John 11:25

Verse of the Day Devotion:  John 11:25

“Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies,” – John 11:25  

Over the next few weekdays, we will be looking at seven verses where Jesus declares “I AM”, and then gives a metaphor regarding what He is.  Today, we will look at the fifth of these, “I am the Resurrection and the Life.”

This chapter tells the story of the death of Lazarus and his eventual resurrection.  His sisters Martha and Mary knew Jesus from a past meeting.  “Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. And it was the Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.” John 11:1-2. And because they knew Him, they sent for Jesus to come because their brother Lazarus was extremely sick.  When Jesus received the message, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” John 11:4b.

However, though He loved the three of them, He stayed where He was for two additional days.  This was done for the purpose of revealing Himself to them in a way they had not seen and heard before.  Then He tells the disciples it is time to go to Judea.  “The disciples said to Him, Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone You, and are You going there again?” John 11:8.  However, Jesus answers them by saying, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world.” John 11:9.  This statement refers to a comment He made in chapter nine.  “We must work the works of Him who sent Me, as long as it is day; night is coming, when no man can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” John 9:4-5.  What He was saying is that His time was drawing near, and He must do the work He was sent to do prior to His death.  Now, in speaking of Lazarus Jesus said that he was asleep, and He needed to go and wake him up.  When He said this, the disciples thought He meant He was asleep and said He would recover and wake up.  However, Jesus then came out and said, “Lazarus is dead, and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let us go to him.” John 11:14b-15.

When Jesus arrives in Judea, Martha goes out to Jesus and said, “Your brother shall rise again.” John 11:23.  Martha responds, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” John 11:24.  She believed in the resurrection in the last day, but Jesus was referring to the present.  Then our focus verse, “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies,”  following up with “and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:26. She then answers, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.” John 11:27.

She believed He was the promised Messiah.  And Jesus shows her that neither Death nor time is an obstacle to Him. While standing outside the tomb with the stone rolled away, He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, Come Forth.” John 11:43. And Lazarus came out  He came forth after being dead for four days. Jesus proved that with Him, death is but sleep. Paul says the following, “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14. Death has no dominion over Him who is Life itself, nor does death have dominion over those who are in Him. “For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting.” 1 Corinthians 15:53-55.

Jesus’ statement that He is the resurrection and the life provides a Godly perspective on several spiritual matters. Martha believed that the resurrection is an event; Jesus showed her that the resurrection is a Person. Martha’s knowledge of eternal life was an abstract idea; Jesus proved that knowledge of eternal life is a personal relationship. Martha thought victory over death was a future expectation; Jesus corrects her, showing that victory is a present reality. And we must learn the same lesson Martha did.  He is the resurrection, and all who are dead and followers of Christ will rise again from temporary “sleep” to an eternal life.  He is the resurrection and the life.  He essentially said, “I [and no other], regarding the future resurrection, is not an impersonal fate that is to take place at some future time, but a personal effect proceeding from Me who is present with you. It is even now present and active in Me.  And the life in the absolute sense will awaken both the body and the spirit.  If your body has died, in the resurrection you will have a new body for your spirit will still be alive.  And if the body does not die, then you will receive a new body which is eternal, just as the those whose body has died. 

Therefore, we are not to attach a merely spiritual meaning to the two propositions, just because Jesus is speaking of faith. For instance, he that believes on Christ shall rise again spiritually, and he that hath received life shall retain it forever, which would, again, involve the idea of the resurrection.  And He makes this happen because e is the resurrection and He is the life. 

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

1 Peter 2:24

Verse of the Day Devotion:  1 Peter 2:24  

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” – 1 Peter 2:24

As Good Friday and Resurrection Day approaches, it is good to look at what this day means and the importance of it to our lives.  This day came because of the love God has for each and every one of us.  From the beginning of mankind to today, mankind has rebelled against God through sin.  Adam and Eve while in the garden, succumbed to the temptation of Satan and sinned.  God told them not to eat of a particular tree in the garden.  “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 2:16-17.  However, they disobeyed Him which was sin.  “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” Genesis 3:6.  And from this time forward, there has been no one who has lived a completely sinless life.  Except one.

