Isaiah 58:1

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Isaiah 58:1

“Cry loudly, do not hold back; Raise your voice like a trumpet, and declare to My people their transgression, And to the house of Jacob their sins.” – Isaiah 58:1

The first two words ‘Cry loudly’, seen in the first two words of our focus verse, has the idea of calling out someone with your full throat. By this, the prophet is being called by God to declare loudly and clearly that the house of Jacob is committing sinful deeds, specifically ‘missing the mark’ that God called them to follow, and flat-out being treasonous and rebellious.  This introduction suggests that a judgment speech will follow, but the format that follows is very different from the normal judgment speech. Verse one provides the reason for the prophet’s speech (God told him to cry out) and legitimates the idea that these criticisms come from God.

So, what were these criticisms? He starts by showing there hypocrisy. “Yet they seek Me day by day, and delight to know My ways, As a nation that has done righteousness, And has not forsaken the ordinance of their God. They ask Me for just decisions, They delight in the nearness of God.” Isaiah 58:2. The whole description in verse two is appropriate to the character of formalists and hypocrites; and the idea is, that public worship by sacrifice was celebrated daily in the temple and was not held up at any time. It is not improbable also that they kept up the regular daily service in their dwellings. Their priests and prophets consult about the laws and institutions of religion, as if they were really afraid of violating the Divine commands. While at the same time that they are full of oppression, strife, and wickedness, they are scrupulously careful about violating any of the commands pertaining to the rites of religion.

Then in verse three and four. “Why have we fasted and Thou dost not see? Why have we humbled ourselves and Thou dost not notice?’ Behold, on the day of your fast you find your desire and drive hard all your workers. Behold, you fast for contention and strife and to strike with a wicked fist. You do not fast like you do today to make your voice heard on high.” Isaiah 58:3-4. Now God exposes the reality, which was that His people didn’t fast with the right heart and did it only as an empty ritual. Even on a day when they fasted, they still exploited their employees. God didn’t accept their fasting when it wasn’t connected with a sincere heart of obedience. They fasted for needs, certainly; but selfish needs like ‘Help me win this argument.’ or ‘Help me defeat this person.’  Though their prayer was accompanied with fasting, it was still a selfish, even wicked prayer, thus God did not answer. The purpose of their fasting was to glorify themselves, to make their voice heard on high. And God says, ‘No more. You will not fast as you do this day.’ 

Then God describes what He is looking for in us. “Is this not the fast which I choose, To loosen the bonds of wickedness, To undo the bands of the yoke, And to let the oppressed go free, And break every yoke? Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry, And bring the homeless poor into the house; When you see the naked, to cover him; And not to hide yourself from your own flesh?” Isaiah 58:6-7. God tells His people, If you want to fast the way that pleases Me, begin with getting right with your brothers and sisters. Stop oppressing others and reach out to help them. Loose the bonds of wickedness, undo the heavy burdens, and let the oppressed go free. How is this done? They had to stop acting wickedly towards others. This means that getting right with God begins by stopping the evil we do towards others. They were to share their bread with the hungry and their clothes with the naked. It was not hide everything for themselves. They had to start acting lovingly towards everyone. This means that getting right with God continues by showing true love to all.

We must be careful that what we do is not to lift up and please ourselves, but to lift God up and please Him. It will not matter if we take communion, read His Word, or go to church if we are only doing it because it is a Christian thing to do.  I did this for many years until God showed me I was not truly saved. And when I finally listened to God and gave my life to Him, I finally understood what the true Christian life is all about. Doing the do’s and not doing the don’ts is not enough, for we can do all we want, but if it is not to please and honor our Lord, it is actually a waste of our time. We need to give Him our life and focus on making Christ the core of our existence, pleasing Him in everything we do and we will be in His will. And that includes loving everyone as Christ loves us. Remember when Christ was asked the question of what is the foremost commandment of them all. “Jesus answered, The most important is, Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31. If we do not love God above everything else, and love everyone as we love ourselves, then all we are doing is going through the motions without honoring and giving our all to God. And this is not what we are to do.

