James 2:18

Verse of the Day Devotion. James 2:18

“But someone may well say, you have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” – James 2:18

James here, in our focus verse, is linking the ideas of faith and works with the purpose of laying out what real faith is. In the first chapter we read, “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not just hearers who deceive themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.” James 1:22-24. It is so easy to have an exalted opinion of ourselves. To think, I am a good person because I got to Church and bible studies, and I spend time in memorizing scriptures. Yes, these are good things, but are we doing what it says? The act of hearing the word without doing what it says is a way of deceiving ourselves. We think we are in better shape than we really are. We are  not acknowledging the truth about ourselves. And so, we need to be the doers of the word. Paul made this clear when he said, “for it is not the hearers of the Law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the Law who will be justified.” Romans 2:13. And that was the mistake that the Jewish people were making. They thought, ‘well, we have the law of Moses.’ Paul said, No, that isn’t enough. You have to keep the law of Moses.

Now, we come to chapter two. In this section, many think Paul and James are in conflict regarding their teachings. Paul teaches that salvation is through faith, faith alone. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10. Then James asks, can faith save? The answer is yes, faith can save. But it takes a true faith. We must ensure the faith we have is real. For when we do it will be manifested by our works. In other words, to just say you have faith is not enough, for faith on its own is useless because it is a dead faith. “In the same way, faith also, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” James 2:17. No one is really walking in faith if there are no works associated with it. If we are truly walking in faith, our works are going to be manifested to the world, showing our faith to be alive and real.

James then gives an example of what he was telling them. “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,’ yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? In the same way, faith also, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” James 2:15-17. What profit is there if a man says he has faith, and he doesn’t have works? Can that kind of faith save him? No, it can’t. If a brother or sister is naked, or is destitute of daily food, and you say to them, depart in peace, be warmed, and filled; but yet you don’t give them any clothes or food; what good are our words? They can’t make themselves warm or take away their hunger. Under these examples of nakedness and hunger, he comprehends all the calamities of human life, which may be relieved by the help of others as food and raiment contain all the ordinary supports and comforts of life. How many people today will only be casual friends, where the most you can get out of them are, ‘God bless you, Christ help you.’ They can’t fill their stomach without works, for words only are useless. Just as faith without works are useless.

Now we come to our focus verse. “But someone may well say, ‘You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.’ James 2:18. It isn’t only the declaration of our faith. It’s the declaration of our faith that has something behind it. And the proof behind it is the works we do. Again, the works don’t save us. They only prove that we have true faith, and this does save us. And if we don’t have works that are corresponding to what we are declaring, then we do not have saving faith, just the declaration.  Simply verbal affirmation is not enough, and it never will be.

Pastor Chuck Smith, who founded Calvary Chapel before his death in 2013, put it this way. “Now a lot of people made mistakes, going forward, and saying the sinner’s prayer and then going away and living the same kind of life doing the same kind of thing. They say, “Oh yeah, I was saved. I went forward and I said the sinner’s prayer.” No, no, the sinner’s prayer isn’t going to save you. It is a living faith in Jesus Christ that brings about actual changes in your life and the proof is in the works, the proof of your faith. Your works have to be in accordance, in harmony with what you are declaring to be true.

Now, I want to encourage us all to examine our lives and see if there is any time we profess faith without works, which is the validation of our faith. If you find this, then pray that God will help you make the changes needed to make it right. God loves us and is ready to help us through this. The question that is most relevant is, are we ready to change?

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

James 2:18

Verse of the Day: James 2:18

“But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” – James 2:18 

It is easy to tell someone you are, let’s say a computer expert, but when they ask you to assist them with a relatively simple task, like printing a document, you have no idea.  So, you hit a couple of keys and tell them to reboot, and all will be well.  When the computer comes up and it still does not work, they begin to think you are not what you claim to be.  Then when they see the printer is powered off, and then power it up it prints just fine, they know you are not.

The same thing can be true regarding our faith.  Many people proclaim to be Christians, but their lives and focus tell another story.  Remember what Jesus said in His Sermon on the Mount.  “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.”  Matthew 7:21. We can call Him Lord all we want, but if we do not live as if He is, then do we really believe it?  Do our priorities have His will first, or ours?  Are we All-In with Christ, or only partially in?  The proof of our faith is our works.  If there is no works, then is their really faith?  James says no in a very definitive way.  “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” James 2:17. And people will notice it.

If you really have faith, then show that faith by living that faith.  The world is looking for reality.  Walking and talking your faith shows that it is real.  Talking alone will have them question it. William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.

