Hebrews 3:14

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Hebrews 3:14 

“For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.” – Hebrews 3:14   

Here, the writer of Hebrews is going to use an idea found in Psalms, where it is written, “Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness, when your fathers put me to the test and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.” Psalm 95:6-9.  This verse makes sense when you know what Meribah and Massah mean.  Meribah is the Hebrew word for ‘strife’ or ‘contention’, while Massah is the Hebrew word for ‘trial’ or ‘temptation’.

And in Exodus, we see where these words were original used. “Then all the congregation of the sons of Israel journeyed by stages from the wilderness of Sin, according to the command of the LORD, and camped at Rephidim, and there was no water for the people to drink. Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said to them, Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD? But the people thirsted there for water; and they grumbled against Moses and said, Why, now, have you brought us up from Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst? So Moses cried out to the LORD, saying, What shall I do to this people? A little more and they will stone me. Then the LORD said to Moses, Pass before the people and take with you some of the elders of Israel; and take in your hand your staff with which you struck the Nile, and go.  Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight elders of Israel. And he named the place Massah and Meribah because of the quarrel of the sons of Israel, and because they tested the LORD, saying, Is the LORD among us, or not?” Exodus 17:1-7. Note in verse 7 that Moses changed their names with words describing the attitudes of the Israelites.

Now, nearly 3,500 years ago, the Lord delivered His people from Egyptian bondage as described in Exodus, chapters 1–12. They were to take possession of the land God had promised their forefathers, a land “flowing with milk and honey”. Prior to entry, however, they became convinced they could not oust the current inhabitants of the land, even though God told them they could. Their lack of belief in God’s word and promises brought forth the wrath of God. He cursed them with forty years of wilderness wandering until the unbelieving generation died off and never stepping foot in the Promised Land. 

The people whom Hebrews was written for was the Jewish Christians, therefore they would understand what the author meant. Back when they were rescued from Egypt and were heading to the Promised Land, they did not trust or believe God when He told them they would enter the land flowing with milk and honey. Only two did, Joshua and Caleb. The author was using this as an example to the Jewish Christians. Remember our focus verse. “For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.” Hebrews 3:14.

The problem was that the Jews, other than the two mentioned above, would not believe God when He told them His promises to them. God had promised them victory. The land He commanded them to go in and take was already theirs; they simply had to trust and obey, but this they did not do. God will never lead us where His grace cannot provide for us or His power cannot protect us. Indeed, the Israelites had seen the powerful hand of God at work during the plagues and miracles of the Exodus. Yet, like many people, they walked by sight and not by faith, and their unbelief displeased God. “Without faith it is impossible to please God” Hebrews 11:6. Their failure to believe in God’s word kept them from entering the Promised Land. This truth has never changed. He told them they had the promises of God if they continued to believe and remained firm to the end. He told them, “For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief. Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it.” Hebrews 3:16-4:1.  And one more thing, this does not simply apply to Jewish Christians, but to every Christian.

This is what the author wanted his audience to remember and never forget. Stay firm and do not harden your heart against God.

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

2 Corinthians 3:4

Verse of the Day Devotion 2 Corinthians 3:4   

“And such confidence we have through Christ toward God.” – 2 Corinthians 3:4 

Paul here is asking the Church in Corinth a question regarding his and his helpers perception of themselves. “Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some, letters of commendation to you or from you?” 2 Corinthians 2:3:1.  These are ironical questions, for he follows with “You are our letter, written in our hearts, known, and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts.” 2 Corinthians 3:2-3. He was telling them he needed no letters from them, for his apostolic ministry is not legitimized by their judgement, but in them and their faith. And this has it’s boast In God’s work in and through Christ.  This has nothing to do with what Paul has done, but what God through Christ has done through him.  And these were not written on tablets of stone as the Law was, but was written on their hearts by the Spirit of God.

