Philippians 1:12

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Philippians 1:12

“Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel,” Philippians 1:12  

This is a very powerful verse, for it shows Paul’s thoughts on what is really important. He was in a Roman prison, a place that was not where anyone wanted to be for the harshness of the guards was well known. But look at what he says. “Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel. so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else,” Philippians 1:12-13. Paul was more concerned about the gospel spreading throughout the land then the fact he was imprisoned. And because of this, he did not mind where he was, or what he suffered. In fact, because he was there, many who would never have heard the truth were given the gospel of Jesus Christ. He was able to witness for Christ among the Praetorian guards, who were in charge of the prison where he was confined, and who also, in their turn, were on duty in Caesar’s palace. Paul says that, through his being in bonds there, the particulars concerning his imprisonment were talked about even in the imperial palace, and by that means the gospel was made known to many in Caesar’s household.

Next, we see, “and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear.” Philippians 1:14. Because he was in prison, many had been persuaded by his imprisonment to be more daring in their proclamation of the word. They understood that calling attention to the faith might expose Paul to ridicule and abuse by his guards and might even prejudice his case. But they also know that he has been appointed for the defense of the gospel and is prepared to suffer in its cause. Charles Spurgeon gives a great image of this. “You have sometimes seen a widely spreading oak tree cut down, and you have missed its grateful shadow. Yet afterwards you have discovered that many little trees, which would have been dwarfed beneath its shade, have grown more rapidly in its absence.  In like manner, the removal of some eminent servant of the Lord Jesus Christ has frequently made room for others to spring up, and more than fill his place.”

Next, we read, “Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will; the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment.” Philippians 1:15-17. It seems that even in Rome there was a party which was jealous of the influence Paul had, and they thought his imprisonment was a good opportunity to diminish his influence and to strengthen their own cause. But Paul did not let this upset him, for he was confident that over time it would succeed. It is desired that all who preach Christ should preach in a right spirit. But even if they do not, let us be glad that Christ is preached anyhow. Again, Charles Spurgeon illustrates it so well. “You have, perhaps, sometimes seen a little fire kindled among the dead autumn leaves, which are dank and damp. You have noticed that, despite all the smoke, the fire has continued to live and burn. So it is with the eternal truth of God. Notwithstanding all the error with which it is often damped, and almost smothered, it will live, and the truth will conquer the error that is piled upon it.”

In closing, we may go through difficult times, but who knows why God allows or orchestrates it. He knows everything and allows some things to happen for an overall good. Paul was in prison, and it gave him the opportunity to share the gospel with the prison guards, and ultimately to the imperial palace through them. Many Christians have been imprisoned for their faith, which gave them the opportunity share the gospel with those imprisoned there, along with the guards and anyone else they had contact with. And sometimes, things happen to us in order for someone to see God working through us. Be at peace, for as one of my favorite verses states, “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 must trust Him that ultimately it will end with His will being accomplished. Remember, God’s calling to us is to preach the gospel and spread His truth to everyone. And if He knows hard times will make a positive difference, accept it, knowing these times will eventually go away forever.

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

Hebrews 13:1

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Hebrews 13:1 

“Let love of the brethren continue.” – Hebrews 13:1     

When we read this verse it implies that brotherly love already exists within the church, but the writer was telling them it was important to continue in it. And we must be careful that we today do the same. There are many things that can do away with it, and we must eliminate them in order to keep brotherly love alive. Jesus felt this was so important, He declared it a new commandment. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35. This is important regarding how the world sees us. If people see two Christians arguing and speaking harshly to each other, they may decide the Christian life is no different than what they see now.

We must see others better than ourselves; therefore we must seek our brother’s and sister’s good to their edification. Unfortunately, the church today is divided into various denominations, and unfortunately beliefs as well. We must look for peace and unity with all those who love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Hold firmly on to what you believe, for we must not change what we believe on a whim. But wherever you see anything of Christ, confess relationships there, and act as a brother or sister in Christ with all who declare Christ as Savior.

Brotherly love is a major theme of the New Testament. In a healthy family, brothers and sisters love one another and look out for each other. If one family member is in trouble, the whole family rallies around to help. The old adage “He ain’t heavy; he’s my brother” captures God’s ideal for His children. We are to be kind to each other the way brothers and sisters in a loving family are.

