2 Peter 3:9

Verse Study: 2 Peter 3:9

“The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” – 2 Peter 3:9 

Let us start by looking at the first two verses in 2 Peter 3.

Beloved, this is now the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of a reminder, to remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.” 2 Peter 3:1-2.

Peter is calling on the disciples to remember the words spoken by the prophets of old, as well as by Jesus Christ during His time here. One example is Daniel, where it is written,

Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt. And those who have insight will shine like the glow of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” Daniel 12:1-3.

And a second one is found in Zechariah.

On that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west forming a very large valley. Half of the mountain will move toward the north, and the other half toward the south.” Zechariah 14:4.

Both of the above verses are quotes from Old Testament prophets. Then in the first chapter of Acts, two angels came and spoke to the disciples regarding Jesus’ ascension.

And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were watching, and a cloud took Him up, out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, then behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them, and they said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.’” Acts 1:9-11.

Now, moving on to the next three verses, Peter tells them that in these last days, there will be many who will mock the true believers.

Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.’ For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.” 2 Peter 3:3-7.

What I find most interesting is that we are seeing this today, which shows we are in the final days. But to be honest, there have always been people calling out that they see no proof of Jesus and His second coming, believing either there is no God at all and thus everything has always existed as stated by many so-called scientists, or they believe in false gods who, in their beliefs, had nothing to do with creation as it actually happened. And both these groups, either internally or externally, mock us for believing such a ‘ridiculous’ concept. Now by believing these false ideas, they refuse to accept the idea of everything being created by an infinite God, and the world back in the time of Noah being destroyed by a worldwide flood of water. Therefore, they do not accept what is mentioned in verse seven, that the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

Now we came to verse 8.

But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.” 2 Peter 3:8.

What is basically being said here is that what seems like forever in our view is but a short time in God’s view, just as an hour may seem to be an eternity for a child but a moment to an adult. We see this same image in the Book or Psalms.

For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it passes by, or like a watch in the night.” Psalm 90:4.

God is infinite and we are finite. The Lord is not subject to time as we are. He regards a thousand years the way we might think of a 24-hour period or a single watch during the night. The “watch” refers to a shift covered by a guard. There were three nighttime watches/shifts, each one being four hours. During the night, most people did not notice the guard keeping watch because they were asleep. Similarly, a thousand years pass almost like they didn’t happen when compared to eternity.

Next, we come to our focus verse.

“The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9.

We see here that the only reason God has not yet raptured His people is His patience. He does not desire anyone to perish but that all would repent. This is the time God has given all people to get right with Him.

In the days of Noah, God said,

My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” Genesis 6:3.

There comes a time when even God’s patience with man will be ended. That day where the opportunity for grace is over and the unrepentant will face the awesome wrath of God. The world has heard this, and thus the scoffers will say, “Where is the promise of His coming?” These unrepentant people will use this question to renounce the idea of Jesus Christ coming here, also known as the  rapture of the church. God isn’t slack concerning the promise to come and take us to be with Him. He’s just patient, not wanting any to perish, but that all would repent and give themselves to God.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.

1 Peter 4:8

Verse of the Day: 1 Peter 4:8

“Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.” – 1 Peter 4:8

Let me start this with the first five verse of 1 Peter 4 “Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries. In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you; but they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.” 1 Peter 4:1-5.

Peter starts by using Christ as an example that Christians must follow. Essentially, by suffering Christ showed his opposition to sinful living. Therefore, persecuted Christians must follow his example and say a firm “NO” to their temptations. The thought is rather condensed, and verse one can be paraphrased more fully like this, a quote from Theologian Howard Marshalls.

Persons who are prepared to suffer demonstrate that they have a particular attitude toward certain principles. Jesus was prepared to suffer, and therefore he must have had this attitude. Since you have been called to suffer like Jesus did, you should also adopt the same attitude as he had. (It would be foolish merely to suffer without holding the principles which his sufferings demonstrated he held.) You will find that this attitude acts like armor in protecting you from temptation. For the particular attitude which Christ had is related to sin. It can be summed up in the saying: A person who suffers in the flesh has ceased from sin.

Essentially, we are no longer to live the rest of our life in the lusts of the flesh, but rather in obeying the will of God. For the time has ended in carrying out the desire of the flesh, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries. Many are surprised when we do not pursue the same excesses of dissipation, and they find it strange that we have stopped. But they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.

