Revelation 3:15

Verse of the Day Devotion: Revelation 3:15

“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot.” – Revelation 3:15

This verse is found in the list of the seven churches of Asia Minor and speaks specifically of the last one mentioned, the church in Laodicea.  Here we see Christ saying to the church that He knows their deeds, that they are neither hot or cold.  What He is essentially saying is that what He sees there is ambivalence and irresolution.

If they had been hot, they would have burned with passion for the truth and God.  They would have desired do to all they could for the Lord to bring the gospel to the lost and to give God the glory for all He has done for them, their salvation, sanctification and future glorification.  There is a general order of service, but open to whatever is needed by the people.

If they had been cold, they would do things for formality’s sake; because it is the way things are done.  Not much is accomplished because the service is more important than the outcome.  A successfully formal church is the desired outcome, a service pleasing to the Lord, not necessarily the effect on the parishioners.

We can easily see how hot is very much desired over cold, but why is cold preferred over lukewarm?  Because, in the end they are endeavoring to please God without really understanding how.  They believe that at least they are giving to God what He desires, formal services which do not deviate from the norm.  Lukewarm has the idea of indifference; ‘I do not really care what happens.’  They are essentially Christian in name only.

Let’s look at a classic example of cold and hot, The apostle Paul.  Before his conversion on the road to Damascus, he would be considered cold.  What He did was because the Law told him to.  He was passionate that the Law be completely and totally obeyed. The Law was what was preached, obeyed and therefore important.  This was the only way to please God.  He went as far as to arrest anyone who belonged to the cult of Christianity.  However, after His conversion he became hot.  He was fervent for the word, and he had a passion for Christ like no other.   He preached Christ for what He did on the cross to provide salvation to as many as received; to the point that he suffered and eventually died for the cause of Christ.

My question to all who are reading this is, are you hot, cold or lukewarm?  If you are lukewarm, He will spew you out of His mouth.  For, just as lukewarm water is a place where germs and bacteria can thrive; ultimately infecting the body, so is the lukewarm Christian capable of infecting the church body with ambivalence, they profess Christianity without really living it out.  Here is what Christ said about the lukewarm, “So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.” Revelation 3:15-18.  Note what He said, “Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” The lukewarm believe they are just fine; they do not need Him.

We need to understand we need Christ, for He is the way of salvation.  We must, in everything we do and think, please Him. We must never, as Christians, get to the point that we believe we have all we need, and therefore, we do need Him.  Do we really want to be vomited (the actual idea of spit here) out of Christ and the kingdom?

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

1 John 4:8

Verse of the Day Devotion:  1 John 4:8 

“The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” – 1 John 4:8

This verse contains probably the clearest understanding of who God is.  First, let us begin by looking at the verse just prior to it.  “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” 1 John 4:7.  John here is introducing the idea of what love truly is.  First, he declares that love is from God.  This has the following implications as laid out by the theologian Albert Barnes. First that all true love has its origin in God.  There is no other source from which love originates.  Second, real love shows that when we love we have His Spirit in us and we belong to Him.  And thirdly, it assimilates us to God, or makes us more and more like Him.  What he is telling the apostles is based on the truth of what he affirms in our focus verse that God Himself is love.  Hatred, envy, wrath, malice all have their source elsewhere than God.

Therefore, everyone that truly loves is born of God; he is a regenerated man.  And everyone who has true love for their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, and with the lost who do not know Christ, are true Christians. And I cannot put this any better than Albert Barnes put it, so I will quote him here.   ‘This cannot mean that everyone that loves his wife and children, his classmate, his partner in business, or his friend – his house, or his farms, or his horses, or his hounds, is a child of God; it must be understood as referring to the point under discussion. A man may have a great deal of natural affection toward his kindred; a great deal of benevolence in his character toward the poor and needy, and still he may have none of the love to which John refers.’  And John is speaking of a love that is toward all, not just some, for this is the love God has.  “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man, though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die.  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6-8.  And if we have this type of love, then we know God.

Next we come to our focus verse here which says, “The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”  1 John 4:8.  Here John lays out the idea that God does not just love, He is love.  He hates nothing that He has made because He is love.  He is an infinite fountain of benevolence and caring for all human beings.  And this is the type of love we should exhibit for we have the God that exhibits this living in us.  Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount lays this out.  “You have heard that it was said, YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.  But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:43-48.  In this example, Jesus refers to several aspects and displays of love, and then at the end, says we are to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect.  And that perfection is in love.  God is love according to our focus verse, and if we are to be perfect in this, then we are to love as He does, with no favoritism.  Whether we are treated good or bad, no matter the circumstances, we are to love them as God loves us. 

