WORDDEVO: "The Weekly Word with Mark Balmer" [12-02 thru 12-08] 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.

 

- “The View from Above”

 

Preparing the Soil (Introduction): Have you ever taken off in an airplane and watched as everything on the ground got smaller?  At a certain height, you can see the big overall layout of communities and waterways that seem so massive when driving in them.  From the sky we can see the most direct route to get to our destination without making wrong turns.  God has a view from above and sees all the obstacles that will detour us from our purpose and the Promised Land.  If we keep our eyes fixed on Him, He will guide us through the wilderness, so we don’t have to wander in circles for years.  He knows the best route that will grow us and prepare us for the obstacles we may encounter, but often, we are our own worst enemies.  Our pride and stubbornness make us stomp our feet and say, “I want to do it this way because it makes more sense to me, or it is easier than being obedient to your direction, God”.  Since we have free will, God allows us to take our own route, yet His heart breaks seeing us bring unnecessary heartache upon ourselves. 

Planting and Watering the Seed (Growth): God is the Authority; as He told Moses, He is “I AM” (Exodus 3:14).  He is the only one with the perfect plan for our lives, and when we submit to His leading we experience peace, joy and contentment. The problem is, we don’t like that word “submit.”  Why?  It indicates that we have to give in and go along, with something we may not want to do, out of respect for the authority over us.  Our pride and rebellion insist that our way is the better way, and we do not want to give up that dependence on self.  After all, we have managed to get this far in life!   I’m sure if you are like me you have wondered where you would be right now if you had just stuck to the path you were on before you got sidetracked.  Were you in God’s will for your life at that time and then took your own path?  The Word says we have to die to self-daily. “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Mark 8:34).  This is hard to do because we are selfish and prideful.  God knows this about us, so He patiently loves us even when we take the wrong path.  The Good News is you don’t have to keep wandering in the wilderness! Just stop wherever you are and fix your eyes on “I AM” who has a view of the big picture from above.  But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” (Exodus 14:13-14, NLT).

Harvesting the Crop (Action/Response): Submit = to work in cooperation with.  When we cooperate with God, we have unlimited opportunities that put us right in the middle of His will.  Yes, that will require getting your feet wet so you can stand on dry ground as you pass from the wilderness to the Promised Land.  God meant for our lives to be lived to the fullest extent He had always intended for us.  Do you really want to live so you arrive safely at death?  Do you desire to keep wandering in the wilderness all your life and never experience what God planned for you because of stubbornness and pride? Compromising the truth takes us off God’s intended path for our life and allows the enemy a foothold to plant doubt and worry, so we don’t want to get our feet wet but desire to stay on our side of the Jordan, where it’s more comfortable.  The enemy knows that if we see the Truth we will experience incredible joy and peace and, once we have that, we will be “SOLD OUT!”  Let’s just soar higher and higher and see the bigger picture from God’s eyes instead of ours.

Cultivating (Additional Reading):  Exodus 14:11-31

 

MONDAY

“Word of God, Speak”

 

Preparing the Soil (Introduction): “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:7-9) It takes courage and determination to be an effective Christian. Walking by faith and not by sight is not for wimps! We have been challenged to believe the Truth of God's Word over the lies of the enemy, and that's not an easy task. Since God's Promises are Spiritual and the temptations of the world are physical, it takes strong Godly determination to pursue the Kingdom and reject what pleases our flesh. Yet, once we establish that God's ways are the best route to blessings and glory, saying "no" to our flesh becomes a little easier. Plus, practice makes perfect, and once we get started with not turning to the right or to the left, life becomes more manageable, and contentment begins to reign. Remember the days when you gave in to every whim of your flesh and the chaos that resulted? Turning every which way ended in hangovers, financial difficulties, lies, confusion and years of wandering in the dark. But here in the Light, obeying God's Word, we are successful wherever we go! The faith filled investment we made in the Kingdom on the day we were saved has paid off in supernatural dividends that only heaven can provide!

