Jeremiah 17:7

Verse of the Day: Jeremiah 17:7

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD.” – Jeremiah 17:7 

There are many things that we place our trust in.  Sometimes we trust other men to bring us through trials.  Other times we trust the law to bring about appropriate compensation for a wrong done.  And of course, there are times when we rely on ourselves.  Also, there are many who create their own gods and place their trust in them.  The problem with placing our trust in any man or man-made solution, such as a false god, is that we cannot always trust that the solution will work.

In today’s verse, the truth is that placing your trust in God will be a blessing to you.  You see, in the verses 1-4, God convicts the Jews of the sin of idolatry and shows them that any confidence in these idols will not be good.  Let us look at the next two verses.  “Thus says the LORD: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD.  He is like a shrub in the desert and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.”  Jeremiah 17:5-6 He now says that anyone who trusts man aside from God has placed his trust in the wrong things.

The idea here is that we are to understand that God is to be who we trust.  He will never fail us, even when it looks like things are going all wrong.  He will never let us down or cause us to wander aimlessly for a solution.  As the writer of Proverbs said, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.”  Proverbs 3:5-6.  Acknowledge that the one you trust in any situation is God, and you will be guided straight to where He wants you.  And that place is God’s best for you.

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

Jeremiah 23:5

Verse of the Day Devotion: Jeremiah 23:5

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; And He will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land.” –  Jeremiah 23:5 

This verse speaks of the coming of the promised Messiah.  Isaiah speaks similarly when he said, “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.” Isaiah 9:6-7

Both Jeremiah and Isaiah are telling those who will listen that the righteous one will be coming, from God, who will ultimately establish the eternal kingdom, bringing righteousness and justice to the land.  Daniel gave specifics regarding the timing here, “So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.” Daniel 9:25. I will not go into the mathematics regarding His coming except to say that these are weeks of years; one week being 7 years. Therefore, it was not a secret, for the Lord made it clear to the Jews when, how and why He was coming.  When? Sixty-nine weeks of years after the decree to rebuild the Jerusalem. How? Through the Son of God, the Messiah. Why? To bring about the atonement for our sins through the death of the Messiah.

Unfortunately, most of the Jews at the time of Christ’s coming did not understand these prophecies.  It laid out the time of His coming, but they looked for what they expected, and not what the prophets said.  It was laid out so clearly here, “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place.” Daniel 9:24. My guess is that either they lost the initiative to continue counting the days, or they had their own idea of what the Messiah would do, and Jesus did not meet their expectations. What a shame. So, this is what we celebrate during the Christmas season.  It has to do with the gift God gave us in His Son, the promised Messiah, who would sacrifice Himself for us all.  Let us not forget this when we celebrate Christmas, because this is the true meaning of this blessed holiday season.  There is nothing wrong with sharing gifts or decorating with lights and trees.  However, let’s make these secondary and remind our children, friends and family of what Christ did for us and the eternal rewards He made available to us, if we simply believe and live it out.

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

Jeremiah 29:13

Verse of the Day Devotion: Jeremiah 29:13

“You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” – Jeremiah 29:13

There are two basic ways to seek after God.  We either look for Him with all our heart, or we casually seek Him putting on a pretense.  The method we use depends on what our purpose is in seeking Him.

If we are really serious in finding God; in love and humility presenting ourselves to Him, He will definitely show Himself.  “I love those who love me; and those who diligently seek me will find me.” Proverbs 8:17.  This is a very great promise He has declared.  If we call upon Him with all our heart, not just with words but with a true desire to find Him, to connect with Him and fellowship with Him, He will make Himself known to us.

God is always hearing our prayers.  And He knows our hearts regarding our prayers.  If our prayers are truly from our heart, He will hear and answer.  However, if we simply throw up a prayer so that we can say we prayed, then He may not be there for us.  Prayer is a very serious thing.  This is communication between us and the Almighty God, the all-powerful creator of all that is.  And when we seek Him in prayer, our focus needs to be Him and His will, not me and my will.  We must trust Him completely that what we ask for will be given to us if it is what is best for us.  We should not expect Him to hear us if we ask for something and expect Him to deliver as we desire.

God loves us.  He wants to be there for us.  He wants us to spend time with Him, giving Him the praise and worship He deserves.  He wants to speak into our lives and help us to become the man or woman of God He desires.  However, we must want it; with all our heart, soul mind and strength.  And we must want it on His terms and not our own.  Case in point, the rich young ruler.  “A ruler questioned Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments, ‘DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, DO NOT MURDER, DO NOT STEAL, DO NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS, HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER.’ And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth.” When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” Luke 18:22.  Jesus answered this man’s question.  This young man was asking about eternal life with God.  But note his response.  “But when he had heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich.”  He was searching for God and an eternal relationship, but on his terms, not God’s.  Jesus said to give up all his wealth, but the man wanted to keep it, showing where his focus was.

