Psalm 4:1

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Psalm 4:1

“Answer me when I call, God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; Be gracious to me and hear my prayer.” – Psalm 4:1

First, I want to clarify that David is not telling God to answer him, but asking Him. David has been through a lot in those days. In Psalm 3, we read about him dealing with the troubles brought about by his son Absalom who rebelled against him along with the vast majority of Israel who followed Absalom.  Now, in chapter four, we see that many great men were lying about David, speaking ill of him, and ultimately defaming his character. “You sons of man, how long will my honor be treated as an insult? How long will you love what is worthless and strive for a lie?” Psalm 4:2. David’s life as king was not an easy one. He found himself suffering through all kinds of trials. But he understood with full clarity what would truly bring God’s people through rough times, that being the Almighty God. “But know that the LORD has set apart the godly person for Himself; The LORD hears when I call to Him.” Psalm 4:3.

Then David lays out four basic imperatives directed at the people there, and to us as well. First, we are to tremble but not sin. “Tremble, and do not sin;” Psalm 4:4a. We are to understand that to go against what God commands is sin and thus we must focus all our efforts and thoughts on not sinning against Him. Unfortunately, too many people ignore this and twist the verse such that they see, ‘sin, but tremble not’. We see so many people, who call themselves Christians, going about sinning and not thinking anything about it. This is especially true of many who believe that once you are saved God forgives anything you do going forward. This concept is known as antinomianism which has the idea that Christians are released by grace from the obligation of following any moral, religious or social norms or laws. The word itself is from the Greek that means ‘against the law.’ Our hearts must be such that we tremble at the thought of sinning at all. Next, we are to think about what we are doing. “Meditate in your heart upon your bed and be still. Selah” Psalm 4:4b. On your bed, calmly consider and meditate on these things in the silence of night, when you are at leisure from distracting business. Be still and compose your tumultuous minds. Think about what you do, and if it is right then continue, but if it is wrong, then stop and ask forgiveness and no longer continue in this way.

Next, “Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, And trust in the LORD.” Psalm 4:5a. Do not attempt to offer a sacrifice to God for prosperity in your present rebellious conduct. Such a sacrifice would be a sin. Turn to God from whom you have revolted; and offer to him a righteous sacrifice, such as is lawful and such as He can receive. In other words, do not just offer something to God so that you can receive something from Him, or offer up to God something that is not acceptable to Him. And finally, we are to trust in the Lord. He loves us, wants the best for us, and can do anything. This is the God we serve, and He is the only one we can trust completely.

Then David finishes this with the following. “Many are saying, who will show us anything good?” Psalm 4:6a. He starts this by asking a rhetorical question ‘Who will show us anything good?’ After continual disappointment from man, we may begin to doubt if God will show us any good. But not David. He says, “Lift up the light of Your face upon us, LORD! You have put joy in my heart, More than when their grain and new wine are abundant. In peace I will both lie down and sleep, For You alone, LORD, have me dwell in safety.” Psalm 6b-8. Despite what the cynics said about God not being there or ignoring them, David trusted that the LORD would give him joy beyond what the ungodly had in their prosperity. And because he trusts in God, he can lie down and sleep in peace because the Lord provides them safety in all their ways. We can imagine a man lying down to sleep, tormented by all of what his enemies or fake friends say about him. David could be that man, but instead he trusted in the LORD. He therefore had a gladness that the world could not take away, even with all their slanders and lies.

In closing, no matter which way we read the psalm, one aspect of David’s faith is clear: it is to God that he turns for vindication, and it is in God that He trusts. To the extent that the language of the psalm implies an attack on the David’s honor, David names the Lord as God of my righteousness, which put another way, the God who vindicates me. And in wisdom, we must see life the same way. Life for the Christian can be very difficult,  because the enemy hates us and desires to destroy our faith. We need to trust God that no matter our situation, as Christians He is with us and will bring about a good, even if we do not see a good ourselves. Those whom God knew would give their lives to Him can be assured that all things will turn out great. “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 those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” Romans 8:28-30.

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

Matthew 21:13

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Matthew 21:13.

