Matthew 21:13

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Matthew 21:13.

“He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” Matthew 21:13

After Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, He entered the Temple and was not happy with what He saw. “And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of those who sold pigeons.” Matthew 21:12. The purpose was to drive out the merchants, who in cooperation with the priests cheated visitors to Jerusalem by forcing them to purchase approved sacrificial animals and currencies at high prices. What would happen is that people would be told their sacrifice was not worthy to be offered in the temple, and thus would be sold another deemed acceptable for a high price along with the offering brought to them, which many times they would sell to another at a high price. For example, it was not unusual for a dove to be sold in the temple for 15 to 20 times what could be purchased elsewhere. “

This was a serious issue for Jesus, which is shown by what He did. He drove out those who bought and sold wrongly in the temple and overturned the tables and chairs of those who cheated the people. And our focus verse clearly shows why He was angry. “He said to them, It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” Matthew 21:13. He is quoting Isaiah here. “And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD, and to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it and holds fast my covenant. these I will bring to my holy mountain and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” Isaiah 56:6-7. Isaiah calls the Temple a house of prayer for all people, not just Jews. However, the Jewish leadership used it as a place to cheat the people by stealing from those who came to give their sacrifice to God.  

After this, many came to Jesus in the Temple. “And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them.” Matthew 21:14. The bold action of Jesus when He drove out the merchants and money changers from the temple courts did not discourage the needy from coming to Him. The blind and the lame were restricted to the court of the Gentiles; they could not go closer to the temple and could not go to the altar to sacrifice. After purging the court of the Gentiles of merchants and robbers, Jesus then ministered to the outcasts who congregated there. He did the work of the Messiah, a significant part of which was showing the power of God in the context of compassion and mercy to those who so needed this. 

We do not have the temple today, but we do have Churches where the Body of Christ meet to praise God, hear needed teachings, pray together, and in all ways lifting each other up. We must never, whether we are leaders or not, take advantage of anyone for our own benefit. We should never limit good things and deeds to only those who donate up to certain expectation. And we should never deceive anyone into giving with promises we will or cannot deliver. God, in no way approves of this. Paul laid this our clearly. “and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you.” 1 Thessalonians 4:6. Today, church is a place for ‘the Church’ to honor God, giving Him praise and worship as well as growing our knowledge such that we build up our faith. It is not for anyone to take advantage of anyone for his/her own advantage and gain. I believe God abhors this, and will, as the above verse shows, avenge those who take part in these things.

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

Isaiah 2:5

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Isaiah 2:5

“Come, house of Jacob, and let us walk in the light of the LORD.” – Isaiah 2:5  

Verses one through five here is a vision from God. Starting with verse 1 we read, “The word which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.” Isaiah 2:1. This was not a voice he heard, but a word he saw, confirming this was a vision. Isaiah has seen many visions from God, which at various times were ignored by the Israelite leaders.

So, let us look at what Isaiah saw. “Now it will come about that In the last days, The mountain of the house of the LORD Will be established as the chief of the mountains and will be raised above the hills; And all the nations will stream to it. And many peoples will come and say, Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, To the house of the God of Jacob; That He may teach us concerning His ways, And that we may walk in His paths. For the law will go forth from Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And He will judge between the nations and will render decisions for many peoples; And they will hammer their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, And never again will they learn war.” Isaiah 2:2-4. First, he saw that this was to occur in the ‘last days’. This phrase, the last days, refers to a time in the future, most notably the time of the Messiah, when the anointed of the Lord, The Christ’ will reign over the earth. This also speaks of many people going to the mountain of the Lord to learn the ways of the Lord so they could walk according to God’s ways.

