Judges 2:3

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Judges 2:3

“Therefore, I also said, ‘I will not drive them out before you; but they shall become as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare to you.'” – Judges 2:3  

Today we will start looking at the Book of Judges and some key and important ideas found there. In Chapter one, we see that Israel had experienced the great faithfulness of God who, through Moses, led them from Egypt, and made them His people. In him they conquered Canaan, a noble country. Also, they had the promise of the divine word that God would never forsake them, that the truth on which He had up to this point built up their life and nationality would endure, even if they did not completely obey Him. “Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them, nor will I so abhor them as to destroy them, breaking My covenant with them; for I am the LORD their God.” Leviticus 26:44.

Reason enough had been given them to fulfill everything prescribed by God through Moses, whether great or small, difficult, or pleasant, whether it gave or took away. They had every reason for being completely with God, whether they waged war or enjoyed the fruits of victory. So, were they totally with Him? Could they be with Him after battling the inhabitants of Canaan as we see occurred in chapter one?  Unfortunately, it appears they did not. God lays out their failure to them. “Now the angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim. And he said, I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land which I have sworn to your fathers; and I said, ‘I will never break My covenant with you, and as for you, you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall tear down their altars.’ But you have not obeyed Me; what is this you have done?” Judges 2:1-2. Note the last part of verse two. ‘But you have not obeyed Me; what is this you have done?’

God sent the Angel of the Lord to Bochim, where His people were and told them all He had done; ‘I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land which I have sworn to your fathers, and I said I will never break My covenant with you.” He was clear here. He had brought them out of Egypt and brought them to the land He had promised them. He is declaring He kept all His promises to them. And He asked of them to make no covenants with the people in the land He was giving them. This they did not follow, and the basic idea of the message was that God would in all ways keep His promise; but they, by their flagrant and repeated breaches of their covenant with Him, had forfeited all claim to the stated benefits. Having disobeyed the will of God by voluntarily courting the society of idolaters and placing themselves in the way of temptation, He left them to suffer the punishment of their misdeeds. 

And what was this punishment? “Therefore I also said, I will not drive them out before you; but they shall become as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare to you.” Judges 2:3. Back in the Book of Joshua, Joshua tells them he is getting old and would not be able to keep fighting the enemy with them so he tells Israel to continue the work after he is gone. “But you are to cling to the LORD your God, as you have done to this day. For the LORD has driven out great and strong nations from before you; and as for you, no man has stood before you to this day. One of your men puts to flight a thousand, for the LORD your God is He who fights for you, just as He promised you. So take diligent heed to yourselves to love the LORD your God. For if you ever go back and cling to the rest of these nations, these which remain among you, and intermarry with them, so that you associate with them and they with you,.” Joshua 23:8-12. God is telling Israel because they did not obey Him, in that they did not drive them all out but allowed some to stay, He would no longer drive the people out of the land given to them, but they would do it themselves, as He has told them. And they were not just allowing them to stay in the land, but they developed relations with them, which went against what God had told them. And the result of this message was repentance. “And it came about when the angel of the LORD spoke these words to all the sons of Israel, that the people lifted up their voices and wept. So they named that place Bochim; and there they sacrificed to the LORD.” Judges 2:4-5. They then understood they had done wrong and cried out to God with weeping.

And God will speak to us, as Christians, letting us know if we are not following His will or ways. He may do it directly or may speak through another. Either way, we must listen and look deeply within ourselves to see any truth in what we have been told. And if, after examining ourselves, we see it is true, then we must repent of whatever wrong we have done and make whatever changes are necessary to no longer continue in our sin. God wants to help us in our walk with Him, and He will make wrongdoings clear to us, and will forgive us if we repent and ask forgiveness. “Come now, and let us reason together says the LORD, Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool. If you consent and obey, You will eat the best of the land; But if you refuse and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword. Truly, the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” Isaiah 1:18-20. Let us always take this seriously and make whatever changes are necessary to rid ourselves of sin and cleanse ourselves of all unrighteousness.

