Philippians 3:20-21

Verse of the Day: Philippians 3:20-21

“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” – Philippians 3:20-21

As Christians, we may be living down here, however, this is not where our citizenship is.  Jesus put it like this, “I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”  John 17:14 The world is against the truth and therefore is against us and our belief.

There is coming a time in the future whereby we will go to our new home.  It is the place where God dwells, and we will no longer have to deal with the world.  So, stand strong and uncompromising.  Do not let anyone cause you to be embarrassed or start to question your beliefs.  We are here for a time and then we go home.  Look ahead at this time and understand that things may be tough now, but a glorious eternal future lies ahead.  Rejoice in this.

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

Matthew 5:12

Verse of the Day Devotion: Matthew 5:12

“Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” – Matthew 5:12

You have probably seen the news showing how Christians are becoming more and more persecuted throughout the world.  In China, Christians are put into re-education camps in order to get them to renounce their beliefs and accept the government as their leaders.  In middle eastern and African Muslim nations, Christians are being killed for their faith.  You either convert or die.

These are extreme examples, but the persecution of Christians is on the rise here in the United States.  It has not yet reached the level of other places, but it is just a matter of time.  There are already cases where Christians face persecution because they will not accept the evil beliefs that those in power are forcing on us.  In some places, it is becoming illegal to pray to the true God, but acceptable to pray to false ones.  It is amazing to me that it is OK to glorify and worship any God, as long as it is not the Christian’s God.

We are seeing only the beginning of what is coming.  I know this part is difficult to think about, however, hear what Jesus said.  “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.”  Matthew 5:11.  What He is saying is we are to stand strong when we are persecuted.   When they persecute and lie about us, saying all kinds of evil against us, we are to rejoice and be blessed.  Why?  As the focus verse says, our reward will be great in Heaven.  For this is exactly what happened to the prophets of old.  We are not to back down or compromise, because we know we are the ones who will overcome.

So, when you are ridiculed, cursed at and treated badly on account of your belief in Jesus Christ, stand tall and proud.  God is with you and will help you through the situation.  And He will reward us beyond anything we could ever imagine.  And that makes it all worth it.

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

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.

Revelation 21:1

Verse of the Day Devotion: Revelation 21:1

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.” – Revelation 21:1

This is a prophecy of what will happen at the very end of this age.  This speaks of a time after all the judgements have occurred.  “Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:11-15

This is what we look forward to as Christians.  The old heavens and earth will pass away for they have been tainted because of man’s fall in the garden.  Only that which is good and pure and lovely will even exist.  It is beyond our ability to even imagine what it will be like.  “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.  Now, this is a quote from Isaiah which says, “From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him.” Isaiah 64:4. This verse includes the idea that no eye has seen, nor ear heard of a God like our God and the actions He performs. The gods known of man were powerless, they were idols created by man.  But the true God is all powerful, and thus can do anything, including recreating of all that is.  Remember the first verse in Genesis, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1.

This new life will be amazing. We will see the new Jerusalem coming down from heaven, prepared for us, His bride.  There will be no more tears and no more death.  There will be no mourning or pain, for the causes of these will be no more.  Our lives, for all eternity, will be perfect for we will be always in the presence of God, for we will live forever with Him.  There will be nobody or nothing that will change this.  In Revelation 22, we see the river of the water of life flowing from His throne.  We will have access to the tree of life, and the fruit that comes from it.  There will be nothing that is cursed, but the throne of God and His Son will be there, never to leave.  There will be no more night, and we will need no lamp or sun, for the Lord our God shall be our light.  And He will reign for all eternity, us being loved and cared for by Him forever.

What a wonderful future we have to look forward to.  And this life is assured to us. “And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.” Revelation 22:6. This is infinitely superior to this life we now live. Therefore, look forward to this new life.  And, tell others who have no clue of what is coming.  It is our calling to spread this word.  And it is a word worth sharing.

