Women in the Word Joyce (Joyce Meyer): "Weekly Devotionals" Sunday thru Saturday (11-25 to 12-1) Devotional

 

 

7 Days of Devotion and Teaching from the Word of God posted usually on Week-Ends

 

SUNDAY

One Step at a Time

I press on to lay hold of (grasp) and make my own, that for which Christ Jesus (the Messiah) has laid hold of me and made me His own. 
— Philippians 3:12 

Following God is like climbing a mountain. If God showed us how high the mountain really is that He wants us to climb, we might be afraid to take the first step. We might argue that we're not ready, that we're not at all prepared to go all the way to the top. So He covers the top of the summit with a cloud, and all we can see is the step before us. That first step looks manageable, so we take it. And then we take another step, and another, and another, until one day we find ourselves at the top of the mountain without even realizing where we were headed when we began. Then we are very glad we took the journey. 

I recall a woman who came to me complaining that she could not hear from God, that He was not speaking to her even though she was seeking Him about some things. Then the Lord told me that there was no point in speaking to her about doing something else until she had done the last thing He had told her, which she had not done yet. 

In God's plan for us, we cannot skip steps that we don't like and move on to other ones. We cannot skip the hard steps or the ones that require sacrifice. I repeat: following God's plan for our lives requires investment. We must sacrifice self-will to have God's will. We must sacrifice our way to find His way. Don't be afraid of sacrifice—it eventually sets us free to be all we desire to be.  

MONDAY

 

 Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart. 

— Psalm 37:4 

One of the ways God speaks to us is through the sanctified desires of our hearts. God places right desires in our hearts and then He gives us those desires. I remember a time when I had a desire for homemade zucchini bread but had no talent or time to make it. I simply said, “Lord, I sure would like some fresh zucchini bread,” and did not think about it again. About a week later a lady who knew nothing of my desire handed me a box and when I opened it, I found homemade zucchini bread. God delights in doing small and large things for us and we should never fail to appreciate all of them. 

We need to ask God to give us sanctified, or holy, desires. We usually have desire for natural things such as success, finances, nice homes, and good relationships, but we should also desire spiritual things. We should desire to know God in a deeper and more intimate way, to always display the fruit of the Spirit, especially love, to serve God in ways that glorify Him, to always be obedient to God, et cetera. Let us ask God to take away fleshly desire and give us sanctified desire. 

God puts in us desires that will bring His righteousness, peace, and joy to our lives (see Romans 14:17), and they never disagree with His Word. 

Wrong desires torment us and we are impatient about receiving them, but sanctified desire comes with a willingness to wait on God’s ways and timing.   

 

God’s word for you today: Place your desires before God, pray about them and trust God to give them to you if and when they are right for you. 

 

TUESDAY

 

But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness.
— 
2 Corinthians 12:9  

Come apart and spend some time with God before you come apart. No matter how strong and healthy you are, no matter what your age is, no matter what you think you know, without God you are going to get weary and tired. 

God doesn’t get tired, and the Word says He gives power to the faint and weary, and increases strength to those who have no might. But those who wait for the Lord, who expect, look for, and hope in Him, will be renewed (See Isaiah 40:29–31). God is willing to increase your strength. Get alone with Him anytime you need to be strengthened.

 

WEDNESDAY

 

God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.  
— 2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV 

Have you ever thought how great it would be if you could live without ever having to deal with fear? 

Of course, there are healthy fears that alert you to danger in time to avoid it—and these are good because they protect you. But there are many other fears Satan tries to put on you that should not be legitimate concerns. They are False Evidence Appearing Real, and they are intended to keep you from having the power, love, and sound mind God wants you to have. 

Fear is a spirit that must be confronted head on—it will not just go away. But God has given you the power to boldly confront your fear and break its hold on your life. 

 

So when fear knocks on your door, send faith to answer! 

