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.

Philippians 4:13

Verse of the Day: Philippians 4:13

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

Have you ever felt that you needed to do something, but could not because you did not have the strength?  I think we all have.  This can be very frustrating if we know we must get that ‘something’ done.  The apostle Paul knows full well what this is like.

Look at 2 Corinthians 11:21-28, “Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.”  It is amazing how he suffered so much at the hands of men, but was able to do all he did, not through his own strength, but that strength given him by Christ.”

God does not show favoritism.  If you are doing the Lord’s work, He will give you all you need to accomplish it, including the strength needed to finish.  Do not give up when you grow weary.  Pray for His strength and He will provide it.  He will never command us to do something we are incapable of accomplishing.  Tap into all He gives you and make it happen.

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

2 Peter 3:9

Verse of the Day Devotion: 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 

Peter here is answering a question coming from those who are mocking the Christians, in this case focusing on those who state the following, “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.” 2 Peter 3:4.  You can hear the mocking attitude in these statements.  ‘You keep saying He’s coming, but where is He?’ they might say.

However, Peter answers this with 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.  Time has no effect on God.  He is eternal, both past and future.  Because of this, a day is like a millennium and vice-versa.  In fact, He resides outside of time, for time does not exist outside of this created universe.

In the focus verse, Peter is saying that God is not slow concerning His promises.  He is not delaying anything.  He will come back at the appointed time.  He is patient toward us.  He is slow to bring the punishment because this shows proof that He desires all to come to repentance.  He is not rushing His return but giving enough time for all to be saved.  Men will not have any excuse.  This shows His loving kindness.  He knows the end from the beginning, but His slowness is a sign to us.

God does not want any to be condemned and thereby perish.  He loves us too much.  He gives everyone the opportunity.  It is up to us to accept Jesus’s work providing justification.  He gives us all the time we need.

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

Romans 12:18

Verse of the Day Devotion: Romans 12:18

“If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” – Romans 12:18 

This verse is a very difficult one to follow, especially in the times we live in.  Peace is one thing we should always strive for.  It may not always be possible, however, that does not mean we shouldn’t strive for peace in every encounter we have with others, both the saved and the unsaved.

This verse starts with the idea that as far as it depends on us.  This means that we are to do everything imaginable to preserve the peace, short of compromise.  First, we are not to begin or to originate a quarrel.  Our words are to be ones that show the love we have for the person or persons we are speaking with.  If we become angry and our words and actions show it, then we may lose the ability to speak into their lives.  If to a Christian, they may not be willing to listen to us when we are trying to help them in their walk with God; thus causing them to continue doing that which is wrong, where if we remained cool, calm and collected, we may have been able to help them see their error and turn from it.  And if to the unsaved, they may turn away and not receive Christ as Savior, or at least look into it.  Both instances will be problematic regarding our ability to speak into their lives.  And because they may tell others, we may even close the hearts of anyone else who may endeavor to speak with them.

Secondly, if the anger is started by them, we must do all we can to appease that anger.  We should not walk off until we have done all we can to bring peace to the conversation, and possibly come to the point where they could listen to what we have to say, though this may not be possible because their hearts may be so closed to the truth that any attempt to speak it may incite the anger in them.  If this occurs, we should apologize and make peace if we can.  And we should then pray for, not necessarily with, the individual that God would open their hearts to receive the truth we intended to share with them.  The psalmist put it this way, “Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it.” Psalm 34:14.  I believe the evil he speaks of does include quarreling with those we speak with.  But note, we are not just to seek peace, we are to pursue it as well.  As Albert Barnes states in his commentary of Psalms, we must follow after it, make it an object of desire and put forth the effort to life in peace with all people.

It is important that we follow this with all our heart.  I have seen far too much quarreling and gossiping within churches, and all it does is create division.  Both sides may be desiring the same outcome, but they have differences in how to approach it.  We must do all we can to be at peace with everyone.  This way, we can remove the divisions that hurt the work of the church, and open people’s hearts to the message we have from God to them.  This is a huge part of our calling, for it provides the platform by which we make it happen.

