Isaiah 26:3

Verse of the Day: Isa 26:3 “The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You.” – Isaiah 26:3

This is a very well-known and popular verse I hear many times.  A more familiar version of this is “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

How often do we get worried or frustrated?  I wish I could say never, however that is not the case.  I think we all get that way at times.  However, the prophet Isaiah has given us the way to be at peace in every situation.  It is easy to understand but not necessarily easy to do.  God wants us to be in perfect peace, and He has provided a way.  That is to trust Him in everything.

Isaiah says, perfect peace comes to those whose mind is steadfastly focused on the Lord.  During these difficult times we need to continue to stay in touch with God, focusing on the fact that He loves us and will never leave us or forsake us.  Paul in his benediction in 1 Thessalonians said the following, “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.  Why can we do this in the tough times?  Because we trust Him.  We know He has our best in mind.  And He will bring it about.

Remember what the Lord spoke through Solomon.  “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.”  Proverbs 3:5 Our own solutions do not work, only His will.  Just trust Him.

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

Romans 12:2

Verse of the Day: Romans 12:2

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” -Romans 12:2.

When we become Christians, it is important for us to realize our old life is done away with and we are new creatures.  Paul wrote to the Corinthian Church the following, “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.  So, being a new creature is a result of accepting Christ as Savior.

Our old life was being conformed to this world.  In order to fit in and make life easier, we would do things the way the world did it, believe what the world believed, take on habits and feelings that it considered appropriate and acceptable.  I am not saying we all accepted everything, but much of it.  Especially in the area of the existence of God, and even more fundamentally, what God is.

When we are saved through the blood of Christ and become new creatures, we are to discard these old thoughts and ways.  We are to take on the ways of Christ and not of the world.  We must change the way we think from a worldly to a spiritual view.  We must study God’s Word and make Christ’s ways the model of our own.  If something is sin, we must see it as sin.  If something is a bad witness, we must not do it.  Our life must exemplify the life God wants and demands us to live.  And as we live this transformed life, we will exhibit to ourselves as well as those around us what is good and acceptable and perfect.  Let God work through us in this process.  We can do this because He promised us He would make it happen.

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

Isaiah 46:8

Verse of the Day Devotion. Isaiah 46:8

“Remember this, and be assured; Recall it to mind, you wrongdoers.” – Isaiah 46:8

As we read in our focus verse, God is calling His people, Israel, to remember something which He reminds them of in the first seven verses of this chapter. Through Isaiah, He is encouraging His people. First, we will look at God’s comparison of Himself and the gods of Babylon. “Bel has bowed down, Nebo stoops over; Their idols have become loads for the animals and the cattle. The things that you carry are burdensome, a load for the weary animal. They stooped over, they have bowed down together; They could not rescue the burden but have themselves gone into captivity.” Isaiah 46:1-2. He is telling His people that the gods of Babylon are actually a burden rather than helpers. Instead of these false gods rescuing them from their burdens, they become a part of the burden of their people.

Then God tells them that He has never been a burden to them, but actually has carried them. “Listen to Me, house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, You who have been carried by Me from birth and have been carried from the womb; even to your old age I will be the same, And even to your graying years I will carry you! I have done it, and I will bear you; And I will carry you and I will save you.” Isaiah 46:3-4. God now turns the tables. With a call to pay attention, he addresses the people as ‘house of Jacob’ and ‘house of Israel’. He was bringing to their minds the whole long story that established their identity. He was using the idea mentioned above, asking them when in all that time had they ever carried their God? He reminds them it never happened. From the very beginning of their existence as a nation, from the hour of their birth as a nation, God had been carrying them!

He then shows them there is no comparison by way of a rhetorical question. “To whom would you equate Me and make Me equal, and compare Me, that we would be alike? Those who lavish gold from the bag and weigh silver on the scale, hire a goldsmith, and he makes it into a god; They bow down; indeed, they worship it. They lift it on the shoulder, carry it, and set it in its place, and it stands there. It does not move from its place. Though one may shout to it, it cannot answer; It cannot save him from his distress.” Isaiah 46:5-7. The only logical conclusion of this contrast between God and the false gods is that there is no comparison between God and the false gods. To which of the idol-gods can the Lord be compared? Absolutely none. They are the creation of humans and are subject to all the limitations of time and space. He is the Creator of humans and all else and is limited by nothing.

Now we come to our focus verse. “Remember this, and be assured; Recall it to mind, you wrongdoers.” Isaiah 49:8. And what are we to remember? “Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My plan will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure.” Isaiah 46:9-10.  The main point is that God’s people must remember this about the LORD; that He knows the end from the beginning and is in control over all things. When we remember this, we will show ourselves to be ones who trust God no matter what. We can have tremendous courage in our God when we understand and remember who He is and what He does.