 

THURSDAY

 

Jesus said] If you abide in My word [hold fast to My teachings and live in accordance with them], you are truly My disciples. And You will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free. 
— 
John 8:31B-32 

In my book Battlefield of the Mind, I also write about Mary’s husband, John, a low-key type person. He was a man who had been verbally abused by his mother and taunted by playmates in childhood. He hated confrontation and couldn’t stand up to Mary’s strong will. In his own way, John was as much a prisoner as his wife. He blamed her; she blamed him—and here we see Satan’s deceptive ways again.
 
John was convinced that it didn’t do any good to stand up to anyone; he was going to lose anyway. He thought the only way to get along was to be quiet and accept whatever happened. 

John also believed another lie of the devil—that he wasn’t truly loved by God. How could he be? He wasn’t worth loving. Because he felt that way, he had believed the devil’s lies. “I felt as if God said to the world, ‘Believe in Jesus and you’ll be saved.’ I got in on some kind of package deal—but I never felt I was worth loving.” 

That is one of Satan’s biggest lies: “You are nobody. You are not worth anything.” If the enemy of your mind can convince you that you’re too bad or too worthless, he has set up a stronghold in your mind. 

Although John was a Christian, his mind had been imprisoned by his enemy. John has had to learn that he is important to God. For a long time, he did not know the truth. His mother had not told him that he was good, worthwhile, and a child of God. His friends didn’t encourage him, and in the first years of marriage to Mary, her criticism convinced him even further that he was a hopeless failure. 

John needs to know that he is loved, and that he is as valuable to the kingdom of God as Paul, Moses, or anybody else. Jesus cares for him, and He is with him. For John to win his battle and cast down the mental strongholds the devil has built, he needs to know the truth. Jesus said, “If you . . . [hold fast to My teachings and live in accordance with them], you are truly My disciples. And you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free” (John 8:31b–32). John learns truth as he reads God’s Word, prays, and meditates on what it says to him. He also learns as he applies God’s Word in his daily life and has the experience of watching it work as Jesus said it would. Experience is often the best teacher. I have learned from the Word of God and life’s experiences that God’s Word is filled with power and will tear down the strongholds Satan has built in our minds. 

You cannot be free unless you know that the weapons of warfare are available to you and that you can learn to use them. As you learn to resist Satan and call him a liar, your life will change dramatically for the better.  

Pray this...

Lord God of heaven, remind me that I am important to You and that I am loved by You, even if I don’t feel loved. Help me to learn that I am as important to You as any other Christian and that You love me as much as You love them. I thank You in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.   

 

FRIDAY 

The wicked borrow and pay not again [for they may be unable], but the [uncompromisingly] righteous deal kindly and give [for they are able].
— 
Psalm 37:21
 

Take chances today and invest in someone else’s life, especially if God tells you to do so. You may give them something of value only to learn they waste it as they have always done in the past. But remember that God made an investment in you, and He wants you to be willing to make an investment in somebody else.
 
Jesus died to give everybody a chance. Not everyone takes advantage of His provision, but we all have an equal opportunity to enjoy the abundant life. If you help someone, and they end up not doing what is right with it, that is between them and God. Give thanks that you are able to give, and then do whatever God tells you to do.


SATURDAY 

We shall not all fall asleep [in death], but we shall all be changed (transformed) in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the [sound of the] last trumpet call.  
— 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 

We all like “suddenlies,” and God promises that whatever remains to be accomplished in us will be done “suddenly” when Jesus returns to the earth. Until then, we can confidently trust He is working in us through His word and Spirit on a regular basis. If you are spending time in God’s word and believing He is doing work in you, then you are changing from one degree of glory to another. 

You don’t have to be discouraged about your spiritual growth or in your walk with God, because no matter what remains to be done in the transformation of your old man into your new man, it will be finished at the appearing of Jesus in the heavenlies. 

If the devil tries to tell you you’re going to stay the way you are forever, he is lying. God promises in His word that He has begun a good work in you and He also will finish it (see Philippians 1:6).