Now, referring to the mountains, let us look at something that explains the meaning. Many of the ancient religions saw their gods as dwelling on a high mountain; mount Olympus by the Greeks or mount Cassius for the Phoenicians. Isaiah said that ‘the House of the Lord will be raised above the hills’ intonates that the God of Israel will be raised above all other gods, showing the great importance of the dwelling place of God. God reveals this same picture to Ezekiel as well. “In the twenty-fifth year of our exile, at the beginning of the year, on the tenth of the month, in the fourteenth year after the city was taken, on that same day the hand of the LORD was upon me and He brought me there. the land of Israel and set me on a very high mountain; and on it to the south there was a structure like a city. So He brought me there; and behold, there was a man whose appearance was like the appearance of bronze, with a line of flax and a measuring rod in his hand; and he was standing in the gateway. And the man said to me, “Son of man, see with your eyes, hear with your ears, and give attention to all that I am going to show you; for you have been brought here in order to show it to you. Declare to the house of Israel all that you see.” Ezekiel 40:1-4. It is understood by various theologians that ‘this man whose appearance was like the appearance of bronze’ was a picture of the Messiah. And this will be a time of peace, And all the weapons will be destroyed and the metal used for peaceful purposes.

And this leads to our focus verse.  “Come, house of Jacob, and let us walk in the light of the LORD.” Isaiah 2:5. Isaiah ends this brief look at the ideal Zion of the future with a call for the current Israel to transform their thinking, to reorient their worldview, and to change their behavior based on their knowledge of what God will do in the future. Judah and its leaders can either continue to be self-absorbed and follow their own ways, or they can choose to glorify God and follow his instructions.

And as Christians, we are the people of God and He is calling us to do the same. Do we continue to live as we want, or live the way God wants us to? We are to walk in the light of the Lord. This is best explained by Jesus in John’s gospel. “Again therefore Jesus spoke to them, saying, I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life.” John 8:12. We are to walk in the light of the Lord Jesus, in his ways and as He desires us to. It is important that we choose, in every avenue of our lives, to walk in His light. For in doing so,  we shall see the truth and will not be blinded in the darkness of this world. “And this is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John  1:5-7.

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

Luke 2:49

Verse of the Day Devotion Luke 2:49 

“And He said to them, why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?” – Luke 2:49 

I am going to start 2022 by looking at verses that are specific quotes of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our first one will be the first words of Jesus as recorded by any of the gospels. This being our focus verse, “Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?” Luke 2:49.  They were in Jerusalem to obey the Law regarding the feasts. “Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord GOD.” Exodus 23:17.  And now that Jesus was twelve, He was now permitted to go as well, as a son of the law, to take part in the celebration of the sacred festival.

Now after this was complete they headed back home. “and as they were returning, after spending the full number of days, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. And His parents were unaware of it, but supposed Him to be in the caravan, and went a day’s journey; and they began looking for Him among their relatives and acquaintances. And when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, looking for Him.” Luke 2:43-45.  They supposed that He was with them in the caravan, but after having looked for Him, they returned back to Jerusalem.  And after three days they found Him.  “And it came about that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them, and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers.” Luke 2:46-47. Because it seems improbable that they would not have gone to the temple three days after arriving back, according to theologian John Peter Lange, “It seems more probable that we must allow one day for their departure, vs. 44; one for their return, vs. 45; and the third, vs. 46, for their search; and that they found Him in the sanctuary at the close of the latter.

They probably found Him in one of the porches of the Court of the Women, where the schools of the Rabbis were held and the law regularly taught. They were surprised to see Him there, and therefore Mary asked Him, “Son, why have You treated us this way? Behold, Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You.”  Luke 2:48b.  What happened here is definitely different than the norm in this culture.  In the male-dominated temple one would expect Joseph rather than Mary to address Jesus. It could be that the unique spiritual bond she had with Jesus prompted her making this statement.  And she addresses Him not as boy, or young man, but as son, or child. She says here they have been diligently looking for Him.

