Luke 4:4

Verse of the Day Devotion Luke 4:4 

“And Jesus answered him, it is written, MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE.” – Luke 4:4  

I am starting 2022 by looking at verses that are specific quotes of our Lord Jesus Christ. Today we will look at the first mentioned temptation of Jesus. 

Chapter starts with Jesus returning from the Jordan. “And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led about by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days; and when they had ended, He became hungry.” Luke 4:1-2.  This verse shows us what Jesus went through during these temptations.  It starts out with a positive note, being that He was led about by the Holy Spirit.  He was not alone in this, just as we who are Christians are never alone during difficult times.  Also, He was tempted for forty days.  It was not just the three temptations that are recorded here along with Matthew and Mark, which were the culmination of this testing period.  And finally, it alludes to these forty days as a long period of fasting.  “And He ate nothing during those days” Luke 4:2b. 

Now, it says at the end of verse two that He became hungry after these forty days of fasting.  Satan then takes the opportunity to tempt Him.  “And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” Luke 4:3. In this first temptation of the final three, Satan is speaking to Jesus at this point of obvious need; He was no doubt very hungry.  He starts by saying, if You are the Son of God.  There is no doubt that he is God’s Son. The devil thus affirms Jesus’ divine sonship but tempts him to deploy it for purposes other than God’s will.  God had a purpose for this fasting, and it was not up to Satan to decide when this time should be over.  This temptation in and of itself was not sin, therefore the sin goes beyond simply turning stones into bread to eat it.  It has everything to do with who does He follow.

Now, as we come to our focus verse, we see His response. It is interesting to note that the restraint and focus of Jesus in response to the temptation is instructive. He does not exert his superior power or expose the devil’s deception. He invokes the Word of God, thus obliging the devil to face his ultimate adversary.  Jesus quotes God’s words as found in Deuteronomy. “And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” Deuteronomy 8:3.  This answer is a somewhat technical phrase that implies the full authority of God Himself.  In the quote from Deuteronomy, Moses reminded the Israelites who were in the wilderness that they should trust God’s word rather than the manna He gave them. That man, even without the use of food, may see his life lengthened and sustained by any means whatsoever which God may choose to strengthen the body. In other words: God does not need His miraculous power in order to address painful hunger, for He possesses innumerable means, and Jesus will await the way which the Father may please to use.

And this is an important understanding we need to have.  When we, as Christians, are led by the Holy Spirit, we may find ourselves in a difficult place, however we have nothing to fear for as long as we follow the Spirit all will be OK.  “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.  There is nothing too difficult for God, and there is nothing He does not know or understand.  And He will take care of us in times of need. “And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19.  However, it is important that we understand two things.  First, we must be able to see the difference between needs and wants.  Jesus knew that food was important, but not the highest need.  God’s word and ways should always take precedence over food or any need we have.  And second, we must follow the ways of God to receive what we truly need. And if man’s ways contradict His ways, then we must ignore those solutions just as Jesus ignored Satan’s solution. God’s ways should always come first. For He knows what is best.  Trusting God in all things is the life we are called to.  Let us all focus on making this our reality.

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

Luke 11:5

Verse of the Day Devotion Luke 11:5 

“And He said to them, suppose one of you shall have a friend, and shall go to him at midnight, and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves.” – Luke 11:5

Today we will look at the Parable of the Friend at Midnight.  Here is this parable as found in Luke’s gospel.

And He said to them, “Suppose one of you shall have a friend, and shall go to him at midnight, and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’. and from inside he shall answer and say, Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything. I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs. And I say to you, ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it shall be opened. Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he?  Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” Luke 11:5-13.

This parable comes after Luke’s version of the Lord’s prayer, and it’s purpose is to also discuss another aspect of prayer.  He finishes up the Lord’s prayer and then immediately follows it with, “And He said to them, Suppose one of you shall have a friend, and shall go to him at midnight, and say to him, Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him.” Luke 11:5-6. He tells them a man goes to a friend’s house, at midnight, to ask for some bread for a friend.  So, he goes to his neighbor for assistance.  But the neighbor answers him saying. “Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything. Luke 11:7. However, after some time he gets up and gives him the bread he needs.

Notice the reason the man gave him the bread.  It was because he was persistent, not because he was a friend. And this should be our attitude in praying,  Jesus tells them, “And I say to you, ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you.” Luke 11:9.  In the Greek, which uses the present imperative in each, is a bit different.  It is saying, ‘keep on asking, keep on seeking, and keep on knocking’.  Therefore, we are to keep on asking. This is what we do when we are certain that the one we are imploring is near and can hear. And we are to keep on seeking. This expects an action on our part. We have to actively look for the one we are imploring. And we are to keep on knocking. This expects further action after having located the one we are imploring. It pictures us as persistently banging on the door to get the person’s attention.    

