Esther 4:14

Verse of the Day Devotion: Esther 4:14

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” – Esther 4:14

During the reign of King Ahasuerus in Persia, Haman was promoted to the chief minister of the king.  This gave him a very elevated position within Persia.  In this position, he was given much homage.  “All the king’s servants who were at the king’s gate bowed down and paid homage to Haman; for so the king had commanded concerning him. But Mordecai neither bowed down nor paid homage.” Esther 3:2. Mordecai was promoted to an office in the court of Ahasuerus, and thus was required to bow to Haman.  But, as you can see, he refused to, which made Haman furious to the point He wanted to kill all the Jews within his control.

So, Haman went to the king.  “Then Haman said to King Ahasuerus, “There is a certain people scattered and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom; their laws are different from those of all other people, and they do not observe the king’s laws, so it is not in the king’s interest to let them remain.  If it is pleasing to the king, let it be decreed that they be destroyed, and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver into the hands of those who carry on the king’s business, to put into the king’s treasuries.  Then the king took his signet ring from his hand and gave it to Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews.  The king said to Haman, “The silver is yours, and the people also, to do with them as you please.”  Esther 3:8-11.  Haman set a date and sent this edict out to all the provinces alerting them to be ready.  Mordecai then sent a letter to Esther asking her to go before the king and plead with him for the Jews to be protected.  Esther sends a reply to Mordecai denoting a dangerous rule regarding approaching the king.  “All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that for any man or woman who comes to the king to the inner court who is not summoned, he has but one law, that he be put to death, unless the king holds out to him the golden scepter so that he may live. And I have not been summoned to come to the king for these thirty days.” Esther 4:11. Mordecai responds, telling her why she, a Jew, would be saved on that day.  He ends with, “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?”  Esther 4:14

Many of us find ourselves in positions, like Esther, which we never imagined would happen, and then a difficult trial occurs, and we do not wish to continue.  We have no idea why God put us there and may even question if it was Him.  However, does anything happen without God allowing it?  He guides us in the way He desires of us.  “Nevertheless, I am continually with You; You have taken hold of my right hand.  With Your counsel You will guide me, and afterward receive me to glory.” Psalm 73:23-24.  He may lead us into difficult circumstances, however, remember that in the end He will brings us into glory with Himself.

Back to the story of Esther, she did end up going to the inner court of the king’s palace and was granted entrance to see the king.  She eventually tells him that Haman has plotted to kill her and the Jews.  When the king hears this, he calls for Haman to be hung on the gallows at Haman’s home where he would have killed Mordecai.  God ordained both Esther and Mordecai to be lifted to their positions so that the Jews in Persia would be saved.

God will put us where He wants us for His will to be done.  Paul put it this way.  “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. In the tough times, or during periods of peace, He has a good purpose for us to accomplish.  And who’s to say we are not in that position for that purpose to be fulfilled.

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

Isaiah 60:1

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Isaiah 60:1

“Arise, shine; for your light has come, And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.” Isaiah 60:1 

The language used here is reminiscent of what is found in verse 51:17. “Rouse yourself! Rouse yourself! Arise, O Jerusalem, You who have drunk from the LORD’s hand the cup of His anger; The chalice of reeling you have drained to the dregs.” Isaiah 51:17. The difference being in chapter fifty-one it speaks of God’s anger on them, whereas, in this chapter it speaks of God’s glory upon them. After the thick and desperate darkness described in Isaiah 59:9-10, this is the glorious rescue available from the Redeemer. Light has come; therefore, God tells His people to respond to it, and to arise and shine.

