John 14:6

Verse of the Day: John 14:6 

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” – John 14:6

It is important that we grasp this truth so that we can counter the belief that there are many roads that lead to God.  Jesus said He was the only way to the Father.  Paul said in his letter to the Romans, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;” Romans 10:9.  This counter’s the ideas of the post-Modernists who believes there is no absolute truth, but that everyone has their own truth which they must follow.

We must stand strong in the reality that Jesus is the only way to salvation and any relationship with God; not to argue in anger but to speak in love.  They may try to convince you they are on a path to God, but a different one.  However, the truth is there is no other way.  It is our job to live our lives as though we see this as absolute truth so they can see that light in us and desire it themselves. This is our role as Christians here.  To lead people to the true God via the only path available, that being through the shed blood of Christ and all that entails.

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

John 1:10

Verse of the Day: John 1:10

“He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.” – John 1:10 

In the beginning was the Word, and the word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” John 1:1-3.  Through Christ, everything that exists that came into existence was through Him.

Today’s verse states that the creator of all creation came to the world and they did not know Him.  This is a sad thing because throughout the entire Old Testament, it was prophesized that He would come.  And it is important to understand that all, not just some, but all the prophesies regarding the Christ, the much-anticipated Messiah, was fulfilled.  The problem was either the Jewish leadership did not understand their scriptures, or they ignored their scriptures regarding His coming. We have had 2000 years since Jesus was here on earth in human form and too many still do not know Him.  The reasons are similar; they either do not understand what the scriptures say, or they ignore it because it is not that important to them.  And that is why we are here.  As Jesus sent His disciples out to declare the truth of who He is, He now sends us, His disciples of today to do the same.  I encourage you to be attentive for opportunities to introduce them to Jesus, who is the only way of salvation.

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

John 15:4

Verse of the Day: John 15:4

“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.” – John 15:4 

If we have a branch on an apple tree, healthy and vibrant, during the right time we will see fruit on it.  However, if we cut the branch off the tree and take it home because we want to grow fresh apples, we will be disappointed.  You see, the branch does not, on its own, have what it takes to produce fruit.

It is the same with us.  We must abide in Christ and let Him work through us, and then we bear fruit.  It is not what we do, but what we allow God to do through us.  Paul said basically the same thing to the Philippians.  “For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13.

God will never leave us alone.  He has a work for each one of us to do.  However, what we need is to submit to Him and He will do it through us.  He will take us where He wants us, give us the words to say and the strength to fulfill it.  We must be in a constant attitude of prayer, always ready to hear what He has to say and follow His lead.  Then we will bear much fruit and glorify God in the process.

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

John 11:35

Verse of the Day: John 11:35

“Jesus wept.” – John 11:35 

If you want to see the love Jesus had for His friends, this is the perfect verse.  This is the shortest verse in all the scriptures, yet it is full of information about Jesus.

Now, what brought Jesus to this point?  A man named Lazarus of Bethany, brother to Mary and Martha was sick.  Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus letting Him know that Lazarus, whom He loved, was very ill.  Jesus’ response was, “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” John 11:4. Jesus knew the situation and its eventual outcome.  Therefore, He stayed an additional two days where He was currently at.  So, when He finally did arrive, Mary went to Him and fell at His feet and told Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”

Several things to see in this story.  First, there is a line that appears to contradict John 11:4 shown above.  “Therefore, when Mary came where Jesus was, she saw Him, and fell at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” John 11:32. However, when we examine verse 4, we see that Jesus did not say Lazarus would not die, but that the sickness was not to end in death.  Lazarus did die, but this was not the end of the story.  It ended with him being raised from the dead.

The other thing is the reason for Jesus’ weeping.  It was not because Lazarus was dead, because He stated above that this sickness would not end in death.  The reason is found in verses 33-34.  “When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled, and said, Where have you laid him? They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.”  Then comes our focus verse, “Jesus wept”.

He wept because of Mary and Martha, as well as the Jews who were with them.  He had such compassion on them because of the pain they were feeling that He could not hold back the tears.  This is how much He loves us.  Even now, I believe His compassion for us is just as strong, if not stronger.

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

John 3:30

Verse of the Day Devotion: John 3:30

“He must increase, but I must decrease.” – John 3:30

There came a rather controversial dispute regarding purification between John’s disciples and a Jew or Jews. Purification was a very important issue with the Jews, and so the discussion became a dispute.  We are not sure what the exact argument was, however, it was in no doubt regarding baptism. In the time before Jesus, the Jews would purify a proselyte by a form of baptism to purify them.  The issue was which baptism was the correct one, Jesus’ or John the Baptist’s.  “They asked him (John the Baptist), and said to him, “Why then are you baptizing, if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”   John 1:25.