“He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” Matthew 21:13

After Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, He entered the Temple and was not happy with what He saw. “And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of those who sold pigeons.” Matthew 21:12. The purpose was to drive out the merchants, who in cooperation with the priests cheated visitors to Jerusalem by forcing them to purchase approved sacrificial animals and currencies at high prices. What would happen is that people would be told their sacrifice was not worthy to be offered in the temple, and thus would be sold another deemed acceptable for a high price along with the offering brought to them, which many times they would sell to another at a high price. For example, it was not unusual for a dove to be sold in the temple for 15 to 20 times what could be purchased elsewhere. “

This was a serious issue for Jesus, which is shown by what He did. He drove out those who bought and sold wrongly in the temple and overturned the tables and chairs of those who cheated the people. And our focus verse clearly shows why He was angry. “He said to them, It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” Matthew 21:13. He is quoting Isaiah here. “And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD, and to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it and holds fast my covenant. these I will bring to my holy mountain and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” Isaiah 56:6-7. Isaiah calls the Temple a house of prayer for all people, not just Jews. However, the Jewish leadership used it as a place to cheat the people by stealing from those who came to give their sacrifice to God.  

After this, many came to Jesus in the Temple. “And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them.” Matthew 21:14. The bold action of Jesus when He drove out the merchants and money changers from the temple courts did not discourage the needy from coming to Him. The blind and the lame were restricted to the court of the Gentiles; they could not go closer to the temple and could not go to the altar to sacrifice. After purging the court of the Gentiles of merchants and robbers, Jesus then ministered to the outcasts who congregated there. He did the work of the Messiah, a significant part of which was showing the power of God in the context of compassion and mercy to those who so needed this. 

We do not have the temple today, but we do have Churches where the Body of Christ meet to praise God, hear needed teachings, pray together, and in all ways lifting each other up. We must never, whether we are leaders or not, take advantage of anyone for our own benefit. We should never limit good things and deeds to only those who donate up to certain expectation. And we should never deceive anyone into giving with promises we will or cannot deliver. God, in no way approves of this. Paul laid this our clearly. “and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you.” 1 Thessalonians 4:6. Today, church is a place for ‘the Church’ to honor God, giving Him praise and worship as well as growing our knowledge such that we build up our faith. It is not for anyone to take advantage of anyone for his/her own advantage and gain. I believe God abhors this, and will, as the above verse shows, avenge those who take part in these things.

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

Daniel 9:3

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Daniel 9:3

“So, I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.” Daniel 9:3  

Starting with verse one of chapter nine we read, “In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of Median descent, who was made king over the kingdom of the Chaldeans, in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, observed in the books the number of the years which was revealed as the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years.” Daniel 9:1-2.  Darius the Mede became the ruler of Babylon after the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus the Great of Persia. “So, Darius the Mede received the kingdom at about the age of sixty-two.” Daniel 5:31. This is the first year of Darius the Mede, which means it was around 537 B.C. Daniel understood by the prophet Jeremiah that there would be 70 years.  They were taken into captivity in 607 B.C. When we subtract 537 from 607, we get 70, the number of years in captivity. And as clarification, ‘the books’ refer to the sacred Hebrew writings available in Daniel’s day of which the prophecy of Jeremiah was a part; the term does not here designate a closed canon.

Now, note our focus verse. “So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.” Daniel’s prayer did not consist of a few insincere words uttered before falling asleep at night. He prayed fervently to the Lord with a determined heart. He put his whole self into this prayer for Daniel determined to look to God in prayer until the Lord gave him an answer. The Greek word translated ‘Lord’ is Adonai meaning master, owner, or sovereign ruler; generally denotes the authority and exalted position of God. Sackcloth was a coarse kind of cloth, usually made of hair, and employed for the purpose of making sacks, bags, etc. As it was dark, and coarse, and rough, it was regarded as a proper badge of mourning and humiliation and was worn as such usually by passing or girding it around the loins.  It was customary to cast ashes on the head in a time of great grief and sorrow. The principles on which this was done seem to have been that the external appearance should correspond with the state of the mind and the heart, and that such external circumstances would tend to produce a state of heart corresponding to them – or would produce true humiliation and repentance for sin..

