Psalm 12:6

Verse of the Day Devotion: Psalm 12:6

“The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.” – Psalm 12:6

This verse is written in contrast to the verses just prior to it.  “Save, O LORD, for the godly one is gone; for the faithful have vanished from among the children of man. Everyone utters lies to his neighbor; with flattering lips and a double heart they speak. May the LORD cut off all flattering lips, the tongue that makes great boasts” Psalm 12:1-3. These are sad verses, for what David is saying is the faithful and godly men are not around anymore. Those who profess faith and vow to be faithful to God and His ways; the true believers of that day, have fallen and are being false regarding the trust committed to them. They began to speak falsehoods themselves.  There was a sad disregard of the truth and they dealt falsely with their neighbors.  Their words could not be trusted by those to whom they were spoken. And they spoke with a double heart.  This essentially means that they spoke the words with one heart, but in the other was held a different idea.  This is generally what hypocrisy is; saying one thing but not what you truly think or believe.

David had arrived at the place where he called out to God to cut them off.  This is more a statement of a truth rather than a desire, designed as a warning that all such persons would be punished or cut off.  Those being the ones who speaks flattery without belief and boasting in their own ways. And the results of this way of thinking was they believed they were in control.  “Those who say, “With our tongue we will prevail, our lips are with us; who is master over us?” Psalm 12:4.

The actions of those who acted as such caused much harm to people and God came to protect them.  “Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan, I will now arise,” says the LORD;I will place him in the safety for which he longs.” Psalm 12:5. Through their lies, those who once were faithful had fallen away.  The people trusted them, yet they betrayed them. The formerly faithful left the truth behind; replaced by self-exaltation and greed.  And therefore, this was what was so sad.  The ones the people trusted, betrayed them.

However, God speaks in our focus verse that He was not like them.  His words are pure in their truthfulness, not mixed with any amount of falsehood. He compared them to silver, refined in the fire seven times.  Each time silver is refined, more and more of the impurities are burned away.  Also, the words seven in the scriptures denotes a complete or perfect number.  The sense is, that the words of the Lord are ‘perfectly pure.’ There is no deception in His promises.  There is no flattery in what He says.  Men’s words cannot necessarily be trusted, but God’s words can always be trusted. So, be watchful when listening to the words of men, even with those who profess a strong faith in God.  As Paul stated to the Bereans, “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” Acts 17:11. Be careful to check out what is said, for what men say may have errors, but God’s words will not.  This will keep us in a place of safety, a place we desire so much, as designated in our focus verse.

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

James 3:17

Verse of the Day Devotion James 3:17 

“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.” – James 3:17 

James begins his discussion on wisdom by asking a rhetorical question. “Who among you is wise and understanding?” James 3:13a. James is asking those who think they have special understanding and insight regarding spiritual matters to essentially step forward so he can check out whether they are telling the truth or not. Now, based on verse one, James is no doubt speaking to those who are teachers, or desire to be one. Those people who respond to James’s invitation soon find themselves the object of searching and perhaps unwanted scrutiny. For James assesses these people’s claim to wisdom not in theological terms—how much doctrine do they know, how many Greek verbs can they parse—but in practical terms. And the terms laid out is good behavior. And this good behavior is to be done in the gentleness of wisdom.

Then in the next two verses he lays out why gentleness is important. “But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic.” James 3:14-15.  These verses are the antithesis to James’ challenge in verse 13b. If a person harbors bitter envy and selfish ambition in the heart, that person is, in effect, living a lie: claiming to be wise but conducting themself in a way that denies that claim. The reason that James can draw this conclusion is that bitter envy and selfish ambition are contrary to humility.

If then, humility marks the wise person, these negative qualities exclude a person from being considered wise. He then explains his statement in the next verse, “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.” James 3:16.  In this verse, James justifies his harsh verdict on false wisdom by showing what these attitudes produce. He points out how egocentric, selfish attitudes inevitably lead to disorder and every vile practice. This sentence denotes a restless and unsettled state of mind. And James ends this verse by saying, “there is disorder and every evil thing.” James 3:16b.  And based on the transition to verse 17, this is not wisdom for where jealousy and selfishness exist, wisdom is not found. “When pride comes, then comes dishonor, But with the humble is wisdom.” Proverbs 11:2.

