Psalm 43:5

Verse of the Week – Psalm 43:5

“Why are you in despair, my soul? And why are you restless within me? Wait for God, for I will again praise Him For the help of His presence, my God.” – Psalm 43:5

First, let us look at the first four verses spoken by David directly to God. Starting in verse one we read, “Vindicate me, God, and plead my case against an ungodly nation; Save me from the deceitful and unjust person!” Psalm 43:1. David cites the hesed in verse one of the Lord, as the rationale for claiming a right to God’s judgment. The word hesed occurs around 245 times in the Hebrew Bible, and 127 times in the Psalms. One Jewish scholar defines hesed as “a free-flowing love that knows no bounds.”

Many biblical words such as mercy, compassion, love, grace, and faithfulness relate to the Hebrew word hesed (חֶסֶד), but none of these completely summarize the concept. Hesed is not merely an emotion or feeling but also action on behalf of someone who is in need. Hesed describes a sense of love and loyalty that brings mercy and compassion toward another person to help them through their trials. Hesed is most closely connected in the Hebrew Bible with the covenant relationship between God and the children of Israel. In Genesis 15, God covenants with Abram, saying: “On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, To your descendants I have given this land, From the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates:” Genesis 15:18. Then following in chapter 17 we read, “I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations as an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. And I will give to you and to your descendants after you the land where you live as a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. God said further to Abraham, “Now as for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations.” Genesis 17:7-9.” Then in Exodus 19, God speaks to the children of Israel regarding their responsibility. “Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.” Exodus 19:5-6. In each instance, God calls the Israelites into a unique and special relationship centered around a covenant.

Hesed is often used in parallel with the Hebrew word ʾemeṯ, which is translated as faithfulness. In Psalm 43:1 for example, David declares that the people have no hesed, meaning either the Philistines, among whom he was near to; or his own nation when they joined his son Absalom in rebellion against him: some understand it of the great numbers that were with Saul, when he was persecuted by him. No matter which, they were a people who hated David, his followers, and the God he served. And thus, they had no hesed. Then in Exodus, God declares the following, “Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in faithfulness and truth; who keeps faithfulness for thousands, who forgives wrongdoing, violation of His Law, and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, inflicting the punishment of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations. Exodus 34:6–7.

 In the next verse, we see David confronted by a people who have no knowledge of hesed, this special relationship between God and His people. He asks questions of God that parallel the questions in Psalm 42. “For You are the God of my strength; why have You rejected me? Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” Psalm 43:2. Notice the similarity in chapter 43. “For You are the God of my strength; why have You rejected me? Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” Psalm 42:9.

Next, we read David’s request from God because of what he was experiencing.  “Send out Your light and Your truth, they shall lead me; They shall bring me to Your holy hill And to Your dwelling places. Then I will go to the altar of God, To God my exceeding joy; And I will praise You on the lyre, God, my God.” Psalm 43:3-4. David quickly moves to petition God and anticipating His results of granting that petition. He requests that God send His light (‘Ohr’) and faithfulness (ʾemeṯ) because they will bring him to the mountain and will come to the altar and praise Him. The Hebrew word ‘Ohr’ has the idea of ‘light’, which in today’s definition means illumination or an agent that makes something visible. But, in Hebrew, light or ohr means something more.  Ohr also has the idea of “giving order to something chaotic.” And the Hebrew word ‘emet’ has the idea of truth, right, and faithful. Light and faithfulness are not commonly paired in the poetic structure of the Hebrew Psalms. Perhaps David asks for light so that the path to the mountain of God’s holiness and the sanctuary will be clear and for faithfulness such that he is not distracted from following the path. Only then will David be able to come to the altar, encounter God with gladness, with rejoicing, and praise. And to make this thought clear, it is not an earthly holy hill or alter, but one in the heavenly presence of God.

Then in our focus verse David changes from speaking to God to speaking to his inner self. “Why are you in despair, my soul? And why are you restless within me? Wait for God, for I will again praise Him For the help of His presence, my God. Psalm 43:5. He calls his inmost being to wait for God. But, in keeping with the contrast already drawn above, David’s words seem not so much to draw the inmost being back from the brink of despair but to gently remind himself to wait and be confident in God. He will wait on God to send His light and faithfulness, and  they will guide him to the altar of God so he can give Him much praise and worship.

