Proverbs 9:10

Verse of the Day: Proverbs 9:10

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” – Proverbs 9:10

I want to start this by letting Solomon himself declare why these writings are so important. “To know wisdom and instruction, To discern the sayings of understanding, To receive instruction in wise behavior, Righteousness, justice, and integrity; To give prudence to the naive, To the youth knowledge and discretion, A wise person will hear and increase in learning, And a person of understanding will acquire wise counsel, To understand a proverb and a saying, The words of the wise and their riddles.” Proverbs 1:2-6. And then he wraps up these verses into one. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7.

Now, one more thing we need to understand is the difference between knowledge and wisdom.  Knowledge, in itself, is nothing more than an accumulation of raw facts. An example of this would be a list of holidays or family members or how much money we currently have. But wisdom goes well beyond this, being the ability to see people, events, things, and situations as God sees them. Throughout this book, Solomon reveals the mind of God in matters high and lofty and in common, ordinary, everyday situations as well. As we read it, we see no topic escaped King Solomon’s attention. These include, but not limited to,  personal conduct, sexual relations, business, wealth, charity, ambition, discipline, debt, child-rearing, character, alcohol, politics, revenge, and Godliness.

Now let’s look at what the Psalmist says about this. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; All those who follow His commandments have a good understanding; His praise endures forever.” Psalm 111:10. The verses before this in Psalm 111 speak of the great works of the Lord. “Praise the LORD! I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart, In the company of the upright and in the assembly. Great are the works of the LORD; They are studied by all who delight in them. Splendid and majestic is His work, And His righteousness endures forever. He has caused His wonders to be remembered; The LORD is gracious and compassionate. He has given food to those who fear Him; He will remember His covenant forever. He has made known to His people the power of His works, In giving them the inheritance of the nations. The works of His hands are truth and justice; All His precepts are trustworthy. They are upheld forever and ever; They are performed in truth and uprightness. He has sent redemption to His people; He has ordained His covenant forever; Holy and awesome is His name. Psalm 111:1-9.

Now, the theme of wisdom and its necessity in our lives finds its fulfillment in Christ. We are continually exhorted in Proverbs to seek wisdom, get wisdom, and understand wisdom. It also tells us several times that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Our fear of the Lord’s wrath and justice is what drives us to Christ, who is the embodiment of God’s wisdom as expressed in His glorious plan of redemption for mankind. We read in Colossians that  “For I want you to know how great a struggle I have in your behalf and for those who are at Laodicea, and for all those who have not personally seen my face, that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and that they would attain to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Colossians 2:1-3. We receive a full understanding of true knowledge and wisdom, which is found in Christ. And in another verse we read,  “But it is due to Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written: “LET THE ONE WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.” 1 Corinthians 1:30-31.

The wisdom that is found only in Christ is in contrast to the foolishness of the world which encourages us to be wise in our own eyes. But Proverbs also tells us that the world’s wisdom is not God’s way. “Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.” Proverbs 3:7. but actually leads only to death “There is a way which seems right to a person, But its end is the way of death.” Proverbs 14:12. Wisdom comes to us when we fear the Lord, not in being afraid in a phobic way, but an awe and reverential fear as we really think about God; His greatness, His power, who He is, just that awe that comes over us when we desire to do what God would have us do. As Pastor Chuck Smith once said, “Love what God loves. Hate what God hates. Have that desire recognizing who God is. To seek to please Him, that’s what the fear of the Lord is about. That’s the beginning of wisdom.

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

Isaiah 46:10

Verse of the Day Devotion. Isaiah 46:10

“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 46:10

Before we get to our focus verse, I want to go back a couple of chapters and look at what the Lord is saying through Isaiah. “Remember these things, Jacob, And Israel, for you are My servant; I have formed you, you are My servant, Israel, you will not be forgotten by Me. “I have wiped out your wrongdoings like a thick cloud And your sins like a heavy mist. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.” Shout for joy, you heavens, for the LORD has done it! Shout joyfully, you lower parts of the earth; Break into a shout of jubilation, you mountains, forest, and every tree in it; For the LORD has redeemed Jacob, And in Israel He shows His glory.” Isaiah 44:21-23. The things mentioned in the above verses are reasons for praise and rejoicing. And He also is their redeemer. “This is what the LORD says, He who is your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb: I, the LORD, am the maker of all things, stretching out the heavens by Myself And spreading out the earth alone,” Isaiah 44:24.