After a while, both sides came to John wanting clarification.  We see in verse 26, “And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified, behold, He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him.”  John 3:26. The way this is worded is as if John’s disciples were concerned that Jesus’ was, in essence, taking over the work John had been doing.  However, John did not answer this question in the way they expected.  He did not address their feelings or hurts regarding this.  He answered in such a way that only one who truly knew him, and his purpose would understand.  “John answered and said, ‘A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven.’” John 2:27 What he basically said was that anyone who does the work of God, referring specifically to himself and Jesus, receives the calling and its success from God.  Our calling is from God, and the way we succeed come from following God’s way.

He then goes on to clarify that he is not the promised Messiah, the Christ.  “You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent ahead of Him.’” John 3:28.  He was sent before the Messiah to announce His appearing.  “He said, “I am A VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, ‘MAKE STRAIGHT THE WAY OF THE LORD,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.” John 1:23. These words of Isaiah are found Isaiah 40:3, “A voice is calling, ‘Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.’”  This was his calling.  Then he makes the following statement that shows he knows Jesus is the true Messiah.  “He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. So, this joy of mine has been made full.” John 3:29. John refers to Isaiah many times, and he does so again regarding God as the bridegroom.  “I will rejoice greatly in the LORD, my soul will exult in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” Isaiah 61:10.

John recognized that Jesus is the Messiah, and therefore the bridegroom.  He is the friend of the bridegroom, in essence, best man.  Jesus is the bridegroom and therefore the believers belong to Jesus, not himself.  John regards himself as the friend of Jesus.  And because the believers belong to Jesus, He is the one that must take over.  For John was only announcing the Messiah was coming, not that he was the Messiah.  And because of all this, we read in our focus verse, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:30.

This very much speaks of us as well.  The purpose of ministry is to point the way to Jesus, the true bridegroom and Messiah.  He has called us to preach the gospel.  “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.’”  Mark 16:15. That is our calling.  We must decrease in the eyes of men, not building ourselves up but building Him up.  He should be the focus of our work, not ourselves.  He must be greater and we, humbler.  When we preach, teach or simply share our hearts regarding Christ, we should do it in a way that when our listeners leave, they remember Christ more, and us less.  I encourage us to look at our calling the same way as John the Baptist did.  Jesus must increase in this world, and we must decrease in this world.

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

John 14:15

Verse of the Day Devotion: John 14:15

“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” – John 14:15 

This is a very important verse, for it shows us what true love for Jesus looks like.  Now, He is not questioning or doubting their love.  He is saying that by the observance of His commands and precepts, it displays their love to Him.  This is not saying we are saved by keeping His commands, but that we are showing our love for God by obeying His commands.  This is a much surer test than simply the profession of our love.  Many people say they love God, for this is something that is the ‘Christian’ thing to say.  But the proof of this declaration is obedience.  If we do not obey Him, how can we say we love Him?  If we love Him, we will honor Him as Lord and King.

Jesus put it this way.  “THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME.” Matthew 15:8. This is a quotation of the words of the prophet Isaiah where He declared, “Then the Lord said, “Because this people draw near with their words And honor Me with their lip service, But they remove their hearts far from Me, And their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote,” Isaiah 29:13.  Isaiah here is writing what the Lord told him. In essence, the Lord is saying that people will say and do whatever it takes to let people think they honor and love God, even though their hearts are in opposition to their words and deeds.

The theologian Adam Clarke puts it this way in his commentary notes on Matthew 15:8.  “The true worship of God consists in the union of the heart to him – where this exists not, a particle of the spirit of devotion cannot be found.”  We can say all we want regarding our love for God.  However, if our hearts are not in union with His, we will not be devoted to Him and His ways.  We will not obey Him in all things but will select those things in which we agree and are willing to follow.  This is not true love as our focus verse says.  True love is obeying and following Him in all ways.  Now, we may stumble and fall at times in following His ways, but if we follow what Jesus says in that, “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.” Mark 12:30, then we can ask forgiveness for we are His children and He will forgive us.

And lastly, the world is constantly watching us Christians who declare our love for God and our devotion to Him.  It is important that they see the reality of our walk.  If we profess our love for Him and then act in ways that deny this love, why should anybody listen to us?  I saw an assistant Pastor once who declared the most important thing to do was to show our love for Jesus, and then, in a skit, acted as someone who was in love with the Pastor in a very inappropriate way.  We cannot do this and expect the world to believe us.  Therefore, it is important that we study His Word and know what He has commanded us to do as well as what not to do; both to honor God and to be a light to the world.

How can we say we love Him if we disobey Him and refuse to follow His commandments?  We cannot and be truthful to Him and ourselves.

