Romans 12:18

Verse of the Day Devotion: Romans 12:18

“If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” – Romans 12:18 

This verse is a very difficult one to follow, especially in the times we live in.  Peace is one thing we should always strive for.  It may not always be possible, however, that does not mean we shouldn’t strive for peace in every encounter we have with others, both the saved and the unsaved.

This verse starts with the idea that as far as it depends on us.  This means that we are to do everything imaginable to preserve the peace, short of compromise.  First, we are not to begin or to originate a quarrel.  Our words are to be ones that show the love we have for the person or persons we are speaking with.  If we become angry and our words and actions show it, then we may lose the ability to speak into their lives.  If to a Christian, they may not be willing to listen to us when we are trying to help them in their walk with God; thus causing them to continue doing that which is wrong, where if we remained cool, calm and collected, we may have been able to help them see their error and turn from it.  And if to the unsaved, they may turn away and not receive Christ as Savior, or at least look into it.  Both instances will be problematic regarding our ability to speak into their lives.  And because they may tell others, we may even close the hearts of anyone else who may endeavor to speak with them.

Secondly, if the anger is started by them, we must do all we can to appease that anger.  We should not walk off until we have done all we can to bring peace to the conversation, and possibly come to the point where they could listen to what we have to say, though this may not be possible because their hearts may be so closed to the truth that any attempt to speak it may incite the anger in them.  If this occurs, we should apologize and make peace if we can.  And we should then pray for, not necessarily with, the individual that God would open their hearts to receive the truth we intended to share with them.  The psalmist put it this way, “Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it.” Psalm 34:14.  I believe the evil he speaks of does include quarreling with those we speak with.  But note, we are not just to seek peace, we are to pursue it as well.  As Albert Barnes states in his commentary of Psalms, we must follow after it, make it an object of desire and put forth the effort to life in peace with all people.

It is important that we follow this with all our heart.  I have seen far too much quarreling and gossiping within churches, and all it does is create division.  Both sides may be desiring the same outcome, but they have differences in how to approach it.  We must do all we can to be at peace with everyone.  This way, we can remove the divisions that hurt the work of the church, and open people’s hearts to the message we have from God to them.  This is a huge part of our calling, for it provides the platform by which we make it happen.

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

1 Corinthians 13:1

Verse of the Day Devotion: 1 Corinthians 13:1

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” – 1 Corinthians 13:1

This verse is speaking of the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues.  It is just one of many gifts of the Holy Spirit that God gives for equipping us for service to Him.  “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.” 1 Corinthians 12:7-11.   Each of the gifts addressed above are all given to us by the Holy Spirit and apportioned to us as He chooses.  Some may have only one of them, but others may have several.  But it is the Spirit who decides.

Going back to the focus verse which refers to tongues, if we do not have love for others, then we are doing nothing but making noise.  There was a lot of contentions within the Church at Corinth.  They were so envious of each other’s gifts that unity within the church was on the verge of being destroyed.  Paul was telling them that without love for God and man, the gifts and other graces they had were given was nothing in the eyes of God.  This is a very strong statement.  God gives us the gifts, but if we use them outside of love, then it means nothing.

He goes on in the next two verses, “And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:2-3. If we practice the gifts of prophecy, understanding mysteries, having all knowledge, faith to move mountains, give all we have away and give our bodies for suffering and death but have no love, there is no benefit for us.  People in the church there saw these gifts as something to be proud of, that having them made them special.  Which is why they were envious of the gift’s others had but they did not.  However, Paul is laying out that these gifts must be secondary to our love for God and man.  In fact, everything must be secondary to this type of love.  “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13.

Any good thing we do or say must be instigated by love.  It should never be done in order to build ourselves up.  Jesus put it this way.  “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” Matthew 6:1.

The important thing to keep in mind from our focus verse is that if we use a gift of the Holy Spirit, or give to the needy or feed the poor; essentially, if we do any good deed, do it out of love, not to just build ourselves up or show how great a Christian we are.  Love must be the overarching reason we do anything for God.  If it is not, then we may assist someone, but Jesus said, we will have no reward from our Father who is in heaven. Let love be the reason for everything we do.