Then in the next few verses he calls out to God, confessing the sins of Israel. “And I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed and said, “Alas, O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, we have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly, and rebelled, even turning aside from Thy commandments and ordinances. Moreover, we have not listened to Thy servants the prophets, who spoke in Thy name to our kings, our princes, our fathers, and all the people of the land.” Daniel 9:4-6.  God had mercifully sent His prophets to encourage the people of Israel and their leaders to repent however, they refused to listen. Not everyone turned their backs on God. The prophets were faithful, and others like Daniel and his friends remained true to the covenant. Nevertheless, Israel as a whole, it’s kings, our princes, and their ancestors as well as all  the people of Israel had turned its back upon God.

The majority of the Israelites turned from God and started focusing on other things rather than God and His ways. And this was why He allowed Babylon to take it. “Therefore He brought up against them the king of the Chaldeans who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or virgin, old man or infirm; He gave them all into his hand. And all the articles of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king and of his officers, he brought them all to Babylon. Then they burned the house of God and broke down the wall of Jerusalem and burned all its fortified buildings with fire and destroyed all its valuable articles. And those who had escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon; and they were servants to him and to his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia, to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its sabbaths. All the days of its desolation it kept sabbath until seventy years were complete.” 2 Chronicles 36:17-21.

What is sad is that we are seeing this also in some of our churches. I have heard of many who are minimizing sin, and also minimizing what God has called us to do. It is essential that we see sin for what it is and eliminate it from our lives as well as making what God has called us to do a priority. And one thing that will help us do both is to pray, not simple little prayers but going to God and opening our hearts to Him, asking for help to remain true to Him, and also to help others be true to Him as well. This is our calling, and this is how we can be totally pleasing to God.

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

Acts 1:14

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Acts 1:14

“These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.” – Acts 1:14 

After the ascension they went back to Jerusalem, as Jesus told them. He had commanded them to wait there until they received the gift promised to them by Jesus. “And gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, which, He said, you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Acts 1:4-5.

They obeyed this command from Jesus and they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. And when they had entered, the eleven remaining apostles went to the upper room where they were staying. But not just them, for we see in an earlier verse, “along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.” Luke 1:14b. So those in the upper room were the eleven apostles, Mary the mother of Jesus, and Jesus’ brothers. The women mentioned included Jesus’ mother, and various others. We see in Luke the following. “And it came about soon afterwards, that He began going about from one city and village to another, proclaiming and preaching the kingdom of God; and the twelve were with Him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who were contributing to their support out of their private means.” Luke 8:1-3.

And the purpose for being there is found in our focus verse. “These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer.” Acts 1:14a. In Acts, Luke gave a generalized review of the activity of the Christian community. The primary characteristic that marked their life together in this period was prayer, as they anticipated together the promised gift of the Spirit. However, prayer was a hallmark of the church in its early days. The time before Pentecost was a time for waiting, a time spent in prayer undoubtedly for the promised Spirit and for the power to witness. There is no effective witness without the Spirit, and the way to spiritual empowerment is to wait in prayer.

In this post, I want to ask this very important question. As the early Christians, is prayer truly a hallmark of the church in these present days? Do we see prayer as simply something we do because that is what Christians do, or is it a devoted time to spend with the eternal God who created everything that exists, including ourselves? I also ask these questions of myself as well. They are not words meant to convict anyone but to encourage us all to strengthen our relationship with Him. Of course He knows everything. He knows the deep feelings of our hearts. We should desire to spend time with Him, ourselves with God, to develop a closer relationship with Him. And we must always remember that prayer is not a one-way street. Yes, we come to Him and share our needs, desires, and our feelings. However, we must also be still and quiet, and let God speak to us as well. I find these times of comfort and joy, but also times of learning and correction. Remember what is recorded in the psalms. “Cease striving (be still) and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10.

Throughout the Book of Psalms, we see this type of relationship between David and God. He shared everything with God, and God provided what he needed; be it things, comfort, correction, etc. And David welcomed it all, and thus his relationship with God was strong and intimate.  I encourage us all to look at Psalm 25. David bears his heart to God, asking Him to guide him in every aspect of life. God desires this type of relationship with us. Take the time to pray, speaking and listening to Him. There are great blessings in both aspects.

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

Acts 2:42

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Acts 2:42  

“They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” – Acts 2:42

One of the more important aspects of our Christian walk is the idea of fellowship and supporting each other.  First, I want to present a quote from the Book of Ecclesiastes which points this out so clearly.  “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone?  And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.  Solomon, whom many scholars believe is the writer of Ecclesiastes points out the importance of not separating ourselves from others.  Simply put, if you are alone who will help you when you fall, who will help you in times of need, and who will fight for you when danger is imminent?

