Isaiah 66:2

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Isaiah 66:2 

“For My hand made all these things, thus all these things came into being, declares the LORD. But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.” – Isaiah 66:2 

Again, we see ‘the heavens and the earth’, the last time was in the previous chapter. “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind.” Isaiah 65:17. In Isaiah 66:1, He is not necessarily speaking of a new one, but simply the idea of the heavens and earth. Now, the first time this phrase appears is in the first verse in the Old Testament as He speaks about the original creation. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1. Now, in all three of these, it speaks of ‘everywhere’, for there is nothing outside of the heavens and earth in His creation. And everything is His temple, for it says, “Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool.” Isaiah 66:1a.

Therefore, the Lord asks “And where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest?” Isaiah 66:1b. The reference to God’s throne and house is somewhat confusing. This appears to be a quotation or a reference to a previous statement that God’s presence cannot be limited to Solomon’s temple. “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain Thee, how much less this house which I have built! Yet have regard to the prayer of Thy servant and to his supplication, O LORD my God, to listen to the cry and to the prayer which Thy servant prays before Thee today; that Thine eyes may be open toward this house night and day, toward the place of which Thou hast said, ‘My name shall be there,’ to listen to the prayer which Thy servant shall pray toward this place. And listen to the supplication of Thy servant and of Thy people Israel when they pray toward this place; hear Thou in heaven Thy dwelling place; hear and forgive.” 1 Kings 8:27-30. Solomon says that there is no way the temple they have built can contain Him, for the highest heaven cannot. It seems to mean the heaven in its most extended compass. Solomon combines with his belief in Yahweh’s special presence in the temple, the strongest conviction that He is no local or finite deity but is ever present everywhere. Then Isaiah continues, speaking for God, “For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being, declares the LORD. But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.” Isaiah 66:2. We may want to build God something, but what can we build that is worthy of God? Instead, what God really wants from us is a poor and a contrite spirit, and to tremble at His word. Contrite is literally ‘lamed’ or disabled, here used with spiritual significance: one who is aware of the damage wrought by sin, of personal inability to stand upright before God.

I want to end this devotion with a quote from Charles Spurgeon. “Are you one of those who trembles at God’s word? “They tremble at the searching power of God’s Word. Do you never come into this place and sit down in the pew, and say, ‘Lord, grant that thy Word may search me and try me, that I may not be deceived’? Certain people must always have sweets and comforts; but God’s wise children do not wish for these in undue measure. Daily bread we ask for, not daily sugar.” What Charles is asking is does God’s word make a difference in us? When we go to church, do we simply sit in a pew or chair and listen, or do we take what is in God’s word and examine our lives, seeing if we need to make any changes in order to please God with our lives. Too many attend church so they can say the attended church. However, we should attend church in order to learn where we do not live up to what God wants and make any changes necessary to become who He desires us to be, as well as giving Him all the praise, glory, and honor we can give Him, which is what He so deserves.  Let us look at our time in church not as something simply to do, but as a time to honor Him with our obedience and worship. The church is not His throne or temple, it is where we can focus our attention and focus on Him. It is for His people to come together and worship Him and support each other. What could be better?

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

Daniel 4:37

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Daniel 4:37

“Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise, exalt, and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and His ways just, and He is able to humble those who walk in pride.” – Daniel 4:37  

This VOTD is a bit longer than most, but necessary to understand what it means. This verse is the conclusion of the story of Nebuchadnezzar. Up to this vision he pretty much did whatever he wanted. He raided and conquered countries and kingdoms, including Israel, Egypt, and various others. He created a false god and required everyone to worship it and the other gods of  Babylon upon penalty of death. He was considered the most powerful king who had reigned in Babylon, and by many the most powerful in all history.  He was also devout regarding the gods of Babylon and served them as expected. However, the true God had another plan for him. He used Nebuchadnezzar to give a public proclamation to all the people. And it begins and ends with him acknowledging God, Jehovah, as the true God of all heaven and earth.

