Psalm 113:2-3

Verse of the Day: Psalm 113:2-3

“Blessed be the name of the LORD From this time forth and forever. From the rising of the sun to its setting.  The name of the LORD is to be praised.” – Psalm 113:2-3 

I absolutely love these verses.  They cover times and places regarding the praises of God.  We are to praise Him without ceasing.  Verse two says we are to praise God starting now and continue forever.  Note the wording ‘from this time forth and forever.’  We are always to praise God.   We can praise Him with our voice, we can praise Him by our deeds. We can praise Him in our sharing of Him to the lost, we can praise Him in our encouraging of the brethren.  We praise Him when we trust in Him completely.  Living our lives in complete and total submission to God is an act of praise and worship.

Verse three addresses where we are to praise Him.  In the Hebrew, the intent of the phrase ‘from the rising of the sun’ denotes anything to the east of our position, for the sun rises in the east.  In the same way, the intent of the phrase ‘to its setting’ denotes anything to the west of our position, for the sun sets in the west.  And because the earth is round and if you continue to travel to the east, you will arrive at the same place from the west, and vice-versa, it covers our current position as well.

The main idea of these two verses is clear.  God is to be praised always and in all places.  The apostle Paul said it as clearly as it can be.  “Whether then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31.  By giving God the glory, we are giving Him our praise as well.

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

Jeremiah 17:7

Verse of the Day: Jeremiah 17:7

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD.” – Jeremiah 17:7 

There are many things that we place our trust in.  Sometimes we trust other men to bring us through trials.  Other times we trust the law to bring about appropriate compensation for a wrong done.  And of course, there are times when we rely on ourselves.  Also, there are many who create their own gods and place their trust in them.  The problem with placing our trust in any man or man-made solution, such as a false god, is that we cannot always trust that the solution will work.

In today’s verse, the truth is that placing your trust in God will be a blessing to you.  You see, in the verses 1-4, God convicts the Jews of the sin of idolatry and shows them that any confidence in these idols will not be good.  Let us look at the next two verses.  “Thus says the LORD: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD.  He is like a shrub in the desert and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.”  Jeremiah 17:5-6 He now says that anyone who trusts man aside from God has placed his trust in the wrong things.

The idea here is that we are to understand that God is to be who we trust.  He will never fail us, even when it looks like things are going all wrong.  He will never let us down or cause us to wander aimlessly for a solution.  As the writer of Proverbs said, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.”  Proverbs 3:5-6.  Acknowledge that the one you trust in any situation is God, and you will be guided straight to where He wants you.  And that place is God’s best for you.

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

Genesis 28:14

Verse of the Day Devotion: Genesis 28:14

“Your descendants will also be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” – Genesis 28:14

Here is another prophecy from the Old Testament which speaks of the coming Messiah.  Jacob has just departed from Beersheba and went toward Haran.  He had traveled quite a distance and the sun had set and he decided to stop for the night in order to refresh himself before he completed the trip the next day.  So, he took a rock and laid down, putting it under his head as a pillow.

He had a dream, and behold, a ladder was set on the earth with its top reaching to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.” Genesis 28:12. This is an interesting dream.  What he saw was a ladder that connected the heavens with the earth at the place he was.  And on this ladder were angels; some ascending back into heaven and others descending to the earth.  This is a picture of angels coming down and doing God’s work down here, and then ascending back upon completion.  This reminds me of a verse in Hebrews which speaks of the angels, “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?”. Hebrews 1:14.

Then Jacob sees the Lord, standing above this ladder on which the angels were ascending and descending, and declares to him the following, “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie, I will give it to you and to your descendants.” Genesis 28:13b. He first tells Jacob who He is; the God of Abraham his grandfather, and of Isaac his father.  It was very important that Jacob knew who He was because He was prophesying about near and far future events.  The near event is that He would give to Jacob and his descendants the land on which he was sleeping.  This would be the promised land which God spoke of to Abraham.  He confirmed to Jacob what He had promised to his grandfather.

