Hebrews 10:23

Verse of the Day Devotion: Hebrews 10:23

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” – Hebrews 10:23
Many times, I have been disappointed by people who have promised things that were not fulfilled.  I can be confident I am not the only one who has experienced this.  Once when I was growing up, I wanted to play baseball for the High School team.  I attended the first meeting and was given a list of things they expected of us.  One was that we had to have short hair, and since I had long hair, I agreed to get it cut.  My parents had agreed that I could play that year, so I went out and got my hair cut short.  After I did, my parents said that they would not let me play.  I asked why because they had promised.  Their answer shocked me, for they only promised it till I got my hair cut.  They would not put out the money needed to participate.  This hurt me terribly because I was not popular and had few friends, and I was hoping that playing baseball would change that. In our focus verse, the writer of Hebrews is saying that with God, a promise made is a promise kept.  (By the way, I cannot take credit for the line “A promised made is a promise kept”, it is the title of a song by Randy Stonehill.)   If God promises us something, he will bring it to pass.  And we can be assured that there is nothing that God cannot do.  “‘Ah Lord GOD! Behold, you have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You,” Jeremiah 32:17.  Therefore, if God promises us something, we know it will happen because He is a faithful God who can do all things. Let’s look at a few of these promises.  “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely, I will help you, Surely, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 We have nothing to fear, for God has promised to strengthen us and uphold us.  Then there is “The LORD will fight for you while you keep silent.” Exodus 14:14. In our struggles, we can relax for God has promised to fight for us.  Then there is, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9. We can be sure that if we do sin, if we confess this sin to Him, acknowledging it as sin, and we repent of it, He promise is His forgiveness and the washing away of the unrighteousness in us.  And finally, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:19.  He has promised if we have a need, He will meet it.  We can relax and just wait for Him to supply. These are but a few of the many promises He has made to us.  Each one of these, and all the ones not mentioned, we can be assured they will be a kept promise.  Therefore, we are called not to waver but be steadfast, not wishing, not hoping, but knowing He is faithful.  This is the faith He calls us to. And as an extra, here is the chorus from the song by Randy Stonehill, “A Promise Made is A Promise Kept”.   “A promise made is a promise kept, there is a love so true. Just hold on, God is holding on to you. Day by day, Prayer by prayer, oh, don’t you ever forget that a promise made Is a promise kept. William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.

Colossians 1:23

Verse of the Day Devotion: Colossians 1:23

“If indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.” – Colossians 1:23

This is a very interesting verse in that it is essentially saying salvation is not a one-time event.  It is actually a continuous one.  Yes, there is a time when we accept the work Jesus did on the cross for our benefit, that being the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.  This is where our journey starts.  However, many believe this is where it ends as well, that once we do this we cannot lose our salvation.  However, we can wonder away which this verse explains explicitly.

First, Paul introduces this idea in four verses preceding.  “For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him (Jesus), and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach” Colossians 1:19-22.  When the Father sent the Son here, it pleased Him because it was the way to reconcile us to Himself.  We were enemies of God, hostile to His ways.  We walked according to the ways of this world and our unrighteous desires.  “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.” Ephesians 2:1-3.  However, when we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are reconciled to God.  We have the privilege of calling Him our Father and Christ our Lord.

But this is only the beginning.  Not only must we accept Him and the new life we are to live, but we must persevere to the end.  We must not turn around and say, ‘This isn’t working, I want to go back to the way things were.’  We do not have to explicitly say these words but turning away from Christ and walking away is basically the same thing.  And one more thing regarding this, it could be a gradual turning away.  We may start by simply going back to a few of our old ways.  But,  if they are contrary to the Christian walk, have we not in essence turned away?  We must always obey what He has commanded us.  Recall the words of Jesus. “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” John 14:15.

Jesus in His messages to the seven churches in Asia Minor said the same.  He said those who overcome and keeps My deeds until the end will be blessed as follows:

  • To the Church of Ephesus – I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.
  • To the Church of Smyrna – will not be hurt by the second death
  • To the Church of Pergamum – I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.
  • To the Church of Thyatira – To him I will give authority over the nations, and shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of the potter are broken to pieces, as I have received authority from my Father.
  • To the Church of Sardis – They will be clothes in white garments, and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before my Father and before the angels.
  • To the Church of Philadelphia – I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name.
  • To the Church of Laodicea – I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.

