Proverbs 19:17

Verse of the Day Devotion: Proverbs 19:17

“One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the LORD, and He will repay him for his good deed.” – Proverbs 19:17

Today is Thanksgiving and marks the beginning of the Christmas Season.  This time of year is a favorite to many who enjoy the decorations, songs and movies that are popular during this period.  This is also a great time to enjoy shopping with family and friends and giving clues as to what you would want to open on Christmas morning.  It is truly a blessed time for many.

However, there is an important segment of society that we need to remember as well, that being the truly poor around us.  There are many people who do not have enough money to pay for food, clothing and shelter; our three basic needs laid out by Jesus in Matthew 6:31.  That makes celebrating Christmas with gifts and a feast definitely out of the question.  They would love the opportunity to give a gift to others, however it would take away from providing for the basic needs as listed above.  Furthermore, they would love to give their children a great gift, but many times have to either find something that was thrown away or not give a gift at all.

What if this was our situation.  Would we want help?  Would we want someone to bless us with the ability not to see Christmas as just another day?  Think about this and remember what Jesus said, “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12.  Also note when He used the phrase regarding the law and prophets another time.  “And He said to him, “YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF. On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40.  Helping in this manner will show your love for both God and our fellow man.  We no doubt will be unable to help everyone in this situation.  But if we can help at least one person or family, it will make a great difference in their lives and help them to celebrate just as we are able to.

And notice the second part of our focus verse.  “… and He will repay him for his good deed.” Proverbs 19:17b.  This repayment will either occur in this life, in things that are temporal and/or spiritual, or in the life to come.  We may not know what and how this repayment will be, however we can feel comfortable that it will be wonderful and something only God could give.  However, we must remember to give out of love and not in search of repayment.  This is important for this is how God gave His Son for us to provide the salvation we need.

In closing, I want to encourage everyone to look for ways to provide a special blessing to those who are poor and suffering during this time.  If you would like some ideas, feel free to email me at [email protected].  I have several areas that we are assisting in and I know would love the support and assistance you can offer.

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

Psalm 4:1

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Psalm 4:1

“Answer me when I call, God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; Be gracious to me and hear my prayer.” – Psalm 4:1

First, I want to clarify that David is not telling God to answer him, but asking Him. David has been through a lot in those days. In Psalm 3, we read about him dealing with the troubles brought about by his son Absalom who rebelled against him along with the vast majority of Israel who followed Absalom.  Now, in chapter four, we see that many great men were lying about David, speaking ill of him, and ultimately defaming his character. “You sons of man, how long will my honor be treated as an insult? How long will you love what is worthless and strive for a lie?” Psalm 4:2. David’s life as king was not an easy one. He found himself suffering through all kinds of trials. But he understood with full clarity what would truly bring God’s people through rough times, that being the Almighty God. “But know that the LORD has set apart the godly person for Himself; The LORD hears when I call to Him.” Psalm 4:3.

Then David lays out four basic imperatives directed at the people there, and to us as well. First, we are to tremble but not sin. “Tremble, and do not sin;” Psalm 4:4a. We are to understand that to go against what God commands is sin and thus we must focus all our efforts and thoughts on not sinning against Him. Unfortunately, too many people ignore this and twist the verse such that they see, ‘sin, but tremble not’. We see so many people, who call themselves Christians, going about sinning and not thinking anything about it. This is especially true of many who believe that once you are saved God forgives anything you do going forward. This concept is known as antinomianism which has the idea that Christians are released by grace from the obligation of following any moral, religious or social norms or laws. The word itself is from the Greek that means ‘against the law.’ Our hearts must be such that we tremble at the thought of sinning at all. Next, we are to think about what we are doing. “Meditate in your heart upon your bed and be still. Selah” Psalm 4:4b. On your bed, calmly consider and meditate on these things in the silence of night, when you are at leisure from distracting business. Be still and compose your tumultuous minds. Think about what you do, and if it is right then continue, but if it is wrong, then stop and ask forgiveness and no longer continue in this way.

Next, “Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, And trust in the LORD.” Psalm 4:5a. Do not attempt to offer a sacrifice to God for prosperity in your present rebellious conduct. Such a sacrifice would be a sin. Turn to God from whom you have revolted; and offer to him a righteous sacrifice, such as is lawful and such as He can receive. In other words, do not just offer something to God so that you can receive something from Him, or offer up to God something that is not acceptable to Him. And finally, we are to trust in the Lord. He loves us, wants the best for us, and can do anything. This is the God we serve, and He is the only one we can trust completely.

Then David finishes this with the following. “Many are saying, who will show us anything good?” Psalm 4:6a. He starts this by asking a rhetorical question ‘Who will show us anything good?’ After continual disappointment from man, we may begin to doubt if God will show us any good. But not David. He says, “Lift up the light of Your face upon us, LORD! You have put joy in my heart, More than when their grain and new wine are abundant. In peace I will both lie down and sleep, For You alone, LORD, have me dwell in safety.” Psalm 6b-8. Despite what the cynics said about God not being there or ignoring them, David trusted that the LORD would give him joy beyond what the ungodly had in their prosperity. And because he trusts in God, he can lie down and sleep in peace because the Lord provides them safety in all their ways. We can imagine a man lying down to sleep, tormented by all of what his enemies or fake friends say about him. David could be that man, but instead he trusted in the LORD. He therefore had a gladness that the world could not take away, even with all their slanders and lies.

