Jeremiah 1:5

Verse of the Day: Jeremiah 1:5

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born, I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” – Jeremiah 1:5 

Have you ever wondered why God works in you and through you the way He does?  We see the answer here in these words God spoke to Jeremiah; that being He knew Jeremiah even before He formed Him in His mother’s womb.  And because He knew Jeremiah, He consecrated Him and appointed Him to be a prophet.

God does not wait for us to be saved to determine what He will call us to do.  He knows us long before we are born.  In fact, long before we were made.   We see in Luke that John the Baptist was known before his birth.  “But the angel said to him, Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John.  You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.  For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God.”  Luke 1:13-16 We also see it with Samson in Judges 13.

From the beginning He knew what you would be doing for Him.  Do not be discouraged thinking you are ‘out of your league’.  He called you to your mission from the very beginning.  And remember, He will work through you to make it happen.  You are not alone.  Submit to Him, no matter what, and you will fulfill His purpose in your life and bring glory to God.  And that is a good thing.

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

Deuteronomy 18:15

Verse of the Day Devotion: Deuteronomy 18:15

“The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him.” – Deuteronomy 18:15

These words that Moses spoke to the people were prophetic words from God referring to a future prophet that would come out of Israel.  Notice the wording, “The Lord will raise up for you a prophet like ME”.  Many at that time believed that Moses must have been referring to Joshua who would be the one to lead the people into the promised land.  However, there are some intriguing words spoken by Jesus and the apostles that show who this prophet like Moses really was.

For instance, when Peter was witnessing to the Jews in Solomon’s Portico, he said, “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time. Moses said, ‘THE LORD GOD WILL RAISE UP FOR YOU A PROPHET LIKE ME FROM YOUR BRETHREN; TO HIM YOU SHALL GIVE HEED to everything He says to you. And it will be that every soul that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.” Acts 3:23. He is telling the listeners to repent and return to the true faith, so that when the end comes and Jesus returns, they will experience a time of refreshing from the presence of the Lord.  And if they do not return, they will see destruction rather than refreshing.  Note also that Jesus is referred to as the Christ about whom God spoke of through His prophets, particularly Moses.

Stephen as he was speaking to men from the Synagogue, referring to the same verse in Deuteronomy, shows that Moses was referring to Christ in a later verse, “You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did. Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become; you who received the law as ordained by angels, and yet did not keep it.” Acts 7:51-53.  The righteous one, whose betrayers and murderers they had become.

There are various verses in the gospels referring to “The Prophet”, using the definite article rather than the indefinite. This no doubt refers to this prophet declared to be like Moses.   In the first chapter of John, we see Jewish priests and Levites from Jerusalem going up to John the Baptist to confer with Him regarding the coming Messiah and to question all that he was doing.  “This is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent to him priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’  And he confessed and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” John 1:19-20.  He knew what they were suspecting him to say, so he states emphatically that he is not the Messiah.  Continuing, “They asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” And he said, ‘I am not.’ ‘Are you the Prophet?’ And he answered, ‘No.’ Then they said to him, ‘Who are you, so that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?’  He said, ‘I am A VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, ‘MAKE STRAIGHT THE WAY OF THE LORD,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.’” John 1:21-23.  Note the question “Are you THE prophet?”  John,  referring to the words of Isaiah, answers them saying,  “A voice is calling, “Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.” Isaiah 40:3.  He declared he is that voice declaring the coming of THE Prophet, not the Prophet Himself.

There are many references in the Old Testament, also known as the Jewish Scriptures, that point to the coming Messiah.  For instance, “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6. And “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14. And lastly, “And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.” Genesis 3:15. And there are countless others as well.   I know we are several months from celebrating Christmas; however, this is the most important event in all of time and space; so important that it is found throughout all of the Old Testament.  Without this coming Messiah, there would be no salvation, no reconciliation with God, and no justification, declaring us righteous.  It was so important that most of the prophets declared His coming, like Moses and Isaiah, Micah and Jeremiah.  The Jewish leadership refused to see Jesus as “The Prophet” because their presuppositions clouded their minds and they refused to accept what was so prevalent in their scriptures.

I encourage us all to remove any presuppositions that prevent us from seeing the truth of the scriptures, not just where it comes to our Lord and Savior Jesus the Messiah, but in other areas as well.  Who knows what we could understand in greater ways if we did.  Things would definitely come into greater focus.

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

Mark 6:4

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Mark 6:4

 “And Jesus said to them, A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and among his own relatives and in his own household.” – Mark 6:4

We now see Jesus coming back to Nazareth to minister. “And He went out from there, and He came into His hometown; and His disciples followed Him.” Mark 6:1. Jesus here arrives in His hometown of Nazareth. It is called His hometown because it was where He was conceived in Mary via the Holy Spirit, and where He was raised and educated. He was willing to go there because He knew many of the citizens and that they could take advantage of what he had to teach and show through His miraculous ways.

Then He began to teach. In order to speak in the synagogue you needed to be invited, and because of Jesus’ invitation to speak in the synagogue, this indicates he had become well-known as a teacher. He says, “And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue; and the many listeners were astonished, saying, Where did this man get these things, and what is this wisdom given to Him, and such miracles as these performed by His hands?” Mark 6:2b. When the Sabbath arrived, He started teaching in the synagogue, and there were many listening to what He had to say. But there were those who were listening that were questioning what they saw. They asked, where did He acquire the ability to teach like this, and where did He get the ability to heal like He was doing? They asked these questions about the source of Jesus’ wisdom and power because of the fact He had not studied with a rabbi and therefore did not have the proper credentials.

