Matthew 19:26

Verse of the Day Devotion: Matthew 19:26

“And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” – Matthew 19:26

A rich young ruler came to Christ and asked Him what good He needed to do to attain eternal life.  Jesus answered him saying, “Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.“.  Matthew 19:17.  He was not telling him that salvation is attained by works, but He answered him based on what the Law said.  He has not, at this time, died and paid the penalty, thus the reason as I understand it for His answer.  He then listed a subset of the laws to follow.  The young man then replies, “All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?”  Matthew 19:20b.  Jesus then responds with this, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” Matthew 19:21.

What Jesus was saying was that nothing can take precedence over Him.  Salvation comes through giving up everything to follow Him.  When the young ruler heard these words, he walked away because He could not place Jesus above his belongings.  Then we read the following, “And Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.  Again, I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”  Matthew 19:23-24.

So, what was Jesus saying referring to camel through the eye of a needle?  There are several thoughts on this, however, the most likely explanation is that it is a hyperbole.  The Persians expressed the idea of impossibility by declaring that it would be easier for an elephant to go through the eye of a needle.  The use of camel was a Jewish form of this phrase, using the largest animal in Israel, that being the camel.  So, what Jesus was saying was simply it is seemingly impossible for a rich man to be saved because their riches mean so much to them.  Few if any would be willing to give up everything for Him.

“When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, ‘Then who can be saved?”  Matthew 19:25.   Then we come to our focus verse.  “And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26.

Man cannot save himself because it is impossible to be perfect.  Jews believed that through sacrificing an animal to God, their sins would be removed.  However, it is really through giving everything to God and following His Word and obeying His commands.  “but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” Matthew 19:17b.  However, we cannot keep them perfectly, Jesus, the Son of God, came here and lived that perfect life for us.  And by doing so, and us accepting His work on the cross, we are justified, declared righteous.  He said, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.” Matthew 5:17.  He came to do what we could not and applied it to our situation if we believe in our hearts, mind, and lives.  What a mighty and loving God we serve.

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

Hebrews 6:6

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Hebrews 6:6 

“And then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.” –  Hebrews 6:6  

The idea found in Hebrews 6:4-6 is one of the most difficult and controversial one to understand in all of scriptures. Lets look at verses 4-5. “For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come” Hebrews 6:4-5. This here speaks of ‘spiritual enlightenment’: understanding and acceptance of the truth. We know these are Christians for it states they are ‘partakers of the Holy Spirit’. They have the Holy Spirit dwelling within them. These are not simply those who declare they are Christians when actually they have never given their lives to Christ. These are actual Christians.

Then, it is in our focus verse where the major difficulty comes. “and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.” Hebrews 6:6. Many people see this as a losing of their salvation. But this is not what it is saying. They are not ‘losing’ their salvation, they are ‘leaving/walking away from their salvation. They are becoming ‘apostates’, which are those who abandon or renounce Christianity, and ultimately Christ Himself. Remember what John wrote. “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:8-9. Unfortunately, as Christians we will sin from time to time. However, if we go before Him and ask Him for forgiveness, He will grant it to us. Therefore, this is not what the author was speaking of. Falling away refers not to sin in general, but to the specific sin of apostasy. By backing away from the faith, you essentially back away from what He did for you. Thus, the idea regarding be crucified again.

The next two verses give us an illustration using farmland. “For ground that drinks the rain which often falls upon it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned. ” Hebrews 6:7-8. The rain that falls from heaven corresponds to the enlightening blessings of verses 4–5. If the seed of the word of God is truly present in the soil, the hearts of men and women, the rain causes fruitful crops to grow, fulfilling the blessing intended by God. But where the word of truth, though heard, has been rejected, the rain can only quicken that which is already in the soil, that being thorns and thistles. And continued rain will only make matters worse, not better. Such fruitless land will merit the ultimate cursing of God and be finally given over to burning.

Such a scenario parallels the condition Jesus describes of certain branches of the true vine which do not abide in him and are therefore cut off and gathered into the fire and burned. Jesus says essentially the same thing as written by John. “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” John 15:1-6.

In closing, those who stay true to Christ and follow His ways are guaranteed eternal life with Him. “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” John 5:24. However, there will be some who will reject the faith they had believed in. Their eternal future is not glorious. But will be eternal punishment in the lake of fire. Spend time in the scriptures, strengthen your faith through study and prayer. And also use this time as preparation to be ready to help and strengthen those who need assistance in keeping their faith. “Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:1-2. If you see someone drifting away, do what you can, in love, to draw them back to the truth. You will be blessing them, yourself, and ultimately God.

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

Hebrews 11:6

Verse of the Day Devotion: Hebrews 11:6 

“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” – Hebrews 11:6 

The writer of Hebrews lays out in a succinct manner what is pleasing to God.  It is faith in Him.  You see that clearly in the first part of the verse where is says “And without faith it is impossible to please Him Hebrews 11:6a.  Actually, this phrase is stronger that what appears here, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him at all.”  Without faith, there is no way to please Him at all. We can do all kinds of things that we believe will make Him happy, but without faith we are wasting our time.  In fact, Paul goes as far to say, “The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.” Romans 14:22-23.  Note4 what this verse said, whatever is not from faith is sin.  This is why doing anything without faith does not please Him. 

Now, going back to verse one, we see two components of faith.  “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1   First, it is the substance of things hoped for.  Now this definition of hope is much different then how we see it.  We often say, “I really hope our team wins” or “I hope that book I ordered comes in today”.  Modern man sees hope as something they desire to come to pass.  However, hope in reference to the book of Hebrews sees it as “the assurance of things hoped for.”  This fits beautifully when we see the object of the hope here.  It is the fulfillment of things God has promised.  We know God will do what He has promised.  “For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore, also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us.” 2 Corinthians 1:20.

