Isaiah 53:6

Verse of the Day Devotion: Isaiah 53:6  All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him.

This is a very important verse for us to understand, especially when it comes to our ministry to both the saved and unsaved.  It is important because of the first three words of this verse; ‘All of us.’  We must remember this in all aspects of our ministry.  This picture of sheep is a popular one within the scriptures.  “I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek Your servant, For I do not forget Your commandments.”  Psalm 119:176.  Also, “For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.” 1 Peter 2:25.  And finally, this lesson from Jesus tells us, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven. For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying. If it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray. So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish.” Matthew 18:10-14

We all have gone astray from God.  We all have walked away from Him and, as the verse says, have turned to our own ways instead of following after God.  This started in the Garden with Adam and Eve.  “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.” Genesis 3:6.  They listened to the lies of the serpent rather than the truth from God.  And as it says in our focus verse, “… Each of us has turned to his own way …”.

We were not able, because of our iniquity, to resolve the issue ourselves since it required a perfect sacrifice, one without any spot or blemish.  But the Lord had an answer, which was to send His Son, to live a perfect life, and then die, paying for the iniquities of the rest of us.  The Messiah, the long-awaited promise, who came in human form as Jesus, paid the complete penalty for everyone, and we have our sins forgiven if we simply believe in Christ, and declare Him Lord.  “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.  Also, there are times when we mess up and do things we should not.  He has a solution for that as well. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

However, we must not think differently about others than we do ourselves, except that we look at them more highly.  “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4   I have seen too often Christians who look down on others who do not have the knowledge or goodness they do.  We cannot think this way, because we at one time were in the position, and it was only by the grace of God that we were restored.  These learned the truth, and it is theirs and all of our jobs, as Christians to teach others and help them grow in Christ.

We must not decide there are people who are so bad or too low that we will not reach out to them.  They may do horrible things, but they deserve to be reached out to as well as we did and do.  Paul put it well, “Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.”  Romans 12:16.  We are called to go into world and make disciples of all men.  We are called to go into the highways and byways and compel them to come to the Lord.  Again, we all were lost.  We all went our own way.  However, someone came to us and showed us the truth and helped us understand.  We were saved by the blood of Christ when we accepted Him, and so it is our job to help others be saved by accepting Him as well.

No one is too far gone for us to ignore.  He has placed this calling on us, formerly sinners, who now understand.  We must reach out to all whom God brings our way.  It only takes one sin to corrupt, and we were corrupt.  So, as someone did for us, let’s go out and do for others.

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

Matthew 4:9

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Matthew 4:9 

“And he said to Him, “All these things will I give You, if You fall down and worship me.” – Matthew 4:9    

Over these three days we will be looking at, in Matthew, the temptation of Jesus.  There were three specifically mentioned in Matthew 4, which we will address. God sent Him out to be tempted. “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” Matthew 4:1. These three testings’ were not for God to see what happens, for God knows all things. Isaiah said the following regarding this idea. “Remember the former things long past, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure.” Isaiah 46:9-10.  God also is showing the contrast between Adam and Eve and the Christ.  Jesus proved Himself by not giving into Satan’s temptation as Adam and Eve did, which was not to God but to the world.  Also showing that temptation itself is not a sin, but our response may be.

With the last temptation, the devil takes Jesus to a high mountain.  In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses is taken to Mount Nebo to look upon the land that He has promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. “Now Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho. And the LORD showed him all the land, Gilead as far as Dan, and all Naphtali and the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah as far as the western sea, and the Negev and the plain in the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar. Then the LORD said to him, “This is the land which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants’; I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there.” Deuteronomy 34:1-4. However, unlike this situation with Moses, the issue is not that Jesus is permitted to see the kingdoms of the world; instead, Satan offers Him world dominion if He will worship him. “Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world, and their glory; and he said to Him, all these things will I give You, if You fall down and worship me.” Matthew 4:8-9.

This was quite a temptation, for what Satan offered was rule over all the earth but without the sacrifice on the cross.  Without the pain, humiliation and all the suffering that was associated with crucifixion. In essence, Satan’s temptation was for Jesus to receive what the Father promised without the physical cost of death, which meant no paying the penalty for the sins of the people. However, Jesus would have nothing to do with it. “Then Jesus said to him, begone, Satan! For it is written, YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.” Matthew 4:10. And as the others, we find this in the Book of Deuteronomy. “You shall fear only the LORD your God; and you shall worship Him and swear by His name.” Deuteronomy 6:13. 