Salvation is not a one and done event.  It is first giving our lives over to Christ and His Lordship.  Then it is continuing to live this life until the end of the age and He returns.  We cannot lose our salvation, but we can walk away.  Remember the words of James regarding this idea.  “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” James 2:17. I encourage us all to show our salvation by our works, remain steadfast and a true follower no matter the cost until He returns. We can then rejoice for all things will be made new.

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

1 Peter 3:15

Verse of the Day Devotion.  1 Peter 3:15

“But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” – 1 Peter 3:15 

In Romans, Paul says the following that gives me, and I am sure many others, comfort during difficult times. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28. We must always understand this whenever tough times come. We may not see what is happening as good, but we can be assured that during times of difficulty, the ultimate end will be good, for He is always watching over the righteous. “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 1 Peter 3:12. So, I ask the following question. If the above statements are true, how can anything work for our detriment if we are truly the Lord’s?  Can anyone bring about ultimate harm to us whom God loves and blesses? Peter puts it this way. “Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good?” 1 Peter 3:13.

Then we read in the next verse, “But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed.” 1 Peter 3:14a. There may be times when we could suffer by the hands of wicked men. The world hates the message of Christ, and ultimately those who profess it. God may have a purpose in allowing it. But at the end of this verse, he states “you will be blessed.” Matthew writes the words of Christ where he wrote, “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:10. We do not always understand why God permits us to suffer, but He would not allow it except for a specific reason. Someone may be turned from unbelief to salvation by seeing what we endure. Or maybe it is for our good. God knows. But we must understand there is a reason for everything we face and must trust God that this is for our good and/or the good of another. The question here is, do we trust Him in all things? And then looking at the last part of this verse, “Have no fear of them, nor be troubled,” 1 Peter 3:14b. We are not to fear what man can do to us for we belong to God. “So we can confidently say, The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:6.

Now we come to our focus verse. “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.” 1 Peter 3:15-16. If we are convinced from the depth of our soul that the promised help of God is all-sufficient, we shall be most effectually armed against all fear. And through this, we must always be ready not only to profess our faith but be ready to defend what we believe. As Christians, we must become not just readers, but students of the Bible who not only believe the truth but have good reasons for believing it. We must become ones who can meet error with the argument, ‘It is written,’ and maintain the truth in all situations, using weapons taken from, as Charles Spurgeon puts it ‘the armory of God’s inspired Book’.

The idea here is that we do not just read the scriptures, but we study them, do whatever is necessary to understand what is being said. There are many in this world who question the reality of what we believe and need us to explain it to them in a fashion they can accept. We are called by Christ to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20. We can only do this if we truly understand what the scriptures are saying and can present it to anyone who asks us ‘why’ regarding our beliefs.  

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

Hebrews 10:23

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Hebrews 10:23 

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” – Hebrews 10:23    

This is such an important verse. We should never doubt what God has done for us through Christ. Looking back we read the following. “Since therefore, brethren, we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh,” Hebrews 10:19-20. Under the Jewish Law in the Old Testament, there was an ordinance stating that no man should ever go into the holiest of all places in the temple, with the one exception of the high priest, and he but once a year on the Day of Atonement. and not without the blood of the sacrifice. If any man had attempted to enter there he must have died, as guilty of great presumption and of profane intrusion into the secret place of the Most High.

However, with the death of Christ on the cross we can now enter by a new and living way, that being through the veil, Christ’s flesh, signified by the tearing of the veil at the moment He died. “And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up His spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom, and the earth shook; and the rocks were split, and the tombs were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many.” Matthew 27:50-54. At no time prior to this did anyone but the High Priest, and then only once a year, was anyone allowed into the Holy of Holies; the inner sanctum of the Temple. But with His death, the veil is torn giving access to God the Father through Him. In a sense, the veil was symbolic of Christ Himself as the only way to the Father. “Jesus said to him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.” John 14:6. 

