1 Corinthians 16:13

Verse of the Day Devotion: 1 Corinthians 16:13 

“Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” – 1 Corinthians 16:13

There are times when the enemy makes it difficult to stand strong in the truth.  Have you ever been in a position where staying true to God would end in persecution or humiliation?  I will say I have, and in my earlier years I had not always taken a firm stand for Christ.

The idea this verse alludes to is that we should always be on our guard.  We need to look out for the enemy and his wiles.  He does not want us to be successful in this Christian walk.  He is constantly putting stumbling blocks in our way, desiring that we fall away or at the least, compromise.   Have you ever been with people who subtly get you thinking of things you know are wrong?  Or in desiring to fit in, have you spoken badly about someone or nodded in agreement when someone else has?

These times can be hard to see, which is why Paul is adamant that we be on the watch.  We must always look at everything to ensure we do not fall victim to the temptations brought our way.  What I have found true is the things we desire often are the areas he attacks us in.  If we are looking for friendship, we must not desire it more than staying true to God’s commands, for it would be easy to compromise our beliefs if we are not careful.  If we desire to go away somewhere, would we be willing to lie in order to get out of another commitment we made earlier, even if that would result in harm to another?  We must stand firm in the faith; for our sake and the sake of others.  “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;” Philippians 2:3.

We must never yield to anyone or anything that desires us to sin, showing the world we are not serious about our faith.  We must always stand for what we know is the truth, not wavering at all.  We must hold firm to our confidence in God, notwithstanding all the deceit, insinuations, and those of our friends who try to get us to follow their false ways.  As it says, we must be that man or woman who does not act cowardly but stands boldly before all no matter the consequences.  This is what we are called to do.  This is who we are called to be.  I want to encourage us all to be willing to give all, up to and including our lives for the sake of the gospel.  And we can only do this through His Spirit.  “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”  Ephesians 6:10-12.

He gave His life for us.  Should we not be willing to give ours for Him?

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

1 Corinthians 13:1

Verse of the Day Devotion: 1 Corinthians 13:1

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” – 1 Corinthians 13:1

This verse is speaking of the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues.  It is just one of many gifts of the Holy Spirit that God gives for equipping us for service to Him.  “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.” 1 Corinthians 12:7-11.   Each of the gifts addressed above are all given to us by the Holy Spirit and apportioned to us as He chooses.  Some may have only one of them, but others may have several.  But it is the Spirit who decides.

Going back to the focus verse which refers to tongues, if we do not have love for others, then we are doing nothing but making noise.  There was a lot of contentions within the Church at Corinth.  They were so envious of each other’s gifts that unity within the church was on the verge of being destroyed.  Paul was telling them that without love for God and man, the gifts and other graces they had were given was nothing in the eyes of God.  This is a very strong statement.  God gives us the gifts, but if we use them outside of love, then it means nothing.

He goes on in the next two verses, “And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:2-3. If we practice the gifts of prophecy, understanding mysteries, having all knowledge, faith to move mountains, give all we have away and give our bodies for suffering and death but have no love, there is no benefit for us.  People in the church there saw these gifts as something to be proud of, that having them made them special.  Which is why they were envious of the gift’s others had but they did not.  However, Paul is laying out that these gifts must be secondary to our love for God and man.  In fact, everything must be secondary to this type of love.  “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13.

Any good thing we do or say must be instigated by love.  It should never be done in order to build ourselves up.  Jesus put it this way.  “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” Matthew 6:1.

The important thing to keep in mind from our focus verse is that if we use a gift of the Holy Spirit, or give to the needy or feed the poor; essentially, if we do any good deed, do it out of love, not to just build ourselves up or show how great a Christian we are.  Love must be the overarching reason we do anything for God.  If it is not, then we may assist someone, but Jesus said, we will have no reward from our Father who is in heaven. Let love be the reason for everything we do.