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

Psalm 11:4

Verse of the Day Devotion: Psalm 11:4

“The LORD is in His holy temple; the LORD’S throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men.” – Psalm 11:4   

This verse is a picture of how God watches over us.  This is worded so we, being human and not having a full knowledge of God, can have a reasonable understanding.  This starts off saying that God is in His holy temple.  He is seated in the temple of His holiness, and His throne is in heaven. Isaiah gives us this image.  “Thus says the LORD, “Heaven is My throne and the earth is my footstool. Where then is a house, you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest?” Isaiah 66:1. His greatness is exhibited here in that heaven is His throne, the seat by which, as King, He holds His court, where He dispenses His commands and from where He oversees all His work.  Jesus reiterated this thought.  “But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is THE CITY OF THE GREAT KING.”  Matthew 5:34-35.  Another verse that truly exemplifies how great God is.  “But will God indeed dwell with mankind on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain You; how much less this house which I have built.”  2 Chronicles 6:18. He fills the known universe and the high heavens.  There is no place anywhere that He is not.

Proceeding to the second part of our focus verse, we see His eyes see everything within His vast empire, which is everything He has created, and also outside of this created universe.  He see all of our needs and all our desires.   God watches over everything; all we do, all we see, all we experience and all the dangers that may be near us. One thought here is that He is protecting us from whatever the enemy may do.  He is keeping us safe from whatever comes against us.  He knows what the enemy is planning long before he himself knew, for He does know the end from the beginning.  The theologian John Gill puts it this way.  “Knowing all this, we may be assured that he will interpose when it is best that he should interpose, and that he will suffer nothing to come upon us which it is not best that he should permit. When evil befalls us, therefore, it does not come because God does not know it, or because he could not prevent it, but because, seeing it all, he judges that it is best that it should thus occur.”  John Gill from his commentary on the Psalms.

And lastly, His eyelids test the sons of men.  In other words, He searches all men’s hearts, into the very depths of our beings, and knows our thoughts, intentions and designs, our wishes and desires.  He knows our emotional state and all that either brings us joy and peace, or sorrow and frustration.  There is nothing we can do to hide anything from Him.  And what does this tell us?  We can trust Him completely in everything.  We are safe in placing ourselves in His care.  In the next verse, the writer of this psalm adds, “The LORD tests the righteous and the wicked, And the one who loves violence His soul hates.”  What is intended here is that He hates the ways of this person and takes account of it.  This we cannot hide either.  He knows if our heart is filled with love or hatred, goodness or wickedness.  There is nothing He does not know about us.

In closing, I want to emphasize the idea that we are safe with Him.  We may not like what He allows us to experience, however, we must trust Him because He would never allow us to endure anything that was not going to have a good result.  “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.” Romans 8:28. This is one of my favorite verses in the scriptures.

Take comfort in this focus verse.  It tells us that He fills all the heavens, in fact, the heavens are His throne, and He watches over us, not just in what we do, but the why’s and the how’s.  We can be content in knowing that we are safe and that nothing surprises Him.  And nothing can happen to us that He does not allow because of His great love.  Remember this during times of trial; it will help to brings us through.

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

Matthew 5:10

Verse of the Day Devotion: Matthew 5:10

“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5:10

At first glance, to say that the persecuted Christians are blessed looks a bit odd.  In today’s mentality, to be blessed is too often seen as a current event.  “Wow, I am so blessed having received that check.”  Or “What a blessing my family is together for a week.”  Now, let me say that I am not implying these are not blessings, for they very well can be.  What I am saying is that even though we are going through incredibly difficult times, we are blessed because we know God is with us through it all.  And it is a great blessing that God never leaves us nor forsakes us.

Let’s look at the beatitudes, or the blessed found in Matthew.  First of all, lets look at the meaning of the word.  It is the Greek word ‘makarios’, pronounced mak-ar’-ee-os meaning ‘supremely blest or a state of supreme happiness’.  When we look at these verses, we see something interesting, Jesus is saying, “blessed are the … “present tense, “for theirs is the kingdom’ or “they shall” future tense.  He is saying that they are blessed not because great things are happening now, but great things are promised to them.  Note these phrases; ‘theirs is the kingdom of God’, ‘they SHALL be comforted’, ‘they SHALL inherit the earth’, ‘they SHALL be satisfied’, ‘they SHALL see God’, ‘they SHALL be called sons of God’, for your reward IN HEAVEN is great’.

