Philippians 4:4

Verse of the Day: Philippians 4:4

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, rejoice!” – Philippians 4:4 

Of all people, we Christians have the most to rejoice in.  Paul, in this letter to the Philippians lays out one, and the most important reason.  That being the Lord Jesus Himself.

Everything that happens to us and for us is a reason to rejoice.  When we are blessed with something wonderful, or we are going through afflictions that He brings us through.  When our needs are met, when we have a want fulfilled, when we are in good health, it is a time to rejoice.  Every moment of every day, we have a reason.

However, let us never forget the greatest thing that ever happened to us.  Two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ the Son of God came down in the form of a man and died for us that the penalty for our sins could be paid and we could be declared righteous.  And this happens when we accept this work and devote our lives completely to Him.

Due to this finished work of Christ and our acceptance of it, we have a wonderful, loving, glorious and intimate relationship with the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.  (Isaiah 9:6).  This relationship is beyond anything we can experience with anyone else.  And the beauty of this is, this incredible relationship will never end.  And when these days are over and the new heaven and earth have come, we shall hear these words, “… Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” Revelation 21:3b-4.

There is no greater reason to rejoice then our great God and Redeemer, Jesus Christ.

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

John 11:42

Verse of the Day Devotion:  John 11:42  

“And I knew that Thou hears Me always; but because of the people standing around I said it, that they may believe that Thou didst send Me.” – John 11:42 

Over the next week we will be looking at seven miraculous signs performed by Jesus as recorded in the Gospel of John.  These signs show that Jesus was not just some ordinary man but was truly the Son of God.  Today we will look at the last sign which is Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.

There was a man who lived in Bethany, the village where Mary and her sister Martha lived.  And this is the same Mary who had anointed the feet of Jesus and wiping His feet with her hair. And these are the sisters of the man who was ill.  They send for Jesus to come, for Lazarus, whom He love is very sick.  However, Jesus responded by saying, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” John 11:4. Something special was going to happen that would bring glory to the Jesus.

After two days, Jesus left to go to Judea again.  The disciples were nervous and made this clear to Him. “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone You, and are You going there again?” John 11:8. Jesus responds by referring to a comment in chapter nine. “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” John 9:5. Note the wording here. “Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” John 11:10.  Then after saying this, Jesus gives some context. “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, that I may awaken him out of sleep.” John 11:11.  He was saying, while I am here, I must do the work His Father sent Him to do. And this will become more clear further on. When the disciples heard Jesus say Lazarus fell asleep, they assumed he would eventually wake up, but Jesus then comes out and said, “Lazarus is dead, and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let us go to him.” John 11:14b-15. Several Jews came to the house to console them, which provides an opportunity to see this miracle.

Jesus then arrives and Mary goes out to meet Him and says, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” John 11:32. Jesus then, seeing her and the Jews weeping, began crying Himself.  Some Jews that were present remarked that Jesus obviously loved this man, but some said, “Could not this man, who opened the eyes of him who was blind, have kept this man also from dying?” John 11:37. Then, being deeply moved, came to the tomb.  He told them to remove the stone, upon which Martha responds, “Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days.” John 11:39b. But Jesus counters by saying, “Did I not say to you, if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” John 11:40. This is said above in verse four. His words here were probably said to the disciples to whom He had said it. 

Now we come to the critical verses which includes our focus verse. “And so, they removed the stone. And Jesus raised His eyes, and said, Father, I thank Thee that Thou hears Me. And I knew that Thou hears Me always; but because of the people standing around I said it, that they may believe that Thou didst send Me.” John 11:41-42. Several things we see here.  First, his direct reference to God as ‘Father’ is characteristic of his praying. To say that the God He prayed to is His Father was quite revolutionary.  Second, the prayer assumes that Jesus has already asked for Lazarus’ life, and that all he must do is to thank his Father for the answer. That is not surprising for verse eleven also assumes that the raising of Lazarus had been determined for some time. Third, this prayer was not a matter of public playing to the people there, it is intended to show His intimacy with the Father. 