1 Corinthians 16:13

Verse of the Day Devotion: 1 Corinthians 16:13 

“Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” – 1 Corinthians 16:13

There are times when the enemy makes it difficult to stand strong in the truth.  Have you ever been in a position where staying true to God would end in persecution or humiliation?  I will say I have, and in my earlier years I had not always taken a firm stand for Christ.

The idea this verse alludes to is that we should always be on our guard.  We need to look out for the enemy and his wiles.  He does not want us to be successful in this Christian walk.  He is constantly putting stumbling blocks in our way, desiring that we fall away or at the least, compromise.   Have you ever been with people who subtly get you thinking of things you know are wrong?  Or in desiring to fit in, have you spoken badly about someone or nodded in agreement when someone else has?

These times can be hard to see, which is why Paul is adamant that we be on the watch.  We must always look at everything to ensure we do not fall victim to the temptations brought our way.  What I have found true is the things we desire often are the areas he attacks us in.  If we are looking for friendship, we must not desire it more than staying true to God’s commands, for it would be easy to compromise our beliefs if we are not careful.  If we desire to go away somewhere, would we be willing to lie in order to get out of another commitment we made earlier, even if that would result in harm to another?  We must stand firm in the faith; for our sake and the sake of others.  “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;” Philippians 2:3.

We must never yield to anyone or anything that desires us to sin, showing the world we are not serious about our faith.  We must always stand for what we know is the truth, not wavering at all.  We must hold firm to our confidence in God, notwithstanding all the deceit, insinuations, and those of our friends who try to get us to follow their false ways.  As it says, we must be that man or woman who does not act cowardly but stands boldly before all no matter the consequences.  This is what we are called to do.  This is who we are called to be.  I want to encourage us all to be willing to give all, up to and including our lives for the sake of the gospel.  And we can only do this through His Spirit.  “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”  Ephesians 6:10-12.

He gave His life for us.  Should we not be willing to give ours for Him?

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

Galatians 6:10

Verse of the Day Devotion: Galatians 6:10

“So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” – Galatians 6:10    

There is much that is involved regarding this Christian walk.  There is spending time with God in prayer, praise and worship.  There is reading and studying His word, as well as teaching about this life to those that are new in the faith.  But this verse lays out the heart of this life, doing good to others out of love.

In fact, we are called to do good.  “As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good.” 2 Thessalonians 3:13.  Also, “They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.” 1 Timothy 6:19.  We must always be willing and ready to do good to all we come across.  There are many out there that struggle with making ends meet, having enough food on their table or have no way to get somewhere they need to go.  You will be doing them a great favor by helping meet their needs.

Also, there are times when we will go through sadness, grief or disappointment.  If we know someone who is experiencing this, pray fervently for them, visit them to encourage them and maybe just be there with them.  It is amazing how healing it is for someone to just be there with us.  These are beautiful times where we get to exhibit the love of God with people who need to feel it.

And who are we to exhibit this to?  To everyone.  For those who are Christians, God can work through us to reveal His love and purposes for them.  He can show them, through us, there is a purpose to the hard times they are in, and that He will never leave or forsake them.  Life is not always as we desire, even as Christians, but whatever happens, we can always be sure He has a good purpose.  And for the unsaved, it may be what God knows will open their hearts to the knowledge of His love and forgiveness which will bring them to salvation, either immediately or sometime down the road.

In closing, never weary of doing good. The verse just before the focus verse says, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”  Galatians 6:9. We should always do all we can to help, encourage, uplift and walk alongside everyone who we come across.  Who knows what their needs are, and how we could make a difference in their life if we do?  And besides, though not being the reason, when we do good, we will reap a reward from God.  Not a bad thing.

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

Romans 14:1

Verse of the Day Devotion: Romans 14:1

“Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions.” – Romans 14:1 

One thing I have learned in my many years of being a Christian and sharing the word is that there are some who find it hard to give up old beliefs that they have followed for many, many years.  This is what Paul is referring to in this passage.  Let us look at verse 2 as an example.  “One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only.”.  Romans 14:2. What we see here is a difficulty in understanding that there are no such things as unclean foods within the Christian belief system that matches the Jewish Mosaic law.  This does not mean that the belief either way is wrong.  What it does show is that both are trying to do the right thing.

Paul addressed this well in verse 3.  “The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him.” Romans 14:3. As long as neither is sinful within the Christian framework, then there should be no arguing regarding doctrine.  If you choose only to eat vegetables, then that is ok.  If you choose to eat goat meat, then that is fine too.  Neither side is sinning by their choice.  The point Paul makes here is found a couple verses down.  “He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God.” Romans 14:6. If you are thanking God for the food and giving Him the honor and glory, then that is what counts.  We are not to judge one another in these areas. But do not put a stumbling block in his way as well.  In other words, do not do what another deems sinful in their presence.