Now, let’s look at the first part of our focus verse.  “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness”.  The idea of this phrase is those who have been or are currently being persecuted because of the Christ-like life that is lived in sight of all others, with no compromise.  Because of the light that you are, as stated in a later verse, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”.  Matthew 5:16. Jesus then goes deeper in the next two verses.  “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way, they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”  Matthew 5:11-12.  Jesus is linking what happened to the prophets in the Old Testament to those persecuted for Christ’s sake. After all, they were persecuted for their righteousness and devotion to God. And how are we blessed for our persecution?  The Kingdom of Heaven is ours.  We are assured our home will be with God.  No matter what is done to us, if we stand strong and unrelenting, not giving an inch, we are blessed with a future eternal home with the one who died for us.

I want to encourage us all not to worry about what is happening to us now.  If we are insulted, attacked, falsely accused of evil or persecuted in any way, we must not focus on what is happening now, but to know we are blessed because of it.  We are not to provoke others to persecute us by violating the law or by our speech through purposefully antagonizing people.  If we live our lives as we should, it will no doubt happen.  And when it does, be strong and look to God for comfort.  They may wonder how we can stand against the persecution we are enduring.  It is because they have no idea just how blessed we truly are.

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

Mark 8:11.

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Mark 8:11 

“And the Pharisees came out and began to argue with Him, seeking from Him a sign from heaven, to test Him.” – Mark 8:11  

Now this is an interesting scripture, for here the Pharisees were testing Jesus again regarding proof of what He declared regarding Himself.  We see this in our focus verse, “And the Pharisees came out and began to argue with Him, seeking from Him a sign from heaven, to test Him.” Mark 8:11. Considering the number of miracles Jesus had already performed as well as the types of miracles, it is surprising at first that the Pharisees would ask for another. Readers today need to realize that miracles were quite common in ancient times, whether they were real or in people’s imagination, and the fact that a person performed miracles did not by itself make him an exceptional person. What the Pharisees wanted was not another healing or exorcism but a sign from heaven, an incredible manifestation, a dramatic sign from the sky, something similar to Elijah’s fire from heaven. “Answer me, O LORD, answer me, that this people may know that Thou, O LORD, art God, and that Thou hast turned their heart back again. Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust and licked up the water that was in the trench.” 1 Kings 18:37-38.

Jesus was frustrated by this request and replies as such. “And sighing deeply in His spirit, He said, why does this generation seek for a sign? Truly I say to you, no sign shall be given to this generation.” Mark 8:12. In Matthew’s version He gives the type of sign they will be shown. “But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign shall be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; for just as JONAH WAS THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS IN THE BELLY OF THE SEA MONSTER, so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Matthew 12:39-40.  They sought some direct miracle from heaven. Jesus replied that no such miracle would be done for them. He did not mean He would work no more miracles or give no more evidence that he was the Christ, but he would give no such miracle as they required. He would give one that ought to be satisfactory evidence to them that he was from God, as the miraculous preservation of Jonah was to the Ninevites. As Jonah was preserved three days by a miracle and then restored alive, so he would be raised from the dead after three days. On this miracle, the Ninevites believed Jonah and repented, so, on the ground of his resurrection, the people of an adulterous and wicked generation ought to repent and believe that he was from God.

The only sign Jesus would give them was His resurrection from the dead.  This should be sufficient, but as we know it was not. Few scribes and Pharisees would be saved, not because they could not accept it, but would not accept it. They did not want to give up the authority they had over the Jewish people. We need to be careful that we understand all that Jesus did for us and place Him over everything else in our lives. He gave everything, including His life for us. We must be willing to give our everything to Jesus, including our lives.

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

Danial 2:44

Verse of the Day Devotion Danial 2:44 

“And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever.” – Danial 2:44

Up to Christmas day, I will be looking at the different prophesies which foresee the coming of the promised Messiah, Jesus the Christ.  He came here in order to offer the means of salvation for all.  An important idea to remember is that God knows everything and forgets nothing.  “Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,” Isaiah 46:9-10.