This is no light that comes from here on earth. This light emanates from God’s glory. the glory of the Lord. This is like the light of Jesus in the Transfiguration, when His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. “And He (Jesus) was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light.” Matthew 17:2. Sometimes harsh, bright light can be disturbing or uncomfortable, but not this warm, wonderful light that is reflected from the glory of the Lord. Verse two makes this very clear. “For behold, darkness will cover the earth, And deep darkness the peoples; But the LORD will rise upon you, And His glory will appear upon you.” Isaiah 60:2. Here, Isaiah speaks a profound and incredible truth. And this is the result of all He believes. And that is that only one God exists, that God is other than this world, and that God has revealed Himself to Israel alone. And given these truths, the conclusion is inescapable. That being, darkness covers the earth, but on us the Lord rises. The whole world, and all the people in it, are covered in a thick cloud of ignorance and ultimately, sin. And this vision of Isaiah’s shows there is no one or nothing in this world that can save us. Only God can save us, through the work of Christ.

Then we read in verse three, “And nations will come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising.” Isaiah 60:3. Here, Isaiah is speaking to Israel saying that the light of the glory of God is reflecting from them to the world. And this light will draw many non-Jewish people who live in non-Jewish nations to the Lord. So splendid will be that glory, that it will attract the distant nations, and they shall come and participate in the blessings of the gospel. And they will not come to Israel because they find Israel a better place, but because of the light. The brightness of the presence of God in the person of the Savior will be irresistible to many.

And today, this is our calling as Christians/People of God. “You 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. We are not called just to do Christian things. We are called to be those ehom Isaiah spoke of in the three verses above. “Arise, shine; for your light has come, And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. For behold, darkness will cover the earth, And deep darkness the peoples; But the LORD will rise upon you, And His glory will appear upon you. And nations will come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising.” Isaiah 60:1-3. The light of Christ is here, and it is incumbent upon us to ensure all as possible can see that light. Go out and display the reality of Christ through how we talk and how we live. It is by this ‘light’ that the world will see the light of the glory of the Lord Jesus and begin the process of coming to Him for salvation.

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

John 5:8

Verse of the Day Devotion:  John 5:8 

“Jesus said to him, Arise, take up your pallet, and walk.” – John 5:8   

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 third sign which is the healing at the Pool of Bethesda on the Sabbath.

We are entering a time in chapters three thru five that lay out a shift from mere reservation and hesitation about Jesus to outright and sometimes official opposition to Him. The first point of controversy regards the Sabbath.  In chapter five we see that Jesus went into Jerusalem when the people were preparing for a feast to celebrate this import day. In Jerusalem, by the sheep gate, there was a pool named Bethesda, Bethesda being Aramaic for ‘House of Mercy’, where many would wait for healing. “In these lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, and withered, [waiting for the moving of the waters; for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool, and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted.]” John 5:4-5. Those who were sick or disabled would lie there, for as long as needed, for an angel to stir up the waters, then they would race to the water, for the first one to enter would be healed. Now, an interesting point is that the pool of Bethesda was used to provide water for the temple.

Now there was a man who had been sick for thirty-eight years. When Jesus came to the water, He had compassion on this man. “When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, Do you wish to get well?”  The sick man then answers, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming another steps down before me.” John 5:7. The answer this man gives is a sad one.  He was there for he greatly wanted to be healed.  However, being disabled he was unable to get up and go into the water himself, and there was no friend there with him that could help him into the stirred-up waters.  By the time he would have reached the water, someone else had already beaten him to it.

However, Jesus then responds to his answer by telling him, in our focus verse, “Arise, take up your pallet, and walk.” John 5:8.  Jesus showed compassion for him, but He provided the healing to him in a surprising way. He simply told the man to get up, taking his pallet with him, and walk.  “And immediately the man became well and took up his pallet and began to walk.” John 5:9a.  I tend to think this was a complete shock to the man, however in faith he followed Jesus’ command.  We read of a similar incident where Jesus is talking and an invalid is lowered through the roof for Jesus to heal.  And Jesus uses the same wording to that man as He did with man at the pool. “And they came, bringing to Him a paralytic, carried by four men. And being unable to get to Him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Him; and when they had dug an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic was lying.” Mark 2:3-4.  Then, in healing the man, He said, “I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home.” Mark 2:11.