God is love, and if we want to know God, we must love as He loves.  And He has given us His Spirit to help us know Him.  And if we know Him, we will understand the kind of love He desires of us, both for Him and all people.  Let us all strive to submit to Him and show our love for everyone just as He loves everyone. When we do, love will dwell in us and we will dwell in Him who is love.   If we do not love, then we really do not know Him.

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

1 Corinthians 2:2

Verse of the Day Devotion: 1 Corinthians 2:2 

“For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” – 1 Corinthians 2:2

The Gentile believers in the city of Corinth to whom Paul is writing almost exclusively came out of idol worship of “the gods” of Greek or Roman mythology.  The philosophers of the Greeks attended to the seeking of wisdom.   To a Greek, having wisdom, knowledge, and understanding of the ‘seen and unseen’ was the epitome of being Man in discovering how to live.  Many philosophers did try to establish or discover universal laws of conduct.  The Greek philosophers asserted that their philosophy reflected the true will of the gods. This was the previous mindset of these new Corinthian believers.  They coupled their faith in Christ with what was called ‘wise’’ according to the culture.   Paul wanted to set things straight for them.  Paul told them that Christ did not send him to baptize (which they undoubtedly heard continuously from Jews who followed Christ), but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect (I Cor 1:17).   Today, if a man or woman is teaching or preaching a different or additional gospel message to the masses other than what was given to Paul, most specifically the crucified Christ, watch out.  Having the wisdom of words is not the same as the power of the cross message.  “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.  For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple” (Rom 16: 17-18).   There are plenty out there that draw the masses through their ‘smooth words and flattering speech’ but are deceiving the hearts of the simple.

Paul emphasizes to them that through the wisdom of this world you can not know God (I Cor 1:21).  In fact, it pleased God through the (assumed) foolishness of the message preached (Christ crucified for you), to save those who believe, plus nothing.  Just BELIEVE it, by FAITH.   “For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom…” (I Cor 1:22).   But in contrast to what the Jews were seeking and what the Greek culture was seeking Paul’s message was this: “…but we preach Christ crucified” (I Cor 1:23).   To the Jewish man or woman, the Messiah being killed and crucified was a stumbling block to them, just as Old Testament prophecy forecast.   To the Gentile Greek man or woman, the message of Jesus Christ being crucified specifically for them in order to save them from the penalty of sin and the Adamic nature and receive full forgiveness from the Creator was ‘foolishness’. Why?   Because the message of the cross can only be understood by ‘faith’. This means you cannot figure out with your earthbound wisdom and insight and great knowledge the truth of Christ crucified for you.   To the Ancient Greeks they were dedicated to cultivating the life of the person of practical and theoretical wisdom, the education of the mind.   From birth onward, a Greek educational system involved developing the mind to such a dimension that the mind in wisdom and knowledge could rise above the natural.   Millions of people today do the same thing through opening their mind to any sort of comprehensible value in practice or religion to attain a higher degree of wisdom – to know how to live – how to be stress free, and how to be calm in the mind, and saved from this Adamic nature from doing unhealthy things.     So ‘why’ did God design it so that you cannot figure out how to be saved through access of worldly wisdom?   One of the greatest attributes of Man’s fallen nature is pride.  Therefore, Paul writes in verse 29 “…that no flesh should glory in His presence.”   If you could figure this out, you would glory in your self-discovery.  Pride.   But God’s perspective says this: “…it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord” (vs 31). 

There is one thing the Apostle Paul was determined to know and determined to share: Jesus Christ and Him crucified (2:2).    The word ‘determined’ fully means that he reached a decision to a course of action. He made up his mind to share nothing else as priority except Christ’s death.  Therefore, he continues in verse 5 “…that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God”.  I encourage you at this time to focus upon what Jesus Christ has done for you; to ponder and grasp by faith the depth and wisdom of Christ’s finished work of the cross on your behalf.  The world has gone amuck.  But the security of being ‘in Christ’ because of the cross far out measures what wisdom this world could ever offer as relief.  Do not be corrupted by what this ‘world’ offers, even so-called smooth-talking preaching that does not focus upon the cross.    “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (II Cor 11:3).  

Jaca Kier, Board Member, True Devotion Ministries, Inc.  

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.