Romans 8:28

Verse of the Day: Romans 8:28

“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 

As Christians, we have all struggled and gone through trials.  And I am sure we all have probably asked why we need to go through this.  A fair question, however, we must accept these times when they come.  God has reasons for everything He does and everything He allows.  It may be for our benefit, or it may be for another’s.

Francis Schaeffer once said the following, and I am paraphrasing.  ‘Too often we ask God to deliver us from a trial, when we should be praying that God will bring us through the trial.’  Persevering through will make us stronger and able to come through even more.

However, it could be for the benefit of another.  Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:3-4 the following, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

What a blessing we can be to so many if we keep this in mind.

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

Romans 12:2

Verse of the Day: Romans 12:2

“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.

When we become Christians, it is important for us to realize our old life is done away with and we are new creatures.  Paul wrote to the Corinthian Church the following, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17.  So, being a new creature is a result of accepting Christ as Savior.

Our old life was being conformed to this world.  In order to fit in and make life easier, we would do things the way the world did it, believe what the world believed, take on habits and feelings that it considered appropriate and acceptable.  I am not saying we all accepted everything, but much of it.  Especially in the area of the existence of God, and even more fundamentally, what God is.

When we are saved through the blood of Christ and become new creatures, we are to discard these old thoughts and ways.  We are to take on the ways of Christ and not of the world.  We must change the way we think from a worldly to a spiritual view.  We must study God’s Word and make Christ’s ways the model of our own.  If something is sin, we must see it as sin.  If something is a bad witness, we must not do it.  Our life must exemplify the life God wants and demands us to live.  And as we live this transformed life, we will exhibit to ourselves as well as those around us what is good and acceptable and perfect.  Let God work through us in this process.  We can do this because He promised us He would make it happen.

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

Romans 2:13

Verse of the Day Devotion: Romans 2:13

“For it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified.” – Romans 2:13 

Paul is writing to the Romans here, which have many Jews who believed they were saved by their adherence to the Mosaic Law.  Their belief is that if they are perfect in keeping the law, and this includes the sacrifices of such as the sin offering, then you are in good standing with God.  If they gave great deference to the Law, if they hear it read with attention and professed with their mouths a great desire and willingness to yield to it in obedience, they were the ones who were the saved.

We have many today who believe the same thing, and they think of themselves as Christians.  Many believe that if we hear or read the Bible and go to church occasionally, if we sing the words of a song without doing it in worship and praise to God, if we say a short and/or memorized prayer where the words are secondary to the action itself, then how different are we from the Jews who believed that as long as they heard the Law and performed the rituals they were good.

I am definitely not perfect here, however, when I detect this in myself, I immediately ask God to forgive me and I focus on what I am there for, reading His Word, singing as worship, praying in humility, or any other action in my service and adoration of God.  We must come to the point where we realize it is not the words we say or the empty actions we perform, but the heart and sincerity by which we do and say these things.  Jesus said the following, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37. This was said in answer to the question of which is the greatest commandment in the Law?

Jesus’ words bring additional clarity to our focus verse.  The greatest commandment in the Law is to love God with everything we have.  And that means whatever we do, whether it be reading or listening to the scriptures, praying to Him, taking communion or whatever else we are doing, ensure we are doing it with our whole heart, our whole soul, and our whole mind, and our whole strength.  If we do not, then we are mere hearers of the law who are simply going through the motions.

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

Romans 6:23

Verse of the Day Devotion: Romans 6:23

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:23

Paul wrote this in order to finalize a section where he was writing about the difference of being slaves to sin and slaves of righteousness.  Before we are saved, we are slaves to sin.  This word translated slave is the Greek word doulos, meaning slave or bondservant.  We obey our sinful desires which is counter to obeying God.

When we accept Christ as savior, accepting the work Christ did on the cross, then our old man who was a bondservant to sin dies, which then releases us from our bondage to sin, and because of the resurrection we are a new creation, being a new man who has no ties to sin, and we now are slaves to righteousness.

Now, there are two ultimate endings based on our decision.  Let’s look first at our former life.  We read in a couple verses up, “Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death.” Romans 6:21.  This is simple, if we remain in in our former life, not accepting Christ as our Savior, the “final result” is death.  There can be no other.  For we have nothing we can do to be declared righteous before God.  Only the work of Christ provides it.

Now, let’s look at our new life in Christ.  Paul said in the next verse, “But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.” Romans 6:22.  The “final result” of accepting Christ is first, a new life focused on holiness since the old is gone.  However, even better, this life will be eternal, everlasting, never ending.  I would say this is infinitely better then if we remained separated from Him.

Now, to the focus verse.  Look at what is said.  “Wages of Sin” and “Gift of God”.  Wages are defined as something we earn by the works we do.  Therefore, if we do not accept Christ, the old man will get what he earned, what he deserves.  That being death.  However, if we do accept Christ, we earn / deserve nothing.  However, we get a “free gift” from God.  And that is eternal life in Him.

So, we either get what we earn, which is death, or what we do not earn, which is eternal life.  I’ll take what I did not earn.