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

Galatians 1:10

Verse of the Day Devotion: Galatians 1:10

“For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.” – Galatians 1:10

Paul here is speaking to the church in Galatia regarding the fact that there were some within their church that were deserting the true gospel and were now following a false gospel.  In fact, he was amazed this was happening.  “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.” Galatians 1:6-7.  The word gospel, which is the Greek word ‘euaggelion’, pronounced ‘yoo-ang-ghel’-ee-on’, meaning good news, and in this context, the great news of our salvation being available because of the shed blood of Christ.  What Paul here was saying is that there were many leaving the true gospel and beginning to follow a message that was not good news or the true gospel.

Then Paul states that if anyone preaches or delivers a message regarding the gospel contrary to what he and his coworkers have already delivered, then they are to be under a curse.  “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!  As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!”  Galatians 1:8-9.

As stated above, the true gospel is the great news of our salvation being available because of the shed blood of Christ.  It defines the payment of the penalty of our sins by the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.  Therefore, a different gospel is one which denies the necessity of a simple dependence on what Christ did on our behalf, namely the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.

There are many false gospels out in our world.  The more prevalent ones are the gospels of Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism.  These do not even reference Christ but state the following of their god is the good news.  However, there are a lot of Christian cults that are deceiving many, such as Oneness Pentecostalism which teaches there is no trinity and the speaking in tongues is required for salvation.  Then there is Christian Science that says Jesus was not the Christ and there is no sin.  And Jehovah Witnesses that teach Jesus was Michael the Archangel, that He did not rise from the dead in Human form and the Holy Spirit is God’s impersonal active force, not a person.

And why do we switch to these false gospels?  It is because many teachers preach what man wants to hear, not necessarily what is true.  “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” 2 Timothy 4:3-4. This includes what is considered the prosperity gospel, antinomianism which states a Christian can sin because we are not subject to the law, and other Christian heresies.

In closing, it is not our job to preach and teach a gospel where the intent is to please men and seek their favor.  It is to preach the truth whereby men are told they are under the penalty of sin and only the death, burial and resurrection of Christ leads to salvation and leads to a Holy walk with Him.  Some will be angry and walk away because this is more than they expected or desire.  However, many will accept and believe this message and truly become a child of God.  This is our calling, and we need to put aside the teachings from wolves in sheep’s clothing and teach the full truth.  If not, then we and those who accept the message we give will come under a curse, and this is not a place we want to be. William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.

Acts 5:29

Verse of the Day Devotion: Acts 5:29

“But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.” – Acts 5:29

Peter and John were arrested for teaching about Christ as well as the miracle healing of the man lame from birth to the crowds in Solomon’s Portico.  They were eventually released; however, they were ordered by the Jewish leadership not to speak of Christ or the healing of this man anymore.  But they did not heed their demand.  “And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number, to such an extent that they even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and pallets, so that when Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on any one of them.  Also, the people from the cities in the vicinity of Jerusalem were coming together, bringing people who were sick or afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all being healed.”  Acts 5:14-16.

This did not set well with the High Priest for it went against their firm warning.  “But the high priest rose up, along with all his associates (that is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with jealousy. They laid hands on the apostles and put them in a public jail.” Acts 5:17-18.  However, that night an angel of the Lord set them free and said to them, “Go, stand and speak to the people in the temple the whole message of this Life.” Acts 5:20. Now, the High Priest ordered the prisoners brought to the council, but the guards could not find them.  Then someone came and reported to the council that the two men they had jailed the previous night were in the temple teaching the people about Christ.

When they arrived and were standing before the council, the High Priest questioned them saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” Acts 5:28.  However, Peter and the apostles answered with our focus verse, “We must obey God rather than men.” Acts 5:29.

