WORDDEVO: "The Weekly Word with Mike MacIntosh" [11-25 thru 12-2] DEVOTIONALS


 

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.

For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.
Leviticus 17:11

Scientists will never understand the human soul. Sure, they've come a long way in understanding the human body -- how it works, why it breaks down, what helps it heal -- but our bodies are merely temporary, earthly encasements for our souls. We are more than flesh and blood. Because we have a soul, we have the ability to love. Because we have a soul, we can make moral decisions. And so, because we have a soul, we can be made guilty of sin, knowing its consequences. After all, if we know the difference between right and wrong, and still do wrong, we are guilty. Indeed, Romans 3:23 tells us that we are all guilty of sin. Fortunately, God is a merciful God! In fact, long before He ever sent His Son to die on a cross for our sins, God was a merciful God. But where there was sin, there would be blood.

Leviticus 17:11 shows us that God so loved the Israelites that He provided a way for them to make atonement for their souls. By all means, He didn't have to. God had every right to demand the death of anyone who sinned. But, of course, no one would have lived. So, since "the life of the flesh is in the blood," He accepted the sacrificial blood of animals, rather than requiring the blood of the guilty, that the guilty might live. Do you realize how merciful God was to do this? Can you see how much God must have loved His people to give them a second chance, a third chance, a fourth, and on and on?

How much greater, then, that the Lord poured out His own blood, that we might live. Praise the Lord that Jesus sacrificed His life and allowed His flesh to be brutally killed, that by His blood, our souls might live -- not only here on earth, but with God for eternity! You see, just as the life of the flesh is the blood, so the life of the soul is His blood. Unless He poured out His blood, our souls could not live.

The world will never see a greater act of mercy than that of Jesus Christ sacrificing His life on a cross for our sins. It was a merciful act from an already-merciful God. Truly, since the day Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, God has demonstrated unfathomable mercy. Today, may the blood of Jesus be life to your soul. May you rest in His mercy, knowing that He loves you more than you will ever understand. And may His mercy inspire you to be more like Him in everything you do.

 MONDAY

And always, night and day, a man was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him.... Jesus said to the man, "Come out of the man, unclean spirit!"

Now a large herd of swine was feeding there near the mountains. So all the demons begged Him, saying, "Send us to the swine, that we may enter them." And at once Jesus gave them permission. Then the unclean spirits went out and entered the swine (there were about two thousand); and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and drowned in the sea.

Mark 5:5-6,8,11-13

On a particular Saturday night in April 1999, a Christian goth band was giving a concert, hosted by a local Colorado youth group. As the band finished playing, the youth pastor got up and said, "You know, I've never done this before.

 

I've never even thought this before, but I've had it strongly on my heart all during the concert tonight that there is somebody here who has either murdered somebody, or is getting ready to murder someone, and I want to impress upon you that God is saying, 'Don't do it.' Or if you have, He will forgive you, if you'll repent tonight of your sins." Eric Harris, a high school senior, sat in the audience that Saturday night.

 

He heard every word the youth pastor said. But three days later, on Tuesday, April 20, 1999, Eric and a friend would kill twelve of their fellow Columbine High School students, as well as one teacher, and finally themselves.

A pastor friend of mine shared that story with me back in 1999, shortly after it happened, and it struck me: Right up to the last minute, God was reaching out to this teenager. He knew this kid's heart, and gave him one last chance. It's a testament to the magnitude of God's love, and the vastness of His reach, that no matter how lost, hurting, stubborn, prideful, angry, or depressed a person may be, God will reach out to them. No one is beyond God's reach.

In Mark 5, we see a man whom society had long-ago rejected and dismissed. Possessed by demons, he lived alone in the mountains and in tombs, dejected, "crying out and cutting himself with stones" (verse 5). He had gone mad; no one could bind him with chains, much less help him. Jesus, though, had the power not just to help him, but to heal him. Casting the demons into a nearby herd of about two thousand swine, Jesus clothed this man and restored him to a right mind. The change was so dramatic that when people familiar with the man saw him, "they were afraid" (verse 15).

Maybe you feel like you are out of God's reach -- like you are too depressed, too bitter, too sinful, too stubborn for God to change you. Or maybe you have family or friends who feel that way. If Jesus could restore this demon-possessed, dejected man, He can restore you, and He can restore the people you love.

There is one key difference, though, between Eric Harris and the man in Mark 5. When this unhinged, demon-possessed man saw Jesus, "he ran and worshiped Him" (verse 6). Sure, he was out of his mind, but he wanted to change, and in Jesus, he saw the opportunity. Eric Harris had the same opportunity to change, but rejected it. You see, God will not stop reaching out to you, but He will not intrude. He has so much love and forgiveness to offer you, but you must accept it.