 

Women in the Word Joyce

http://womeninthewordjoyce.blogspot.com/


WORDDEVO: "The Weekly Word with Rick Warren" [11-25 thru 12-02] 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. 

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." Ephesians 4:29 (NIV) 

The third principle for connecting with people is to be constructive with your words.

Use your words to build people up. Ephesians 4:29 says, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen" (NIV). God wants us to take these words and use them to build people.

Did you know that the words that come out of our mouths are like a tool? Sometimes they're like a sledgehammer. We swing away without thinking and end up with a pile of relational rubble. Sometimes they're like a saw, cutting people down. If we keep using these tools, inevitably our relationships are going to suffer.

One reason we aren't constructive with our words is we don't realize how powerful they are; yet, I bet you can still remember things people said to you in a thoughtless way as far back as grade school or college. That's how powerful words are. They leave a lasting impact. So when it comes to your mouth, think of it as a power tool and be very careful with it.

Here's how to build instead of destroying with your words --

1.  Stop excusing. Stop saying, "I didn't really mean to say that." Realize that what you say impacts everyone around you.         

2.  Talk less. If it's a power tool, you don't have to use it as much. One of the reasons we get in trouble is we just talk too much sometimes. We need to talk less and then ...

3.  Listen more. If I listen more, I can understand people's needs. 

4.  Start building. Think first of all, "What do they need?" How can I use a word of encouragement to build them up? How can I use a word of challenge to make a difference in someone's life? How can I use my words to build up the people I love the most?

  MONDAY

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14-15 (NIV) 

When it comes to forgiveness, we're tough negotiators. We open with an offer like, "I'll forgive you, if . . . ." Then, we follow with a subtle concession that sounds like a confession: "I can't forgive her until she learns her lesson."

When we think the other side is stonewalling, we take off the gloves: "If I forgive him, he'll just think he got away with it."

We think we're negotiating for God; we think we're negotiating for their souls; we think we're negotiation for justice, when all we're really doing is negotiating for control over the situation.

Truth says we can't conduct these negotiations. We're ambassadors of the King, and we represent, not our own, but the King's intentions as well as his character. The King says forgive and that means we forgive. See the period at the end of the previous sentence? We forgive.

The King's instructions are clear and unambiguous: If you forgive those who sin against you, then the King will forgive you for your sins against him. If you don't forgive those who sin against you, then the King won't forgive you for your sins against him. No room for negotiation there.

Anything else, such as saying, ""I'll forgive him, if . . ." isn't really forgiving; it's just negotiating, and God's court of justice will not recognize contracts made without kingly authority or permission.

The question is not should, if, or can someone be forgiven; the true question is will you make the choice to forgive?

TUESDAY

"He guides me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake." Psalm 23:3b (NIV) 

Sometime we're afraid of making the wrong decision. And that creates stress.

We might be facing a decision about a major issue -- 'Should I hold on or should I let go?' 'Should I get in or should I get out?' 'Should I get married?' 'Should I find a new job?' 'Should I move?'

When you can't make up your mind, you stagger through life. In fact, the Bible says when we remain double-minded, we become unstable in everything we do (James 1). The Greek word for unstable literally means "stagger like a drunk."

But God says there is an antidote to our indecision? Psalm 23:3 tells us, "He guides me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake." We handle the stress of decision-making by letting God guide us.

You may be thinking, But I've tried this! You asked God to guide you but then you became more confused than before. You still couldn't figure it out. You wonder, Why is knowing God's will so difficult?

Is God playing games with us? Of course not! God wants to guide us. He wants us to know His will more than we want to know it. Our problem is we often look for the wrong thing when we're trying to find God's will. 

For example, some of us look for a feeling. We want to be swept off our feet by some emotion so we can say, "That's how I know what God's will is!" Some of us want a methodical approach to God's will. We want somebody to give us a recipe, a formula to apply. But God's will is not a recipe.  Some of us take a magical approach to God's will.  We're looking for God to do some fantastic sign—write it in the sky, call us on the phone, send us a telegram. 