In closing, we read in the last two verses of chapter 46. “Listen to Me, you stubborn minded, Who are far from righteousness. I bring near My righteousness; it is not far off; And My salvation will not delay. And I will grant salvation in Zion, And My glory for Israel.” Isaiah 46:12-13. These two verses represent a call to accept that God can and will deliver his people. These words are directed to those who are stubborn and far from righteousness. God tells them that these accomplishment of righteous acts of salvation are sure, are near, and will not be delayed. One can be confident it will happen because God is not one who is far away from his people. In fact, he is so near to them that it is possible for him to care for them and act positively on their behalf.

There are many today who fall within the category referred to; stubborn minded and those who are far from righteousness. There are believers who are struggling in difficult situations who need an assurance that God will bring them through and the He will be coming to deliver them from this world. We need to help them remember what God has done in the past, which shows He can do anything, including delivering and helping them in all situations. And sometimes He allows us to go through trials with the purpose of showing us we are never alone. God’s people need to remember that God’s timing is always perfect and wise. When we are stubborn hearted, we need to listen to the LORD and remember He never delays and is never late. God always has His deliverer, and always knows exactly when to bring His deliverance.

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

Isaiah 65:17

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Isaiah 65:17

“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind.” – Isaiah 65:17 

This new paragraph begins with an announcement of God’s marvelous work, starting with ‘behold, I’ to emphasize the amazing fact that God ‘will create’ a new heaven and a new earth. Now earlier, the kingdom that God will establish was not described earlier in these terms. Earlier in Isaiah we read, “Terror and the pit and the snare are upon you, O inhabitant of the earth! He who flees at the sound of the terror shall fall into the pit, and he who climbs out of the pit shall be caught in the snare. For the windows of heaven are opened, and the foundations of the earth tremble. The earth is utterly broken, the earth is split apart, the earth is violently shaken. The earth staggers like a drunken man; it sways like a hut; its transgression lies heavy upon it, and it falls, and will not rise again.” Isaiah 24:17-20. And “Lift up your eyes to the heavens and look at the earth beneath; for the heavens vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment, and they who dwell in it will die in like manner; but my salvation will be forever, and my righteousness will never be dismayed.” Isaiah 51:6. In both of these, there is the idea to the heavens and the earth will need to be replaced due to the condition of the earth in the last days. I like the way theologian Gary V. Smith. “This new world with its transformed people will be so completely different that God’s servants will not remember the ‘former world’ of sin, suffering, hunger, death, and destruction. In fact, this new world will be so different that even the more positive aspects of the former things will probably fade from memory.” Then in the next two verses, we see that all will rejoice, both of His people and God. “But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness. I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in my people; no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress.” Isaiah 65:18-19.

Then in the next set of verses, it speaks of the sadness that will no longer be in the new heaven and earth. “No more shall there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not fill out his days, for the young man shall die a hundred years old, and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed. They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labor in vain or bear children for calamity, for they shall be the offspring of the blessed of the LORD, and their descendants with them.” Isaiah 65:20-23. Isaiah is using concrete examples that explain why there will be no crying or mourning in the kingdom. They are examples drawn from this current world in order to help Israel understand. He is showing all those things that caused His people pain and suffering, to be in sorrow or to weep. All of the above are simply examples of those things that cause people, in the time of Isaiah, to weep.

And finally, we read in the last three verses what we shall experience in the New Kingdom. “They shall not labor in vain or bear children for calamity, for they shall be the offspring of the blessed of the LORD, and their descendants with them. Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain, says the LORD.” Isaiah 65:23-25. God explains this new setting by describing a state of complete harmony and oneness among animals that formerly were enemies. In the future, the wild meat-eating wolf (the predator) and the defenseless little lamb (the prey) will graze together in peace and unity. In addition, the ferocious lion (the predator) will eat straw with the ox (the prey). Although animals can sometimes represent people, there is no indication that these animals are symbolic of anything other than animal life. We see this as well in earlier verses. “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.” Isaiah 11:6-9. 

What a beautiful picture of what we have to look forward to in the new heavens and earth and all the ‘junk’ in this world will go away. And we can look forward to this promise given by God. “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” 2 Peter 3:11-13.

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

Philippians 2:3

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Philippians 2:3 

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.” – Philippians 2:3

Paul in this section, and especially in our focus verse is addressing something that was prolific within the church and thereby being the reason he mentions it; this being pride which ultimately leads to division.  In our focus verse, Paul tells the Church in Philippi not to do anything for the purpose of lifting themselves up and being conceited.  He then continues in the next verse with, “do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4.  They were to be focused on meeting the needs of those who they taught and discipled, and not on their own interests.  And they were not to be in competition with the others who taught in the church. 