Now we see in the next couple of verses, “and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful”. Hebrews 10:21-23. The Israelite could not pass through the veil that hid from public gaze the glory of the Shekinah, and Jesus Christ’s humanity was a veil that somewhat concealed the glory of His Deity. But the flesh of Christ having been crucified, the veil has been rent being His body, and now we may come right up to the throne of God without trembling. We may come even with holy boldness and familiarity and speak to God without alarm. Having such a privilege as this, let us not neglect it. It was denied to prophets and kings in the olden time; but now that it is given to us, let us avail ourselves of it.

We come before God with humility due to Christ’s sacrifice, not in our character. Therefore, we may come as perfect at all times, knowing that God sees no sin in us. In this sense, Christ has perfected forever every consecrated vessel of His mercy. Is this not a delightful thought: that when I come before the throne of God, I feel myself a sinner, but God does not look upon me as one? When I approach Him to offer my thanksgiving, I feel that I am unworthy in myself, but I am not unworthy in that official standing in which He has placed me. As a sanctified and perfected thing in Christ, I have the blood upon me; God regards me in my sacrifice, in my worship, and in myself as being perfect.

Take time to go before Him as often as possible. Because of what Christ did for us on the cross, we have access to God the Father, to fellowship with Him and to present our sins before Him in repentance. This was something no man had access to until the sacrifice from God of His son Jesus. And we can partake of this at any time. So, as the author of Hebrews said, draw near to God with a sincere heart in faith knowing that, as Christians, we are clean and thus have full access to Him. This is His promise and gift to us. Take advantage of it, for there is nothing better than coming before God and fellowshipping with Him.

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

1 Corinthians 13:13

Verse of the Day Devotion:  1 Corinthians 13:13 

“But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13:13   

In first Corinthians 12, Paul is writing about spiritual gifts which are given by the Holy Spirit to the Church, distributed to each as He chooses.  Therefore, one Christian may receive one type of gift while another receives a different gift.  However, in chapter 13, he discusses the three gifts that are not only common to all, but those three which will remain forever, for they are eternal gifts.  These being faith, hope and love.  The word translated “abide” in our focus verse is the Greek word menō meaning not just to be here now, but also to remain, stay and not to depart.  This same word is used in the Book of Acts where Paul tells the centurion, “Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, unless these men remain in the ship, you yourselves cannot be saved.” Acts 27:31. The soldiers needed to stay and remain in the boat to save everyone in the ship.  And then in Hebrews we read, “For you showed sympathy to the prisoners, and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and an abiding one.” Hebrews 10:34.  Again, the word translated abiding is the same Greek word menō.  Here the idea is that their property may be seized here, but in the next life in heaven, it will remain eternally.

So, based on the Greek word menō, the three gifts faith, hope and love will remain forever, not like the gifts which are distributed to some. “Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.” 1 Corinthians 13:8.  In this verse, we see a contrast of three gifts which will go away and the three gifts in our focus verse. 

The Corinthian church members were priding themselves on the fact that they could speak in tongues and demonstrate other attention-getting gifts. However, Paul reminds them of the gifts that the Corinthians so desired were but temporary; faith, hope, and love, the foundational gifts, are permanent and therefore more to be desired.  Paul then corrects them by reminding them of that which is better.  “But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I show you a still more excellent way.” 1 Corinthians 12:31.  

The three gifts, faith, hope, and love are gifts that are present today and will be with us forever.  Faith in the Son of God will not cease in the eternal state; we will not stop trusting Jesus just because our faith has become sight.  “Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:6-7. Today, we have faith aside from sight. In eternal life, we will continue to have faith but it will be in conjunction with sight. If anything, our faith will grow for our trust in Him will be greater.  As for hope, Jesus is our Blessed Hope.  “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.” Titus 2:11-14. Our hope will not end simply because Jesus, our blesses hope, has come. For the entire time we are there, our expectations will always be for good because we are eternally with the foundation of our hope.  And finally, love.  We must remember that the basic and essential part of God’s nature is love. “And we have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”  1 John 4:16. God is love; therefore, love is eternal, both eternity past and eternity future.

There is a vast difference between the gifts given to selected Christians, i.e.: tongues, prophecy, the gift of knowledge, etc. However, the three mentioned in our focus verse are eternally with us who are Christians and enter our everlasting home with Jesus for He is our blessed hope,  love embodied, and our faith will be secure with Him.  What a beautiful life to look forward to.