He starts this proclamation by giving praise to God. “Nebuchadnezzar the king to all the peoples, nations, and men of every language that live in all the earth: May your peace abound! It has seemed good to me to declare the signs and wonders which the Most High God has done for me. How great are His signs, And how mighty are His wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, And His dominion is from generation to generation.” Daniel 4:1-3. He wants to declare before he gets to his story that the Most High God is greater than anyone or anything that exists. This shows how effective it was in turning his eyes and heart to the true God. Then the story starts. “I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at ease in my house and flourishing in my palace. I saw a dream and it made me fearful; and these fantasies as I lay on my bed and the visions in my mind kept alarming me.” Daniel 4:4-5. This vision troubled him, so he called for all the wise men to come and tell him what it meant. But as before, they did not know. “So I gave orders to bring into my presence all the wise men of Babylon, that they might make known to me the interpretation of the dream. Then the magicians, the conjurers, the Chaldeans, and the diviners came in, and I related the dream to them; but they could not make its interpretation known to me.” Daniel 4:6-7.

Then Daniel comes in and he tells him the dream. “Now these were the visions in my mind as I lay on my bed: I was looking, and behold, there was a tree in the midst of the earth, and its height was great. The tree grew large and became strong, And its height reached to the sky, And it was visible to the end of the whole earth. Its foliage was beautiful and its fruit abundant, And in it was food for all. The beasts of the field found shade under it, And the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches, And all living creatures fed themselves from it. I was looking in the visions in my mind as I lay on my bed, and behold, an angelic watcher, a holy one, descended from heaven. He shouted out and spoke as follows: “Chop down the tree and cut off its branches, Strip off its foliage and scatter its fruit; Let the beasts flee from under it, And the birds from its branches. Yet leave the stump with its roots in the ground, But with a band of iron and bronze around it In the new grass of the field; And let him be drenched with the dew of heaven And let him share with the beasts in the grass of the earth. Let his mind be changed from that of a man, And let a beast’s mind be given to him, And let seven periods of time pass over him. This sentence is by the decree of the angelic watchers, And the decision is a command of the holy ones, In order that the living may know That the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, And bestows it on whom He wishes, And sets over it the lowliest of men. This is the dream which I, King Nebuchadnezzar, have seen. Now you, Belteshazzar, tell me its interpretation, inasmuch as none of the wise men of my kingdom is able to make known to me the interpretation; but you are able, for a spirit of the holy gods is in you.” Daniel 4:9-18. 

Now Daniel was appalled by what he heard, and this was seen by the king. But the king told him not to be alarmed. Then Daniel responded, “My lord, if only the dream applied to those who hate you, and its interpretation to your adversaries!” Daniel 4:19b. Daniel was not perplexed, he heard from God what it meant, and it was nowhere near what he expected. He starts by explaining what he saw. “The tree that you saw, which became large and grew strong, whose height reached to the sky and was visible to all the earth, and whose foliage was beautiful and its fruit abundant, and in which was food for all, under which the beasts of the field dwelt and in whose branches the birds of the sky lodged; it is you, O king; for you have become great and grown strong, and your majesty has become great and reached to the sky and your dominion to the end of the earth. And in that the king saw an angelic watcher, a holy one, descending from heaven and saying, “Chop down the tree and destroy it; yet leave the stump with its roots in the ground, but with a band of iron and bronze around it in the new grass of the field, and let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, and let him share with the beasts of the field until seven periods of time pass over him.” Daniel 4:20-23. Daniel has told the king the dream’s interpretation, but that God had also declared a decree upon him. “that you be driven away from mankind, and your dwelling place be with the beasts of the field, and you be given grass to eat like cattle and be drenched with the dew of heaven; and seven periods of time will pass over you, until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes. And in that it was commanded to leave the stump with the roots of the tree, your kingdom will be assured to you after you recognize that it is Heaven that rules.” Daniel 4:25-26. Daniel then advises the king “Therefore, O king, may my advice be pleasing to you: break away now from your sins by doing righteousness, and from your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor, in case there may be a prolonging of your prosperity.” Daniel 4:27.