All of these ways lead to frustration and cause us to miss God's will. God's will is not a feeling or a formula or something He wants you to be frustrated or fearful about. 

So how do you know it? How do you let God guide you in the right path? Over the next few days we'll look at several things the Bible tells us will help determine God's will.

But for today, the important thing to understand is that God does not want you confused and he does not want you stressed over making any decision. He is there, guiding you every step of the way.

This is his promise, so you can believe this to be true: "He guides me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake." (Psalm 23:3 NIV)

 
WEDNESDAY

"He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way." Psalm 25:9 (NIV) 

The Bible says there are several things we need to do to receive guidance from God, but the very first thing is this:

I need to admit I need a guide!

Sheep, by nature, tend to wander off the path. The Prophet Isaiah says, "All of us like sheep have strayed away! We have left God's paths to follow our own." (Isaiah 53:6 NLT)

This is why we often don't know God's will. The truth is most of the time we don't want to follow God or anybody else. We want to go our own way. We don't want to admit we need direction or that we need a guide. 

Another thing about sheep is that they have poor vision. They can't see very far ahead. That's why, on a path, they don't know if it is heading toward a cliff, and that's why they need a shepherd. We can't see the future. We don't know what's going to happen tomorrow, much less next year or ten years from now. We don't even know what's going to happen this afternoon.

God made you so that you would not be able to see into the future no matter how much you try. Even with all the gimmicks to predict the future, you don't really know what's going to happen. Why did God do this? He did it so you would depend on Him.

Because we can't see into the future, we often stumble.  Proverbs 14:12 says, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death" (NIV). We've all made decisions that at the time seemed right but later on turned out to be wrong. Some paths lead to dead ends and we end up off track. That's why we need to admit, "God, I need help."

 
 
  THURSDAY

"If you want to know what God really wants you to do, ask him . . . but if you don't ask in faith, don't expect the Lord to give you any solid answer." James 1:5-6 (LB) 

"Have you ever asked God for something and didn't expect to get it? That's why you didn't get it."

The Bible says when we ask God for guidance, we need to believe he will give us that guidance.

Jesus said, "Ask and it shall be given, seek and ye shall find, knock and the door will be opened" (Luke 11:9 NIV). Ask, seek, knock—ASK. God wants you to learn to ask. 

God is willing to give wisdom: "If you want to know what God really wants you to do, ask him, and he will gladly tell you, for he is always ready to give a bountiful supply of wisdom to all who ask him; but . . . if you don't ask in faith, don't expect the Lord to give you any solid answer" (James 1: 5-6 LB). 

God wants to direct you in life, but two things need to line up:  You have to ask the right person—God, and you have to ask with the right attitude—in faith, expecting an answer. 

Have you ever asked God for something and didn't expect to get it? That's why you didn't get it. God works in our lives according to faith. So many times we say, "God, please guide me!" and we walk away not even waiting for guidance. We just immediately start to work. We say, "God, I want you to give me wisdom, help me make the right decision." But we don't really expect Him to do that. We think it all depends on us. 

God has promised to give us wisdom, if we will ask. Wisdom is seeing life from God's point of view. Wisdom is the ability to make decisions the way God makes decisions.

Think about this: God never makes a bad decision. He never makes a mistake. He says if we trust Him and listen to Him, He will guide us. But we must ask in faith.
 
FRIDAY

God's family is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. 1 Timothy 3:15b (GW) 

"None of us can fulfill God’s purposes by ourselves."

You are called to belong, not just believe.

Even in the perfect, sinless environment of Eden, God said, "It is not good for man to be alone." (Genesis 2:18 NIV)

We are created for community, fashioned for fellowship, and formed for a family, and none of us can fulfill God's purposes by ourselves. The Bible knows nothing of solitary saints or spiritual hermits isolated from other believers and deprived of fellowship.

The Bible says we are put together, joined together, built together, members together, heirs together, fitted together, and held together and will be caught up together. (1 Corinthians 12:12; Ephesians 2:21, 22; 3:6; 4:16; Colossians 2:19; 1 Thessalonians 4:17)

You're not on your own anymore!