And per our focus verse, he is incredibly confident in the work that has been accomplished not because of what he has done, but what has been  done through him for it was Christ whom he served and under whose influence he accomplished everything he did; and it was therefore through Christ that he had such confidence in what he could do. He had this confidence, he says, towards God and not before God; not as a matter which was right in God’s sight, but by the direction of, or in respect to God the Author of the work and the One to whom all the glory were due. For he says, “Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” 2 Corinthians 3:5-6. 

Paul said a very similar thing in his first letter to the Church in Corinth when he wrote. “For I am the least of the apostles, who am not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God, I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.” 1 Corinthians 15:9-11.  Paul in these verses was showing humility regarding the work accomplished through him by God.  He did not see himself as worthy to be used by God, but because of the incredible grace God bestowed on him, he labored hard and gave all he had. But again, not by his work, but God’s work done through him.

We must always remember that it is not us who does the work, but it is God. “So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:12-13. According to Bill Mounce, a Greek scholar, the idea of ‘working out your salvation’ is to put it into operation, to be active in the work of God. But again, Paul says “for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13.  He is the one who does the work through us.  And it is by His work being fulfilled  through us that we have confidence in what we are doing.  We should not be pleased with the work we do, but with the work He does through us. Therefore, let us give thanks to God that we can be confident in His grace such that He chose to use us to fulfil His work on this earth.   

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

Philippians 3:3

Verse of the Day Devotion: Philippians 3:3   

“For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” – Philippians 3:3

It is quite amazing to me how much truth is revealed to us by the Lord into one simple short Verse of Scripture.  Within the context of these words is hidden a reality that probably most sincere believers in Jesus’ deal with and maybe are not even aware of it.  Preceding this Verse, Paul warns the believers in Philippi to “…Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation!” (VS2).    Back then, just as today, there are more than enough ‘religious’ teachers and so-called ‘Christian teachers’ that are like spiritual watchdogs and actually evil in their work ‘in the name of Christ’ and they probably don’t even know it.   How can that be?  In a nutshell, within all their sincerity and conviction, I think they ‘add’ many things to the completed work of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection and promote those ‘works’ to be absolutely necessary in all regards towards a person, both in considering one’s salvation and in their being in right standing with God on a daily basis.  In very practical terms they just honestly do not believe that what Jesus did for us was enough. 

In the Philippians case, one of the sincere teachings they were hearing from the pulpit and within the larger circle of Christians was to ‘be physically circumcised’ if you REALLY want to be pleasing with God.   But this is not the truth.  “Indeed, I Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing” (Galatians 5:2).  These believers in Philippi were hearing from people within their own congregation the opposite of what Paul had taught them!  And those well-meaning law-abiding religious teachers were wrong.  Circumcision in Christ is of the heart, not of the flesh, and the surgery is done by Christ’s power – not yours.   In Christ, circumcision is a spiritual cutting-off of the power of the flesh nature.   Physical circumcision for a believer profit nothing at all to change a heart or have the possibility of being a ‘new creation’ in Christ.  If you are truly circumcised within your heart by the Lord, the next two statements in this Verse become a reality and a consistent desire within your life.  Be encouraged greatly by these two statements.

Number one, you will “…worship God in the Spirit…”.  Did you know that it is possible to try and worship God apart from the Spirit?   Unfortunately, I think we fall into this trap more often than admitted.  You sincerely just want to do better ‘next time’ and so you pull up your bootstraps and hunker down a little more and make a few more ‘I Promise’ statements to yourself.   I have fallen into this trap more than once, believe me. But folks, any attempt to being a worshipper of the Lord apart from the Spirit’s presence, leading, guiding, and prompting will be of the flesh.  “Are you foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3).   We do not have to walk in the Spirit – we GET to!    By God’s power in Christ and by His grace, we GET to and that is a cause for great rejoicing.  