Scripture gives examples of people practicing brotherly love. After David ascended to the throne of Israel, he said, “Is there yet anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” 2 Samuel 9:1. He had no relationship with Saul’s extended family, yet, because of his close friendship with Saul’s son Jonathan, he wanted to show brotherly love to Jonathan’s family. When the church at Antioch heard that the church in Jerusalem would soon be suffering from a famine, they gave sacrificially to help relieve their brothers’ and sisters’ financial burden. “Now at this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. And one of them named Agabus stood up and began to indicate by the Spirit that there would certainly be a great famine all over the world. And this took place in the reign of Claudius. And in the proportion that any of the disciples had means, each of them determined to send a contribution for the relief of the brethren living in Judea. And this they did, sending it in charge of Barnabas and Saul to the elders.” Acts 11:27-30.  Churches in Macedonia and Achaia also contributed to the poor in Jerusalem. These are all examples of brotherly love.

And one last thing. We are actually called to love everyone, including our enemies. “You have heard that it was said, YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR, and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:43-48.

I want to encourage everyone reading this to be kind to, and love all of our brothers and sisters in Christ. However, we are also called to love the unsaved, to bring them to the Lord, including our enemies. When we love everyone, we will show the reality of our Christian walk. When we as a church are in unity, we show that the body of Christ is a good and safe place to be, and when we love our enemies, we may make a big difference in their lives by making them not an enemy anymore. Love is the solution for reaching the lost and working together as the body of Christ. We will be amazed at what we can accomplish if we do all.

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

2 Thessalonians 3:13

Verse of the Day Devotion: 2 Thessalonians 3:13   

“But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good.” – 2 Thessalonians 3:13 

Paul, in this section, is warning the Christians not to become idle regarding the works of God.  “For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies.” 2 Thessalonians 3:11. We are not completely sure how Paul heard about this, whether by Timothy, or by someone else. He did not doubt its truth, and he seems to have been prepared to believe it the more readily from what he saw when he was among them. However, he was notified, it was related to Paul they were not doing the work for which they had, by God, been called.  On the contrary, they were simply being busybodies. The idea here regarding the term ‘busybody’ is going about doing useless deeds, to keep busy with trivial and useless matters.  Here, Paul is essentially saying they are doing none of what they should be doing yet overdoing and being involved in the business of others. In other words, busy about everyone’s business but their own. The well-known theologian Charles Spurgeon puts it this way. “Not doing their own business, and therefore putting their noses into everybody else’s business”.

Also, they did no real work but put forth the pretense they were. To put forth a pretense is to make something that is not true appear to be true. And taking this to a higher level, the problem of these declared as disorderly was not simply that they did not want to work, but that they refused to work. They did not want to help others, but rather to be helped by others. We do not know the exact reason why they opted to continue to live as clients. Manual labor was, as we have seen, despised by not a few, especially the social elite, but some philosophers and others considered such labor noble.

Now, Paul corrects these people in the next verse. “Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread.” 1 Thessalonians 3:12. He is telling these that at the least, they should do whatever work is necessary to meet their own needs, and to do I quietly in a peaceful manner.  We read this idea in the first letter. “Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; for indeed you do practice it toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you; so that you may behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.” 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12. Now this is interesting because what we read in this verse is exactly what He calls for the ‘busybodies’ to do, except in the second letter he makes this statement to those who refuse to work, whereas here it is meant for those who work to assist others. In other words, take care of your own needs while you assist others where they need help.

Now to our focus verse. “But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good.” 2 Thessalonians 3:13.  Here, Paul turns his focus from those who had grieved him in the church to speak to the rest of the brothers and sisters in Christ. He is telling them not to be discouraged in doing what is right and good.  The command not to be discouraged does not mean simply that they should not become weary with doing what is right but rather that they should not give up or abandon their efforts. Paul said a very similar thing to the Church in Galatia. “And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” Galatians 6:9-10.  Although the apostle had absolved the patrons of their responsibility to those who did not want to work, this in no way implied that they should quit doing what was correct on behalf of those in genuine need. Just because there were some who did not participate, there were still many who needed their help, and thus they should continue to meet their needs. 

It Is important to understand that because we are called to be Christians through the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, our calling does not end there.  For He has called us all to do His work in this world.  Becoming a believer and Christian is simply the beginning. Paul, in his letter to the Church in Colossae wrote, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men; knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality.” Colossians 3:23-25.