After this, the Jews came to this man. “It is the Sabbath, and it is not permissible for you to carry your pallet.” John 5:10.  “But he answered them, He who made me well was the one who said to me, Take up your pallet and walk. They asked him, Who is the man who said to you, take up your pallet, and walk?” John 5:11-12.  They were upset that the man followed the leading of someone to break the Sabbath law by carrying the pallet.  However, this man did not know who it was that told him to pick up his pallet and walk. However, in a later verse, “Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse may befall you. The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.” John 5:14-15.   

This was a sign to the Jewish leadership that He was more than just a simple man, but that He had authority over them. He told them, “But He answered them, My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.” John 5:17 For this reason, the Jewish leaders were trying even harder to kill Him, because not only was He breaking the Sabbath, but He was also calling God His own Father, thus making Himself equal with God. It did not occur to them that because a remarkable healing had taken place, they ought to glorify God for it. No, the only thing that troubled them was Jesus’ transgression of the Sabbath (as they had decreed it should be kept). The problem, of course, was that they were so wedded to the traditions with which they had overlaid the law that they could see nothing else. They were infuriated that someone had upset their cozy little empire, especially one who declared Himself the Son of God.

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

Matthew 24:11

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Matthew 24:11  

“Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many.” – Matthew 24:11

Jesus, at the beginning of this chapter, said the following to His disciples regarding the Jewish Temple.  “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.” Matthew 24:2. He said this after He came out of the temple and the disciples came up to Him.  This probably was a surprise to them, so they asked Jesus a question. “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” Matthew 24:4b.  “And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many.” Matthew 24:4-5. I actually experienced this one time back in the late 1970’s.  I was walking in an avocado orchard in South Florida and this young lady came up to me and asked me if I wanted to meet Jesus. I saw him dressed as we would expect him to be, and he was leading a group of ladies as he did spoke to many he came across. I spoke with him for just a few minutes before they left the field.  He tried to convince me that he was The Christ, but since he could not convince me he left, followed by the several ladies that were with him.  There has been many claiming this. One well known person who claimed to be the last prophet, the son of God, the lamb was David Koresh back in 1983. 

However, there are many who claim to be a prophet of the living God, not necessarily the Messiah yet teaching a false message.  I remember when one of these false teachers were on television and declared that there were three God the Fathers, three God the Sons, and three Holy Spirits.  He then yelled out, “there were nine of them.”  When told by the host he had never heard that before, the false teacher said, and I am paraphrasing, “I do not come to tell you the same old stuff, but things you have not heard before”.  What a sad statement.  And because of this idea, many have been deceived and mislead. 

Jesus speaks of this using a tree and its fruit as an example.  “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” Matthew 7:15-19.  Jesus tells the disciples that many will come looking like sheep but are actually only in a sheep costume and are actually wolves, seeking to destroy sheep.  And He finishes with the next verse, “So then, you will know them by their fruits.” Matthew 7:20. Prior to verse 20 Jesus tells them, “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.” Matthew 7:16-17.  A false prophet gives false teachings while a true prophet gives true teachings. 

Now, Paul gives us an answer as to how we can be sure we are not deceived.  He speaks of the believers in Berea who were careful about the teachings given them.  “Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” Acts 17:11. Notice what they did.  They checked out the teachings with the scriptures.  This, along with prayer, should be our focus if we hear anything possibly could be false teaching.  We should not accept a teaching just because it came from a well-known preacher and/or it is something we have never heard before.  We need to check these things out so we are not led astray.

And one more thing.  If a pastor preaches something and you check it out and find it questionable, bring it to their attention.  They may not know it is wrong, so by doing this you are assisting him in his teaching. I remember this happened to me once where I heard a weird teaching and I asked him about it and he realized his error, which he ultimately cleared up with the congregation.  Another time I found out I mis-understood him so it can go both ways.  However, the important thing to remember is that we must check out what we  and others are taught and ensure it is truth so we do not find ourselves deceived and going down a wrong path that does not lead to the truth. 

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