Psalm 34:18

Verse of the Day: Psalm 34:18

“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” – 34:18

This is an encouraging verse.  The Lord will always be by our side when we are heartbroken.  We all experience these times.  And they are difficult times.

The idea of broken hearted is pressed and weighed down with afflictions, by intense sorrow.  So, during these times, we can trust that we are never alone.  The language is figurative.  As an omnipresent being, God is always equally near to all persons.  In fact, He is everywhere at the same time.  So, the idea is He is always with us.  Jeremiah put it like this, “Am I a God who is near,” declares the LORD, “And not a God far off?  Can a man hide himself in hiding places, so I do not see him?” declares the LORD. “Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?” declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 23:23-24.

We serve a God who is always near and attentive to us.  He knows everything we do, think, and what we are going through.  And He loves us with a love that is so great it is incomprehensible.  Take comfort in this, for we can always cry out to Him and He is there to comfort us and help us through.  And trust Him that he is faithful to us.

Two more verses that is a comfort to me.  “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1 and “The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.” Psalm 46:11

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

James 5:8

Verse of the Day Devotion: James 5:8  

“You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.” – James 5:8.

James in this passage is exhorting Christians to be patient for the coming of the Lord is near.  He starts off by using the example of a farmer “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains.”  James 5:7. The farmer who prepares a field sows some seed and then waits for the crop to grow.  He can do little to affect the speed at which the plants will grow, but what he can do is be patient and pray, waiting for the rain to come at the right time.  This was especially important in Palestine for the farmer was dependent on the rain that came in late autumn and early spring.  As is said in Deuteronomy. “It shall come about, if you listen obediently to my commandments which I am commanding you today, to love the LORD your God and to serve Him with all your heart and all your soul, that He will give the rain for your land in its season, the early and late rain, that you may gather in your grain and your new wine and your oil. He will give grass in your fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied.” Deuteronomy 11:13-15. 

Now, James is saying that as the farmer trusts in the Lord to give the rain at the right times to produce a good harvest, so should we trust God and patiently wait for the Lord to return as promised.  We are to stand strong and not give up hope no matter how difficult life gets.  Douglas J. Moo in his commentary puts it this way.  “What is commanded, then, is firm adherence to the faith in the midst of temptations and trials.  As they wait patiently for the Lord to return, believers need to fortify themselves for the struggle against sin and with difficult circumstances.”

Many struggles with the idea of His return as being near or soon.  See the wording in our focus verse.  “You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.”  James 5:8.  The word ‘near’ is a relative term.  A couple of examples is “evening is near therefore we shall soon go to sleep.  Or, my birthday is near, it is only a month away.  What we must understand is that ‘near’ is within the context of salvation history, which refers to the period from the death and resurrection of Christ to our own day.  Do we know the exact time, no we do not.  “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.”  Matthew 24:36.  But what we do know is that He will return.  In the book of Acts we read what the angels spoke regarding His return.  “They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”  Acts 1:11.

In closing, we do not know when Christ will return.  According to Jesus, even He does not know when it will occur, only the Father knows.  But what we do know is He will return.  We as Christians need to wait patiently for Him, and in the meantime do the work God has called us to do.   We should continue to give our whole life to His service, showing the love of Christ through the lives we live to everyone He brings our way: which includes spreading the truth of the gospel to all who do not know, and encouraging and supporting our brothers and sisters in Christ. 

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

Isaiah 55:6

Verse of the Day Devotion: Isaiah 55:6

“Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near.” – Isaiah 55:6  

As I look at all that is going on today, it makes me think that our time here on earth is drawing to a close.  What with some leaders not desiring to open churches again for meetings, yet many others such as stores, and other businesses are encouraged to get back to normal.  In fact, I was reading where one governor says we should wait a year to open churches.  There are many who take a terribly negative view of Christianity while accepting the ideas of most other religions. 