Now, looking at our focus verse, “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.” James 3:17, we see an interesting point. Wisdom from above is pure, peaceable, and gentle. It is reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits. It is also unwavering and non-hypocritical. These things are in total opposition to verses 14-16. If these attributes exist, then the wisdom you may claim cannot be wisdom from God, it must be the wisdom of this world.  Paul questions this wisdom when he wrote, “Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” 1 Corinthians 1:20.  He in essence calls the wisdom of this world foolishness, which is counter to true wisdom from above. Thus, the wisdom of this world is not wisdom at all, but actually anti-wisdom.

In closing, true wisdom is actually the attributes of God exhibited in our lives.  Paul referred to these attributes as the fruit of the Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23. Let us walk in this way to exhibit true wisdom.  And the last two verses of this chapter clearly match what James said in our focus verse. “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.” Galatians 5:24-25.

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

2 Timothy 2:22

Verse of the Day Devotion: 2 Timothy 2:22   

“Now flee from youthful lusts, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” – 2 Timothy 2:22

The thought in our focus verse is straightforward, even if the mandated response can be difficult: there are acts that are heinous, immoral, unlawful, or otherwise contrary to God and goodness, and regarding these actions Timothy is being urged to flee these things. Timothy is a young man and unmarried. And because of this, Paul is instructing Timothy to flee the evil desires of youth. The Greek word translated lust here is epithumia, which has the idea of an earnest longing or desire, especially for what is forbidden. Paul almost always uses this word as regarding negative behavior or impulses. This same Greek word is used by Paul in Romans where He said, “Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, that their bodies might be dishonored among them.” Romans 1:24.

The idea is that if we do not flee these sinful desires, we may end up following these ways. So, what are these deeds?  “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:19-21. Paul refers to these as the desires of the flesh. “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.” Galatians 5:16-17.  

But the ethic Paul calls for is not simply one of sin negation. “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.” Galatians 5:18.  This certainly is or can be true of Timothy.  But Paul is calling Timothy to go further.  He is to substitute these illicit longings with the pursuit of ‘righteousness, faith, love and peace’. This idea is as simple as what Paul wrote to the Church in Rome. “Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21. In essence he is saying not to allow ourselves to be overcome by these desires simply by trying not to do it but overcome them by doing what is good in its place. Paul again wrote to the Galatians the following, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” Galatians 5:16. We are to live under the influences of the Holy Spirit and admit His influences fully into your hearts. And do not resist Him but yield to all His suggestions.

This is something we need to examine within ourselves. Is there something we do that entices us to sin? Are their questionable books or movies we pursue that cause us to indulge in sinful thoughts?  These could be illicit articles, or they could raise hate, anger, or other negative feelings in us. Do we focus on what people have done to us or against us? These also can raise improper desires in us. We need to look inside ourselves and see what causes us to sin. We then should pray about it, flee from these things, and focus on what the Holy Spirit calls us to do, that being pursuing righteousness, faith, love, and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. And notice the last part of our focus verse. “pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” 2 Timothy 2:22b. We do not need to do this alone. He is saying get with our brothers and sisters in Christ, where we can lift each other up in prayer and encourage each other in our Christian walk.

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.

Matthew 5:8

Verse of the Day Devotion: Matthew 5:8 

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” – Matthew 5:8            

This verse is part of what is called the beatitudes, which Jesus declared in His sermon on the mount.  This same sense is found in the Psalms.  David declared the following, “Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? And who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood And has not sworn deceitfully. He shall receive a blessing from the LORD And righteousness from the God of his salvation.” Psalm 24:3-5.  David states that the one who has clean hands and a pure heart.  By clean hands is the idea of walking upright and working righteousness.  Pure heart has the idea of one who not only does righteous deeds, but whose heart is pure and devoted to God.  He is one who conscientiously fulfils his promises.  In essence, he is more focused on walking with God, spending time with Him, making Him the focus of His life rather than on doing the outward actions of the law.