Then God addresses the far event, “our descendants will also be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” Genesis 28:14. Here God is saying that Jacobs descendants will be as the dust of the earth.  In other words, they will be so many that it will beyond the ability to count.  These descendants will spread out all over the world, going to the north and the south, to the east and the west.  But here is the defining part of this verse, ‘and in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed.”  There will come from him, through the line of David, someone through whom all the families of the earth will be blessed. They will spread throughout the world, via the disciples of this coming Messiah whose name is Jesus, the good news of the reconciliation of men with God, through the sacrifice of Jesus.

And we as Christians are the disciples of Christ who are to spread the Word of Christ.  Jesus was the one prophesied through whom all the families of the earth would be blessed.  And it is through us that the good news will be spread through a world that does not know Him.  Notice the phrase, ‘shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” Genesis 28:14b.  Paul lays out how they will hear the word.  “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!” Romans 10:14-15.  We are those who are called to tell the world.

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

Matthew 5:9

Verse of the Day Devotion: Matthew 5:9

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” – Matthew 5:9

This verse is part of what is commonly called the sermon on the mount.  After His temptations, Jesus began His ministry, which started with calling His disciples.  He also ministered wherever He went.  And great crowds became interested in what He was saying.  “Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people. The news about Him spread throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all who were ill, those suffering with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them. Large crowds followed Him from Galilee and the Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and from beyond the Jordan.” Matthew 4:23-25.

Notice what it says in verse 1, “When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him.” Matthew 5:1. It looks here like Jesus intended this primarily for His disciples, however, as we read through the entire sermon in chapters 5-7, we see that it had things to say for the entire crowd.

Let’s look closer at our focus verse. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” One important characteristic of God’s true people is to seek peace and pursue it.  This is stated by David in the psalms.  “Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it.” Psalm 34:13-14.  John Wesley in his commentary on the Psalms said this.  ‘Seek by all means possible to live peaceable with all men.  Pursue it.  Do not only embrace it gladly when it is offered, but follow hard after it, when it seems to flee away from thee.’  This is a great way to put it.  Do not just accept it when it comes to you but pursue it when it is gone.

Those of us who love God should do everything possible to do good to all people.  The word ‘peace’ in the scriptures implies all blessings both temporal and eternal.  And peacemakers are those who strive to prevent any type of contention and strife.  We are to use our influence to reconcile opposing parties.  This includes in the areas of church differences, legal matters, or any hostilities that come between people.  Strife and division do nothing positive anywhere it is found.  We have many opportunities to help reconcile opposing people.  We all can do much to promote peace.  And if possible, it should be addressed in the beginning, before animosity has a chance to grow and flourish.  Long and most hostile quarrels might often be prevented by a little kind interference in the beginning.

Jesus was referred to as the Prince of Peace.  “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6. He is the prince that brings peace to all men.  He brought peace between us and God, and He desires peace among all men.  Paul says regarding God, “for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.” 1 Corinthians 14:33.  And those of us who promote peace and tranquility and work hard in bringing peace wherever it is needed, these are those who do the work of God as Christ did and are worthy to be called God’s children.  So, let us focus our attention to eliminate all division and dissension and replace it with peace.  This is one of the more important work Christ’s disciples are called to do.

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

Matthew 5:10

Verse of the Day Devotion: Matthew 5:10

“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5:10

At first glance, to say that the persecuted Christians are blessed looks a bit odd.  In today’s mentality, to be blessed is too often seen as a current event.  “Wow, I am so blessed having received that check.”  Or “What a blessing my family is together for a week.”  Now, let me say that I am not implying these are not blessings, for they very well can be.  What I am saying is that even though we are going through incredibly difficult times, we are blessed because we know God is with us through it all.  And it is a great blessing that God never leaves us nor forsakes us.

Let’s look at the beatitudes, or the blessed found in Matthew.  First of all, lets look at the meaning of the word.  It is the Greek word ‘makarios’, pronounced mak-ar’-ee-os meaning ‘supremely blest or a state of supreme happiness’.  When we look at these verses, we see something interesting, Jesus is saying, “blessed are the … “present tense, “for theirs is the kingdom’ or “they shall” future tense.  He is saying that they are blessed not because great things are happening now, but great things are promised to them.  Note these phrases; ‘theirs is the kingdom of God’, ‘they SHALL be comforted’, ‘they SHALL inherit the earth’, ‘they SHALL be satisfied’, ‘they SHALL see God’, ‘they SHALL be called sons of God’, for your reward IN HEAVEN is great’.