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

Isaiah 44:2

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Isaiah 44:2

“Thus says the LORD who made you And formed you from the womb, who will help you, ‘Do not fear, O Jacob My servant; And you Jeshurun whom I have chosen.” – Isaiah 44:2  

At the end of chapter 43, Isaiah gave a warning of judgement to His people. “Your first forefather sinned, And your spokesmen have transgressed against Me. So I will pollute the princes of the sanctuary; And I will consign Jacob to the ban, and Israel to revilement.” Isaiah 43:27-28. This is the argument from God’s side to show that they were neither unjustly punished, nor punished with undue severity. The argument is that their rulers and teachers had been guilty of crimes, and therefore it was right to bring all this vengeance upon the nation. From the very beginning it’s history has been a string of sins.

However, starting with our focus verse, he changes His focus to His grace. “Thus says the LORD who made you And formed you from the womb, who will help you, Do not fear, O Jacob My servant; And you Jeshurun whom I have chosen. For I will pour out water on the thirsty land And streams on the dry ground; I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring, And My blessing on your descendants; And they will spring up among the grass Like poplars by streams of water.” Isaiah 44:2-4. The LORD had created and formed Israel, in as much as he had caused them to grow up to be a nation by means of their ancestors from Adam on successively. And because the LORD Himself made Israel, and from the beginning prepared him as an instrument of His purposes, He calls to the nation living in exile, not to fear, for two things are promised. First, that the land they are given will be fertile because of the water poured out on the dry ground. “Do not call to mind the former things or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert. The beasts of the field will glorify Me; The jackals and the ostriches; Because I have given waters in the wilderness And rivers in the desert, To give drink to My chosen people.“ Isaiah 43:18-20.  

 And second He will pour His Spirit and blessings on their offspring/descendants. This points back to chapter 32, where Isaiah states, “Until the Spirit is poured out upon us from on high, And the wilderness becomes a fertile field And the fertile field is considered as a forest. Then justice will dwell in the wilderness, And righteousness will abide in the fertile field. And the work of righteousness will be peace, And the service of righteousness, quietness, and confidence forever. Then my people will live in a peaceful habitation, And in secure dwellings and in undisturbed resting places.” Isaiah 32:15-18. This refers to when  the Spirit of God, as the source of all blessings, and especially as able to meet and remove the ills of the long calamity and desolation, comes to His people. This evidently refers to some future period, when the evils which the prophet was contemplating would be succeeded by the spread of the true faith.

Then we come to verse 5. “This one will say, ‘I am the LORD’S’; And that one will call on the name of Jacob; And another will write on his hand, ‘Belonging to the LORD,’ And will name Israel’s name with honor.” Isaiah 44:5. The idea of the phrase ‘call on the name of Jacob’ refers to gentiles who, because of the Holy Spirit, join themselves with the children of Jacob in serving the true God. I belong to Yahweh; I devote myself to him. These express the true nature of a profession of faith – a feeling that we are not our own, but that we belong to God. It is, that we not only feel that we are bound to worship him, but that we actually belong to him; that our bodies and spirits, and all that we have and, are to be sacredly employed in his service. Nothing, in few words, can more appropriately describe the true nature of a profession of faith than the expression used here.

In serving God, we must give our everything to Him, not holding anything back. In the Book of Matthew, we see Jesus’ answer to what the greatest commandment is. “And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40. He calls us to give Him everything, all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and as found in Mark, all our strength as well. Let us not, in anything, give Him less than our all.

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

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.

Psalm 20:1

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Psalm 20:1 

“May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob set you securely on high!” – Psalm 20:1 

Today is New Years Eve, and I want to wish everyone a wonderful 2021.  And because we are moving into a new year, ending one of the more difficult years we have seen in a long time, I pray that everything goes well with you in every way.  This  psalm is a prayer for David who is preparing to go to war.  However, the requests in this prayer can be offered for our sake also, for we are no doubt going into difficult times as we move into the new year, and closer to the day of Christ’s return.  Therefore, this prayer I offer up to God on our behalf.

May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob set you securely on high! May He send you help from the sanctuary And support you from Zion!!” Psalm 20:1.  May God defend us during any trials and hard times which may come our way in the coming year, and may we understand You are always with us, and will never leave us or forsake.  May we always have confidence that nothing can happen that You cannot address for our good.  “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28.  

