Matthew 15:8

Verse of the Day Devotion: Matthew 15:8

“This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far away from me.” – Matthew 15:8

This is a prophecy of Isaiah that Jesus spoke against the Pharisees.  These Pharisees came from Jerusalem and asked Him “Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” Matthew 15:2 This is part of what is called the ‘Oral Traditions’, not part of the written law of Moses.  It was passed down from generation to generation as a proper thing to do.  Mark brings additional clarity to this tradition.  “For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they carefully wash their hands, thus observing the traditions of the elders; and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they cleanse themselves; and there are many other things which they have received in order to observe, such as the washing of cups and pitchers and copper pots.”  Mark 7:4. The Pharisees expected every Jew to follow these traditions, and this included Jesus and His disciples.

However, Jesus answers back with a question as to why they transgressed not the oral tradition, but the commandment of God.  “And He (Jesus) answered and said to them, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said,’ Honor your father and mother’ and ‘He who speaks evil of father and mother is to be put to death. ‘ But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever I have that would help you has been given to God,” he is not to honor his father or his mother.’ And by this you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition.” Matthew 15:3-6.  What the Pharisees had done is usurp the command of God by the tradition of the elders.  They were hypocrites because they accused them of breaking tradition, when they were breaking the law of God.  He then tells the disciples, as stated in the focus verse, that the Pharisees honored God with their words, but not with their heart.  And then He adds, “But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men”. Matthew 15:9.

It is important that we examine ourselves and make sure we do not fall into this unknowingly.  It is very easy to fall into the habit of praising God when our thoughts are elsewhere.  It is easy to give to the church simply because it is the expected thing to do, rather than giving it to God with a heart of love and thankfulness.

And what of communion?  There are several verses we need to look at.  “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 1 Corinthians 11:24b When we take the bread and eat it and the cup and drink it, do we think of Him and remember His sacrifice; the breaking of His body and the shedding of His blood?  There is a warning involved here.  We are not to take the communion for sake of the tradition, but for what it represents, the death of Christ on our behalf.  This is the most important act anyone has done for us.  We must remember His sacrifice and be always thankful, for only He could pay the penalty.  “But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” 1 Cor 11:28

In closing, we must examine why we do things in the church or any religious gathering.  Do we do them simply because it is expected, they are tradition, or do we do them because of who God is and our desire to please Him?  We are to remember, and be thankful for, all He has done for us and the great love He has for us.  Tradition can be good, but not the reason or the mentality by which we conduct ourselves.

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

Proverbs 27:2

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Proverbs 27:2    

“Let another praise you, and not your own mouth, a stranger, and not your own lips.” – Proverbs 27:2

This verse deals with pride, arrogance and humility.  Some people do things in order to be noticed and  be honored for it.  I have seen this many times, especially famous people who want to be remembered and lifted up.  However, Solomon writes a much different concept, one where we just do something simply because it is needed.  He says, in or focus verse, “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; A stranger, and not your own lips.” Proverbs 27:2.

Now we are to do good things.  “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Philippians 4:8.  We are called to do good works to both assist our brothers and sisters, our neighbor and to glorify and honor God.  If someone needs help, offer it and give them assistance.  If they are struggling because of trials that are besetting them, go to them and give them the help and encouragement they need.  As the theologian Matthew Henry says, “We must do that which is commendable, for which even strangers may praise us. Our light must shine before men, and we must do good works that may be seen.”  We are called to shine the light of Christ into the darkness.  However, he finishes this thought in this way.  “though we must not do them on purpose that they may be seen. Let our own works be such as will praise us, even in the gates,” The world needs to see us, as Christians, doing good things for the benefit of others. 

But when we do these good things we must not do them for the purpose that they may be seen. Let our own works be such as will praise us, but we must not seek praise from others for these good works.  There may be times where we may need to discuss what we did, but it does not become us to applaud ourselves in the process.  Paul puts our calling this way.  “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:1-3.    