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

Matthew 24:34

Verse of the Day Devotion Matthew 24:34 

“Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” – Matthew 24:34 

Today we will look at the Parable from the Fig Tree.  These verses deal with end time events. Here is this parable as found in Matthew’s gospel.

Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender, and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; even so you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words shall not pass away.” Matthew 24:32-35.

Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives when the disciples came up to Him to point out the Temple buildings.  However, Jesus answers them in a way they did not expect.  “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here shall be left upon another, which will not be torn down.” Matthew 24:2. His statement probably surprised them, so they said, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” Matthew 24:3.

He then in Matthew 5-24 He answers them by listing and describing what is coming that points to the end (click verse to see it).  He now turns from this to describing how they are to conduct themselves as they await His coming. He uses a parable from the Fig Tree to help them understand. “Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender, and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; even so you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door.” Matthew 24:32-33.

How does a fig tree example help here?  It is said that most trees in first-century Palestine kept their leaves throughout the year, except for the fig tree. It sheds its leaves in winter, but year after year something happens in the spring. The branches become tender because the sap rises causing the tree to put forth leaves. There are other ways of knowing that the winter has come to an end, but anyone who has grown trees knows how satisfying it is to see the new leaves make their appearance. This is the proof that the harsh days of winter are gone and that summer is near. The fig tree does not bring the summer, but the appearance of its new leaves is a sure and certain indication that summer is now at hand.  

And just as the return of the leaves on the fig tree denote the end of winter, so does the events Matthew 24 denotes His return, “when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door.” Matthew 24:33b. The followers of Jesus are to be no less discerning than the growers of fig trees. When the things He spoke of make their appearance, they are commanded, “know that it is near” In fact, He becomes more specific when He says, “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.

We are already seeing many of the things mentioned in Matthew 24:5-24, such as false Christs, wars and rumors of wars, and earthquakes and various places.  Jesus tells us this is just the start. “But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.” Matthew 24:8.  After this He speaks of the persecution we Christians will need to endure. And then will come the anti-Christ, the abomination that causes desolation. And finally, Christ will return and do away with all the evil that was perpetrated on the earth.

Jesus assured the disciples that when these signs appeared as He foretold (the abomination of desolation, followed by great tribulation, followed by signs in the heavens), His return to the earth would follow. When a fig tree buds, there is an inevitable result – summer is near and fruit is coming. In the same way, when these signs are seen, the coming of Jesus in glory with His church to this world will inevitably follow.

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

Job 42:2

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Job 42:2  

“I know that Thou canst do all things, and that no purpose of Thine can be thwarted.” – Job 42:2  

Job was a man that endured more than I could ever imagine.  In chapter one, he loses everything that He owned.  He lost all his property and all his children. This is an amazing story of a man who withstood the greatest test imaginable. And after all that happened to Job in chapter one, it says “Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.” Job 1:22.

In Job up through chapter 37, Job is tested by Satan.  Then in chapters 38 through 41, God goes to Job and asks a series of questions, showing Job that he has no understanding of Him at all.  “Who is this that darkens counsel By words without knowledge? Now gird up your loins like a man, And I will ask you, and you instruct Me!” Job 38:2. God is informing Job that He does not truly speak what he knows. The theologian Adam Clarke puts it this way. “As if he had said, who art thou who pretends to speak on the deep things of God, and the administration of his justice and providence, which thou canst not comprehend; and leaves my counsels and designs the darker for thy explanation?” In other words, speaking without understanding what he is speaking about. How often do we see this happening today?

Then God tells Job to get ready for He is going to ask him some questions. “Now gird up your loins like a man, And I will ask you, and you instruct Me!” Job 38:3. Notice the words “and you instruct me. Here are a few of the questions God asked him. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding,” Job 38:4. “Who set its measurements, since you know? Or who stretched the line on it?” Job 38:5. And then finally, “Have you ever in your life commanded the morning, and caused the dawn to know its place?” Job 38:12.