This was said in order not to have division within the body.  This is a very important idea, for I have seen so many churches today who have found themselves in this situation.  Division comes when different ideas are taught in the church and the teachers attempt to get the church to agree wholeheartedly with their belief.  This causes splits in the church which can cause arguing and competition.  Nothing is to be done through strife.  And we should never allow the church to be separated into sects that then work against each other in order to become more popular and influential than any other.

And this is not healthy for the church.  This can cause churches to split and may cause many to drift away because of the dissention caused by the split.  This is not what God wants in the church.  Paul writes to the Church in Corinth the following regarding unity, “Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment.” 1 Corinthians 1:10.  Paul is saying the church needs to be in unity, and when I say church, I mean not just individual churches but also the  church corporate.  Unfortunately, the enemy has creeped into the Church and has divided the people, often through differences of beliefs.  I have attended a church where some believed in the doctrine of Calvinism which states God has selected some people to be saved and others not to be.  And it is not their choice, for God has predestined some to salvation, while the rest cannot be saved.  Others would speak against this doctrine declaring it to be heretical.  Unfortunately, these differences would be discussed in Bibles Studies which caused confusion in the class and caused new believers to question their decision. 

He then tells the Church “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 2:5.  We need to take on this attitude as well.  Christ labored to promote no separate interest; as man he studied to promote the glory of God, and the welfare and salvation of the human race.  He ministered in humility, focusing on the Father and His purpose.  This was His focus and it should be ours as well.  “who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:6-8.  This is the way that Christ spread the good news here on earth.  He did not consider, as a man, equality with God something to be grasped.  Instead, He emptied Himself, being humble and obedient to the point of death, where He gave His life to give everyone the opportunity to be saved.  This is the Son of God who knew no sin but died for ours.  In essence, He put us ahead of Himself.  This is true love He and the Father had for us.

As He humbled Himself to serve us, we should humble ourselves to serve others.  This is our calling and our purpose here.  We must humbly witness to the lost and in training the saved, not looking at how we can look good and impress others, but how we can put other’s interests and needs above our own.  When we do this, we will do the work God just as Christ did.  And we will be amazed at how God will work through us to do His good pleasure.   

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

Jeremiah 17:10

Verse of the Day Devotion: Jeremiah 17:10 

“I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds.” – Jeremiah 17:10 

The prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah spoke much in their prophetic writings regarding the sins of Israel and Judah.  Isaiah began his role as prophet a couple years after the death of King Uzziah, around 740 BC.  Jeremiah began as a prophet in Judah around 627 BC in the 13th year of the reign of King Josiah.    Isaiah wrote in chapter six of his writings about the future of Israel where they would be taken captive by both Babylon and Assyria, and ultimately Rome.  Jeremiah speaks out against the sins of Judah, and in chapter 17 where he addresses their idolatry.  “As they remember their children, So they remember their altars and their Asherim By green trees on the high hills.” Jeremiah 17:2. This speaks of the children remembering the worship of idols and continuing the practice, showing that this sin has been passed down and is firmly engraved on Judah’s heart and altars.  

Then in verses 7 and 8, he writes of the blessing extended to them that trust in the lord.  “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD And whose trust is the LORD. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; But its leaves will be green, And it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8.  Blessings follow those who trust in God, and not the world or their false gods. 

Therefore, because of this truth, Jeremiah asks the Lord the following. “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?”  Jeremiah 17:9. First, the heart here refers to the mind, the ultimate source of his thoughts and actions.  He is essentially asking God, if trusting in you results in blessings, and Judah is not trusting you but is following idols, how can this be?  Who can understand this?  This is a good question posited by Jeremiah.  If blessing come only from trusting God, how can you not trust God and expect to be blessed?  How can we allow our heart to lead us astray?  We cannot understand it, but there is one who can.  And God gives him that answer.

I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds.” Jeremiah 17:10. He says He searches the heart of man; He tests their minds.  The idea here is that only He can do this.  We cannot.  This is shown by Jeremiah’s question.  He cannot understand why Judah would follow their own ways, that being the ways of idolatry, and expect to be blessed.  It appears that the people did not believe God had made any promises to them or would keep the promises. Or nothing was said to them about their going after idols, for Jeremiah says “Look, they keep saying to me, “Where is the word of the LORD? Let it come now!” Jeremiah 17:15. They would not believe what the Lord had said, no doubt due to the span of time that passed from the prophetic statement to the present.