Let me encourage you today to run into the loving arms of Jesus and worship Him. He can -- and will -- heal you, if you let Him! No matter how far from Him you've drifted, or how low you feel, He will "wipe away every tear" from your eyes (Revelation 21:4), and He will heal you.

 

If you've been praying for friends and family to know the love of Jesus, keep praying for them, and keep loving them. You can't change someone, but you can love them with the love of Jesus Christ.

 

God is faithful. No one is beyond His reach.


   

TUESDAY

Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD!
Psalm 27:14

It's much easier to ask for help when you think you need it. After all, if you're driving a car, and you assume you're headed in the right direction, why would you pull over to ask a gas station employee for help? Often, it's only when things go wrong that we seek help.

 

When we realize we've driven 50 miles past our exit, suddenly it's time to ask for assistance.

 

But why do we assume we're driving the right direction in the first place? Why not use a map from the outset, or a GPS tracker? Why not ask someone knowledgeable before we leave? You see, just as it's not smart to travel without directions, it's not smart to live without guidance. And just as it's silly to only ask for directions when you're lost, it's foolish to only seek the Lord's guidance in an emergency. Yet so often, we ask God to lead us out of emergencies, rather than into His will.

You know, if the only time we ask for the Lord's help is in times of emergency, we will never learn to wait on Him -- and we will never grow stronger in Him. How could we? In an emergency, we need an answer right away! We need action immediately! And yes, God can take action immediately -- He is able to guide you through whatever emergency you face today. But what about tomorrow? Will God deliver you from a tight spot today, only so you can return to normal and find yourself in a catastrophe tomorrow? God does not simply want to deliver you, but to strengthen you.

 

He is not only able to heal your wounds after you stumble, but "to keep you from stumbling" (Jude 1:24). You must learn to wait on Him, though. You must learn to receive His guidance first, and then act -- even when you think you already know best. You must learn to call on Him, not merely because you need Him, but because you love Him. Truly, when we seek the Lord out of a love for Him, and not merely a "need" for Him, we grow stronger in Him. "Wait on the Lord... and He shall strengthen your heart" (Psalm 27:14).

Waiting on the Lord requires patience. It requires a willingness to sit tight, even when everyone around you is passing you by. It's like going shopping at Christmas, and standing still as crowds of people rush past you into the most popular store, frantically searching for discounts on the perfect gift.

 

Oh, you want the perfect gift just as much as anyone else, but you don't rush, you don't push, you don't shove -- you just wait at the store's entrance, because your father is the store manager, and he told you to wait for him there. Sure enough, when all the crowds have subsided, he steps out of the store to meet you, wraps his arms around you, and showers you with gifts -- gifts that weren't even for sale; they were reserved especially for you. So many gifts, in fact, that you can't possibly keep them all for yourself.

If we will learn to wait on our Heavenly Father, He will bless us with a strength of heart that we could never have garnered on our own. If we will stop rushing, stop stressing, stop pushing, stop striving -- and seek His will -- He will empower us with a love so overwhelming that we couldn't possibly keep it to ourselves.

Today, whether you find yourself in an emergency or a place of rest, may I encourage you to wait on the Lord Jesus.

 

Fall in love with Him today, maybe for the first time, maybe for the millionth time. Seek His face in love. Let Him not only heal you, but strengthen you. He is "able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think" (Ephesians 3:20), but we must be willing to wait.

WEDNESDAY

Jesus said to the Pharisees, "All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition."
Mark 7:9

Have you ever loved a TV show so much that you told all your friends and family to watch it?  Or maybe you loved a joke so much that you forwarded it to everyone in your address book?  Or called a toll-free number to vote for your favorite reality talent show contestant?  For better or worse, we champion the things we love.  We talk about what we hold in high regard.  And whether you realize it or not, you are a living, breathing billboard for something. 

The question is, for what?

The Pharisees championed their traditions -- and there was no mistaking it.  Not only did they talk about their traditions; they enforced them.  When they saw Jesus' disciples eating bread with unwashed hands, they "found fault" (Matthew 7:2), and asked Jesus, "Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders?" (Matthew 7:5).  In fact, the Pharisees were trying to undermine Jesus by implying that His disciples were "out of sync" with their own traditions, and therefore "out of sync" with God.  But they didn't care whether or not the disciples were actually being obedient to God -- they felt disrespected, and frankly, threatened.  The Pharisees clung to their traditions, because their traditions defined them.  They enforced their traditions, because their traditions validated their authority.  But in passing off their traditions as doctrine, Jesus called them hypocrites, honoring God only with their lips, with hearts that were far from Him (Matthew 7:6-7).

