Romans 1:16

Verse of the Day Devotion: Romans 1:16

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” – Romans 1:16  

Paul is a man who gave up everything for Christ.  And in his day, he was probably one of the least expected to do so.  He was a zealous Jew, who knew all the law and the components that came with it in regard to strict adherence to it.  Before he committed himself to the work of Christ, his name was Saul from the city of Tarsus.  Paul was a disciple of Gamaliel, a Jewish rabbi in the first century and a leader in the Jewish Sanhedrin, of which Paul would eventually become a member.  Gamaliel was well respected, being a grandson of the famous Rabbi Hillel who wrote a commentary on the Torah; the first five books of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament.  This relationship with Gamaliel no doubt provided Saul much solid teaching of Jewish law and beliefs.  We see Him first at the stoning of Stephen for his supposed heretical belief in Jesus as the promised Messiah, where he held the robes of those throwing the stones and thereby approving of Stephen’s execution.  He was on his way to arrest many more Christians in order to rid the world of this cult when Christ made Himself visible to Saul who then realized all he had done was wrong and offered himself totally to the work of Christ.

Because of this Saul, who I will now refer to as Paul, was cast aside by the Jews as an apostate.  And by the wise of the Gentiles, “when we are slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, even until now.” 1 Corinthians 4:13.  However, even though he was considered worthless to the Gentile leadership and the Jewish nation, where before he was regarded with much applause by both, he was not ashamed.  “According to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.” Philippians 1:20. Hope in this context refers to that which is expected with assurance and conviction.  It is not something wished for.  What Paul is saying is that no matter what befalls him, he will, with boldness and a steadfast strength, not in any way deny the truth of the gospel or water it down, even before emperors or kings, Jewish or Gentile leadership.  He will never compromise even in the least.  Christ will be magnified and declared the only way of salvation.  What drives him forward in this boldness?  The fact that the gospel is the power of God for the salvation to everyone who believes, both to the Jews and the Gentiles.

This should be what drives us as well.  The truth of the gospel is the most important message ever given to mankind.  It shows the only way of salvation.  It is absolute truth, and we should not be ashamed of this message but should be ready and anxious to declare it to a lost world.  Just as Paul lived a life totally contrary to this truth prior to his conversion, we also lived a life contrary to the truth prior to our conversion.  And the life we live now is infinitely greater than before.  We should never be ashamed of the gospel.  The word “ashamed” has the idea of, in the past tense, embarrassed or guilty of one’s actions, characteristics, or associations.  And in the present tense, reluctant to do something through fear of embarrassment or humiliation.  Are we reluctant to share the truth in certain situations?  Have we been ridiculed and become ashamed of a time where we shared the truth?  We all need to examine ourselves and see where we are regarding this.  To share God’s truth with boldness should be seen as a great privilege because this is our calling from the infinite God who exists and is there with us.

In closing, let us remember the words of Peter, where he wrote, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.  If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.  Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name.” 1 Peter 4:12-16.  Whatever we suffer in this life for the cause of Christ will glorify God and will be a source of rejoicing when He returns.  We must not focus on its effect on us, but how it glorifies God and how we will rejoice in the end.

However, I cannot end without these words of Jesus, “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” Mark 8:38. No need to comment on this one, it pretty much speaks for itself.

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

2 Peter 1:3

Verse of the Day Devotion.  2 Peter 1:3

“Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.” – 2 Peter 1:3

This is powerful verse. What Peter is saying is that we, every Christian, has been given the ability through God’s divine power of life and godliness. It is through knowing God that we realize His divine power has given us all things necessary for true life and godliness, for all these things are in Him; and as we know Him, trust Him, love Him, and become like Him, we also come to possess all these precious things in and through Him. As an example I read recently. Suppose we see a dead body in front of a man. It would be absolutely wrong if he were to boast that it was in his power to restore this man back to life! However, it would be even a greater pretense if anyone should say that he could give to himself or to another the divine life, the spiritual life by which a man is made a Christian. We, in and of ourselves do not have the power to raise anyone from the dead. It is the power of God through and within us that we would be able to raise this person. And it is in the same way that Christians are granted, by God, everything pertaining to life and godliness. As it says in our focus verse, ‘through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.”