These ideas are found in our focus verse from Acts.  What Luke is pointing out is that Christians need to be in fellowship with each other in order keep each other accountable, encouraged and strong in the truth.  Back in the first century there was much persecution upon the church.  The Jewish leadership hated them for they considered Christianity as an attempt to usurp their position and the Romans were against them because they considered Christianity as a new religion and this was forbidden in the areas they were in control over.

The first part of our focus verse says, “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching.” Act 2:42a.  They were to be always devoted to learning all they could about their new life in Christ.  What did it entail?  What did it not?  This was especially critical for the Jews who were always taught that obedience to the Law of Moses was the critical factor in obeying God, and they needed to understand that it went far beyond that.  Also, as they grew in the faith they would be less likely to walk away and more able to train others they come across.   They would also come together in fellowship, often times in sharing a meal.  This was important in developing strong and Godly relationships which created bonds that were not easily broken.  And lastly, with equal if not more importance with the others, they met to pray together.  They came to God regularly to pray that their faith may be strengthened and increase as they grow in God, and for the extension of the kingdom of Christ via the salvation of more and more people. 

And note the accomplishments that were seen in the first century church.  They were built up on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, of which Jesus Christ and His teachings were the cornerstone.  And not only were they built up in the faith, but they steadfastly continued in this doctrine received through the leaders from Christ, learning more so as to grow in their relationship with Him.  Thirdly, they were separated from the world and instead lived in holy Christian fellowship and building all up who were with them.  They frequently spent time speaking of those things that God, through Christ, did for them through His sacrifice.  And they continued in prayers, knowing it was through this communion with God that they were now His children and they looked to Him for all things, including the beautiful relationship they had with Him.

 These things were done in order that the church would grow, not only in numbers but in devotion and strength and love for God almighty.  And this is the type of lifestyle we need to live as well.  As the times get more difficult and as the world begins to persecute Christians even more harshly, we need to come together to encourage each other, supporting our brothers and sisters in Christ, and together helping those who do not know Christ to accept the sacrifice He made for them through His death on the cross.  This is why we are here, and through the Holy Spirit, we have the means to live this life.  Let us all make the decision to make the Acts 2 lifestyle ours and show the world the reality of who we are and this life we have taken hold of.  The church in the first century grew incredibly.  Wouldn’t it be great to see the true church grow in the same way in this generation?

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

Colossians 4:2

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Colossians 4:2  

“Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.” – Colossians 4:2 

One of the things we need to always remember is in order to be effective in what we do for God, we must persevere in prayer.  This was Paul’s general advice to all Christians.  No matter what God calls us to, we must always stay in communication with Him.  And prayer should not be limited to what we are doing, but for all who are doing God’s work.  Paul continues with the following.  “praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak.” Colossians 4:3-4.  And this word is not limited by Paul to the Colossians, but he also said the same thing to the Ephesians.  “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” Ephesians 6:18-20.

The main idea here is that we do not neglect prayer but continue earnestly in it.  We are to be in such a frame of mind that we are ready at any moment to pray, either publicly or privately.  Paul, in his first letter to the Thessalonians, succinctly writes, “pray without ceasing,” 1 Thessalonians 5:17.  This takes it a step further.  It is important to remember that prayer is a two-way communication.  We must always be ready to not only speak to God, but also to hear from God. 

I remember a time I was speaking with a young man I met in north Miami who had left his home and moved in with someone who got him to become hooked on some serious drugs.  This destroyed his relationship with his family, especially his father.  While driving him to his apartment, I was praying while talking with him.  I spent several hours that night walking on the beach with him, discussing why he left home and left Jesus.  I did not have all the words, but God directed me in this conversation and I got him to promise to go home to his father and begin going back to church.  Since I was in the air force, I could not stay in contact with him,  but a year later, God brought him back to my mind, so I asked Him to show me how he was doing.  I was the sound man for a Christian rock band and that afternoon we were playing at a park in Miami.  We were setting up our equipment when all of a sudden this young man was running up to me.  It was the one I had spoken to a year earlier.  He had gone home that next morning and his father and him settled their differences and their relationship became solid again.  Also, He was attending Coconut Grove Baptist Church and was strengthening his relationship with God.  I rejoiced for some time after this, thanking God for showing me this wonderful news.