You see, "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" (Matthew 12:34).  You may try to convince people that you have it all together -- that you're a religious man, or a spiritual woman -- but your mouth will reveal your heart.  And you may have known the Lord for decades, but maybe your friends and family have little idea, because you talk more about the latest sporting event or TV show than about Him.  The things you dwell on are the things you speak about.  The things you love determine the way you live.

We must not be hypocrites, like the Pharisees, whose pious words deceived hearts that were distant from God.  We must not be people who are concerned only with the cleanliness of peoples' hands, and ignore the condition of their hearts.  Let us not become deaf to the commands of God because they inconvenience -- or worse -- threaten us.  If we truly love the Lord with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength, there will not be a disconnect between the words we say and the life we live.

Today, what is most important to you?  Answer honestly, because otherwise you're only fooling yourself.  If Jesus Christ is your first love, it will be evident.  If He's not, people already know.  Let me encourage you today to fall in love with Jesus.  Run into His loving arms! Don't worry about how it will affect the way people see you; don't concern yourself with how it threatens to change your life.  The change is always -- always -- for the better.  When He changes your heart, you speak differently, you act differently, and you livedifferently.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17).

 

THURSDAY

There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!
Mark 7:15-16

In the late '60s and early '70s, the U.S. was one of the most powerful nations in the world, but couldn't win a war. Though we had hundreds of thousands of troops on the ground in Vietnam, employed much larger and superior armed forces, and enlisted attack helicopters, fighter jets, missiles, and everything you can imagine, we still couldn't win. Why?

 

Our enemy, the Viet Cong, realized that the key to victory was not in killing American soldiers, but in wounding them.

Every American soldier wounded required five more American soldiers to carry him off the battlefield. By wounding a single soldier, they effectively removed six soldiers from the combat zone. It was a strategy not to dominate U.S. forces, but to neutralize them. And it's the same strategy that the devil uses with you.

You see, if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, the devil has no real power over you. The breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:14-17) -- you are too protected by God! So, the enemy's only strategy is to cause you to defeat yourself. How? He tries to convince you that no war is being fought at all -- that you don't even need to wear the armor of God as protection for your soul. In fact, he even poses as a friend, making himself look attractive and trustworthy, but then slyly placing stumbling blocks in your path to trip you up. His goal is not to fight you, but to neutralize you -- to get you off the battlefield. Because make no mistake: The enemy is always at war. If you are not fighting, you are losing.

Why do we stop fighting, then? Why do we retreat from the spiritual battle that rages around us, as if we're defeated, when we know that we are victorious through Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:57)? It's not because the battle is over, or because the devil has defiled us -- he doesn't have that much power! No, it's because we defile, and neutralize, ourselves. Mark 7:15 tells us that nothing can defile us but ourselves. "There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man." It's not that extra cheeseburger that is defiling you; it's the way you beat yourself up after you eat the cheeseburger. It's not the lustful thought that enters your mind; it's the way you entertain it. Sin leaves us injured; it will destroy us from within.

Are there things in your heart that you would like gone once and for all? Is there something that is hindering your prayer life, your worship, your love and concern for other people, your desire to be a servant, and your passion to tell other people about Jesus Christ? Today, if you will go to the throne of God and plead the blood of Jesus Christ, He will make you victorious. He will erase those things from your life; He will kill them. They will be put to death right now. Simply say, "God, I ask you to take this right now from my life. Not tomorrow, not a week from tomorrow, but right now."

Though you may have been neutralized before, unable to fight because of the crippling effect of sin, Jesus will make you and me "more than conquerors" (Romans 8:37). It is not a religious exercise God is concerned with -- this is a war.

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 15:57).


 

FRIDAY

 

Then the Pharisees came out and began to dispute with Him, seeking from Him a sign from heaven, testing Him.  But He sighed deeply in His spirit, and said, "Why does this generation seek a sign? Assuredly, I say to you, no sign shall be given to this generation."
Mark 8:11-12

I remember one night receiving a call from the Orange County Sheriff's Department, asking if I'd be willing to meet with a mommy and daddy whose little baby girl had just died in her crib a few minutes prior.  Of course I agreed to help, and rushed to the scene, where I encountered the two weeping parents.  "If there is a God, how could this happen?" they were sobbing.  "Our beautiful little girl...."  I took a deep breath and said, "Lord, give me words of wisdom.  This is overwhelming."