For our dilemma, God had a solution.  There was a need for one man to be born and live a perfect life, so that he could pay for the sins of everyone else.  This could not be a normal person, for no man has ever lived a life without sin. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23.  So, He had a son who would be able to live a life without sin who could then pay the penalty for ours.  “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” He understands and sympathizes with us, because He was a born a man through Mary, a woman.  And He is able to address our sinfulness by providing a perfect sacrifice through Himself because He was sinless, being God in human flesh.  And this is the message of our focus verse.  “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:24.

This shows the incredible love God has for us.  First, He knew we would sin against Him for He knows all things. “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 46:8-10.  But He stilled loved us and therefore He provided a way to address the sins and cleanse us from them.  And all we need to do is confess them with repentance.  “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9.

Jesus came with the sole purpose of paying the penalty for our sins.  “But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.  For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:21-23. Jesus never sinned therefore He could pay the penalty for us all.  It was a horrible and cruel death, but He endured it all for us.  This is perfect love from a perfect God.  Give thanks to Him for without Jesus, we would all die in our sins and enter eternal punishment; but with Him we have eternal life with Him.  How beautiful is that.

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

Philippians 1:21

Verse of the Day Devotion: Philippians 1:21  

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” – Philippians 1:21

Paul in this verse is declaring his devotion to Christ.  He starts with “To live is Christ”.  His sole aim in life was to glorify God through Christ.  This was his reason for living.  His aim was not honor for himself, nor was it learning, riches, or pleasure.  It was only to glorify the Lord Jesus.  His purpose in life was to know Christ as completely as possible: to know His character and plans so that he would be able to live it himself and teach others this same thing.

This would allow him to imitate Christ as much as it was possible for him.  It is important to understand that people look at us to see if we are living the same life we are proclaiming to them.  It was through this that he was able to reach many and help them give their lives to Christ.  His goal was to truly be like Christ.  As the theologian Albert Barnes proclaims in his commentary on the book of Philippians, “a purpose to which he devoted himself with as much singleness and ardor as ever did a miser to the pursuit of gold, or a devotee of pleasure to amusement, or an aspirant for fame to ambition.” As much as anyone else sought fortune and fame, he sought a solid relationship with Christ whereby he became like his teacher.

And secondly, to die is gain.  This idea is frequently used by the Greek and Latin classic writers.  With them, the sentiment had its origin in the belief that they would be freed from all their suffering and sadness and would find themselves in a happy world beyond the grave.  However, what they believed with conjecture and uncertainty, Paul along with all Christians believe with assurance.  John in the Book or Revelation puts it this way for us.  “Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, “Write, ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!'” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them.” Revelation 14:12-13.  When we die, we do not remain in the grave.  On the contrary, we are freed from this body and can now rest from all our labors.  We will no longer be working and becoming physically weary in our goal of doing good and promoting Christ by evangelizing all we come into contact with. 

Do we live in this same manner?  Do we believe to live is Christ and to die is gain?  What a beautiful way to see our life here, where we live in the presence of God through Christ, where His Spirit resides in us and we are in constant fellowship with Almighty God here on earth, knowing that when we die, it is actually a gain for us.  We will be freed from sin.  Here, we are subject to its sorrow, but in heaven there is no sin at all.  And we will be set free from the power of temptation.  We will be delivered from our enemies as well as our sufferings.  Indeed, this will be truly a gain for us all.

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

Psalm 146:2

Verse of the Day Devotion: Psalm 146:2 

“I will praise the LORD while I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.” – Psalm 146:2

“One thing I find sad today is that many people are focused on the negative things occurring, filling their minds with fear and anxiety.  This does no one any good, in fact if has a harmful affect to the human mind and body.  With all this stress that is filling the hearts and mind of people, they become susceptible to illnesses that would in other times never make us sick.  Also, in living a stressful life, we tend to focus our conversations with all this negativity and feeding the anxieties of others as well.  This is not what God wants for us. 