Francis Schaeffer in his book “A Christian Manifesto” stated, “The bottom line is that at a certain point there is not only the right, but the duty, to disobey the state.”  This comes only when what the state commands by way of law is contrary to God’s Law.  It is important that obeying God comes before obeying the government.  I want to clarify something though.  If what the state commands by law does not disobey God, then we are obligated to follow it.  It is only when, for example they legislate that all doctors must perform abortions when desired by the patient, that we must disobey because taking a human life is against God’s laws.

We must be ready, as Peter and John were, to do what is right in the eyes of God through disobedience when necessary.  Again, if it does not go against the laws of God, then we must do what they command.  Christianity is coming under much persecution because people want to do what they want.  They hate and abuse those who openly disagree with them.  They do not want Christian teachings and values in our public schools, but many other religious ideas are praised.  We must be willing to stand up in all areas to any group that demands us to disobey God.  He is our Lord, King and Eternal Father, worthy of complete obedience.  Are we ready to take such a stand for Christ?

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

Mark 7:8

Verse of the Day Devotion: Mark 7:8

“Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.” – Mark 7:8 

Some Pharisees and scribes gathered around Jesus when He and the disciples left Jerusalem.  Both groups were very legalistic and demanded that the Law be followed completely.  As they were watching, they noticed the disciples did not wash their hands prior to eating, thus not following the traditions of the elders.  “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 market place, 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 7:3-4.  They required a lot of work to remain pure when eating.

So, the Pharisees and the scribes questioned Jesus regarding these rules, because they were not walking according to tradition.  However, Jesus does not apologize to them on behalf of the disciples.  Instead, He rebukes the Pharisees and scribes.  We read later in the chapter, “And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far away from me.  But in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’”  Mark 6-7.  Jesus was speaking of Isaiah 29:13 where it says. “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,

Jesus then continues by telling them, in our focus verse, that they are neglecting the commands of God and replacing them with the traditions of men.  He then gives the example of how the commandment ‘honor your father and mother, and He who speaks evil of them is to be put to death.  And how, due to their traditions, “but you say, ‘If a man says to his father or his mother, whatever I have that would help you is Corban (that is to say, given to God),‘ you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother; thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.’”  Mark 7:11-13.

We need to look at the things we see and hear from Christian and church leadership, test them by comparing them with what the scriptures say, and ignore them if they counter what the Word of God says.  Note, it is important to make sure it is a reliable translation.  Many times, these weird and heretical teachings are the “traditions’ within churches or denominations that need to be called out, renounced and ignored.  One very recent example was a Pastor in north Atlanta, I will leave the name off, who taught his church to ignore the Old Testament and focus solely on the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  While this sounds reasonable, it is not right.  The Old Testament lays the foundation of why we need salvation, and that Jesus’ coming was ordained from the beginning.  Both testaments together are a complete story of God’s love toward us.  Plus, if Jesus and the apostles quoted it many times, were they wrong, and did they not totally understand?  I doubt it seriously.

We need to be careful that we do not accept traditions that contradict the scriptures. Too many times, and I will say once is too many, church leaders try to make Christianity easier by teaching things that are accepted in the culture today but are radically different from the commands of God.  We need ensure that what we teach is real and does not counter His Word, for we will be held accountable.  “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.”  James 3:1.  The Pharisees and the scribes were not given leniency, and neither will we. William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.

Colossians 3:23

Verse of the Day Devotion: Colossians 3:23

“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men,” – Colossians 3:23

When we received Christ and His work on the cross, He became our Lord.  He freed us from the lordship of man but not the responsibility to those we work for.  Anything we do now is for Christ and not for men.  “Slaves be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.” Ephesians 6:5-6.  The word ‘slave’ in this verse can be seen as employee under an employer in today’s thinking since slavery is illegal in our society.

In essence what Paul is saying is that everything we do, either for our employers, family, friends, church, or anyone actually, should be done as if we are doing it for Christ.  In a way, we actually are, but we must not assume we can do less than our best because it is not “Christian duty”.  Everything we do must be as if we are doing it for Him.  We are not to just look like we are doing a good job, but we must actually do a good job.  When those whom we are working for look at us, and our progress and results, they must see the very best we can do.  Just because we are now Christians does not mean we can break the ties we have here.  Remember, God led us to where we are, therefore, we actually are doing His work for them.