 Now, for all that is mentioned above, should they then trust Him to restore their nation? Absolutely they should trust Him. For He has fulfilled all that He declared He would do up to that moment. Therefore, why should they believe that He would not fulfill all that He promises for the future. In the following three verses, we see future events of that day that will be fulfilled. “Confirming the word of His servant And carrying out the purpose of His messengers. It is I who says of Jerusalem, ‘She shall be inhabited!’ And of the cities of Judah, ‘They shall be built.’ And I will raise her ruins again. “I am the One who says to the depth of the sea, ‘Dry up!’ And I will make your rivers dry up. “It is I who says of Cyrus, ‘He is My shepherd, And he will carry out all My desire.’ And he says of Jerusalem, ‘She will be built,’ And of the temple, ‘Your foundation will be laid.’” Isaiah 44:26-28. Notice what God says, that Jerusalem shall be inhabited as well as the cities of Judah. And that He will raise Jerusalem from ruin. But what is especially interesting is that God speaks of Cyrus by name, who will be His servant. Cyrus has not even been born yet and will not for at least 150 years, but God has already chosen him for a great purpose.

Now, going back to chapter 46 we read, “Remember this, and be assured; Recall it to mind, you wrongdoers. 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,” Isaiah 46:8-9. God was telling His people to remember Him, and to serve and honor Him, and not the false gods and idols that He mentioned earlier in chapter 46. These idols man made, but the true God was never created for He has always been. God was telling His people to think about what He has told them and what He has done for them. He tells them to remember what He has told them as well as everything that has occurred in the past so they will always trust Him in all things.

I want now to apply this to us today. It is important that we remember all things God has done for us, those things that happened before and after we were born; how He has provided for our needs and has helped us through difficult times. Remember these things, no matter what happens. For God knows all things. “Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My plan will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’;” Isaiah 46:10. God knows all things; those that have happened, those that are happening, and those that will happen. What God has planned will come to pass, and everything He desires to do will happen exactly as He wants.

We all go through difficult times, some more than others. But always remember what He promised Joshua, and ultimately us. “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or in dread of them, for the LORD your God is the One who is going with you. He will not desert you or abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:6. God is always with His people; therefore we can be strong and courageous, knowing God will never abandon or desert us. Or, as it is more popularly worded, He will never leave or forsake us. We have no reason to fear anything, for He knows everything and will help and bring us through everything. Remember what our focus verse says, “Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My plan will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’” Isaiah 46:10. He knows the end from the beginning, and His plan has been established and this plan will accomplish all that is good and brings pleasure to Him. Therefore, what do we have to fear?

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

Proverbs 9:10

Verse of the Day: Proverbs 9:10

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” – Proverbs 9:10

This verse in Proverbs tells us where true wisdom and knowledge come from.  Many think wisdom comes from the very wisest in our society, and that knowledge comes from schooling.  This may be true; however, they are not the ultimate sources.  Let’s look at what this verse says from one of the wisest and most knowledgeable men that ever lived, Solomon.

First, wisdom starts by fearing the Lord.  The word fear in this context means respect and reverence. True wisdom comes through the reverence of the true God, honoring and praising Him for who He truly is, not who or what we think or what Him to be, such as a figment of our imagination.  For true wisdom comes through belief and the holding firm in real reality, not in trying to create a false reality.

Understanding comes through knowing and seeking the source of this actual reality, one who knows the end from the beginning, who is infinite and has never not existed, and who knows everything.  When we seek knowledge, do we go to someone who might know, or do we choose someone who truly knows?  I go to the latter, God. He will provide wisdom and the knowledge that leads to understanding to anyone who seeks Him.

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

Isaiah 46:10

Verse of the Day: Isaiah 46:10

“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 46:10

This verse should bring us all comfort.  Why you ask?  Because God knows all things; past, present and future.  God loves us and wants the best for us.  Moreover, His best for us cannot be thwarted because His purpose has already been established and thus His good for us will happen.

This is important because He cannot be surprised.  His love and goodness are not based on what we have done, because He knew everything about us before we were created.  He loves everyone, but only some return that love and He knew who those were before they were in their mother’s womb.

So, when you think that God has changed His mind about anything, this is an impossibility.  In this I take much comfort.  God told me a long time ago to prepare for what He had planned for me.  I have not been perfect, but I also know He has not taken back His command to prepare.  This brings much peace and contentment to me.  I pray it does the same for you in your walk.

