Philippians 4:13

Verse of the Day: Philippians 4:13

“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13

Of all people here on earth, we Christians have the most excellent reason to rejoice.  Paul, in this letter to the Philippians lays out what that reason is. “But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked an opportunity to act.” Philippians 4:10. Paul understood that all good comes from God. This could either be immediately from God’s providence or from his grace and therefore, the apostle gives thanks to God for the kindness directed to him, for it was God that gave them the power and desire that directed their hearts to him. There is nothing quite so cheerful and optimistic to the weary soul as an unexpected visit from an old friend. No wonder as Paul turns to express gratitude for their gift, he starts by telling them that he did then what he has been urging them to do throughout: “I rejoiced” greatly in the Lord. The reason for his great joy is expressed with a botanical metaphor, meaning to “blossom again”, like perennials or the spring shoots of deciduous trees and bushes. After a period of dormancy in the matter of giving and receiving, the Philippians were able to renew this part of their friendship with Paul.

Now in verse 11 we see that Paul, who was very well educated, had learned something very important to help him in the life he was currently living. He was very content. “Not that I speak from need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” Philippians 4:11. This was probably something that took time for him to grasp. If he was ever in the Mamertine, that being a Roman prison for those condemned to die, he would confess that it would take a deal of grace to make us content to be there. And if he was shut up in the prison of the Palatine hill, in the barracks near the morass, it was, to say the least, that it was not a desirable place to be in. A soldier chained to your hand day and night, however good a fellow he may be, does not always make the most delightful company for you, nor you for him, and it takes some time to learn to be content with such a companion. But, says Paul, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” Philippians 4:10b.

Contentment in all states is not natural to us. As weeds grow in soil; covetousness, discontentment, and murmuring are things that can  grow in us. And as there is no need to sow thistles and weeds because  they come up naturally, we have no need to teach others to complain or be discontent for these also come up naturally. But the precious things of the earth must be cultivated. If we want wheat, we must plough the ground and sow the wheat seeds. if we want flowers, there must be the garden, and all the gardener’s care. Contentment is one of the flowers of heaven, and if we would have it, it must be cultivated. It will not grow in us naturally; it is the new nature alone that can produce it, and even then we must be especially careful and watchful that we maintain and cultivate the grace that God has sown in it. Paul says, “I have learned to be content,” which says he was not content before he learned to be.

Now Paul adds to this thought. “I know how to get along with little, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.” Philippians 4:12. Paul here says he has learned how to live with very little, as he does now, and to live with an abundance of things, as he did prior to his conversion. A Christian, who had been rich, when he was asked how he could bear his reduced state so happily, put his answer to this question so beautifully, and it has been called the ‘secret to contentment.’ “When I was rich, I had God in everything, and now I am poor I have everything in God.” We must always remember that no matter our situation, God is always with us. He will bring us through any difficulty. We must honor Him in every situation. Here is an interesting quote from Charles Spurgeon regarding this issue. “How many Christians have I seen grandly glorifying God in sickness and poverty when they have come down in the world, and how often have I seen other Christians dishonoring God when they have grown rich, or when they have risen to a position of influence among their fellow men! These two lessons grace alone can fully teach us.

Now we come to our focus verse. “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13. There is no boasting in this statement. Paul only spoke truth here. The former part of the sentence would be a piece of impudent daring without the latter part to interpret it. This passage is not about having financial abundance. Some teach a prosperity gospel that says God will bless us financially if we are faithful. In contrast, Paul taught that the believer would endure suffering but can be content in any circumstance, given Christ’s strength. Just as He faithfully endured the suffering forced upon Him on the cross, His followers can faithfully endure the problems they face. Christ can give contentment during times of plenty and of poverty. He can help us do all things through His strength. In Paul’s case, it was the strength to spread the gospel even though  he was experiencing intense suffering. In our lives, this same strength is available during our times of trials. Whether we serve in another country or help someone in our own community, Christ’s power can enable us to stand firm on His promises and endure the most difficult of life’s challenges.

