Matthew 8:20

Verse of the Day Devotion: Matthew 8:20

“Jesus said to him, the foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” – Matthew 8:20

Jesus was speaking to a crowd of followers.  It was not just the twelve who walked with Him, there were many who heard what He was teaching, saw the many miracles He performed, and desired to know more about Jesus, who He was and what He taught. We read in Matthew the following, “Then a scribe came and said to Him,  Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.” Matthew 8:19.   The use of the word teacher tells us that He truly did not understand who Jesus was.  Also, in the rabbinic culture, the scribes were held in high esteem.  They normally were well taken care of and all their needs were met.  I am sure he expected Jesus to say, “Sure, come along, that would be great.” However, Jesus knew this man’s heart and that he was no doubt expecting everything to be the same, and for him to be taken care of as he was being a Rabbi.  However, the focus verse states His answer, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” Matthew 8:20.  As we continue reading, we see no indication that he followed Jesus.

Notice that Jesus did not say to him that he was not welcome to follow Him.  But what He did say was the truth of what it meant to follow Him.  He did not paint a beautiful image of what it was like to be a follower.  But what He did say showed that it was not as easy as he had thought.  In essence He told the scribe that there were no guarantees.  There was nothing that promised they would have a place to sleep that was comfortable and safe.  The animals will have more assurance of a good night sleep then he would if He followed Him.  As you see what happened throughout Jesus’ ministry, there were a lot of uncertainties.  Food was not always available, and they were not always in places of safety.

And we need to be careful that we do not present a rosy picture of this life.  Yes, God will never leave us or forsake us.  Yes, He will give us joy and peace in all situations.  And yes, He will always love us and take care of us.  Too many times evangelists will use the technique of painting a picture to new believers and disciples that all is well, you can get what you want, and that you always will be safe. If we do, we are hiding what is going on in many countries where the governments are out to punish all those who worship Jesus.  Also, we are telling them that everyone will listen to them, and not give them any trouble.  Times can get tough.  And Jesus did not hide this aspect of following Him.  And if He did not hide this, then neither should we.

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

Luke 12:7

Verse of the Day Devotion Luke 12:7

“Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are of more value than many sparrows.” –  Luke 12:7 

Many times, in the gospels Jesus is said to tell His people not to fear.  Mark shared these words from Jesus. “But Jesus, overhearing what was being spoken, said to the synagogue official, do not be afraid any longer, only believe.” Mark 5:36. And from John we read, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” John 14:27. Here in our focus verse, Jesus gives the reason why we have no need to fear. 

First, let us look at verses 1-3. “Under these circumstances, after so many thousands of the multitude had gathered together that they were stepping on one another, He began saying to His disciples first of all, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed and hidden that will not be known. Accordingly, whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in the inner rooms shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.” Luke 12:1-3. As Jesus continued in the general direction towards Jerusalem, vast multitudes came to hear Him. The crowds were so large that some were injured in that some were trampled by others. Jesus then spoke to His disciples saying, beware of hypocrisy.  Hypocrisy is like leaven in the sense that it only takes a little bit of it to affect a great mass. A little bit of hypocrisy can be like a little bit of strong poison. In light of their tremendous popularity, it was especially important for the disciples to remember this. The temptation to hypocrisy is often strongest to those who enjoy some measure of outward success. He closes this out by saying that nothing is hidden that will not be revealed at some future time, for God knows all things.

He then answers a question they may have had; this may cost us our life. “And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.” Luke 12:4. He did not deny this could happen but explained how, for Christians, this was inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.  Our bodies may die, but we will live forever. Therefore, we have no reason to be afraid of persecution because of our faith.  The believer’s real life is an eternal one to be spent in God’s presence, and no outside power can affect this. And He went on to say, “But I will warn you whom to fear; fear the One who after He has killed has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!” Luke 12:5. This verse does not refer to a hopeless terror but to a kind of reverential awe that leads to obedience. He is not saying we are to be afraid of God, but to see God in awe and reverence which is due Him.  Then He gives them an example of what He means.  “Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? And yet not one of them is forgotten before God.” Luke 12:6. These birds were considered good, cheap food that were sought after by the poor, who could not afford anything else.  In God’s providential rule of creation, not even something as inconsequential as the fall of a sparrow occurs apart from his omniscience and will.  