After this prayer, Jesus then cries out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.” John 11:43b. After this we see the miracle. “He who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings; and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, unbind him, and let him go.” John 11:44.

The sign here shows that Jesus is truly the Son of God. And this sign was to be seen again by the Jews, which included Mary and Martha and the disciples.  Many of the Jews who were there had their minds changed. “Many therefore of the Jews, who had come to Mary and beheld what He had done, believed in Him. But some of them went away to the Pharisees and told them the things which Jesus had done.” John 11:45-46. However, the leadership for the most part was angry. “Therefore, the chief priests and the Pharisees convened a council, and were saying, What are we doing? For this man is performing many signs. If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” John 11:47-48. They called this miracle a sign, which it was, that showed proof that Jesus was the promised Messiah. In John 9, regarding the healing of the blind man from birth.  He there said that those Jews who see these signs and still do not believe are blind. “And Jesus said, For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see; and that those who see may become blind. Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things, and said to Him, We are not blind too, are we? Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.” John 9:39-41.

Jesus allowed Lazarus to die (fall asleep) so that He could show many the miracle and believe. “Father, I thank Thee that Thou hear Me. And I knew that Thou hear Me always; but because of the people standing around I said it, that they may believe that Thou didst send Me.” John 11:41b-42. Jesus came here to be a light in the world. And what better way to shine this light than to show people who He is and the power and glory He has from the Father. We see this in this miracle as well as the other six signs.  He wanted everyone to see who He was, for He loved them and desired them to believe in Him and be saved. 

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

1 Thessalonians 4:17

Verse of the Day Devotion:  1 Thessalonians 4:17  

“Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:17

This verse addresses the coming of the Lord for His people.  Starting back in an earlier verse  we read, “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 4:14.  When He comes He will not come alone but will bring with Him  those who have died as Christians.  In other words, at His coming, those who have died in Christ will be resurrected just as Christ was.  We will not precede those who have died first but we will join them.

Next we see a clear picture of this coming.  “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16.  Jesus will not come quietly but will descend from heaven with a great shout, which will be accompanied by the voice of the archangel.  This could be Michael the archangel.  In Jude we read of Him, “But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, The Lord rebuke you!” Jude 1:9.  We also see him mentioned in Revelation.  “And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war.” Revelation 12:7.  There is no indication what He will shout, but it will be such that all will hear it.  There is the possibility that He will call out to the dead in Christ to rise from the grave and to join Him. 

Then we come to our focus verse.  “Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air,” 1 Thessalonians 4:17a.  Then, probably being called upon, we who are alive at His coming will be caught up in the air to join Christ and those in Christ who were resurrected.  Think about this a moment.  All people who died in Christ will be together in the air with Christ and those followers who did not die.  Millions and millions of people who have died in the faith, from the beginning of mankind to His coming, will be with Him at His return in the air.  This will be an amazing sight. And this verse ends with a beautiful statement.  “and so we shall always be with the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 4:17b.  From this point forward, we will be with the Lord forever, for all eternity in the new heaven and earth. 

The times are difficult now and will only become harder leading up to the return of Christ.  The tribulations and trials we endure here will one day end, either we will die in Christ or we will live till He returns, at which both groups will join Him upon His return.  We shall then be with Him forever.  John, in telling of the words given to the church in Philadelphia, gives us a picture of our future.  “He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name.” Revelation 3:12.  We shall never leave our new home where we reside with God.  We shall be in His presence with no end; for death will not exist in the new Jerusalem. 

Matthew puts it this way.  “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Matthew 25:34. 

Christ’s return will be like nothing we have ever experienced.  When He comes back, all His people will join Him in the air, first those who have died, then those who are still alive.  And where we ail spend eternity, the new heaven and earth will be far more wonderful then we can imagine.  “But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9. It shall be far more wonderful than we can imagine, and there is no chance that it will be thwarted.  What He has promised will also come to pass.  So, as the last verse in this chapter states, “Therefore comfort one another with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:18.

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