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

1 Peter 3:15

Verse of the Day Devotion:  1 Peter 3:15  

“But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.” – 1 Peter 3:15

Mark, in his gospel wrote the following words of Jesus, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Mark 16:15.  This was meant not just for the twelve apostles, but to all that believe and  follow Christ.  In other words, all Christians.  Matthew includes the following into His version of what Jesus said.  “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20.  We who are serious Christians are disciples and therefore we are to learn all we can about Jesus and the gospel so that we can preach it to all.

Peter starts this verse with ‘sanctify Christ as Lord in our hearts’.  The basic idea here is to regard reverently and holy.  To be set apart as most important.  We must always regard Christ, in our hearts, as most important to us.  In Isaiah we read, “It is the LORD of hosts whom you should regard as holy. And He shall be your fear, And He shall be your dread.” Isaiah 8:13.  Wayne Grudem in his commentary on 1 Peter says that the sense of fear and reverence for the Lord rather than the fear of men is reinforced.  In other words, to reverence Christ as Lord means really to believe that Christ, not one’s human opponents, is truly in control of events.  This is why we must put Christ, as Lord, first in deciding who we are and what we do.   

And going back to what Mark wrote, we are to go into the world and preach the gospel.  Now, there are two ways we can look at the phrase, go into all the world.  First, by becoming a full time missionary and going to places all over the world preaching the truth of Christ.  This is very valid, and if God has called us to do this, then it is what we are to do.  I have a brother and sister-in-law who have traveled throughout the world telling people the truth of Christ, sometimes spending months and years in one place.  This is a wonderful life they have lived, and God has used them immensely. 

However, there is a second way to look at this, and that is to be available to discuss and preach the gospel to those around where you are.  We do not need to be full time missionaries in order to have a mission field.  Where we work is our mission field.  Our home can be our mission field.  Anywhere we go is a mission field.  And as our focus verse states, that is always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you.  Jesus told us, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 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 5:13-14.  Our light should shine such that anyone who sees us sees something they wish to understand.  So, we must always be ready to be a witness to others of the truth found in Christ.  And we must do this in such a way that they will be inclined to understand and accept the truth.  Therefore, we must be gentle and reverent, not being haughty, indignant or judgmental if they do not accept what we say at first. 

So, let us be ready and prepared to help those who we come into contact with understand the gospel so that they accept it with assurance.  We have an eternal hope within us that is available to all, and what a blessing we would be to those who come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.  And Paul lays out how we can be prepared.  “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15.  God gave us His Word in order to prepare us for the work He has for us to do.  Therefore study it diligently so that you can answer any question posed to us regarding Christ and the word of God.

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

Psalm 39:7

Verse of the Day Devotion: Psalm 39:7  

“And now, Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in You.” – Psalm 39:7 

This is another psalm of David.  He starts in verse one by saying he will watch out how he speaks to his enemies.  “I said, I will guard my ways That I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth as with a muzzle While the wicked are in my presence. I was mute and silent, I refrained even from good, And my sorrow grew worse.” Psalm 39:1-2.  He chooses to be careful in what he says to his enemies.  Not necessarily because of their reactions, but because he did not want to sin because of his words and actions.  Then in verse three he alludes to the feelings of anger and intense excitement of his emotions that came upon him.  “My heart was hot within me, While I was musing the fire burned; Then I spoke with my tongue” Psalm 39:3.  His emotions were rising within him, endeavoring to come out. 

In this situation, it seems David wearied of his life.  In verses 4-6, he is looking at the brevity, or shortness of life here on earth.  First, he asks God how long must he stay here. “LORD, make me to know my end And what is the extent of my days; Let me know how transient I am.” Psalm 39:4.  Then he says that our lives are short, which is the idea of handbreadth, speaking of the short span when our four fingers are spread apart.  God is eternal, and his short life is nothing in comparison.  Then he adds that compared to eternity our lives are like a single breath.  “Surely every man walks about as a phantom; Surely they make an uproar for nothing; He amasses riches and does not know who will gather them.”  Psalm 39:6.  And because of this, our lives are vain as we amass riches and wealth, but in a short time we die and have it no more.”