We then see His response in our focus verse. “Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?” Luke 2:49. The first thing I want to discuss is the last word in this verse.  In the Greek, the use of the word ‘house’ can also be translated as business. Greek scholar Bill Mounce says the following, “But the plural τοῖς nags me, and suggests it is the ”things” of the father that was motivating Jesus to stay behind.” Thus, I believe what was meant here is ‘My Father’s things or affairs’, not ‘My Father’s house’.  And this makes additional sense, in that because Mary brought up the idea of Joseph as father, that He was referring to God’s business or affairs over Joseph’s, not the Temple over Joseph’s house. In other words, what God wanted Jesus to do was far more important that anyone else’ desires.

 The one thing that stands out to me regarding this verse is that Jesus saw His work for God as more important than anyone else’s, including Joseph and Mary.  And I want us all to be challenged to think the same way.  God’s calling on our lives is far more important than anything else.  We should never look at the desires of another to take priority over the desires of God.  We must always look at God’s ways as greater than ours.  “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Neither are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9.  Jesus here is laying out what should be our most important priorities.  Let us follow them as He did.

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

Acts 12:12

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Acts 12:12 

“And when he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John who was also called Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying.” – Acts 12:12 

Peter had been arrested by Herod Agrippa 1 in Jerusalem.  James, the brother of John had recently been killed by Agrippa and because he saw how the Jews applauded this action, he decided to arrest Peter and do the same.  However, because they were entering the time of Passover he kept him in prison, planning to kill him after Passover was completed.

Then, on the night that Herod was going to bring Peter out to kill Him, God intervenes on his behalf and rescues him.  And he does it in a supernatural way. “On the very night when Herod was about to bring him forward, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and guards in front of the door were watching over the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter’s side and woke him up, saying, “Get up quickly.” And his chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, “Gird yourself and put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he *said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me. And he went out and continued to follow, and he did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. When they had passed the first and second guard, they came to the iron gate that leads into the city, which opened for them by itself; and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel departed from him. When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I know for sure that the Lord has sent forth His angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.” Acts 12:6-11.

This is an incredible outcome of Peter’s arrest.  He was in prison with four guards at all time watching him, two on either side of him, two others outside the door.  Apparently, he did not expect this because when he was walking out, he questioned the reality of this situation.  He was free and no one was following him, attempting to bring him back.  However, note our focus verse.  “And when he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John who was also called Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying.” Acts 12:12.  In the last part of this verse we read, ‘where many were gathered together and were praying.’

This is an important fact in the whole story.  The Christians were in Mary’s house praying to God asking for His intervention, no doubt regarding Peter’s release.  They believed this could be the end of Peter’s ministry.  They thought Peter was destined to die just as James had because they we unable to rescue him.  However, just as Jesus told the disciples regarding the incident of the rich you ruler, “And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26. 

As Christians, one of the things we need to do on a regular basis is pray for each other.  We may not be arrested awaiting execution because of our Christian beliefs as Peter was, but we all are going through difficulties we want God to intervene in.  It may be family quarrels, needs we need met, or simply peace during hard times.  We may not have an answer, however God does and He can bring us through any situation that come our way.  Paul said in his letter to the Church at Rome that we are to be devoted in prayer  (Romans 12:12).  This should be our heart, whether we are alone or with a group of brothers and sisters, we need to be in prayer for each other.  Again, we may not know there is a need, however, we all need God to help us.  So, take time each day to lift each other up in prayer.  We may be amazed at what He will do for us and our fellow Christians. 

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

Psalm 23:6

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Psalm 23:6   

“Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” – Psalm 23:6

This is the last verse in Psalm 23, where he wraps up these thoughts on God’s goodness to Him.  David declares all the good things God provides for him.  He says that whatever His needs are, God provide them for him.   He take him to green pastures to rest in, and to quiet waters to quench his thirst.  When he was weary or sinned against the Lord, God will forgive him and strengthen him.  No matter where Gid leads him, he does not fear, for the Lord is with him all the time.  The Lord blesses him in the presence of his enemies because God’s rod and staff comforts him because He is protected. 

