Acts 4:20

Verse of the Day Devotion: Act 4:20

“For we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” – Act 4:20 

Peter and John had been arrested by the Jewish leadership for teaching the people about Jesus, proclaiming that He had been raised from the dead.  This, of course, upset them because this would turn the people away from their teaching.  So Peter and John were put in jail while the leadership discussed the matter.

After a time, they were released, but with a warning, “And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.” Acts 4:18.  Here is Peter and John’s response, which we should take to heart.  “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:19-20.

When we find ourselves in a position where we are told to stop speaking the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, it is important that we show the absolute truth of our message.  The idea that we cannot stop speaking because the eternal lives of all depends on this message.  I want to encourage us all to be bold in reference to God’s message to this world.  Jesus, the Son of God, gave His life for us so we could receive the salvation that comes through believing the message and receiving His grace.  Are we willing to give our lives for this purpose?

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

Acts 4:12

Verse of the Day Devotion: Act 4:12

“And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” – Acts 4:12 

Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour which was the hour of prayer.  A man who had been lame from birth was sitting at the temple gate called “Beautiful” begging for financial assistance.  Upon seeing Peter and John, he requested financial help from them.  Then Peter and John looked at him and Peter said, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—walk!” Acts 3:6. Peter then helped him up and immediately his feet and ankles were strengthened, and he began to walk.  Many people saw this man walking and praising God, knowing that this was the man crippled and begging every day at the Beautiful Gate.

Now, Peter and John began teaching the people about Christ.  “And now, brethren, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your rulers did also.  But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled.  Therefore, repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;” Acts 3:17-19.  They are calling the leadership to return to true worship and adoration of the true God, not the one they were serving.  Note: There were around 5000 men who believed their word when the priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came to have them arrested.

The next day, John and Peter were taken before the rulers, elders and scribes where they were asked by what power they healed this man.  Peter then, filled with the Holy Spirit, answered by saying that it was Jesus the Nazarene, whom they crucified and whom God raised from the dead; by His name this man has been healed and is standing before them.  He added then, “He is the STONE, WHICH WAS REJECTED by you, THE BUILDERS, but WHICH BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone.” Acts 4:11. And then they declared, by our focus verse, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12.

The word ‘salvation’ properly denotes any preservation or the keeping of anything in a “safe” state; a preserving from harm.  Also, it denotes deliverance of body or mind of the same, sickness, pain, danger, etc.  In the New Testament, it is normally applied to the Messiah, Christ, and what He came to do.  “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:10. Mankind cannot, in and of themselves, become found.  We were separated from God and did not have the access Adam and Eve had prior to their sin.

What Peter was saying to the leadership was they did not have the power to provide this salvation.  Their adherence to the law and its rules and works could not provide what mankind needed.  There is only one name by which man can be saved, that being Jesus the Christ, the Son of God.  And these words pertain to us today as they did to those in the first century.  It is Christ alone, not through any other man or woman, prophet, idol or false god, teacher, leader or any false Christ. Salvation has its origin in God, and the Savior, He gave us, and cannot be originated by any power among people.

This word must be preached to all people, letting them know that Christ is the only answer to all our issues; physical, moral or spiritual.  Salvation from all these areas is only available by the Creator of all things.  Sin caused separation from God, sickness, pain, danger and all things that we suffer today.  And the Messiah, Christ is the only source of salvation from all these areas.  Our job is to go out and evangelize the world.  “And the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled.” Luke 14:23. Many are deluded that salvation comes from many sources, religions, works, etc.  It is our job to compel the world to come to God’s house through the only door possible, the death, burial and resurrection of Christ and the acceptance of this work. And we must not cave and give in to the arguments of those who question or debate us.  The answer is clear and immutable.  Stand strong and spread this good news to all we come in contact with.  In so doing, we will fill His house, thus pleasing Him and also help those who need and want salvation, receive it.  This is love, both of God and our fellow man.

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

Acts 16:25

Verse of the Day Devotion: Acts 16:25

“But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them;” – Acts 16:25

Paul and Silas are thrown into a Roman jail.  The reason was they delivered a slave girl from a demon. “It happened that as we were going to the place of prayer, a slave-girl having a spirit of divination met us, who was bringing her masters much profit by fortune-telling. Following after Paul and us, she kept crying out, saying, these men are bondservants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation. She continued doing this for many days. But Paul was greatly annoyed, and turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!” And it came out at that very moment.” Acts 16:16-18. This young girl had a spirit of divination, and her masters were using her in order to gain a profit from what she said.  It was believed among the heathens of that time that people like this young slave girl is speaking the truth by the inspiration of their god.  And these masters took advantage of it.