This beatitude demands from us a deep examination of our hearts.  Is the work we do done out of humble servitude to God, or out of self-aggrandizement?  Is it done to make ourselves look good, or to honor God?  What is our motives for what we do?  If our hearts are pure, it will not be to make us look good, but to serve those who need our help in service to God.  Our prayer and bible reading should focus on  communing with God?  Again, is He the focus?  As stated above, a pure heart understands He is everything and we are to lift Him up in everything we do or say; everything we do should be to bring glory to God.  

So, what is meant here when Jesus said, ‘for they shall see God?’  This can be difficult.  Everyone will see God eventually in the end.  The question then is, who will see God here?  My answer is those who know Him.  Let me give an analogy I think will help lay out what I think this means.  When a non-believer looks into the sky at night, he sees many pinpoints of light.  They see  stars, planets and other bodies out there which, many will say, came into existence without a god.  They do not see God in the sky for they do not believe He exists.  When a believer looks up there, they see the handiwork of God, how He created everything and placed it all into motion, including all life. 

In like manner, those who are devoted completely to God sees Him in everything.  When praying, they see Him on the other side of the conversation.  When they study the scriptures, they see Him teaching them the truth found in them.  When they are going through trials, they see Him by their side, helping them through.  No matter what happens or what they do, they see God in the process.  Now, I would never say God will not give a vision of Himself to anyone.  However, many never see a vision of Him, but they see Him in everything in their lives, the good times and the hard time.     

Remember what Jesus said just prior to His ascension.  “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  Matthew 28:18-20.  He sent us out to make disciples of all nations, doing His work here on the earth.  He may have ascended into heaven, but He is with us always.  And if we look at everything with a pure heart and true devotion to Him, we will see Him everywhere we go.

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

James 1:27

Verse of the Day Devotion: James 1:27 

“Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” – James 1:27           

In our focus verse, we see the word ‘religion’ used, which is seldom used within the scriptures.  The word here generally speaks regarding keeping the external requirements.  This is how the devout Jews of that day saw true religion, especially those who were in leadership.  James here does not see true religion this way.  He sees it as a much deeper idea.  For purposes of clarity, I will use the phrase ‘Christian Walk’ rather than religion going forward.

He starts out with the phrase ‘pure and undefiled’.  This refers to a genuine and sincere walk with Christ. We should strive for this type of walk which is real and sincere.  It should be one that God Himself sees as genuine.  The Jews believed that as long as they fulfilled all the rituals of the Law, then everything was OK.  They saw the outward expression as a picture of what was a true or false type of religion. However, James lays out the premise that there are two ideas regarding a genuine walk with God:  the external and the internal. 

In the verse prior to our focus verse we read the following, ”If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless.”  James 1:26. There is an external component with a genuine Christian walk.  James uses the words we say as an example; however, it encompasses all of our behavior.  As I heard many years ago, we must not only do the do’s, but we also must not do the don’ts.  Yes, we must focus on both sides.  We must not yell and curse at anyone, but we must also encourage and show others we love them. 

So, in our focus verse, James mentions two things that show a genuine Christian walk.  First, that we are to love and assist others where needed.  “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress,” James 1:27a.  In this we imitate God.  And this is what we should do.  “A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows, Is God in His holy habitation.” Psalm 68:5.  In the days of James, the Jewish leadership did not regard the widows and orphans as important.  So, he uses this as a clear example of how we are to act.  We are to help those who have no means to help themselves, and in this we show them the love of God. 

In the same verse we see an internal component.  “and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” James 1:27b.  Paul put it like this, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2.  We must no allow ourselves to act as the world does, no matter what pressure is placed upon us.  We must strive for perfection, not just better.  “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48.  Unfortunately, we will not always be perfect.  But when we do sin, then we must confess it to God, and He will forgive us. 

It is important we see that our Christian walk must be lived both internally and externally.  This is the mark of a genuine relationship with God.  That we show love by meeting the needs of those who need us, and to strive to be like Him.  By fulfilling the internal, the external will come naturally.  This is what God desires of us, and He will be with us to help in making it happen.  He wants us to be genuine and real, both in our desire to have our heart changed, and in the love we have for Him and our fellow man.

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