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

Exodus 20:3

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Exodus 20:3

“You shall have no other gods before Me.” – Exodus 20:3

For the next ten weekdays, including today, we will be looking at the Ten commandments.  These were given to Moses by God on Mt. Sinai.  God is saying more in these than just stating rules, and we shall look at them from this perspective.  Our focus verse today is the first one, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” Exodus 20:3.  What God is essentially saying is because of what is stated in verse two, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.”  Exodus 20:2.  He asserts He is the one we must look at as the only God, not just one of several or many gods. We must love Him and have supreme affection, worship, trust, self-surrender, aspiration, towards Him alone.  And the reason was that He was the one that delivered them from the cruelty of Egypt, where they had been afflicted for many years.  They suffered under great distress where they worked extremely hard in the bonds of slavery. 

Now, note the last two words in the focus verse: before Me.  This presents the idea of continuing to see Him as God, but in a secondary position where another so-called god would be looked at as greater.  He should be seen as the only God, for none other had or could have done anything for them as He had, delivering them from their captivity in Egypt which they could not do for themselves.  And He did it through a series of miracles that proved His preeminence over the Egyptians, their gods and any other people.  These miracles include but not limited to the pillars that led them out of captivity, the pillar of cloud by day and fire by night.  The destruction of the armies of Egypt that came after them, and ultimately the parting of the Red Sea which brought them to safety through the water on dry land.

And He must be seen as “The Lord God” and not “A Lord God”.  He is not one of several, but He is one, the only true God.  Thus, He was the only one they should go to, and not place something else as god to seek something from it.  This was a common practice with the gentile races who practiced polytheism by having many gods for different times and purposes.  And in their many years in Egypt, some of them may have picked up on this practice, for the ancient Egyptians had over 2,000 deities in their pantheon.  So this may have been a call to forget all these false gods and see Him as the only true God who was Lord. 

Today, just as in Moses’ day, we have countless gods that are followed in our world.  We are called not to get involved in these other religions but to stay true to God and His Son, Jesus the Christ.  However, we do not have to embrace another religion in order to have another god.  If we hold anything as so important that we place it above the true God, then we are falling into this error.  It may be a practice we know is sinful, however we choose not to give it up even knowing it displeases God.  It may be something you own that you cannot give up even if God asked you too.  In either case, these things or practices are put before our devotion to God. 

I challenge everyone to examine their lives and see if there is anything that you place ahead of your devotion to our Lord God.  If so, make the decision to truly ask forgiveness and see God as infinitely greater than that thing or activity and place Him in front of them, and be willing to give them up if God tells you to.  He is the God who sacrificed His Son Jesus in order to pay the penalty we incurred because of our sin and has provided the way to eternal life with Himself.  Is there anything more important than that?   

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

Daniel 3:25

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Daniel 3:25 

“He said, Look! I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods!” – Daniel 3:25

This verse is a part of the story where Shadrach, Meshack and Abed-Nego were thrown into a furnace of blazing fire.  This was done because they disobeyed the command of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon.  These three were a part of the people taken from Israel to Babylon as captives.  They required them the accept the laws and beliefs that were found in Babylon, even if it went against their own. 

In this instance, King Nebuchadnezzar had a large image of Gold made and set up in the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon.  He then declared that everyone was to worship this image.  “Then the herald loudly proclaimed: “To you the command is given, O peoples, nations and men of every language, that at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, bagpipe and all kinds of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king has set up.  But whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire.” Daniel 3:4-5.  And the people obey this command.  “Therefore at that time, when all the peoples heard the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, bagpipe and all kinds of music, all the peoples, nations and men of every language fell down and worshiped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.” Daniel 3:7.  Now, what is sad about this is that there were many more Israelites that were carried away then Daniel and the three mentioned above; Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.  (These were the Jewish names of the three, Shadrach, Meshack and Abed-Nego). 

At some time later, the call was made for all the people to fall in worship the golden image.  However, the three Shadrach, Meshack and Abed-Nego did not follow the require,emts (Daniel was off on a mission for the king.)  So, charges were brought against them.  “You, O king, have made a decree that every man who hears the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, and bagpipe and all kinds of music, is to fall down and worship the golden image. But whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire. There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the administration of the province of Babylon, namely Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego. These men, O king, have disregarded you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image which you have set up.” Daniel 3:10-12.  Now this angered the king and he ordered them to be brought before him.  When they arrived, he gave them another opportunity to follow his commands. 

