Mark 12:43

Verse of the Day Devotion: Mark 12:43

“Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury;” – Mark 12:43 

This scripture is about giving to God.  Here are the contextual verses.  “And He sat down opposite the treasury and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums.  A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent.”  Mark 12:41-42.  It is important to note these were voluntary contributions by the worshippers which were used to buy wood for the alter, as well as other necessities not provided for in any other way.

Jesus sat and was observing the giving that was taking place in the treasury.  As He watched, he called the disciples to Him and gave them a lesson in giving.  He saw many rich people giving large amounts of money.   By the fact Jesus saw them from a distance, this was probably being done in a way that was intended for others to see.  They were making it clear how much they were offering and was proud of the amount they dropped in the containers.  Then He watches as a poor widow came and dropped in two small copper coins, the smallest denomination of coins back then, worth less than a cent in todays value.

Many would say the rich gave much more than this woman.  They would only see the amount that is given.  However, that is not how Jesus saw it.  “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.”  Mark 12:43b-44.  Jesus is not as interested in how much we give, but in how much we sacrifice.  Notice the words describing the offerings.  The rich gave of their surplus, the widow gave out of her need.  The rich gave what they had left over, the widow gave all she had to live on.  Charity should not be judged by its appearance; what we see with our eyes, but by the spirit in which it is given.

God sees everything we do, both our deeds and our intentions and motives.  He sees what we do in public and what we do in private.  There is nothing hidden from Him.  He sees the circumstances and our heart, whether we act with care or negligence.  With a heart of compassion and love, or of arrogance and greed.   The poor widow gave more because she gave her all.  She gave out of her love for God, giving because she wanted to honor Him.  She also gave out of trust because I think she knew she would be taken care of.  “For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” Psalm 84:11

We must check our motives and ensure our giving is to honor Him and not ourselves.  Our motives and compassion decide the value of our gift.

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

Matthew 28:19

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Matthew 28:19

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,” Matthew 28:19

This is a powerful verse that lays out our commission, as Christians. When the eleven remaining disciples saw Jesus they honored Him. However, there were some who still doubted. “And when they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful.” Matthew 28:17. Now this does not say when they arrived to where Jesus was, but when they saw Him. From a distance they worshipped Him. Upon seeing Jesus, they immediately worshipped Him, for they knew He died, and seeing Him living again helped them in seeing the truth of His resurrection. Matthew here tells of their doubts showing their honesty, that they did not agree simply to say that he had risen. They only believed when they saw Jesus alive. Their caution in examining the evidence is proof that they were not deceived in regard to the fact of his resurrection. When the saw Him, they fully believed.

And Jesus, knowing where they were and, I am sure, knowing of their doubting, went to them. And He declared His immense authority given to Him. “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” Matthew 28:17. This authority was given to Him by the Father. And because of this authority, He declares His command to the disciples, which includes our focus verse. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20. Because He has been granted universal authority, He begins by giving these eleven disciples their mission calling. They were to go out and make disciples, as He did when He selected them. Now, this baptism was not of water. John the Baptist said he baptized with water, but not the Messiah. “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Matthew 3:11. This baptism was not an outward work, but an inner work. Theologian Adam Clarke puts it this way. “Christ’s religion was to be a spiritual religion, and was to have its seat in the heart.”

The disciples were not called to bring men into traditions. They were called to help people understand the reality and purpose of Christ’s work here. And this did not stop at their acceptance of the truth, they were called to ‘make disciples’, not merely to make converts to Christianity, but teach them what it means to be a follower of Christ. This is one of the problems we face today. Many go out and get people to accept Christ, then leave it at that. They do not take the time to train them in the faith. Jesus spent three years training His, therefore we must take more than a few minutes to let them know what being a Christian is about. And too many churches do not take the time to train people. They have their several sermons every week, but do not help people grow in their own understanding of this new life.

In the last verse in this chapter, Jesus tells them to teach everything that He taught them. This is not a simple task that can be completed quickly, for there is much to learn and apply to our lives. This will take time, and He is commanding them to take the same time and attention He did in training them. This is not easy or quick, but it is required in order to help others become strong in their faith. We who are Christians must put forth all the effort we can to teach the truth, all of it and not just the favorable parts. We need to be ready to give loving correction as Jesus did, and also edification to encourage as Jesus did. True believers want to learn and grow in the faith. Unfortunately many so-called churches are falling short of this, preaching, and teaching what people want to hear, not necessarily what they need to hear. This can be difficult but it is our calling. Examine the writings of Paul and see how he taught. This will show how much we truly love Christ and His light will shine forth from us in ways we cannot even begin to imagine.

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

Matthew 5:14a

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Matthew 5:14

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” – Matthew 5:14

When Jesus came in the flesh to this world, it was to help the people here, both Jews and Gentiles, to understand the grace of God through His sacrifice in paying the penalty for all our sins. And by understanding this truth we can then accept this sacrifice that covers our sins if we believe Him and the one who sent Him. The first chapter of John lays this out beautifully. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” John 1:1-3. He starts by declaring Jesus to have been since the beginning and existed when everything was created. In fact all that came into existence was through Him. And then we come to verse 4. “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” John 1:4. What He is saying here is that because He came, we have access to eternal truth. When we walk into a dark room, we have no idea what is there because all we see is blackness, for there is no light. However, when we turn on the light, we then see clearly what is there. It is essentially the same idea we see in verse four above. Jesus came here to reveal the truth to all people, especially since the Jewish leadership were not.