Planting and Watering the Seed (Growth): The Word of God was not just an afterthought or a "perk" from the Father, but it's a well thought out love letter from on high. Written by men inspired by the Holy Spirit, the Word of God has been passed down from generation to generation until it reached our hungry souls. By His grace, He has provided us with a glimpse of His heart and His desire for our lives. He would not be a just God if He did not provide a "manual" to instruct us on how to operate in His Kingdom. Though Satan has tried to erase the Word from the earth, God has ensured that His Wisdom is even written on the "tablets of our hearts." Once His thoughts become our thoughts through the revelation of the Spirit, we are eternally transformed and no one, not even Satan, can take away or undo the perfect work that God has accomplished. Climbing from glory to glory, we happily ascend the mountain of God as we spend time in His presence and in His Word daily. Escorted by His Spirit and led by His Word, we mature in Godly Wisdom and where weeds once grew in our hearts, the Rose of Sharon now eternally blooms!

Harvesting the Crop (Action/Response): Now empowered by His Spirit and transformed by His Word, we have no one and nothing to fear, not even death. These verses promise us that He will be with us wherever we go. No longer illegitimate children, we have become the Sons and Daughters of God and may embrace every blessing that title brings. We must believe that if our Father is for us, then no natural or spiritual enemy will thwart God's plan for our lives (Romans 8:31)! If God has promised, then He will be faithful to follow through. Unlike man, He will never fail us or forget us, but instead He has written our names on the very palms of His hands (Isaiah 49:16)! His heart is always toward us, and He thinks about us every minute! When we meditate on His power, majesty and omnipotence, we understand, in some small way, that He can and will be with us consistently twenty-four hours a day. Even in the night His Spirit sings songs of deliverance in our hearts. What a mighty God we serve, Who has foreseen our every need and made provision for us, long before we were ever born! So with grateful hearts we lift our hands to the sky, and we praise His wondrous Name!

Cultivating (Additional Reading): 1 Samuel 2:2; Hebrews 12:2; Proverbs 3:5-6

 

 

  

TUESDAY

“Memorial Forever”

Preparing the Soil (Introduction): Many years ago, I took an art appreciation class in college. At one point we studied a painting that was done by Flemish artist Jan Van Eyck entitled “Arnolfini “Wedding” Portrait.” This Renaissance painting, created in 1434, still draws a great deal of attention from art historians. Portraits, like photographs, were a means of providing timeless memories of special events. The artist in this case was also believed to be a witness to the ceremony, and the portrait is believed to have been considered a signed legal document. One of the intriguing aspects of this particular work is its duality. The unique blend of the obvious purpose of capturing the moment is combined with intricate details that are thought to be saturated in spiritual symbolism. In 1978 when I first studied the portrait, beyond anything else I remembered the pair of empty clogs which were seemingly cast aside in the left forefront of the portrait. I was intrigued and impressed with one of the theories that the artist placed the clogs in the portrait to signify the presence of Christ at the wedding. At the time I was not aware of the Biblical significance of empty sandals (Exodus 3:1-6; Joshua 5:15; John 13:1-15). Twenty years later I was shopping in a second hand store and was drawn to a pair of small brown clay shoes I found lying among other trinkets. I was intrigued by them because of the memory of the portrait and the significance of the empty clogs. I brought the shoes home and hung them on the wall at the center of my family portraits. The shoes were little more than a novelty to me at the time because I was not yet a believer. The impact of their presence is more profound today because I believe God gave them to me when I did not yet believe. The shoes still hang among my family portraits and continue to be a memorial depicting the presence of Christ in the center of my family. My children have always understood their significance.