I want to encourage us all to stand firm in the Lord no matter our situation. Note the wording in our focus verse. “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.“ Philippians 4:13. Not just some things, but all things. If God calls us to do a work, He will not leave us alone, but will work through us to make it happen. We must trust Him completely in all we do. He will never let us down. This pertains to all who love and follow Him. So, do all you can and let the Lord help you through the rest.

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

Acts 16:25

Verse of the Day Devotion: Acts 16:25

“But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them;” – Acts 16:25

Paul and Silas are thrown into a Roman jail.  The reason was they delivered a slave girl from a demon. “It happened that as we were going to the place of prayer, a slave-girl having a spirit of divination met us, who was bringing her masters much profit by fortune-telling. Following after Paul and us, she kept crying out, saying, these men are bondservants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation. She continued doing this for many days. But Paul was greatly annoyed, and turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!” And it came out at that very moment.” Acts 16:16-18. This young girl had a spirit of divination, and her masters were using her in order to gain a profit from what she said.  It was believed among the heathens of that time that people like this young slave girl is speaking the truth by the inspiration of their god.  And these masters took advantage of it.

However, when she was delivered from this spirit, they saw that their opportunity for profits through their slave had ended, and this angered them to the point that they grabbed both Paul and Silas and took them to the chief magistrates of that place.  They lied about what they had done, to some degree, “and when they had brought them to the chief magistrates, they said, ‘These men are throwing our city into confusion, being Jews, and are proclaiming customs which it is not lawful for us to accept or to observe, being Romans.” Acts 16:20-21.  Paul and Silas were proclaiming customs which was not lawful to observe as Romans.  Rome considered the Caesars were gods and proclaiming anything or anyone as above Caesar would be considered extreme blaspheme.  When they declared this, they were grabbed, and the chief magistrates ordered them to be beaten with rods.  After they were finished beating them, they were thrown into the inner prison and their feet were put in stocks.  Now, when prisoners were put in stocks, they would spread their legs as far as possible, then they would spread them further, pulling the muscles before putting the stocks on them.

Many would sit in the jail wondering why God would have done this.  However, from our focus verse, we see that they were praying and singing hymns of praise to God.  They did not stop giving praise and worship to God, even though they had been severely beaten and the muscles in their legs stretched to cause them additional pain.  And look what God was able to do through them. “and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s chains were unfastened. When the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped.” Acts 16:26-27.  During that time period, if any prisoner were to escape, the jailer in charge of him would be required to take his place.

So, what happened?  “And he (the jailer) called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, and after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Acts 16:29-30.  And they replied, “They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Acts 16:31. What we see here is that because they continued to honor God, giving Him worship and praise, and praying, a man and his family received salvation.

God can use us in many ways for His service.  However, there are times when He will use what we do even though we are unaware that we are making a difference.  The jailer and his family were saved because Paul and Silas were glorifying the Lord.  What is important to see here is that we always need to be God focused, for we never know when someone will be touched by what they see us doing.  Let the world see that no matter how tough things get, we will give God the glory because we know that He uses us even when we do not realize it.  “But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;” 1 Peter 3:14-15.

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

Romans 12:1

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Romans 12:1

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” – Romans 12:1

First, I want to look at the beginning of our focus verse where he calls all his listening brothers and sisters. Throughout the letter’s earlier chapters, he has been conscious of the tensions between Jews and Gentiles in the Roman church, and in chapters 9–11 he was describing the roles of Israel and of the nations in the unfolding, historical plan of God. He will revert to them again for the last time in chapters 14–15. But now, as he develops his appeal, the distinction between the olive tree’s natural and grafted branches (Israel and Non-Israel) fades into the background. Now all believers, irrespective of their ethnic origin, are brothers and sisters in the one international family of God, and so all have precisely the same vocation to be the holy, committed, humble, loving, and conscientious people of God.