While your relationship to Christ is personal, God never intends it to be private. In God's family you are connected to every other believer, and we will belong to each other for eternity. The Bible says, "In Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others." (Romans 12:5 NIV)

Following Christ includes belonging, not just believing. We are members of his Body—the church. C. S. Lewis noted that the word membership is of Christian origin, but the world has emptied it of its original meaning. Stores offer discounts to "members," and advertisers use member names to create mailing lists. In churches, membership is often reduced to simply adding your name to a roll, with no requirements or expectations.

To Paul, being a "member" of the church meant being a vital organ of a living body, an indispensable, interconnected part of the Body of Christ. We need to recover and practice the biblical meaning of membership. The church is a body, not a building; an organism, not an organization. (Romans 12:4-5; 1 Corinthians 6:15; 12:12-27)

God's purposes for his church are identical to his five purposes for you. Worship helps you focus on God; fellowship helps you face life's problems; discipleship helps fortify your faith; ministry helps find your talents; power helps fulfill your mission. There is nothing else on earth like the church!

 

SATURDAY

 

Love your spiritual family. 1 Peter 2:17b (MSG)

 

"You discover your role in life though your relationships with others."

 

As I mentioned yesterday, the church is a body, not a building; an organism, not an organization.

For the organs of your body to fulfill their purpose, they must be connected to your body. The same is true for you as a part of Christ's Body. You were created for a specific role, but you will miss out on this if you're not attached to a living, local church. You discover your role in life though your relationships with others.

The Bible tells us, "Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we're talking about is Christ's body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn't amount to much, would we?" (Romans 12:4-5 MSG)

If an organ is somehow severed from its body, it will shrivel and die. It cannot exist on its own, and neither can you. Disconnected and cut off from the lifeblood of a local body, your spiritual life will wither and eventually cease to exist. (Ephesians 4:16)

This is why the first symptom of spiritual decline is usually inconsistent attendance at worship services and other gatherings of believers. Whenever we become careless about fellowship, everything else begins to slide, too.

The Bible says, "Love your spiritual family." (1 Peter 2:17b MSG)

Membership in the family of God is neither inconsequential nor something to be casually ignored. The church is God's agenda for the world. Jesus said, "I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it." (Matthew 16:18 NLT)


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VidDevo CountdownPsalms: "Psalms 119 (Gimel)"


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Biblical Q&A: "Saints Alive!..." [WordDevo]11-24 thru 11-30 ANSWERS

"Seven Questions and Seven Answers; One for each day of the Week usually posted by Saturday"

 

ONE

 

Saints Alive. Follow Up

Q.  I read Rev 7 after reading Saints Alive!  It speaks of a great innumerable multitude that serves in the temple.  This couldn’t be an earthly temple could it? No earthly temple could accommodate an innumerable multitude. Is this the New Jerusalem? I think I recall it being something like 1400 miles wide,deep and high. Is this correct?

A.  The New Jerusalem is 12,000 stadia (approximately 1400 miles) high, wide, and long (Rev. 21: 16).  But in Rev. 21:22John said there is no Temple in the New Jerusalem, and in Rev. 21:27 he said only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life can enter there.  This would exclude the martyrs of Rev. 7 on both counts. That leaves either the Temple in Heaven (Rev. 11:19) or the one on Earth for them to serve in, and I suspect the one in Heaven is more likely.


TWO

Demon Possession

Q.  In reading your answer to Understanding Luke 11:24-26 you point out that the demons begged Jesus to allow them to enter the pigs after they were driven out of the man.  Does this mean that demons need God’s permission to enter or re-enter a human?  I know, as a Born Again Believer that has accepted Jesus and invited Him to reside within me, I cannot be demon possessed.  But what about others?  Are demons free to inhabit people or do they need to seek God’s permission first?