Planting and Watering the Seed (Growth): “…Go over before the ark of the LORD your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.” (Joshua 4:5-7) The word “memorial” brings forth mental images of statues, monuments and buildings honoring people and events that have long since passed. They are memory aids that depict events that changed the way we live our lives today and the way we will live in the future. God, in His wisdom, reminds us of the importance of constructing memorials that are testimonies of the miracles He has performed in our lives. He also reminds us that our memorials should not remain in boxes that we save to look at in our old age, but they are testimonies we should share with our children, grandchildren, perhaps even our great-grandchildren. They should be reminders to us of the things God has done in our lives that we might otherwise forget. They should also provide encouragement for future generations that He continues to be at work in their lives as well.

Harvesting the Crop (Action/Response): Memorials do not have to be elaborate or intricate in design. The memorial that Israel constructed of the time God led them into the Promised Land was composed of twelve stones, yet it became a reminder for generations to come of the miracles God performed and continues to perform today. Our memorials don’t need to be elaborate either. Almost anything that has significance to us in how God has worked in our lives can be a memorial that we share with our children and future generations; a photo album, a Bible with our handwritten notes, or even a pair of empty shoes hanging among the family photos on the wall.

Cultivating (Additional Reading): Joshua 4:19-24


 

WEDNESDAY

“Stones and God Moments”

Preparing the Soil (Introduction): Then Joshua said to the Israelites, “In the future your children will ask, ‘What do these stones mean?’” Then you can tell them, “This is where the Israelites crossed the Jordan on dry ground.” (Joshua 4:21-22) Joshua spoke these words to the Israelites after he had already commanded them to send a member from each tribe out into the middle of the Jordan, while the waters were still receded. There each person would carry one large stone back to the shore, where a memorial would be built; one that would last forever as it stood to remind the Israelites of their great and miraculous crossing into the Promised Land. It was one of the biggest “God moments” in the history of the Israelites and not to be forgotten.

Planting and Watering the Seed (Growth): Every Christ follower has some “God moments” which leave stones marking their journey in life. I do. I could not have been more than six or seven years old when I first noticed the wonder of God and how He might work in the lives of those who believed in Him. Now in my late 60’s, this event I remember so well made a lasting difference in how I viewed God working through people, and this event is all about my mom, our God, and a need. My mother was a tiny little woman who had four little children in tow. She cooked and cleaned a two story house. She washed clothes in an old fashioned wringer washer and then hung them on a clothes line to dry—the same line she used to beat dirt from our rugs. Yet, this was a woman who found time for her neighbors. A new neighbor moved in across the street from us consisting of three children, a mother, and a truck driving father who was always out on the road somewhere. We lived in the country with few neighbors, and my siblings and I were glad to have other children nearby. On our first visit to welcome them, we found that there was another member of the family who always sat in a rocking chair in the living room; we learned that he was the grandfather and could not walk. Mom made fast friends with the mother of the children. At home, I watched mom on her knees praying for God to heal the grandfather and allow him to walk again. Soon my mother began to do more than just pray for this man. She began going over several times a week, massaging and exercising his legs, and she kept telling him he was going to walk again. Mom had learned all the techniques for this type of therapy years earlier when she helped care for her brother who had contracted polio. My mother’s effort, faith, and trust in God’s will would change things for this family forever.  Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)

Harvesting the Crop (Action/Response): Through my mom, the window to ‘God possibilities’ opened to me one day. It was the day my mother returned from another long visit at this family’s house. She didn’t look tired that day. Instead, her eyes were dancing and she was praising the Lord in song (Colossians 3:16). Only she was singing in German. “Mama,” I said, “Please sing in English.” She laughed and said for us children to gather around. Today, she told us, God has answered her prayer; Grandpa was walking around his house! And, Grandpa kept walking and never stopped while we lived there. For me, a large stone was laid in front of my spiritual eyes. Surely God was longsuffering, loving, merciful, and used people just like my mom to change other peoples’ lives. The window never closed again. I began to see God in many things, even in the tough times in life; with many more stones laid, I have found that He is faithful. Everything we as Christ followers do is watched by others, but especially by our own families. Love and faith in a mighty, big God led my mom across that street each day, but it was a commitment to be a blessing that kept her going. She unknowingly laid a stone in my life as well as the others, I am sure, and did it only because it was who she was: a follower of Jesus. I have never forgotten the love and the effort she exhibited. It was a “God moment” and the memory was set for a lifetime. I learned to love God, too! Parents, live a Godly life! Lay stones that your children will remember 60 years from now. God will guide you, so take courage. What a mighty God we serve!