Then we read, “For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.” 2 Peter 1:4. The words ‘Great’ and ‘precious’ are two words that are not often used together. Many things are great that are not precious, such as great rocks, which are of little value. On the other hand, many things are precious that are not great, such as diamonds and other jewels, which cannot be very great if they are very precious. But here we have promises that are so great that they are not less than infinite, and so precious that they are not less than divine. They do indeed exceed all things which they can be compared to. No one has ever promised as God has. Kings have promised even to half their kingdoms; but how does that come close to God’s promise to give His own Son, and even His own self, to His people, Which He has done. Princes draw a line somewhere, but the Lord sets no bounds to the gifts He has promised to His people.

Then in the next three verses, we see the path of growth in our faith. “Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge; and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness; and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.” 2 Peter 1:5-7. With all diligence, we are to show through our lives, moral excellence. The phrase ‘for this very reason’ links verses 3-4 to 5-7. Peter exhorted his readers to a godly life because Christ has given them everything they need for a godly life, and they possess magnificent promises of future perfection. It would be a serious mistake, therefore, to dismiss the call to virtue as legalism or moralism. The exhortation to holiness is grounded in God’s work of salvation as it has been accomplished in Jesus Christ. As is typical in the New Testament, grace precedes demand. The priority of grace, however, does not cancel out strenuous moral effort. Believers are to make every effort in carrying out Peter’s commands. A godly character does not emerge from passivity. As Luther says, “They should prove their faith by their good works.”

Then this is followed by, “For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.” 2 Peter 1:8-9. These holy things must not only be in us, but abound in us, or we shall be barren. Fruit is the overflow of life, and we must be full before we can overflow. There are many men who have lots of opportunities but never succeeded in doing true good in the conversion of souls. Unfortunately they lacked certain graces that are absolutely essential to fruit-bearing. For real useful graces are better than gifts. As the man is, so is his work. If we would do better, we must be better. Remember, we are a light in this world.

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

Luke 9:1

Verse of the Day Devotion Luke 9:1 

“And He called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all the demons, and to heal diseases. ” – Luke 9:1 

These verses of Jesus, from our focus verse through verse 6, recounts a new phase in Jesus’ ministry.  Up to that time, His disciples watched Jesus minister to the people while helping Him where they could.  Now, Jesus is involving them directly by sending them out to do the work they were being called to do. Now He was sending them out to permit them to participate with Him.  He commissioned them to go out and do what He had been doing.

First, He “gave them power and authority over all the demons, and to heal diseases.” Luke 9:1b. Jesus gave them a share of His authority given Him by the Father, as well as the power to heal the sick and cast out demons.  Without receiving this power, the mission would not be fulfillable, but he gives them what is required to do the work He taught them.  This was not given them to build up themselves and their power and abilities, but to bring freedom and healing to those they would minister to.  For their mission was to go out and preach and proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick and deliver those who have demons. The idea with the phrase ‘He Sent’ in verse 2 is clarified by the Greek word apostello, which means to send forth as a messenger.  In essence, He was sending them out to reach out just as He was doing.

Then Jesus lets them know some rules He expects them to follow what He did, which will help them be fruitful in this task.  First, they were told not to take anything for the journey. “And He said to them, take nothing for your journey, neither a staff, nor a bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not even have two tunics apiece. “ Luke 9:3. The Twelve were to travel without equipment or extra goods, such as clothing, money, food, etc. This may have been due to the brevity of their mission or to Jesus’ desire to have them avoid the appearance of preaching for profit. This was something no doubt done by many Jewish and cultic leaders. It may also have been in order to require them to trust in God alone to supply their needs. Paul put it like this, “And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19.   