Then after all the questions were asked, Job fully understood that he really did not understand. Then in an act of repentance we read in our focus verse, “I know that Thou canst do all things, And that no purpose of Thine can be thwarted.” Job 42:2.  Now. remember the question asked by God in chapter thirty-eight where God started asking His series of questions, “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?  well, Job now answers God.  “Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge? Therefore, I have declared that which I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.” Job 42:3. Then he says to God, “Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask Thee, and do Thou instruct me. Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask Thee, and do Thou instruct me. Therefore, I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:4-6.  The meaning of repenting in ‘dust and ashes’ has the idea of repenting in humility before the Lord and His greatness.

We must be careful how we view our knowledge of God and His ways.  Things we can know is that God loves us, cares for us, and desires a strong relationship with us. This is clear.  But do we know why God does one thing rather than another?  Not always, but we can trust that what He allows in good. “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28. We do not have to know everything, for God does and He will protect us and make good come from bad. And finally, the prophet Isaiah puts it well when he declared, “Remember this, and be assured; Recall it to mind, you transgressors. Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure.” Isaiah 46:8-10.

In closing, we cannot always know why things happen or why they do not. For only God knows all things.  But what we can know is that God is in control, and because He loves us, we can know that everything that happens is for our good.  Let us be careful that we do not assume what we deem as bad is bad, for God may mean it for our good. And alternately, let us be careful that we do not assume what we deem as good is necessarily good, we can pray that God will remove our trials and tribulations from us. However, we should remember the prayer Jesus prayed just prior to His arrest. “And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, saying, “Father, if Thou art willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Thine be done.” Luke 22:41-42.

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

Matthew 4:9

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Matthew 4:9 

“And he said to Him, “All these things will I give You, if You fall down and worship me.” – Matthew 4:9    

Over these three days we will be looking at, in Matthew, the temptation of Jesus.  There were three specifically mentioned in Matthew 4, which we will address. God sent Him out to be tempted. “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” Matthew 4:1. These three testings’ were not for God to see what happens, for God knows all things. Isaiah said the following regarding this idea. “Remember the former things long past, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure.” Isaiah 46:9-10.  God also is showing the contrast between Adam and Eve and the Christ.  Jesus proved Himself by not giving into Satan’s temptation as Adam and Eve did, which was not to God but to the world.  Also showing that temptation itself is not a sin, but our response may be.

With the last temptation, the devil takes Jesus to a high mountain.  In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses is taken to Mount Nebo to look upon the land that He has promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. “Now Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho. And the LORD showed him all the land, Gilead as far as Dan, and all Naphtali and the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah as far as the western sea, and the Negev and the plain in the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar. Then the LORD said to him, “This is the land which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants’; I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there.” Deuteronomy 34:1-4. However, unlike this situation with Moses, the issue is not that Jesus is permitted to see the kingdoms of the world; instead, Satan offers Him world dominion if He will worship him. “Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world, and their glory; and he said to Him, all these things will I give You, if You fall down and worship me.” Matthew 4:8-9.

This was quite a temptation, for what Satan offered was rule over all the earth but without the sacrifice on the cross.  Without the pain, humiliation and all the suffering that was associated with crucifixion. In essence, Satan’s temptation was for Jesus to receive what the Father promised without the physical cost of death, which meant no paying the penalty for the sins of the people. However, Jesus would have nothing to do with it. “Then Jesus said to him, begone, Satan! For it is written, YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.” Matthew 4:10. And as the others, we find this in the Book of Deuteronomy. “You shall fear only the LORD your God; and you shall worship Him and swear by His name.” Deuteronomy 6:13. 

Satan tempted Jesus to believe that someone else could provide for Him in a better way than God could. And we need to be cautious with our eyes open, for this is the way he appeals to us.  Whether it is power, money, success, or the ability to pursue personal interests.  Jesus again reached into the scriptures to answer Satan, and as always interpreting it accurately.  We can see a personal lesson, that being the Bible is our only authority for right and righteous living.  Old Testament Israel bought the lie that God had competition.  However, Jesus did not. He wanted to be mastered by nothing and no one except the true God.  And this should be our mindset as well.