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

John 3:17

Verse of the Day Devotion: John 3:17

“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” – John 3:17

This verse comes just after probably the most famous and well-known verse in all the Bible.  “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16.  God loved the whole world.  He loved us and gave us a way that we can be reunited with the Himself.  And we know what that was, it was through the death, burial and resurrection of His only begotten Son.  And it is because we believe in the Christ, that we are saved.

In Genesis we read the following, “The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you will go, And dust you will eat All the days of your life; 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 3:14-15.  In the very beginning God told Adam and Eve that there would come a seed of Eve that would defeat the serpent, which is the enemy that rebelled before God created them.  And this is what happened when Jesus came.  Through His work on the cross, He defeated him and provided a way that man may be rectified with the Father.  This is important, for there was no final condemnation for anyone here during His first coming.

And this is what our focus verse is saying.  God did not send Him here to condemn the world.  He was not sent here to judge or pronounce judgement on anyone.  His whole purpose was to provide a means by which man may be saved.  He was the sacrificial lamb presented as a sin offering for us, since our own sacrifices were insufficient to restore the relationship broken in Genesis 3.  For, according to the Law, the lamb that is sacrificed must be perfect with no blemishes at all.  We are far from perfect.  Therefore, anything we would do, even in dying, would not be recognized.  And this was why He had to come.

We now have the opportunity to be reconciled and have a very loving relationship with Him if we simply believe.  When He comes the second time, it will not be to provide a means of salvation, but it will be to condemn those who did not believe and chose the worlds ways rather than God’s, and to take to our final home those of us who truly believe.  There are many in this world who still have not believed, and many who have not heard.  It is important that we show them the love of God through the sacrifice given.  For now is the time for people to hear and believe.  Sometime, and I believe soon, that time of reconciliation will be over.  We must go out and tell the world.  It is our calling down here.

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

John 3:16

Verse of the Day Devotion: John 3:16

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

This verse is probably one of the most recognized verses in all of scripture.  This shows how much God loves us and wants to be reconciled with us.  He loved us even though we did not love Him.  He loved us even though we refused to follow His ways.  However, His love for us does not constitute an approval of our conduct.  It shows that He loved us in spite of what we do.

This was a gift, the most valuable gift that can ever be conceived.  This was not just a book of rules or laws.  It was nothing we could ever have imagined.  And it was a free and undeserved gift.  It was a gift given for the sole reason that He loved us beyond all measure.  It was an act of pure love and eternal compassion.  It was because He did not want us to perish, to be separated from Him forever.

And what was this unimaginable gift?  It was His Son, His only begotten Son.  Something man has no claim to.  And again, something that was so amazing and incredible, it is inconceivable to the minds of men.  Imagine someone you know who committed a great crime that was punishable by death.  Someone you love and desire to fellowship with, even though they do not care to fellowship with you.  You then find out that someone who has not committed a crime could pay for the man’s crime by suffering the consequences that man deserved.  And you have a child who is completely free from any wrongdoing and could set this man free by dying in his stead.

This is what God did.  He conceived a child in the womb of Mary for the sole purpose of having Him die to pay the penalty for the sins we had committed.  He loved us before we could ever have loved Him.  Note this verse, “We love, because He first loved us.”  1 John 4:19. The basis of our love for Him is because He first loved us.  However, let’s go a little farther with this idea.  “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.  Our names, us who have accepted Christ and are Christians, have been written in the Lambs book of life from before our world was created.  And this is due to God’s foreknowledge of our accepting Him, not His indiscriminate choice.  And because our names are there before the foundations of the world, so must have been the plan to give His Son for us in sacrifice.  He loved us before we were even created, before Christ came to die.  And because He came to die, we have the immense honor to love Him.  Remember, we love Him and others because He first loved us.

This beautiful and powerful verse has so much in it, we could contemplate for a long time and still not understand the full ramification of its meaning.  He loved us before He created us.  He knew we would fall away, and He still created us.  He provided the means of salvation before we even sinned, and it was through the death of His only begotten Son.  And anyone who believes in Him and the work He did on the cross will have eternal life.  There is no greater love than that which God gave.  “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13. This will be a difficult question, but is this the kind of love we have for others?  Jesus said, “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” John 15:12

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

John 13:14

Verse of the Day Devotion: John 13:14

“If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” – John 13:14  

While Jesus and the disciples were in the upper room just prior to His arrest, Jesus did something that totally surprised the disciples.  “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself. Then He poured water into the basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.” John 13:5. This was startling to them because Jesus, the Son of God, wanted to wash their feet.