Now, let’s look at the first part of our focus verse.  “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness”.  The idea of this phrase is those who have been or are currently being persecuted because of the Christ-like life that is lived in sight of all others, with no compromise.  Because of the light that you are, as stated in a later verse, “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 5:16. Jesus then goes deeper in the next two verses.  “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way, they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”  Matthew 5:11-12.  Jesus is linking what happened to the prophets in the Old Testament to those persecuted for Christ’s sake. After all, they were persecuted for their righteousness and devotion to God. And how are we blessed for our persecution?  The Kingdom of Heaven is ours.  We are assured our home will be with God.  No matter what is done to us, if we stand strong and unrelenting, not giving an inch, we are blessed with a future eternal home with the one who died for us.

I want to encourage us all not to worry about what is happening to us now.  If we are insulted, attacked, falsely accused of evil or persecuted in any way, we must not focus on what is happening now, but to know we are blessed because of it.  We are not to provoke others to persecute us by violating the law or by our speech through purposefully antagonizing people.  If we live our lives as we should, it will no doubt happen.  And when it does, be strong and look to God for comfort.  They may wonder how we can stand against the persecution we are enduring.  It is because they have no idea just how blessed we truly are.

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

Psalm 1:1

Verse of the Day Devotion: Psalm 1:1

“How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!” – Psalm 1:1  

Psalm chapter 1 to me is a wonderful read.  This looks at the differences of those who follow God, and those who do not.  This verse says how blessed the man is who does not follow the ways of this world but follows the ways of God.  And what are the ways of the world?  First, by walking in the counsel of the wicked rather than the righteous.  He gives ear to the advice of the wicked. He is not at peace with His relationship with God and listens to that which is contrary to His word.

I have seen too many people who niche out their lives, some to their Christian walk, and some to the ways of the world.  I know because I did it myself.  There was my church life, then there was my regular life.  If there was a decision to make, many times I would take the wrong advice down the wrong path.  I would listen to worldly people, and this often did not turn out well.  However, when I became a true Christian, one that lived it as well as professing it, I stopped listening to the world, and I found I was much more at peace.  I did not have to worry about being caught or having to answer to my wrong decisions.  I was truly at peace.

We are not to go and linger in places where ungodly things happen and focus our attention on what is going on.  If we come across a place like this, or people who live in ungodly ways, we should be willing to present the truth of the gospel to them and help them turn their lives to God.  But we should not go somewhere and participate in their worldly ways.  This destroys the light we want to shine in the darkness, and our witness to the unsaved.

And we are not to participate in mocking or derision of others.  Especially where we do it regarding people who are leaders in the church.  We can differ in what we believe, and we can counter those beliefs.  However, we should never deride or mock the people involved.  We are to love them, and how can we say we love them if we speak evil of them?  And why would they listen to us when endeavoring to help them understand the truth when they see our mocking?

We must not listen to the wicked, participate in the activities of sinners or join in mocking of those we disagree with.  Aside from these activities being wrong or sin, we can instead live a blessed life which is pleasing to God, where we can be at peace because we are living a life of love and not animosity.  “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.” Colossians 3:15. We can do this only by following the words of the psalmist in our focus verse.  “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!”  Psalm 1:1

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

Matthew 5:6

Verse of the Day: Matthew 5:6

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.’ – Matthew 5:6

We all desire to be righteous before God.  However, how strongly do we desire it?  Jesus said that we should hunger and thirst for it.  In other words, we should desire this above anything else.

This is what God desires of us.  To be righteous, to do the right thing, to be as He created us to be.  However, if we do not make this our focus, or if other things can take precedence, we will not attain it.  I want to encourage everyone reading this to go before God in prayer, asking Him to guide your steps to do all that He commands and turn away from that which He does not want.  Ask Him to help you be a righteous servant and son.  For if this is truly your greatest desire, you will attain it.

