1 John 4:1

Verse of the Day Devotion: 1 John 4:1

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” – 1 John 4:1

One of the things that John warned the Christians of his day was that there are many false prophets in the world.  And this is just as true today as it was in the first century.  The enemy will do whatever it takes to convince us that the truth is actually a lie, and their lies are actually truth.  Jesus called them wolves.  “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”  Matthew 7:15.  In other words, they will appear as true Christians trying to help us understand the truth, when actually they are there to lead us away from the truth of Jesus Christ.

So, how will we know these false prophets?  “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?” Matthew 7:16. It is important that we look at what they are saying and see if it lines up with the Word of God.  We must be like the Bereans of Thessalonica as written in Acts 17:11. For they checked out everything that was taught to them to ensure it was absolutely true.  Too many people simply accept what is taught to them in church, especially from famous and prominent preachers.  They think because they are famous, they must be speaking the truth.  Or, they have great credentials so they must know what they are talking about.  Not always.  The fruit of teachers are the words they teach.  Truth comes from good and Godly teachers, sheep.  Heresy comes from liars and deceivers, wolves.  Sheep never dress as wolves, but wolves will dress as sheep.  Sheep never want to deceive the people, but wolves do.

So, back to our focus verse.  How can we ensure that we are hearing truth?  We must spend time studying God’s word and hold these truths deep in our hearts.  Then, when we hear something that is false, we will know it and reject it.  In the event we are not sure, we must check the scriptures or ask someone to show you so as to verify the validity of the teaching.  If we find it true, we can accept it.  If we find it is not, then we reject it, and if necessary, the teacher as well.

There are many false teachers out there whose purpose is to tickle our ears as Paul says to Timothy and lead us astray to further their own ambitions and desires.  Be careful what you accept as truth.  Many times, their words are in the bible, but taken out of context.  Be careful and seek the Lord, asking Him to show you what is truth and what is not.  “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” John 16:13. The Spirit of Truth is with us.  And He will, as stated above guide you into all truth.  Follow His guiding.

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

Isaiah 30:9

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Isaiah 30:9

“For this is a rebellious people, false sons, Sons who refuse to listen to the instruction of the LORD.” – Isaiah 30:9

This particular verse is a prophecy that Isaiah receives from God regarding what Assyria will do and ultimately how Israel will respond.  The northern kingdom of Israel would soon be conquered by Assyria, and the people of Israel would be taken into exile. The Assyrians would then come against the land of Judah, and because of this threat the leaders of Judah looked to Egypt for protection against the Assyrian invasion.  “Woe to the rebellious children,” declares the LORD, “Who execute a plan, but not Mine, And make an alliance, but not of My Spirit, In order to add sin to sin, Who proceed down to Egypt Without consulting Me, to take refuge in the safety of Pharaoh And to seek shelter in the shadow of Egypt!” Isaiah 30:1-2.  God tells them that the plan they have devised was not His and the alliance they were making for their protection was not with Him. 

However, this alliance will be a shame to them, causing humiliation because they thought they would be safer with Egypt than with God.  “Everyone will be ashamed because of a people who cannot profit them, Who are not for help or profit, but for shame and also for reproach.” Isaiah 30:5.  Egypt was not going to save them.  They were not going to protect them from the most powerful kingdom on the earth at that time.  They did not want to get involved, for they knew they could not defeat them, therefore they simply wanted to stay clear of the whole issue.  “For this is a rebellious people, false sons, Sons who refuse to listen To the instruction of the LORD.” Isaiah 30:9.  However, though they are rebellious, God is still gracious with them.  “Therefore, the LORD longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him.” Isaiah 30:9. However, they must call out to Him and no other, in this example, the kingdom of Egypt. 

Paul, in the book of 2 Timothy, writes to educate Christians by preaching His word to them.  “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.”  2 Timothy 4:1-2.  And it is imperative that we do this today.  For we see the fulfillment of the prophecy spoken in the next two verses.  “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance with their own desires and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” 2 Timothy 4:3-4.  This speaks of acting as the tribe of Judah did in not listening to God but doing as they desired. Does this sound similar to what Isaiah tells Judah they are doing?  “Who say to the seers, “You must not see visions”; And to the prophets, “You must not prophesy to us what is right, Speak to us pleasant words, Prophesy illusions.” Isaiah 30:10.