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

1 Corinthians 15:57

Verse of the Day Devotion 1 Corinthians 15:57 

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” –  1 Corinthians 15:57

Through this week we will be looking at verses in the scriptures that speak of thankfulness to our God that is due to Him.  And our focus verse today is, “but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 

Paul here in this chapter describes the greatest thing we have to be thankful for.  Paul starts here with the truth regarding the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus the Christ.  “but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,” 1 Corinthians 15:3-4.  He died for us because we could not save ourselves. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” Romans 5:8-10.

Now this resurrection has proof through the many who saw Christ after His death on the cross and His ultimate burial.  Paul states He first appeared to Peter, then to the other disciples.  Afterwards, He appeared to five hundred other brethren.  And finally, after His ascension He appeared to Paul and his companions on the road to Damascus. And at this time, only to Paul for those with Paul only heard Him. Then Paul asks a very important question, for there were many who did not believe in a resurrection. “Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.” 1Corinthians 15:12-14.  Paul is saying here that if there is no resurrection, as some preach, then Jesus Himself has not been raised.  Thus, our faith along with the words we preach, would be worthless.  But he adds to this, “Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we witnessed against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised.” 1 Corinthians 15:15.  He tells them anyone who preaches the resurrection would be considered false witnesses of the truth of the Christ.  And what is the ultimate ending if there is no resurrection? “Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.” 1 Corinthians 15:18-19.

But there is a resurrection. “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive.” 1 Corinthians 15:20-22.  And what is incredible is, eventually all of us who believe Christ and are true Christians and have died, will experience a resurrection as well. What God has for us will be amazing and bring us unimaginable joy. “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory. “O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.” 1 Corinthians 15:51-56. 

What he is saying here is that not all of us, true Christians, will die and experience the resurrection, but we all will be changed from perishable to an imperishable people. And when this happens, we will see the saying that is found in Isaiah “And the LORD of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain; A banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow, And refined, aged wine. And on this mountain He will swallow up the covering, which is over all peoples, Even the veil which is stretched over all nations. He will swallow up death for all time, And the Lord GOD will wipe tears away from all faces, And He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; For the LORD has spoken. And it will be said in that day, “Behold, this is our God for whom we have waited that He might save us. This is the LORD for whom we have waited; Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.” Isaiah 25:6-9.  The basic idea written here in Isaiah is that when He comes back, He will have a time of celebration with His people by way of a lavish banquet.  He will remove the coverings which is expressive of, as said by Theologian Albert Barnes and others, “the ignorance, superstition, crime, and wretchedness that covered the earth.”    He will swallow up death eternally and will wipe tears away from all the faces of His people, as well as the reproach of His people from all the earth. And note what the people say. “Behold, this is our God for whom we have waited that He might save us. This is the LORD for whom we have waited; Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.” Isaiah 25:9.

This is what is denoted as the victory of the saints in our focus verse. “but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:57.  All true Christians will rejoice when this day comes. The victory is over sin, death, and the grave. God alone is the author of this victory. He formed the plan; he executed it in the gift of his Son; and he gives it to us personally when we come to die. We should now give thanks to God for this victory which we did not earn but is a free gift from God who provided it to us who believe in Jesus and what His death, burial, and resurrection provided. Christ died for us, to pay the penalty for ‘our’ sins, and thus be as one who did not sin.  This is definitely a reason to give Him all our thanks and adoration we can.  So, let us give Him, during this time of Thanksgiving, all the thanks and glory for His love for us. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10.

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

1 Corinthians 13:13

Verse of the Day Devotion:  1 Corinthians 13:13 

“But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13:13   

In first Corinthians 12, Paul is writing about spiritual gifts which are given by the Holy Spirit to the Church, distributed to each as He chooses.  Therefore, one Christian may receive one type of gift while another receives a different gift.  However, in chapter 13, he discusses the three gifts that are not only common to all, but those three which will remain forever, for they are eternal gifts.  These being faith, hope and love.  The word translated “abide” in our focus verse is the Greek word menō meaning not just to be here now, but also to remain, stay and not to depart.  This same word is used in the Book of Acts where Paul tells the centurion, “Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, unless these men remain in the ship, you yourselves cannot be saved.” Acts 27:31. The soldiers needed to stay and remain in the boat to save everyone in the ship.  And then in Hebrews we read, “For you showed sympathy to the prisoners, and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and an abiding one.” Hebrews 10:34.  Again, the word translated abiding is the same Greek word menō.  Here the idea is that their property may be seized here, but in the next life in heaven, it will remain eternally.