And so, because life is short, we come to our focus verse.  “And now, Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in You.” Psalm 39:7.  He in essence is saying, in this life, I will place my reliance in you and what you bring about and make happen.  It is not the world he must rely on, or his own means, for it is not in his power to solve the mysteries in this life, and in reality he knows he does not have the wisdom or knowledge to make a positive difference.  And neither do we.  The theologian Albert Barnes in his commentary on psalms puts it this way.  “it is in the God that made all, the Ruler over all, that can control all, and that can accomplish His own great purposes in connection even with these moving shadows, and that can confer on man thus vain in himself and in his pursuits that which will be valuable and permanent.” We can do nothing; we must rely on God to do everything.  We must not contemplate on what the world can do to meet our needs, desires, or in bringing of peace to us.  We must rely on God in all things.  For only then can we find ourselves content, for He alone can bring it to us and help us through.  The world can only fail in this goal and exacerbate the issue.  God loves us, He is always with us.  And He will help us.  “The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace  Because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3.

I encourage everyone reading this to trust completely in God who can do everything and loves us with an unending love.  We may feel helpless, however, we have nothing to be concerned about, because, He has this.

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

Romans 15:4

Verse of the Day Devotion: Romans 15:4 

“For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” – Romans 15:4       

When we read the Old Testament, we learn a lot about the history of God’s dealings with mankind. First is, of course, our creation in Genesis 1 -2.  How He created the heavens and the earth, and then formed the earth as a perfect place for His ultimate creation, mankind, to live in perfect peace with Himself.  From there, we see the fall of mankind and ultimately the coming of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.  However, from what Paul tells us from our focus verse, there is more to learn in the Old Testament then the history of mankind.  We also have the opportunity to learn God’s ways in dealing with man, and ultimately with us.  As the focus verse says, “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Romans 15:4. 

The author of Hebrews tells us that God is unchanging, and the way He dealt with the people of the Old Testament is the same as He deals with us.  “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8.  God has not changed one iota regarding how He deals with His people.  If we believe in Him and follow His ways, then God will watch over us just as He watched over Israel in the wilderness.  This should give us incredible hope.  Remember also in Hebrews what hope is.  It is what we look forward to, knowing it will come to pass.  It is knowing it will happen, not desiring it to happen. 

So, when we look in the Old Testament, we see how God guided His people through the wilderness, giving them a beautiful and prosperous land as their inheritance.  No matter what trials they came upon in their journey, God delivered them.  We can take comfort in this as well, knowing that whatever trials we come upon, He already knows about them  and will bring us safely through them.  There were several times when God’s people experienced times of famine, and again, God brought them through.  And He will do the same for us.  When they needed to hear from God, He spoke to them, either through prophets or directly.  Great examples of this were King David, Moses, and Joshua.  And He will speak to us as well when we need to hear His words.  And remember when Elijah was challenged by the prophets of Baal: that God made it known that He was God, and then comforted Him in the wilderness when they wanted to kill Him.  (1 Kings 18:20-40)

I want to encourage everyone reading this to look at the Old Testament not only as a means to learn history, but also as a way to be encouraged that as He took care of His people in the Old Testament, He will take care of us as well.  We need to use these  scriptures to see the blessings Israel had from God, knowing that He will bless us in a similar way.  And through this, it will help us to see the hope we have in God, and how He will never leave or forsake us, and our future is just as wonderful too.    

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

1 Thessalonians 4:13

Verse of the Day Devotion: 1 Thessalonians 4:13 

“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:13 

There appears to be in Thessalonica a confusion regarding what happens to someone who dies.  Thessalonians were part of ancient Rome and believed as they did regarding the end, which was similar to what the ancient Greeks believed.  There were Christians in Thessalonica who were dying, and it appears that an adequate explanation of what takes place had not been given to them.  They no doubt had the idea they would be separated from them forever, therefore they grieved heavily, just as was done in Greek and Roman religions.  But Paul uses the term sleep rather than death to give them hope. And he uses the idea of informing them of how their prior beliefs have led them astray regarding the death of believers.  