Then in verse 4, Jesus says “And whatever house you enter, stay there, and take your leave from there.” Luke 9:4. Those ministering in Jesus’ name should not use their ministry for personal gain and seek better housing if it becomes available later. The implications of this, while clear and forever applicable, is to not put down those of a lower state or puff up those of a higher state. Matthew puts it like this, “And into whatever city or village you enter, inquire who is worthy in it; and abide there until you go away.” Matthew 10:11.  John Wesley understood this as they should abide with him: who is disposed to receive the Gospel. Then abide in that house until you leave the town.

And then in the next verse, “And as for those who do not receive you, as you go out from that city, shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.” Luke 9:5. Their job as preachers wasn’t primarily to change people’s minds. They were to persuasively present the message, but if their listeners didn’t receive it they could leave and shake the very dust from your feet as they left.  If Jewish people of that time had to go in or through a Gentile city, as they left they often shook the dust off their feet as a gesture saying, We don’t want to take anything from this Gentile city with us. Essentially, Jesus told His disciples to regard a Jewish city that rejected their message as if it were a Gentile city.

Then they left and went out to do the Lord’s work.  “And departing, they began going about among the villages, preaching the gospel, and healing everywhere.” Luke 9:6. These twelve men went out and proclaimed the Kingdom of God, essentially that the Messiah is with them providing salvation for all who accept His words.  Jesus was, in a way,  helping them by allowing them to go out and do the work they would eventually do at the ascension of Jesus after His resurrection.  And through the scriptures, we see how we are to spread the word of the Kingdom of God to the world as well.  Just as the disciples of Jesus prepared the way for the word of God regarding Jesus, we are to do the same.  Both with words and with deeds.  Similarly, while we may get excited about visible miracles and demonstrations of supernatural power, the greatest miracle of all is the fact that unworthy sinners can become righteous children of God. When our focus moves to ourselves and how God is using us, we are headed the wrong direction. It is a good reminder that, since their names are unimportant, ours are as well. It is the name of Jesus Christ alone who deserves all attention and glory.

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

Mark 12:24

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Mark 12:24 

“Jesus said to them, is this not the reason you are mistaken, that you do not understand the Scriptures or the power of God?” – Mark 12:24

This verse was spoken by Jesus to the Sadducees because of their wrong understanding of the scriptures.  They asked Jesus a question regarding the resurrection.  The Sadducees denied there were angels and spirits, as well as the immortality of the soul.  They also believed when the body died the soul did as well.  They did not believe there was any future state of mankind or a resurrection.  Therefore, this was essentially a trick question to get Jesus to stumble in giving an answer, thus exposing a weakness in the doctrine. 

The Sadducees were an aristocratic class connected with everything going on in the temple in Jerusalem.  They tended to be wealthy and held powerful positions, including that of chief priests and high priest.  They also held the majority of the seats in the Sanhedrin.  Some of their wrong beliefs were  1. They were self-sufficient and therefore denied God’s involvement in everyday life. 2. Denied the resurrection and the afterlife as stated above, 3. They denied the existence of a spiritual world; angels, demons, etc.  They were essentially a political sect rather than a religious sect; however, they took this role as well and when  Jesus came, they feared He would create issues the among the Jewish people.

The question they asked was,  “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies having no children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother.’ Now there were seven brothers among us. The first married and died, and having no offspring left his wife to his brother. So too the second and third, down to the seventh. After them all, the woman died. In the resurrection, when they rise again, whose wife will she be? For the seven had her as wife.” Mark 12:19-23.  Jesus responded in the words of our focus verse, essentially insinuating they did not know the scriptures.  He then goes on to say, “For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong.” Mark 12:25-27.