So, based on the Greek word menō, the three gifts faith, hope and love will remain forever, not like the gifts which are distributed to some. “Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.” 1 Corinthians 13:8.  In this verse, we see a contrast of three gifts which will go away and the three gifts in our focus verse. 

The Corinthian church members were priding themselves on the fact that they could speak in tongues and demonstrate other attention-getting gifts. However, Paul reminds them of the gifts that the Corinthians so desired were but temporary; faith, hope, and love, the foundational gifts, are permanent and therefore more to be desired.  Paul then corrects them by reminding them of that which is better.  “But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I show you a still more excellent way.” 1 Corinthians 12:31.  

The three gifts, faith, hope, and love are gifts that are present today and will be with us forever.  Faith in the Son of God will not cease in the eternal state; we will not stop trusting Jesus just because our faith has become sight.  “Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:6-7. Today, we have faith aside from sight. In eternal life, we will continue to have faith but it will be in conjunction with sight. If anything, our faith will grow for our trust in Him will be greater.  As for hope, Jesus is our Blessed Hope.  “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.” Titus 2:11-14. Our hope will not end simply because Jesus, our blesses hope, has come. For the entire time we are there, our expectations will always be for good because we are eternally with the foundation of our hope.  And finally, love.  We must remember that the basic and essential part of God’s nature is love. “And we have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”  1 John 4:16. God is love; therefore, love is eternal, both eternity past and eternity future.

There is a vast difference between the gifts given to selected Christians, i.e.: tongues, prophecy, the gift of knowledge, etc. However, the three mentioned in our focus verse are eternally with us who are Christians and enter our everlasting home with Jesus for He is our blessed hope,  love embodied, and our faith will be secure with Him.  What a beautiful life to look forward to.

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

1 Corinthians 9:17

Verse of the Day Devotion:  1 Corinthians 9:17 

“For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more.” – 1 Corinthians 9:17

Paul here in our focus verse is laying out the idea that he is willing to submit himself as a slave to all men so that he can reach as many people as possible for the gospel.  He states in this focus verse “For though I am free from all men,” 1 Corinthians 9:17a.  He is under no obligation to anyone, he is free from their requirements in regards to religious practices.  Although he submits to their practices when it is beneficial to them.  “I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more.: 1 Corinthians 9:19b.

So, how does he submit to them?  He explains this is the next several verses.  “To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law.” 1 Corinthians 9:20-21.  In these two verses he is explaining what he means by this.  For Jews he acted as Jews, complying with their rites, customs and prejudices as far as he could with a good conscience.  He did not attack or oppose their views when there was a possibility his conduct would be taken incorrectly.  He did nothing that would insult their beliefs or customs. 

Next, he refers to the gentiles who did not have or follow the law of Moses.  He acted as though he were not under the law of Moses, but the law of Christ.  He did not practice the special rites and ceremonies around them, nor did he insist that they practice them, but showing that the obligation to those rites had been done away; and that they were not binding, though when among the Jews he might still continue to observe them.  Theologian Adam Clarke puts it this way.  “It is not likely that the apostle could conform himself to the Sadducees; for what success could he expect among a people who denied the resurrection, and consequently a future world, a day of judgment, and all rewards and punishments?  He might among the heathen appear as if he were not a Jew, and discourse with them on the great principles of that eternal law, the outlines of which had been written in their hearts, in order to show them the necessity of embracing that Gospel which was the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believed.”