This is done so that the ‘weaker’ person, the one who is not as learned in this walk and has beliefs that they find difficult to give up, will not see you sinning, as he sees it, and condemn you either openly or in his mind.  As he says starting in verse 16, “Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Romans 14:16-17.  For God approves and I believe delights in this behavior.

Therefore, when you come across someone who finds your actions as disobedience or sin, which in actuality is not in the Christian belief system, go ahead and abstain in his presence.  “So, we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.” Romans 14:19. Why have division and conflict when it can be easily averted?  Is an action or behavior more important than unity of the brethren?  I would say no.

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

Hebrews 11:1

Verse of the Day Devotion: Hebrews 11:1

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” – Hebrews 11:1 

What is faith?  Is faith the same as belief?  Is faith the hope that what we want to believe is true?  Is faith belief with no rational reason to believe?  There are many views we have regarding faith. Let’s look at these three and then look at what the writer of Hebrews has to say about faith.

First, is faith the same as belief?  Does it take faith to believe everything?  I believe that a triangle has three angles and three sides.  The idea that a 2-dimensional, three-sided shape is a triangle is an objective truth.  We can see the three sides, and we know that someone gave this name to it, so is faith involved with this?  No.  Therefore, faith is not necessarily the same as belief.

Next, is faith the hope that what we want to believe is true?  Again, not necessarily.  Back to the triangle metaphor.  If I believe a triangle has four sides and I want to make this true, does it take faith to believe this?  No, it takes a misinterpretation of what a triangle is.  This goes back to the same idea that a 3-sided, 2-dimensional object being a triangle is an objective truth, and a four-sided, two-dimensional object being a rectangle is an absolute truth.

Lastly, is faith belief with no rational reason to believe?  This is similar to the second one, except this one does not deal with objective truth.  This idea can be traced back to the Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855).  This is known as a ‘leap of faith’.  It is a belief in something that has no hope of being true. There is no reason to believe it, but we do anyway.  This was Soren’s view of faith in God.  There is no rational reason or base by which to believe there is a God.  Therefore, you take a leap and believe what is impossible.  This is a very simplistic discussion of Kierkegaard’s view on faith, but it is enough to show it is not true faith; there is no reason to believe, but we believe anyway.

So, what is true Christian faith?  It is what our focus verse expresses.  First, true faith is based on God.  It is absolute belief and trust in God and what He did for us through His Son’s death on the cross.  So, with God as the basis of our faith, we see two things.  First, that faith is the assurance of things hoped for.  Hope here is what we wait for, knowing it will come.  So, faith is the assurance that what God has promised will come to pass.  And it is the conviction of things not seen.  It is the fact that we are convinced that those things God has told us are absolutely true whether we see evidence of it or not.  “For we walk by faith, not by sight—” 2 Corinthians 5:7.  Also, “By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised.” Hebrews 11:11

Therefore, faith is not based on belief with a seen objective truth, or belief in what we desire to be true, or even a belief in something that has no rational reason for us to believe.  Faith is based on God, and it is the assurance that what He has promised, He will bring to pass, and even if we do not see with our eyes what He has promised, we are convinced that it is real.  Because we believe God.  This is faith.  We who are saved must live by it, for as Paul wrote, “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.” Romans 1:17.

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

Ephesians 2:8

Verse of the Day Devotion: Ephesians 2:8

“For by grace, you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” – Ephesians 2:8 

The Jews in Jesus’ time truly believed that by following the law completely, they would be saved.  They believed that as long as they did exactly what the law required, including the blood sacrifice for any sin they should commit, they would be good enough to be saved.  However, it is clear from our focus verse plus the next that this is not the case.  “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.  We can do nothing to make right our rebellion.  Salvation is through grace alone.  Our works have nothing to do with it.

Unfortunately, too many live their lives as though this is still true.  They go to church simply because they believe they must.  They read the bible because they believe this is what a Christian is expected to do.  They say a prayer before every meal and bedtime because that is a tradition they have grown up with.  Also, when they think about whether they are saved, they think about what they did and do, not who they serve.

I remember a Pastor friend who was preaching one Sunday morning and he said the following which has stuck with me since I heard it.  “We do not go to church because we have to, we go because we get to.  We read the bible not because we have to, but because we get to.  And we pray not because we have to, but because we get to.”  These are things we do to fellowship with the one who saved us through His death burial and resurrection.  It is not by what we do, but what He did, and because we accepted this, we GET to fellowship with Him.