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

Revelation 22:13

Verse of the Day Devotion: Revelation 22:13

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” – Revelation 22:13

Revelation is the last book in the Bible, God’s Word.  Chapter 21 through 22:5 describe the future abode of the redeemed, starting from the revealing of the new heavens and earth through the declaration that this life will endure forever with no end.  Then we read the following. “And he said to me, these words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place. And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.” Revelation 22:6-7.  Jesus speaking through the angel, declares that He is coming soon.  And blessed are those who believe the words of this book and keep them, living the life that shows they truly believe.

Then He declares the words of our focus verse.  Before we start, something needs to be clarified.  Any time a word is repeated three times, this denotes something very important, absolute and complete, something that needs to be emphasized.  For example, “And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” Revelation 4:8. Holy declared three times denotes His holiness is absolute and complete.  It will remain for He cannot be less then holy.

Ok, now back to the focus verse.  Note the three parts.  He says He is the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.  For those not familiar with the Greek alphabet, Alpha is the first letter and Omega is the last letter.  This is the same as the Holy, Holy, Holy in that it is the same idea expressed three times: “First letter” to “Last Letter”, “First” to “Last”, and “Beginning” to “End”.  These denote His eternality is absolute and complete, and it will remain that way because He cannot be less then eternal.

Only an eternal being can declare what is our everlasting future with complete accuracy.  Therefore, let us rejoice.  No matter how difficult things get here, or the trials we go through, or the persecution we endure, there is a beautiful life in store for us.  One that is wonderful beyond words, and endless beyond our comprehension.  So, stand strong and uncompromising.

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

Psalm 111:10

Verse of the Day Devotion: Psalm 111:10

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever.” – Psalm 111:10

Our focus verse, written by an unknown author, has incredible wisdom in the words it says.  The writer starts with the truth that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Being that this was written to the Jewish nation, I will assume they know God exists.  Fear in this context refers to honor and reverence.  If we know that God is infinite in His power, His love and everything else, then honoring and reverencing Him is wise.  If we believe He is who He says He is, then we should do all we can not to offend Him.  To know He exists and not to fear Him as described above is not wise, but incredibly foolish.  In fact, I would go as far as to say that not fearing and honoring the infinite God is the beginning of foolishness.

Many people who believe God exists will give the honor due their bosses, Pastors, government officials, friends and family, but not to the creator of all things who brought salvation to them through His death on the cross.  They will do what their bosses say, because they want to get paid, but they will not do what God says.  They will obey government authorities because they do not wish to be arrested, but they will not strive to obey God. After all He did for them, and having accepted His work on the cross, they do not consider it as important as all the other areas of their lives.  This is incredibly sad for this is where wisdom starts.  According to the writer of this verse, the foundation and origin of wisdom.  There really is not true wisdom if we do not recognize the being, perfections and the claims of our Almighty God.  Albert Barnes in his commentary on the Psalms puts it this way.  “The highest wisdom – the loftiest endowment of man – is that he may know and honor God. This, in capability, makes him wise above the brute creation; this, in exercise, makes a man wiser than another; this, when it springs up in the soul, makes a man wiser than he was before.’

The writer goes on to say that a person with good understanding will do and obey God’s commandments. The Hebrew phrase for this essentially says, ‘Do the things connected with the fear of the Lord, to obey God.’ If we really understand who God is, what He has done for us, what He does to help us in our lives here, and what He has prepared for us for all eternity, how can we not obey Him?  And for the same reasons, how can we not praise Him?  God never changes, so the foundation of our praise for all eternity is who He is, and that will never change either.

Let us always honor and reverence Him no matter what happens, for God knows all things and causes and allows things to happen for our 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. Let us trust Him and fear Him.  For there is no greater wisdom than this.

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

Revelation 3:14

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Revelation 3:14 

“And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this:” – Revelation 3:14

Over seven days, I will be looking at what John wrote, by the inspiration of God, to the seven major churches in Asia Minor.  In these seven letters, God gives a message that is specific to each and speaks of issues that could fit the Churches throughout history.  It is important to look at these and examine our church and ultimately ourselves to see where we stand regarding these. 

Now Jesus writes to the last Church in this list, the Church of Laodicea.  Laodicea was in the Lycus Valley about sixty miles southeast of Philadelphia and a hundred miles west of Ephesus. It was situated where a major east-west route from Ephesus intersected other roads going north to Philadelphia and Sardis and south to the Mediterranean coast. Founded by the Seleucids in the mid-third century B.C. on the site of older settlements, it came under the control of Pergamum in 188 BCE and then Rome after 133 BCE. Laodicea was home to Greeks and Roman businesspeople. Like many of the cities in in this list, it was an administrative center where court cases were heard during the Roman period. The city’s relations with Rome were strong. Laodicea competed for the honor of building a provincial temple to the emperor Tiberius in 23 A.D., although permission was given to Smyrna. In 79 A.D. a statue at Laodicea honored Titus as “son of god,” since he was the son of the deified Vespasian. Laodicea was formerly called Diospolis, or “city of Zeus.” In Roman times there was a statue and altar to Zeus, who was often called the Savior, along with other dedications to Zeus and sometimes Hermes his messenger. A coin from the city shows Domitian on one side and Zeus on the other.