Before I spoke with them, though, the sergeant pulled me aside.  "In a few minutes the coroner will arrive, and we really need your help.  The mother is still kneeling beside the crib, caressing her baby's arm...."  I knew immediately what the sergeant was implying.  It's one thing to see an adult placed in a body bag; it's something much worse, though, to see a baby placed in one -- especially when you are the baby's parent.  I needed to shield these poor parents from that agonizing sight.

"Can I talk with the two of you for a moment?" I asked the parents.  "Yes," they whispered, their sheer exhaustion written all over their faces.  They understandably wanted to stay beside their baby, but I led them into the living room.  And sure enough, as we sat in the living room, I saw the coroner pull up out front.  "I want to go see my little girl," the mother said.  "Ok, but could you wait just a minute?" I asked.  I ran in and asked the coroner to hide the body bag as the mother came in one more time to hold her baby, and thankfully, the coroner agreed.  The mother got to hold her baby that one last time, and then we all went back to the living room while the coroner carried the baby's body away.  About 20 minutes later, the parents asked, "Where is our daughter?"  I told them, "Well, they had to take her to the coroner's office to do some exams."  And with that, both parents let out a deep, pained, exasperated sigh.

I think that is the kind of sigh Jesus lets out over us.  I think that when He looks at you and me, and sees how far we are from His Father, He sighs.  It hurts Him.  It pains Jesus that we are hard-hearted and insensitive.  He probably sighs several times a day for me.

In Mark 8, the Pharisees ask Jesus for a "sign from heaven" (verse 11).  How did He respond?  He "sighed deeply in His spirit" (verse 12).  After all, what other sign did they need?  Did they not realize that He, Himself, was their sign from heaven?  Did they not see God working through Him?

So often, we get our priorities mixed up.  We search for answers to our questions, and solutions to our problems, but we get frustrated, impatient, and even angry when we don't understand.  Maybe you've prayed the same prayer for years, and still have no sign of an answer.  Or maybe you have a difficult decision to make, and you have no sign of a solution from God.  The Lord doesn't desire that we seek signs -- He desires that we seek Him. It grieves the Lord when we seek His power, His help, His signs -- but not Him.

You see, if we seek the Lord only because we have a problem, we will stop seeking Him once our problem is solved.  But if we seek the Lord because we love Him, our relationship with Him will run deep -- we will seek Him in good times and bad, whether we know His will or not.

Today, may I encourage you to stop seeking signs from God, and start seeking God, Himself.  Let's not be like the Pharisees, who pained the Lord by seeking His power, but never seeking Him.   "Trust in the Lord with all your heart... and He shall direct your paths" (Proverbs 3:5-6).

SATURDAY

 

For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.
Leviticus 17:11

Scientists will never understand the human soul. Sure, they've come a long way in understanding the human body -- how it works, why it breaks down, what helps it heal -- but our bodies are merely temporary, earthly encasements for our souls. We are more than flesh and blood. Because we have a soul, we have the ability to love. Because we have a soul, we can make moral decisions. And so, because we have a soul, we can be made guilty of sin, knowing its consequences. After all, if we know the difference between right and wrong, and still do wrong, we are guilty. Indeed, Romans 3:23 tells us that we are all guilty of sin. Fortunately, God is a merciful God! In fact, long before He ever sent His Son to die on a cross for our sins, God was a merciful God. But where there was sin, there would be blood.

Leviticus 17:11 shows us that God so loved the Israelites that He provided a way for them to make atonement for their souls. By all means, He didn't have to. God had every right to demand the death of anyone who sinned. But, of course, no one would have lived. So, since "the life of the flesh is in the blood," He accepted the sacrificial blood of animals, rather than requiring the blood of the guilty, that the guilty might live. Do you realize how merciful God was to do this? Can you see how much God must have loved His people to give them a second chance, a third chance, a fourth, and on and on?

How much greater, then, that the Lord poured out His own blood, that we might live. Praise the Lord that Jesus sacrificed His life and allowed His flesh to be brutally killed, that by His blood, our souls might live -- not only here on earth, but with God for eternity! You see, just as the life of the flesh is the blood, so the life of the soul is His blood. Unless He poured out His blood, our souls could not live.

The world will never see a greater act of mercy than that of Jesus Christ sacrificing His life on a cross for our sins. It was a merciful act from an already-merciful God. Truly, since the day Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, God has demonstrated unfathomable mercy. Today, may the blood of Jesus be life to your soul. May you rest in His mercy, knowing that He loves you more than you will ever understand. And may His mercy inspire you to be more like Him in everything you do. 

 

 

 

THE WEEKLY WORD WITH MIKE MACINTOSH 

Can be found here:

http://theweeklywordmikemacintosh.blogspot.com/

 


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