So, how can we accomplish this?  We must be obedient to those we are working for and with.  In a work environment, we must do all we are asked to do, when and how they want it done.  This is what is meant by ‘ do your work heartily’ Not because we are being forced to but doing it from our heart; with good will desiring the best for them.  We should love them as Christ does.  There were many times when I worked in computer programming, I had to just make it happen because they needed it done immediately.  I cannot count the number of times I had to work weekends and late into the evening.  In fact, once I was given a task on Friday morning and it needed to be done as soon as possible.  I worked straight through till I finished Sunday evening.  Not because I wanted to, but because it was needed and only, I understood the systems requiring changes.  I say this as an example.  I wish my heart was completely right during that time period.  But I did it as unto the Lord. I also asked for forgiveness for those times where my heart was not right.

When we do this, we are showing our love for them and ultimately, in them seeing us do this, we may have an opening to share the gospel to those we work for and with.  If they see us giving our all to make what they need happen, they may be open to hearing why we give our best. What a great opportunity.

Lastly, since we are doing it for the Lord and not men, we know “that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.” Colossians 3:24. We may not receive anything from men, but from Christ, we have an inheritance in store for us.  Therefore, we must be faithful to God, and when we are Christ will give us this heavenly reward.

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

James 3:9

Verse of the Day Devotion: James 3:9  

“With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God.” – James 3:9 

James here is this section is speaking of the tongue, specifically regarding the speech of men. He starts off with two analogies. First, he uses the illustration of a bit. “For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well. Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well.” James 3:2-3.  Theologian Albert Barnes interprets this as follows. “The meaning of this simple illustration is, that as we control a horse by the bit – though the bit is a small thing – so the body is controlled by the tongue. He who has a proper control over his tongue can govern his whole body, as he who holds a bridle governs and turns about the horse.” And the second analogy refers to ships. “Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires.” James 3:4. A ship is a large object. It seems to be unmanageable by its vastness, and it is also impelled by driving storms. Yet it is easily managed by a small rudder; and the one that has control of that, has control of the ship itself.

Now, James takes these two pictures and applies them to the human tongue. “So also, the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.” James 3:5-6. Essentially, the bit and the rudder, small though they may be, are comparable to the tongue, a small part of the body that nevertheless makes great boasts. In verse 3 we see the tongue analogized and it’s impact on a community when the teachers use it wisely, just as a bit has an impact on the horse.  Now, in verse 6 we see the teachers impact as a spark loose in a forest and sets the focus on the destructive impact of loose and destructive words.  Now, as we see today, the tongue can be a world of iniquity as noted in verse 6.  We use the term in the same sense – a world of troubles, a world of toil, a world of anxiety, for great troubles, oppressive toil, most distressing anxiety.

How can so small an organ be great trouble? By the words we speak. Remember verse 2. “For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well.” James 3:2. James here is saying that if we do not sin through what we say, we are perfect because we are able to bridle our complete self.  However, if we say things we should not say, we are igniting a fire, as we see in verse 6. This begs the question; can we tame the tongue? “For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by humans. But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison.” James 3:7-8.

Now our focus verse is an example of, “With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God.” James 3:9. Here, James points out two contrary ways we use our tongue; to bless God and to curse people. It is such a common human thing to “curse” another person that we tend to dismiss it as not that big of a deal. “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me” is a common English proverb. And yet, James explains why abusive speech is a big deal: We are cursing a being made in the image of God! Going further, “from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.” James 3:10. We are called to love God and our neighbor as ourselves. Cursing and insulting people or gossiping about them behind their backs is not love, it is evil and destructive. Unfortunately, these actions have become natural to people, including some who are Christians.  