Now, we go to the next verse. “For the gospel has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead, that though they are judged in the flesh as men, they may live in the spirit according to the will of God. The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. ” 1 Peter 4:6-7. When we look back at those who have died while true Christians, it reminds us who are now alive that death is no more the end for us as it was for those now dead. People die a physical death under judgment that comes as a result of Adam’s sin. All are judged according to the way of men in regard to the body. This is the fate of all human beings. This is the way of men and women since sin entered the world they die in the body. It is only when Christ comes in glory that ‘there will be no more death. “and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4. But the preaching of the gospel through history has brought with it the offer of salvation so that those who respond may live according to the way of God in regard to the spirit. The life that Christians will continue to live, even after they die, will be a life in the spiritual realm in which God lives as well. It is for this reason that the gospel is preached, so that people may live this way. Christians should take heart from the knowledge that those who have died having received the gospel do now live according to God in regard to the spirit. They live in his presence and enjoy all his blessings. This should further remove from Christians the fear of persecution and abuse and death. It is also worth noting that a more literal translation of this verse reads: ‘be clear minded and self-controlled with respect to prayers.’ Peter urges therefore that Christians who are members of the body of Christ must be clear minded and self-controlled so they can be properly at prayer. In this age while waiting for the end, the church suffers persecution and ridicule. The Church  must remain a faithful witness to the truth and this can only be achieved through the prayers of the people which demonstrate the church’s complete dependence on our Savior and Lord. As the church prays, her members find the support and encouragement they so desperately need as they love each other deeply and offer hospitality to each other without grumbling.

And now we come to our focus verse. “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8. After Peter has written all that he has in this chapter, he states that above all that he has said before, we are to truly love each other, for if we love one another, then we will not focus on their faults, but on their good qualities. Pastor Chuck Smith put this so good. ”How true that is. How many things we can just overlook if we love hard enough. How many things we don’t see because we love, and how many things we can see when we hate. I mean, we watch like eagles. And every little thing we’re ready to pounce on. But love fervently in the body of Christ. Be hospitable one to another without grudging. As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” It is important that we do no spread the wrongs and faults of people to others. If we do, where is the love? Would we want our faults and wrongs spread around to others? If not, then we should not spread others faults. In closing, I want to put another quote on here that I believe sums up the idea found in verse eight. “ Love covers a multitude of sins. Yea, “love covers all things. He that loves another, covers his faults, how many soever they be. He turns away his own eyes from them; and, as far as is possible, hides them from others. And he continually prays that all the sinner’s iniquities may be forgiven and his sins covered. Meantime the God of love measures to him with the same measure into his bosom.” Theologian John Wesley.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries

1 Kings 8:61

Verse of the Day Devotion: 1Kings 8:61

“Let your heart therefore be wholly true to the LORD our God, walking in his statutes and keeping his commandments, as at this day.” – 1Kings 8:61  

1 Kings 8 is an account of the ark of the covenant being placed into the temple which had just been completed.  In the following verses we read,

Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the leaders of the fathers’ households of the sons of Israel, to King Solomon in Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD from the city of David, which is Zion. All the men of Israel assembled themselves to King Solomon at the feast, in the month Ethanim, which is the seventh month.”  1 Kings 8:1-2.

After this, an enormous number of sacrifices were made to God, so many that they could not be adequately counted.

And King Solomon and all the congregation of Israel, who were assembled to him, were with him before the ark, sacrificing so many sheep and oxen they could not be counted or numbered.” 1 Kings 8:5.

After this, the priests alone brought these into the inner sanctuary of the tempe, also known as the Holy of Holies. And it is important to note that there was nothing in the Ark except the two stones which Moses placed at Horeb when they came out of Egypt.

Next, he offered a prayer to the Lord asking that any requests given earnestly and humbly by Israelites or strangers would be accepted by God.  This is a prayer of dedication, which is found in 1 Kings 8:22-53. At the end of this prayer, Solomon asks for God’s blessing over the people of Israel plus an exhortation for them as well.  This exhortation is the focus of our verse today, which is as relevant to us today as it was for the Israelites back then.

First, let us look at verses 57-60.

May the LORD our God be with us, as He was with our fathers; may He not leave us or forsake us, that He may incline our hearts to Himself, to walk in all His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His ordinances, which He commanded our fathers. And may these words of mine, with which I have made supplication before the LORD, be near to the LORD our God day and night, that He may maintain the cause of His servant and the cause of His people Israel, as each day requires, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God; there is no one else.” 1 Kings 8:57-60.

The first part asks of God that He would be with them, as He was with their fathers. God promised to be with Israel, but Solomon knew it was important to ask God to fulfill His promise. He comes pleading the promises of God. And he made this plea so that not only the Israelites, but all the people of the earth may know and understand that the Lord their God is the true God, and that there is no other God but the true God of Israel. Solomon shows the missionary desire that was often neglected and desired in Israel. Blessing to Israel wasn’t meant to end with Israel; God wanted to bless the world through Israel.

Next, we come to our focus verse.

Let your heart therefore be wholly devoted to the LORD our God, to walk in His statutes and to keep His commandments, as at this day.” 1 Kings 8:61.