In our struggles with those who do not honor the hesed of God, Psalm 43 offers us words with which to request light and faithfulness from God. It gives us words of assurance that no matter our situation, we may always come to the altar and praise the God who delivers us, for He never forgets us and always loves us. This is a statement, poetically phrased as a question whose answer should be obvious. It’s natural to be tempted towards despair and discouragement. Despite our feelings, we know God is faithful and that He will ultimately vindicate His people. For that reason, we should be encouraged to put all our trust in the Lord.

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

Psalm 106:1

Verse of the Day Devotion: Psalm 106:1

“Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” – Psalm 106:1

This is a very powerful verse.  In fact, this same wording is found in several other places.  For instance, let’s look at the next chapter in Psalms.  “Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!”  Psalm 107:1. Now, compare this with a verse in 1 Chronicles.  “Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!”  1 Chronicles 16:34. In comparing Psalm 107:1 and 1 Chronicles 16:34, they are word for word the same.  Then when you look at our focus verse, the wording is also identical after the first three words, ‘Praise the Lord’’.  You will also find the same wording in 2 Chronicles 20:21, Psalm 118:1, Psalm 118:29 and, Psalm 136:1.  There are many other verses that are very close, with slight word changes.  However, the meaning is clear.

These words are found in enough places in the scriptures that I would venture to say this was a phrase well known to the Israelites.  And they must become very familiar to us as well.  Our God is great, greater than anyone or anything.  For without Him, nothing else would exist.  He is all powerful, there is nothing that can stop Him or His will from being accomplished.  He is all knowing, knowing every minutia of everything and everybody in every moment of time.  And He is everywhere all the time, “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 23:24. He is an incredible God we serve.  And He loves us beyond our comprehension. God spoke these words to Jeremiah, but they are applicable to us today. “The LORD appeared to him from afar, saying, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore, I have drawn you with lovingkindness.”  Jeremiah 31:3. There will never be a need He will not meet.  “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19. And most important of all, He died that we might live.  “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  Romans 5:8. “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”  John 15:13.

How can we not praise Him with our whole being?  How can we not worship Him from the very depth of our heart?  How can we not thank Him for His goodness He has poured out on us?  And how can we not love Him with everything we are, for our God’s love, from Him who does not change, is an everlasting love, from eternity to eternity.

“Praise the LORD! Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting.”

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.

Psalm 150:6

Verse of the Day Devotion: Psalm 150:6

“Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD!” – Psalm 150:6 

We serve an incredible God.  He is all powerful, all loving and all caring.  He watches over us, each one of us at all times, never taking His eyes off of us.  He has promised to never leave or forsake us.  There is nothing He does not know, there is no place where He is not, for He fills all there is.  And He is all powerful, there is nothing He cannot do.

Now, everyone at some point in their lives have sinned against Him.  Because of this, we were alienated from Him, and there was nothing we could do to make it right, and thereby restore the relationship we had with Him.  However, He still loved us.  “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16. And because of this love, He gave His Son to come down to live the life we could not and thereby pay for the sins we could not rectify.  This provided for us the salvation we needed.

What is amazing is that God had this plan already laid out prior to the creation of the universe and everything in it. God loves us so much that, knowing we would sin and break our relationship with Him, He created us anyway.  How many times has someone done us wrong and we hold a grudge?  I wish I could say never, but that would be a lie.  But think about this.  If we knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that a good friend would betray us in some way, would we still have the same affection for them?  This is what God did.  No matter what we did, He still pursued us.  No matter how many times we disappoint Him, He never leaves us.  He takes care of us, loves us and draws us to Himself.  He desires to be with us, to fellowship with us.

When we think back on our lives and see all the good things, He has done for us, the many times He has protected us, bringing us through all the difficulties we have faced.  I have placed myself, before accepting the justification given to us by Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, into situations I was not sure I would have been able to escape.  But I am here, safe and sound, serving Him in any way He commands.  My life could have been so much worse, but here I am, so very thankful for His goodness and grace.  And this is the reason for the writing of Psalm 150.  Its writer knew that it was only because of God’s mercy that He was able to get to that point in his life.

Praise the LORD! Praise God in His sanctuary; Praise Him in His mighty expanse. Praise Him for His mighty deeds; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness.”  Psalm 150:1-2.  He calls for us to praise Him anywhere He is to be found.  We are to praise Him with the greatness He showed us in His grace and mercy.  We are to praise Him with everything we have.  It can be a great spectacle, shouting out our love and thankfulness to Him.  Or, and intimate time of quiet praise and worship.  We should bare our whole heart to Him, not holding back our feelings.  He is more than worthy of this.  “O LORD, You are my God; I will exalt You; I will give thanks to Your name; For You have worked wonders, Plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness.” Isaiah 25:1.