Our focus verse today is found in the Book of Daniel.  This verse comes from Daniel’s interpretation of a dream that God gave to King Nebuchadnezzar regarding the end of days.  It is a rather long interpretation, but what we read here is the climax of God’s revelation of the meaning of this dream.  Daniel begins by answering a question from the King where he asks, “Are you able to make known to me the dream that I have seen and its interpretation?” Daniel 2:26.  Daniel answers him with, “As for the mystery about which the king has inquired, neither wise men, conjurers, magicians, nor diviners are able to declare it to the king. However, there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will take place in the latter days. This was your dream and the visions in your mind while on your bed.” Daniel 2:27-28. Daniel then starts by telling the king the dream that he had was a prophetic message. “As for you, O king, while on your bed your thoughts turned to what would take place in the future; and He who reveals mysteries has made known to you what will take place.” Daniel 2:29. 

Many things were in the King’s dream, but the critical parts, associated with the coming Messiah, is found in our focus verse.  “And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever.” Daniel 2:44.  This is the climax of the dream revelation, the coming kingdom of God. There are several things to look at here.  First, it is revealed that this kingdom will be established “in the time of those kings.” It will happen during the times of human kingship.  In other words, this new kingdom will overthrow all earthy kingdoms at that time.  Second, this kingdom will be set up by God.  Note the wording, “God of heaven will set up a kingdom”.  Man will have nosay regarding this kingdom, and therefore it will be a good and perfect one.  And then third, the kingdom will be eternal.  Again, note these important words, “it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever.”.

Our focus verse most naturally should be understood to speak of Christ’s second coming. This new kingdom will replace all kingdoms that exist at the time of His coming.  When Jesus was born in Bethlehem in a manger, the world was introduced to our eternal King who will rule forever.  He paid the penalty so that we can, if we choose, to be a part of this new kingdom.  And when this kingdom is established, we will be able to live at peace forever, with a King that loves us and will rule with this love. “He has sent redemption to His people; He has ordained His covenant forever; Holy and awesome is His name.” Psalm 111:9.

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

Matthew 18:1

Verse of the Day Devotion Matthew 18:1 

“At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” – Matthew 18:1

The disciples were no doubt concerned about who Jesus considered the greatest of the twelve.  They knew that obviously Jesus was the greatest, both here and in the final kingdom.  But they were essentially asking, who came after Jesus.  It seems that the disciples were often concerned about this.  We see two instances recorded in Luke alone.  “And an argument arose among them as to which of them might be the greatest.” Luke 9:46. And then “And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest.” Luke 22:24.  We also know of at least two other instances and who knows if the verses in Mark and Matthew, our focus verse, is the same as those in Luke or are different. 

Matthew’s version does not say they were arguing or discussing amongst each other as in the other instances, but I imagine this occurred more times then recorded here.  So, after they asked Him, He gathered them around Him, along with a child. The fact that the child came when Jesus called says something about Jesus. He was the sort of man that children would trust and willingly come to Him.  And then, what He tells the disciples was no doubt somewhat of a disappointment, for they expected a specific name from Him. 

However, what He said was that humility is what He is looking for.  “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3.  He starts by telling them that in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, they must become like children.  A child was a person of no importance in Jewish society, subject to the authority of his elders, not taken seriously except as a responsibility, one to be looked after, not one to be looked up to.  Children are not threatening; we aren’t afraid of meeting a five-year-old in a dark alley. Children are not good at deceiving; they are pretty miserable failures at fooling their parents. When we are good at hiding ourselves and deceiving others, we aren’t like Jesus. The child is held up as an ideal, not of innocence, purity, or faith, but of humility and unconcern for social status.  Jesus knew that we must be converted to be like little children. It isn’t in our nature to take the low place and to humble ourselves.

Then He says the following, which I believe was a shock to His disciples.  “And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me.” Matthew 18:5.  Jesus addressed the issue of greatness. When we most fulfill the humble place a child had in that culture, we are then on our way to greatness in His kingdom.  This is the picture Paul gives of Jesus in his letter to the Philippians. “Have this attitude in yourselves, which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:5-8.  This is true humility; the Son of God Himself being humble in order to do the work needed to save mankind from their sins.

