Proverbs 19:21

Verse of the Day Devotion: Proverbs 19:21

“Many plans are in a man’s heart, But the counsel of the LORD will stand.” Proverbs 19:21

All of us have plans for our future.  We have short-term plans; what we will do over the weekend.  Then there are middle-term plans; what will we do over the next couple of years.  Then there are long-term plans; what will we do in retirement.  There is nothing wrong with having plans.  They are important in order to determine what will guide us to its fulfillment.  However, we should not make those plans concrete, for there is always the possibility that God has something else for us.

There are many things that we may desire for our future.  Some of these are obtaining wealth, or the revere of others.  Maybe a long and enjoyable life.  For others it may be preparing for a livelihood that we enjoy and gives us fulfillment.  However, many times our plans, even as Christians may focus on our own pleasures and desires, and not on others and their needs, or even God’s desires.  “Then He (Jesus) said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions. And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive. And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?  Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry. But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ So is the man who stores up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”  Luke 12:15-21.  This is a bit rough, but this man’s plan in the parable did not look after others, but only for himself.  And note what God called him; “You Fool.”  ‘This word ‘fool’ has the meaning – properly mindless, that is, stupid, ignorant, egotistic, rash, or unbelieving: unwise.’ (From Strong’s Greek Concordance.)

Even if our plans are not selfish, they may not be what God desires.  Therefore, as stated above, they should not be cast in concrete.  We must always look to what He desires of us.  What if we want to teach science in high school, but God desires us to go out and care for the poor?  Quite different occupations, neither of which is sinful.  Or, what if we plan on reaching the lost in our nearby cities, but God desires us to preach the gospel in North Korea?  This is an extreme example, however, for some this could be reality.  We must not ignore God’s plans for us.  We as Christians must be open to any calling He has for us.

I remember the book by David Wilkerson, “The Cross and the Switchblade.”  This is the story of a country Pentecostal preacher who was called by God to go to Brooklyn, NY to minister to the gangs in that area. God used an article in Life Magazine about seven teenagers who were members of a criminal gang to communicate His will to David.  He was a Pastor who was content, and safe, preaching in this small church and would have been happy to stay there until he retired.  But God had other plans, and I am sure they did not agree with the plans David had.  However, he submitted to God and as a result, two high level gang members were saved and gave their lives over to God and preached to many still in the gangs: Nicki Cruz and Cookie Rodriguez.

Sometimes we do not know the plans God has for us.  But He does.  “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11. This verse is regarding the Jews in Babylon; however, I am confident it is applicable to us as well.  He knows the end from the beginning; therefore, He knows all His plans for us.  I encourage us all to, when we make plans, to be open to something different if God leads us to another calling. Remember what James said, “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit. Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” James 4:13-15.

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

Psalm 1:1

Verse of the Day Devotion: Psalm 1:1

“How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!” – Psalm 1:1  

Psalm chapter 1 to me is a wonderful read.  This looks at the differences of those who follow God, and those who do not.  This verse says how blessed the man is who does not follow the ways of this world but follows the ways of God.  And what are the ways of the world?  First, by walking in the counsel of the wicked rather than the righteous.  He gives ear to the advice of the wicked. He is not at peace with His relationship with God and listens to that which is contrary to His word.

I have seen too many people who niche out their lives, some to their Christian walk, and some to the ways of the world.  I know because I did it myself.  There was my church life, then there was my regular life.  If there was a decision to make, many times I would take the wrong advice down the wrong path.  I would listen to worldly people, and this often did not turn out well.  However, when I became a true Christian, one that lived it as well as professing it, I stopped listening to the world, and I found I was much more at peace.  I did not have to worry about being caught or having to answer to my wrong decisions.  I was truly at peace.

We are not to go and linger in places where ungodly things happen and focus our attention on what is going on.  If we come across a place like this, or people who live in ungodly ways, we should be willing to present the truth of the gospel to them and help them turn their lives to God.  But we should not go somewhere and participate in their worldly ways.  This destroys the light we want to shine in the darkness, and our witness to the unsaved.

And we are not to participate in mocking or derision of others.  Especially where we do it regarding people who are leaders in the church.  We can differ in what we believe, and we can counter those beliefs.  However, we should never deride or mock the people involved.  We are to love them, and how can we say we love them if we speak evil of them?  And why would they listen to us when endeavoring to help them understand the truth when they see our mocking?