Prayer is absolutely essential in our Christian walk.  And, using a phrase a pastor friend once said, ‘not that we have to, but because we get to.’  Fellowship with Almighty God is one of the many blessings He has given to us.  We must, as our focus verse says, devote ourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.  And even if we do not know what to pray for, we have a helper to assist.  “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” Romans 8:26-27.  He knows our hearts and understands what our needs are and is there to meet them.

In closing, Paul is telling us to  be devoted to prayer and fellowshipping with God.  We are to keep watch and not fall into error but remain alert to God’s ways.  And we are to be thankful that we have a God who wants to hear from us, meet our needs, and speak to us as well.  And we are to pray for all who are doing the work of God throughout the world, that they will succeed in what God is calling them to do.  And again, always be alert to hear from Him as well.  Who better to give us the knowledge we need to affectively do His will.  Rely on Him for everything.  He is faithful in all ways.

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

Philippians 4:6

Verse of the Day Devotion: Philippians 4:6 

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” – Philippians 4:6 

Paul, in writing to the church at Philippi is encouraging them not be worried about things of this life.  He is not saying for us not to take care of any matters we need to address.  We do need to take care of our property and provide for our families.  As Paul wrote to Timothy, “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” 1 Timothy 5:8.  We are to take care of what God has given to us.  However, as the theologian Albert Barnes put it, “but that there is to be such confidence in God as to free the mind from anxiety.”  Jesus Himself put it this way.  “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:32-33. 

Paul goes on to say, “but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” Philippians 4:6b.  We are to trust God in everything; our needs and wants, everything regarding afflictions, embarrassment, trials, hurts and persecutions.  There is nothing we cannot go to our God with, whether it be regarding our bodies or minds, our hopes, dreams, conflicts, or fears.  And also, for anyone; ourselves, friends, families, strangers or even enemies. 

The Lord wants us to come to Him in everything.  We are to come to Him in both prayer and supplication.  The word ‘supplication’ is a stronger word than prayer.  It is the type of prayer which especially comes about from need or want in our lives.  And there is an especially important inclusion in this verse regarding prayer, with thanksgiving.  Whenever we lift up our requests to God, no matter what for, we need to be thankful.  Whether it be for needs, wants, or afflictions.  A good example of this is Paul and Silas in the Philippian jail.  “The crowd rose up together against them, and the chief magistrates tore their robes off them and proceeded to order them to be beaten with rods. When they had struck them with many blows, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to guard them securely; and he, having received such a command, threw them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them;” Acts 16:22-25.  They were beaten with rods, their feet placed in stocks and thrown into jail.  However, they were not anxious or complaining, they were praising God in the midst of their suffering.  And what happened?  God set them free. 

And what is the result of following our focus verse?  “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7. God will give us peace which surpasses our understanding.  And this peace will guard our hearts and minds in Christ.  We must trust that God will be with us in all things, and that all He does and allows will work toward our good.  In other words, we must be content in all things.  “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, 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. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”  God will supply all our needs, no matter what those needs are.  Contentment comes when we believe this and trust He will make it happen.  He promised us this, and He will bring it to pass.

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

Romans 12:12

Verse of the Day Devotion: Romans 12:12  

“Rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer,” – Romans 12:12  

One thing we can honestly say is that these are difficult times.  Look at everything that is going on today.  We have a pandemic that is causing havoc throughout our world.  People living in fear that they may be infected by the coronavirus and lose their lives.  We have factions of government that are looking to take advantage of this situation to advance their agendas, and some for their own personal advantage.  The economies of many nations are being destroyed because businesses have shut down in order to lessen the impact this virus has on people.

Crime is increasing as well with people getting desperate over the financial troubles they are experiencing, along with many in prisons being released and returning to the crimes they were originally imprisoned for.  Also, many are concerned about what the future holds for them.  Will they have a job?  Will they be able to pay their bills?  Will they lose their homes due to defaulting on their mortgages or rental agreements? 