Now unfortunately, he did not take Daniel’s advice. “All this happened to Nebuchadnezzar the king. Twelve months later he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon. The king reflected and said, ‘Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?’ While the word was in the king’s mouth, a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared: sovereignty has been removed from you.” Daniel 4:28-31. While the king was still bragging about himself, a voice from heaven pronounced judgment upon him. Evidently this was an audible announcement, at least to the king. The voice, probably of an angel, declared that heaven had decreed his judgment. It was as good as done. Nebuchadnezzar would live with the wild animals and eat grass like the cattle for seven periods, probably seven years, until he finally repented of his pride and gave glory to God. And immediately the sentence was carried out.

Then after a long period, his punishment was over when he raise his eyes toward heaven. “But at the end of that period I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever; For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom endures from generation to generation. And all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, What hast Thou done?” Daniel 4:34-35. When God brought him back to normal, he praise God and gave all glory to Him. And he ended with the following. “Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise, exalt, and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and His ways just, and He is able to humble those who walk in pride.” Daniel 4:37. And he was referring to himself as an example of someone walking in their pride regarding themselves.

Nebuchadnezzar definitely had an encounter with God, and his praise appeared sincere. This brings up the question, was this experience equivalent to salvation or did it fall short of saving faith? I believe that the king had a genuine salvation experience; but many others think the king’s faith fell short. We cannot be completely sure, but the language of the text suggests that Nebuchadnezzar did in fact have a saving encounter with the true God. I believe, because of his encounter with Daniel and the other three young men, he saw reality regarding their God, and God carried it out by bringing his belief to completion. Anyone who comes to God will not be pushed away. And as Daniel, along with  Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego lived out their faith and helped convince Nebuchadnezzar regarding the truth, we may be able to do the same by simply living the Christian life as it should be. Remember, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, 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 5:14-16.

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

1 Peter 5:6

Verse of the Day Devotion: 1 Peter 5:6

“Therefore. humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time.” – 1 Peter 5:6

Our focus verse for today tells us that we should be humble before God.  In fact, he uses a very specific phrase that gives a fuller picture of what is meant: “under the mighty hand of God”.  This phrase often speaks of being under the punishment of God.  However, the meaning here speaks of a much more positive idea.  This is to be understood in a more humble manner, that He provides a safe and profitable path, being hid as in the hollow of His hand as we fulfill His will.

However, the general idea is that when we do the work of God, that we do it in humility knowing that God is working through us, and that we are not to lift ourselves up in a prideful way.  Solomon puts it this way, “The fear of the LORD is the instruction for wisdom, And before honor comes humility.” Proverbs 15:33.  Before we are honored, we should submit to God in humility.  Adam Clarke in his commentary on Proverbs says, “few persons ever arrive at honor who are not humble; and those who from low life have risen to places of trust and confidence, have been remarkable for humility.”  Micah also has something to say about humility.  “He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8.

Now, back to 1 Peter 5.  In verse five we read, “You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5.  This verse comes from Proverbs 3:34, “Though He scoffs at the scoffers, Yet He gives grace to the afflicted.” and is also referred to in James 4:6. It basically says that God resists the proud, those who place more emphasis and priority on what they do, rather than in what God is doing through them. And by being humble, we can anticipate a future exaltation.  “that He may exalt you at the proper time.” 1 Peter 5:6b.  Now, we do not know whether it will come in this life or the next, however, what God promises He will always do.

It is important that we always go before God in humility, understanding that He is our loving and merciful God.  And we must always, in all humility, do the work of God in a manner that does not exalt ourselves but recognizes that God is doing the work through us.  “So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”  Philippians 2:12-13.  He does the work; we are the vessel He uses to accomplish His will.  Therefore, we should not focus on ourselves as we do what God has called us to but focus on the one who called us and is working through us.  In regards to myself, I am humbled that God chooses to use me at all, when I look back on my life prior to being saved.  However, I am extremely thankful that He does.  I pray that you who are reading this will see your calling and work in the same way.   

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

2 Chronicles 7:14

Verse of the Day Devotion: 2 Chronicles 7:14 

“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” – 2 Chronicles 7:14       

This verse takes place upon the completion of the Temple by Solomon, after which God appears to him.  “Thus Solomon finished the house of the LORD and the king’s house. All that Solomon had planned to do in the house of the LORD and in his own house he successfully accomplished.  Then the LORD appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice.” 2 Chronicles 7:11-12. 