The word sacrifice used here commonly denotes the action of bringing and presenting an animal or other sacrifice before an altar. It implies that the action was a free and voluntary offering. Religion is free; and the act of devoting ourselves to God is one of the freest things we ever perform. To present our bodies to God is a metaphor taken from bringing sacrifices to the altar of God. The person offering picked out the choicest of his flock, brought it to the altar, and presented it there as an atonement for his sin. The readers here are exhorted to give themselves up in the spirit of sacrifice; to be as wholly the Lord’s property as the whole burnt offering was, no part being devoted to any other use. Nothing can be more consistent with reason than that the work of God should glorify God. We are not our own, we are the property of the Lord, by the right of creation and redemption; and it would be as unreasonable as it would be wicked not to live to his glory, in strict obedience to his will, which is our spiritual service of worship.

One major way we can do this is found in verse 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. The word ‘conformed’ used here properly denotes an age, or generation of people. It may denote a particular generation, or it may be applied to the race. It is sometimes used in each of these senses. Thus, here it may mean that Christians should not conform to the ideas, habits, feelings, etc., of a wicked, luxurious, and idolatrous age, but should be conformed solely to the precepts and laws of the gospel; or the same principle may be extended to every age, and the direction may be, that Christians should not conform to the prevailing habits, style, and manners of the world, the people who do not know God. They are to be governed by the laws of God as found in the Bible; to fashion their lives after the example of Christ; and to conform themselves by principles different from those which prevail in the world.

Many may think they are not conformed to the world, while they can easily perceive that their neighbor is. They indulge in many things which others may think to be conformity to the world and are opposed to many things which others think innocent. The design of this passage is no doubt to produce a spirit that should not find pleasure in the things and vanities of this world, but in obedience and devotion to God, as well as fellowship with Him and His people.; things God calls us all to do. We must be transformed from our old self to a new creation by focusing on Him and changing the way we think to His ways and not the world’s ways.

These are very important verses that we must read, understand, and obey. We, as Christians, are God’s people and we must act accordingly. We must not simply give some, or even most of ourselves, to God. We must give our all to Him, present who we are to Him in humility and joy. He created us, died for us, and rose again offering to us a wonderful life in Him. Let us then be thankful to Him for all He has done in giving everything we are to Him as He gave everything for us. We must focus our minds on Him totally, not the world. And when we do this, as Romans 12:2 says, we may prove what the will of God is; that which is good, acceptable to God, and perfect.

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

Titus 2:1 (a)

Verse of the Day Devotion: Titus 2:1 

“But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine.” – Titus 2:1 

Paul here in verse one tells Titus to speak the things which become sound doctrine. The idea laid out here, in chapter one, is seen by many as ‘Household Codes’, which comes from the German ‘Haustafeln’, a word used by scholars to designate certain biblical texts that outline the duties and responsibilities associated with the proper or ideal management of private affairs. Paul here in Chapter two is laying out the duties that he knew were necessary for Christian growth and maturity. He tells Titus he must teach a sacred doctrine; he must proclaim the truth and illustrate that truth. The people must not only be well instructed, but they must be holy in their lives. Principle and practice must go hand in hand.

And what are these necessary teachings? For older men, “Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance.” Titus 2:2. They must live lives of observable respectability. The implication is of a dignified lifestyle that is free from overindulgence and foolish behavior in general. As Paul’s use of common terms suggests, this lifestyle should be readily recognizable. Christianity does have a mystical element to it, but its manifestation should show the reality of our Christian life. They should display this faith in purity and love and should be followed no matter what it may bring upon them.

For older women, “Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored. Titus 2:3-5. They were to, like the older men, live with respectable behavior which amounts to reverence. This means avoiding ‘slanderous talk and drunkenness’ while teaching what is good. This was to illustrate to the young women what a responsible and acceptable life was all about. In this they were to encourage them to love their husbands and children while doing all that was necessary in their homes. In this they would show they respected their husbands through submission to them, as well as showing their love to God and His people. And it is important to understand that Paul’s concept of ‘submission’ contained notions of mutuality of respect and love and thus clearly transcended the secular notion.

Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech, which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.” Titus 2:6-8. He instructs the young men to be sensible and Godly in their actions and words. They were to be an example to good works, showing a visible expression of their genuine faith. In his conduct Titus is thus to be the antithesis of the false teachers, who were described in the previous chapter. “They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.” Titus 1:16.

