Isaiah 1:17

Verse of the Day Devotion: Isaiah 1:17

“Learn to do good; Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless, Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow.” – Isaiah 1:17 

Isaiah is speaking to Judah about its wickedness.  They are not living as they ought. “Listen, O heavens, and hear, O earth; For the LORD speaks, “Sons I have reared and brought up, but they have revolted against Me.” Isaiah 1:2.  Judah has revolted against God.  They are not following His ways but their own.  In fact, the Lord speaking through Isaiah declares that they do not even know Him.  “An ox knows its owner, and a donkey its master’s manger, But Israel does not know, My people do not understand.” Isaiah 1:3. He compares His people to an ox and a donkey and basically says they know more than Judah, for at least they know who their master is.  He continues with, “Alas, sinful nation, People weighed down with iniquity, Offspring of evildoers, Sons who act corruptly! They have abandoned the LORD, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, They have turned away from Him.” Isaiah 1:4.

Based on verses 2-4, Judah has abandoned God, choosing to walk in their own way and not God’s way.  How sad that God’s people in the time of this writing, having seen all that God has done for them, would walk away from Him when, in their eyes, did not appear to believe they needed Him.

However, God has not rejected them.  He still loves them and has a purpose for them.  He now tells them what they must do.  “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil,” Isaiah 1:16.  This verse, just prior to our focus verse, tells them what they must do because of their rejection of His way.  First, they must wash themselves, making themselves clean.  He is telling them to put away their sins, stop committing them anymore.  Sin is represented in the scriptures as defiling or polluting the soul, making it filthy.  This idea is alluded to by King David when he wrote, “Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.” Psalm 51:1-2  Sin is like dirt that makes us unclean, and we must wash this filth from us.

God then goes on to say through Isaiah, remove this sin from my sight.  Since He sees everything, and nothing can be hidden from Him, He is basically saying to cease from doing evil.  Stop it altogether.  Do not just wash yourselves, but do not get dirty again.

Now, this takes us to the focus verse.  He says to learn to do good.  They were obviously ignorant of what was good, so God was telling them to study to see what is good.  These include, but are not limited to, seeking justice.  This is to be done between 2 or more people when a wrong is done, without respect of persons.  They are to reprove those who are ruthless, those who take advantage of others or are cruel and heartless to others.  They must not allow them to continue in their evil ways but correct them and get them to stop.  They are to defend the orphans and plead for the widow. Both of these groups had no one to plead their case back in this time.  They were ignored and left to fend for themselves.

Today, we have similar situations.  Our county is moving toward atheism and rapidly at that.  Many in this country are defying God and living as they please.  And we, or those who come back must learn what it truly means to do good.  We must cleanse ourselves from sin and stop doing whatever evil we find ourselves doing.  We must protect those who need protecting and help those who need help.  We must see other more highly than we see ourselves (Philippians 2:3).  We must honor God in all we do.  Let us learn what is the right thing in everything and focus on doing them.  That is what He calls us to.

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

2 Timothy 4:2

Verse of the Day Devotion: 2 Timothy 4:2 

“Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.” – 2 Timothy 4:2 

The apostle Paul is writing these two letters to Timothy in order to help him understand his calling.  He is exhorting him here in the second letter to preach the word.  “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.” 2 Timothy 4:1-2.  He is charging Timothy to preach the Word of God.  To teach it accurately and in its totally.  And he is to be faithful in this duty.  And where necessary, reprove and rebuke them.  In other words bring correction.  And he is also to exhort them as well.  This means to stand beside to encourage those who need encouragement.  He tells him to always be ready when an opportunity to present the gospel or show where they may be in error in their understanding.

And in the next verse, he explains why.  “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” 2 Timothy 4:3-4.  In those days, you essentially had two groups that were trying to make the argument that Christianity was a false religion.  First there were the Jews, especially the leadership: the Pharisees, Sadducees, and the Scribes who continually preached against the teachings of Christ and His apostles.  And the others are  gentiles who were followers of many false gods and religious teachings.  He told Timothy to be vigilant against any errors that have creeped into the church body and were deceiving some of its members.  These false teachers would tell them exactly what they wanted to hear, tickling their ears until they gave up on the truth to follow what sounded good to them. 