Today, we see the same thing.  Peter said very similarly the following.  “Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water.” 2 Peter 3:4-6.  Just as the people in Judah did not trust God’s word regarding the blessings of God, figuring they had other options to attain blessings from other so-called gods, we are seeing a world which sees the attainment of power and wealth more desirable than understanding and following God’s Word.  Man’s heart is becoming more deceitful as the days go by, being more interested in personal gain than obedience to God.  Let us not become complacent, but always seek after God and His word to and for us.  We must always humble ourselves, knowing that God’s way is the only way, regardless of what our heart and desires speak to us. 

Like Jeremiah says, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9. We must never let our thoughts and desires take precedence over God and His will and ways, not trusting ourselves and what we believe is right.  Israel chose to follow their heart and it cost them greatly.  God knows our heart and how it can draw us away.  We must put our complete trust in Him, and when we do all will go well.  Remember what Paul said.  “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2. It truly is the only way.

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

Romans 8:6

Verse of the Day Devotion: Romans 8:6  

“For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,” – Romans 8:6 

This verse speaks of the most extreme dichotomy we can imagine.  This dichotomy results in either death or life.  However, this does not refer to physical death or life but to the spiritual.  Looking at our focus verse, the choice we make that highlights this difference regards what we are focused on.  Is it our fleshly desires that lead to spiritual death, or is it on the Spirit that results in life and peace?

In verse five, Paul says there are essentially two contrasting ways of living life.  “For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.” Romans 8:5.  And each of these depend on what we focus our minds on.  The first one is to follow the dictates of our flesh.  Later in this chapter, he explains why this is the case.  “because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” Romans 8:7-8.  The one who’s mind is on the flesh is contrary to God, in fact, he goes as far as to say it is hostile to God.  The reason being they are more interested in what they desire as opposed to what God does.  They have placed themselves in a position which puts them as more important than God.  As an example, if you have two friends who are very important to you, and they ask you to choose between two different restaurants, you will probably choose from the one which you desire to please the most.  The same idea is seen here.  Who do we find most important in our lives and wish to please: God or ourselves?

The opposite of those whose’ mind is on the flesh are the ones whose minds is on the Spirit.  The idea here is that we place ourselves under the control of the Spirit of God.  When we do this, we desire what God wants as opposed to what we want; that we love God more than ourselves.  Jesus put it succinctly when he said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” John 14:15.  So, this basically leads to a question that we need to honestly answer, do we love God more than ourselves.  The answer to this question decides whether we will set our minds on the flesh or the Spirit. 

Paul lays out in his letter to the Galatians the difference between the actions that come about by our decision.  “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”  Galatians 5:19-23.  Let us always strive to follow the fruit of the Spirit and eliminate the deeds of the flesh that may creep into our lives.

And finally, as I intonated above, we should always examine ourselves to see if we are focused entirely on God and His ways.  We should pray and ask Him to show us where we may fall short so we may get back on track.  As David said in calling out to God. “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me and lead me in the everlasting way.” Psalm 139:23-24.  We  may not always know where we stand, however He knows everything about us.  Let Him guide us in His ways and be who He desires us to be.  This is life lived beautifully for God.

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

Colossians 3:2

Verse of the Day Devotion: Colossians 3:2 

“Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” – Colossians 3:2         

Now that we are saved, our minds should be thinking on our new life, and not the life we have left behind.  We see what we should be focused on in the first verse in this chapter. “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” Colossians 3:1.  We need to set aside our old self, our old nature.  Paul puts it this way.  “that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” Ephesians 4:22-24.  If we are born again, then the old man was killed, crucified.  “For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.” Romans 6:5-7. 

So, this begs the question.  If our old man with its old ways is dead, then why should we set our minds on the worldly ways of our old man?  The answer is easy, we should not.  Our minds should be focused on God; what He desires from us, what we can do for Him here.  We should direct our thoughts to Christ, where He dwells and His will for us.  We should not be focusing on the things of this world such as wealth, self-honor and pleasure.  The theologian Albert Barnes in his commentary on Colossians stated, “Our affections should not be fixed on houses and lands; on scenes of fashion and gaiety; on low and debasing enjoyments.” That man, the one who’s mind was fixed on earthly pleasures and ways has died. 

We, as Christians, should love the things of God, and detest the things of this world.  Now, I am not saying we should neglect our needs here, essentially food, clothing and shelter; or we should not enjoy some things here, such as a concert or a ball game.  It is that we should not make these things the center of our life.  These are not sinful activities, except if they take precedence over the things of God.   It is sin we should not think on.  “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.  We must see these things as dead and no longer enticing us.  We once focused on these things, but we should not now.  We are new creatures.  We think differently, we act differently.  We used to live to satisfy ourselves, now we must live to satisfy God, and in so doing, He will satisfy us.  This is setting our minds on the things above.  This is denying the things of this world.  And I have no doubt life will be so much better when we follow the words of this verse.

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