Isaiah 49:1

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Isaiah 49:1

“Listen to me, O coastlands, and give attention, you peoples from afar. The LORD called me from the womb, from the body of my mother he named my name.” – Isaiah 49:1 

This is to be interpreted as the voice of the Messiah calling the distant parts of the earth to listen to His qualifications and His message.  He gives this message to the Gentiles inviting them to hear His counsel and doctrines which the Jews would reject. This prophecy is spoken as a current event, even though it would not happen for hundreds of years. This declares the truth that the Messiah was alive with no beginning but will come in the flesh at a future time. “The LORD called me from the womb, from the body of my mother” Isaiah 49:1b. Note the phrase ‘called me from the womb’. And lastly, we see the phrase ‘and he named my name’. This denotes that His name was not given by anyone here, but by the one who sent Him, that being the heavenly Father. “And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus.” Luke 1:30-31.

Then in the next verse, “And He has made My mouth like a sharp sword; In the shadow of His hand He has concealed Me, And He has also made Me a select arrow; He has hidden Me in His quiver.” Isaiah 49:2. The preparation of the Servant for ministry to the nations involved God making the Servant’s mouth a powerful instrument to declare God’s messages. His mouth would be like a sharp sword. Sword imagery suggests the use of piercing-sharp speech, so it is possible for the Hebrew imagination to compare the sharp words that come from the lips or from the tongue or from the teeth to a cutting sword. This indicates that the Servant will not accomplish the tasks described in this passage through military conquests but by speaking some strong words from God. And when He does this, up until His arrest, He will be protected until that time. The words, ‘in the shadow of His hand He has concealed me’ and ‘He has hidden Me in His quiver’. This same allusion is used in Psalm 17 by David where he wrote, “Keep me as the apple of the eye; Hide me in the shadow of Thy wings, From the wicked who despoil me, My deadly enemies, who surround me.” Psalm 17:8-9. This protection was to stay in place until the time of His arrest and crucifixion.

Next we read, “You are My Servant, Israel, In Whom I will show My glory.” Isaiah 49:3. The idea here is that He was to come and bring Israel back to where they should have been. God’s desire for Israel was that they would go and teach others about Him. Israel was to be a nation of priests, prophets, and missionaries to the world. God’s intent was for Israel to be a distinct people, a nation who pointed others towards God and His promised provision of a Redeemer, Messiah, and Savior. For the most part, Israel failed in this task. However, God’s ultimate purpose for Israel, that of bringing the Messiah into the world, was fulfilled perfectly in the Person of Jesus Christ. And it was Jesus who made known what Israel was intended to tell the world. And for this reason, I believe, He was referred to as Israel.

Then next Isaiah clarifies this purpose. “And now says the LORD, who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, To bring Jacob back to Him, in order that Israel might be gathered to Him (For I am honored in the sight of the LORD, And My God is My strength), He says, It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nation’s so that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” Isaiah 49:5-6. Note the purpose of His coming. To bring Jacob back to Him in order that they may be a ‘light to the nations’. Jesus made this clear in the Sermon on the Mount. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16. This was a message to a crowd that was predominantly Jewish, of the message given in Isaiah 49:1-8. And this should be our focus; to be a light in this dark world, and to bring His glorious message to all who need to hear it, mainly the lost Jews and Gentiles. And the best way to be a light in this world is by living as God desires us to live, and to exhibit the truth of the gospel in our actions as well as through our words. This is our calling, and we must live it out so that all will hear the truth and have the opportunity to accept Jesus as Savior and Lord.  

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

John 2:3

Verse of the Day Devotion:  John 2:3   

“And when the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, they have no wine.” – John 2:3

Over the next week we will be looking at seven miraculous signs performed by Jesus as recorded in the Gospel of John.  These signs show that Jesus was not just some ordinary man but was truly the Son of God.  The first sign we will look at is where He changed water into wine at a wedding in Cana.