May He remember all your meal offerings And find your burnt offering acceptable! Selah.” Psalm 20:3. May You, God, be pleased with all the offerings we present to You; all the labor we do within the church and the light we shine on a world that so needs to hear the truth, all the worship we humbly offer to You, and the life we live in obedience to your will and in assistance to all in need. “Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you.” Deuteronomy 16:17. 

May He grant you your heart’s desire And fulfill all your counsel!” Psalm 20:4.  May our heart’s desires be met in a way that helps us do the work You have called us to do.  May our desires be those things that please You and helps us to be strong during difficult times and also helps others work their way through trials as well.  “Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4.

We will sing for joy over your victory, And in the name of our God we will set up our banners. May the LORD fulfill all your petitions.” Psalm 20:5.  May our hearts be filled with joy over all you do for us, and may we declare to all what you Oh Lord have done for us.  May we rejoice and be glad for all of your loving help in all things.  “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.” Philippians 4:4-5

Now I know that the LORD saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven With the saving strength of His right hand.” Psalm 20:6.  Lord, we thank you for saving us and answering us from your heavenly abode.  That your mighty right hand is always there to protect us from all the enemy’s attacks and ways, and we thank you for the peace this gives us.  “No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; And every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, And their vindication is from Me, declares the LORD.” Isaiah 54:17,

Some boast in chariots and some in horses, But we will boast in the name of the LORD, our God. They have bowed down and fallen, But we have risen and stood upright.” Psalm 20:7-8.  Lord, may we put our trust in you and not in anything else.  Help us to stand strong and upright because of the trust we have in you that there is nothing that can defeat us with you on our side.  Let us not boast in ourselves but boast in you because you work all things through us for good.  “Thus says the LORD, Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things, declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 9:23-24.

Save, O LORD; May the King answer us in the day we call.” Psalm 20:9.  Lord, we ask that we hear your answer when we pray and come before you, for you are our king and you provide all the help we need.  We thank you for all the answers you have and will provide us in the coming year.  “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.” 1 John 5:14-15.

May this coming year be one where we continue to grow in the fear and admonition of the Lord.  May we always continue to grow closer to Him in all ways, and consistently trust Him that He can bring us through anything that can come our way.  God Bless you all.

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

Malachi 3:6

Verse of the Day Devotion: Malachi 3:6 

“For I, the LORD, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.” – Malachi 3:6      

One of the most comforting things for me regarding God is the fact that is stated in this focus verse: that being God does not change.  He declared this to Israel (the sons of Jacob) because they had disobeyed Him, and He had not consumed or destroyed them.  His plan for mankind was from before the beginning, and He was going to complete this plan.  “All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.” Revelation 13:8.  He knew those who would accept Him, and He also knew those who would not.  And He was/is consistent in this plan.  He will not change His mind.  “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” Numbers 23:19.

Here are a couple of the many scriptures that speak of God as unchangeable.  “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 3:8.  From eternity past through eternity future, God has not nor will He ever change.  He shall never question anything that He has done.  “But Samuel said to Saul, I will not return with you; for you have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you from being king over Israel. As Samuel turned to go, Saul seized the edge of his robe, and it tore. So Samuel said to him, “The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to your neighbor, who is better than you. Also the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind.” 1 Samuel 15:26-29.  And finally, James puts it this way.  “Every good thing given, and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” James 1:17.

Because of His immutability we have confidence that everything spoken or written by God is still true and can be depended on.  We can therefore trust everything we read in His word.  Remember, in Genesis 3 where He declared the coming of the Messiah.  “And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.” Genesis 3:15.  And as stated above in Revelation 13:8, Jesus’ crucifixion for our sins was declared before the world was created. 

Every prophetic declaration in the scriptures was or will be fulfilled as promised.  We should have no doubts about this.  And those of us who are true Christians should rejoice, because our future as told to us is a beautiful eternal existence in the presence of God.  And also, every word in the Holy Scriptures are still to be adhered to because He is unchangeable.  It is important that we spend time every day studying His Word and make what He has said the way we live.  It can be easy sometimes to fall into errant beliefs, which is why it is important to spend time everyday in prayer and study of the scriptures.  I have found it more than beneficial in my life. 

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