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

Mark 16:15

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Mark 16:15 

“And He said to them, go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” – Mark 16:15 

Forty days after Jesus was raised from the dead and just prior to His ascension, Jesus commands His disciples to continue the work He started.  This was the commission given to them by their sovereign Lord.  “And He said to them, Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Mark 16:15.  They were called to tell the world about the good news that Christ Himself came to bring, but now that He is going back to the Father, He has passed this important task onto His disciples.  Matthew brings more clarity to this calling.  “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.  In this devotion, I will be combining the writings in order to completely cover what Jesus told them.

As stated above, I will be combining Mark’s version and Matthew’s in order to fully understand what Jesus commanded them.  Both were given the same calling at the same times  Both write they are to go into all the world.  Not just to the Jewish nations, but to all people throughout the world.  Mark writes they are to preach the Gospel throughout all the world.  Matthew takes it a step further and writes they are to make disciples of all the nations.  To preach the gospel was to declare the truth of Christ.  However, those who accept the message need to be discipled; trained in order to fully understand the message given to them as well as to their complete calling.  A disciple is in essence a follower or student of a teacher, leader of philosopher.  It comes from the Latin word discipulus meaning “student”, which is derived from the Latin root word discere meaning “to learn”.  This goes beyond simply presenting a truth to someone, but to help by training them to fully understand their calling from Christ.

In my former days as a computer programmer, there were times when I was assigned to help train a new programmer in our applications as well as how we went through the programming process; from writing specifications to coding, then to testing and ultimately implementation.  I was, in a sense, discipling them so they could understand the complete process from beginning to end and be able to carry it out.  This is basically what Jesus is calling us to do.  To start by presenting the truth to them so they can understand it and accept the calling Christ has given us all.  However, knowing the truth is only the beginning.  They must then be trained regarding God’s calling to Christians and how to live it out.  Each of the disciples of Christ accepted the calling, however, they went through three years of  being discipled by Jesus to fully understand  what was expected of them and how to live it out.   

Jesus told His disciples to make disciples.  What was meant in this was to have an unending line of disciples making disciples who make disciples who will then make disciples.  Leading someone to Christ is simply the beginning.  After that, they must be taught the full meaning of what it means to be a follower of Christ and how to live it out.  Then, they can go out and do the same.  You may not be in a position to actually be the one who teaches them.  However, you can lead them to another who is willing and able to take on this role.  The point here is that everyone who accepts Christ must be taught what this decision actually means.  It is not simply acceptance of Christ as Savior, but also as Lord, and to live this life out to the fullest.  This is what Jesus did for His disciples, and it is what He intended for His disciples to do, all the way down in time to us.

It is important to understand that we are not alone in this.  Jesus told them as the last part of His call to them that they would not be alone.  “teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20.  Jesus said He would be with us to the very end of the age of our lives here on earth.  We can always go to Him for assistance in this endeavor. He will not leave or forsake us.  Always remember to call out to Him when you need help, and He will provide the assistance you need. 

 In closing, I want to encourage us all to reach out to all we come across who need to hear the truth concerning the gospel of Christ.  We must take whatever time we need to present it in a clear and understandable way.  And, if they receive it, encourage them to be  trained in the fullness of what this life is truly about.  It can be us, or someone else we know who can take on this responsibility.  However, it should be someone we trust to fulfill this role.  We must remember that living the Christian life as we are called to do, is the most important decision we can make, for it has eternal implications.  Helping new born Christians to fully understand what it means to be a Christian is vital in their growth, and their ability to take the next step in making disciples themselves.  So many more people can be reached for Christ if we follow this model.  My email can be found below, and if you have any questions regarding how you can proceed to become a disciple who makes disciples who make disciples, let me know if there is anything I can do to assist you in whatever way needed. It would be my pleasure to help you in this.