And now we come to our focus verse. “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Luke 12:7. This is written in a legal sense.  Since God values the sparrows to the point that they are never forgotten, then we should not be afraid since we are considered far more valuable than many sparrows and thus will not be forgotten. 

In closing, God knows everything about us; past, present, and future.  And in the above example, He even knows the number of hairs on our heads.  That is particularly amazing with me because I lose hairs on a regular basis.  But this shows the importance He places on us because of His amazing love.  Yes, we may suffer because of our belief in Christ, or even die due to our faith.  But we must always remember what Jesus said as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew. “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:10. So, let us not fear what man can do to us, for in remaining strong in our faith during the most difficult times, we will be blessed by going home to God’s kingdom.  Nothing to be afraid of here.

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

Psalm 23:5

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Psalm 23:5   

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows.”- Psalm 23:5

This verse is a picture of God’s provision for His people in difficult times.  A good man has enemies.  There is no question of that, just like Jesus had enemies.  Yet here, what we see is David declaring peace in the midst of his enemies.  This is something that is totally different than how we see things.  Let us look at this a moment.  Normally, when a soldier is in the presence of his enemies, if he eats at all he snatches a hasty meal, and away he hastens to the fight.  He quickly swallows it so that it will get him through the battle until he can have a more complete meal. 

However, notice the wording here.  “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies”. Psalm 23:5a.  David is saying that just as a servant lays out the table with a fancy cloth and then puts the feast on this table as in a time of peace, so does He present a table for David where his enemies see it.  Nothing is hurried or rushed, and there is no confusion.  There is nothing to disturb the meal, even though the enemy is at the gate and sees everything.  God prepares a table for us and we as God’s children can sit and eat as if everything were in perfect peace.  And what a peace He gives us, that even in the midst of the most trying times and circumstances.  Isaiah puts it this way, “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.  When we trust God completely, and our minds are focused on Him and not our trials, then He will keep us in perfect peace.  It does not matter what is going on or if we are troubled by our enemies, for He will take care of us.  God will provide our needs in ways we could never imagine.  We have no reason to fear, for God is always with us and will protect us.   And He will bless us in situations that seem impossible for any good to come from it.

The last part of this psalm is, “You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows.” Psalm 23:5b.  There are several meanings to the anointing of the head with oil, however, the one that makes the most sense to me is the idea of the oil of gladness as shown in Isaiah. “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners; To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, To grant those who mourn in Zion, Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” Isaiah 61:1-3.  Because of the goodness of our God, even in difficult times, He will anoint us with the oil of gladness.  Because of this, we will not mourn during this time, but trust God that He has this.  And the peace of God and His incredible provisions will not just fill our cup but will overflow due to the overabundance of His goodness.  And again, our enemies will see this and be amazed at what they see. 

This chapter shows the amazing provisions He provides us, especially during difficult times when our enemies are within view and are watching us.  We have nothing to fear when we put our trust in the Lord our God, for even at times when things look the worst, He will bring us through.  Always remember this, God is greater than our problems and will work on our behalf to take care of us.  Trust Him in all things, for remember what Moses said, “The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8.