Solomon was asking that His people would walk in God’s statutes, always striving to keep His commandments. He urges them to let their hearts be fully committed to the Lord. And this should be our focus and desire as well. Our obedience should be universal such that we keep all of His commandments and not just those we choose to. With this, I say His desires should take infinite precedence over our own.   All that we do, or think should follow the idea that He is supreme, and we are not.  We should not be divided in our loyalties.  We should be totally devoted to God in our ways and submissive to His commands. Jesus takes these two points in Solomon’s prayer and merges them into one concise statement.

If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” John 14:15.

As always with Jesus, His position on this could not be clearer. If we love God, our goal will be to keep His commandment and follow His ways. And if we do not keep His commandments, then we must ask ourselves, do we truly love Him?

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.

1 John 1:9

Verse of the Day: 1John 1:9

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

None of us are perfect, no matter what we think. However, as true Christians this should be our desire. Speaking for myself, there are times when I fail to do what God has commanded me to do, or I do what God has commanded me not to do.  Even the Apostle Paul struggled with this. And if we are honest, we all do.  The verse prior to our focus verse says, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.” Notice his wording, ‘If we say we have no sin’, present tense. Paul was clear in his letter to the Church in Rome that no one can say they have no sin. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.’ Romans 3:23.

What John is saying is as Christians we are to walk with God and devote ourselves totally to Him. We are to live a life that honors Christ, that is a perfect life. However, in our fleshly weakness we often do things we know are wrong. Paul put it like this regarding his own struggle, “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.  For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.” Romans 7:18-19. Paul understood that he was far from perfect. He knew that he did not always live in a way that honored God. In fact, he states that no one does. “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.” Romans 5:12. And to say that we have no sin puts us in a dangerous place because God’s grace and mercy is extended to sinners, not to those who see these as mistakes, or who say, “I’m only human”. We need to realize the victory and forgiveness that comes from praying, “I am a sinner, even a great sinner, but I have a Savior who cleanses me from all sin.

And this is laid out in our focus verse. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9. Though sin is present, it need not remain a hindrance to our relationship with God, we will find cleansing from all unrighteousness as we confess our sins. By confessing our sins, we are willing to say and believe the same thing about our sin that God says about it. The one who confesses his sin is the one who agrees with God about how bad he was. And if we deny the presence of sin, we are deceiving ourselves and are denying God’s Word. “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.” 1 John 1:10. And though sin is always present, so is its remedy, so sin need never be a hindrance to our relationship with God. We need to confess all sins to God, and this confession should be with the idea of knowing what you did was sin, hating having done it and desiring never to do it again but wanting to honor God in everything. In this, He is “faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.

Psalm 43:5

Verse of the Week – Psalm 43:5

“Why are you in despair, my soul? And why are you restless within me? Wait for God, for I will again praise Him For the help of His presence, my God.” – Psalm 43:5

First, let us look at the first four verses spoken by David directly to God. Starting in verse one we read, “Vindicate me, God, and plead my case against an ungodly nation; Save me from the deceitful and unjust person!” Psalm 43:1. David cites the hesed in verse one of the Lord, as the rationale for claiming a right to God’s judgment. The word hesed occurs around 245 times in the Hebrew Bible, and 127 times in the Psalms. One Jewish scholar defines hesed as “a free-flowing love that knows no bounds.”

Many biblical words such as mercy, compassion, love, grace, and faithfulness relate to the Hebrew word hesed (חֶסֶד), but none of these completely summarize the concept. Hesed is not merely an emotion or feeling but also action on behalf of someone who is in need. Hesed describes a sense of love and loyalty that brings mercy and compassion toward another person to help them through their trials. Hesed is most closely connected in the Hebrew Bible with the covenant relationship between God and the children of Israel. In Genesis 15, God covenants with Abram, saying: “On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, To your descendants I have given this land, From the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates:” Genesis 15:18. Then following in chapter 17 we read, “I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations as an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. And I will give to you and to your descendants after you the land where you live as a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. God said further to Abraham, “Now as for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations.” Genesis 17:7-9.” Then in Exodus 19, God speaks to the children of Israel regarding their responsibility. “Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.” Exodus 19:5-6. In each instance, God calls the Israelites into a unique and special relationship centered around a covenant.

Hesed is often used in parallel with the Hebrew word ʾemeṯ, which is translated as faithfulness. In Psalm 43:1 for example, David declares that the people have no hesed, meaning either the Philistines, among whom he was near to; or his own nation when they joined his son Absalom in rebellion against him: some understand it of the great numbers that were with Saul, when he was persecuted by him. No matter which, they were a people who hated David, his followers, and the God he served. And thus, they had no hesed. Then in Exodus, God declares the following, “Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in faithfulness and truth; who keeps faithfulness for thousands, who forgives wrongdoing, violation of His Law, and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, inflicting the punishment of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations. Exodus 34:6–7.