However, when she was delivered from this spirit, they saw that their opportunity for profits through their slave had ended, and this angered them to the point that they grabbed both Paul and Silas and took them to the chief magistrates of that place.  They lied about what they had done, to some degree, “and when they had brought them to the chief magistrates, they said, ‘These men are throwing our city into confusion, being Jews, and are proclaiming customs which it is not lawful for us to accept or to observe, being Romans.” Acts 16:20-21.  Paul and Silas were proclaiming customs which was not lawful to observe as Romans.  Rome considered the Caesars were gods and proclaiming anything or anyone as above Caesar would be considered extreme blaspheme.  When they declared this, they were grabbed, and the chief magistrates ordered them to be beaten with rods.  After they were finished beating them, they were thrown into the inner prison and their feet were put in stocks.  Now, when prisoners were put in stocks, they would spread their legs as far as possible, then they would spread them further, pulling the muscles before putting the stocks on them.

Many would sit in the jail wondering why God would have done this.  However, from our focus verse, we see that they were praying and singing hymns of praise to God.  They did not stop giving praise and worship to God, even though they had been severely beaten and the muscles in their legs stretched to cause them additional pain.  And look what God was able to do through them. “and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s chains were unfastened. When the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped.” Acts 16:26-27.  During that time period, if any prisoner were to escape, the jailer in charge of him would be required to take his place.

So, what happened?  “And he (the jailer) called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, and after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Acts 16:29-30.  And they replied, “They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Acts 16:31. What we see here is that because they continued to honor God, giving Him worship and praise, and praying, a man and his family received salvation.

God can use us in many ways for His service.  However, there are times when He will use what we do even though we are unaware that we are making a difference.  The jailer and his family were saved because Paul and Silas were glorifying the Lord.  What is important to see here is that we always need to be God focused, for we never know when someone will be touched by what they see us doing.  Let the world see that no matter how tough things get, we will give God the glory because we know that He uses us even when we do not realize it.  “But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;” 1 Peter 3:14-15.

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

Acts 5:29

Verse of the Day Devotion: Acts 5:29

“But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.” – Acts 5:29

Peter and John were arrested for teaching about Christ as well as the miracle healing of the man lame from birth to the crowds in Solomon’s Portico.  They were eventually released; however, they were ordered by the Jewish leadership not to speak of Christ or the healing of this man anymore.  But they did not heed their demand.  “And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number, to such an extent that they even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and pallets, so that when Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on any one of them.  Also, the people from the cities in the vicinity of Jerusalem were coming together, bringing people who were sick or afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all being healed.”  Acts 5:14-16.

This did not set well with the High Priest for it went against their firm warning.  “But the high priest rose up, along with all his associates (that is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with jealousy. They laid hands on the apostles and put them in a public jail.” Acts 5:17-18.  However, that night an angel of the Lord set them free and said to them, “Go, stand and speak to the people in the temple the whole message of this Life.” Acts 5:20. Now, the High Priest ordered the prisoners brought to the council, but the guards could not find them.  Then someone came and reported to the council that the two men they had jailed the previous night were in the temple teaching the people about Christ.

When they arrived and were standing before the council, the High Priest questioned them saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” Acts 5:28.  However, Peter and the apostles answered with our focus verse, “We must obey God rather than men.” Acts 5:29.

Francis Schaeffer in his book “A Christian Manifesto” stated, “The bottom line is that at a certain point there is not only the right, but the duty, to disobey the state.”  This comes only when what the state commands by way of law is contrary to God’s Law.  It is important that obeying God comes before obeying the government.  I want to clarify something though.  If what the state commands by law does not disobey God, then we are obligated to follow it.  It is only when, for example they legislate that all doctors must perform abortions when desired by the patient, that we must disobey because taking a human life is against God’s laws.