It is important that we turn our minds away from all this turmoil and focus on all the positives in our lives. And the best thing we can do is focus on the one who loves us with an everlasting love.  The one who has promised to take care of us in all circumstances, no matter how bad it gets.  And the verse that tells us how to do this is, “I will praise the LORD while I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.” Psalm 146:2.

First, “I will praise the Lord while I live” Psalm 146:2a.  We need to praise Him all the time, as long as we are alive on this earth.  He is worthy of any praise that is given, and as much as we can give.  We should take as much time as we can in worship and praise, and the focus of our thoughts are to be always toward Him.  We should lift our voices in praise to our Lord in our quiet times alone and with our brothers and sisters in group worship.  If we open our hearts in praise and worship to Him, we will not have the room to think of our trials and troubles.  They become less important as He becomes more important. 

Also, we are to spend time in fellowship with Him, which in itself is an act of worship.  Every morning when we wake up and every evening when we lie do to sleep should be a time to interact with God, hearing what He is saying and giving our adoration to Him.  He listens to us and knows our very thoughts and will answer our pray requests with again, our best in mind. 

There is so much that can be said about spending time in worship and praise to our glorious God.  We do not have any reason to focus on all the hardships we and many are suffering through.  He wants us to have peace and solace.  He does not want us to be weighed down with fear and anxiety.  And we do not need to be afraid.  Remember to keep focused on God and not our trials and tribulations.  Give Him all the praise and glory for who He is and what He does, and all your troubles will not seem so great.  And remember what Jesus said to us.  “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:6-7.  Focusing on praising God  will mitigate fear and worry.  And the more we focus on Him, the less the other things will seem all that  important. 

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

2 Timothy 2:11

Verse of the Day Devotion: 2 Timothy 2:11 

“It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him;” – 2 Timothy 2:11  

This past week, I have been in the little town of Puyallup, Washington where I was making preparations for the burial of my mother who passed away on January 28th around midnight.  She had developed pneumonia in both her lungs and was unable to fight it off.  I left early on the 29th arriving at my hotel around 9:30 PM Pacific time.  There was a lot to do. I had to go to the funeral home several times and the cemetery to work out what was needed in order to prepare for the actual burial, then visit the assisted living facility where she lived for several years to retrieve anything that would be of value for the family.  There was not much left, for my mom had already given away everything she had, except for several personal items and any pertinent paperwork.   

I already knew she was going downhill, but did not expect her to pass so quickly, so when I received the call from my Aunt, it did take me by surprise.  I will say this past week was difficult. Along with the sadness of losing my mother, the area has changed so much since my last trip there in 1994.  I will admit I got lost several times, and if it was not for the map app on my phone, it would have been much worse.  And what with the three-hour difference, I did not sleep as much as I needed.  But God was gracious as He always is.  After everything was done, and I was able to finally rest, I was taken out to lunch on Sunday by an old friend from High School who I had not seen in forty-five years.  He saw my post on a social media site and contacted me.  After lunch, he and his wife invited me over to their house to watch the Super Bowl.  I really needed this down time.  He is a graduate from a Lutheran seminary, and we spent hours discussing theology and philosophy, something we absolutely love to do, and it felt so good to just relax and focus on God and His scriptures.

Now that I am back and I have caught up on my sleep, God brought this focus verse to my mind and comforted me with these words.  Paul is in essence saying that if we die as a true Christian, we will not remain dead, but we will live with Christ for ever with no end.  And looking at the next verse, “If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; ” 2 Timothy 2:12.  If we live our life totally devoted to Him, then we will also reign with Him.  However, if we do not, if we compromise, then He will deny us for our compromising in our Christian walk is a type of denial of Him, for we are not totally devoted to Him. 

I know my mother loved God and was a Christian.  She was a very difficult person in the later years of her life, but I attribute this to her never getting over the death of my dad.  She did read her Bible and pray every day.  When I called her, she would always make references to God at least once during our conversation.  I know this is not all we are to do, but with her physical and mental issues, that told me she still had faith in Christ.  And therefore, I believe she, as our focus verse says, will also live with Him, and I shall see her again. 

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