Let us always set aside time to show Him our love and thankfulness.  As our focus verse says, “Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD! “  Psalm 15:6.

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

Psalm 111:10

Verse of the Day Devotion: Psalm 111:10

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever.” – Psalm 111:10

Our focus verse, written by an unknown author, has incredible wisdom in the words it says.  The writer starts with the truth that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Being that this was written to the Jewish nation, I will assume they know God exists.  Fear in this context refers to honor and reverence.  If we know that God is infinite in His power, His love and everything else, then honoring and reverencing Him is wise.  If we believe He is who He says He is, then we should do all we can not to offend Him.  To know He exists and not to fear Him as described above is not wise, but incredibly foolish.  In fact, I would go as far as to say that not fearing and honoring the infinite God is the beginning of foolishness.

Many people who believe God exists will give the honor due their bosses, Pastors, government officials, friends and family, but not to the creator of all things who brought salvation to them through His death on the cross.  They will do what their bosses say, because they want to get paid, but they will not do what God says.  They will obey government authorities because they do not wish to be arrested, but they will not strive to obey God. After all He did for them, and having accepted His work on the cross, they do not consider it as important as all the other areas of their lives.  This is incredibly sad for this is where wisdom starts.  According to the writer of this verse, the foundation and origin of wisdom.  There really is not true wisdom if we do not recognize the being, perfections and the claims of our Almighty God.  Albert Barnes in his commentary on the Psalms puts it this way.  “The highest wisdom – the loftiest endowment of man – is that he may know and honor God. This, in capability, makes him wise above the brute creation; this, in exercise, makes a man wiser than another; this, when it springs up in the soul, makes a man wiser than he was before.’

The writer goes on to say that a person with good understanding will do and obey God’s commandments. The Hebrew phrase for this essentially says, ‘Do the things connected with the fear of the Lord, to obey God.’ If we really understand who God is, what He has done for us, what He does to help us in our lives here, and what He has prepared for us for all eternity, how can we not obey Him?  And for the same reasons, how can we not praise Him?  God never changes, so the foundation of our praise for all eternity is who He is, and that will never change either.

Let us always honor and reverence Him no matter what happens, for God knows all things and causes and allows things to happen for our good.  “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.” Romans 8:28. Let us trust Him and fear Him.  For there is no greater wisdom than this.

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

Psalm 7:17

Verse of the Day Devotion Psalm 7:17  

“I will give thanks to the LORD according to His righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High.” – Psalm 7:17  

Through this week we will be looking at verses in the scriptures that speak of thankfulness to our God that is due to Him.  And our focus verse today is, “I will give thanks to the LORD according to His righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High.” Psalm 7:17.

We read in verse one the following. “A Shiggaion of David, which he sang to the LORD concerning Cush, a Benjamite. O Lord my God, in Thee I have taken refuge; Save me from all those who pursue me, and deliver me, lest he tear my soul like a lion, dragging me away, while there is none to deliver.” Psalm 7:1-2.  First, let us look at what a Shiggaion is.  This denotes a lyrical poem composed under strong mental emotion; a song of impassioned imagination accompanied with suitable music; a wild and passionate writing. 

He is under strong persecution by those who pursue him which speaks of his enemies.  And he cries out to God saying that he takes refuge in Him asking that God would save Him.  He then goes on to say, “O LORD my God, if I have done this, If there is injustice in my hands, If I have rewarded evil to my friend, Or have plundered him who without cause was my adversary, Let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it; And let him trample my life down to the ground, And lay my glory in the dust. Selah.” Psalm 7:3-5.  It appears that he was falsely accused of something he did not do. He then cries out to God saying if He did do what he was accused of then let his enemy overtake him. 