We must not listen to the wicked, participate in the activities of sinners or join in mocking of those we disagree with.  Aside from these activities being wrong or sin, we can instead live a blessed life which is pleasing to God, where we can be at peace because we are living a life of love and not animosity.  “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.” Colossians 3:15. We can do this only by following the words of the psalmist in our focus verse.  “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!”  Psalm 1:1

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

Amos 3:7

Verse of the Day Devotion Amos 3:7

“Surely the Lord GOD does nothing unless He reveals His secret counsel To His servants the prophets.” –  Amos 3:7

This is an interesting verse spoken by God to His people.  This prophecy speaks of all the tribes of Israel. “Hear this word which the LORD has spoken against you, sons of Israel, against the entire family which He brought up from the land of Egypt, You only have I chosen among all the families of the earth; Therefore, I will punish you for all your iniquities.” Amos 3:1-2.  God brought Israel up out of the land of Egypt and proved His love and care for them. So now for God to speak against them shows He was no doubt greatly provoked. The central act of redemption in the Old Testament was Israel’s exodus from Egypt. All through the Old Testament, God called Israel to look back and remember Him as the one who freed them from Egypt. The central act of redemption in the New Testament, and in God’s whole plan of redemption, is the work of Jesus on the cross. In the same way, we are called to constantly look back and remember what Jesus did on the cross and to live in light of that great fact. He then completes this by saying, “You only have I chosen among all the families of the earth; Therefore, I will punish you for all your iniquities.” Amos 3:2. They are the only people He has chosen to be His, and thus because of their sins they will be punished.

Amos now asks five questions with each answer being an obvious No. “Do two men walk together unless they have made an appointment? Does a lion roar in the forest when he has no prey? Does a young lion growl from his den unless he has captured something? Does a bird fall into a trap on the ground when there is no bait in it? Does a trap spring up from the earth when it captures nothing at all?” Amos 3:3-5a.  Then He asks, leading up to the main purpose of these words. “If a trumpet is blown in a city will not the people tremble? If a calamity occurs in a city has not the LORD done it?”  Amos 3:6.

Now we come to our focus verse, “Surely the Lord GOD does nothing unless He reveals His secret counsel To His servants the prophets.” Amos 3:7. Now, God had told them in verse two that He would punish them for all their iniquities.  However, for many years He had revealed warnings to His people, through the prophets, that if they did not stop their sinning, they would be punished.  Amos spoke of the coming judgment upon Israel. God revealed this secret to His prophets, and it was prophesied for years and years before it happened so Israel would have every opportunity to repent. Such secrets of God are revealed to them, that they may inform the people; that, by repentance and conversion, they may avoid the punishment, and, by walking closely with God, secure the continuance of his favor.

As a parent when my children were young, I would tell them I had warned them about doing wrong; sin, and therefore because they did it they would be punished.  Most of the time, that meant a spanking.  God, through the prophet Amos is doing the same thing.  He was saying He told them previously not to continue in their sin, and because they chose this path, they would be punished by a calamity in their city.  He had warned them many times, but they refused to listen. 

We must remember the context of the prophet Amos and understand that this does not mean that God does nothing without revealing it to a prophet first. He is speaking here of punishment for going against the ways of God.  There are times He will bring things about without initial revelation, i.e.: how God deliberately hid the nature of the church, it being a new body, neither Jewish nor Gentile specifically, from Old Testament prophets.  But when it comes to warnings of punishment for iniquities, we are warned.  Unfortunately, many times we do not listen to it.

In closing, God spoke to the prophets and warned the people through them to repent of their sins and follow God in all ways.  And throughout the scriptures we have been warned as well.  We are taught the  ways of God and that not following them is sin.  “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do, and does not do it, to him it is sin.” James 4:17.  Read His word and study it so you can know the life we have been called to live in Christ.  And reach out to those who are not Christians, helping them to see the truth and accept the salvation provided through Christ’s death.  “But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.” 1 Peter 3:15-16.  