Remember our focus verse, “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”  If our focus is on wealth, fame, or having our own way, then are we truly seeking Him with all our heart?  We must be willing to humble ourselves before God and make Him Lord of our lives, which means His way is the only way.  And we must love and trust Him, knowing that He desires the best for us.  He must be our focus.  Then we will find Him.

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

Jeremiah 9:25

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Jeremiah 9:25 

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, that I will punish all who are circumcised and yet uncircumcised.” Jeremiah 9:25

God, through Jeremiah the prophet, is saying that all will be treated the same when it comes to whether they are Jews or gentiles.  Both shall equally feel the stroke of God’s justice, their transgressions essentially being the same, aside from the Jews advantage of being Israel.  What this verse is pointing out is a hypocrisy that many Israelites commit, but most times are ignored because of the emphasis placed on the obedience required in keeping the law.  Note the words in our focus verse.  ‘all who are circumcised and yet uncircumcised’.  What Jeremiah is showing is there are many Jews who are physically circumcised yet did not act like it.

Circumcision was widely practiced in the ancient middle east, with the exception of the Philistines and Babylonians, along with all the nations mentioned in the next verse.  “Egypt and Judah, and Edom and the sons of Ammon, and Moab and all those inhabiting the desert who clip the hair on their temples; for all the nations are uncircumcised,” Jeremiah 9:26a. One interesting point here is that Judah is include in this list.  God was showing Jeremiah that Judah, a tribe of Israel, was one of the nations who were uncircumcised.  But how can this be, for they were Jews and they followed the law.  Look at the last part of this verse.  “and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised of heart.” Jeremiah 9:26b. 

Jeremiah was not saying they were not circumcised physically, for this was pretty much done to a new born baby boy on the eighth day after his birth.  What he is referring to is a circumcision of the heart.  This term, circumcision of the heart, refers to having a pure heart, separated to God.  Paul puts it this way.  “For indeed circumcision is of value if you practice the Law; but if you are a transgressor of the Law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. So if the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision?  And he who is physically uncircumcised, if he keeps the Law, will he not judge you who though having the letter of the Law and circumcision are a transgressor of the Law? For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.” Romans 2:25-29.  Notice the wording here, “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter.”  Paul argues that Jewish circumcision is only an outward sign of being set apart to God.  However, if the heart is sinful, then physical circumcision means nothing for physical circumcision and a sinful heart, which is an uncircumcised heart, are at odds with each other.  Physical circumcision alone cannot make a heart right with God.

 Physical circumcision is merely an outward act.  God wanted more from the Jews than merely following the law.  And He wants this from Christians as well.  We can own a bible and do things that are associated with Christian behavior and still have a heart that seeks ungodly behavior.  Just because we do the things people expect of Christians, does not mean our hearts are devoted to God and His ways.  I want to encourage everyone to look inside their heart and see if we have made God the most important thing in our lives.  The question is, are we only a Christian outwardly, or are we one inwardly as well, having a strong and loving relationship with Christ?  Remember, as Paul said regarding Jews and circumcision, we are not a Christian if we are only one outwardly.   

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

Jeremiah 17:10

Verse of the Day Devotion: Jeremiah 17:10 

“I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds.” – Jeremiah 17:10 

The prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah spoke much in their prophetic writings regarding the sins of Israel and Judah.  Isaiah began his role as prophet a couple years after the death of King Uzziah, around 740 BC.  Jeremiah began as a prophet in Judah around 627 BC in the 13th year of the reign of King Josiah.    Isaiah wrote in chapter six of his writings about the future of Israel where they would be taken captive by both Babylon and Assyria, and ultimately Rome.  Jeremiah speaks out against the sins of Judah, and in chapter 17 where he addresses their idolatry.  “As they remember their children, So they remember their altars and their Asherim By green trees on the high hills.” Jeremiah 17:2. This speaks of the children remembering the worship of idols and continuing the practice, showing that this sin has been passed down and is firmly engraved on Judah’s heart and altars.  

Then in verses 7 and 8, he writes of the blessing extended to them that trust in the lord.  “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD And whose trust is the LORD. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; But its leaves will be green, And it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8.  Blessings follow those who trust in God, and not the world or their false gods. 