Now, we also have been called, for this time in history, to the same purpose.  We are to preach the gospel and help many to receive Christ as their Lord and Savior.  And we are to help those in the church to understand what the Word actually says as apposed to what it does not.  There are so many ear ticklers which make it easy to gather followers to their false teachings.  As an example, there are many teachers who proclaim if you have enough faith, you can get anything you want.  This sounds really good, and we can receive from God things we want.  However, not necessarily everything we want, for some of what we want may not be good for us.  “What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask.  You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.” James 4:1-3. 

And there are many more teachings like this which distort the truth found in His Word, causing many to be deceived, succumbing to their desires over His truth.  They need our help.  And there are two things we can do to assist them.  First, to preach the truth, teaching them what the Bible actually says, encouraging them to stay true where they do have a true understanding, while showing them where they are in error and helping them to understand and accept the actual meaning.  This is important in helping them to become who God called them to be.  And second, helping them check everything they are taught to ensure it is truth.  There was a group Paul came across in Berea who made this a standard. “The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” Acts 17:10-11. 

I want us to encourage each of us to always be available to preach the truth, and not be afraid to bring both encouragement and correction where needed.  And we are to accomplish both with love, grace, and  tenderness.  And like the Bereans, we should check out everything we hear and not accept it at face value.  And in all these things, help and train other Christians to do the same.  The enemy wants to deceive as many as possible.  Therefore, we must fight against it, with God’s help, and through our work, solidifying  the truth in everything.  Through this, the church will be strengthened and better able to stand against every deception that exists in our world.   

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

2 Timothy 4:2

Verse of the Day Devotion: 2 Timothy 4:2

“Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” – 2 Timothy 4:2 

This verse addresses the very heart of our responsibility while here on earth.  Jesus, in His last words to the disciples said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” Matthew 28:19.  The wording here is particularly important and precisely stated.   He tells them to make disciples, not just converts.  Too many times people are evangelized and make the decision to become a Christian, but then walk away because there is no follow-up.  It does not need to be the one who leads them to Christ, but someone must take this role to train them in the ways of God.  It could be an individual or a group, such as a church or a fellowship group.  It  is imperative that discipleship be our goal, and not just conversions.  Jesus expresses this idea in the next verse.  “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20. 

Let us now look at what Paul said in this letter to Timothy and examine what he is saying.  Our focus verse states that we are to be ready, in season and out of season.  What this means is that we must be ready to teach the word, to both the saved as well as those needing salvation, whether it is convenient or not.  We must remember that we are doing God’s work and not our own.  First, He desires that all people be saved.  “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9.  And as Jesus stated in Matthew 28:19, He has called us to go out and make disciples. 

And as the time draws closer to His return, it becomes even more essential that we reach out to our brothers and sisters in Christ.  “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” 2 Timothy 4:3-4.  I believe we have reached this time.  The Greek idea translated sound doctrine is “healthful doctrine”, doctrine that contributes to the health of the soul, or true salvation.  Many who claim they are Christians are turning away from what God says and are listening to what they want to hear, whether it is true or not.  And they will adhere only to those who teach these ideas that “tickle their ears”.  And unfortunately, in so doing, they will ignore the truth as laid out in scripture in order to follow these myths that appeal to their desires.

So, what are we called to do?  As stated above, we are to be ready to preach the word, the true word of God.  And how?  Several things are listed.  First, we are to reprove.  This means we are to refute those things which are wrong and help people realize what the truth really is.  For instance, some believe that after salvation you can sin all you want because all your sins are already forgiven.  My wife and I encountered a young man who absolutely believed this, and was having affairs with women because, as the belief states, he is already forgiven.  However, the truth is found in Romans 6.  “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” Romans 6:1-2.  When we encounter someone who believes false doctrine, we are to, in love, work to show them they are wrong and present the truth. 

We also must be willing to rebuke them, again in love.  This means to bring correction to them, to express a judgement that what they believe is absolutely wrong and contrary to God’s will.  In essence, we are to admonish them and show them that they are wrong and need to reject these false teachings and accept what is right.  And we are not just to teach the truth, but also encourage people to follow the truth.  And we are to fulfill this calling with great patience and a persevering spirit.

We are called to preach and teach, spreading the good news of God to a world that so greatly needs to hear it.  And we are to train and disciple our brothers and sisters to understand what the Christian life is truly all about and assist them in moving toward that goal.  We need to take every opportunity we have to evangelize and teach.  We cannot, by ourselves, do it all.  But we can work together with our fellow Christians and, with God’s leading, go out and preach the truth to all we come across.  And by doing this, God will use us to lead many to Christ, and educate our brothers and sisters in the truths we find in His word.     

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