 In the next verse, we see David confronted by a people who have no knowledge of hesed, this special relationship between God and His people. He asks questions of God that parallel the questions in Psalm 42. “For You are the God of my strength; why have You rejected me? Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” Psalm 43:2. Notice the similarity in chapter 43. “For You are the God of my strength; why have You rejected me? Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” Psalm 42:9.

Next, we read David’s request from God because of what he was experiencing.  “Send out Your light and Your truth, they shall lead me; They shall bring me to Your holy hill And to Your dwelling places. Then I will go to the altar of God, To God my exceeding joy; And I will praise You on the lyre, God, my God.” Psalm 43:3-4. David quickly moves to petition God and anticipating His results of granting that petition. He requests that God send His light (‘Ohr’) and faithfulness (ʾemeṯ) because they will bring him to the mountain and will come to the altar and praise Him. The Hebrew word ‘Ohr’ has the idea of ‘light’, which in today’s definition means illumination or an agent that makes something visible. But, in Hebrew, light or ohr means something more.  Ohr also has the idea of “giving order to something chaotic.” And the Hebrew word ‘emet’ has the idea of truth, right, and faithful. Light and faithfulness are not commonly paired in the poetic structure of the Hebrew Psalms. Perhaps David asks for light so that the path to the mountain of God’s holiness and the sanctuary will be clear and for faithfulness such that he is not distracted from following the path. Only then will David be able to come to the altar, encounter God with gladness, with rejoicing, and praise. And to make this thought clear, it is not an earthly holy hill or alter, but one in the heavenly presence of God.

Then in our focus verse David changes from speaking to God to speaking to his inner self. “Why are you in despair, my soul? And why are you restless within me? Wait for God, for I will again praise Him For the help of His presence, my God. Psalm 43:5. He calls his inmost being to wait for God. But, in keeping with the contrast already drawn above, David’s words seem not so much to draw the inmost being back from the brink of despair but to gently remind himself to wait and be confident in God. He will wait on God to send His light and faithfulness, and  they will guide him to the altar of God so he can give Him much praise and worship.

In our struggles with those who do not honor the hesed of God, Psalm 43 offers us words with which to request light and faithfulness from God. It gives us words of assurance that no matter our situation, we may always come to the altar and praise the God who delivers us, for He never forgets us and always loves us. This is a statement, poetically phrased as a question whose answer should be obvious. It’s natural to be tempted towards despair and discouragement. Despite our feelings, we know God is faithful and that He will ultimately vindicate His people. For that reason, we should be encouraged to put all our trust in the Lord.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.

Psalm 39:10

Verse of the Week – Psalm 39:10

“Remove Your plague from me; Because of the opposition of your hand, I am perishing.” – Psalm 39:10.

David starts out with what appears to be a paradoxical statement in his prayer to God in the first verse. “I will keep watch over my ways so that I do not sin with my tongue; I will keep watch over my mouth as with a muzzle while the wicked are in my presence.” This can be paraphrased, “I said, ‘I will keep silent.’” This seems inconsistent, until we look deeper into the idea of David declaring his intention to keep silent. The Hebrew word for ‘said’ is, אָמַר, pronounced  amar, a verb meaning ‘speaking’, but it also refers to one’s internal thoughts; technically speaking to oneself in your mind. And this is important because David is in a difficult situation. Theologian Adam Clarke puts it this way, speaking for David. “I must be cautious because of my enemies; I must be patient because of my afflictions; I must be watchful over my tongue, lest I offend my God, or give my adversaries any cause to speak evil of me.

He continues in his prayer. “I was mute and silent, I refused to say even something good, and my pain was stirred up. My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned; Then I spoke with my tongue:” Psalm 39:2-3. He would not say anything to his enemies that would anger them. His mind became more and more excited, his feelings more and more intense. And even though he attempts to suppress his emotions, they are only more and more enkindled. We see then in verse four he calls out to God.

After this, David prays to God, speaking wisdom from his heart. “LORD, let me know my end, And what is the extent of my days; Let me know how transient I am. Behold, you have made my days like hand widths, And my lifetime as nothing in Your sight; Certainly, all mankind standing is a mere breath. Selah Certainly every person walks around as a fleeting shadow; They certainly make an uproar for nothing; He amasses riches and does not know who will gather them. And now, Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in You.” Psalm 39:4-7. David’s broke his silence in the best way possible, by his humble prayer to God. He would not speak of his fears and doubts before his enemies, but he would pour them out before His God. Here David asked God for wisdom, specifically, the wisdom to know the shortness and the frailty of his life, that he may know how frail he actually was. He understands since life is so short, the only real meaning of a man or woman’s existence must be in his relationship to God.

