Luke 9:35

Verse of the Day Devotion: Luke 9:35

“Then a voice came out of the cloud, saying, this is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!” – Luke 9:35

This passage is found at the end of what is called the transfiguration.  Jesus took Peter, James and John with Him up onto a mountain to pray.  While Jesus was praying, it says that something changed with Him.  He was transfigured.  “And while He was praying, the appearance of His face became different, and His clothing became white and gleaming.”  Luke 9-29.  Matthew gives us a more detailed description of the change in Jesus.  “And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light.”  Matthew 17:2. And with Him stood two other men, also appearing in glory, Elijah and Moses.

After a time, the voice of God the Father came from out of the clouds saying, ‘Listen to my Son, the chosen one.’  This is key.  As the disciples were told to listen to Jesus, we are to as well.  Too often we only listen to pastors and teachers when it comes to theological issues, and just accept what they say.  This is where heretical teachings and practices arise.  The question we should ask is, ‘Does what they are saying line up with the Word of God?’  If it does, then accept it and follow it.  If it does not, then reject it.

Paul spoke of the Bereans in Acts 17, and this should be our mindset.  “Now these (Jews from Berea) were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.”  Acts 17:11.   They did not take what Paul said without checking it out first.  We also should not accept what someone tells us, even if they are greatly credentialed, without checking it out ourselves.  There are some things that are obvious, however, if you have not heard it before or are questioning the accuracy of the interpretation, look it up.  And while checking it out, pray that God will reveal the truth to you.  Let Christ be the one who validates what men say.

Now this does require discipline.  We must be willing and desirous of knowing the reality of what is being said.  Let Him show you the truth.  He will never lead you astray and will always guide you, through His Spirit, into all truth.  And is not the truth what we are striving for?

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

Hebrews 12:1

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Hebrews 12:1 

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” – Hebrews 12:1 

Because of the word ‘therefore’ that begins this paragraph, this is referring back to a previous chapter, namely chapter 11. To start, both the Greeks and Latins used the term ‘cloud’ to speak of a great number of persons or things. Therefore, what is referred to here is a great number of people who have witnessed something. This does not necessarily mean they are witnessing something that is happening now. Here, this probably refers to what they have seen back in their time. And what did thy witness? True unadulterated faith in the one who was coming: the Messiah. And this was faith in something they never saw. “And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they should not be made perfect.” Hebrews 11:39-40. They may not have seen the coming Messiah, but they believed the promises of God delivered to them. One definition of witness is ‘knowledge’ from what you already experienced.

So, what did they witness? Here are a few of what is meant. With Moses we see, “By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin;  considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen. By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that he who destroyed the first-born might not touch them. By faith they passed through the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land; and the Egyptians, when they attempted it, were drowned.” Hebrews 11:24-29.

Then with others, “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they had been encircled for seven days. By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace. And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, in order that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mocking and scourging’s, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.” Hebrews 11:30-38. And as stated above, they did not receive what was promised, for what was promised was still in the future. In faith, they persevered because they had witnessed the power of God, if not the culmination of their faith.

In a courtroom, a witness may not necessarily be one who saw a particular action, but has seen an equivalent action before, and knows the inevitable outcome. This is what is meant here by witnesses. These men lived by faith in God, not wavering, and ultimately witnessing the faithfulness of God. And this is what we are to do. Knowing that God is faithful in whatever He says, we can be sure we have an incredible future ahead of us, if we remain strong. Many Christians are looked down upon, and many times hated because the life we live is counter to the life they live. And in some countries, the penalty for their belief is torture and death. And there is no evidence to say this will not happen here as well. Therefore, as the writer of Hebrews wrote regarding what we are to do, “let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1b-2. And if we do all we can to accomplish this, we will join our Savior in heaven and spend eternity in our glorious new Home with Him.

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

Acts 1:9

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Acts 1:9

“And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.” – Acts 1:9

As you can see from our focus verse, we will now be looking at the ascension of Jesus.  We read in verse 6 that Jesus and the eleven apostles who were left gathered together. “And so when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” Acts 1:6. First, there were only 11 apostles, for Judas had rejected Jesus and eventually killed himself, and they had not yet replaced him with Matthias. “And they drew lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.” Acts 1:26. And as they were gathered, they then asked Jesus a question. “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?”

Jesus answered the question, but not in the way they had anticipated. “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Acts 1:7-8. The answer from the Lord was intended rather to instruct than to rebuke, contrary to what various commentators have assumed. He does not deny them the privilege of asking, but only the right to know the times or the seasons which the father, who alone possesses sovereign power, has appointed. The Son guards the royal prerogative, the divine reservation, the exclusive rights of the Father.

And while it was not given to the apostles to know the times of future events, the duty to act or work at the present time was assigned to them; they also received the assurance that they would be qualified for their work by the Holy Spirit, who would come upon them. And by this, they are called to a worldwide mission. The disciples were to be the true, restored Israel, fulfilling its mission to be a light in the world so that God’s salvation might reach to the very ends of the earth. We see in Isaiah the Father’s call to the Messiah. “It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nation’s so that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” Isaiah 49:6. This was God’s call to the Messiah.  He has done much toward this cause, but now He has called His disciples to continue the work, through the power of the Holy Spirit, after He is gone. In short, to speculate on times and dates is useless. The Lord’s return does not revolve around such speculation but around God’s own purposes, and those purposes embrace the salvation of the world. The surest route to the Parousia is the evangelization of the world.

Then, after He finished telling them these things, He ascended to heaven. “And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.” Acts 1:9. What an amazing event, seeing Jesus ascend into Heaven must have been amazing. His job was completed and now the remaining work is in the hands of His followers; this means all followers from the time of His ascension to His return. Then, “as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was departing, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them; and they also said, men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.” Acts 1:10-11. They were still gazing toward heaven after the disappearance of the Lord, when suddenly two men stood by them. That these were unquestionably angels, appears from the following three facts: the suddenness of their appearance, for no one had seen them approach; their white and shining apparel, a visible representation of celestial purity and holiness; and lastly the tidings which they brought to the disciples, being a message sent from heaven to the earth. And they asked them why do they just stand there looking up? For He shall return in the same way He was taken up. He assured them He would return, but not when He would return.

The main message Jesus gave at this time was the call for the disciples to go and spread the news of the truth. And this, again, was not just for those then, but for all of us from then until His return. “You (we) are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. nor do men light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house. 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 5:14-16. Jesus called us as follows, “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 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. God called us to do this just prior to His ascension. Let us all go out there and make it happen until His return, and then go to be with Him forever.

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