Cultivating (Additional Reading): Ephesians 6:1-4

 

 

  THURSDAY

“Witnessing to Your Children”

Preparing the Soil (Introduction): “…Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?  And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (Romans 10:13-15) Whenever I read that verse I always think of missionaries going to foreign countries to share the Gospel. I often imagine tribal people living in grass huts receiving the Word of God for the first time. On the other hand, have you ever read that verse and thought about it applying to your own children? How are your children ever going to hear about the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ unless you tell them? I know what some of you are thinking right now, “Our church has great Sunday School teachers, let them tell my children about Jesus.” But while Sunday School is important, the fact is that your children are much more influenced by your example than by that of someone they see for only one hour per week.

Planting and Watering the Seed (Growth): So, how do you witness and share your faith with your own children? Well, lead by example. Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. (Deuteronomy 11:18-19) If you want your children to read the Bible, sit down and read it with them. If you want your children to pray to Jesus, spend a little time each day praying with your children. If you want your children to go to church every Sunday, make sure you are setting the example. Take them to church—don’t send them to church. If you want your children to rely upon Jesus Christ, tell your children about how you have done the same, explaining to them your turmoils and show them how Jesus brought you through those circumstances.

Harvesting the Crop (Action/Response): God wants the NEXT generation to know Him. We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the LORD, about his power, and his mighty wonders. (Psalm 78:4, NLT) Parents, teach your children by your words, your attitude and your lifestyle. Remember that as a parent, you cannot pass on what you have not personally experienced. It’s critical for the spiritual well being of your children that you strive to have a growing relationship with Jesus Christ and that He is more important to you than your daily chores, work and errands. Your children will notice!

Cultivating (Additional Reading): Matthew 19:14

  FRIDAY

“Pass on your Heritage!”

Preparing the Soil (Introduction): How did the Jews keep their heritage for 2000 years without a nation? Every other nationality has gone by the wayside within a few generations of losing their homeland. Their heritage was either lost or blended into another. Yet, this did not happen to the Jews. I know that keeping their heritage was a work of God.  However, He used some very natural ways as well. Heritage is passed from one generation to the next. God, in His wisdom and foreknowledge, gave the Children of Israel many ways to pass on their heritage. You will read in Scripture many times, "When your children ask," or, "On that day tell your son." God gave them opportunities to talk to the next generation about who God was through events, festivals and markers.  

Planting and Watering the Seed (Growth): As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:4-5)  “…Go over before the ark of the LORD your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”  (Joshua 4:5-7) In the past, they had piles of stones marking the places where God was at work and to retell the story. Our lives in Christ are a living spiritual marker, a pile of stones as it were, attesting to the work of God in us personally. You and I, as Living Stones, need to be ready to give an answer (1 Peter 3:15) when people, especially our children, ask, "What do these stones mean?" or "Why are you different?"

Harvesting the Crop (Action/Response): Passing on our faith to our children is very important. So is passing it on to others. Jesus said, “Go and make disciples.” How do you make a disciple? You pass along what you have experienced in your walk with God, to help others come to know Him in the same ways. The world tells us our walk with God is personal, keep it to yourself. Yet, the Bible says: These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.  (Deuteronomy 6:6–9) Who are you going to listen to? Pass on your Heritage!