They, as well as the Pharisees taught the people about God and what it meant to serve Him and do His will.  Unfortunately, they did not understand what the truth was, and because they were in a top position within Judaism, they taught what they believed and not necessarily what was reality.  They expected the people to just accept what they said with no questions.  And unfortunately, we see the same thing today, and I see it becoming more prevalent as time goes by.  Many preachers teach what they want to believe and ultimately what they want us to believe. 

Therefore, there are two things we need to do in order to ensure we understand what God is saying in His word.  First, we must study the word ourselves so that we can learn as much as we can about Him and what He expects.  Paul wrote this to Timothy, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”. As we pray and study, we will be prepared to help others who are working to understand what His word says.  And secondly, check what others teach and ensure it is truth.  Paul said it was a good thing to do this.  “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.”  Acts 17:11.  If something seems odd or not quite right, check it out.  And if it is wrong, go to them who taught this and discuss it with them.  It is important that everything taught from the Word of God is accurate and helps us all grow in the fear and admonition of the Lord.

The Bible is far too important a document not to understood it as meant by the authors.  It helps us  to truly understand God and His great love for us and how we can show our love for Him.  Jesus told us “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.“ John 14:15.  And the best way for us to keep His commandments is to know what they are and how best to keep them.  That is why we need to spend concerted time in the study of His word, and also check out anything taught that seems off base.  And by doing this, we will be able to answer questions that may come up or defend the truth when it is questioned.  “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.” 1 Peter 3:15-16.

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

Colossians 2:10

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Colossians 2:10 

“And you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.” – Colossians 2:10

Here is a Verse in your Bible that probably most Christians do not take to heart and understanding.  I would think that most in Christendom approach being ‘complete’ in God’s eyes based on how well one’s behavior is and how many ‘right’ things we do as compared to the ‘bad’ things we do.   (WE use a sliding scale too, by the way, by comparing ourselves to others).   But in Christ are fulfillment is grounded in what He has done, not we do from here forward.  What kind of depth is this Verse saying to us for our daily lives?   Could it affect how we approach a day, challenges or not?    Some of the commentary writers I read just to see what they would say conclude that this Verse is speaking metaphorically (not to be taken literally) – that this language is of course rhetorical and hyperbolical language used by Paul.  In other words, it does not really mean what it says at face value but instead it is supposed to convey the idea that in Christ you have been granted a completeness or fulfillment in life that you could not receive anywhere else.  In other words, being in Christ is the best option you have compared to all the other options.   Uuummm.   If you make some Google searches on this subject asking the question: “What can make your life feel complete or fulfilled?”, you will NOT run across this Scripture Verse as an option or as an alternative choice that you can decide for yourself if you so please.   What you WILL find in your Google search are answers such as:  1)  Four principles to live by;  2)  The 16 most important factors for a fulfilling life;  3)  1O Rules to make your life complete; and so on and so on. 

Let us see instead what the author of your Bible says.  First of all, there are 2 little words in this Verse that is fundamentally foundational and an absolute in order for this concept of being ‘complete’ can be remotely a possibility.  They are the words ‘…in Him…’.    In order for an individual to be considered ‘in Him’, they must come to an understanding on the heart level that they are sinners and that the wages of being a sinner is death (spiritual and physical).  Plus, you can do nothing on your own to remedy this condition.  You DO need an outside source to ‘save’ you. After all, you are ‘dead’ and a ‘dead person’ cannot do anything for oneself.   “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23).  “For the wages of sin is death….” (Rom 6:23).   “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for the by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Rom 3:20).   Secondly, an individual must appropriate by faith the finished and completed death of Christ on the Cross, His burial, and Resurrection after three days.  By faith a person must truly believe that Christ died for them, that Christ alone paid the penalty for their sin and that He took the punishment for their own sinfulness out of His individual love for them.  When we truly believe this good news of this grace-gospel the Holy Spirit places us, immerses us, ‘baptizes us’ into one body – His Body, the grace-aged church -“And He is the head of the body, the church…” (Col 1:18) – whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free – and have all been made to drink into one Spirit (I Cor 12:13).   Our entire newly created personhood is placed IN HIM.   ALL of our identification as a newly created, saved individual is seen through God’s eyes as being ‘in Him’ – in Jesus.  “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and irreproachable in His sight “ (Col 1:21-22).  