We must be ready, as Peter and John were, to do what is right in the eyes of God through disobedience when necessary.  Again, if it does not go against the laws of God, then we must do what they command.  Christianity is coming under much persecution because people want to do what they want.  They hate and abuse those who openly disagree with them.  They do not want Christian teachings and values in our public schools, but many other religious ideas are praised.  We must be willing to stand up in all areas to any group that demands us to disobey God.  He is our Lord, King and Eternal Father, worthy of complete obedience.  Are we ready to take such a stand for Christ?

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

Acts 1:14

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Acts 1:14

“These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.” – Acts 1:14 

After the ascension they went back to Jerusalem, as Jesus told them. He had commanded them to wait there until they received the gift promised to them by Jesus. “And gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, which, He said, you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Acts 1:4-5.

They obeyed this command from Jesus and they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. And when they had entered, the eleven remaining apostles went to the upper room where they were staying. But not just them, for we see in an earlier verse, “along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.” Luke 1:14b. So those in the upper room were the eleven apostles, Mary the mother of Jesus, and Jesus’ brothers. The women mentioned included Jesus’ mother, and various others. We see in Luke the following. “And it came about soon afterwards, that He began going about from one city and village to another, proclaiming and preaching the kingdom of God; and the twelve were with Him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who were contributing to their support out of their private means.” Luke 8:1-3.

And the purpose for being there is found in our focus verse. “These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer.” Acts 1:14a. In Acts, Luke gave a generalized review of the activity of the Christian community. The primary characteristic that marked their life together in this period was prayer, as they anticipated together the promised gift of the Spirit. However, prayer was a hallmark of the church in its early days. The time before Pentecost was a time for waiting, a time spent in prayer undoubtedly for the promised Spirit and for the power to witness. There is no effective witness without the Spirit, and the way to spiritual empowerment is to wait in prayer.

In this post, I want to ask this very important question. As the early Christians, is prayer truly a hallmark of the church in these present days? Do we see prayer as simply something we do because that is what Christians do, or is it a devoted time to spend with the eternal God who created everything that exists, including ourselves? I also ask these questions of myself as well. They are not words meant to convict anyone but to encourage us all to strengthen our relationship with Him. Of course He knows everything. He knows the deep feelings of our hearts. We should desire to spend time with Him, ourselves with God, to develop a closer relationship with Him. And we must always remember that prayer is not a one-way street. Yes, we come to Him and share our needs, desires, and our feelings. However, we must also be still and quiet, and let God speak to us as well. I find these times of comfort and joy, but also times of learning and correction. Remember what is recorded in the psalms. “Cease striving (be still) and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10.

Throughout the Book of Psalms, we see this type of relationship between David and God. He shared everything with God, and God provided what he needed; be it things, comfort, correction, etc. And David welcomed it all, and thus his relationship with God was strong and intimate.  I encourage us all to look at Psalm 25. David bears his heart to God, asking Him to guide him in every aspect of life. God desires this type of relationship with us. Take the time to pray, speaking and listening to Him. There are great blessings in both aspects.

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

Acts 1:9

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Acts 1:9

“And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.” – Acts 1:9

As you can see from our focus verse, we will now be looking at the ascension of Jesus.  We read in verse 6 that Jesus and the eleven apostles who were left gathered together. “And so when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” Acts 1:6. First, there were only 11 apostles, for Judas had rejected Jesus and eventually killed himself, and they had not yet replaced him with Matthias. “And they drew lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.” Acts 1:26. And as they were gathered, they then asked Jesus a question. “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?”

Jesus answered the question, but not in the way they had anticipated. “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you shall 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 even to the remotest part of the earth.” Acts 1:7-8. The answer from the Lord was intended rather to instruct than to rebuke, contrary to what various commentators have assumed. He does not deny them the privilege of asking, but only the right to know the times or the seasons which the father, who alone possesses sovereign power, has appointed. The Son guards the royal prerogative, the divine reservation, the exclusive rights of the Father.

And while it was not given to the apostles to know the times of future events, the duty to act or work at the present time was assigned to them; they also received the assurance that they would be qualified for their work by the Holy Spirit, who would come upon them. And by this, they are called to a worldwide mission. The disciples were to be the true, restored Israel, fulfilling its mission to be a light in the world so that God’s salvation might reach to the very ends of the earth. We see in Isaiah the Father’s call to the Messiah. “It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nation’s so that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” Isaiah 49:6. This was God’s call to the Messiah.  He has done much toward this cause, but now He has called His disciples to continue the work, through the power of the Holy Spirit, after He is gone. In short, to speculate on times and dates is useless. The Lord’s return does not revolve around such speculation but around God’s own purposes, and those purposes embrace the salvation of the world. The surest route to the Parousia is the evangelization of the world.

