Acts 4:12

Verse of the Day Devotion: Act 4:12

“And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” – Acts 4:12 

Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour which was the hour of prayer.  A man who had been lame from birth was sitting at the temple gate called “Beautiful” begging for financial assistance.  Upon seeing Peter and John, he requested financial help from them.  Then Peter and John looked at him and Peter said, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—walk!” Acts 3:6. Peter then helped him up and immediately his feet and ankles were strengthened, and he began to walk.  Many people saw this man walking and praising God, knowing that this was the man crippled and begging every day at the Beautiful Gate.

Now, Peter and John began teaching the people about Christ.  “And now, brethren, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your rulers did also.  But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled.  Therefore, repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;” Acts 3:17-19.  They are calling the leadership to return to true worship and adoration of the true God, not the one they were serving.  Note: There were around 5000 men who believed their word when the priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came to have them arrested.

The next day, John and Peter were taken before the rulers, elders and scribes where they were asked by what power they healed this man.  Peter then, filled with the Holy Spirit, answered by saying that it was Jesus the Nazarene, whom they crucified and whom God raised from the dead; by His name this man has been healed and is standing before them.  He added then, “He is the STONE, WHICH WAS REJECTED by you, THE BUILDERS, but WHICH BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone.” Acts 4:11. And then they declared, by our focus verse, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12.

The word ‘salvation’ properly denotes any preservation or the keeping of anything in a “safe” state; a preserving from harm.  Also, it denotes deliverance of body or mind of the same, sickness, pain, danger, etc.  In the New Testament, it is normally applied to the Messiah, Christ, and what He came to do.  “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:10. Mankind cannot, in and of themselves, become found.  We were separated from God and did not have the access Adam and Eve had prior to their sin.

What Peter was saying to the leadership was they did not have the power to provide this salvation.  Their adherence to the law and its rules and works could not provide what mankind needed.  There is only one name by which man can be saved, that being Jesus the Christ, the Son of God.  And these words pertain to us today as they did to those in the first century.  It is Christ alone, not through any other man or woman, prophet, idol or false god, teacher, leader or any false Christ. Salvation has its origin in God, and the Savior, He gave us, and cannot be originated by any power among people.

This word must be preached to all people, letting them know that Christ is the only answer to all our issues; physical, moral or spiritual.  Salvation from all these areas is only available by the Creator of all things.  Sin caused separation from God, sickness, pain, danger and all things that we suffer today.  And the Messiah, Christ is the only source of salvation from all these areas.  Our job is to go out and evangelize the world.  “And the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled.” Luke 14:23. Many are deluded that salvation comes from many sources, religions, works, etc.  It is our job to compel the world to come to God’s house through the only door possible, the death, burial and resurrection of Christ and the acceptance of this work. And we must not cave and give in to the arguments of those who question or debate us.  The answer is clear and immutable.  Stand strong and spread this good news to all we come in contact with.  In so doing, we will fill His house, thus pleasing Him and also help those who need and want salvation, receive it.  This is love, both of God and our fellow man.

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

James 1:5

Verse of the Day Devotion: James 1:5

“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” – James 1:5

In order to get the major context of this verse, we need to look at the three verses prior to this.  “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces enduranceand let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”  James 1:2-4.  Now, this verse can be used for any situation wisdom is needed, however, when you see the words in the above verses, ‘your faith produces endurance’ it makes sense what James is focusing on.

Now, the wisdom that James is no doubt referring to is that wisdom which helps the Christian get through these times of trials, for there is probably no time the Christian needs the wisdom from God more than in how to bear up under the ordeal they are suffering.  This wisdom is essentially understanding that for us to be stronger in our faith knowing God is totally in control, it must be tested so that any area where we do not grasp this truth can be strengthened.  And the stronger it is, the more endurance we have to continue through it.  I believe this is why God does not always deliver us from difficult situations.  To paraphrase Francis Schaeffer on this topic, ‘too often we ask God to deliver us from our trials, when we should be asking Him to bring us through our trials.’

Part of this wisdom is seen in James 1:2.  “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,” How can we rejoice, counting it all joy to suffer these trials?  By realizing the following.  1) That God is in control, and He would not have had you go through this if there was not a good reason, 2) Because our faith in God strengthens as we see His help and support though it, and 3) We are glorifying God by trusting Him that we will make it through.  It is interesting that in countries where persecution is at its worst, the church is growing and flourishing.  Here in the United States, where persecution is much, much less, we see more people leaving the faith, churches losing members and closing their doors.  Kind of makes sense.

If we are enduring hard times, we can pray to God for the specific wisdom we need.  We all, as Christians, have wisdom imparted to us.  One is the knowledge we need Him.  Another is how to treat each other.  In fact, the bible is a book full of wisdom. And when we read and study His word, we gain much wisdom and knowledge.  However, this wisdom may not be fully understood, and therefore God must strengthen it in order to equip us to do His will, no matter what that is.  Most times, through trials, our understanding of His word increases.

So, when we find ourselves in a time of trial, consider it a good thing, for your growth and the Kingdom of God.  We must see our times of trials as a needed time that will equip us for the times that are coming.  For when the end-times arrive, it will be incredibly difficult.  When that time comes, we should consider it a time of joy, for we know His return and our deliverance is just around the corner.  And when things seem too hard to handle, pray to God for His strength and wisdom to help us through.  God is able and willing.  All we have to do is ask it of God.

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

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.