But also, we are to be confident in our praying. “For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it shall be opened. Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he?  Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” Luke 11:10-13.  In verses 10-13 Jesus indicates that we must have confidence first that God will, in fact, answer our prayers, and second that God will always answer our prayers in a manner that is best for us.  He has promised this to us, and he always keeps His promises to His people, of whom we are a part.

Therefore, let us change our prayer practices where needed.  Let us be fervent in our prayers to God, giving ourselves totally to Him in our requests, and also trust completely that He will give us what we need, along with what is best for us.  This is true trust in the living God.  For as Jesus told them, “For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it shall be opened.” Luke 11:10.

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

Matthew 4:3

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Matthew 4:3 

“And the tempter came and said to Him, If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” – Matthew 4:3 

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, temptations itself is not a sin, but our response may be.

The first temptation regarded hunger. “And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry.” Matthew 4:2. It is possible to go forty days without food but not without water, especially in an arid environment. The understatement regarding Jesus’ hunger is probably intended to illustrate the serious handicap He had in this battle.  The tempter Satan’s words show that Jesus truly was the Son of God.  Stewart Weber in his commentary states this might be better translated “Since you are the Son of God”.  Satan knew who He was and made it very plain that he did.  This same wording is used later in Matthew by the unbelievers who ridiculed Jesus on the cross. “And those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads, and saying, You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” Matthew 27:39:40.  I believe this was not a coincidence and that they were lured into using these same words by Satan, who used them first in our focus verse.

This first temptation was Satan tempting Him to rely on Himself instead of on the Father. Jesus often stated this, but no clearer than here. “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” John 6:37-38. This temptation follows the pattern found in the first epistle of John. “Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.” 1 John 2:15-16. Jesus was not going to allow His hunger to cause Him to go against the will and the desires of the Father. The Father sent Him out to be tested.  Would He rely on the Father or His own ways?  His answer was clear. “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.” He quoted Moses as found in Deuteronomy 8:3.  Food is important, but it is not our primary provision for life, but rather God’s word, every word that God has spoken to His people. In other words, we must place an emphasis and priority on our spiritual needs over our earthly needs.

And this is an important truth for us to comprehend.  When we are tempted, do we rely on God to bring us through or do we attempt to do it ourselves? God allows all things for our good.  Note how Paul prayed to God regarding His temptations.  “And because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me—to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I entreated the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He has said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-9. 

We must realize that we are not sufficient to work thought every temptation.  Often, we need God’s help. And as He said in the verse above, His grace is sufficient.  The Father knew He needed food, and after the temptations He provided it to Him.  Paul also said, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7.  Also, “And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19. God knows every need we have, and He will provide for us truly what we need. 

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

John 6:35

Verse of the Day Devotion:  John 6:35 

“Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” – John 6:35 

Over the next seven weekdays, we will be looking at seven verses where Jesus declares “I AM”, and then gives a metaphor regarding what He is.  Today, we will look at the first of these, “I am the Bread of Life.”

Jesus had just performed the miracle of feeding five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fish.  And everyone was filled and satisfied.  Jesus had left them and took a boat to Capernaum. The crowd eventually followed Him there. When they found Him, they asked Him when He arrived there. However, Jesus did not address their question, but their purpose in asking. “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves, and were filled.” John 6:26b. Jesus then continues. “Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man shall give to you, for on Him the Father, even God, has set His seal.” John 6:27. He was essentially telling them they were following Him simply because He fed them, all five thousand with bread and fish. They were not to focus on physical food which strengthens their bodies, but spiritual food which goes beyond this life but endures to eternal life.

But what they say next shows they did not understand completely what He said for they asked what works they must do to live forever. Jesus then told them what the work of God was.  “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” John 6:29b.  Jesus set them straight: God did not require works but faith. And that faith is in the one He sent which was Christ.  They understood Jesus was speaking of Himself, so they answered, “What then do You do for a sign, that we may see, and believe You? What work do You perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.” John 6:30-31. Because they understood Jesus was speaking of Himself, they asked Him what sign He has performed to prove He was sent by God.  As an example, they said Moses gave them Manna, which was a bread directly from heaven.  So, what did He have to offer as proof? Jesus’ hearers have just experienced the impressive miracle of the feeding of the 5,000. How then could they demand a greater sign that legitimizes Jesus? John, however, is not offering a deep psychological analysis of the reaction of the hearers. The Jewish demand for a sign shows, on the one hand, how difficult it is for men to understand the signs they have witnessed as such. On the other hand, John thereby creates the transition to the real theme at which he is aiming: the bread from heaven.