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

Isaiah 9:6

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Isaiah 9:6

“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” – Isaiah 9:6

Merry Christmas Eve.  This is the day before the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Savior of the world.  Our focus verse is the prophecy of this great event as given by Isaiah.  This verse tells us the reason for the great things that will come in the future.  “But there will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish; in earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He shall make it glorious, by the way of the sea, on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles. The people who walk in darkness Will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them. You shall multiply the nation, You shall increase their gladness; They will be glad in Your presence As with the gladness of harvest, As men rejoice when they divide the spoil. For You shall break the yoke of their burden and the staff on their shoulders, The rod of their oppressor, as at the battle of Midian. For every boot of the booted warrior in the battle tumult, And cloak rolled in blood, will be for burning, fuel for the fire.” Isaiah 9:1-5. 

In our focus verse we see several beautiful things that describe this child.  First of all, it speaks of the government being upon His shoulders.  This statement may be referring to the idea of a key that is placed on the king showing his control over the throne room and house of the king.  “Then I will set the key of the house of David on his shoulder, When he opens no one will shut, When he shuts no one will open.” Isaiah 22:22.  Note the phrase, when he opens no one will shut, and when he shuts, no one will open.  This designates control and authority over the kingdom of which he rules.  This very well could be what is referred to in Isaiah 9 where he says, the government will rest on His shoulders.  He will rule and the government will be vested in Him; He will be king.

He is called Wonderful Counselor.  He always gives good counsel to His people, in both temporal and spiritual matters.  His wisdom surpasses all others because it comes directly from the Father, and because He is God Himself knowing all things past, present and future.

And He is the Mighty God, as I stated above.  The language here is, God The Mighty One.  He was not just sent by God, He is God, with all the attributes associated with God.  However, He will be in the form of a man.  John put it this way.  “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 through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” John 1:1-3.  And we know this is referring to Jesus because of what John says later on, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14.  And the next verse clarifies Him as the promised one when He says, “John testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.” John 1:15.  John the Baptist was conceived in the womb before Jesus, but John says He existed before him.  The meaning is clear here.  He was God who came in the flesh.

He is the everlasting Father.  There is but one Father in the Godhead, however, how this all fits together is beyond our understanding.  But what we do know is that Jesus and the Father are one.   He made this clear in John when He said, “I and the Father are one.”  John 10:30.  If Jesus Christ were not God, could he have said these words without being guilty of blasphemy?  He could not be referring to His earthly father, for this would not have been worded “the Father” but “my Father”.  He is God, not “a God” or a messenger of God, He is God Himself.

And He is the Prince of Peace.  According to theologian Albert Barnes, this is a Hebrew mode of expression denoting that he would be a peaceful prince.  That the tendency of His administration would be to restore and perpetuate peace.  This was in sharp contrast to the mass of kings and princes who have delighted in conquest and blood.  In contradistinction from all these, the Messiah would seek to promote universal concord, and the tendency of his reign would be to put an end to wars, and to restore harmony and order to the nations.  And this refers to all forms of peace.  In a prophecy regarding the new kingdom, Isaiah writes, “And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, And the leopard will lie down with the young goat, And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little boy will lead them.  Also the cow and the bear will graze, Their young will lie down together, And the lion will eat straw like the ox. The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra, And the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’s den. They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD As the waters cover the sea.” Isaiah 11:6-9.

These attributes describe completely who this child is that will be born to us, as stated in our focus verse.  He came to us a little over two thousand years ago; a baby born of a virgin in a manger in a small and virtually overlooked town of Bethlehem.  Who He is goes beyond our understanding, but it does show us what we have been given.  A loving and mighty God who provides perfect counsel to those who seek it,  one who is our Father for all eternity who’s reign is defined by perfect peace.  And we have this now in our relationship with Him.  “The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace because he trusts in You. Trust in the LORD forever, For in GOD the LORD, we have an everlasting Rock.”  Isaiah 26:3-4.  And then, “The way of the righteous is smooth; O Upright One, make the path of the righteous level.” Isaiah 26:7. 

This is our relationship with the promised child born of the virgin Mary in Bethlehem so many years ago.  Rejoice and be glad as we celebrate this wonderful time of Christmas Eve and then Christmas day.  And remember, our time here is but the beginning.  “But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9.  Oh the beautiful and amazing things we have to look forward to.

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