Hebrews 10:23

Verse of the Day Devotion: Hebrews 10:23

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” – Hebrews 10:23
Many times, I have been disappointed by people who have promised things that were not fulfilled.  I can be confident I am not the only one who has experienced this.  Once when I was growing up, I wanted to play baseball for the High School team.  I attended the first meeting and was given a list of things they expected of us.  One was that we had to have short hair, and since I had long hair, I agreed to get it cut.  My parents had agreed that I could play that year, so I went out and got my hair cut short.  After I did, my parents said that they would not let me play.  I asked why because they had promised.  Their answer shocked me, for they only promised it till I got my hair cut.  They would not put out the money needed to participate.  This hurt me terribly because I was not popular and had few friends, and I was hoping that playing baseball would change that. In our focus verse, the writer of Hebrews is saying that with God, a promise made is a promise kept.  (By the way, I cannot take credit for the line “A promised made is a promise kept”, it is the title of a song by Randy Stonehill.)   If God promises us something, he will bring it to pass.  And we can be assured that there is nothing that God cannot do.  “‘Ah Lord GOD! Behold, you have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You,” Jeremiah 32:17.  Therefore, if God promises us something, we know it will happen because He is a faithful God who can do all things. Let’s look at a few of these promises.  “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 have nothing to fear, for God has promised to strengthen us and uphold us.  Then there is “The LORD will fight for you while you keep silent.” Exodus 14:14. In our struggles, we can relax for God has promised to fight for us.  Then there is, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9. We can be sure that if we do sin, if we confess this sin to Him, acknowledging it as sin, and we repent of it, He promise is His forgiveness and the washing away of the unrighteousness in us.  And finally, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:19.  He has promised if we have a need, He will meet it.  We can relax and just wait for Him to supply. These are but a few of the many promises He has made to us.  Each one of these, and all the ones not mentioned, we can be assured they will be a kept promise.  Therefore, we are called not to waver but be steadfast, not wishing, not hoping, but knowing He is faithful.  This is the faith He calls us to. And as an extra, here is the chorus from the song by Randy Stonehill, “A Promise Made is A Promise Kept”.   “A promise made is a promise kept, there is a love so true. Just hold on, God is holding on to you. Day by day, Prayer by prayer, oh, don’t you ever forget that a promise made Is a promise kept. William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.

James 1:12

Verse of the Day Devotion: James 1:12  

“Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” – James 1:12  

This verse speaks of those who endure what comes upon them while remaining true to God.  The Greek word for trial is “πειρασμός”, pronounced “peirasmos” which has a dual meaning of test or temptation. And this word is used in both ways here in James 1.  First, we read “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,” James 1:2. The idea here is that we should rejoice when we experience persecution that tests our faith.  This does not speak of temptation, for Jesus told His disciples to pray that they would not be tempted.  “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41. Why would James say to rejoice in temptation when Jesus said to pray we do not enter it?  Regarding our focus verse, this one refers to overall trials, both testing and temptation.  “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12. We know this refers to temptation as well because of the next verse which speaks of temptation.  “Let no one say when he is tempted, I am being tempted by God; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.” James 1:13. 

The format of our focus verse is of a beatitude.  We see a list of them that Jesus taught about  in Matthew 5:3-11, and now James uses this same idea, declaring blessings to those who persevere under trial, not giving in to it.  We all go through difficult times, and I have become assured, based on what has been happening in our world today, that we will see more as the days progress.  So, this begs the question.  How can enduring difficult time be a blessing?  There are two ways this can be. 

The first is what will help us presently.  “Knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:3-4.  The more we endure, the stronger we will become.  I remember my last year in the Air Force, a friend invited me to run with him every other night.  I agreed, without knowing that he was running 3.7 miles each time.  And this was constant running, no run, walk, run.  This was run, run, run.  The first time was brutal, I thought it would never end.  But with each run, it became much easier as I became stronger and was able to endure through to the end.  The same can be said regarding enduring persecution and temptation.  The more we face these trials, with God in us, the easier it becomes.

The second regards our future.  “for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12b.  This refers to the day of His return.  If we remain true to the end, we shall receive the great and blessed promise of God.  Paul, writing to his disciple Timothy writes,   “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:7-8.  The first part of this is an analogy of the crown reserved for the winners in the Grecian games.  There was a crown reserved for the winner of these Olympic games.  Paul takes this farther in his letter to the Church in Corinth.  “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the game’s exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we imperishable.” 1 Corinthians 9:25. 

I want to encourage us all to be strong and endure any trials, both persecutions and temptations, with all the strength we can muster, and to grow stronger each day.  We have an amazing eternal future ahead of us if we persevere to the end.  Trials will come, some stronger than others.  But remember, we always have God with us to help.  “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13.  And this covers both, the temptation to sin, and the trials that push us to walk away from God.

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

Hebrews 10:36

Verse of the Day Devotion: Hebrews 10:36 

“For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.” – Hebrews 10:36

These are troubling times, and one group that is being greatly challenged are Christians.  The enemy is wreaking havoc on this world.  Christian persecution is increasing around the world, and this includes here in the United States.  Just as an example, during this pandemic, the reopening of churches in various places have stricter rules than other public gatherings.  However, the Word warns us about this.  “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” 2 Timothy 3:12.  And again, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.” 1 Peter 4:12-14. 

Now, what I want to do here is encourage everyone reading this.  Yes, there will be persecution and tribulation.  But we also have great promises as well.  Paul asks the following rhetorical question.  “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” Romans 8:35.  And then he gives the answer.  “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 8:38-39.  God loves us with an everlasting love.  No matter what we go through, He is with us and will help us through.  He will never leave us or forsake us.  We can call out to Him no matter what is happening.  Therefore we can get through no matter what the enemy brings our way.

Now, back to our focus verse.  “For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.“  Hebrews 10:36.  We must have patience when any form of trial comes our way.  It is important that we persevere through every trial understanding that we are not alone, for the all-powerful and all-knowing God is right there with us.  If we cannot do anything to rectify it, then we must be patient and remain calm as we lie in the hands of God and submit to His will, for we know He knows all things, nothing is a surprise to Him.  And remember, as Paul so clearly stated, “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. 

And finally, when we are patient and endure through all things that comes our way, we shall then receive what has been promised us.  That being our eternal inheritance of life in heaven with God.  In heaven we shall experience perfect love.  We shall be completely at peace and will never be troubled again.  John described this life like this.  “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” Revelation 21:1-4. 

This is ours if we stand strong and persevere through every hardship that comes our way.  These are His promises to us.  So, let us always do the will of God, never giving in to our fears but holding fast to what He has told, given, and promised us.  If we do, what an eternal future we have to look forward to.

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