First, washing of the feet was a normal practice in those days because sandals where the standard foot apparel and washing of the feet was normally the first thing done after a journey once they entered the home.  In the case of the average person, the owner would provide a bowl with water and the guests would wash their own feet.  However, in the home of the affluent in society, the guest’s feet were washed by a slave of the homeowner. This was normally the role of the lowliest of slaves for this was the most menial of tasks.

In our eyes, it would have been normal for Jesus’ feet to have been washed by one of them.  However, this would not have taught the lesson He wanted them to know.  Two of the things He wanted them to learn was servanthood and humility.  Jesus was showing them they need to desire to serve, not to be served.  Paul understood this and wrote to the Philippians the following.  “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:3-8.  Note that this was the attitude of Christ.

Another lesson concerning servanthood is stated in chapter 20 of Matthew.  There was a dispute by the disciples because the mother of James and John wanted her sons to have an exalted place in Jesus’ kingdom.  “But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:25-28.  He essentially said that what she was asking was the world’s way, but not the way of the kingdom.

Jesus gave Himself up for us because of His great love.  The second person of the trinity, the son of the Almighty God, came to serve and not be served.  We see this in His washing of the disciple’s feet as well as His statement to the sons of Zebedee’s mother and His willingness to die for the sins of mankind, His greatest service while here on earth.  He was telling them that if He came to serve, and they are to be like Him, then they were to humble themselves and serve, not argue about who was the greatest disciple.  And we are to do the same as children of God.

John puts it this way.  “The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” 1 John 2:6.  We are called to walk in the same way He did, in humility and servanthood.  We should be willing to lower ourselves to lift up another.  We should be willing to do anything that helps to further the cause of Christ.  And again as Paul wrote, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;” Philippians 2:3. We must not see anyone as lower than us, but we must be willing to help all.  This is what Jesus did, and this is what He showed by washing their feet.

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

Luke 1:13

Verse of the Day Devotion Luke 1:13 

“But the angel said to him, Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John.” –  Luke 1:13 

Up to Christmas day, I will be looking at the different prophesies which foresee the coming of the promised Messiah, Jesus the Christ.  He came here in order to offer the means of salvation for all.  An important idea to remember is that God knows everything and forgets nothing.  “Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,” Isaiah 46:9-10.

This verse is an important one, for it foretells the coming of John the Baptist: the forerunner of the Messiah.  “In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.” Luke 1:5.  This speaks of a priest named Zacharias and his wife Elizabeth.  They were both righteous before God, however up to this time they were unable to have children.  And now being advanced in years, it was not probable they ever would.

Now while Zacharias was performing his priestly functions, an amazing thing happened. “And an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. And Zacharias was troubled when he saw him, and fear gripped him.” Luke 1:11-12. It is probable that the angel appeared while his eyes were closed, but when he did see him, he became afraid.  The angel who appeared to Zacharias was not simply like a man with wings. This angel was a glorious, fearful, and an awesome creature, and like most angels in the Bible, the first thing this angel had to say to his human contact was “Do not be afraid.”

Then the angel tells Zacharias in our focus verse.  “Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John.” Luke 1:13.  The angel told them they would have a child.  And they were told they were to name him John. And according to Thayer’s Hebrew dictionary, his name means “Jehovah is a gracious giver”. Then Gabriel went on to say, “And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and he will drink no wine or liquor; and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, while yet in his mother’s womb. And he will turn back many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God. And it is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous; so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Luke 1:14-17.

Zacharias and Elizabeth had their prayer answered.  In their old age, they shall have a son.  Their son would be seen as great in God’s sight.  He will probably live under the Nazirite vow due to not drinking wine or strong drink.  He also would be filled with the Holy Spirit from the womb.  This has the idea that he was appointed to and set apart to the work God called him to before he was born.  We see the same with the prophet Jeremiah.  “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5. And even more so, of Jesus.  “Yet Thou art He who didst bring me forth from the womb; Thou didst make me trust when upon my mother’s breasts. Upon Thee I was cast from birth; Thou hast been my God from my mother’s womb.” Psalm 22:9-10.

And finally, we see what his calling was in the gospel of Mark.  “As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “BEHOLD, I SEND MY MESSENGER BEFORE YOUR FACE, WHO WILL PREPARE YOUR WAY; THE VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, ‘MAKE READY THE WAY OF THE LORD, MAKE HIS PATHS STRAIGHT. John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  And all the country of Judea was going out to him, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. And John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist, and his diet was locusts and wild honey. And he was preaching, and saying, “After me One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals. I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” Mark 1:2-8. John came into this world to prepare the way of the Messiah and to inform Israel of His coming, calling them to repent and be baptized in reference to the remission of sin.  Repentance prepared the soul for it, and Baptism was the type or pledge of it.   

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