Jesus then takes advantage of what they said to explain what bread He was speaking of.  “Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” John 6:32-33. He started out by saying it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven to them, but God the Father.  And the bread He speaks of is not a food item, but a person. Note the wording, “For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven”. Then in the next verse they ask for this bread. “They said to him, Sir, give us this bread always.” John 6:34. They were thinking of the Manna that God gave the Jews previously in the Old Testament. 

Then Jesus answers in a way that makes what He has been trying to say clear to them.  Jesus said to them in our focus verse, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” John 6:35. This claim assumes that the world can never satisfy man. Everything that the world has to offer (in modern terms: fast cars, beautiful houses) is unsatisfying, alienating, or better, makes one restless. Man is afflicted with dissatisfaction,  boredom, anxiety, and care. He is unable to find that authentic rest, that true peace, that goal for which it is rewarding to live and strive. And these things can only provide satisfaction in this life, but Jesus who is the Bread of Life not only provides it in this life, but also eternally in our future everlasting life. When we eat regular bread we will hunger again, and when we drink fluids, we will eventually thirst again. This is saying that the world can never satisfy us. Everything that the world has to offer is unsatisfying. However, what God offers, through Christ, there is no longer that core emptiness because Jesus is complete satisfaction for man.  The consummating satiation occurs when those who have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb and stand before the throne of God   and experience what John expresses in Revelation.  “I said to him, Sir, you know. And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat.” Revelation 7:14-16. What a beautiful picture of those who come to Jesus and believe Him to be the Son of God and the Savior of Mankind.

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

Acts 2:42

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Acts 2:42  

“They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” – Acts 2:42

One of the more important aspects of our Christian walk is the idea of fellowship and supporting each other.  First, I want to present a quote from the Book of Ecclesiastes which points this out so clearly.  “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone?  And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.  Solomon, whom many scholars believe is the writer of Ecclesiastes points out the importance of not separating ourselves from others.  Simply put, if you are alone who will help you when you fall, who will help you in times of need, and who will fight for you when danger is imminent?

These ideas are found in our focus verse from Acts.  What Luke is pointing out is that Christians need to be in fellowship with each other in order keep each other accountable, encouraged and strong in the truth.  Back in the first century there was much persecution upon the church.  The Jewish leadership hated them for they considered Christianity as an attempt to usurp their position and the Romans were against them because they considered Christianity as a new religion and this was forbidden in the areas they were in control over.

The first part of our focus verse says, “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching.” Act 2:42a.  They were to be always devoted to learning all they could about their new life in Christ.  What did it entail?  What did it not?  This was especially critical for the Jews who were always taught that obedience to the Law of Moses was the critical factor in obeying God, and they needed to understand that it went far beyond that.  Also, as they grew in the faith they would be less likely to walk away and more able to train others they come across.   They would also come together in fellowship, often times in sharing a meal.  This was important in developing strong and Godly relationships which created bonds that were not easily broken.  And lastly, with equal if not more importance with the others, they met to pray together.  They came to God regularly to pray that their faith may be strengthened and increase as they grow in God, and for the extension of the kingdom of Christ via the salvation of more and more people. 

And note the accomplishments that were seen in the first century church.  They were built up on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, of which Jesus Christ and His teachings were the cornerstone.  And not only were they built up in the faith, but they steadfastly continued in this doctrine received through the leaders from Christ, learning more so as to grow in their relationship with Him.  Thirdly, they were separated from the world and instead lived in holy Christian fellowship and building all up who were with them.  They frequently spent time speaking of those things that God, through Christ, did for them through His sacrifice.  And they continued in prayers, knowing it was through this communion with God that they were now His children and they looked to Him for all things, including the beautiful relationship they had with Him.

 These things were done in order that the church would grow, not only in numbers but in devotion and strength and love for God almighty.  And this is the type of lifestyle we need to live as well.  As the times get more difficult and as the world begins to persecute Christians even more harshly, we need to come together to encourage each other, supporting our brothers and sisters in Christ, and together helping those who do not know Christ to accept the sacrifice He made for them through His death on the cross.  This is why we are here, and through the Holy Spirit, we have the means to live this life.  Let us all make the decision to make the Acts 2 lifestyle ours and show the world the reality of who we are and this life we have taken hold of.  The church in the first century grew incredibly.  Wouldn’t it be great to see the true church grow in the same way in this generation?

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

John 21:9

(Editor’s Note: Christiaan here! William is doing well, still in the hospital but mostly out of danger. We prayerfully hope he’ll be able to return to writing devotions on Tuesday!)

