James 4:1

Verse of the Day Devotion: James 4:1

“What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members?” –  James 4:1

James in this section of his letter asks an important question that people have struggled with throughout history.  Why do you quarrel with each other?  I suspect this question was not asked out of the blue, but probably because they were actually arguing amongst themselves.  He could have come right out and told them what the answer was, but he chose to answer the question with a rhetorical question which would grab the attention of his readers.  He said to them, do they not come from within yourselves?  Do they not come from your inward desires?  And do not these desires and pleasure wage war among your members?

Now, are these pleasures at war within our own bodies as individuals or within the body of believers?  I am sure it is within the body of believers because of the first part of the verse.  “What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you?” James 4:1a.  Many believe that it is the battle of temptation within us, which may be the source of our desires.  However, the quarrels are referring to among the brethren where one person believes one thing and another believes something else.  Or one feels they should do option A and another wants option B.  And when both sides desire their own way over the others, with no desire to acquiesce even a little, then quarrels arise.  The general problem here was that they all wanted what THEY wanted.  It did not matter what someone else wanted, or what the other felt inside.  They were more interested in pleasing themselves rather than others. 

This is something we see in the corporate world.  I remember several instances when, at my last contract position in Indiana, we would meet up and discuss current projects.  What started off as just telling everyone where we were at on projects, ended up with everyone talking about how they were right and everyone else was wrong.  They were attempting to show how they should be candidates for promotions over everyone else.  Unfortunately, Christians many times have adopted similar views.  I have been in many a meeting where arguments start when people start pushing their ideas about how things should be done, with various positions being taken.  And each believed their idea was the only one that made sense. 

It is sad to see this occur among Christian brothers and sisters because most of the time each is arguing their position because they want theirs to be accepted so they can look good to the others.  However, all we do should be for the betterment of all, not just ourselves.  Look back to our focus verse.  “What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members?” James 4:1.  In the church as well as everywhere else, quarrels and conflicts come when we look to please ourselves at the expense of another.  Paul put it best when he wrote, “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.” Philippians 2:3-4.  This should always be our focus.  We can present our ideas, but we should never argue and quarrel about them.  And if we find ourselves in a position where a conflict is forming, we need to stop and pray for God’s guidance.  Then, start the conversation again but remembering Philippians 2:3-4 above.  We must stay at peace no matter what.  This is what God wants, and is this not what we should want and work toward as well?

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

Colossians 3:5

Verse of the Day Devotion: Colossians 3:5 

“Therefore, consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.” – Colossians 3:5  

In this verse, Paul is telling us, now that we are Christians, we need to change the way we think and act.  Back in chapter two, he says, “Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,” Colossians 2:6. His meaning is simply:  since we have received Christ, we must walk as such.  Let His ways guide every part of our lives.

He then goes on in chapter three to show us how we can do this successfully.  He starts by saying, “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory ” Colossians 3:1-4.  We are to focus on things in heaven where Christ now dwells for we have died to self, and our lives are now hidden in Christ.  The idea behind hidden is that as the glory of Christ now is hidden from the world, so also the glory of believers’ inner life, proceeding from communion with Him, is still hidden with Christ in God. Then when Christ, the source of this new life is revealed, then we also will be revealed as well.

Now, because of all this, we are  to refrain from our bodies sinning against God.  Paul puts it this way in our focus verse.  “Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.” Colossians 3:5.  The idea is to see these bodily members as dead to sinful desires;  by depriving them of the power they have over us.  This happens when we focus on the things above and not on the wrong desires we have here.  We must remember we are new creations in Christ.  “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”  2 Corinthians 5:17.  And because we are new creatures, we must put to death our old ways and become who God has remade us to be.

If we do not consider the members of our earthly body’s dead to our sinful desires of which he lists immorality, impurity, earthly passions, evil desires  and greed which Paul says amounts to idolatry, then we will not have victory over them.  For if we do not put these passions to death, then we are desiring these things more than God Himself, which in essence is idolatry.  It can be difficult to do, especially if we have been controlled by these things for a long time.  However, to put these desires to death, we must stop focusing on them.  We must stop thinking about wealth, honor, and pleasure.  Our affections should not be fixed on things such as houses and lands, fashion and gaiety, nor low and debasing enjoyments.  But our thoughts should be fixed on Christ, what He did for us and what we can do for Him: on those who are unsaved in leading them to Christ, and on our brothers and sisters and how we help and bless them.  They should also be on  our eternal home and the fellowship we will enjoy with God and all those whom He calls His children.  Since we are delivered from the death caused by our sins, and are reborn to live in a new and glorious life, the great object of our contemplation God and His calling on our lives.  In comparison, the things of this world really have no value at all. 