And finally, he states “To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak.” 1 Corinthians 9:22.  This refers to weak and inexperienced Christians.  He did not want to be a stumbling block to them.  Paul gives us an example of how to address them.  “Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” Romans 14:1-4.  Paul ends this statement with, “Who are you to judge the servant of another?” Romans 14:4a.  It is not our place to condemn the actions of Christian if it is not in and of itself sin.  “To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” Romans 14:4b   It is up to God do decide what is good or bad, right or wrong. 

And in the next verse, he says why he does it this way.  “I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.” 1 Corinthians 9:23.  The whole purpose of this is to bring salvation to as many as possible.  Note the end of verse 22.  “I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.” 1 Corinthians 9:22b.  Paul’s purpose was to present the gospel in such a way that they would not cause any offense but would lead them to Christ.  He would not endorse any sinful acts but would help them understand what the path to salvation was.  And to offend people may actually close their hearts to the truth rather than open them to the way of Christ and the grace He provides.  Let us all work to do the same and bring as many lost souls as possible to Christ.  Let us do all things for the sake of the gospel so that our lives will be pleasing to Christ and our fellow man.  

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

1 Corinthians 2:2

Verse of the Day Devotion: 1 Corinthians 2:2 

“For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” – 1 Corinthians 2:2

The Gentile believers in the city of Corinth to whom Paul is writing almost exclusively came out of idol worship of “the gods” of Greek or Roman mythology.  The philosophers of the Greeks attended to the seeking of wisdom.   To a Greek, having wisdom, knowledge, and understanding of the ‘seen and unseen’ was the epitome of being Man in discovering how to live.  Many philosophers did try to establish or discover universal laws of conduct.  The Greek philosophers asserted that their philosophy reflected the true will of the gods. This was the previous mindset of these new Corinthian believers.  They coupled their faith in Christ with what was called ‘wise’’ according to the culture.   Paul wanted to set things straight for them.  Paul told them that Christ did not send him to baptize (which they undoubtedly heard continuously from Jews who followed Christ), but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect (I Cor 1:17).   Today, if a man or woman is teaching or preaching a different or additional gospel message to the masses other than what was given to Paul, most specifically the crucified Christ, watch out.  Having the wisdom of words is not the same as the power of the cross message.  “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.  For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple” (Rom 16: 17-18).   There are plenty out there that draw the masses through their ‘smooth words and flattering speech’ but are deceiving the hearts of the simple.

Paul emphasizes to them that through the wisdom of this world you can not know God (I Cor 1:21).  In fact, it pleased God through the (assumed) foolishness of the message preached (Christ crucified for you), to save those who believe, plus nothing.  Just BELIEVE it, by FAITH.   “For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom…” (I Cor 1:22).   But in contrast to what the Jews were seeking and what the Greek culture was seeking Paul’s message was this: “…but we preach Christ crucified” (I Cor 1:23).   To the Jewish man or woman, the Messiah being killed and crucified was a stumbling block to them, just as Old Testament prophecy forecast.   To the Gentile Greek man or woman, the message of Jesus Christ being crucified specifically for them in order to save them from the penalty of sin and the Adamic nature and receive full forgiveness from the Creator was ‘foolishness’. Why?   Because the message of the cross can only be understood by ‘faith’. This means you cannot figure out with your earthbound wisdom and insight and great knowledge the truth of Christ crucified for you.   To the Ancient Greeks they were dedicated to cultivating the life of the person of practical and theoretical wisdom, the education of the mind.   From birth onward, a Greek educational system involved developing the mind to such a dimension that the mind in wisdom and knowledge could rise above the natural.   Millions of people today do the same thing through opening their mind to any sort of comprehensible value in practice or religion to attain a higher degree of wisdom – to know how to live – how to be stress free, and how to be calm in the mind, and saved from this Adamic nature from doing unhealthy things.     So ‘why’ did God design it so that you cannot figure out how to be saved through access of worldly wisdom?   One of the greatest attributes of Man’s fallen nature is pride.  Therefore, Paul writes in verse 29 “…that no flesh should glory in His presence.”   If you could figure this out, you would glory in your self-discovery.  Pride.   But God’s perspective says this: “…it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord” (vs 31). 