Satan tempted Jesus to believe that someone else could provide for Him in a better way than God could. And we need to be cautious with our eyes open, for this is the way he appeals to us.  Whether it is power, money, success, or the ability to pursue personal interests.  Jesus again reached into the scriptures to answer Satan, and as always interpreting it accurately.  We can see a personal lesson, that being the Bible is our only authority for right and righteous living.  Old Testament Israel bought the lie that God had competition.  However, Jesus did not. He wanted to be mastered by nothing and no one except the true God.  And this should be our mindset as well.

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

Micah 7:8

(Editor’s Note: This devotion is also written by Christiaan as William is still hospitalized, but stable and doing well.)

Verse of the Day Devotion – Micah 7:8 (ESV)

Rejoice not over me, O my Enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD will be a light to me. – Micah 7:8 (ESV)

Times always seem to be tough for God’s chosen people – typically because they had a propensity to abandon God and worship false idols. Micah is writing to the separated from Israel country of Judah at around 750 BC. Micah is calling out the wealthy who actively oppressed the poor and called for them to change their ways. But in between the famous verses about doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly with your God and throwing our sins into the depths of the ocean sits this gem about sitting in darkness.

It’s been a rough number of years for my family, and the concept of hope has been intriguing. So, when I was reading in a devotional and I saw this verse was associated with the idea of concept it really resonated with me. I think Hope is something we often overlook. Much like breathing, we don’t think about it, or associate our feelings or actions with it, until it’s hampered or we lose it. But hope can be something tangible, after all, according to Jyn Erso, in the movie Rogue One “Rebellions are built on hope!”.

In 2013, just before things started going really crazy. I went to a concert of my favorite band, Five Iron Frenzy and I saw a shirt there that had a picture of a bird on it and it said, Hope Still Flies! it’s a line from their song, ‘A Dark and Stormy Night’ “I’ve been waiting, in half hearted sleep… just for hoping that hope still flies…” another line in that song is “I know that Hope has not forgotten me.”

Micah ends his series of messages in chapter 7 speaking a message of tempered hope (kinda like Théoden eh?) . Depending on the translator, the tenses of the writing could be closer to, “Our enemies have no reason to gloat over us…” It’s like he realizes he’s been hard on the people of Judah and doesn’t want them to become despondent. He’s reminding them that, much like in the past when they’ve fallen, they’ve gotten back up.

Much like with David (I previously wrote on Psalms 3:3 and 3:4), one of the things that I find so inspiring is the surety to which they speak. Micah acknowledges two big things. First, that there will be a falling. Something, someone, or someone’s (I don’t think that’s a real term) will fall. And that there will be times where we are in darkness – spiritual, financial, health wise… or maybe just actual darkness.

But he with complete surety mentions that when he falls, he will rise. And when in darkness, the LORD will be his light. It’s not a well-intentioned, mostly true, but pseudo humble, “For though I fall, I may, if God is willing, and I choose to walk in his grace which I don’t deserve as a wretched sinner who God could and should smite with the holy fires of purification, rise again.” or “Though I sit in darkness, spiritually the Lord will help me keep a smile on my face.”

No, when we fall we WILL rise. When we’re in darkness God WILL be our light. Too often Christians give the world and other Christians confusing and often conflicting messages. Some people walk away from some popular TV preachers thinking that God wants what is best for us, and therefore won’t let us suffer, or that when we become a Christian, our lives will be happy sunshine and rainbows unless we sin, in which case God will make us suffer.

There is a reason why Samwise Gamgee, in Lord of the Rings, is one of the most universally beloved characters in all of literature, and I think it’s because he remains hopeful regardless of the situations. Frodo even remarks, “Nothing ever dampens your spirits, does it, Sam?”

It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy. How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad happened.

But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer.

– Samwise Gamgee to Frodo Baggins, The Two Towers.

One of the reasons I chose to write this Hope trilogy, the two verses from Psalms and this one, is because they’re something that I’m going through and I’m sharing with you what I’m learning. As I’m sure many of ya’ll know our founder William is my dad. He’s in the hospital for an unknown amount of time, for something pretty scary. So I’ll end taking a cue from micah.

May we have the surety that David, Micah, and Samwise have that darkness must pass and in the case of David and Micah that God will be our light and rescue. May we have surety that no matter what we go through, that we can have hope in God’s unchangeable character and if he did it for David, he can do it for us. But perhaps most importantly, may we understand that it’s ok if we don’t have that surety but, thankfully, it has no effect on the reality that we can have it.