Then, after He finished telling them these things, He ascended to heaven. “And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.” Acts 1:9. What an amazing event, seeing Jesus ascend into Heaven must have been amazing. His job was completed and now the remaining work is in the hands of His followers; this means all followers from the time of His ascension to His return. Then, “as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was departing, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them; and they also 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 just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.” Acts 1:10-11. They were still gazing toward heaven after the disappearance of the Lord, when suddenly two men stood by them. That these were unquestionably angels, appears from the following three facts: the suddenness of their appearance, for no one had seen them approach; their white and shining apparel, a visible representation of celestial purity and holiness; and lastly the tidings which they brought to the disciples, being a message sent from heaven to the earth. And they asked them why do they just stand there looking up? For He shall return in the same way He was taken up. He assured them He would return, but not when He would return.

The main message Jesus gave at this time was the call for the disciples to go and spread the news of the truth. And this, again, was not just for those then, but for all of us from then until His return. “You (we) are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. nor do men light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16. Jesus called us as follows, “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 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 observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20. God called us to do this just prior to His ascension. Let us all go out there and make it happen until His return, and then go to be with Him forever.

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

Luke 6:47

Verse of the Day Devotion Luke 6:47 

“Everyone who comes to Me, and hears My words, and acts upon them, I will show you whom he is like.” – Luke 6:47 

Here in chapter six Jesus is taking time to instruct His disciples.  In verse forty-six, He asks the disciples a question. “And why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” Luke 6:46.  The definition of the word Kurios here translated “Lord” has various meanings, and the definition that fits best here in this context is the idea of a sovereign ruler or master.  Jesus was essentially asking them why do they not obey Him if He is their Lord. As the theologian Adam Clarke put it, “God judges of the heart, not by words, but by works. A good servant never disputes, speaks little, and always follows his work.”  Essentially, He is speaking regarding the contrast between confession and obedience.  The idea being you can say all you want, but if your deeds are not consistent with your words, you have fallen into the error of hypocrisy. And this is what Jesus was letting them know via the question, “And why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?

Then, in our focus verse, Jesus clarifies what He is saying by giving them two examples; one where they do what He says and then one where they do not. He starts with those who come to Him, hear His words, and then acts upon them, essentially doing what He told them. “He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation upon the rock; and when a flood rose, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.” Luke 6:48. They had taken the time to build a strong foundation on the rock so that the house would not fall because of the storm.  On the other hand, the one who has heard, and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house upon the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great.” Luke 6:49. He built a similar house but did not lay a solid foundation, and when the storm hit, the house fell on account of the lack of a solid foundation, and Jesus finishes this with “and the ruin of that house was great.” Luke 6:49.

Jesus was teaching them that they can follow Him all over the place, but if they do not hear what He is saying and act upon His teachings, they will not develop a solid foundation in the faith and could possibly turn away. This is what I believe happened to Judas. He was more concerned with the works of this world that He did not establish a firm base for His belief in Jesus as the Messiah. And unfortunately, we see many in our churches that fall into this category.  They read the word out of duty, but not to build a proper foundation.  They give their tithes, not because they want to, but in order to lift themselves up and get the tax credits. They sit in the pews and listen to solid preaching, but they do not apply what they have heard to themselves, however they become critics of others.

How often do we call Jesus Lord, but do not do what He says?  This is the reason His word was given to us, so that read it, understand, and fulfil His will for us. He is our Lord because we, as Christians, are His. “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore, glorify God in your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.

If we call Him Lord, which He is, then we must obey Him completely.  This means from our heart and our deeds. And we can do this by hearing what He is telling us in His word and doing what it says. By doing, we are creating a strong foundation which will keep us truly in the faith by which we profess. We must not be hypocrites in saying Jesus is our Lord and yet not listening to Him and doing what He says. Let us make the decision to follow Him completely, doing what He says even if it is difficult. By doing this, we will show the world we are truly His disciples which can open doors to being a light in this dark world.