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

Colossians 2:10

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Colossians 2:10 

“And you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.” – Colossians 2:10

Here is a Verse in your Bible that probably most Christians do not take to heart and understanding.  I would think that most in Christendom approach being ‘complete’ in God’s eyes based on how well one’s behavior is and how many ‘right’ things we do as compared to the ‘bad’ things we do.   (WE use a sliding scale too, by the way, by comparing ourselves to others).   But in Christ are fulfillment is grounded in what He has done, not we do from here forward.  What kind of depth is this Verse saying to us for our daily lives?   Could it affect how we approach a day, challenges or not?    Some of the commentary writers I read just to see what they would say conclude that this Verse is speaking metaphorically (not to be taken literally) – that this language is of course rhetorical and hyperbolical language used by Paul.  In other words, it does not really mean what it says at face value but instead it is supposed to convey the idea that in Christ you have been granted a completeness or fulfillment in life that you could not receive anywhere else.  In other words, being in Christ is the best option you have compared to all the other options.   Uuummm.   If you make some Google searches on this subject asking the question: “What can make your life feel complete or fulfilled?”, you will NOT run across this Scripture Verse as an option or as an alternative choice that you can decide for yourself if you so please.   What you WILL find in your Google search are answers such as:  1)  Four principles to live by;  2)  The 16 most important factors for a fulfilling life;  3)  1O Rules to make your life complete; and so on and so on. 

Let us see instead what the author of your Bible says.  First of all, there are 2 little words in this Verse that is fundamentally foundational and an absolute in order for this concept of being ‘complete’ can be remotely a possibility.  They are the words ‘…in Him…’.    In order for an individual to be considered ‘in Him’, they must come to an understanding on the heart level that they are sinners and that the wages of being a sinner is death (spiritual and physical).  Plus, you can do nothing on your own to remedy this condition.  You DO need an outside source to ‘save’ you. After all, you are ‘dead’ and a ‘dead person’ cannot do anything for oneself.   “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23).  “For the wages of sin is death….” (Rom 6:23).   “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for the by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Rom 3:20).   Secondly, an individual must appropriate by faith the finished and completed death of Christ on the Cross, His burial, and Resurrection after three days.  By faith a person must truly believe that Christ died for them, that Christ alone paid the penalty for their sin and that He took the punishment for their own sinfulness out of His individual love for them.  When we truly believe this good news of this grace-gospel the Holy Spirit places us, immerses us, ‘baptizes us’ into one body – His Body, the grace-aged church -“And He is the head of the body, the church…” (Col 1:18) – whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free – and have all been made to drink into one Spirit (I Cor 12:13).   Our entire newly created personhood is placed IN HIM.   ALL of our identification as a newly created, saved individual is seen through God’s eyes as being ‘in Him’ – in Jesus.  “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and irreproachable in His sight “ (Col 1:21-22).  

                Sooooo, IF you are ‘in Him’, THEN in the mind of God through Jesus, you ARE complete, and this FACT is affirmed by the Death, Burial, and bodily Resurrection of Christ, who NOW is the ‘head of ALL principality and power” (Col 2:10 above).   No one nor any thing on earth, nor in the heavens, can undermine what He has done for you.   In my opinion, there is absolutely zero metaphorical, rhetorical, hyperbolic language used here. This is FACT.  It is an exchanged life.  “In Him” you ARE complete, not just in a concept or as flowery language, but as a reality.   The Greek word used here for ‘complete’ is a word that means “filled to the brim like a bottle of water, completely full, filled-up, whole, to the max”!     He has done for you ALL that will ever need to do in reconciling you in right-standing with Himself.  The following verses in Colossians 2 mention some of the aspects of this completeness in Christ that we have been given.  The sins of the flesh have been cut off (circumcised by the hand of God, taken out of the way and nailed to the Cross), you were buried ‘with Him’, you were raised ‘with Him’, you were ‘made alive with Him’, and ‘in Him’ He forgave you all your trespasses once and forever!   You ARE complete ‘in Him’.  Rejoice and be ever thankful!!

Jaca Kier, Board Member, True Devotion Ministries, Inc. 

Psalms 3:3

(Editor’s Note: Christiaan is writing the devotions for today and tomorrow. Hopefully, William will be able to return to writing on Wednesday from the hospital. We’re bringing him his laptop tomorrow, and we should have an update published soon).