Next in the next verse he continues. “Save me from all my wrongdoings; Do not make me an object of reproach for the foolish. “He accepts the fact that his sins are the reason for his troubles and sorrows. If his transgressions were forgiven, he felt assured that his trouble would be removed. His first petition, therefore, was that his sins would be forgiven, believing that it would be consistent and proper for God to remove his troubles and deliver him from the evils he was going through. He recognized his sins were the source of all his troubles. If his transgressions were forgiven, he felt assured that his suffering would end.

Then we come to our -Verse of the Week. “Remove Your plague from me; because of the opposition of your hand, I am perishing.” Psalm 39:10. There is one word in this verse that will help see what David is saying to God, and that word is ‘plague’. This word is not referring to a disease, but an act of discipline, strokes as in a spanking. In the Hebrew language, this seems to be a figure taken from combating gladiators. One is wounded so that he cannot continue fighting. David is unable to maintain the fight, so he gives in and prays for God to spare his life. I am conquered; I can hold the contest no longer. In the next verse, David says, “With rebukes You punish a person for wrongdoing; You consume like a moth what is precious to him; Certainly, all mankind is mere breath! Selah” Psalm 39:11. Because of his sin David was punished.

David has now come to understand the nature of man and his own powerlessness too well not to know that he is incapable of achieving that goal without God’s help. Thus, he prays that God may relieve him from the force of his hand which punished him and presses heavily upon him. We read from chapter 90 the following. “For we have been consumed by Your anger, And we have been terrified by Your wrath.” Psalm 90:7. It is only when the knowledge of the transient nature of man is considered under the aspect of God’s punishment of human guilt that it leads to the realization of that contrast between God and man which imparts to the fact of death the character of an inescapable fate, of God’s judgment on sin.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.

Philippians 4:13

Verse of the Day: Philippians 4:13

“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13

Of all people here on earth, we Christians have the most excellent reason to rejoice.  Paul, in this letter to the Philippians lays out what that reason is. “But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked an opportunity to act.” Philippians 4:10. Paul understood that all good comes from God. This could either be immediately from God’s providence or from his grace and therefore, the apostle gives thanks to God for the kindness directed to him, for it was God that gave them the power and desire that directed their hearts to him. There is nothing quite so cheerful and optimistic to the weary soul as an unexpected visit from an old friend. No wonder as Paul turns to express gratitude for their gift, he starts by telling them that he did then what he has been urging them to do throughout: “I rejoiced” greatly in the Lord. The reason for his great joy is expressed with a botanical metaphor, meaning to “blossom again”, like perennials or the spring shoots of deciduous trees and bushes. After a period of dormancy in the matter of giving and receiving, the Philippians were able to renew this part of their friendship with Paul.

Now in verse 11 we see that Paul, who was very well educated, had learned something very important to help him in the life he was currently living. He was very content. “Not that I speak from need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” Philippians 4:11. This was probably something that took time for him to grasp. If he was ever in the Mamertine, that being a Roman prison for those condemned to die, he would confess that it would take a deal of grace to make us content to be there. And if he was shut up in the prison of the Palatine hill, in the barracks near the morass, it was, to say the least, that it was not a desirable place to be in. A soldier chained to your hand day and night, however good a fellow he may be, does not always make the most delightful company for you, nor you for him, and it takes some time to learn to be content with such a companion. But, says Paul, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” Philippians 4:10b.

Contentment in all states is not natural to us. As weeds grow in soil; covetousness, discontentment, and murmuring are things that can  grow in us. And as there is no need to sow thistles and weeds because  they come up naturally, we have no need to teach others to complain or be discontent for these also come up naturally. But the precious things of the earth must be cultivated. If we want wheat, we must plough the ground and sow the wheat seeds. if we want flowers, there must be the garden, and all the gardener’s care. Contentment is one of the flowers of heaven, and if we would have it, it must be cultivated. It will not grow in us naturally; it is the new nature alone that can produce it, and even then we must be especially careful and watchful that we maintain and cultivate the grace that God has sown in it. Paul says, “I have learned to be content,” which says he was not content before he learned to be.

Now Paul adds to this thought. “I know how to get along with little, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.” Philippians 4:12. Paul here says he has learned how to live with very little, as he does now, and to live with an abundance of things, as he did prior to his conversion. A Christian, who had been rich, when he was asked how he could bear his reduced state so happily, put his answer to this question so beautifully, and it has been called the ‘secret to contentment.’ “When I was rich, I had God in everything, and now I am poor I have everything in God.” We must always remember that no matter our situation, God is always with us. He will bring us through any difficulty. We must honor Him in every situation. Here is an interesting quote from Charles Spurgeon regarding this issue. “How many Christians have I seen grandly glorifying God in sickness and poverty when they have come down in the world, and how often have I seen other Christians dishonoring God when they have grown rich, or when they have risen to a position of influence among their fellow men! These two lessons grace alone can fully teach us.