Therefore, because of this truth, Jeremiah asks the Lord the following. “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?”  Jeremiah 17:9. First, the heart here refers to the mind, the ultimate source of his thoughts and actions.  He is essentially asking God, if trusting in you results in blessings, and Judah is not trusting you but is following idols, how can this be?  Who can understand this?  This is a good question posited by Jeremiah.  If blessing come only from trusting God, how can you not trust God and expect to be blessed?  How can we allow our heart to lead us astray?  We cannot understand it, but there is one who can.  And God gives him that answer.

I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds.” Jeremiah 17:10. He says He searches the heart of man; He tests their minds.  The idea here is that only He can do this.  We cannot.  This is shown by Jeremiah’s question.  He cannot understand why Judah would follow their own ways, that being the ways of idolatry, and expect to be blessed.  It appears that the people did not believe God had made any promises to them or would keep the promises. Or nothing was said to them about their going after idols, for Jeremiah says “Look, they keep saying to me, “Where is the word of the LORD? Let it come now!” Jeremiah 17:15. They would not believe what the Lord had said, no doubt due to the span of time that passed from the prophetic statement to the present.

Today, we see the same thing.  Peter said very similarly the following.  “Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water.” 2 Peter 3:4-6.  Just as the people in Judah did not trust God’s word regarding the blessings of God, figuring they had other options to attain blessings from other so-called gods, we are seeing a world which sees the attainment of power and wealth more desirable than understanding and following God’s Word.  Man’s heart is becoming more deceitful as the days go by, being more interested in personal gain than obedience to God.  Let us not become complacent, but always seek after God and His word to and for us.  We must always humble ourselves, knowing that God’s way is the only way, regardless of what our heart and desires speak to us. 

Like Jeremiah says, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9. We must never let our thoughts and desires take precedence over God and His will and ways, not trusting ourselves and what we believe is right.  Israel chose to follow their heart and it cost them greatly.  God knows our heart and how it can draw us away.  We must put our complete trust in Him, and when we do all will go well.  Remember what Paul said.  “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2. It truly is the only way.

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

Jeremiah 29:11

Verse of the Day Devotion: Jeremiah 29:11 

“For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11 

Nebuchadnezzar, ruler of Babylon, conquered Israel and took many of the Jews captive, taking them back with Him to exile.  After a time. there were several letters sent back and forth between Jeremiah and the Jews in Babylon recorded here in Jeremiah 29.  This verse falls within the first letter Jeremiah wrote to the exiles.  Let us look at the words God gave to Jeremiah for the Jews in Babylon.

Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon,”  Jeremiah 29:4.  This is a remarkably interesting passage, for it declares that God SENT the Jews into exile.  The exile was God’s doing, not Nebuchadnezzar’s, done for reason’s not yet known to Israel at the time.  After revealing this fact, the letter goes on to encourage them to make the most of their situation.  “Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease. Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.” Jeremiah 29:5-7.  He tells them to settle in, build houses to inhabit and plant gardens for food.  This makes it clear this will not be a short exile.  However, while they are there, they are to do what is necessary to take care of themselves.  This is a culture that does not follow the ways of the Jews; therefore they are encouraged to do what they can to follow the statues give them.  He also tells them to marry and have children so that their population does not decrease. However, they were to marry within their own people and not to intermarry with heathens.  This becomes clear on their return to Israel.  And they are to seek the welfare of Babylon, praying for them. 

He then warns the people of false prophets in exile with them, for they prophesy against what the Lord has actually said.  “For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Do not let your prophets who are in your midst and your diviners deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams which they dream. For they prophesy falsely to you in My name; I have not sent them,declares the LORD.”  Jeremiah 29:8-9.

So why does God tell His people all this?  As encouragement.  “For thus says the LORD, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place.” Jeremiah 29:10.  They will be there seventy years, and then they will go back to their own land.  And then, our focus verse. “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11. God has an amazing plan for them.  Not one regarding the end of Israel, but on the contrary, one that will give them a future and something to look forward to.  A future not as the false prophets declare in pretending they know what is the will of God, but a declaration of a true truth. 

There is much to be taken from this verse.  However, this same thing can be said of us.  He has a plan for us as well.  One that is for our good and not for harm.  We may go through tough times; persecution, pain, and humility, but God has a plan.  We may at times feel He is far off, but God has a plan.  And we may feel at times that there is no hope for things getting better, just as some in captivity in Babylon no doubt felt.  But again, God has a plan.  And His plan is a grand one, eternal life in His kingdom where all is good and there is no more sorrow, suffering or death.  We must always remember this no matter what life brings our way.  God has a plan, and it is for our good.  Remember what my favorite verse in scripture says.  “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.  Always remember this, for everything He has planned is for our good, just like they were for the exiles in Babylon.

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