Paul was encouraging Titus to speak in the way our focus verse declares. “But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine.” Titus 2:1. And he was also encouraging him to teach these truths to all he came across.  And I believe these words also apply to all of us today. If we truly love God with all our hearts and desire to serve Him in all our ways then these are what we are called to do, both in what we teach and the way we live. We cannot convince anyone these are truths if we ourselves do not believe and do them. Therefore, let us be the light in this world, sharing the truth, teaching the truth, and living the truth. These things are necessary to help unbelievers become believers and join us in our work for Jesus.

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

Romans 8:38-39

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Romans 8:38-39

“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

These verses speak of the love that God has for His people, a love that is everlasting. Chapter eight of Romans is glorious, in that it lays out what the love of God is all about. It starts by declaring that there is no longer condemnation for those who have accepted the grace provided through the death of Jesus Christ. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” Romans 8:1-2. All mankind throughout history, because of sin, were separated from God. And we could not correct this on our own, for it would take a perfect sacrifice. This was not possible for us to do because one sin, no matter how small, makes any sacrifice we give, imperfect. Thus the need for a perfect man to become the sacrifice was necessary, which was accomplished through Jesus Christ the Son of God, the only man who was sinless throughout His life. “For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:3-4.

Also, He cares for His people in this life and throughout all eternity. “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” Romans 8:28-30. God is at work in us and for us. He directs our affairs in such a way that, for those who love him, the outcome is always beneficial. The ‘good’ of which Paul spoke of is not necessarily what we deem as good or best. The good is conformity to the likeness of Christ. With this in mind it is easier to see how our difficulties are part of God’s total plan for changing us from what we are by nature to what he intends us to be. Moral advance utilizes hardship more often than not.

Based on this we can see that God is on our side in all situations, and He presents this via a rhetorical question. “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” Romans 8:31-32. Notice what Paul said here, if He gave His only Son to be sacrificed for us, why would He hold back anything from us? And because of this, our sins have been addressed, for we are forgiven/justified. There is no charge that can be brought against us, for all our sins have been addressed. “who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.” Romans 8:34.

And because of this, Paul asks another rhetorical question. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” Romans 8:35. No one can actually condemn us for Jesus intercedes for us. But we may suffer on account of this. In the next verse he quotes the psalms. “But for Thy sake we are killed all day long; We are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” Psalm 44:22. However, through all the suffering and death, God is always with us. And because of this, we actually conquer those who cause us to suffer. “But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.” Romans 8:37.

Now after all this, Paul answers the questions he asked above; If God is for us who can be against us, and who can separate us from the love of Christ? “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39. God will never let anything happen to us that is not intended for our good no matter our perspective, and there is nothing in all creation, in the past or present and anything that is to come, that will cause God not to love us, His children. Paul was a man of unshakeable confidence in the love of God. He feared neither the tangible hardships of life nor the intangible fears that creep into the consciousness of any normal person. It is important that we attain this same faith so that we never question His love for us. And by this firm faith in His love for us, we can be at peace no matter what.

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

Philippians 2:4

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Philippians 2:4

“Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” – Philippians 2:4

We start in verses one and two with the following. “If therefore there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.” Philippians 2:1-2. Paul did not mean to doubt that there is any encouragement in Christ, that there was any love, or any fellowship of the Spirit as well as any affection and compassion. He knew the hearts of the Philippian people; therefore he writes it by way of an argument. This should be looked at like this. Since there is consolation in Christ, since there is comfort of love, since there is fellowship of the Spirit, be one in Christ. Do not be divided; love one another. How urgently he pleads! How he multiplies expressions! Love among Christians is so precious that he begs for it as if for his life. The ‘if’ has the idea of ‘since’. And because they have this heart, they should strive to be like-minded. This speaks to the intellect, their way of thinking, but it goes beyond that. It incorporates the will and emotions into a comprehensive outlook which affects their attitude. With this word and the contexts in which it occurs, Paul spoke of the values and ambitions which surface through the mind. This is unity. It is not found in an identical lifestyle or personality. It occurs when Christian people have the same values and loves. Paul sought this in the Church in Philippi.