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

Acts 21:13

Verse of the Day Devotion: Acts 21:13 

“Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” – Acts 21:13

Paul, along with some of his disciples went to visit Philip the evangelist in Caesarea and stayed with him for a time.  An interesting point here is that Philip had four virgin daughters who were prophetesses.  This falls in line with what the prophet Joel prophesized when he said, “It will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.” Joel 2:28. 

Now, while they were there, a prophet by the name of Agabus came down from Judea.  “And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands, and said, This is what the Holy Spirit says: ‘In this way the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.” Acts 21:11. This was troubling to all those there, but not so much to Paul for He had heard this before.  In speaking to the elders of the Church in Ephesus he said, “And now, behold, bound by the Spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me.” Acts 20:22-23. 

Upon hearing this prophecy from Agabus everyone there, including the local residents who were there, began to beg Paul not to go to Jerusalem.  This was very much a sign of weakness in them though also an expression of their great love for Paul.  They were concerned for his safety, no doubt knowing how much the Jews hated him.  Also, in turning him over to Rome, the gentiles referred to in verse eleven above, they knew this could very well mean he could be killed.  Paul, answering in a traditional Pauline style said in our focus verse, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” Acts 21:13. The people around him were crying and begging him to not go to Jerusalem.  He states here they were breaking his heart for though he had already decided to go to Jerusalem. and nothing could move him for he was resolute in his decision, yet their tears and what was to come greatly afflicted him, and the more because he could by no means comply with their request.  The Holy Spirit made it very clear on several occasions this is what would happen, and he was ready to die for the cause of Christ. 

When he was before the Ephesian elders where the Holy Spirit told him that bonds and afflictions await him, Paul told them, “But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20:24. Paul considered his work for the Lord far more important then anything else, even his very life.  And he showed this through what happened later in chapter 21.  This raises the question, are we willing to do the same if we encountered the same situation?  Would we continue to do the work of God knowing we could be arrested and possibly killed?  I know this is a difficult question to answer, but as time progresses, this may become more and more possible.  And if it happens, we must remember that just as Paul was never alone, neither will we be. God will always be with us no matter what.  His work and His ways are far more important than anything else we may have.  Remembering this and focusing on God’s love will make it more than possible, but also desirable.

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

Acts 16:14

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Acts 16:14 

“A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.” – Acts 16:14

Many people who read this verse simply see a woman of Thyatira who was a seller of purple.  As a side item, purple was the most valuable color, which was obtained from shellfish.  It was chiefly worn by princes and the rich, and the traffic in it would be very profitable.  So based on this, we can assume she was well off regarding her financial situation.  Yes, Lydia is the focus of this verse, but not her profession or her income.  The most important idea in this story is her religious fervor.

As we read further in our focus verse we see she was a worshipper of God.  It is probable that she was a proselyte to the Jewish religion.  She worshipped the true God, the God of Israel and not the many gods of the gentiles.  She was listening to what Paul was saying about Christ, “and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.” Acts 16:14b.  She was so desirous of knowing the truth, God opened her heart to understand and ultimately respond to the truth of the gospel.  Then in the next verse we read, “And when she and her household had been baptized, she urged us, saying, If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us.” Acts 16:15. Her and her household were saved and baptized.  Paul himself believed she was being faithful to God and accepted her invitation to stay with them. 

Now, Paul did not go directly to her and preach the gospel.  She was simply one of several who had gathered together where Paul and several others had gone to a place to pray.  “And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to a riverside, where we were supposing that there would be a place of prayer; and we sat down and began speaking to the women who had assembled.” Acts 16:13.  However, in his speaking to the women there, God used Paul to help Lydia understand the truth of the gospel. 

Now I have a similar story regarding a young man who had left the church and his home, thus turning away from God.  I was at a Howard Johnson’s restaurant around 2:00 AM buying breakfast and speaking with a man who was hitchhiking and I had picked up to take him home.  As we were eating, I was presenting the gospel to him, and when I mentioned the church I attended, The Rock Church in Homestead FL, a young man came over to me and asked me if I was a member.  I told him I was and he told me he had gone to the Rock Church in Virginia Beach, VA but when his family moved here, he went to church for a time but then had a falling out with his dad and he left the church and moved in with a drug user and began using them himself.  He then asked me to take him home, so we all left, dropped off the other man who was not interested in hearing about God, and then this young man and I walked along the beach behind his apartment for a couple of hours discussing his situation.  To make a long story short, his dad had nothing to do with him after He left and the only friends he had left were those who took drugs with him.  I convinced him to call his dad and ask him if he could move back home.  I told him he had to move out of there and give up all drugs and go back to church.  After we prayed for a while, I left and he assured me he would follow through. 