There is one thing the Apostle Paul was determined to know and determined to share: Jesus Christ and Him crucified (2:2).    The word ‘determined’ fully means that he reached a decision to a course of action. He made up his mind to share nothing else as priority except Christ’s death.  Therefore, he continues in verse 5 “…that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God”.  I encourage you at this time to focus upon what Jesus Christ has done for you; to ponder and grasp by faith the depth and wisdom of Christ’s finished work of the cross on your behalf.  The world has gone amuck.  But the security of being ‘in Christ’ because of the cross far out measures what wisdom this world could ever offer as relief.  Do not be corrupted by what this ‘world’ offers, even so-called smooth-talking preaching that does not focus upon the cross.    “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (II Cor 11:3).  

Jaca Kier, Board Member, True Devotion Ministries, Inc.  

1 Corinthians 4:15-16

Verse of the Day Devotion: 1 Corinthians 4:15-16 

“For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus, I have begotten you through the gospel.  Therefore, I urge you, imitate me.” – 1 Corinthians 4:15-16

According to statista.com, for the years 2017 – 2018 (current numbers I found more difficult to 1 Corinthians 4:15-16 track down), the religious book sales revenue in the United States alone was almost $600,000,000!  According to the Nielsen BookScan statistics, the approximate average of Christian book unit sales is about 60 million books sold each year in the U.S.  Since 2017-2018 Christian brick-and-mortar stores have been slowly becoming less prominent.  Independent Christian publishing is on the rise.  E-books, on-line sales, Kindle, etc., are all continuing to show steady numbers in volume and dollars.   I would guess that ‘most’ of you reading this article would recognize the name(s) of 90% of the (quote-un-quote) Top 30 Christian non-fiction writers!  

Evidently, the church of predominately Gentile believers in the city of Corinth in the mid-50’s A.D. had a similar phenomenon: they had plenty of people attempting to ‘instruct’ others concerning Christ, but no one had so much care for them as the Apostle Paul – who taught them and had instructed them in the truth of the gospel; in other words, the ‘good news’ of the efficiency of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as the means of salvation, by God’s grace, and through ‘believing’ through ‘faith’ that this message was True.  Paul was the ‘apostle sent to the Gentiles’. He recounted this unique calling from the Ascending Lord in Acts 22:21 where Paul reminds his listeners that Jesus said to him: “Depart, for I will send you far from here to the Gentiles.”   It was through Paul that the believers in Corinth would be taught the whole truth and nothing but the truth of this glorious ‘good news’.   

Though the city of Corinth might have had ten thousand other instructors in Christ, it was Paul who was the greatest caretaker and father to them.   The term ‘instructors’ in VS 15 is a Greek word that only occurs twice in the New Testament but has many variations due to the ‘root word’.  The first definition is that of a ‘teacher or instructor’ similar to a teacher in High School or College that brings instructions and corrections to its class members.  This is NOT the word Paul uses here. THIS word in VS 15 is speaking about ‘a guide, a leader, or a guardian’.  Elsewhere for example it is translated as ‘tutor’ in Galatians 3:24, 25.   “Therefore the law was our ‘tutor’ (our guide, our leader, our guardian) to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.  But after faith has come, we are no longer under a ‘tutor’”.   The law, the Mosaic law of Judaism is no longer our ‘tutor and guide and guardian and leader’ once we have come to ‘faith’ in Christ, being justified by faith alone!  

Read how personal Paul’s words are to the Corinthian believers.  “For in Christ “I” have begotten you through the gospel.”  It was Jesus who ultimately sent Paul to these Corinthians.  Paul was not just ‘like’ a father to them, but it was through Paul’s message that these Corinthians came to ‘believing faith in Jesus Christ’!   No one had a greater investment in their lives literally more than Paul.  Please listen closely:  It was NOT just Paul’s message through words that made this so.  It was Paul’s life as an example in every way!  This is why Paul could say without boasting nor without any arrogance “Therefore I urge you, imitate me” (VS 16).   This is why Paul could write under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit here and in I Timothy 1:16 “However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that IN ME FIRST Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a PATTERN to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life” (emphasis mine).  