Now we come to our focus verse. “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13. There is no boasting in this statement. Paul only spoke truth here. The former part of the sentence would be a piece of impudent daring without the latter part to interpret it. This passage is not about having financial abundance. Some teach a prosperity gospel that says God will bless us financially if we are faithful. In contrast, Paul taught that the believer would endure suffering but can be content in any circumstance, given Christ’s strength. Just as He faithfully endured the suffering forced upon Him on the cross, His followers can faithfully endure the problems they face. Christ can give contentment during times of plenty and of poverty. He can help us do all things through His strength. In Paul’s case, it was the strength to spread the gospel even though  he was experiencing intense suffering. In our lives, this same strength is available during our times of trials. Whether we serve in another country or help someone in our own community, Christ’s power can enable us to stand firm on His promises and endure the most difficult of life’s challenges.

I want to encourage us all to stand firm in the Lord no matter our situation. Note the wording in our focus verse. “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.“ Philippians 4:13. Not just some things, but all things. If God calls us to do a work, He will not leave us alone, but will work through us to make it happen. We must trust Him completely in all we do. He will never let us down. This pertains to all who love and follow Him. So, do all you can and let the Lord help you through the rest.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.

Jude 1:23

Verse of the Day: Jude 23

“save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.” – Jude 23

The book of Jude is the shortest book in the Bible, but says a lot about what we, as Christians, need to do as well as be careful of. He wanted to write about their ‘common salvation’, which was a very positive idea, but he felt compelled, by God, to encourage his brothers and sisters to stand firm in the faith. “Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.” Jude 1:3. This was important because people were sneaking in to speak against what the Christian faith was all about. “For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” Jude 1:4. These are dangerous people who have secretly entered the Church fellowship with the purpose of deceiving believers to believe the same ungodly things they did.

Jude then uses a term that fully explains what he meant. Licentiousness or lewdness is not a sign of weakness but one of willful disobedience. Licentious people do things that are really wild. Some look upon God’s grace and kindness as an excuse to sin, saying, in effect, His kindness does away with law, so we are free to do as we please. Essentially, they suppose that, somehow or other, the more they practice sin, the more grace they will receive. And they also deny Christ. It is not that they say Christ never existed or is not the Savior. It is that everything they say and do, everything they believe, contradicts God’s way. If one denies a statement, he is contradicting the person who says it. Jude is using “deny” in this sense. The false teachers contradict Jesus Christ in all things. They can appear to be doing what they are supposed to, but inside deny the truth of God.

However, Jude knew this was happening. Therefore, instead of writing, at this time, about their ‘common salvation’ he felt it important to help them contend for the faith, to come against what the false teachers were teaching, and remind them of the truth of the Gospel. He was not saying to speak against the false teachers, but their teachings. He gave several examples of similar actions; the angels including Lucifer, the unbelievers in Sodom and Gomorrah, and those who were rescued out of Egypt and denied God, the one who rescued them. Jude then tells them “It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him. These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage.” Jude 1:14-15.

Then Jude encourages them to keep themselves in a manner that is pleasing to God. “But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, ‘In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.’ These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit.” Jude 1:17-19. He is telling his readers that these activities described above were prophesied by Jesus’s apostles. It simply means they foretold it before it came to pass. In essence, it was inevitable. Paul was quoted by Luke in the Book of Acts, “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves’ men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.” Acts 20:29-30. But he told them to keep themselves in God’s love. “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.” Jude 1:20-21. Jude has finished what he had to say about the ungodly, and now turns to more positive teaching. For the second time he calls them dear friends, and on each occasion, it is in contrast to the false teachers. He encourages them to build up the faith they have in Christ, pray in the Holy Spirit, and wait anxiously for Christ’s mercy and the eternal life He has promised.

But he also reminds them of their mission here. “And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.” Jude 1:22-23. Having exhorted his readers on how to behave in general and encouraging them as to their hope, Jude now turns back to the issue of the false teachers and their followers. How should they treat these people? Are they to be hated, fought, feared, or simply shunned? Jude implicitly rejects all of these approaches toward teaching considered to be false and thus misleading many Christians. But also, as said so clearly in our focus verse, we are to rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives, but loving those trapped in those beliefs and practices. While the doubters may not have been sure who was right and thus may have held back from committing to either set of practices, some were already getting involved with the practices of the teachers Jude is opposing. Jude’s counsel is to “snatch” them ‘from the fire’ and ‘save them.’