At this point, God tells Solomon how they were to address difficult times due to wrongdoing.  We see this idea in verse 13 where God speaks of when national judgement comes.  “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people,”  2 Chronicles 7:13.  He would no doubt do these things only in order to bring His people back to the ways of righteousness.  Let us look at what this focus verse says and apply it to us when we go through hard times because we turn from God.

The first thing He says is who this verse applies to.  To those who are His.  Those who are called by His name.  In our time those are Christians.  They are the new Jerusalem, Gods people.  It is not speaking here to those who are not Christians.  Yes, they do need to come to Him, giving up their old lives and committing themselves to Christ.  However, this verse speaks to those who have already given themselves to Him. 

And now are we to approach Him when we stumble?  We are to go to Him in humility, humbling ourselves before Him.  We are to bow before Him, acknowledging we have sinned against Him, putting aside any pride or arrogance we may have, recognizing that it was us who decided to sin, no matter what came our way that led us in that direction.  The only two reasons we can honestly give is we either have not studied His Word to see it is wrong, or we choose to do wrong.  Therefore, we are to come to Him in humility understanding we are totally at fault.  Next, in our humility, we are to pray and seek His face.  We must go to Him and acknowledge what we have done and ask Him to forgive us.  And it must come from the depths of our being, not simply saying the words believing this will make things OK.  And we must commit to turn away from our wicked ways, truthfully working toward removing these evil ways from our lives. 

And when we do all this, with complete honesty from the depths of our heart, He will see this and hear our heart crying out to Him and will forgive us and heal whatever difficulties came forth from what we did.  It is important that we do not only go through the motions but truly are repentant and broken because of our sin.  When we do this, then God will truly forgive us and make us whole again.  So I encourage us all to go to Him when we realize we have sinned and humbly confess them to God in reality and humility.  God desires us to come before Him this way, and He will make good on this promise when we do.

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

James 4:10

Verse of the Day Devotion: James 4:10 

“Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” – James 4:10             

James here, in this passage, is telling the Christians to remain humble before the Lord.  When we either go before God in prayer and praise, or in studying His word, we must remember who we are and who we are going to.  He is God, the Almighty Creator of all things.  We are man, someone whom He created.  This is an infinite gap between us.  All mankind has sinned against Him, from Adam and Eve to us individually.  We have gone against His commands and were destined for eternal punishment. 

But in God’s love and mercy, knowing that we had no possible way of paying the penalty for ourselves, sent His only begotten Son to die in our stead.  For it took a perfect being to earn salvation, however, no one has ever lived this perfect life except for Jesus.  “Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2.

Based on these verses, what could be our reason for exalting ourselves before God?  Were we perfect? No.  Did we deal with our own sin?  No. Did we help Him in any way with the process?  Absolutely not.  However, because of the joy set before Him, He endured what we deserved, death.  In tasting death for every man, He is set down at the right hand of the Father, and as the theologian Adam Clarke said in his comment on Hebrews 12:2, “ever appearing in the presence of God for us, and continuing His exhibition of Himself as our sacrifice, and His intercession as our mediator.”  We could do nothing; therefore, He did everything.

One last thing that it is important to remember, as Paul said to the Philippians, “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13. What God calls us to do, He works in us to fulfil His will In us.  To think we do it all is a misunderstanding.  We submit to Him and He does a great work through us.  He has a similar statement that he wrote to the Thessalonians.  “To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12.  It is God who makes us worthy of His calling on us and will do a great work through us by His power, so that Jesus may be glorified in us, and us in Him.  It is here, in Him working through us, that we are glorified, where we are exalted.

Because He created us, then saved us when we sinned, then works through us to accomplish His will, we have no standing to come before Him in anyway but humbly.  For we are, as Christians, who we are because of Him.  Let us always remember this, so that when we go before God, we come in humility. Our future is set, and we will live forever with Him in glory.  What a great gift along with the others He has already shown us. 

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