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

Job 1:21

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Job 1:21 

“He said, naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.” –  Job 1:21

Job in this verse is dealing with extreme loss, more than most, if not all, in this world has ever experienced.  He lived in the land of Uz, and based on Job 1:1, he “was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil.” Job 1:1b.  He had ten children, seven sons and three daughters and many possessions including seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred oxen and five hundred female donkeys.  He also had many servants who worked for him to take care of all these animals and other things Job owned.  In verse three he is declared by the writer as “the greatest of all men of the east.” Job 1:3b. 

Now one day Satan came to God, who spoke to Satan saying, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.” Job 1:8. God said there was no one like him in all the earth, blameless and upright more than anyone else on the earth.  Satan responded by saying, “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.” Job 1:9b-10.  Satan was essentially saying you have fortified him with spikes and spears. You have defended him with an unapproachable hedge. He is an object of your specific care and is not exposed to the common trials of life.  He then adds the following.  “But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face.” 

God then responds to him by saying, “Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.  So, Satan departed from the presence of the LORD.” Job 1:12. Then Satan goes to work.  First, the Sabeans came and stole all the donkeys and oxen and killed the servants tending them.  Then, according to a servant who came to him, fire fell from the sky which he called “the fire of God” and burned up all the sheep and the servants in the field, consuming them.   Then the Chaldeans took all the camels and killed all the servants with them.  Then worst of all, “While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “Your sons and your daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, and behold, a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people and they died, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” Job 1:18-29. 

Because of all this, Job lost everything he had.  He lost all his oxen and donkeys, his sheep, his camels and all his servants.  And worst of all, his ten children were killed when the house they were meeting at collapsed due to heavy winds that came upon it.  And because of all this, he tore his garments, shaved or pulled out the hair of his head and threw dust or ashes on his head, and fell on the ground, which were acts by which immense grief was expressed. Job must have felt the bitterness of anguish when he was told that, in addition to the loss of all his property, his children suffered a terrible death.

However, his response was not what Satan expected.  “He said, Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.” Job 1:21 which is our focus verse.  Notice what happened here.  Job did not point to the evil men or the natural disasters that took everything away.  This would not have eased the sorrow he felt, but he looks at a higher place.  He chose to look to the Sovereign Lord of the universe and to put his trust in God’s goodness.  At times, God allows hard times to impact those who love Him, and during these times we must cling to the truth that God is good.  God is sovereign, and nothing could happen that God does not know about.  When the Lord gives, we must praise Him and be thankful.  And when the Lord takes away, we must also praise Him and be thankful.  We must always remember, no matter what happens, God has our best interests at heart.  “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 may mourn our losses, whether they be things or loved ones, however, we must remember that God loves us more than we can understand and therefore works in everything on our behalf.  So, no matter what happens, we must always look to Him and, as Job declared in our focus verse, “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.” Job 1:21b. 

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

1 Peter 4:14

Verse of the Day Devotion:  1 Peter 4:14 

“If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.” – 1 Peter 4:14

One of the most difficult things to endure in life today is shame and humiliation.  Think about a time in your life when someone embarrassed you in front of others.  I can remember several times as a child when I was mocked or insulted for various reasons in the presence of others my age.  When experiencing this, we want to go away and hide in order to fight the shame laid upon us.  However, exposure to shame was a peculiarly harsh experience in a world where ‘losing face’ was taken much more seriously than in todays western culture.  In Old Testament times those who stood by their faith in Yahweh (God) experienced this disgrace.  David wrote in the sixty-ninth psalm the following. “Because for Your sake I have borne reproach; Dishonor has covered my face. I have become estranged from my brothers And an alien to my mother’s sons. For zeal for Your house has consumed me, And the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me. When I wept in my soul with fasting, It became my reproach. When I made sackcloth my clothing, I became a byword to them. Those who sit in the gate talk about me, And I am the song of the drunkards.” Psalm 69:7-12.  It is unknown as to the why this occurred, but his adversaries were filled with reproach for him and they strove to dishonor him.