Then they began questioning His humble beginnings. “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James, and Joses, and Judas, and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us?” And they took offense at Him.” Mark 6:3. There is a question as to what actually was said. Was it, “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary?” Or was it, “Is not this the son of the carpenter and Mary?” I am not going to answer this specifically, however it would be most unusual to refer to a Jewish man as the son of his mother even if she was a widow. But either way, they found it difficult to believe he was any better than His parents or family. In their opinion he was nothing more than an ordinary person who worked as a carpenter. Their physical knowledge of Jesus prevented them from having a spiritual knowledge of who He was. And because of this, they were offended by Jesus.

However, Jesus heard what they were saying and responded to their comments. “And Jesus said to them, A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and among his own relatives and in his own household.” Mark 6:4. The idea Jesus cited is found in various forms in Jewish and pagan literature and is a truism. The early church did not use the title ‘prophet’ because it was inadequate. The words “relatives” and “house” indicate that Jesus’ family joined with their neighbors in rejecting his claims. We read in Mark 3, the following. “And He came home, and the multitude gathered again, to such an extent that they could not even eat a meal. And when His own people heard of this, they went out to take custody of Him; for they were saying, He has lost His senses.” Mark 3:20-21. The phrase ‘His own people’ can be understood as ‘His own kinsmen’. We see later in this chapter that people were saying He was the resurrected John the Baptist. “And King Herod heard of it, for His name had become well known; and people were saying, John the Baptist has risen from the dead, and that is why these miraculous powers are at work in Him.” Mark 6:14.

And lastly we read. “And He could do no miracle there except that He laid His hands upon a few sick people and healed them. And He wondered at their unbelief. And He was going around the villages teaching.” Mark 6:5-6. We see here that Jesus’ work was limited because of the unbelief of the people. This was in respect to God’s principle of partnership with man. God may work with no belief, but not with unbelief.

And this was just the beginning of His rejection.  Later, as we move through Mark and the other gospels, we see the Jewish Leadership rejecting Him for they did not see how He fit in their belief structure regarding the Messiah. Theirs was not a could not, but a would not believe issue. In these verses, His family and neighbors in Nazareth rejected Him because they pretty much saw Him as a simple carpenter as well as Mary and Joseph’s child. They could not see Jesus any other way, for they watched Him grow up and mature. But as His ministry moves forward, we see many who began to believe as the His life here proceeded. According to the apostle John, “For not even His brothers were believing in Him.” John 7:5. That’s incredible. Those who had lived with Jesus for 30 years really did not know him. Not one of Jesus’s brothers is mentioned as a disciple during his pre-crucifixion ministry. But after his resurrection and ascension, there they are in the upper room worshiping him as God. “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.

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

Deuteronomy 18:18

Verse of the Day Devotion Deuteronomy 18:18 

“I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I commend him.” –  Deuteronomy 18:18

Up to Christmas day, I will be looking at the different prophesies which foresee the coming of the promised Messiah, Jesus the Christ.  He came here in order to offer the means of salvation for all.  An important idea to remember is that God knows everything and forgets nothing.  “Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,” Isaiah 46:9-10.

Prior to this verse, the Lord speaks to His people, through Moses, referring to the new land that He is leading them to.  They were not to take on the practices of the people there which were against the Law of God.  “When you enter the land which the LORD your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritists, or one who calls up the dead.” Deuteronomy 18:9-11. And if anyone does, “For whoever does these things is detestable to the LORD; and because of these detestable things the LORD your God will drive them out before you.” Deuteronomy 18:12.

Now, after this Moses says that God has promised another prophet, which is found in our focus verse. “I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.” Deuteronomy 18:18. This is similar to verse 15 above where he says, “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him.” Deuteronomy 18:15. Notice that in these two verses, this prophet is declared to be like Moses. And this was true throughout the Old Testament.  Theologian Adam Clarke put it this way. ”Among all the succeeding prophets none was found so eminent in all respects nor so highly privileged as Moses; with him God spoke face to face – admitted him to the closest familiarity and greatest friendship with himself. Now all this continued true till the advent of Jesus Christ, of whom Moses said, A Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you from among your brethren, like unto me; but how great was this person when compared with Moses! Moses desired to see God’s glory; this sight he could not bear; he saw his back parts, probably meaning God’s design relative to the latter days: but Jesus, the Almighty Savior, in whom dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, who lay in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared God to man.”

Moses never saw the full glory of God, but Jesus radiated God’s glory. “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high; having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.” Hebrews 1:1-4.

So, as we see in our focus verse, God said “I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.”  Deuteronomy 18:18.  This is a prophesy of the coming Messiah, who will be born of a virgin and will declare the truth of God to all.  Those who believed and followed were saved, but many Jews would not accept His message for it went against the traditions of the Jewish faith.  And He ultimately came so that all who wanted to could accept the message of the truth and be saved.  And this is the primary reason for Christmas, to provide a way of salvation to all who would accept Him.

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