These are tough questions.  When I see the news and listen to what people are saying, fear is running rampant within many areas of society.   Especially within the lower and midrange income populations.  But we need to remember that God is with us, and He will watch over us.  “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4. And, “For I am the LORD your God, who upholds your right hand, who says to you, do not fear, I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13. Both verses share a wonderful truth.  No matter what we are experiencing, God is with us, helping us and will bring us through.  He will never give us a promise He will not keep. 

We all will go through trials of one sort or another, and this pandemic is just one of many though more difficult than most.  However, our focus verse is perfect in outlining how we need to push through to the other side.  First, we must rejoice in hope.  We must remember that hope is not what we wish for, but what we know will happen (See Hebrews 1:1).  Because we know God will deliver us from any struggle or trial based on the two verses above, as well as many others, we can rejoice in this hope.  He will be with us through it all as He has promised us He would.  All we need do is trust, believe, and wait for His promise of assistance. 

And because we know He is faithful and will be with us, we can persevere through any trial we may encounter.  It may last an hour, day, week or more.  However, we can be assured that God is beside us all the way from start to finish.  “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

And lastly, we must be devoted to prayer.  We must be in a constant attitude of prayer, not closing our spirit to speaking to Him, or hearing from Him.  It is important that prayer be the major tool we use when trials come, fervently praying knowing He hears us, loves us, and will answer us.  Spending time in fellowship with Him will do much to ease our anxiety and bring the peace we so desperately need. 

God loves each one of us.  He desires the best for us, knows what is best, and will bring it to pass.  What we need to do is trust Him in everything.  God has promised us a wonderful future, and it cannot be thwarted.  We must rejoice that this promise of a glorious future is sure.  We must persevere through these times knowing we are not alone, that He is with us, and we must keep in prayer, not only asking for help, but for solace and strength as well.  There is no better way to be at peace in any situation than to trust God.

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

1 Peter 4:7

Verse of the Day Devotion: 1 Peter 4:7 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 5:3

Verse of the Day Devotion: Psalm 5:3 

“In the morning, O LORD, you will hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch.” – Psalm 5:3  

Psalm 5 is a psalm of David.  As we proceed here, you will see this is considered a morning prayer, one that is used to start the day. David starts by asking God to hear his prayer.  “Give ear to my words, O LORD, Consider my groaning.” Psalm 5:1. He pleas with God to hear the words of his prayer, not simply the words from his mouth, but the meditations, the groanings of his heart. The word groanings refers to whispers, murmurings and musings; those things which are not necessarily said but felt. 

Next, “Heed the sound of my cry for help, my King and my God, For to You I pray.” Psalm 5:2. He is asking God to assist and help him.  He calls out to God to hear him, to attend to his cries for help, acknowledging the one who he is praying to as his king and his God. He is crying out only to Him and no one else.  For he understands that the true God who he serves is the one who hears him and answers his prayers.  He does not call out to any idol or false god, only to the true God and creator of all.

He then, in our focus verse, declares these prayers in the morning, as soon as he wakes up he calls out to God.  Notice that this is not so much a prayer of request but a prayer of resolution.  You will hear my voice.  I will direct my prayer to you.  And I will eagerly watch for your answer for I know it will come and I will rejoice over it. 

I believe this is a wonderful example of how we should communicate with God.  We should take the morning when we first wake up to spend this time with our King and our God.  We should cry out to Him with our words and open ourselves to present our hearts and minds to Him.  Often, we do not have words to express our feelings, our pain and disappointments, our failings and regrets.  However, we should not attempt to hide these for He does hear our words as well as our groanings and inward thoughts.  We must understand we cannot hide anything from Him.  He knows our requests, needs, hurts and failings long before we were even born, for He knows the end from the beginning. 

And as we look at our focus verse, we must declare to ourselves that He absolutely will hear our voice.  There can be no question regarding this.  And not only our words, but our feelings as well.  He will not close His ears to us.  John put it this way. “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.” 1 John 5:13-15. 

Lets make the first thing we do when we wake up be going before God and spending concerted time in prayer. Let us lift up to Him our needs, fears, thoughts and feelings knowing that He hears us and loves us.  And then anxiously await His answer.  Do not only look for what we want or expect as His answer, but also what we may not expect.  He knows what is best, and we must take His answer and run with it, rejoicing as we go forward.  There is no better way to start the day.

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