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

Romans 3:23

Verse of the Day Devotion: Romans 3:23 

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” – Romans 3:23 

This particular section of Romans deals with the idea that we all have sinned, and none of us can address our own sins before God.  Earlier in this chapter, we read “What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; as it is written, “There is none righteous, not even one;” Romans 3:9-10.  In speaking to the church in Rome, Paul declares that both Jews and Gentiles are guilty of sinning.  The Jews believed that they were in a much better situation because of their being descendants of Abraham.  However, just because they follow the law and performed the duties within the law gave them no greater advantage.

He now goes on to describe what he means by “None is righteous, no, not one”.  “no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one. Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive,The venom of asps is under their lips. Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Romans 3:11-18.  This is not a pretty picture of mankind.  What we see is a string of OT quotations confirming the universality of sin, along with  a variety of sins that define what we see in humanity.  (Note: see Psalm 14 as an example).  He then ends this section by declaring that the law speaks to those under the law, but only declares what sin is, not how to address it.  “Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.”  Romans 3:19-20. 

Now, the next two verses declares the righteousness of God is apart from the law.  “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to itthe righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:” Romans 3:21-22.  And then he states in our focus verse, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23, after which he says, “and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,”  Romans 3:24.  Yes, we all have sinned.  Yes, we could not rectify this situation on our own.  However, Christ came to rectify it for us, not based on anything we have done, but what He has done.

Now, based on all this, we have several things to remember.  First, all people have sinned, from Adam and Eve to all alive today.  None of us are innocent in the sight of God prior to giving our life to Him and accepting the work Christ did for us.  It is through justification that we are absolved of our sins and declared not guilty, for He paid the penalty for us.  We did nothing but accept His work.  Therefore, it is important that when we go out and present the gospel to the lost, we are to help them understand their guilt, but also see the remedy.  We should not look down upon anyone who needs to accept the work of Christ in their lives.  We can and should denounce the sin, without denouncing the sinner.  For as much as they need Christ, we also needed what He did in order to be declared righteous.  Stealing a candy bar may look less bad than killing someone, but both were enough to require Christ’s justification for us.  No one, no matter what they have done, is beyond salvation, and our focus should be on leading them to Christ.  We must not look at anyone as being beyond Christ’s ability to save, just as we should not look at someone as having an advantage because of a good heart.  God sees us all as sinners who can be saved.  We need to see them this way as well, and then help to make it happen.

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

1 Corinthians 16:14

Verse of the Day Devotion: 1 Corinthians 16:14 

“Let all that you do be done in love.” – 1 Corinthians 16:14        

Paul here is closing out his first letter to the Church in Corinth.  He spoke to them throughout this letter about what love is.  There are four basic words for love in the Greek language. First there is ‘Storge’ which refers to a family type of love, such as a love of a parent to their kids, and vice-versa.  Second there is ‘Philios’ which is a love between friends.   Third there is ‘Eros’ which is a romantic love.  And fourth is ‘Agape’ which is an unconditional God-like love; the love God has for us.  Remember, God loves His people, however He also loves those who are not His people.  “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”  John 3:16. God loves everyone, and desires that all would be saved. “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” John 3:17.

The Greek word translated love in our focus verse is agape.  What Paul is saying is that whatever we do, it should be done with unconditional, God-like love.  A love that transcends and persists no matter what our circumstances are.  Whatever we do for someone else, we should do with a love that is not lessened by what they do, say, or react.  In fact, what we do should come out of our love not only to the person, but also our love for God.  We should desire to do the most we can in our service to God, which includes our service for others.  “Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:1-4. 

We should have the same love for others as Christ has when He came into the world.  “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:5-8. 

So, what is our focus verse saying?  That everything we do should be done with an unconditional, sacrificial, God-like love that does not look at how we benefit, but how the recipient of our deeds benefit.  We should see others higher than we see ourselves, thus doing things in humility and not out of self-aggrandizement.  Anything we do for another should exhibit and, as much as possible,  be seen by them as an act of love toward them and that we are doing it because of our love for them and God.  When we do this, our brothers and sisters in Christ will be encouraged that God is bringing us there way, and those who are not saved will see the reality of this Christian life and the love God has for them. 

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