There are 10,000 other ‘instructors’ of Christ out there in the world of Christendom that evidently Christians turn to for guidance to some degree at least.  Six million dollars’ worth of guidance a year.  Yet what an amazing privilege we have as true believers to have the very Word of God recorded for us from the one who was first sent to the Gentile world with His glorious gospel message.   I for one, am 100% confident that if you read and study Paul’s writings first and foremost, the Lord Himself by His Written Word will encourage you to the depths of practical living that no other person can do.  Please do not take lightly Paul’s word written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit when he writes: “Therefore I urge you, imitate me.” 

Jaca Kier, Board Member,  True Devotion Ministries, Inc. 

1 Corinthians 13:8

Verse of the Day Devotion: 1 Corinthians 13:8 

“Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.” – 1 Corinthians 13:8

Now that Paul has completed his picture of what love truly is, he now moves on to the permanence of this true love.  And he begins by saying that love never fails.  The idea in the Greek is that it will never come to an end; it will never pass away. In fact. the very essence of God is love.   “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” 1 John 4:7-8.  God is love.  John also said here that if we do not love, then we cannot know God, for He is love.  And because God is eternal, love is eternal.  “Before the mountains were born Or You gave birth to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.” Psalm 90:2  The phrase “from everlasting to everlasting” is saying from eternity past to eternity future.  So, love has always been and will always be because God has always been and always will be.

Now, in contrast to love, prophesies will fail.  Whether the word implies predicting future events or teaching the truth of Christianity that God has given to us,  they shall all be done away with.  Though the accurate prophecies and gifted teachings are useful today, they will be of no use in the eternal kingdom of God.  And the same can be said for the gift of tongues.  They have a good use today, for example Acts 2 and the day of Pentecost.  However, as with tongues, they will also cease.  And the last thing he brings up is knowledge.  There are some who believe this refers to human knowledge of the arts, sciences and all human knowledge in this world.  And there is some credibility in this interpretation.  However, since the first two attributes mentioned are spiritual gifts, I tend to think this refers to the gift of knowledge found earlier in this epistle.  “But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit;”  1 Corinthians 12:7-8.  This gift refers to knowledge of the scriptures as well as knowledge of the things of this age.  Both of these were given by the Holy Spirit to certain individuals to aid in our going into all the world to spread the good news.  However, once we enter the eternal realm there will be no use for these either. 

He then completes this idea with the following.  “For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.”  1 Corinthians 13:9-10.  What we know, we only know  in part.  What we have now is but little knowledge even of earthly, and much less of heavenly things.  Even the prophets have been able to share only a small amount of what is to come.  But when He returns, and we enter the heavenly realm the partial knowledge goes away.  “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12.

Even though much of what we experience in this life will go away, such as prophesy, tongues, earthly knowledge, and the other spiritual gifts, love will remain forever.  It will become perfect and will never go away.  This is what we have to look forward to upon His return.  Perfect love with an eternal existence.  What could be better and more beautiful?

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

1 Corinthians 13:6

Verse of the Day Devotion: 1 Corinthians 13:6 

“Does not rejoice in unrighteousness but rejoices with the truth.” – 1 Corinthians 13:6 

Paul here moves to an area that we are seeing more and more in our culture.  He is saying that love does not rejoice in unrighteousness.  It does not celebrate the vices of another.  It does not take delight when someone commits a crime or falls into any sin.  Today, when we look at our movies and even our TV programming, we see many shows that focus on the evils in society, and unfortunately, these are the ones that are the most successful.  Those regarding positivity often do not do as well.