Number two, you will “…rejoice in Christ Jesus…”.    Your times of rejoicing will not come about because of your successes compared to your failures throughout a day or week.  Your times of rejoicing will come about when you recognize that any and all of the good things that develop out of your life in Christ are BECAUSE of Christ.   Just because of Him.  Of Who He is.  You will rejoice within your heart in what He has already done for you in His completeness.   You are already spiritually blessed in Christ beyond calculation and imagination.   “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who HAS blessed us with EVERY spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ…” (Ephesians 1:3).  Yet thousands of well-intended Christians are seeking more spiritual blessings – from proclaimed Christian leaders leading the masses falsely saying you can have ‘more’.  Ummmm?  Yet, God in His Word has already told us that in Christ, the Father HAS (past tense) already blessed us with EVERY spiritual blessing!    Oh, how wonderful this is!   This is why Paul can say to the Philippians to rejoice in Christ Jesus.  You do not have to jump through additional religious hoops to attain God’s favor anymore!    Therefore, Paul instructs these Philippians in a very pointed, direct, profound, life-changing and universe-altering statement what they must be aware in their Christian walk: “….have no confidence in the flesh…”!    Do you hear that??   Do you ‘really’ hear that?   “BUT what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ” (Vs 7).   Doing religious (Christian religious) “things” in the flesh is simply loss.  The ‘more’ of whatever it is that you might be seeking is already in HIM.    Be encouraged and admonished.  Do NOT place any of your confidence in your flesh.   Place your confidence in the completely work of Christ that He has done for you already.    Be with Him.   Spend time with Him.  Talk with Him.   Listen to Him.         

Jaca Kier, Board Member, True Devotion Ministries, Inc. 

1 John 5:14

Verse of the Day Devotion: 1 John 5:14 

“This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” – 1 John 5:14          

John here is finalizing his first letter to the church.  According to I. Howard Marshall, author of the New International Commentary on the New Testament – The Epistles of John, there was a crisis in the church whereby teachers within the church were advocating a new understanding of Christianity which did not agree with the idea John and his colleagues were teaching.  Throughout the book, John is showing them the truth as opposed to what they taught.  We see this in chapter 2.  “Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.” 1 John 2:18-19.  He called those who taught wrong teachings antichrists, strong language but true if they taught a different gospel then Jesus presented.  So, many left and went out pushing their beliefs.

Now, in the final section of this letter, he lays out why He wrote it. “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” 1 John 5:13.  It appears that one of the main teachings of the false teachers countered the idea of eternal life.  Note the phrase so that you may know that you have eternal life.  John wanted them to fully understand that eternal life was promised to those who believe Jesus, who He was and what He taught.  And based on our focus verse, because of their belief in Jesus they have confidence that if they ask anything, according to His will, that He hears them.  

Now, a very important phrase is found here that many either do not see or they ignore; “according to His will.”  It is not saying that anything we ask for will be heard, only those things that fall under His will. This is a very important concept, because note the next verse.  “And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.” 1 John 5:15.  And if He hears us, then we shall have what we ask for.  Therefore, the great promise to believers is that if we pray to God, according to and within the scope of His will, then we can be assured what we ask for is ours.

Now, one last point of clarification. There are two ways to ask outside of His will.  The first is to ask for something that we know is not His will.  That would encompass such things as asking for something we know is wrong or sinful, or something that is not intrinsically wrong, but asking would be wrong for us, such as asking for something that may have a negative effect on ours or someone else’s life, such as if we win, someone else loses.  Remember what Paul said, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;“ Philippians 2:3. 

The other way to ask outside of His will is to ask for something that is not what God has in mind.  He has a better plan.  The basic idea is that we may ask for something, but God has something better for us.  For instance, we may ask Him to give us a ministry position at the church we attend, but He wants us to minister overseas.  This requires trust from us.  If we ask Him for something and He does not provide that specific thing, then we must understand it was not His will for us, He has another plan.  And we must be content when what we ask for does not come to pass.  God knows better, and we should learn to be content no matter which way it goes. 

Trust God that, because He knows the end from the beginning, that He understands who we are better than we know ourselves, and that He has been preparing us for His work even though we do not recognize all that He has done, He knows best, therefore rest in this truth.  

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