It is important that we listen to teachers who teach the truth of the scriptures, no matter what it says, and not what we desire to hear.  We see that today where people do not want to hear where they are wrong or where they need to stop engaging in activities that are pleasurable yet sinful.  They turn away from what is true to follow myths that make them feel good.  We need to learn what is good and follow it while turning away from what is not good and leads us away from Christ.  The people of Judah chose to ignore God, telling prophets and seers to tell them only what they wanted to hear and not what they needed to hear.  Let us not fall into this same error.

And because they did not listen to God and chose another

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

Exodus 20:16

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Exodus 20:16 

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” – Exodus 20:16

We are now on the ninth commandment which we see above in our focus verse. 

This commandment forbids any type of lying or deception which can or will be at the detriment of our neighbor.  And by our neighbor is meant any person.   This can be lying, equivocating, and any way devising and designing to deceive our neighbor.  This can take the form of either lying to the person or lying about them.  This idea of bearing false witness is mentioned many times in the bible, and pretty much exclusively as a negative idea.  In the book of proverbs it says, “There are six things which the LORD hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him:” Proverbs 6:16.  In these seven things God hates, you will find at least two that are intended in this ninth commandment.  “Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that run rapidly to evil, A false witness who utters lies, And one who spreads strife among brothers.” Proverbs 6:17-19.  God himself considers these as an abomination to Him.

Now this does not include playing jokes on someone, such as telling them their favorite football team, like the Seattle Seahawks lost when they actually won, you forgot to pick up their shirt at the cleaners when it is sitting in your car, or that you like a certain food that you really do not.  These are harmless words that have no real negative impact.  The types of deception intended here is what can cause problems to them. 

The idea of bearing a false witness is one who stands up and swears before others that something untrue is true, especially with the intention of hurting someone else or ruining his or her reputation.  David experienced this and he prays that his adversaries do not get their desired objective.  “Do not deliver me over to the desire of my adversaries, for false witnesses have risen against me, And such as breathe out violence.” Psalm 27:12. and the Jewish leadership searched for false witnesses against Jesus but were not successful.  “Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus, so that they might put Him to death.  They did not find any, even though many false witnesses came forward. But later on two came forward, and said, “This man stated, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to rebuild it in three days.”  Matthew 26:61. 

Another example of bearing a false witness is to tell a person to perform an action that will benefit them which actually has a negative outcome.  I remember being invited to a presentation where several men were offering income to people who would give them 100 leads, they could pursue for selling a service, and after all these leads were used up, then they could begin earning money themselves.  After asking a few questions, I realized this was a scam and the intention was to exhaust their benefit entirely from their family and friends.  Once they determined I had figured this out, several men asked me to follow them, and they proceeded to make me leave.  One of the clues that led me to question it was they locked the door with a key from the inside.

The lies told by a false witness come from the sinful human heart.  “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man.” Matthew 15:19-20.  Their only intention is to benefit in some way from another’s demise.  This shows no love for anyone else but themselves, working solely for their own benefit.   This is not what God has called us to.  We are to do good to everyone over and above our own self.  “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” Galatians 6:9-10.

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

Matthew 24:11

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Matthew 24:11  

“Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many.” – Matthew 24:11

Jesus, at the beginning of this chapter, said the following to His disciples regarding the Jewish Temple.  “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.” Matthew 24:2. He said this after He came out of the temple and the disciples came up to Him.  This probably was a surprise to them, so they asked Jesus a question. “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” Matthew 24:4b.  “And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many.” Matthew 24:4-5. I actually experienced this one time back in the late 1970’s.  I was walking in an avocado orchard in South Florida and this young lady came up to me and asked me if I wanted to meet Jesus. I saw him dressed as we would expect him to be, and he was leading a group of ladies as he did spoke to many he came across. I spoke with him for just a few minutes before they left the field.  He tried to convince me that he was The Christ, but since he could not convince me he left, followed by the several ladies that were with him.  There has been many claiming this. One well known person who claimed to be the last prophet, the son of God, the lamb was David Koresh back in 1983. 