In closing, no matter which way we read the psalm, one aspect of David’s faith is clear: it is to God that he turns for vindication, and it is in God that He trusts. To the extent that the language of the psalm implies an attack on the David’s honor, David names the Lord as God of my righteousness, which put another way, the God who vindicates me. And in wisdom, we must see life the same way. Life for the Christian can be very difficult,  because the enemy hates us and desires to destroy our faith. We need to trust God that no matter our situation, as Christians He is with us and will bring about a good, even if we do not see a good ourselves. Those whom God knew would give their lives to Him can be assured that all things will turn out great. “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” Romans 8:28-30.

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

Psalm 86:15

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Psalm 86:15  

“But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” – Psalm 86:15 

This psalm addresses a situation where David was suffering because of ruthless and evil men.  “O God, insolent men have risen up against me; a band of ruthless men seeks my life, and they do not set you before them.” Psalm 86:14.  David is referring to a band of men who do not honor God, in fact they consider themselves to be above or more important than God, if they believe in Him at all.  They are terribly violent ones who breathe out nothing but cruelty and will slaughter as many as they have to. 

However, David is not alone.  He cries out to God for encouragement.  “But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. Turn to me and be gracious to me; give your strength to your servant, and save the son of your maidservant. Show me a sign of your favor, that those who hate me may see and be put to shame because you, LORD, have helped me and comforted me.” Psalm 86:15-17.  In our focus verse, He declares God is merciful and compassionate and tender hearted, as a parent is to his children being rich and plenteous in His mercy.  He also declares He is slow to anger and abounding in love and faithfulness. 

After this, David calls out to God for help.  “Turn to me and be gracious to me; give your strength to your servant and save the son of your maidservant.”  Psalm 86:16.  In these verses he is asking God to help him through all these troubles.  Help to be saved from these evil people who have caused him much trouble.  He asks God to be merciful and gracious to him and to give him the strength necessary to make it through these trying times.  And then he asks for a sign from God.  “Show me a sign of your favor, that those who hate me may see and be put to shame because you, LORD, have helped me and comforted me.”  Psalm 86:17.  The sign was to bring shame on those who hate him because you have helped and comforted him.  This would probably cause them to doubt their ways and their ability to hurt David.  He desired that God would show them that they can do nothing harmful to him when God is involved.

So, I want to ask the following question.  When you find yourself in difficult situations, what do you do?  Do you spend time mourning and crying?  Do you cry out to God for help, or do you just cry out?  God does not change and neither do His mercies.  “So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 6:17-20.  When you find yourself in a situation where you do not see any good coming from it, go to God.  There is nothing impossible for Him and there nothing He does not foresee.  Trust Him in every way, for in Him we will be comforted and have victory.  “Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:31-33.

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

Exodus 34:6

Verse of the Day Devotion: Exodus 34:6 

“The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,” – Exodus 34:6   

This verse describes events that occurred after Moses threw the first set of tablets containing the Ten Commandments down upon the rebellious Children of Israel.  Remember that when Moses was coming down from Mount Sinai he was so angry that he threw the tablets down onto them.  Well, this chapter describes how the second set of tablets were given.

Here is the verses recording this event.  “The LORD said to Moses, “Cut for yourself two tablets of stone like the first, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. Be ready by the morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai, and present yourself there to me on the top of the mountain. No one shall come up with you, and let no one be seen throughout all the mountain. Let no flocks or herds graze opposite that mountain.” Exodus 34:1-3.  Moses here is given till the next morning to cut new tablets upon which God would put the Ten Commandments upon.  He then tells Moses to come to the mountain himself, not to bring anyone with him.

So Moses cut two tablets of stone like the first. And he rose early in the morning and went up on Mount Sinai, as the LORD had commanded him, and took in his hand two tablets of stone. The LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD.”  Exodus 34:4-5.  Therefore, Moses does what he is commanded and cuts two new tablets to replace the ones destroyed previously.  The next morning he awakens, takes the two new tablets, and presents them to God.  The next thing we read is that the Lord descended from Heaven in a cloud and, I love the way this is put, and stood with him there.  Now the Lord declares in our focus verse, “The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, Exodus 34:6.  And then continuing in verse 7, “keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” Exodus 34:7. 

When He announced Himself to Moses the first time at the burning bush, he declared Himself as ‘self-existent’.  “God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” Exodus 3:14.  This time He makes Himself known in the glory of His grace and goodness, using language that would be presented in the future to the church.  And because of what the Jews had done previously during the presentation of the first set of tablets, this shows His grace and mercy in presenting, once again, His law to His people, but also the grace and mercy He has in overlooking their sin.  And not just the sin of Israel, but all who has offended God in their ways.

This is the God we serve, one that has overlooked our sins once we cried out to Him for forgiveness, and then gave ourselves to Him to His service.  He loved us so much that He forgave us of everything and has declared us guiltless before Himself.  His abounding love and mercy goes far beyond anything we can ever imagine, and our future is with Him, in His kingdom forever.  What an amazing God we serve.

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