One last thing, in verse 8 we read, “But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison.” James 3:8. No man on his own can tame the tongue. For the tongue to be tamed, so must the heart. Jesus uses the following analogy regarding the Pharisees to bring out this point. “Either make the tree good and its fruit good or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.” Matthew 12:33-34. The only way we can change our heart is to ask God to make the change. David prayed the following prayer when dealing with a transgression he was dealing with. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10. We cannot tame the tongue unless our heart is changed.  Therefore, if we find ourselves speaking hurtful or harsh things to someone, call out to God and submit to His ways. He can change anything in us if we are willing to be changed.

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

Daniel 3:25

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Daniel 3:25 

“He said, Look! I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods!” – Daniel 3:25

This verse is a part of the story where Shadrach, Meshack and Abed-Nego were thrown into a furnace of blazing fire.  This was done because they disobeyed the command of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon.  These three were a part of the people taken from Israel to Babylon as captives.  They required them the accept the laws and beliefs that were found in Babylon, even if it went against their own. 

In this instance, King Nebuchadnezzar had a large image of Gold made and set up in the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon.  He then declared that everyone was to worship this image.  “Then the herald loudly proclaimed: “To you the command is given, O peoples, nations and men of every language, that at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, bagpipe and all kinds of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king has set up.  But whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire.” Daniel 3:4-5.  And the people obey this command.  “Therefore at that time, when all the peoples heard the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, bagpipe and all kinds of music, all the peoples, nations and men of every language fell down and worshiped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.” Daniel 3:7.  Now, what is sad about this is that there were many more Israelites that were carried away then Daniel and the three mentioned above; Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.  (These were the Jewish names of the three, Shadrach, Meshack and Abed-Nego). 

At some time later, the call was made for all the people to fall in worship the golden image.  However, the three Shadrach, Meshack and Abed-Nego did not follow the require,emts (Daniel was off on a mission for the king.)  So, charges were brought against them.  “You, O king, have made a decree that every man who hears the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, and bagpipe and all kinds of music, is to fall down and worship the golden image. But whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire. There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the administration of the province of Babylon, namely Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego. These men, O king, have disregarded you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image which you have set up.” Daniel 3:10-12.  Now this angered the king and he ordered them to be brought before him.  When they arrived, he gave them another opportunity to follow his commands. 

However, their response was not what he wanted to hear.  “Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18.  This, of course, angered him even more and he ordered the furnace to be heated seven times hotter.  He then has them tied up and thrown into the furnace.  But it did not accomplish what he thought.

Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astounded and stood up in haste; he said to his high officials, “Was it not three men we cast bound into the midst of the fire?  They replied to the king, Certainly, O king.:  Daniel 3:24. And then he says in our focus verse, “ He said, Look! I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods!” Daniel 3:25.  Then the king opens the door of the furnace and tells them to come out and they noticed that the fire had no affect on their bodies, nor was their any smell of fire on them. 

In the book of Deuteronomy we read the following, “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6.  No matter what trials we go through, God is always with us, and will bring us through, no matter how difficult it is, just as He brought the three Hebrews through the fiery flames of the furnace.  The times we find ourselves are difficult, and I believe they may become even more so.  However, no matter what we go through, no matter how difficult the situation and what the plans of the wicked are, we are never alone for the God who can do anything will be right there with us.  Let us secure this truth in our hearts and rely totally on Him no matter what.  And just like the Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego, we will come out of it just fine.

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

John 13:35

Verse of the Day Devotion:  John 13:35 

“By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:35

Just as God is revealed to mankind by what He does, so are we as His people.  This is the idea of our focus verse,  “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35.  Look at what God did for us.  He sent His only begotten Son to die a horrible death so that we can be forgiven.  We could not have been redeemed in any other way.  Paul puts it this way.  “But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:22-23.  And the death referred to here is what is called the ‘second death’.  “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” Revelation 21:8.  Since we could never pay the penalty for our sins since it is impossible for us to  be perfect.  “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans:3:23. 