However, there are many who claim to be a prophet of the living God, not necessarily the Messiah yet teaching a false message.  I remember when one of these false teachers were on television and declared that there were three God the Fathers, three God the Sons, and three Holy Spirits.  He then yelled out, “there were nine of them.”  When told by the host he had never heard that before, the false teacher said, and I am paraphrasing, “I do not come to tell you the same old stuff, but things you have not heard before”.  What a sad statement.  And because of this idea, many have been deceived and mislead. 

Jesus speaks of this using a tree and its fruit as an example.  “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” Matthew 7:15-19.  Jesus tells the disciples that many will come looking like sheep but are actually only in a sheep costume and are actually wolves, seeking to destroy sheep.  And He finishes with the next verse, “So then, you will know them by their fruits.” Matthew 7:20. Prior to verse 20 Jesus tells them, “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.” Matthew 7:16-17.  A false prophet gives false teachings while a true prophet gives true teachings. 

Now, Paul gives us an answer as to how we can be sure we are not deceived.  He speaks of the believers in Berea who were careful about the teachings given them.  “Now these 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. Notice what they did.  They checked out the teachings with the scriptures.  This, along with prayer, should be our focus if we hear anything possibly could be false teaching.  We should not accept a teaching just because it came from a well-known preacher and/or it is something we have never heard before.  We need to check these things out so we are not led astray.

And one more thing.  If a pastor preaches something and you check it out and find it questionable, bring it to their attention.  They may not know it is wrong, so by doing this you are assisting him in his teaching. I remember this happened to me once where I heard a weird teaching and I asked him about it and he realized his error, which he ultimately cleared up with the congregation.  Another time I found out I mis-understood him so it can go both ways.  However, the important thing to remember is that we must check out what we  and others are taught and ensure it is truth so we do not find ourselves deceived and going down a wrong path that does not lead to the truth. 

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

Matthew 7:15

Verse of the Day Devotion: Matthew 7:15 

“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” – Matthew 7:15   

Jesus in this verse is warning His followers that they need to beware of false prophets.  The word ‘prophet’ has various definitions.  One is a person who foretells the future.  This is how the word is generally used today.  Now Jesus’ use of the word can in some ways be applicable to those who declare future events.  However, in the time of Jesus it was normally used to describe a public instructor on the subject of religion.  These religious teachers go out and instruct those in the ways of their religion. 

Now, in our focus verse Jesus is warning them that these false teachers will attempt to instruct them in incorrect doctrine, claiming falsely that they have learned these through divine inspiration.  Their purpose is to lead them into heresy.  This statement from Jesus is probably in reference to false teachers regarding the Jewish faith.   He spoke specifically of some of the Jewish scribes later in His ministry.  “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love respectful greetings in the market places, and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets, who devour widows’ houses, and for appearance’s sake offer long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.” Luke 20:46-47.  These scribes referred to here are those who have a different outside appearance then what is inside.  They take advantage of people using religious words and distorted principles, yet outwardly, before the people, they pretend to be great and devout teachers, teaching false doctrine and principles for their own profit, while pretending to be God’s servants. Notice what it says at the end of the verse; these will receive greater condemnation.

 As in those days, we need to be as careful now  because there are many false teachers in our churches today.  They profess incredible knowledge and credentials but teach doctrine that is counter to what the Word of God actually teaches.  Just because they have many followers does not mean they are true children of God.  They may look and act godly and have a great outward spiritual appearance, however, their goal is to deceive us into following them and what they have to say.  This is why it is so important that we study God’s word on a regular basis.  We need to have this knowledge deep within is us so we can compare what they are saying with the truth.  Comparing the differences between the two if they exist will tell us if they are a true teacher of the word.  We must be as the Bereans Paul describes in the book of Acts.  “The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. Now these 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. Therefore many of them believed, along with a number of prominent Greek women and men.”  Acts 17:10-12.  Never just accept what anyone tells you if you have any questions as to what they taught.  Check it out.  This will prevent a wolf from deceiving you who comes across as a wonderful sheep but proclaiming great deception in the hope of leading you astray. 

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