrection. But instead, they all fled in fear and were hiding out until the coast was clear. Then they went fishing!  But some people heard it and listened; the Pharisees “got it”! Amazingly, Jesus’ enemies believed more of what Jesus said than His own disciples did! They wanted Him sealed, secured and guarded. But all that did was validate the miraculous resurrection work of God! In their fear, they secured and sealed His Truth for all eternity. Hallelujah!  Jesus did indeed supernaturally rise from the dead. He did what man could not; He removed the wall of separation between humankind and their Creator. Once and for all He finished the work of redemption and opened the Holy of Holies to anyone who was sincerely seeking God!

Harvesting the Crop (Action/Response): The enemy has indeed devised many lies to disqualify the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, but the greatest lie of all is that we can place our hope in the works of our flesh! But this lie begs the questions: “When do enough good works tip the scale to outweigh my sin?” “How many random acts of kindness must I do, in order to outshine my failures?” “What types of good deeds will impress God the most?” Sadly, there are no answers to this puzzling dilemma, just a deceiving, fallen angel driving the unbelieving mercilessly into darkness. But the Word of God has the answer. God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. (Ephesians 2:8-9, NLT) The only “work” that God is interested in, is the finished work of Jesus Christ! We must believe by faith that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, that He died on the cross for our sins and resurrected from the dead for our redemption. So let us believe God’s Truth and give no place to Satan’s deception! The Father is willing, Jesus has completed everything that was required, and the Spirit is calling “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

Cultivating (Additional Reading): Romans 10:9

 


 

WEDNESDAY

 

- “Not in a New York Minute” 

Preparing the Soil (Introduction): I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. (Psalm 40:1) May 1st is the 80th anniversary of the opening of the Empire State Building in New York City. At one hundred three stories it was the tallest skyscraper in the world when it opened. More amazing than its height was the speed with which it was erected. Construction took only thirteen months. An astounding four and a half floors were raised per week. The Big Apple has long been known for the frenzied and hectic pace at which its inhabitants rush through life. The taxis whiz through the streets. The subway zooms along underneath them, and the people hustle past each other as if being chased by swarms of bees. Johnny Carson once said a New York minute is the interval between a Manhattan traffic light turning green and the guy behind you honking his horn. The idea seems to be that the more frenetic your lifestyle becomes, the more successful you must be. That is not only true of the inhabitants of New York, however. Multitasking and over scheduling can so easily creep into our own lifestyle. Just the other day I caught myself talking on the house phone, typing a text on my cell phone and looking for something in the closet all at the same time. Unfortunately, as is often the case, I was doing a poor job of all three. In the same hurry and scurry mindset, down time is considered wasted time. Being incredibly busy equates with doing well, but actually often simply pushes aside time for meaningful relationships with God or others and leaves us exhausted, lonely and frustrated.

Planting and Watering the Seed (Growth): As the new CEO of the Israelites, Joshua’s first orders were to move everyone down by the river. They excitedly waited to see what he would instruct them to do next. Meaningfully, on the threshold of the most momentous changes of their lifetimes, he had them all stop their everyday activities and wait three long, slow, quiet days. They watched the river churn by. They watched the sun come up and go down. They might have noted that the water was even deeper on the next morning as they gazed across to the hills on the far side, but still they waited. They may have expected Joshua to start instructing them to gather wood for rafts, or boats of some kind. Maybe canvas the camp for ideas on how to build a bridge, or instruct them to look for a narrower spot to cross, but he didn’t seem concerned. His leadership was not the leadership of calculating and accomplishing. His leadership was the leadership of listening for God. He knew that voice because he had spent lots of time hearing it in the past, and he was not about to rush ahead without hearing it once again.

Harvesting the Crop (Action/Response): The thing about hearing God is that He doesn’t usually communicate in a New York minute. While He can speak to you in an instant, He often delights in having His loved ones just wait in His presence for a bit. There is something about being still that fosters heavenly communication. Like other disciplines of life, morning devotions build upon each other. Just as one bout of vigorous push ups and sit ups a year can do more harm than good, regular time set aside for spiritual renewal produces the best results. Just as the body is designed to need consistent exercise to grow and flourish, so the spirit is designed to feed daily off God’s presence as we wait on Him. He may not speak today or tomorrow, but He will share amazing things with those who choose to wait.

Cultivating (Additional Reading): Isaiah 30:18

 

 

 

  THURSDAY

 

“Feed the Spirit” 

Preparing the Soil (Introduction): God provided a beautiful example of His provision in the Old Testament by giving sustenance to the nation of Israel in the form of manna every morning as they traveled to the Promised Land. The Israelites had used up all of their provisions a short time after God freed them from slavery in Egypt. The people of Israel began to murmur against their deliverers (Exodus 16:2), and as always God heard their grumblings. “And it came to pass, that at even the quails came up, and covered the camp: and in the morning the dew lay round about the host. And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground. And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, “This is the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat.” (Exodus 16:13-15, KJV) Jesus refers to God's miraculous provision of manna to the Israelites and states that God provided Him as the true bread from heaven. “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35, KJV)

Planting and Watering the Seed (Growth): To us as Christ followers, Jesus is our manna from heaven. Just as God taught the Israelites to gather manna, we can learn valuable lessons on how we should seek Jesus. Then said the LORD unto Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day...(Exodus 16:4, KJV) First of all, God was very strict in telling the Israelites that they should only gather enough manna to last them for that day.  Our Lord wants us to be dependent on Him because, as sinful people, we become independent and proud otherwise. Likewise we should seek Jesus daily and come to Him for the strength to handle that day. It is not enough to seek Him on Saturday or Sunday and then stumble through the rest of the week's challenges without Him. The Israelites were also told to gather the manna before the sun came or it would melt away. In the Gospels we are told that Jesus would get up very early in the morning while it was still dark to pray in a solitary place. (Mark 1:35-37) We benefit from focusing on God while we are mentally and physically fresh and before the activities of the day grab our attention. No one in this life or eternity to come will ever refer to me as a morning person, but I can admit that my morning quiet times are much more fulfilling than those I try to squeeze in throughout the day.