So, we see how God manifested His love for us.  And it is only because He first loved us that we can ourselves love.  “We love because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19.  In other words, the only reason we can truly love is because He gave His love to us.  Another way to say this is found in I. Howard Marshall’s commentary on this verse where he says, “But the main instrument which God uses to bring us back to a true relationship of love is not fear of His judgement but the fact of His love.  Our love for God is based on God’s prior love for us and is thus the response of gratitude.  The more we realize how much God loved us, the more we realize our obligation to love Him in return.”  Then, looking at the next two verses we read the result of our loving God.  “If someone says, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.  And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.” 1 John 4:20-21.  The sense here is that no man, whoever they are or whatever they do, can have any true love of God if he does not love his brethren.  By brethren, I believe John is speaking of fellow Christians along with all others who are yet to give their lives to Christ.  And he completes this thought with the following truth, that if we love God, we should love everyone else.

So, back to our focus verse, when we love one another fervently with a pure heart, then it shall fully appear that we are truly His disciples, especially  if it leads to death.  “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13.  The greatest love we can have is the same type of love Christ had for us; having the willingness to give our life for another, just as Christ did for all mankind of all time periods both future and past. Our lives are the most valuable thing we have, and therefore shows the deepest and truest form of love.  This is the type that Christ exhibited to His disciples, that we would be willing to and actually did do the same.  Not that we will,  but that we would if called for.  If this is the type of love we exhibit, then people will see us and the reality of our love.  And many times, this may be what strengthens the faith of our fellow Christians and opens the hearts of those who currently do not believe.  Tertullian, a Christian theologian and apologist in the second century, who taught primarily to gentiles, shows this by stating what some of those who heard him said, “See, said they, how they love one another, and are ready to lay down their lives for each other.”  This is just one example of how many Christians have been seen in the same way.  Let us focus on how  we can show the world this kind of love to God and our fellow man.

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

Hebrews 12:14

Verse of the Day Devotion: Hebrews 12:14 

“Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.” –  Hebrews 12:14  

God has called us to live at peace with all men.  Note that the writer of Hebrews states ‘peace with all men’.  He is not in anyway saying that there are some, such as antagonistic unbelievers, who are not included.  He is not saying that if we disagree strongly with someone that we do not need to seek to live at peace with them.  And those who cheat or hurt us are not to be excluded either.  Paul put it this way regarding peace with our brothers and sisters in Christ.  “So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.” Romans 14:19.  However, God declares ALL men, therefore He is saying with those who are not Christians, including those who are our enemies.

So, how are we to live at peace with our enemies?  By loving them, by helping them when needed and praying for them, and not just walking by and ignoring their suffering.  “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.” Matthew 5:43-45.  We are to love our enemies; we are to seek peace with them.  Jesus said here that this is how His Father works.  He brings the blessing of sunlight to both the righteous and unrighteous, and He allows the rain that waters the food bearing plants to fall on the land of the righteous and the unrighteous.  He calls us to love as He loves and do for them as He does.  “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” Ephesians 5:1-2.

We are called to go out and to preach the gospel to all men.  “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,” Matthew 28:19. We are called to go out to those who do not know Him.  Now Jesus said to His disciples that only those called by the Father will come to Him.  “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:44. So, who is called?  There are many who believe that only some of mankind is called.  However, this is in contrast to what Jesus said.  “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.” John 12:32  He calls all men to Himself because He was lifted upon a cross and was crucified.  And again, as is said in Matthew 28:19, He has sent us out to reach all in all nations.

Now, looking at this in totality, the only way people will listen to us is if we show them that we love them and desire to live at peace with them.  If we constantly cause animosity to arise between us and others, they will stay clear of us, and how can we preach the gospel to them if we do not desire peace between us?  Looking back at our focus verse, we must desire peace with all men, even when we must disagree in order to profess the truth of the gospel and showing the holiness of God; but doing it in love, for without that , no man can see God.  The idea of seeing God here is not with our eyes from a distance but living with Him, being in His presence in peace.  And that is our calling, to lead all men to know and see God, making disciples.  And only through desiring at all cost peace with them, can we make this happen.

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