Second, “the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1b.  As the first component deals with future items, this one address past, and present issues that we have not seen.  It says that even if we do not see it, we believe it happened as He said.  Classic examples of this is the creation of the heavens and the earth, the flood that destroyed the world, except for those in the Ark, the miraculous conception of Christ, His resurrection from the dead, His ascension to glory, His mediation at the right hand of the Father, etc.   In essence, believing everything we are told by Him without needing any other proof but His words. 

Wrapping this up, the way we please God is to have the faith to believe everything He has said, is saying and will say to us.  It also says in our focus verse that we must believe that He is.  We must believe He is who He says He is, and not that He might be.  We also must understand that He loves us and rewards those who truly seek after Him.  If we do not believe Him in one thing, it will be difficult to believe Him in all things.  And when we do believe Him, He takes great pleasure in that and will reside with us, blessing us with His presence.  What greater reward can we have than to be in His presence forever.

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

Luke 1:37

Verse of the Day Devotion: Luke 1:37 

For nothing will be impossible with God.” – Luke 1:37

These words were spoken to Mary in answer to a question she posed to him.  The angel told her she would give birth to a son who would be the Son of God, the Most High, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever.  Mary then asks the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” Luke 1:34b.  He then explains to her that God will cause her to conceive the child, therefore He will be called the holy – The Son of God.  Then the angel tells her that Elizabeth, her relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, already in her sixth month.  After this, the angel speaks our focus verse, for nothing will be impossible with God.

Now, this is not the first time this idea was communicated in the scriptures.  We read in Genesis the following, “The LORD said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?” The LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old? Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son. Genesis 18:10-14. 

This idea is something we need to remind each other of on a regular basis.  Mary was told this when the angel said she would conceive and have a son even though she had never been with a man, and that Elizabeth would have a son in her old age, in fact she was already in her sixth month. And the Lord said the same thing to Abraham when Sarah questioned what the Lord told Abraham regarding her having a son in her old age.  Now, I ask the following.  How often do we question the Lord’s ability to take care of us?

If there is nothing God cannot do, and He loves us beyond our ability to comprehend, then we have nothing to fear.  God said He will be with us forever, and there is nothing that can prevent this.  “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39.  So, whatever happens to/for us, God allows it for His purpose.  And whatever does not happen to/for us, God does not allow it for His purpose.  If the enemy comes against us, the Lord allows it for His good purpose.  There is nothing in this world that occurs, no matter how good or bad it is, that surprises God and is not meant for good.  We must trust Him, that no matter what happens to us, God allowed it and therefore it is for our good, or someone else’s.

 Remember this when you find yourself in difficult times.  Trust Him in all things. Be at peace knowing your situation is not a surprise to God, and in fact will be used for some good.  “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.  If He says everything will work toward our good, then it will and we can be at peace, for He can do anything, and we know all He does is good.

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

Romans 8:3

Verse of the Day – Romans 8:3

“It is impossible to do what God’s standards demand because of the weakness our human nature has. But God sent his Son to have a human nature as sinners have and to pay for sin. That way God condemned sin in our corrupt nature.” Romans 8:3 (GWT)

When I was a child we attended a local Calvary Chapel church, the pastor there was a very unique. He was a drummer back in the 70’s (if I remember right). My family left that church in 2003 for a number of reasons I won’t get into but to this day, he’s one of the few people I would look to and consider my pastor – he is the personification of the concept of being forgiven much and therefore loving much. There was a time we went through the book of Romans (at the time my favorite book of the bible) and during that period of time, it wouldn’t be uncommon for the pastor to tear up on stage talking about the grace of God given to us. I remember looking through the passage we were going to read for two specific and simple words that would lead to him crying, and unbeknownst to me leave such an impression on me that twenty years later, I would be writing about them in a daily devotion…

But God.

These two words, I would argue aside from “I Am” as used in John, are two of the most powerful words in all of scripture when put together. Whenever you see these two words together they are typically placed after a description of impossibilities or dispair. But God is a phrase that denotes a moment in time where the creator of the universe chose to step into time and space to stop the natural order of things and personally intervene in the affairs of men.

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20 (NIV)

“They refused to obey and did not remember the miracles you had done for them. Instead, they became stubborn and appointed a leader to take them back to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God of forgiveness, gracious and merciful, slow to become angry, and rich in unfailing love. You did not abandon them…” Nehemiah 9:17 (NLT)

But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead; he will surely take me to himself.” Psalms 49:15 (NIV)

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26 (NIV)

“I sank down to the very roots of the mountains. I was imprisoned in the earth, whose gates lock shut forever. But you, O LORD my God, snatched me from the jaws of death!” Jonah 2:6 (NLT)

“Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” Matthew 19:26 (NLT)

But God released him from the horrors of death and raised him back to life, for death could not keep him in its grip.” Acts 2:24 (NLT)

“You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead.” Acts 3:15a (NIV)

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 (NIV)

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” 1st Corinthians 1:27 (NIV)

“It is impossible to do what God’s standards demand because of the weakness our human nature has. But God sent his Son to have a human nature as sinners have and to pay for sin.” Romans 8:3a (GWT)

Your past is completed. Your sins have been committed but the future isn’t set. God still breaks through the realms of time and space to disrupt the natural order of death and life, the schemes of angel and demons, our own sabotaging of our lives through fears and worry, and the entirety of the powers of the kingdom of Hell so he can finish the good work he started in you, the role that he has for you in his plan, and to accomplish Jesus’s prayer of ‘as in heaven so on earth’.

  • Christiaan

(Edited to correct a misstatement about my former pastor being from California – turns out he’s a Georgia boy.)