Jesus and His disciples were invited to a wedding in Cana. “And on the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; and Jesus also was invited, and His disciples, to the wedding.” John 2:1-2.  This wedding is said to take place on the third day, a note that connects this story with those in John 1:19–51. And along with Jesus and His disciples, Jesus’ mother was also invited and present. And as seen in our focus verse, they ran out of wine during the celebration. According to theologian J. D. M. Derrett, “their unexpected presence at the wedding may account for the wine shortage. Since guests were to provide some of the wine, it is also possible that the supply ran out because Jesus did not contribute, either because of his last-minute arrival or because of his poverty.” It is also understood that wedding celebrations could last a week, with the final financial responsibility falling on the groom. To run out of supplies would be a horrible embarrassment in a “shame culture”.

When the wine does run out Jesus’ mother told Him they had run out of wine. Jesus then replies, “Woman, what do I have to do with you? My hour has not yet come.” John 2:4. Jesus was not being insulting by calling her woman, it was a normal way of addressing a mother or wife and had an endearing meaning. In fact, when Jesus was on the cross, He referred to Mary in the same way. “When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, Woman, behold, your son!” John 19:26. Also, the phrase ‘what do I have to do with you?is probably better rendered as the ESV translation puts it, “what does this have to do with us?” And He explains this with the phrase, “My hour has not yet come.” John 2:4b. The reference to His “hour” means that Jesus was constantly working from a divine timetable. So, He was not going to reveal His power sooner than the Father intended. This is clarified in John 5. “I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” John 5:30. Based on this verse, I believe Jesus received an OK from the Father to do what was necessary, for it would be wrong to perform a miracle if the time and place are not according to God’s will.

I also believe His mother understood this as well. She responded in such a way so as not to pressure Jesus. “His mother said to the servants, Whatever He says to you, do it.” John 2:5. Mary does not waver in her conviction that He will help by perform something to bring about a solution. Then Jesus tells the servants, “Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.” John 2:7.  There were six waterpots, made of stone, which could hold twenty or thirty gallons each.  After the pots were filled and brought back to Jesus, He then told them, draw some out now, and take it to the headwaiter. And they took it to him.” John 2:8. “And when the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom, and said to him, Every man serves the good wine first, and when men have drunk freely, then that which is poorer; you have kept the good wine until now.” John 2:9-10. Jesus did act, performing His first miracle. He turned the water into wine, but He did so in a very subtle, subdued way. Only the servants, Mary, and a few disciples even knew what He had done. The miracle was to introduce the disciples to His ability, not to show off or to go public with His power. “This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.” John 2:11.

As we can see, the turning of water into wine was the first sign, or miracle, Jesus performed.  This sign, as seen above, helped His disciples to believe what He said about Himself and who He was; the Son of Man. “Jesus answered and said to him, because I said to you that I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You shall see greater things than these. And He *said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you shall see the heavens opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” John 1:50-51. Jo

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

Exodus 20:12

Verse of the Day Devotion: Exodus 20:12

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you.” – Exodus 20:12

In the last Daily Devotion, we looked at not using the name of the Lord in a way that was vain and not honorable and reverent which He is worthy of.  The first four commandments were on are found on what is known as the first tablet, addressing our relationship.  These next six are found on the second tablet which addresses our relationship with our fellow man.  This goes perfectly with what Jesus said to the Sadducee that asked Him what the greatest commandment was.  “And He said to him, YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF. On these two commandments depend on the whole Law and the Prophets.”  Matthew 22:37-40.  Note the two parts.  “You shall love the Lord your God” goes with the first tablet; commandments 1-4, while “Love you neighbor as yourself” goes with the second tablet; commandments 5-10.

The word “honor” comes from the same Hebrew word from which “glory” does.  We are to show them reverence as Moses said in Leviticus.  “Every one of you shall reverence his mother and his father, and you shall keep My sabbaths; I am the LORD your God.” Leviticus 19:3. This is not to infer that we are to worship them, but that we honor them for who they are, our parents, the ones who gave birth to us and cared for us when we could not care for ourselves.  We should come when they call, go where they send us, and do what they bid us to do.  We are not to do what they tell us not to do, in all things doing them cheerfully and out of love.  We are to respect them and respect their advice, for they desire the best for us. 