First, he tells them they shall see them again.  “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.” 1 Thessalonians 4:14-15.  In fact, they will precede us who remain alive till He comes.  However, the main point here is that believers will be reunited with their brothers and sisters in Christ at the end.  This was radically different than either the Greek or Roman beliefs regarding the afterlife.  And this is why Paul said at the end of our focus verse that they did not need to grieve as those who do not believe in Christ, because they would be reunited with them.

He then goes on the explain when this will take place.  “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.”  1 Thessalonians 4:16-17.  When Jesus comes back, He will first awaken those who have fallen asleep.  They will be raised first.  Then immediately afterwards, He will bring us who are alive at that time to Him, and together we shall be with the Lord forever, never to be separated.

This was a new idea to the Thessalonians.  They were troubled because were dying and they mourned heavily as the Greeks and Romans did, for they believed they would never see them again.  This was the reason for these verses, to comfort them with the truth that they would be reunited again when Christ returns.  At the time of this writing, they did not understand this completely.  Now they did, and Paul encourages them to share this with all believers.  “Therefore comfort one another with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:18.

We must all grasp this truth.  Many Christians I know have fallen asleep, including family members, close friends, and fellow workers for the Lord.  Yes, I have grieved for them because I missed the opportunities to interact with them.  And I think of them often, which does sadden me some. However, I know that at some time in the future we will be reunited, and what a glorious time it will be.  The beauty of this event is that we will never be separated again.  It will be wonderful, and our fellowship will not be temporary but eternal.  This is the promise given us by Christ through Paul in these verses.  Therefore, let us do as Paul said, comfort each other with this truth.  Many can use some comfort during these times and we will in our lives as well.

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

Romans 12:12

Verse of the Day Devotion: Romans 12:12  

“Rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer,” – Romans 12:12  

One thing we can honestly say is that these are difficult times.  Look at everything that is going on today.  We have a pandemic that is causing havoc throughout our world.  People living in fear that they may be infected by the coronavirus and lose their lives.  We have factions of government that are looking to take advantage of this situation to advance their agendas, and some for their own personal advantage.  The economies of many nations are being destroyed because businesses have shut down in order to lessen the impact this virus has on people.

Crime is increasing as well with people getting desperate over the financial troubles they are experiencing, along with many in prisons being released and returning to the crimes they were originally imprisoned for.  Also, many are concerned about what the future holds for them.  Will they have a job?  Will they be able to pay their bills?  Will they lose their homes due to defaulting on their mortgages or rental agreements? 

These are tough questions.  When I see the news and listen to what people are saying, fear is running rampant within many areas of society.   Especially within the lower and midrange income populations.  But we need to remember that God is with us, and He will watch over us.  “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4. And, “For I am the LORD your God, who upholds your right hand, who says to you, do not fear, I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13. Both verses share a wonderful truth.  No matter what we are experiencing, God is with us, helping us and will bring us through.  He will never give us a promise He will not keep. 

We all will go through trials of one sort or another, and this pandemic is just one of many though more difficult than most.  However, our focus verse is perfect in outlining how we need to push through to the other side.  First, we must rejoice in hope.  We must remember that hope is not what we wish for, but what we know will happen (See Hebrews 1:1).  Because we know God will deliver us from any struggle or trial based on the two verses above, as well as many others, we can rejoice in this hope.  He will be with us through it all as He has promised us He would.  All we need do is trust, believe, and wait for His promise of assistance. 

And because we know He is faithful and will be with us, we can persevere through any trial we may encounter.  It may last an hour, day, week or more.  However, we can be assured that God is beside us all the way from start to finish.  “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

And lastly, we must be devoted to prayer.  We must be in a constant attitude of prayer, not closing our spirit to speaking to Him, or hearing from Him.  It is important that prayer be the major tool we use when trials come, fervently praying knowing He hears us, loves us, and will answer us.  Spending time in fellowship with Him will do much to ease our anxiety and bring the peace we so desperately need. 

God loves each one of us.  He desires the best for us, knows what is best, and will bring it to pass.  What we need to do is trust Him in everything.  God has promised us a wonderful future, and it cannot be thwarted.  We must rejoice that this promise of a glorious future is sure.  We must persevere through these times knowing we are not alone, that He is with us, and we must keep in prayer, not only asking for help, but for solace and strength as well.  There is no better way to be at peace in any situation than to trust God.

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