However, their response was not what he wanted to hear.  “Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18.  This, of course, angered him even more and he ordered the furnace to be heated seven times hotter.  He then has them tied up and thrown into the furnace.  But it did not accomplish what he thought.

Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astounded and stood up in haste; he said to his high officials, “Was it not three men we cast bound into the midst of the fire?  They replied to the king, Certainly, O king.:  Daniel 3:24. And then he says in our focus verse, “ He said, Look! I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods!” Daniel 3:25.  Then the king opens the door of the furnace and tells them to come out and they noticed that the fire had no affect on their bodies, nor was their any smell of fire on them. 

In the book of Deuteronomy we read the following, “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6.  No matter what trials we go through, God is always with us, and will bring us through, no matter how difficult it is, just as He brought the three Hebrews through the fiery flames of the furnace.  The times we find ourselves are difficult, and I believe they may become even more so.  However, no matter what we go through, no matter how difficult the situation and what the plans of the wicked are, we are never alone for the God who can do anything will be right there with us.  Let us secure this truth in our hearts and rely totally on Him no matter what.  And just like the Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego, we will come out of it just fine.

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

Romans 8:3

Verse of the Day – Romans 8:3

“It is impossible to do what God’s standards demand because of the weakness our human nature has. But God sent his Son to have a human nature as sinners have and to pay for sin. That way God condemned sin in our corrupt nature.” Romans 8:3 (GWT)

When I was a child we attended a local Calvary Chapel church, the pastor there was a very unique. He was a drummer back in the 70’s (if I remember right). My family left that church in 2003 for a number of reasons I won’t get into but to this day, he’s one of the few people I would look to and consider my pastor – he is the personification of the concept of being forgiven much and therefore loving much. There was a time we went through the book of Romans (at the time my favorite book of the bible) and during that period of time, it wouldn’t be uncommon for the pastor to tear up on stage talking about the grace of God given to us. I remember looking through the passage we were going to read for two specific and simple words that would lead to him crying, and unbeknownst to me leave such an impression on me that twenty years later, I would be writing about them in a daily devotion…

But God.

These two words, I would argue aside from “I Am” as used in John, are two of the most powerful words in all of scripture when put together. Whenever you see these two words together they are typically placed after a description of impossibilities or dispair. But God is a phrase that denotes a moment in time where the creator of the universe chose to step into time and space to stop the natural order of things and personally intervene in the affairs of men.

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20 (NIV)

“They refused to obey and did not remember the miracles you had done for them. Instead, they became stubborn and appointed a leader to take them back to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God of forgiveness, gracious and merciful, slow to become angry, and rich in unfailing love. You did not abandon them…” Nehemiah 9:17 (NLT)

But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead; he will surely take me to himself.” Psalms 49:15 (NIV)

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26 (NIV)

“I sank down to the very roots of the mountains. I was imprisoned in the earth, whose gates lock shut forever. But you, O LORD my God, snatched me from the jaws of death!” Jonah 2:6 (NLT)

“Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” Matthew 19:26 (NLT)

But God released him from the horrors of death and raised him back to life, for death could not keep him in its grip.” Acts 2:24 (NLT)

“You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead.” Acts 3:15a (NIV)

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 (NIV)

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” 1st Corinthians 1:27 (NIV)

“It is impossible to do what God’s standards demand because of the weakness our human nature has. But God sent his Son to have a human nature as sinners have and to pay for sin.” Romans 8:3a (GWT)

Your past is completed. Your sins have been committed but the future isn’t set. God still breaks through the realms of time and space to disrupt the natural order of death and life, the schemes of angel and demons, our own sabotaging of our lives through fears and worry, and the entirety of the powers of the kingdom of Hell so he can finish the good work he started in you, the role that he has for you in his plan, and to accomplish Jesus’s prayer of ‘as in heaven so on earth’.

  • Christiaan

(Edited to correct a misstatement about my former pastor being from California – turns out he’s a Georgia boy.)