Now, in verse six we read, “Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life” Psalm 26:6a.  God has promised those who live their lives for God, just as David did, goodness and lovingkindness.  And this will be his life all the days of his life.  Another verse says something very similar.  “One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD And to meditate in His temple.”  Psalm 27:4.  What he is asking for is that he can spend time in God’s house in worship and devotion to Him.  This was very important to him, for worship and praise was an essential part of his life.  He loved being in the temple, meditating on God. 

David trusted that for the rest of his life goodness and lovingkindness would be a part of his experience.  We read in Lamentations the following, “ Remember my affliction and my wandering, the wormwood and bitterness. Surely my soul remembers And is bowed down within me. The LORD’S loving kindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:19-23.  His lovingkindness and His compassion never fails.  In fact, they are new every morning.  The beauty of this is that His love is always with us, and we can trust this with no questioning.

Now, the last past of our focus verse says, “And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” Psalm 23:6b.  In my research, many have stated that this does not mean eternal, but the rest of life.  However, I tend to disagree with this.  Here is the focus verse again.  “Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” Psalm 23:6.  There are two time periods mentioned.  “all the days of my life” and ‘I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever”.  All the days of my life, and forever.  These must be two different periods of time because of the distinction.  So, in this last part of the verse, it is saying that forever, I will spend in His house.  If this was a temporal idea, then we would be living forever here.  We know that is not the case.  Also, look at what is said in the book of Revelation.  “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying,Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them,” Revelation 21:3.  You may be asking, how would David know of this?.  There are many verses where God reveals the future to David, so this is not necessarily out of the norm. 

And what David was promised in this verse, is ours, as Christians, as well.  Think about this verse in relation to you.  “Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” Psalm 23:6.  And I must say I look forward to these days.   

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

Psalm 27:4

Verse of the Day Devotion: Psalm 27:4 

“One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD And to meditate in His temple.” – Psalm 27:4    

David here is speaking about what he considers most important in his life.  Remember as we go through this verse that he is king over Judah, essentially having access to anything he desires.  However, as we go through these verses, we see what his focus truly is.  First, let us look at the three verses prior to our focus verse.  “The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread?” Psalm 27:1.  He starts here by saying that the Lord is the source of his light and his salvation.  The Word of the Lord is his light, it is what helps him understand and be at peace.  He is also the source of his salvation and deliverance.  And because of this, he does not afraid of anyone or anything.  God is the one who goes before him and protects him. 

Then he declares, “When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh, My adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell. Though a host encamp against me, My heart will not fear; Though war arise against me, In spite of this I shall be confident.” Psalm 27:2-3.  He has confidence that whoever or whatever comes against him, it will fail.  His adversaries will stumble and be defeated by the God who protects him.  And though an army would come against him, attacking him in order to defeat him, he has complete confidence that God is on his side and will fight the battles for him.  His confidence is in God.  He trusts Him completely such that he can stay at peace. 

And because of the above, he desires to be where God is at all times.  He seeks this by asking God to allow him to always remain in His presence.  This is the great desire of David’s heart.  First, that he would always be where God is, that God would never leave or forsake him, and that he would be in a place where he would hear His words, that his mind and thoughts would ever be on the Lord.  But also, that he could behold the beauty of the Lord.  This is not necessarily speaking of seeing Him.  The idea of beauty in this verse is referring to pleasantness and splendor, then His grace and favor; essentially His beautiful attributes that describe and show how truly wonderful He is.  Then, after he leaves this life, David desires to live for eternity in His presence there as well, to enjoy the favor and beauty of God.  From the moment where he is, David desires to, going forward,  be where God is, to enjoy and be in fellowship with Him that never ends. 

After looking at this verse more closely, this is how I feel.  I never want to experience being where God is not.  I want to be in constant fellowship with Him, and to enjoy His beauty and splendor forever; both here and in the life to come.  I pray this is your desire as well.  For there is nothing better than being in the presence of God no matter what. 

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