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

James 2:14

Verse of the Day Devotion:  James 2:14  

“What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him?” – James 2:14

This verse refers to a very important concept that we must focus on in order to live the life Christ has called us to live.  It presents the question, is faith real with no works?  James then presents the following example.  “What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?” James 2:15-16.  He implies at the end, through the words “what use is that?”   their words of encouragement mean nothing.

Let me present another example.  You are walking in the woods in a place you have never been before.  After a time, you come across a bridge that goes over a deep canyon.  The bridge is made of rope and sways in over the deep ravine.  The one walking with you says he walks across this all the time; it is completely safe.  You tell him you believe him that it is safe, however you refuse to cross the gorge.  Do you then really have faith in what He said? 

One thing about faith is we must show, not just by words but by actions, that we truly have faith.  And when it comes to faith in God, this is especially important.  And the works implied here is not just reading the bible and other so-called Christian deeds, although this is important for us to grow in our faith.  If you claim to be a Christian, do you live as Christ did while here?  Do we follow and live out the two great commands Jesus gave us?  “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.  This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” Matthew 22:37-39.   Do we truly exhibit these qualities?  If we do not, then is our faith true faith, or merely words?  This speaks of loving each other as He has loved us.  This is a sign of true devotion.  The man mentioned above who only spoke encouraging words to the one who needed clothing and daily food without providing it for them did not show love to them at all and did not follow what Jesus asks of us. 

Jesus calls us to love each other.  “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.”  John 15:12.  Jesus provided for us by dying on the cross for our sins.  This showed the reality of the love He had for us.  And if we only speak of our salvation through Christ without living in the reality of it, then is it true salvation?    

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

Galatians 6:1

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Galatians 6:1

“Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted” – Galatians 6:1

Paul is laying out here how to address fellow brothers and sisters in Christ when they fall into sin.  Now this could be by surprise or ignorance, not realizing they were sinning, or out of the stress of temptation where they gave in to a sinful action.  Paul lays out how, as fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, we are to respond to those who find themselves in this predicament. 

He starts out by stating “we who are spiritual”. What is meant here are those who have not given in to these temptations but continued to live as they ought.  Theologian Joseph Benson says it like this.  “Who have received the Spirit of truth, grace, and wisdom, and who continue to live and walk by and in the Spirit.”  This is our responsibility while here on earth.  The more truly spiritual we are, the more we are to help our brothers and sisters in Christ to grow more in their walk, and in this instance, to help them understand the error of their ways and guide them back to where they ought to be.  And this is to be done in love and gentleness.  We are not to yell at them, embarrass or ridicule them, but we are to work to restore them in love and compassion.  We are to address the issue with them in an attitude of meekness and humility.  Yes, we are to correct them.  However, this must be done in love and not in arrogance and hurtfulness.  Our ultimate goal is not to shame them, but to bring them to repentance.

And taking this one step further, we must look at ourselves so that we will not be tempted.  We must be careful we do not allow ourselves to be tempted in the same manner or tempted to come across as other than gentle and loving.  This is a distinct warning that we look at ourselves as to carefully observe our own spirit and conduct, lest our eyes be fixed not on ourselves, but exclusively on those of their brother.  And Satan can and will work against us in order disrupt our work for God.  

Jesus said it like this, “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.  But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”  Matthew 18:15-17.  It is important that we do all we can to bring correction to a sinful brother or sister and bring them to repentance.  We cannot force the issue, but in love we must do what we can, being in prayer the whole time.

And finally, Paul wrote the following to the Church in Rome.  “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” Romans 15:1-3. Our focus as strong Christians are to take the responsibility to build up the weaker members of this body and not focus entirely on ourselves.  This is what Paul is saying in this focus verse, “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.” Galatians 6:1.  Just as Jesus did not please himself but accepted the roles of dying for us.  This, we also should die to ourselves for the sake of the body.  “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20.

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

Galatians 5:13

Verse of the Day Devotion: Galatians 5:13 

“For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” – Galatians 5:13 

The salvation that Christ brought to us is a salvation of freedom.  Freedom from the law and the requirements to do certain works in order to guarantee our salvation.  His is a complete freedom from all the burdensome rituals and ceremonies of the Mosaic law.  His is a salvation of grace. 