Now there are several clues that ‘shine a light’ on who this light is. We read again in John the following. “There came a man, sent from God, whose name was John. He came for a witness, that he might bear witness of the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light but came that he might bear witness of the light.” John 1:6-8. This could be none other than John the Baptist who came to declare that Jesus was the promised Messiah; to be a witness that Christ is this promised light. He was not the light but was a witness to the light. And this light was intended for all people. “There was the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.” John 1:9. This light that reveals truth was not intended only for the Jews, but all who are in the world. But unfortunately many, including God’s people the Jews, would not know Him. “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.” John 1:10-11. But those who believe would receive a great honor. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:12-13. This incredible honor was the right to be adopted as sons and daughters of God.

Jesus tells them later that He will not always be the light. “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” John 9:5. While He is here on the earth, He is the one who shines the light of truth in this world. But who is it that will do it after His ascension?  This is seen in our focus verse. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” Matthew 5:14. The disciples became the light in this world after Jesus’ ascension. Jesus, knowing that His Spirit and righteousness are found in them, declares they are the light of the world, shining the light of Jesus who is the true light of the world. And since they did not live forever, this blessing has fallen on all true Christians to this day and going forward till His return. This light is the same light that shined forth from Christ. But now we are to be a reflection of this light. People when they see us must see the truth of the gospel being lived out in us. And when they see us living it out, they will be able to see their need for Jesus to provide salvation to them. For just as the moon has no light of its own, reflecting the light of the sun, so are we, true believers, to reflect the Light of Christ so that all can see this light in us. This light is proven to others by the good deeds we do in faith and through the power of the Holy Spirit.

The focus here is Christians are to maintain an obvious and credible witness to the world that shows we are true believers, faithful and true to God in all ways. And this evidence must be sincere and trustworthy regarding everything about us. “But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.” 1 Peter 3:14-16. We are to have such a love for unbelievers that we will do all we can to show the truth of the gospel by reflecting the light of Christ to all people. This is our calling. So let us go out and make it happen.

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

Ephesians 4:1

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Ephesians 4:1  

“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,” – Ephesians 4:1 

In this verse, Paul is laying out to the Christians in Ephesus the kind of walk he desires and encourages them to walk.  In our focus verse we read, “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,” Ephesians 4:1.  This is the basic encouragement Paul was now giving to those who followed his teachings in the prior three chapters.  And the general idea here is unity in the Body of Christ.

In those chapters he has taught them what this Christian life is about.  He told them about the spiritual blessings they have received in Christ; that they have been saved by the grace of God on their behalf through Christ’s blood being shed for their redemption.   They were dead in their sins; however, God provided the way their transgressions were removed, through accepting, by faith, the sacrifice of Christ who did not sin and therefore was able to pay for theirs and bring life to them once again.  And through everything, He shows His mercy and love to them.  There is much more that was said; however, this is the core of what Paul presented to them.

And because of this, he entreats them to walk in a manner worthy of Him and the sacrifice He made.  There are four foundation stones that are used to build Christian unity.  “ With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another, in love,” Ephesians 4:2.  In this verse, He starts with humility.   Humility, or lowliness of mind, was much despised in the ancient world. The Greeks never used their word for humility (tapeinotēs) in a context of approval, and even less in admiration.  Instead, it was used in the context of an abject, servile, subservient attitude in the crouching submissiveness of a slave.  When Christ came, He exhibited a true humility, for He humbled Himself.  And among all the world’s religious figures and ethical teachers, only He set the model we were to follow, as of a little child.  

Next there is gentleness, also referred to as meekness. This was warmly applauded by the philosopher Aristotle because he hated extremes and leaned more toward moderation, which here refers to the middle of being too angry and not being angry at all.  We see this idea from Paul later in this chapter where He said, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.” Ephesians 4:26.  As theologian John Stott says, “So ‘meekness’ is not a synonym for ‘weakness’. On the contrary, it is the gentleness of the strong, whose strength is under control. It is the quality of a strong personality who is nevertheless master of himself and the servant of others. Meekness is ‘the absence of the disposition to assert personal rights, either in the presence of God or of men’. It is particularly appropriate in pastors who should also use their authority only in a spirit of gentleness.

The next quality is patience, which is the idea of bearing with one another.  Patience is essentially longsuffering in difficult situations, which may include difficult people. And we should exhibit it in the same way Christ showed toward us.  It is forbearing one another with tolerance without which no group people can live together in peace.  And lastly, doing all these things within the bounds of love.  Everything we do must be covered in love.  “And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. his is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40.  Remember, our neighbor is anyone we come into contact with.

God calls us all to walk in unity.  Paul tells the Ephesians this in a later set of verses.  “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,” Ephesians 4:11-13. 

In closing, let me add one more quote from John Stott.  “Here, then, are the foundation stones of Christian unity. Where these are absent no external structure of unity can stand. But when this strong base has been laid, then there is good hope that a visible unity can be built. We may be quite sure that no unity is pleasing to God which is not the child of charity.” Let us pursue unity in our faith in all we do.  When this becomes the norm, we will be amazed how much we can accomplish for Him. And this is what it means to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,” Ephesians 4:1b.

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