Then we read, which includes our focus verse. “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4. Paul calls for the Church, in Philippi and ultimately today in ours, not to do things for our own glorification but for the benefit of others. Charles Spurgeon puts it this way. “Nothing is to be done through strife. But how much of religious service is from top to bottom carried out in strife? Sometimes one sect will seek to increase itself merely for the sake of becoming larger and more influential than another. Do Sunday school teachers never try to get good classes and to obtain conversions that they may be more honored than others? Does that never enter the classroom? Do street preachers never wish to preach better than others, and in order that they may win more applause? I know this from experience, that the spirit of strife may easily enough come into the pulpit, and that the minister may be seeking to outrun his neighbor when he thinks he is filled with zeal for God.” This is sad, but often so true. There have been several Churches where I did not see what Charles saw, but there were many I did. 

We must be careful that the way we live our lives does not look like how the world lives theirs. The world believes that a successful life is one where we have all we could ever ask for; if we want something we can get it or if we want to go somewhere we can afford it. True success is found in acceptance of the salvation Christ gave us and living life in a similar way as Jesus. He must be our guide. “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 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. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:5-8. When it comes to our brothers and sisters in Christ, and also the unsaved, we must be ready to ‘give it all’, as Christ did, in order to fulfill our calling. As seen above, Jesus emptied Himself to become a man, humble and obedient to the Father to provide salvation in order that we may be with God forever.

The question I want to ask is, are we willing to give it all for the benefit of others, saved or unsaved? This can be difficult to answer because we may not be willing to admit it. But we must be honest in order to see if we are living as we ought. Remember the words of Jesus regarding His second coming. “Then they themselves also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me. And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Matthew 25:44-46.

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

2 Thessalonians 1:8

Verse of the Day Devotion.  2 Thessalonians 1:8 

“Dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.” – 2 Thessalonians 1:8

In this section of Paul’s second letter to the Church in Thessalonica, he speaks of two groups of people who will receive the judgement of God. But before this, let us look at the type of judgement to be meted out upon Christ’s second coming. “This is a plain indication of God’s righteous judgment so that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering. For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire,” 2 Thessalonians 1:5-7. The judgement of God will be a righteous judgement. Charles Spurgeon declares that “the clearest proof of the judgment to come is to be found in the present sufferings of the saints through persecutions and tribulations. For if they, for the very reason that they love God, have to suffer here, there must be a future state and time for rectifying all this that is now so wrong.” This was definitely true for Paul’s time when the Romans and Jews persecuted the true believers, but it will be just as true for our time as Christians will suffer due to antichristian leaderships around the world. What Paul is laying out is that if we will remain faithful during these persecutions, then those who are the source of these persecutions will pay an enormous penalty for their actions. However, when we get to our focus verse, we see the two groups that will experience the retribution of God; those who do not know God, along with those who do not obey the gospel.

The first group mentioned are those who do not know God. These are those who choose not to accept the fact there is a God, and thus do not know Him. They do not believe that the true God exists and thus will not take the time to know Him. These people either do not believe there is any gods out there at all, or they believe in another so called ‘god’ whom they worship and serve. This may be idols, or it may be themselves. They do not acknowledge the true God but worship another which fits their desires, or they reject the idea of any god.

Then there is the second group, “and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.” 2 Thessalonians 1:8b. Now, this includes the first group which are the unbelievers. However, because of the word ‘and’, this also includes those who believe in the true God but refuse to obey the gospel. In other words, they claim to be true Christians, but continue to live their lives as before their claimed salvation experience. They say they have accepted Christ, but there is no evidence in that they continue to live as before. One way this is exhibited is in ‘antinomianism’ which comes from two Greek words, ‘anti’ and ‘nomianism’ meaning ‘against the law’. Theologically, antinomianism is the belief that there are no moral laws God expects Christians to obey. Antinomianism takes a biblical teaching to an unbiblical conclusion. The biblical teaching is that Christians are not required to observe the Old Testament Law as a means of salvation. When Jesus Christ died on the cross, He fulfilled the Old Testament Law. The unbiblical conclusion is that there is no moral law God expects Christians to follow. In other words, they can continue to sin, for all their sins have been forgiven; past, present, and future. Paul addressed this in the sixth chapter of Romans. “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” Romans 6:1-2.