Again, let’s look at what James said.  “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. Our works are the sign of the faith we have.  If we truly have given our lives over to Him, then we will desire to do the things He wants us to.  We do them not to be saved, but because we are saved.  Because we truly love Him.  “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”  John 14:15. Also, remember James’s wording. “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” James 2:17. So, summing this all up, Faith by itself, without the works to show the reality of our faith, is not true faith.  But also, works by themselves, without the faith in the works Christ did on the cross, are simply deeds alone with no reconciliation with God.

In closing, Paul lays out how salvation is attained.  “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” Romans 10:9-10.  Works has nothing to do with it, they are simply the proof of our salvation through faith in Christ and His works.  Let us change our thoughts if we place works as a means rather than a sign of our acceptance of the grace God has for us.  Moreover, let us help those who believe works are relevant to our salvation understand what the bible actually says, “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.  There is much freedom that comes from realizing that salvation is a gift of God we accept through faith alone.

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

Colossians 1:23

Verse of the Day Devotion: Colossians 1:23

“If indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.” – Colossians 1:23

This is a very interesting verse in that it is essentially saying salvation is not a one-time event.  It is actually a continuous one.  Yes, there is a time when we accept the work Jesus did on the cross for our benefit, that being the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.  This is where our journey starts.  However, many believe this is where it ends as well, that once we do this we cannot lose our salvation.  However, we can wonder away which this verse explains explicitly.

First, Paul introduces this idea in four verses preceding.  “For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him (Jesus), and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach” Colossians 1:19-22.  When the Father sent the Son here, it pleased Him because it was the way to reconcile us to Himself.  We were enemies of God, hostile to His ways.  We walked according to the ways of this world and our unrighteous desires.  “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.” Ephesians 2:1-3.  However, when we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are reconciled to God.  We have the privilege of calling Him our Father and Christ our Lord.

But this is only the beginning.  Not only must we accept Him and the new life we are to live, but we must persevere to the end.  We must not turn around and say, ‘This isn’t working, I want to go back to the way things were.’  We do not have to explicitly say these words but turning away from Christ and walking away is basically the same thing.  And one more thing regarding this, it could be a gradual turning away.  We may start by simply going back to a few of our old ways.  But,  if they are contrary to the Christian walk, have we not in essence turned away?  We must always obey what He has commanded us.  Recall the words of Jesus. “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” John 14:15.

Jesus in His messages to the seven churches in Asia Minor said the same.  He said those who overcome and keeps My deeds until the end will be blessed as follows:

  • To the Church of Ephesus – I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.
  • To the Church of Smyrna – will not be hurt by the second death
  • To the Church of Pergamum – I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.
  • To the Church of Thyatira – To him I will give authority over the nations, and shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of the potter are broken to pieces, as I have received authority from my Father.
  • To the Church of Sardis – They will be clothes in white garments, and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before my Father and before the angels.
  • To the Church of Philadelphia – I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name.
  • To the Church of Laodicea – I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.

Salvation is not a one and done event.  It is first giving our lives over to Christ and His Lordship.  Then it is continuing to live this life until the end of the age and He returns.  We cannot lose our salvation, but we can walk away.  Remember the words of James regarding this idea.  “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” James 2:17. I encourage us all to show our salvation by our works, remain steadfast and a true follower no matter the cost until He returns. We can then rejoice for all things will be made new.

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

James 1:2-3

Verse of the Day: James 1:2-3

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” – James 1:2-3 

Paul says something here that seems to run contrary to the way most people think.  Count it all ‘joy’ when we experience trials?  This does not come naturally.  It is much easier to be sad and downcast.  However, it is important to see that the joy is not because we are suffering, but because of the strength that comes from patience.  And as Paul said, “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance”.

God allows us to go through trials to build up our endurance so that we can remain steadfast in our walk; to stand against those things contrary to God and His ways.   The more we see God bringing us through these tough times, the more endurance we will have to stay true to Him no matter what we face.  And we will need this endurance as anti-Christian attitudes continue to grow as we get closer to His return.

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

James 2:18

Verse of the Day – James 2:18

“But someone will say, you have faith and I have works. Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” – James 2:18

Salvation comes through faith in God.  Both in the fact He exists and His words.  Do we believe He exists and do we believe what He says?  Our works show the answer to both of the above questions.  If the answer to both questions are YES, then we will do what He says.  We will honor Him with our lives and give our all to Him.  If they are not both YES, then we will not be totally devoted to Him.

Our works show where our heart is.  And the world looks at our works to see if we truly believe as we profess.  If not, then they will doubt the reality of the Christian life. William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.