I had no contact information and thus lost contact with him.  One evening, about a year after meeting with him, God placed him on my heart and I asked God to show me that he had done as was promised.  Well, that weekend the Christian band I worked with as the sound and lights person was performing in a park in North Miami.  When we were setting up, a young man ran up to me, and it turned out to be the person I met at Howard Johnson’s and spoke to about going back home.  He said he did what he promised.  He made amends with his father and started going back to church, leaving the drug life behind.  He was attending a church in the area with a leader who used to attend the Rock Church but was now a leader in the church the young man was currently going to.  I was so thankful and praised God that this young man came back to God.

It is important that we take every opportunity to be a light in dark places, showing the truth of the gospel to as many as possible.  And as with Lydia and Paul, and this young man and myself, you never know how God will use these opportunities to make a difference in the lives of others through us.  So even though you are speaking with one or several people, be open to who God is speaking to through you, and ensure you are open to helping them to develop a strong and joyous relationship with Christ.  There is no greater joy you will ever experience in this life.

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

Acts 2:42

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Acts 2:42  

“They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” – Acts 2:42

One of the more important aspects of our Christian walk is the idea of fellowship and supporting each other.  First, I want to present a quote from the Book of Ecclesiastes which points this out so clearly.  “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone?  And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.  Solomon, whom many scholars believe is the writer of Ecclesiastes points out the importance of not separating ourselves from others.  Simply put, if you are alone who will help you when you fall, who will help you in times of need, and who will fight for you when danger is imminent?

These ideas are found in our focus verse from Acts.  What Luke is pointing out is that Christians need to be in fellowship with each other in order keep each other accountable, encouraged and strong in the truth.  Back in the first century there was much persecution upon the church.  The Jewish leadership hated them for they considered Christianity as an attempt to usurp their position and the Romans were against them because they considered Christianity as a new religion and this was forbidden in the areas they were in control over.

The first part of our focus verse says, “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching.” Act 2:42a.  They were to be always devoted to learning all they could about their new life in Christ.  What did it entail?  What did it not?  This was especially critical for the Jews who were always taught that obedience to the Law of Moses was the critical factor in obeying God, and they needed to understand that it went far beyond that.  Also, as they grew in the faith they would be less likely to walk away and more able to train others they come across.   They would also come together in fellowship, often times in sharing a meal.  This was important in developing strong and Godly relationships which created bonds that were not easily broken.  And lastly, with equal if not more importance with the others, they met to pray together.  They came to God regularly to pray that their faith may be strengthened and increase as they grow in God, and for the extension of the kingdom of Christ via the salvation of more and more people. 

And note the accomplishments that were seen in the first century church.  They were built up on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, of which Jesus Christ and His teachings were the cornerstone.  And not only were they built up in the faith, but they steadfastly continued in this doctrine received through the leaders from Christ, learning more so as to grow in their relationship with Him.  Thirdly, they were separated from the world and instead lived in holy Christian fellowship and building all up who were with them.  They frequently spent time speaking of those things that God, through Christ, did for them through His sacrifice.  And they continued in prayers, knowing it was through this communion with God that they were now His children and they looked to Him for all things, including the beautiful relationship they had with Him.

 These things were done in order that the church would grow, not only in numbers but in devotion and strength and love for God almighty.  And this is the type of lifestyle we need to live as well.  As the times get more difficult and as the world begins to persecute Christians even more harshly, we need to come together to encourage each other, supporting our brothers and sisters in Christ, and together helping those who do not know Christ to accept the sacrifice He made for them through His death on the cross.  This is why we are here, and through the Holy Spirit, we have the means to live this life.  Let us all make the decision to make the Acts 2 lifestyle ours and show the world the reality of who we are and this life we have taken hold of.  The church in the first century grew incredibly.  Wouldn’t it be great to see the true church grow in the same way in this generation?

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