Cultivating (Additional Reading):  Romans 15:1-4; Acts 2:39

 


SATURDAY 

“Because He Loves Me”

Preparing the Soil (Introduction): "On the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho the LORD said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you cross the Jordan into Canaan, drive out all the inhabitants of the land before you. Destroy all their carved images and their cast idols, and demolish all their high places. Take possession of the land and settle in it, for I have given you the land to possess. Numbers 33:50-53) But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will give you trouble in the land where you will live.  And then I will do to you what I plan to do to them.’” (Numbers 33:55-56) As parents and fellow Christ followers, we can only pass on to others what we ourselves fully possess. Before they even crossed over, the Lord commanded His people to be ready and willing to take complete possession of the land He had promised them. This was a daunting task for the nation of Israel. It is a daunting task as well in the life of the believer, as the strongholds we are called to demolish are only overcome by the power of God's Spirit directing and sustaining our lives. The Lord gave His people the Promised Land simply because He promised to do so, and after forty years in the desert, they were willing to obey. Sometimes we have a hard time obeying and believing God for all things, but these are the very areas He wants us to fully possess in the power of His Holy Spirit through faith in Christ Jesus. These are His works created for us before we were even born (Ephesians 2:10). Sounds like the Israelite nation here, doesn't it?  We just have to be willing.  So what makes us willing?

Planting and Watering the Seed (Growth): "He [Joshua] said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their fathers, ‘What do these stones mean?’  tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the LORD your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The LORD your God did to the Jordan just what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the LORD is powerful and so that you might always fear the LORD your God.” (Joshua 4:21-24) The Lord alone is responsible for presenting us spotless and without wrinkle before Him (Ephesians 5:27), we are simply responsible for believing (John 6:29). Believing is an on-going action.  If we ever realize we are acting unfaithfully, we need only to believe in Christ, repent of our sin and be reconciled to God (Romans 5:10). We all need to be reminded that life is not about us, but it is about God and who He is. Like the Israelites when they crossed the Jordan, the Lord also gives us markers, both of people and situations, which He uses to show Himself faithful in our lives. This is for our benefit, to help us continue in our Spirit-dependent walk of faith with Him, and also for those who follow behind us; fellow-believers and prayerfully, our children (Psalm 78:4). It's all about God and who He is.  So how do we live in the light of this for us and our children?

Harvesting the Crop (Action/Response): This story of the stones, one from each tribe, set up together as a memorial to God's faithfulness, presence and power, are what we need and what the Lord provides for us in our faith-journeys. Seeing the tangible evidence in our own life or in the life of another believer acts similarly as a pillar, guide-post, or an 'impossible stack of stones from the river,' reminding us: "God has been here, He is present and aware, and He knows what He is doing." They attest to God's unfailing love for every child of God who sincerely desires more of Him, whatever that might entail. The reminders are for when the going gets hard, because it's going to - that's where our refinement happens, in our difficulties (2 Corinthians 12:10). Every one of us is in need of His refinement and discipline, to be made more like Christ (Romans 8:29). It is in our times of discipline, rebuke or seeming hardship that we need to be able to look ahead and behind and see, in our own lives and the lives of those the Lord has had go before us, where we have come from and where we are going and that no matter how impossible the situation facing us, we can do what He calls us to do because it's all about God, and He is faithful. He alone gives the victories and makes the day-to-day of the Spirit-filled life possible. These are the same trials that our children will face from generation to generation until the Lord returns. His 'pillars' remind all of us that this battlefield of the Spirit-filled life comes from the Hand of the One who loves us and gave His Son for us, so that we could inherit all that He has for us in our promised land: His Salvation.  Prayer:  "Lord, I can continue in the power of Your Holy Spirit within me through all battles of this life because You love me with an unfailing love.  Thank you for reminding me. Lead me on, Lord." Amen.

Cultivating (Additional Reading): Ephesians 3:16-21; Psalm 103


 

THE WEEKLY WORD WITH MARK BALMER

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http://theweeklywordmarkbalmer.blogspot.com/

  

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