A.  Because the whole world is under the control of the evil one (1 John 5:19) demons don’t need God’s permission to inhabit non-believers.  The reason the demons asked to be allowed to inhabit a herd of pigs in Mark 5:1-17 was to avoid going to a place of torture which is where I believe Jesus would have sent them otherwise (Mark 5:7). When the pigs ran down the hill and drowned themselves in the Sea of Galilee the demons must have wound up in the place of torture after all.  Otherwise Jesus would have been setting them free to afflict others as if they’d never gone into the pigs.

 

 

THREE

 

The Gospel Of The Kingdom. Follow Up

Q.  As I began this week’s feature article, I couldn’t help but wonder this: If Israel had accepted Jesus as their Messiah, would Jesus have remained there as their King forever?  Also, would He have conquered Israel’s enemies at the time in order to keep peace in the known world?

A.  Make no mistake about it.  Jesus had to die to meet the objectives outlined in Daniel 9:24. No one else in Heaven or on Earth could accomplish this.  We can only imagine how different things would have been if they had accepted Him as their Messiah and let Him die for their sins so He could bring them into everlasting righteousness with His resurrection.

Far from just defeating Israel’s then current enemies, it would have ushered in the promised Kingdom that we know as the Millennium.  It would also have completed the fulfillment of Isaiah 9:6-7He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.  Through Israel, Jesus would have brought God’s salvation to the ends of the Earth (Isaiah 49:1-6) and there would have been no need for the Church.

FOUR

Hosea 6 And The 2nd Coming

Q.  Re: The Gospel of The Kingdom.   Do you think Hosea might have been speaking about two days being 2000 years for the Lord to revive Israel, and the third day might represent the 1000 year millennium in this passage? “After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence” (Hosea 6:1-2).

A. A number of scholars have come to that conclusion, and I also think there’s some merit to it.  Unfortunately the Hebrew calendar is thought to have lost a number of years, perhaps as many as 240, so this is only the year 5773.  Some say much of this “compression”of the calendar was done in the first century AD to make it look like Simon bar Kochba had fulfilled the Messianic prophecies rather than Jesus. Others say it’s because for the Jews time stood still while they were under judgment.

Regardless of the reason, if you assume the traditional date of 4004 BC for the creation and subtract that from the current Hebrew year 0f 5773, you get 1769 years since the First Coming.  Adding back the missing 240 years will bring you to 2009, which means we’re already past the 2000 year point and Daniel’s 70th Week hasn’t even begun yet.

I don’t think we know exactly how many years are missing from the Hebrew calendar so I would only use this interpretation ofHosea 6:1-2 as a rough approximation of when the 2nd Coming could occur.  But when you include this with other hints the Bible offers it adds weight to the belief that it’s not far off.

FIVE

Is Jesus The True Israel?

Q. I’ve been reading the various positions of the Reformed Amillennialists.  Most of them are easily de-bunked but that isn’t the case for Hosea 11:1 / Matthew 2:15.  It seems very one-sided.  In Hosea 11:1 God spoke of Israel as his son and called him out of Egypt.  Matthew 2:15 says Jesus fulfilled this when He came back from Egypt as a baby after being forced to flee there to avoid Herod’s infanticide.  Amillennialists use this to support their view that end times prophecy is figurative and not to be taken literally.  They say a comparison of these two verses proves that Jesus is the true Israel, implying there’s no place for the nation of Israel in the end times.

A.  Through out the Old Testament God used several different analogies to symbolize Israel depending on the feelings He wanted to express. For instance, in Exodus 4:22-23 He called Israel His first born son (even though he wasn’t) to draw a comparison of importance to Pharaoh and his first born son.  If Pharaoh refused to let God’s symbolic first born son go, God would kill Pharaoh’s actual first born son.

Hosea 11:1 is a statement meant to express the idea that God loved Israel like a father loves a son.  But earlier, in Hosea 1:2, God had referred to Israel as an adulterous wife to explain how He felt about Israel’s worship of pagan gods.  And in Ezekiel 16He spoke of Israel as an abandoned baby girl He found along the road.  He said although He treated her like a daughter and gave her every advantage,  she grew up to be an insatiable prostitute, another reference to Israel’s pagan worship practices.