In our focus verse, we read the introduction to this letter.  “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this:” Revelation 3:14. In this verse, AMEN is a title referring to ‘the faithful one’. It also refers to Christ as “the beginning of the creation of God.”. This is reiterated by John in his gospel when he says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” John 1:1-3.  Then, “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.” John 1:10.  And finally, the person is alluded to in verse 14 as Jesus. “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14.

Then, He states the issue He has with them. “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I would that you were cold or hot.  So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.” Revelation 3:15-16.  Notice that both cold and hot are understood as being positive states, in comparison to tepidness, or being lukewarm.  Theologian Craig Koester puts it like this.  “The message addresses readers whose wealth made them comfortable, and the writer turns images of wealth into a critique that is designed to make them uncomfortable. Banquets were occasions for displaying wealth, when people would be served fine foods with chilled or heated wine. To challenge them, the message invokes the banquet images of hot, cold, and tepid to critique the congregation’s complacency before the risen Christ and to call for the repentance that will allow him to eat with them in true friendship.”

The Laodiceans became complacent in their faith, and Jesus would rather them passionate.  The Lord is describing the “lukewarm” heart attitude of those in the Laodicean church, an attitude manifested by their deeds. The Laodiceans were neither cold nor hot in relation to God, just lukewarm. Hot water can cleanse and purify; cold water can refresh and enliven. But lukewarm water carries no similar value. The Laodiceans understood the Lord’s analogy because their city drinking water came over an aqueduct from a spring six miles to the south, and it arrived disgustingly lukewarm. Laodicean water was not hot like the nearby hot springs that people bathed in, nor was it refreshingly cold for drinking. It was lukewarm, good for nothing. In fact, it was nauseating, and that was the Lord’s response to the Laodiceans—they sickened Him, and He said, “I am about to spit you out of my mouth.  This is essentially what Jesus is saying to them.  You do not care about your faith.  There are many that witness to people to be saved by helping them understand the truth or point out errors within their brothers and sisters; getting them to repent (Hot).  Then there are those who encourage believers in their faith, building them up to be stronger and more perseverant (Cold). They did neither of these, for they were more attached to their wealth, and along with their ‘semblance’ of true religion, led them to a false sense of security and independence.  They cared more about their wealth than their faith. 

He finishes this idea with, “Because you say, I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.” Revelation 3:17.  Jesus has no good words for them.  He says they are wretched and miserable people, and that they are not all that rich or wise, but poor. Blind and naked.  They had nothing going for them that was useful in the kingdom of God.  This is harsh, but it seems this Church was more interested in physical wealth that spiritual passion. Then He tells them to repent.  “I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire, that you may become rich, and white garments, that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see. “ Revelation 3:18.  He is calling on them to give up their love for earthly riches and replace them with spiritual riches.  Then they will wear the white robes promised to all believers so that their nakedness will not be seen, and they can begin to see more clearly, as one who applies medicine to their weak eyes can regain their sight. He then closes this section out by declaring that He loves them, for He would not have reproved or disciplined them if He had not. “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; be zealous therefore, and repent.” Revelation 3:19. 

He then closes this out with a positive ending.  “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come into him, and will dine with him, and he with Me. He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” Revelation 3:20-21.  He is calling them to come to Him, give themselves to Him, repent and relinquish their love for physical wealth, looking for spiritual, never ending wealth.  Jesus is saying that His authority is extended to His followers, “as I also overcame and sat down with my Father on His throne.” Revelation 3:21:b.

The Laodiceans enjoyed material prosperity that, coupled with a semblance of true religion, led them to a false sense of security and independence. The expression “I am rich; I have acquired wealth” stresses that the wealth attained came through self-exertion. Spiritually, they had great needs. A self-sufficient attitude and lukewarm faith are constant dangers when people live lives of ease and prosperity. In summary, the church at Laodicea had become apathetic in their love for Christ. They were allowing “the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things [to] come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Christ called them to repent and live zealously for Him. “And if it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the river, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:15.   The Lord Jesus called the Church in Laodicea to choose who they will serve, Him or wealth. And the same call is made to those who say they follow Him today.

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