And this idea is contrary to everything the Bible teaches. God expects Christians to live a life of morality, integrity, and love. Christ set us free from the burdensome Old Testament law, but that is not a license to sin. Rather, we have a covenant of grace with God. We are to do all we can to overcome sin and live  righteously, depending on the Holy Spirit to help us. The fact that we are graciously freed from the demands of the Old Testament Law should result in us living our lives in obedience to the law of Christ. If we do not do this, then we are like the first group; not really knowing God. John lays this our perfectly. “My little children, I am writing these things to you that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know Him if we keep His commandments. The one who says, I have come to know Him, and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” 1 John 2:1-6.

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

1 Thessalonians 5:4

Verse of the Day Devotion.  1 Thessalonians 5:4.

“But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day should overtake you like a thief.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:4     

Paul continues his discourse regarding the end when Christ returns. “Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:1. His first point is that they really need no instruction about the time. He had spoken of this when he was with them and he evidently counted on their having learned well what he was teaching, for he had no need to write on the topic. They should have everything they need to understand and be ready. They know it will happen, but not when it will happen. “For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night.” 1 Thessalonians 5:2. In essence, He will come when He said He would, and which he, Paul, had taught them. And like a thief coming to steal your property, He will come when they least expect Him. “But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into.” Matthew 24:43. He has not told us exactly when He will come back, but we know He is coming back.

Therefore, “While they are saying, peace and safety! then destruction will come upon them suddenly like birth pangs upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.” 1 Thessalonians 5:3. While the wicked and unbelievers declare there is peace and safety abounding; that all things are going well, suddenly unforeseen destruction will happen. This is reminiscent of Noah and the flood, and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. “And just as it happened in the days of Noah, so it shall be also in the days of the Son of Man: they were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. It was the same as happened in the days of Lot: they were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling, they were planting, they were building; but on the day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be just the same on the day that the Son of Man is revealed.” Luke 17:26. And this day and time will come suddenly, like a woman with birth pangs. We know it is coming, but we do not know when.

But we have the information we need for it was given to us. As our focus verse states, “But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day should overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness;” 1 Thessalonians 5:4-5. Those who do not believe do not see the truth of this occurrence and thus will not look for it, for they walk in darkness. But we who truly believe are not in darkness, but we are in the light. We are sons of light and the day. Theologian John Gill puts it this way, “We are the children of the day; of the Gospel day, in distinction from the night of Jewish darkness; and of the day of grace which was come upon their souls, in opposition to the night of ignorance and infidelity, which was past; and of the everlasting day of glory, being heirs of, and having a right unto, and a meetness for the inheritance of the saints in light:” We as true Christians will be the ones who will benefit when this day arrives. Those in darkness will not.

Then he tells us not to sleep. “So then let us not sleep as others do but let us be alert and sober. For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night. But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation.” 1 Thessalonians 5:6-8. We are all called to stay awake while keeping our spiritual senses intact. We must always be alert because we know this time is coming. We do not know when, but we know it will. We must continue to live our lives in a way that is pleasing to God, and one that unbelievers can see and possibly turn to God. We must keep focused. “For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him. Therefore encourage one another, and build up one another, just as you also are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11. God has called us to, in these difficult times, encourage our brothers and sisters, helping them to stay true and positive. Many need this, and we are the ones who can provide it. Let us shine our light so that unbelievers see it and can be saved, while believers can be encouraged knowing tough times will soon end.

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

1 Thessalonians 4:15

Verse of the Day Devotion.  1 Thessalonians 4:15.

“For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep.” 1 Thessalonians 4:15     

This section in the Book of Thessalonians speaks about the return of Christ for His people. The Thessalonians probably did not know or understand about the end times. “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13. Paul speaks of the departed Christians, those who have died. as having fallen asleep. This has the idea that it eventually will result in a future awakening of those who have died. Jews and even pagans sometimes spoke of death as ‘sleep’, but this is particularly apt for Christians, since for them the whole concept of death has been transformed into the idea of sleep. Therefore, since they are simply asleep, there is no reason to grieve as if a non-Christian dies. The contrast is not between one degree of sorrow and another, but between Christian hope and pagan despair.