Verse of the Day Devotion – Psalms 3:3 (ESV)

But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. – Psalms 3:3 (ESV

If you missed last weeks study on Psalm 3:4 please check it out, you’ll learn a lot about the historical and contextual setting for this chapter. In short, David is in hiding from his Absalom (his son who murdered his other son, took the throne, and is hunting David down to murder him). The net is closing around him. As he’s hiding he hears people telling him that no god (neither God or any other deity) will come to rescue him.

Think about it.

David is the King of Israel. He’s been elevated from farm boy to king.. He’s lead the armies of the Lord to fulfill the promise given to Moses. This is the heyday of Israel. It has never been better than it was now and (honestly, probably never will be again until Jesus returns). David has thousands of servants, concubines, and armies so large that by the end of this current situation over twenty thousand people died in a single battle between the armies of israel lead by Absalom and David’s resistance fighters.

But where do we find David?


In a cave.

So reviled and with such little authority that at one point he was recognized and an individual who openly cursed him… like old school “a pox upon you and your family” style cursing.

When I think about where David is at this point versus where he was, I think about that line from A Christmas Story when Ralphie has “soap poisoning” and his dad asks him, “What has brought you to this lowly state?” The answer is that we live in a fallen world. It was completely outside of David’s control. It wasn’t punishment for Bathsheba. It wasn’t because God ceased to have David in his favor. It was because there were people doing evil things.

I think that a lot of times we get put in situations completely outside of our control and it’s up to us to decide how we respond to it. In a previous verse of the day I did I looked at the verse about how there’s a season for everything from Ecclesiastes 3:1 (I seem to like the third chapter in books!) Last time we looked at how David cried out to God and God answered him. But today, we look at what he KNEW about God.

God is his shield around David. But Christiaan, you may ask. How is God a shield around David, if God allowed Absalom to murder his brother, pull of a successful military coop-d’etat, and force God’s chosen king into a cave hiding away from the world? The answer is that we live in a fallen world. But David doesn’t lose faith. He doesn’t lose Hope. He knows that God hears the cries of his people. He knows that God is ultimately in control over the situation. He knows that whatever is happening it’s going through God first.

Maybe that medical condition that brought you into the hospital that you thought was the worst thing that could happen, really ended up saving your life. Because they discovered something infinitely worse than anything you could have imagined.

Maybe that job loss that had you eat through your savings, and put you in what seemed to be a hopelessly impossible financial situation leads you to finding your dream job, that may not fully get you out of the financial straits you found yourself in, but you’re in a significantly better place, and you never realized how toxic and draining your other job was.

Who knows, and most of the time we don’t see the positives until they’ve happened to us. We know that as Paul told us in Romans 8:28 that “God causes everything to work together for the Good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (NLT) and David’s words reinforce that.

David doesn’t just testify that God is his shield, but also that God is his glory. This word in a transliterated hebrew is kabodi which means, reputation, honor, splendor, distinction – in short, his identity all the things that make him who he is and special. David knows that regardless of what happens to him and what people say about him that ultimately his identity is in God. And regardless if he’s a brilliant military commander (as they say of him in 2nd Samuel – in fact they say he’s worth ten thousand men in battle) if he’s the king of Israel, or if he’s a beleaguered man in a cave hiding from his murderous son… his identity is given to him by God.

The verse finishes at a crescendo of David’s affirmation of God’s role in his life, that God is “the lifter of my head” or in the NLT it says, “the one who holds my head high.” David doesn’t have to be ashamed of these situations that happened. He doesn’t have to sulk in the darkness afraid to be who God created him to be and the role God called him to walk in. The two translations beside each other paint a beautiful picture of our God who lifts our face from being downcast, and then holds it up.

So, may you come to realize that no matter what happens in your life, how scary it is, or how unexpected it is God is your shield, protecting you in some way. May you search for the good things in the midst of the trauma and focus on them. May you find your identity in Christ and not let that shake your confidence in who you were made to be. And finally, may you not struggle against the God whose lifts your head, and helps you to hold you head high!