Harvesting the Crop (Action/Response): This week, try to spend at least 15 minutes of uninterrupted time in prayer with Jesus before the start of your day. As we spend more time with Jesus it is likely that we will desire more closeness and grow as Christ followers. There will almost certainly need to be some adjustment in your schedule, but making it a priority is the first step. To lead a Spirit-filled life it is completely necessary to feed our spirit daily with the Word. As always God has provided all that the spirit needs to grow.

Cultivating (Additional Reading): Psalm 63; Psalm 105

 

  FRIDAY

 

“Give Him the Time” 

 

Preparing the Soil (Introduction):  As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told Jesus about her. So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them. That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was. Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons. (Mark 1:29-39) After a busy day of ministry, healing the sick and casting out demons, and facing another busy day of ministry the next day, Jesus knew He needed time alone with God for renewal, direction and encouragement.

Planting and Watering the Seed (Growth): If the very Son of God had the need to start His day by being alone with God, should not His followers do the same?  God has a purpose and plan for each Christ follower.  As we set aside quiet, uninterrupted time with God each day, we acknowledge our dependency on Him and open ourselves up to be used by Him. We need the quietness and solitude of the early morning to commune with God and meditate on His Word. We need to hide it in our hearts (Psalm 119:11) and let it be a lamp unto our feet (Psalm 119:105).  Our living, personal God will make His Word active and alive in our hearts and minds if we give Him this precious time.  It is important for us to take this time to focus on God because, once the daily treadmill starts, it will be difficult to keep that focus on Him without it.

Harvesting the Crop (Action/Response):  God knows the challenges of the day that is before us.  He knows every opportunity He will place in front of us. He is willing to equip us with everything we need (Philippians 4:13).  Give Him the time.  He will give you the victory.

Cultivating (Additional Reading):  Psalm 1:1-3; Psalm 119:15-16

 

 

SATURDAY 

 

“How to Spend Time with Him” 

 

Preparing the Soil (Introduction):  In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation. (Psalm 5:3) Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. (Psalm 143:8)

Planting and Watering the Seed (Growth): Ok, you’re up and it’s early. You are sitting at the dining room table with a big mug of wake up juice, your Bible, a piece of paper and a pencil. Now what? First things first – say good morning to God; take a moment to pray and praise Him. It doesn’t have to be long, just long enough to relax and be quiet before Him. Some people listen to their favorite worship music, some write out their to-do list and say, “Lord, I give this to you, show me what to do,” some spend this time just thanking Him for all He has done, and others reflect on yesterday. Regardless of how you start your time with God, make sure you center your mind on Him, waiting expectantly to hear what He has to say. Now that you have spent time focusing on God, the next thing to do is to read His Word. I love devotionals, obviously; however, just reading it through sometimes isn’t enough. Our devotional writing team doesn’t get memos saying, “These are the needs of the church, please write on…; or the church got a lot of calls about…, could you please address one of the devotionals on this topic?” We simply write what God has placed on our hearts during the message from Pastor Mark as the Holy Spirit guides. So, while you are reading a devotional or Scripture and an “Aha!” moment comes your way, write it down on your piece of paper. You just experienced a God moment! I always thought I would actually hear a voice, and to be honest, some people do, but most often we hear God when something inside of us, our spirit, connects with God’s Spirit (the Holy Spirit), and we know without a doubt it was meant directly for us. I also want to encourage you whenever you see a reference to a Scripture verse, even if you may know it by heart, look it up. After you have spent time sitting before God reading His Word and listening to Him, it’s time to start talking to Him. This is the time for you to get personal with God, sharing not only your to-do list, but your heart. For me personally, it isn’t the time to say, “OK Lord, time is ticking, and I only have X amount of time to hear from You before I have to start getting ready for work or when the little one is about to wake up.” If that is the case, I have to advise you to wake up earlier and get a bigger mug. God desires this time. Give Him all the time He requires and, most importantly, that you need. When you have finished spending time seeking Him, take a moment to thank Him and praise Him.

Harvesting the Crop (Action/Response): Ok, honesty time. I have to admit there are days and sometimes a whole week that goes by when I haven’t spent any quality time with Him. This is very hard to admit. It isn’t that I haven’t talked to God, listened to worship music, gone to Bible study or church, it’s that I haven’t sought Him first for daily direction. It is critical to spend time with God – good quality time. Even Jesus made a point to get up early and seek time with the Lord, and He was closer to God than any of us could ever imagine. My challenge to you and to myself this week is to have a devotional time, a quality quiet time every day this week. Find a routine that works best for you, but don’t get stuck in it. If you find that your time with Him is becoming monotonous, switch it up, do something different like listening to music before you start, or going to a different location, but don’t stop. God wants to speak to you and loves spending time with you; all you have to do is be willing.

Cultivating (Additional Reading):  Mark 1:35; Psalm 119:15-16

 


 

THE WEEKLY WORD WITH MARK BALMER

Can be found here:

 

http://theweeklywordmarkbalmer.blogspot.com/

  

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