Then Paul clarifies this hope. “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 4:14. Believers have a hope when Christians die; they will awaken. They will come back with Christ as He returns for the final time. And we see this in our focus verse. “For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep.” 1 Thessalonians 4:15. This may have been a revelation received from God. But however he received this word, what He is saying is that those who are alive at His return will not meet Jesus first in the air. The living will have no advantage over those fallen asleep; they will not meet the returning Christ ahead of the dead, nor will they have any precedence in the blessedness at His coming.

Then we read how Jesus will return. “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17. This is the fullest description of His return in the New Testament, and when we reflect on the little that is said here we are warned against undue dogmatism about what will then happen. Paul’s main point is that it is none other than the Lord himself who will come. The dead in Christ shall rise first, then His followers will join them in the air with those who woke up. And the last part of this verse is the most wonderful. ‘and thus we shall always be with the Lord.’ The end of the age is not to be ushered in by some intermediary, but by God himself. “For behold, the LORD is coming forth from His place. He will come down and tread on the high places of the earth.” Micah 1:3. This will no doubt be awe-inspiring.

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

1 Thessalonians 2:7

Verse of the Day Devotion.  1 Thessalonians 2:7

“But we proved to be gentle among you. As a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children,” 1 Thessalonians 2:7     

Paul, in these scriptures, was defending his own ministry as well as his character before the people of Thessalonica. It was not because Paul was insecure regarding his ministry to them, but because of all the enemies he had in Thessalonica who spoke evil of him in his absence. This was especially because of his quick departure from Thessalonica. Paul when arriving there, went out and declared Christ to the Jews. “Now when they had traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. And according to Paul’s custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.” Acts 17:1-3. Some of them believed and joined Paul. But many became jealous and sought Paul to arrest Him. However, he was warned and helped to escape. “And the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea; and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews.” Acts 17:10.

After a time, He returned to Thessalonica and Paul he needed to show his integrity and that he could be trusted. “For you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain.” 1 Thessalonians 2:1. When he had first come there many heard the truth and believed. Paul strongly repudiates any thought that he had wasted his time in aimless pursuits. He had come with a definite purpose and had been successful. They had suffered much in Philippi, but in boldness they were going to speak the gospel as well. And they were doing it in a way that pleases God. “For our exhortation does not come from error or impurity or by way of deceit; but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men but God, who examines our hearts. For we never came with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed, God is witness, nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, even though as apostles of Christ we might have asserted our authority.” 1 Thessalonians 2:3-6.

There were three things Paul was no-doubt accused of which he needed to address. First, that he was preaching things of God that were not true. “For our exhortation does not come from error or impurity or by way of deceit.” They were declaring that Paul was seducing the people by telling them lies in such a way that would appeal to their sinful human nature. However, they were not trying to deceive the people, but to help them understand the truth that God loves them and has provided a way of salvation. God has approved them to preach the gospel, but not in a way that pleases men necessarily but pleases God. He was not trying to lead people into error, but to the truth of the gospel. Nor did they approach them with words that made them feel good about themselves through flattery. Also, they did not come to make themselves look good in the eyes of people. They did not seek approval from anyone but God. They had not preached for worldly gain or popular applause; and he reiterated they preached for God’s approval and the testimony of a good conscience.

The point is this. While Paul served men, he did not live to serve them. His service was primarily to God, and he delighted to refer to himself as ‘the slave of God. In every age this needs emphasis, for the Christian preacher is always tempted to accommodate his message to the desires of his hearers. Preachers and teachers today must be careful not to water down the truth in order to give people what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear. And those who are not preachers or teachers but are those who witness to people regarding the truth of the gospel must do the same, in love for both God and men. This is our calling. One of my absolute favorite verses lays out God’s great commission to us. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20. And as seen above, this is to be done in love for God, and for the people we reach out to. And with all honesty, integrity, and humility. When we do this we may come under attack by those who hate our message, but who knows the affect we may have on them as well as those we are ministering to. 

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