This is what we are called to do, help the doubters understand the truth and accept it, and declare the reality of what they are doing to those who are purposefully practicing what is wrong, knowing that it is wrong, so they can stop their sinful practices. Chuck Smith wrote this regarding this idea. “You can’t witness the same way to everybody. People are different, people have different temperaments. Some you’ve got to scare the hell out of them. Others are drawn by love. Some with compassion, making a difference, others, by fear, pulling them out of the fire. I mean, what does that mean? Now, it means that we have got to be led by the Spirit as we deal with people, hating even the garment that has been spotted by the flesh, pull them out of the fire. But hate the garment spotted by the flesh.

Our purpose is to bring people into the faith of God and help them to grow such that they can then do the same. We are not called to simply do the do’s and not do the don’ts. We are called to help people become believers, and believers that spread the truth of the Christian life, helping others to grow in the faith.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.

Ephesians 4:17

Verse of the Day: Ephesians 4:17

“So I say this, and affirm in the Lord, that you are to no longer walk just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their minds.” – Ephesians 4:17

The letter to the Ephesians was written, by Paul, to the saints who resided in Ephesus. “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are at Ephesus and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 1:1-2.

We see in chapters one through three he writes to them regarding the spiritual blessings that come to those who accept Christ. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,” Ephesians 1:3. He continually gives thanks to God for their faith as he prays for them. He encourages them, saying they have received grace from God, though Christ. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9.  And then in chapter three, he tells them that he prays for them that they will become and remain strong in the faith. “For this reason I bend my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner self, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled to all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:14-19. He encourages them to be in unity with all the saints. “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, being diligent to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:1-3.

Now because of this Paul tells them, as we see in our focus verse, to no longer live in a worldly way as the non-believers in Ephesus lived but rather in the new life provided to them by Christ when they were saved. “So, I say this, and affirm in the Lord, that you are to no longer walk just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their minds.” Ephesians 4:17. Now, as I proceed, I will be speaking not only of the unsaved Ephesians whom Paul was referring to, but also the unsaved today. There are several specific areas Paul focuses on which we need to be on the watch for in our lives as well.

First is that the unbelievers had hardened their hearts to the truth. “being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart.” Ephesians 4:18. Many people then, and today as well, are hardening their hearts against the truth because it goes against what they desire. He is stressing their deliberate choices to reject God and His ways, not necessarily accidental. In a sense sin has caused them to lose their minds. Their thinking process has been tainted by the dark forces of evil, called “the powers of this dark world. “And you were dead in your offenses and sins, in which you previously walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.” Ephesians 2:2. In essence, they separated themselves from the life of God. And this is a dangerous ignorance, for it is the result not of a lack of knowledge but of a deliberate denial of the knowledge God has made available to them. Paul puts it this way in his letter to the Romans. “because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, being understood by what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” Romans 1:19-20. God has made clear his ‘eternal power and divine nature,’ but because of their darkened understanding, depraved humanity has rejected that knowledge and chosen ignorance. Although the world was created by Christ, the world refused to know him. As John put it, “He was in the world, and the world came into being through Him, and yet the world did not know Him.” John 1:10. Thus they, as the theologian Grant Osborne put it, ‘lost all sensitivity’. Grant then explains what he meant, ‘Ignorance leads to hardness, which in turn leads to callousness, the inability to feel pain; here it refers to the inability to feel shame or guilt in the presence of abiding evil.’  And this becomes even more prevalent when friends and family push you to join them in these wrong activities. “In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them in the same excesses of debauchery, and they slander you; but they will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.” 1 Peter 4:4-5. In essence, they have become greedy, never satisfied with what they have and do. In Colossians we read, “Therefore, treat the parts of your earthly body as dead to sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.” Colossians 3:5.

We who are Christians, followers of Christ, need to take heed of what are focus verse is saying. “So, this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind,” Ephesians 4:17.  Paul states farther down, “if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another.” Ephesians 4:21-25. It is essential that we put aside our old nature, ignore it’s desires, and put on our new self which is given to us, and which is pleasing to God. The cure for a life of sin and excess is to reject the old lies the world told us and to embrace the eternal truths of Christ. This is what we have learned about Him. Since we have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, we should live accordingly. To live in any other way is against what Christ requires.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.

The resurrection of Christ and His ascension

The Resurrection of Jesus and His ascension.

Less than a week earlier Jesus Christ, the Son of God, fulfilled His purpose for coming here, which was to die for the sins of the world. He was hated and despised by the Jewish and Roman leadership who were in control over the area where Jesus traveled. For the most part, the Jews hated Him because He called them out for their sins.  John in his gospel lays this out very clearly in this interplay between Jesus and the leaders. “I know that you are Abraham’s descendants; yet you are seeking to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. I speak of the things which I have seen with My Father; therefore, you also do the things which you heard from your father.” They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you are Abraham’s children, do the deeds of Abraham. But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do. You are doing the deeds of your father.” They said to Him, “We were not born as a result of sexual immorality; we have one Father: God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I came forth from God and am here; for I have not even come on My own, but He sent Me. Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot listen to My word. You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:37-44.