Paul wrote this to the Church in Ephesus regarding this verse. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER (which is the first commandment with a promise), SO THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH YOU, AND THAT YOU MAY LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH.” Ephesians 6:1-3.  Paul is emphasizing the promise in this commandment, that being “that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you.” Exodus 20:12b.  We see a clarification of this in Deuteronomy.  “Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, that your days may be prolonged and that it may go well with you on the land which the LORD your God gives you.” Deuteronomy 5:16.  If they honor them, things will go well for them in the land which the Lord has given them.  Long life was considered a blessing in itself.  And the wording “that your days may be prolonged and that it may go well with you on the land which the LORD your God gives you.” denotes the blessing of a long and fruitful life.

It is important that we honor our parents by following their advice and obeying them.  They gave birth to us and they spent many years taking care of us, and preparing us for the life we live now, and will live if we are still at home.  Too many kids today do not listen to their parents, and they find themselves getting in trouble from going astray.  And as adults, we should still listen to our parents for they can be the source of much wisdom.  They can tell us times where they were struggling and help us not to struggle in the same way.  Therefore, listen to what they say and do not ignore them  Learn from their mistakes and their wisdom.  Things will go well if we do.

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

Matthew 10:37

Verse of the Day Devotion: Matthew 10:37 

“He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” – Matthew 10:37     

Who do we love most?  This is a question we need to answer in our own lives.  Let us first look back at verse 34 which reads, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Matthew 10:34.  This is not to be interpreted as He is forcing this division, but that it will be the effect of His coming.  His message is of ultimate importance because it is the message of salvation; that God loves us beyond measure, and that He desires us to give our lives to Him so He can provide His life for us.  That being eternal life with Him.  Without this message, we will not know of His love and grace for us and ultimately not know our sins can be forgiven.

Also, “For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.” Matthew 10:35-36.  Jesus is probably using a verse from Micah to bring His point across.  “for the son treats the father with contempt, the daughter rises up against her mother, the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; a man’s enemies are the men of his own house. But as for me, I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.” Micah 7:6-7.  This was happening in Micah’s time probably because of the corruption that had infiltrated God’s people.  However, Micah was going to look to the Lord instead of man.  Jesus also speaks of this earlier in chapter 10.  “Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Matthew 10:21-22. 

Now, taking this one step further with our focus verse, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”  Matthew 10:37.  I cannot say this any better that Adam Clarke, so I will quote him here.  Note, the last five words of this I altered, using the words in our focus verse.  “He whom we love the most is he whom we study most to please, and whose will and interests we prefer in all cases. If, in order to please a father or mother who are opposed to vital godliness, we abandon God’s ordinances and followers, we are unworthy of Christ.” If we choose to believe or act according to the wishes of any person, but these beliefs or actions are contrary to God and His ways, then we love that person more than God and thus are not worthy of Him.  This is tough, but true.  We must be totally devoted to Him, regardless of how anyone or any group may think about us. 

Let me be open with you all. I unfortunately, in my past, have done things that people wanted me to do which I knew was wrong.  But because I wanted/needed friends, I participated in it.  I was a very shy person growing up with no self-confidence.  When I arrived at Homestead AFB for duty, the first two guys I met introduced me to drugs.  I  knew it was wrong, but I did it anyway because I had no other friends and I was desperate to find one.  After a couple years, God showed me the reality of who He is and I stopped instantly, giving my life completely to Him.  For months, it was just me and God.  After a time, God led me to so many Christian friends I was overwhelmed.  I guess I needed to develop a relationship with Him that was strong and powerful, and to see that He was more important than anyone else.

I tell this story because, at that time, I wanted friends more than God.  I went through a lot during this time, but He was there with me all the time, and I finally learned that loving God and fellowshipping with Him was more important than anyone or anything else.  I pray that we all will examine ourselves and pray fervently that our love for God will take precedence in our lives and that everyone else is secondary, thus being worthy of Christ, our Lord, King and greatest friend.

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