                Sooooo, IF you are ‘in Him’, THEN in the mind of God through Jesus, you ARE complete, and this FACT is affirmed by the Death, Burial, and bodily Resurrection of Christ, who NOW is the ‘head of ALL principality and power” (Col 2:10 above).   No one nor any thing on earth, nor in the heavens, can undermine what He has done for you.   In my opinion, there is absolutely zero metaphorical, rhetorical, hyperbolic language used here. This is FACT.  It is an exchanged life.  “In Him” you ARE complete, not just in a concept or as flowery language, but as a reality.   The Greek word used here for ‘complete’ is a word that means “filled to the brim like a bottle of water, completely full, filled-up, whole, to the max”!     He has done for you ALL that will ever need to do in reconciling you in right-standing with Himself.  The following verses in Colossians 2 mention some of the aspects of this completeness in Christ that we have been given.  The sins of the flesh have been cut off (circumcised by the hand of God, taken out of the way and nailed to the Cross), you were buried ‘with Him’, you were raised ‘with Him’, you were ‘made alive with Him’, and ‘in Him’ He forgave you all your trespasses once and forever!   You ARE complete ‘in Him’.  Rejoice and be ever thankful!!

Jaca Kier, Board Member, True Devotion Ministries, Inc. 

Romans 1:16

Verse of the Day Devotion: Romans 1:16 

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” – Romans 1:16           

Paul claims here that he is not ashamed of the gospel.  Why does he think he needs to say this?  He declares in his first letter to the church in Corinth the following.  “For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness,” 1 Corinthians 1:22-23. 

Regarding the Jews, Adam Clarke writes in his commentary on 1 Corinthians the following, “There never was a people in the universe more difficult to be persuaded of the truth than the Jews: and had not their religion been incontestably proved by the most striking and indubitable miracles, they never would have received it.”  In essence, if the Jews had not seen the miracles, they would never had received the message God gave them.  Remember the parting of the Red Sea. “As Pharaoh drew near, the sons of Israel looked, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they became very frightened; so the sons of Israel cried out to the LORD. Then they said to Moses, “Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt with us in this way, bringing us out of Egypt? Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” Exodus 14:10-12. They would not believe what God had told them because they saw the Egyptians and they feared.  Then, God parts the Red Sea.  We see this pattern throughout the Old Testament.  And this does not just refer to the Jews in the Old Testament.  “Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You. But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet;” Matthew 12:38-39.

As for the Greeks, the best example was Paul’s visit to the Areopagus.  They were more interested in wisdom than truth.  Paul gave a compelling argument regarding God, Him being the creator, that He is not in need of us but desires for us to seek after Him. However, when he brought up the resurrection, we read, “Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer, but others said, “We shall hear you again concerning this.” Acts 17:32.

As we can see, the Jews required a sign, and the Greeks were seeking wisdom.  Paul was ridiculed by the leadership of both, essentially saying that he could not prove to them what he was saying.  They found his declaration ridiculous.  However, he continued preaching the gospel.  He did not stop because they laughed at him or called him silly. The Jews did not see a viable sign that Jesus, a meek, lowly and impoverished man would save the world, and the Greeks saw no wisdom in his words.  Do we not see the same thing today?  Are we strong enough not to be ashamed of the gospel of Christ, or do we hide our belief from those who may ridicule or despise us because of the gospel?  It is important that we show there is no cost we will not pay to share the truth with anyone, and to share it with boldness and surety.  God is real, Christ is real, and the gospel is real.  Let’s show it by our not being ashamed of declaring the reality of it and not backing down. 

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