And finally, he finishes with two powerful statements. First, “And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me.” Matthew 18:5.  Since the nature of Jesus is like one of these little children, how we treat those who are humble like children shows what we think of the nature of Jesus.  Unfortunately, we see this all too often. The essential fact in the transformation Christ works in us is that He changes the great ones into little children.  And in this world, it is easy to actually despise the humble. They are the losers; the kind who will never make it in our competitive and aggressive and get-ahead world. Yet when we despise humble people, we also despise Jesus. 

And secondly, “whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it is better for him that a heavy millstone be hung around his neck, and that he be drowned in the depth of the sea.” Matthew 18:6.  The idea of ‘to stumble’ is to sin.  So, what He is saying is that anyone who causes one of those who humbles themselves as children to sin, it would be better for them to receive the above severe punishment of being drowned in the sea with a millstone wrapped around his neck. The stone, and anyone attached to it, was sure to sink and never come up again. And this was a big millstone. Theologian D.A. Carson notes, “Most millstones were hand tools for domestic use…here it is the heavy stone pulled around by a donkey.” And the very picture of drowning had its terror for the Jew. Drowning was sometimes a Roman punishment, but never Jewish.  This is probably why Jesus used this form of punishment.

In closing, rather than strive to be the greatest in this world, we should simply trust in Jesus and serve others, thereby serving Him. Positions of power are meant to be positions of service. We are not called to lord over others, we are to use any influence or resources we have to serve others. The greatest in the kingdom are those who have the humility of a child and the meekness of Jesus. “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth,” Matthew 5:5.  What is valued in God’s kingdom is loving the way He loved us—selflessly.

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

Matthew 13:33

Verse of the Day Devotion Matthew 13:33 

“He spoke another parable to them, “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three pecks of meal, until it was all leavened.” – Matthew 13:33

Today we will look at the Parable of the Leaven.   It is one verse long, which we have as our focus verse, therefore we will not put it here again. He repeats the formula of verses 24 and 31 where He says, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like”. This time He gives us a picture of a woman at work preparing food. Bread was commonly made at home and was not purchased from a store or bakery, and therefore Jesus uses this idea, describing a woman working at home to perform this task.

This parable of Jesus is similar to the Parable of the Mustard Seed, and in fact comes right after it.  There are some who look at leaven as always describing evil or sin, however, to use the phrase “The Kingdom of Heaven is like leaven” discards this idea.  In this parable it refers to the unperceived power and efficacy of the gospel, pervading, transforming, and renewing the mind, heart, and life of people. In fact, Moses refers to it as used in sacramental bread. “‘With the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving, he shall present his offering with cakes of leavened bread.” Leviticus 7:13. That in some contexts it may be used as a symbol for evil forces does not mean that in others it cannot stand for what is good.

Jesus speaks of the woman as putting her piece of leaven into three measures of flour until the whole was leavened. The leaven was but a small amount, but in time it changed the large quantity of flour by causing it to rise; just as the mustard seed, which is smaller than all other seeds, “when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants, and becomes a tree, so that THE BIRDS OF THE AIR come and NEST IN ITS BRANCHES.” Matthew 13:32b.  This parable, as does the parable of the mustard seed, brings out the contrast and the continuity between the small beginnings of the kingdom and its great consummation. The little group of disciples might be despised as preaching a kingdom too insignificant to be noticed, but as surely as a tiny piece of leaven had its effect on a large mass of dough, so surely would the kingdom have its effect throughout the world. The parable also makes the point that the power that effects the change comes from outside the dough; the mass of dough does not change itself.

What we can take from this parable is that the effect of God’s Kingdom will be complete, just as the leaven works until the dough has completely risen. The nature of leaven is to grow and to change whatever it contacts. When we accept Christ, We grow in the grace of God and our heart is changed from the inside out. As the gospel transforms lives, it exerts a pervasive influence in the world at large. As we reflect the Lord’s glory, we are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. “But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18.

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