Everything we do must not be to honor ourselves.  “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” Colossians 3:17.  It is important it be done for His purpose.  Do everything because he requires and commands it, and with a desire to honor him. His authority should be our reason, his glory the aim of all our actions and words. 

Lastly, Jesus tells His disciples not to exalt themselves for any reason.  “But the greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.”  Matthew 23:12.  The way to arrive at the highest degree of dignity, in the sight of God, is by being willing to become the servant of all.  Nothing is more undesirable in the sight of God then pride and arrogance.

We will be lifted up by others at times because of their thankfulness for what we have done for them.  However, we must accept this humbly, without building ourselves up in the process.  If anyone is to be exalted, it is God who has given us the opportunities to do His work here on this earth, and the ability and knowledge to make it happen.  If anyone deserves praise, it is Him.  So, instead of focusing on ourselves we should focus on God in all matters.  What joy will be derived by giving Him all the glory.

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

Job 2:10

Verse of the Day Devotion: Job 2:10 

“But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” – Job 2:10

Job was a man of great wealth.  “His possessions also were 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys, and very many servants; and that man was the greatest of all the men of the east.” Job 1:3.  He also had seven sons and three daughters, as well as his wife.  They were very, very prosperous.

However, after a time, Satan speaks to God and tells Him success is the reason for his devotion.  “Then Satan answered the Lord, “Does Job fear God for nothing?  “Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. “But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face.” Job 1:9-11.  So God tells him to do what he wants with what he has, but do not touch him.  When you read on, you will see that all his possessions were lost, all his servants and animals.  He also lost his house which collapsed because of a wind storm which killed his children.  And what was Job’s response?  “Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.” Job 1:20-22.  Notice that it was said of him he did not sin or blame God.

Satan goes to God again and tells God “Satan answered the Lord and said, “Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. “However, put forth Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh; he will curse You to Your face.” Job 2:4-5. Satan came back and said, well man will give everything for his own life, however, seriously affect his own body and health, and he will curse you.  So God says, So the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your power, only spare his life.” Job 2:6  So what was Satan’s response?  “Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And Job took a potsherd to scrape himself while he was sitting among the ashes.” Job 2:7-8.  These were extremely painful, and it became worse as he scraped on them with a broken piece of pottery.  He did this either to bring some relief or to cut himself as a sign of mourning. “Since you are the people of the Lord your God, never cut yourselves or shave the hair above your foreheads in mourning for the dead.” Deuteronomy 14:1. 

Job’s wife responds with a sarcastic rhetorical question.  In essence she says, “After all that has happened are you still faithful?” or put another way, “In spite of all the suffering, are you still loyal to God?”  However, Job entirely rejects her advice.  In our focus verse, we read Job’s response in the form of a question.  “Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?”. 

This is a hard question to answer.  We love getting good things from God.  When God blesses us with a sum of money, we willingly give thanks to Him.  But when adversity comes, such as losing a job, we choose not to give Him thanks.  Back in March of 2018, I was laid off from my job in order for them to cut their costs.  It was definitely sooner than I was ready for.  And what made it worse was not finding another job.  However, it is amazing how God has worked in my life.  I am now doing what I always wanted to do,  working in ministry through True Devotion Ministries. 

When good things come your way, consider it a blessing and give thanks to God.  And when adversity comes, consider it also a blessing and give God all the thanks, and look forward to the blessings God will provide on account of this adversity.  Remember, God does not allow hard times to come unless He has a good reason, and we must always trust God that He knows what He is doing.  All things that God has us experience is 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.  So, instead of focusing on what is happening, we should focus on what God has in store for us in the future.

And spoiler alert.  “The Lord restored the fortunes of Job when he prayed for his friends, and the Lord increased all that Job had twofold. … The Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; and he had 14,000 sheep and 6,000 camels and 1,000 yoke of oxen and 1,000 female donkeys.  He had seven sons and three daughters.” Job 42:10, 12-13.  And to close out, “After this, Job lived 140 years, and saw his sons and his grandsons, four generations. After this, Job lived 140 years, and saw his sons and his grandsons, four generations.”  Job 42:16

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