Now, one verse above this we see that there were people, probably teachers, who were positing thoughts into their minds regarding the law.  The main idea he brings up is circumcision.  It appears they were trying to get new converts to submit to being circumcised.  “Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.”  Galatians 5:2-4.  In those days, if a Jewish man, or one who is converting to Judaism via becoming a proselyte, was not circumcised, then in essence they were not accepting the covenant with God.   This was no doubt the part of the law that was pushed upon the new Galatian, believers by these false teachers.  Paul then, in verse twelve, in a sarcastic manner, tells the church he wishes these teachers would cut themselves off from the Church.  “I wish that those who are troubling you would even mutilate themselves.” Galatians 5:12. 

Back to our focus verse, after he informs the church that for freedom Christ set them free, he then warns them that this is not a freedom to sin.  Back when I lived in Central North Carolina, I met a young man in a church who was married with one young child.  During a discussion with him, he admitted to having an affair with another woman.  When I questioned him about this, he told me that because he was saved, he was free to do anything he wanted.  It was OK to sin because Jesus already forgave him.  This idea is known as Antinomianism.  It means ‘against the law’, which is the belief that since we are under grace, the moral law is of no use.  The verse often used is “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9.  They obviously do not know what this mean.  However, they ignore a clear verse in Paul’s writing to the Romans where he says, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” Romans 6:1-2.  And we are to keep the commands of God.  Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” John 14:15. 

In verse one we read, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore, keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.”  Galatians 5:1. He set us free from the yoke of slavery to the law and saved us through grace.  However, we are not at liberty to satisfy the desires of our flesh.  It is by grace we are saved.  However, Paul tells us that instead of being a slave to sin, we should, in love, be a servant to one another.  We should help each other in many ways, including their physical, emotional and spiritual needs.  This is not to aid in our salvation, but a way to share and express our love for each other.  This is what we should be about.  Salvation is by grace, but our calling is, in love, reaching out to the lost and helping and teaching our brothers and sisters in Christ. 

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

1 Thessalonians 4:13

Verse of the Day Devotion: 1 Thessalonians 4:13 

“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:13 

There appears to be in Thessalonica a confusion regarding what happens to someone who dies.  Thessalonians were part of ancient Rome and believed as they did regarding the end, which was similar to what the ancient Greeks believed.  There were Christians in Thessalonica who were dying, and it appears that an adequate explanation of what takes place had not been given to them.  They no doubt had the idea they would be separated from them forever, therefore they grieved heavily, just as was done in Greek and Roman religions.  But Paul uses the term sleep rather than death to give them hope. And he uses the idea of informing them of how their prior beliefs have led them astray regarding the death of believers.  

First, he tells them they shall see them again.  “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.” 1 Thessalonians 4:14-15.  In fact, they will precede us who remain alive till He comes.  However, the main point here is that believers will be reunited with their brothers and sisters in Christ at the end.  This was radically different than either the Greek or Roman beliefs regarding the afterlife.  And this is why Paul said at the end of our focus verse that they did not need to grieve as those who do not believe in Christ, because they would be reunited with them.

He then goes on the explain when this will take place.  “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.”  1 Thessalonians 4:16-17.  When Jesus comes back, He will first awaken those who have fallen asleep.  They will be raised first.  Then immediately afterwards, He will bring us who are alive at that time to Him, and together we shall be with the Lord forever, never to be separated.

This was a new idea to the Thessalonians.  They were troubled because were dying and they mourned heavily as the Greeks and Romans did, for they believed they would never see them again.  This was the reason for these verses, to comfort them with the truth that they would be reunited again when Christ returns.  At the time of this writing, they did not understand this completely.  Now they did, and Paul encourages them to share this with all believers.  “Therefore comfort one another with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:18.

We must all grasp this truth.  Many Christians I know have fallen asleep, including family members, close friends, and fellow workers for the Lord.  Yes, I have grieved for them because I missed the opportunities to interact with them.  And I think of them often, which does sadden me some. However, I know that at some time in the future we will be reunited, and what a glorious time it will be.  The beauty of this event is that we will never be separated again.  It will be wonderful, and our fellowship will not be temporary but eternal.  This is the promise given us by Christ through Paul in these verses.  Therefore, let us do as Paul said, comfort each other with this truth.  Many can use some comfort during these times and we will in our lives as well.