Would we assume from these passages that an adulterous wife or a prostitute is the true Israel? He also compared Israel to an olive tree and to a vineyard.  Are either one of these the true Israel? Of course not.

Matthew 2:15 simply says that just as God called Israel out of Egypt, so did He also call His Son (who was also a son of Israel) out of Egypt.  Matthew was writing to a Jewish audience to show them that Jesus was the Messiah, the King of Israel.  In doing so, he used many more comparisons to Old Testament prophecy than any other Gospel writer.

Once people depart from a literal interpretation of the Bible it seems like there’s no end to the interpretations they can come up with.  To accept this one you have to ignore hundreds of prophecies relating to the second coming.  Many of them specifically call for Israel to be a nation on Earth under the Kingship of the Lord Jesus. Jesus is not the true Israel anymore than God is the true Israel.  Israel is the true Israel.

SIX

The Duration Of The Plagues of Egypt

Q.  I believe Moses was about 40 when he made the decision to be among his brethren, the Hebrews, instead of being called the son of Pharaoh.  He then fled to the land of Midian before God called him to lead the people.  We know the people wondered in the wilderness for 40 years,  Moses dying at the age of 120.  How long was Moses in Egypt after he returned to lead the people?  How long did it take God to perform the curses against Pharaoh and Egypt?

A.  Here’s what the Bible tells us.  As you’ve said, Moses was 40 years old when he was forced to leave Egypt and flee into Midian (Acts 7:23-29) where he remained for 40 more years until the Lord called him to go back to deliver the Israelites from Egypt (Acts 7:30-34). Exodus 7:6 tells us Moses was 80 years old when he first spoke to Pharaoh about releasing the Israelites.

From Deut. 34:7 we learn that Moses was 120 years old when he died, just before the Israelites crossed the Jordan River into the promised Land.

Therefore his life can be divided into 3 segments.  40 Years as the son of Pharaoh, 40 years in Midian, and 40 years in the wilderness with the Israelites.

The specific length of time required for the Lord to complete the plagues of Egypt is not revealed, but scholars have estimated that they happened quickly. The Jewish Mishnah says they took one year, but other opinions range from 40 days for the actual plagues to a few months when you add the time between them. Perhaps the Mishnah meant to say they happened within a single year.

SEVEN


Our Spirit And God’s. Follow Up

Q.  Re: Our spirit and God’s.  You said we’re born with our spirit attuned to the Spirit of God.  I understand that Jesus commanded us to be born again (in the spirit).  Why we need to be re-born when God had already formed our spirit during conception? Is our original attuned spirit inferior to the required ‘born-again’ spirit?

A.  It’s like this.  When we’re born our human spirit is attuned to the Spirit of God.  That means God’s will and our will are the same.  As we mature, our sin nature, something we were born with, begins progressively asserting itself, causing us to go against God’s will.  Before long our sin nature becomes stronger than our spirit.

Until we reach the age of accountability our behavior is not counted against us.  But at the age of accountability we become responsible for our actions and since our sin nature is in control we’re soon destined for death, because death is the punishment for sin.  By confessing our sins and asking Jesus to forgive us, the death penalty is canceled and we become born again to eternal life.  Then God sends His Holy Spirit to help our spirit regain control of our behavior.

But the sin nature doesn’t just go away.  For as long as we live we have to consciously decide who’s going to guide our behavior, the Holy Spirit or our sin nature.  Sometimes we choose one and sometimes we choose the other.  God knew this would be a problem for us, so when we become born again He forgives all the sins of our life, even those we haven’t committed yet (Colossians 2:13-14). This way He can guarantee that the gift of eternal life will always be ours (2 Cor. 1:21-22). Therefore, when we sin after being born again He doesn’t count it against us, but against the sin nature that dwells within us (Romans 7:18-20).



 

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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