Then he prays that God will vindicate him for he is innocent.  “Arise, O LORD, in Thine anger; Lift up Thyself against the rage of my adversaries and arouse Thyself for me; Thou hast appointed judgment. And let the assembly of the peoples encompass Thee; And over them return Thou on high. The LORD judges the peoples; Vindicate me, O LORD, according to my righteousness and my integrity that is in me.  let the evil of the wicked come to an end but establish the righteous; For the righteous God tries the hearts and minds.” Psalm 7:6-9.  David calls on God to arise and make it known what really happened. He is saying Your own people who compass your  altar, the faithful of the land, are full of gloomy apprehensions. They hear the charges against me; and see how I am persecuted. Their minds are divided; they know not what to think. For their sakes, return and ascend to the judgment-seat; and let them see, by the dispensations of your providence, who is innocent and who is guilty. David feared not to make this appeal to God; for the consciousness of his innocence showed him at once how the discrimination would be made.

He then states that he lays everything in God’s hands. “My shield is with God, who saves the upright in heart.” Psalm 7:10.  He trusted in God, knowing He would protect him and deliver him from his troubles. And because of all this, He gives thanks in our focus verse.  “I will give thanks to the LORD according to His righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High.” Psalm 7:17.  David says that because of all this, he will give thanks to God. That is, particularly as manifested in the treatment of the righteous and the wicked, protecting the one, and bringing deserved punishment upon the other. The purpose of the psalm is to show this. In the course of the psalm the author had declared his full conviction that this was the character of God, and now, in view of this, he says that he will render to him the praise and glory which such a character deserves. He will acknowledge him by public acts of praise as such a God; and will at all times ascribe these attributes to him. 

And I want to encourage all Christians to be thankful in all times, no matter how difficult things appear to be.  Nothing is too difficult for God; therefore we need to trust Him. “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.

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

Proverbs 27:2

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Proverbs 27:2    

“Let another praise you, and not your own mouth, a stranger, and not your own lips.” – Proverbs 27:2

This verse deals with pride, arrogance and humility.  Some people do things in order to be noticed and  be honored for it.  I have seen this many times, especially famous people who want to be remembered and lifted up.  However, Solomon writes a much different concept, one where we just do something simply because it is needed.  He says, in or focus verse, “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; A stranger, and not your own lips.” Proverbs 27:2.

Now we are to do good things.  “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Philippians 4:8.  We are called to do good works to both assist our brothers and sisters, our neighbor and to glorify and honor God.  If someone needs help, offer it and give them assistance.  If they are struggling because of trials that are besetting them, go to them and give them the help and encouragement they need.  As the theologian Matthew Henry says, “We must do that which is commendable, for which even strangers may praise us. Our light must shine before men, and we must do good works that may be seen.”  We are called to shine the light of Christ into the darkness.  However, he finishes this thought in this way.  “though we must not do them on purpose that they may be seen. Let our own works be such as will praise us, even in the gates,” The world needs to see us, as Christians, doing good things for the benefit of others. 

But when we do these good things we must not do them for the purpose that they may be seen. Let our own works be such as will praise us, but we must not seek praise from others for these good works.  There may be times where we may need to discuss what we did, but it does not become us to applaud ourselves in the process.  Paul puts our calling this way.  “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:1-3.    

Everything we do must not be to honor ourselves.  “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” Colossians 3:17.  It is important it be done for His purpose.  Do everything because he requires and commands it, and with a desire to honor him. His authority should be our reason, his glory the aim of all our actions and words. 

Lastly, Jesus tells His disciples not to exalt themselves for any reason.  “But the greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.”  Matthew 23:12.  The way to arrive at the highest degree of dignity, in the sight of God, is by being willing to become the servant of all.  Nothing is more undesirable in the sight of God then pride and arrogance.

We will be lifted up by others at times because of their thankfulness for what we have done for them.  However, we must accept this humbly, without building ourselves up in the process.  If anyone is to be exalted, it is God who has given us the opportunities to do His work here on this earth, and the ability and knowledge to make it happen.  If anyone deserves praise, it is Him.  So, instead of focusing on ourselves we should focus on God in all matters.  What joy will be derived by giving Him all the glory.

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

Philippians 4:8

Verse of the Day Devotion: Philippians 4:8 

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” –  Philippians 4:8

Have you ever just sat somewhere and thought about something that was bothering you, or caused you pain?  Or maybe someone hurt you or did you wrong.  It is easy to just sit and reflect on these things, but it is not healthy to do so.  Do you think you are alone during these times?  You know you are not, for God has promised to be with you.  “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10.  We must remember we are never alone, and that He will bring us through all that happens.  In fact, He goes ahead of us to address these issues.  “The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8. 