Because of this, we should work even harder to spread the word of His coming.  “And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”  Mark 16:15.  This is our calling, and we must take advantage of all opportunities we have to tell others of what Christ did for us.  For there will come a time when He will not be found.  And not only tell them but show them through our lives of obedience.  Many people are told the truth, but when they see the life of the one who told them, that it does not line up with their words, they struggle to accept it. 

According to our focus verse, we are called to go out and tell the world to reach out to Him while He may be found.  There is an old skit by the Christian comedy group Isaac Air Freight about someone who desired to continue living a worldly life until the last minute, then he would accept Christ.  Unfortunately for him, his time came sooner than expected. However, there are many who have chosen to do the same.  And we must reach out and tell them they must seek Him now, not waiting until a later time.

The next verse tells us what He desires us to do when seeking Him.  “Let the wicked forsake his way And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.”  Isaiah 55:7.  We are called to forsake all wickedness and unrighteousness.  Whether in our deeds or our thoughts and desires, we must give them up.  Now, we may at times fall into some of these again, and we will need to repent and ask forgiveness. But it should never become a lifestyle where we go back to our old and wicked ways.  And when we forsake our old sinful ways and seek Him, He will have compassion on us and pardon us, through the shed blood of Christ. 

In closing, I believe there are two groups of people Isaiah is speaking about.  The first are those who do not believe and therefore are not saved, and the second are those who think they are saved but continue living as the world.  I want to encourage us to reach out to both when we, as Jesus said, go out into all the world.  There are some churches that do not teach the whole truth, and those under them may need to understand that there is more than what they are being taught.  This moves from evangelism to discipleship, and both are needed in this climate we live in today.  All must seek the Lord while He may be found, all must call on Him while He is near.  This should be a part of our truly devoted lifestyle we live with our loving and gracious God.

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

1 Peter 4:7

Verse of the Day Devotion: 1 Peter 4:7 

“The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer.” – 1 Peter 4:7  

Peter is exhorting those he is writing to that they should realize the end of all things is near, that this world and its sinful ways will soon end.  Jesus spoke many times regarding this world as they know it coming to an end, that their suffering will be coming to an end.  The church during this time was under a two-fold attack.  First there was Rome.  If you did not worship Caesar as God, then you would be subject to punishment up to and including death.  Rome hated the early church and wanted it done away with.  A classic example of this is the death of the Apostle John’s disciple Polycarp.  He was arrested for his Christian faith, and because of this taken into the arena.  When they required him to denounce and reproach Christ, he said, “86 years have I served him, and he has done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme my King and my Savior?”  He refused to denounce Him, so they burned him alive.

The Jews also persecuted the Christians.  They would bring them in to be tried and if they did not renounce Christ, they would find themselves punished.  And as we see from several instances that happened to Paul, they worked with the Roman government, just as they did regarding the crucifixion of Christ.

This was the level of persecution the Christians endured during this time.  And it grew greater as time went by.  What Peter was telling the church was that these days would not last forever, that soon, this would end.  And he encouraged them to remain strong throughout all this.  He told them to remain sober, meaning serious and thoughtful.  Also to remain calm and collected.  Yes, these times will be difficult, but do not let it take away your serious expectations of what is coming.  Instead of losing control over what they are seeing, they were encouraged them to spend time in prayer, going before God and lifting up their concerns to Him.  They should abstain from anything of a sinful nature, so as to be ready for the time when all this is over. 

And this should be our answer to this as well.  Things today are getting very difficult.  We need to be encouraged as well that the end is coming soon, and we must remain calm, cool and collected.  We must not lose control of ourselves, but carefully remain in prayer with the one who will take care of us.  We are seeing the church ridiculed and looked at in negative terms, being called racist, sexist and the remover of people’s rights.  Just remain calm and do not give in to their desires, for God’s plan for us is right on time.  He is with you and in you.  No matter what they do, stand firm.  Your reward is coming soon, in fact, it is on the way. 

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