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

Philippians 3:13

Verse of the Day Devotion: Philippians 3:13 

“Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,” – Philippians 3:13            

Paul in this verse is being very real with the Philippians in his encouragement to them.  He tells them that as far as he is concerned, he does not consider himself to have attained anything that he so strongly longs for.  And we see a picture of that in the previous verse.  “Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12. He has not attained the perfection that will come after the return of Christ. He has not as of yet been crowned with the crown of victory.  He is showing a deep humility to those in Philippi.  

However, because he has not laid hold of this, there is one thing he does do and that is encouraging them to do the same.  He wants them to continue in the faith.  He does not want them to be bogged down with their past, for there is nothing that can be done regarding it.  Do not look back but look forward.  And there are two ways to look at this and we will examine both.

First, those who look back are seeing the sin and wrong they have committed before becoming a Christian.  Often, people will focus on these things and wonder how can they be worthy to do the work of God.  One thing we must remember is that it was God who accounts us worthy to do His work, not us.  He died on the cross to remove these past sins from us.  We are not accountable to them anymore for the price was paid by Christ, the perfect sacrifice.  And we are not that old person anymore.  “Therefore, from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer.” 2 Corinthians 5:16.  We must not recognize anyone who is in Christ, in the flesh, and this must include ourselves.  We must not look back on who we were then, but look at who we are now.  And how can we legitimately do this?  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17.  We are not that person anymore.  In fact, that person does not exist anymore.  It has passed away.  And if it no longer exists, then why should we look back?  We are a new creature, we must look at what lies ahead for us, a beautiful and glorious future.

And the second way, looking back at what we were and had and longing for it again.  This is not a good thing.  God does not want us doing this.  Remember what happened to Lot’s wife.  God told them not to look back, however she did.  “But his wife, from behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.” Genesis 19:26. Now I am not saying we can turn into salt but looking back at a former life that is not there anymore is not beneficial.  However, Jesus says if we do, then we are not worthy.  “But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62  If we look back in any way from following Him, then we can end up being unworthy.

Now that we are Christians, our past life is gone.  We are not that person anymore.  Therefore, we are called not to look back, but to look ahead to where we are going and that life which is eternal and glorious.  We are to accept the result of accepting the forgiveness for that past life, and then looking forward to the life to come.  I know I cannot wait to attain that wonderful existence, which surpasses infinitely that which I was before.

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

James 2:1

Verse of the Day Devotion: James 2:1 

“My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism.” – James 2:1        

In this verse, James is laying out the command that we are not to show favoritism toward anyone.  We are all one body together and we all have different functions within the body.  And none of these are more important than another.  Let us look at the next couple of verses that lays it our perfectly.  “For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, you sit here in a good place, and you say to the poor man, you stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” James 2:2-3. This is not right in any shape or form.  How can we judge someone by their appearance?  If we do, we are not judging by God’s standard but by our own.

Lets look at these two examples.  I will assume that we do not know either.  First, if we show favoritism to the rich man, it is probably because we feel it will be to our advantage.  We will be with a prominent and probably important person.  If we can develop a relationship with him, it could help lift our stature in the eyes of others.  They will see that we are with him and this may help us to gain greater esteem.  And by placing this rich man away from us at the same time we believe this will add to that advantage.  We may not think this way, but if we favor one thing over another, it is because we believe we will benefit from it.  And unfortunately it is the same with people.

Now, lets look at how these two people would take what we have done.  The rich man will see he has an advantage because we have accepted him immediately.  But what of the poor man?  Will he feel accepted?  No.  And this is probably how his whole life has been.  We just look at him and determine there is no advantage of being with him, so we set him aside and leave him alone.  How does this make the poor man feel?  Probably rejected once again.  Is this how we wish to be treated?  “Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.” Luke 6:31.

Now, I am not trying to accuse anyone.  I am simply describing this idea to an extreme.  What I am saying is that all people need to know they are as accepted as anyone else.  When I was growing up, I was ostracized by most of the kids in school.  I grew up in a poor family, wore hand-me-downs or cheap versions of clothing.  I wanted friends, but many would not give me any time, but hung out with the popular ones.  Finally, I found someone in my same position and I finally had a friend.  It was hard and debasing.  No one should ever treat anyone this way.  And God does not want us to favor one person over another.  We are equal in His sight.  He loves us all equally and provided salvation to us equally.  We are to be like Christ; therefore we are to treat everyone the same.  I pray we can, as children of God, fulfill this and show love to everyone we meet.  Who knows what incredible work can be accomplished by this simple act of love.

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