However, this is not limited to our entertainment, but we are seeing this occurring in real life.  First, I want to make clear that the type of love being discussed here is based on agape love, which can be as charity. This type of love is not as concerned with ourselves but is more concerned with the greater good of another.  It is not born out of our emotions or feelings, but from a desire to see the best for everyone.  And this includes those that many find difficult to love.  Therefore it does not see as a positive any form of wrongdoing against anyone.  And this includes those many find difficult to love.

We may think, who rejoices in unrighteousness?  But is it not a frequent case that people who have received any kind of injury have decided to avenge themselves, or perhaps leave it to God to avenge them: causing something terrible to happen, and then consoling themselves with what appears to them evidence that God has brought revenge and do at least secretly rejoice that the man is suffering for his misdeeds?  Jesus, when He was suffering on the cross did not wish evil on those who did this.  “But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves.” Luke 23:34.  As difficult as it can be, we are called to think the same way.  God does not call us to desire harm or evil upon them.  As Gordon D., Fee says in his commentary on 1 Corinthians, “But for the apostle, love stands on the side of the gospel and looks for redemptive mercy and justice for all, including those with whom one disagrees.”    

And lastly, we are called to rejoice in truth.  We are to rejoice with everything that is the opposite of falsehood and iniquity.  We are not to rejoice in the vices but in virtues of others.  We should be pleased when people do well when it is done in ways that are not wrong or evil.  And we should rejoice when those who are evil get saved, celebrating because  they have received salvation and have turned around: that they have accepted the truth of God through the gospel.  The truth is that God wants all to be saved.  “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.  This should be our way of thinking.  That no matter what anyone does, we should desire their salvation, which is the greatest good we could ever wiah for anyone.   

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

1 Corinthians 13:5

Verse of the Day Devotion: 1 Corinthians 13:5 

“Does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,” – 1 Corinthians 13:5

In this verse, Paul starts off by saying love does not act in ways that are rude or willingly offensive to anyone.  It observes good manners at all times.  It is never rude, nor does it act like a brute, but is willing to become all things to all men.  He does this so that we can save some.  Paul, earlier in this letter, explains what He means more completely.  “For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.” 1 Corinthians 9:19-22.  He uses the Greek word “douloo” which means he has “enslaved himself” to all. In other words, in order to bring some to salvation, he is willing to be a slave to all.

This is the idea Paul uses in our focus verse.  In all situations, we should endeavor to act such that we present ourselves in a proper way, pleasing to God, but also not to seek our own way.  We must not push our will on others but follow what they desire.  This shows that we love them enough to put them first.  We must not, as the verse says, seek our own ways above others. 

Next, he says that love is not provoked.  The meaning here from the Greek is that anyone under the influence of love is not prone to violent anger or exasperation.  It is not in the character of someone acting in love to be hasty, excited or overly passionate.  We are  to be calm, serious and patient, looking soberly at things.  This does not mean we cannot have fun.  What it does mean is that we remain in control and do not lose our patience but restrain our temper in difficult times. 

And lastly, he says love does not consider any wrongs we suffer.  This means that love, so far from devising evil against another, excuses the evil which another inflicts on us.  Put another way, love does not think about how we can do evil to anyone, and when evil is done to us we do not hold it against the perpetrator(s).  Love does not hold anything against anyone, but on the contrary, forgives everyone who does us harm.  This is the kind of love Christ has for us.  No matter what we have done, or the sins committed, He has forgiven us.  This should be our mindset as well.  We should automatically forgive and not speak or gossip about it because this may paint a distorted picture of what has actually occurred.  All we are doing is focusing on the harm done to us and endeavoring to spread this wrong to many.  This is not love, this is revenge. 

In closing, God wants us to focus on the good in people and not the bad.  He wants us to do what we can to bring the unsaved to Christ and to encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ to continue their journey in becoming like Christ.  It does not spread the negative attributes of people all over, but lets everyone know the positive things, and aids in their Christian growth.  I encourage us all to take these things to heart and let people see the love that is in our heart through our actions.  It will amaze us the affect we can have on people for the cause of Christ. 

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