Now it is the first day of the week, which we call Sunday. Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James came to the tomb to look at the place Jesus was buried. However, when they arrived, they were shocked to find the stone that covered the entrance rolled away. Confused, they walked in, finding that the body of Jesus was no longer there. And then. “While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men suddenly stood near them in gleaming clothing; and as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, Why are you seeking the living One among the dead?  He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise from the dead.” Luke 24:4-7. When they heard this, they then remembered what Jesus had said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes and be killed and be raised on the third day.” Luke 9:22. Now, when the ladies returned from the tomb, they told all who were there, including the remaining eleven disciples (Judas having already hung himself) what they had seen at the tomb. However, they did not believe them. “But these words appeared to them as nonsense, and they would not believe the women. Nevertheless, Peter got up and ran to the tomb; and when he leaned over and looked in, he saw the linen wrappings only; and he went away to his home, marveling at what had happened.” Luke 24:12.

On the same day, two of Christ’s disciples were going to the village of Emmaus, which was approximately seven miles from Jerusalem. And as they were walking, they were discussing all the things that had recently taken place. Now, as they were discussing these matters, Jesus joined them. However, they did not recognize who He was because “But their eyes were kept from recognizing Him.” Luke 24:16. Then Jesus asks them a question. “What are these words that you are exchanging with one another as you are  walking?” Luke 24:17.  And looking sad, one of the disciples, Cleopas, asked Jesus, “Are You possibly the only one living near Jerusalem who does not know about the things that happened here in these days?” Luke 24:18. Then Jesus asked them what they meant, and they answered, “Those about Jesus the Nazarene, who proved to be a prophet mighty in deed and word in the sight of God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers handed Him over to be sentenced to death and crucified Him. But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. But also, some women among us left us bewildered. When they were at the tomb early in the morning, and did not find His body, they came, saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said that He was alive. And so, some of those who were with us went to the tomb, and found it just exactly as the women also had said; but Him they did not see.” Luke 24:19b-24. Then Jesus rebukes them. “And then He said to them, You foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to come into His glory?” Luke 24:25-26. Remember, these were disciples of Christ, not just two random individuals walking down the road. Then He explained to them from the Word, our Old Testament, where the prophecies of the Messiah were written. “Then beginning with Moses and with all the Prophets, He explained to them the things written about Himself in all the Scriptures.” Luke 24:27.

As they approached the village where they were going, they strongly urged Him to stay with them for it was getting late. So, He did and went and stayed with them. “And it came about, when He had reclined at the table with them, that He took the bread and blessed it, and He broke it and began giving it to them. And then their eyes were opened, and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight.” Luke 24:30-31. This surprised the people there. “They said to one another, Were our hearts not burning within us when He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?” Luke 24:32. They finally realized what had happened, so they immediately got up and returned to Jerusalem and found the eleven disciples. And when they arrived, they told them, “The Lord has really risen and has appeared to Simon!

So, while they were telling these events, Jesus Himself suddenly appeared and stood in their midst, saying, “Peace be with you.” They were afraid, thinking this was some spirit that revealed itself to them. He then asked them, “Why are you frightened, and why are doubts arising in your hearts? See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, because a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you plainly see that I have.” Luke 24:38-39. He then showed them His hands and feet with the wounds that would have come because of crucifixion. Because they still could not believe it was Him, he asked, “Have you anything here to eat?” Luke 24:41. They gave Him some broiled fish and He ate it in front of them. After this He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all the things that are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Luke 24:44. After this, He opened their minds to understand and said to them, “So it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses to these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” Luke 24:46-49. This power noted in the previous verse refer to Jesus’ words as recorded in Acts chapter One. “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and as far as the remotest part of the earth.” Acts 1:8. He then leads them to Bethany where He ascended up into Heaven. “And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they, after worshiping Him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising God.” Luke 24:50-53.

Now, prior to His ascension into Heaven, Jesus gave the great commission to His disciples, and ultimately to us. “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to follow all that I commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20. He came here to pay the penalty for our sins: living a life free from any sin and thus paying for our sins through His cruel death on the cross. Since He never sinned, not even once, His death could pay for ours instead. This is the reason He came here. And now our job is to spread the good news of what Christ did for us, to a world who has never heard it or accepted it. This is the commission He has given to us who are believers. To help others be believers. And how do we do that? Matthew put it like this. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand and it gives light to all who are in the house. Your light must shine before people in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16. Let us live fully this Christian life so that our light will shine forth and help others accept Christ and shine their light as well. This is our calling from God.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.