Verse of the Day Devotion – John 21:9 (NLT)

“When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them – fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread.” – John 21:9 (NLT)

We’re back in John. For a bit more back story, I definitely recommend you check out my previous two devotions on John 21:22 where I reference Peter’s reaction after the events of today, and John 21:7 where John gives us an account of what happened when Peter realized Jesus was on the shore and I talk about why it’s significant that Peter rushed towards the shore. But, in case, let’s do a quick, long story short.

Peter, the former fisherman turned fisher of men, and arguable leader of the disciples, loved Jesus. So much so that he easily boasted during the last supper that even if everyone else abandoned Jesus, he, Peter, wouldn’t. When Jesus was being arrested, Peter charged forward swinging his sword, missed the head, and hit the guard’s ear cutting if off. Jesus healed the ear, and Peter kept quiet and stayed behind after that. During the arrest and sham trial of Jesus, Peter and John, because of John’s family connections to the high priest, are allowed into the courtyard. It’s a cold night, and John is allowed to go into the house where he witnesses what happened to Jesus. Peter on the other hand is warming himself by the charcoal fire, and is asked about Jesus three times all of which he denies with increasing severity. Jesus is murdered on a cross, rises from the dead, and the account in John 21 is the third time that Jesus met with his disciples.

But, it wasn’t the third time Jesus had seen Peter. In Luke 24, Jesus appears to two unnamed people, who after speaking with him realize it’s Jesus and, as a pair, to tell the disciples that they saw Jesus, but their wording is interesting. “There they found the eleven disciples [therefore Peter was with the disciples] and the others who had gathered with them, who said, ‘The Lord has really risen! He appeared to Peter.'” So, in the timeline, it looks like Jesus waited in the graveyard for Mary Magdalene, then went to see Peter. There is no account at what happened during this meeting!

In John 21 there’s a public meeting. Jesus is on the shore and he has breakfast waiting for them. Peter and Jesus had a conversation alone, and whatever was said had a profound effect on Peter. (One I’ll share why on Monday!) There’s something specific about this fire though, it’s a charcoal fire (greek word Anthrakia) and only the second time one is specified in a narrative as charcoal fires were not commonly made. However, John makes sure to point out that Jesus had made one, why?

Because this is the beginning of a beautiful series of moments of reconciliation, restoration, and ordination for Peter. Jesus recreated the setting of Peter’s denial of Jesus down to the same type of fire. Jesus then served all of the disciples, and after they eat John tells us that Jesus turns to Peter and asks three times, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Simon replies yes each time, and Jesus tells Peter to, ‘feed his lambs, take card of his sheep, and then to feed his sheep.’ A lot has been made of the different verbs used for Love and have argued that Peter just wasn’t replying the way Jesus wanted him to. But the recreation of Peter’s denial situation leads me to believe the simpler explanation, that even though not all the disciples weren’t there to see Peter deny Jesus, all of them got to see him AFFIRM his love for Jesus, and Jesus’s restoration of Peter.

Perhaps most importantly, we can look at Jesus’s actions as a point to question our own. If you were Jesus, who would you have entrusted to build your church and look after the following? The headstrong guy you had to keep correcting, who abandoned you in your darkest hour, and who lied, swore, and cursed himself to prove he didn’t know you… or someone like John, who was with you all the time, never rejected you, and you entrusted the care of your widowed mother to? My bet is on John. But Jesus chose Peter, because to Jesus, it wasn’t about what Peter had done in the past. Then, as if to finalize the reconciliation, Jesus tells Peter, to “Follow me” as he did back when they first met.

There’s so much significance, beauty, and intricacies, to be found in this passage, Jesus knows the future, he knows our hearts, he knows our minds. The Old Testament is riddled with instances of God giving commands to his people not for his sake, but for ours. He knows psychologically how we would respond, and he knew in Peter’s case that simply telling people he was forgiven, wouldn’t be enough, in Peter’s heart, to make up for what had happened. I believe that Jesus knew exactly what Peter would need to be able to be free of all doubts and guilt. This freed Peter to lead the first century church without questioning his role. Jesus gave Peter a second chance to be questioned not just about knowing Jesus but about loving Jesus and Peter was able to declare that he did in fact love Jesus. And if that wasn’t enough, Jesus ends that interaction by calling for Peter to follow him, reaffirming, that not only did Jesus forgive Peter, reconcile peter, but he was ordained and restored.

There are no lengths that Jesus won’t go to to reconcile and make all things new with those whom love him, so may you realize it. May you see that Jesus sees all the little things, all the often overlooked things, and whatever it is holding you back and is willing to overcome those things to meet you where you’re at so you can finally embrace him and who God has called you to be – even if it’s appearing on a shore before dawn to feed you and your friends fish and bread so you can make right your biggest and most embarrassing mistake without judgement or condemnation.