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

Ephesians 4:25

Verse of the Day Devotion: Ephesians 4:25 

“Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.” – Ephesians 4:25       

In this section of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, Paul is laying out how we are to live out this new life in Christ.  In the first verse in this chapter he writes, “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:1-3.  Paul is saying that because God has provided such an incredible and abundant salvation, we should walk according to our calling as children of God.  And to walk this way in all humility, gentleness, and patience: desiring to maintain unity in the body of Christ and not bring dissension and disunity. 

He then tells them that because they are Christians and have this new life, they should live as such.  “Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.” Ephesians 4:17.  These Christians are gentile converts.  They should no longer walk as they did formerly.  He then described this former life.  “They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.” Ephesians 4:18-19. They are to walk away from this life “and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:24. From verse 25 to the end of chapter 4, we see a list of attributes associated with this new life.  We will look at each of these, one a day, to examine what this life is. And the first is today’s focus verse, “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.” Ephesians 4:25.

We must eliminate all deceit from our conversations.  Lying is understood as the universal vice of the pagan world.  And because the Ephesians had recently been converted, this no doubt was a new concept for them.  It was important that they understood and accepted that lying is evil in order to enable change to happen.  Paul knew this and made it the first attribute in his list of this new life.  We must be completely honest with everyone, and if a difficult truth is necessary, be compassionate and loving as you present it.  Truth should always be the way we interact with others. 

The Lord spoke to Zechariah the Prophet regarding deceit and that they should not practice it at any time.  “These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another; render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace; do not devise evil in your hearts against one another, and love no false oath, for all these things I hate, declares the LORD.” Zechariah 8:16-17.  God hates deceit, and we should understand this and act accordingly.  We should not think telling a “little white lie” is acceptable in any way.  If you break a glass, say so.  If you lost something someone loaned you, admit it.  We should be honest regarding the value of something we sell, or any defects inherent in it.  And finally, we should never encourage anyone to be deceptive on our behalf.  Truth is truth, and anything other than truth is a falsehood.  Let us choose to be honest at all times, no matter the consequences it may bring us.  “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  If we want to be like Christ, than truth must become our way of life. 

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

Romans 12:4

Verse of the Day Devotion: Romans 12:4 

“For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function,” – Romans 12:4          

Paul is laying out here how we are to view the Church, not necessarily a local church, however it can also apply to it, but the corporate church.  The body has many parts, all of which are essential for the body to operate as it should.  Lets look at how Paul addressed this idea to the Church at Corinth.  “For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?” 1 Corinthians 12:14-17.  Paul is stating here that the body is made up of many members, not just many of the same member.  In other words, the foot is not the heart, and the pancreas is not the brain.  And this is because the foot cannot do what the heart can and vice-versa.  And the same with the pancreas and the brain. 

Paul uses the example of the eye and the ear.  If the whole body was an eye we would not hear anything, likewise if the whole body were an ear we would not see anything.  Now, since each part of the body is important, “And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 1 Corinthians 12:21.  Each part of the body is there for a reason, and each is as important as any other.  And this was done by God.  “But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.” 1 Corinthians 12:18.

Lastly, each member of our physical body has a different purpose.  The eyes are so we can see and the ears so we can hear.  If our eyes go bad, we cannot just let the ears take over so we can see.  Both are equally important, but for a different purpose.  There are certain parts that can takeover for another, such as when the arms and hands go bad, the leg and foot can take over in certain functions, but as a whole, this is not the case.

 The same can be said regarding the church.  God has placed each one of us where He wants us and performing the function He has called us to perform.  Some of us will preach and some of us will lead worship.  And some of us will handle the books of the church, while another my clean the church.  “Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.” Romans 12:6-8.  Each of our ministries are different.  Some teach, some exhort, some show mercy, and some give.  We should never look down on others because they cannot do what we do, or place others on a pedestal because they can do what we cannot do.  We are not meant to work independently, but in unity; with each other.  If we can do this while seeing each other as equal partners, who can tell what we can accomplish in this world..

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