Because He is with us at all times and goes ahead of us to protect us, we will be fine.  And the fact He knows all things corroborates this idea.  “Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure.” Isaiah 46:9-10.  So, if God has everything take care of, then our thoughts should be elsewhere.  We, as Paul states in our focus verse, must keep our thoughts focused on good things and not allow ourselves to worry or think about things that are not worthy to dwell on.

Paul says there are eight things to look at to determine if something is worth contemplating.  Lets look at each of these briefly and see what God desires us to focus on.  First, whatever is true.  Not what we want to, or wrongly believe is true, but what is true.  Whatever God has declared as truth is what we need to focus on, not necessarily what man declares as truth. 

Second, whatever is noble.  That which is honorable and worthy of respect: honest words of a reverent nature.  Many things are not worthy to be talked or thought about.  However, what is should be where our mind is focused.  Third, whatever is right.  That which is defined by God and His character as right, not what we deem as right based on our understanding of the word.  In a broad sense, thoughts that are upright, righteous, virtuous and in keeping with the commands of God. Fourth, whatever is pure.  This word pure has as its original meaning that which had been sanctified for the temple.  A related word that has similar meaning is holy. 

Fifth, that which is lovely.  This does not refer to the outward appearance, but what is inside.  It has the connotation of that which is dear and amiable; that which is pleasing to address, such that one can love thinking about it and not something that is contrary to Christian thought and beliefs.  Sixth, that which is of good repute or report.  This speaks of things that are thought of as good by pretty much all in the world.  These are virtues which all people agree are commendable, such as  kindness, respect for parents, purity between brothers and sisters, as well as courtesy. 

And the last two, if there be any excellence or praise.  Paul knew he had not given a complete picture, which would be difficult to do, so he gives two overarching thoughts.  First, if there be any excellence.  Another way to express this is virtue or moral excellence.  If there was anything that had the nature of true virtue in it should be looked at and adhered to.  And lastly, anything that was worthy of praise such as incredibly good deeds, or that ought to be praise such as God Almighty. 

These are the things we are to think about and focus on.  I encourage everyone, and I include myself in this, to spend some time studying this verse and if there are areas where we need to adjust our thinking, then ask God to help you in this process.  Get rid of those things that are not listed here and focus on those things that are. There is peace and joy that floods our being when we do.

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

Psalm 146:2

Verse of the Day Devotion: Psalm 146:2 

“I will praise the LORD while I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.” – Psalm 146:2

“One thing I find sad today is that many people are focused on the negative things occurring, filling their minds with fear and anxiety.  This does no one any good, in fact if has a harmful affect to the human mind and body.  With all this stress that is filling the hearts and mind of people, they become susceptible to illnesses that would in other times never make us sick.  Also, in living a stressful life, we tend to focus our conversations with all this negativity and feeding the anxieties of others as well.  This is not what God wants for us. 

It is important that we turn our minds away from all this turmoil and focus on all the positives in our lives. And the best thing we can do is focus on the one who loves us with an everlasting love.  The one who has promised to take care of us in all circumstances, no matter how bad it gets.  And the verse that tells us how to do this is, “I will praise the LORD while I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.” Psalm 146:2.

First, “I will praise the Lord while I live” Psalm 146:2a.  We need to praise Him all the time, as long as we are alive on this earth.  He is worthy of any praise that is given, and as much as we can give.  We should take as much time as we can in worship and praise, and the focus of our thoughts are to be always toward Him.  We should lift our voices in praise to our Lord in our quiet times alone and with our brothers and sisters in group worship.  If we open our hearts in praise and worship to Him, we will not have the room to think of our trials and troubles.  They become less important as He becomes more important. 

Also, we are to spend time in fellowship with Him, which in itself is an act of worship.  Every morning when we wake up and every evening when we lie do to sleep should be a time to interact with God, hearing what He is saying and giving our adoration to Him.  He listens to us and knows our very thoughts and will answer our pray requests with again, our best in mind. 

There is so much that can be said about spending time in worship and praise to our glorious God.  We do not have any reason to focus on all the hardships we and many are suffering through.  He wants us to have peace and solace.  He does not want us to be weighed down with fear and anxiety.  And we do not need to be afraid.  Remember to keep focused on God and not our trials and tribulations.  Give Him all the praise and glory for who He is and what He does, and all your troubles will not seem so great.  And remember what Jesus said to us.  “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:6-7.  Focusing on praising God  will mitigate fear and worry.  And the more we focus on Him, the less the other things will seem all that  important. 

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