What Peter is laying out here is the idea that if we are reviled because of our Christianity and our love and service to Christ, then we should not be embarrassed, but we should realize that we are blessed because the Spirit of God and His glory rests on us.  For as the Spirit of God rested upon Christ, so does it rest upon those followers who are persecuted.  It is not surprising that we as His followers should have to endure suffering and humiliation in the same way because of our allegiance to Him.  There are many people who find the idea of God a silly and stupid belief.  Many scientists believe saying this universe has a beginning and it was through an eternal God who created it and filled it with all that exists is foolish and idealistic.

Peter uses this same thought in an earlier verse.  “But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.” 1 Peter 3:14-16. He again states that those who suffer for the sake of Christ shall be blessed.  We should not shy away from the truth, but speak it in good conscience, being completely truthful about the gospel as declared in His word.  We should never be ashamed of it but should declare it with all confidence. 

Jesus also addressed this in His Sermon on the Mount.  “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:11-12.  He also refers to those insulted in the name of Christ as blessed.  However, He goes further by stating if we are reproached; called evil and contemptuous names; and ridiculed because we are Christians, we will have a great reward awaiting us in heaven.  The more someone suffers for Christ, the greater their reward.

Therefore, if we are shamed because of our relationship with Christ our Messiah, we should not back down and become quiet but should stand and proudly declare Jesus with no hesitation or humiliation. He is the creator of all there is and came here to die for our sins so we can be reconciled with the Father.  This truth is nothing to be ashamed of.  On the contrary, it is because of Him that we, as Christians, are God’s children and will live with Him for all eternity, giving Him the worship, praise and honor He more than deserves.  But those who are ashamed are given a powerful warning from Jesus.  “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” Mark 8:38.  So, stand proud as a child of God in this defiled world.  He gave His life for us, should we not be willing to give everything including our lives for Him?

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

James 1:12

Verse of the Day Devotion: James 1:12  

“Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” – James 1:12  

This verse speaks of those who endure what comes upon them while remaining true to God.  The Greek word for trial is “πειρασμός”, pronounced “peirasmos” which has a dual meaning of test or temptation. And this word is used in both ways here in James 1.  First, we read “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,” James 1:2. The idea here is that we should rejoice when we experience persecution that tests our faith.  This does not speak of temptation, for Jesus told His disciples to pray that they would not be tempted.  “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41. Why would James say to rejoice in temptation when Jesus said to pray we do not enter it?  Regarding our focus verse, this one refers to overall trials, both testing and temptation.  “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12. We know this refers to temptation as well because of the next verse which speaks of temptation.  “Let no one say when he is tempted, I am being tempted by God; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.” James 1:13. 

The format of our focus verse is of a beatitude.  We see a list of them that Jesus taught about  in Matthew 5:3-11, and now James uses this same idea, declaring blessings to those who persevere under trial, not giving in to it.  We all go through difficult times, and I have become assured, based on what has been happening in our world today, that we will see more as the days progress.  So, this begs the question.  How can enduring difficult time be a blessing?  There are two ways this can be. 

The first is what will help us presently.  “Knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:3-4.  The more we endure, the stronger we will become.  I remember my last year in the Air Force, a friend invited me to run with him every other night.  I agreed, without knowing that he was running 3.7 miles each time.  And this was constant running, no run, walk, run.  This was run, run, run.  The first time was brutal, I thought it would never end.  But with each run, it became much easier as I became stronger and was able to endure through to the end.  The same can be said regarding enduring persecution and temptation.  The more we face these trials, with God in us, the easier it becomes.

The second regards our future.  “for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12b.  This refers to the day of His return.  If we remain true to the end, we shall receive the great and blessed promise of God.  Paul, writing to his disciple Timothy writes,   “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:7-8.  The first part of this is an analogy of the crown reserved for the winners in the Grecian games.  There was a crown reserved for the winner of these Olympic games.  Paul takes this farther in his letter to the Church in Corinth.  “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the game’s exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we imperishable.” 1 Corinthians 9:25. 

I want to encourage us all to be strong and endure any trials, both persecutions and temptations, with all the strength we can muster, and to grow stronger each day.  We have an amazing eternal future ahead of us if we persevere to the end.  Trials will come, some stronger than others.  But remember, we always have God with us to help.  “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13.  And this covers both, the temptation to sin, and the trials that push us to walk away from God.

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