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

Romans 12:21

Verse of the Day Devotion: Romans 12:21

“Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.” – Romans 12-21

This verse lays out one of the more important attributes of Christianity; that being love.  And not just love in return for love, but love for all, no matter what.  There are many times when people will attack us, both physically and verbally.  Paul said a couple verses up, “Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men.”  Romans 12:17. We must always do what is right in the sight of God and not simply acceptable in the eyes of men.  We must never take into our own hands any recompense for evil.

Paul goes on to say, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” Roman 12:18. Our goal throughout our lives should be peace with all.  No matter what people do to us, we should show love for them.  Our positive reaction to attacks may be the very light that brings our attacker to Christ.  Remember, Jesus said the following, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”  Matthew 5:16.

Furthermore, it is not our place to give recompense.  “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.says the Lord.” Romans 12:19.   We must stand aside and let God handle it.  Moreover, we are to go to the opposite extreme.  “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap hot coals on his head.”  We are to return kindness for evil.  Jesus once said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.’ But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.” Matthew 5:38-39   He also said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” Matthew 5:43-44.

Now with this foundation laid, let’s go back to the focus verse.  We must never let the evil of another cause us to return evil to them.  We must never let evil take control of us but on the contrary, we must overcome evil with good.  We must let our good deeds vanquish the evil in another.  Many times, by simply showing someone love, they will stop the evil they are doing to us.  They normally expect you to respond with hatred, which will only feed their anger and make it stronger.  We must not let their actions win the battle.  We must strive to be a witness of the love of God to them.

I know firsthand this is not easy.  However, we have a God that walks with us, who never leaves or forsakes us, and works through us to do His good pleasure.  We just need to submit fully and let Him give us the strength.  I have been amazed by how good does overcome evil.  Who knows what impact we can have on another, simply by submitting to God and humbling ourselves.

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

Romans 1:16

Verse of the Day Devotion: Romans 1:16

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” – Romans 1:16  

Paul is a man who gave up everything for Christ.  And in his day, he was probably one of the least expected to do so.  He was a zealous Jew, who knew all the law and the components that came with it in regard to strict adherence to it.  Before he committed himself to the work of Christ, his name was Saul from the city of Tarsus.  Paul was a disciple of Gamaliel, a Jewish rabbi in the first century and a leader in the Jewish Sanhedrin, of which Paul would eventually become a member.  Gamaliel was well respected, being a grandson of the famous Rabbi Hillel who wrote a commentary on the Torah; the first five books of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament.  This relationship with Gamaliel no doubt provided Saul much solid teaching of Jewish law and beliefs.  We see Him first at the stoning of Stephen for his supposed heretical belief in Jesus as the promised Messiah, where he held the robes of those throwing the stones and thereby approving of Stephen’s execution.  He was on his way to arrest many more Christians in order to rid the world of this cult when Christ made Himself visible to Saul who then realized all he had done was wrong and offered himself totally to the work of Christ.

Because of this Saul, who I will now refer to as Paul, was cast aside by the Jews as an apostate.  And by the wise of the Gentiles, “when we are slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, even until now.” 1 Corinthians 4:13.  However, even though he was considered worthless to the Gentile leadership and the Jewish nation, where before he was regarded with much applause by both, he was not ashamed.  “According to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.” Philippians 1:20. Hope in this context refers to that which is expected with assurance and conviction.  It is not something wished for.  What Paul is saying is that no matter what befalls him, he will, with boldness and a steadfast strength, not in any way deny the truth of the gospel or water it down, even before emperors or kings, Jewish or Gentile leadership.  He will never compromise even in the least.  Christ will be magnified and declared the only way of salvation.  What drives him forward in this boldness?  The fact that the gospel is the power of God for the salvation to everyone who believes, both to the Jews and the Gentiles.

This should be what drives us as well.  The truth of the gospel is the most important message ever given to mankind.  It shows the only way of salvation.  It is absolute truth, and we should not be ashamed of this message but should be ready and anxious to declare it to a lost world.  Just as Paul lived a life totally contrary to this truth prior to his conversion, we also lived a life contrary to the truth prior to our conversion.  And the life we live now is infinitely greater than before.  We should never be ashamed of the gospel.  The word “ashamed” has the idea of, in the past tense, embarrassed or guilty of one’s actions, characteristics, or associations.  And in the present tense, reluctant to do something through fear of embarrassment or humiliation.  Are we reluctant to share the truth in certain situations?  Have we been ridiculed and become ashamed of a time where we shared the truth?  We all need to examine ourselves and see where we are regarding this.  To share God’s truth with boldness should be seen as a great privilege because this is our calling from the infinite God who exists and is there with us.

In closing, let us remember the words of Peter, where he wrote, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.  If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.  Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name.” 1 Peter 4:12-16.  Whatever we suffer in this life for the cause of Christ will glorify God and will be a source of rejoicing when He returns.  We must not focus on its effect on us, but how it glorifies God and how we will rejoice in the end.

However, I cannot end without these words of Jesus, “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” Mark 8:38. No need to comment on this one, it pretty much speaks for itself.

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

Romans 12:18

Verse of the Day Devotion: Romans 12:18

“If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” – Romans 12:18 

This verse is a very difficult one to follow, especially in the times we live in.  Peace is one thing we should always strive for.  It may not always be possible, however, that does not mean we shouldn’t strive for peace in every encounter we have with others, both the saved and the unsaved.

This verse starts with the idea that as far as it depends on us.  This means that we are to do everything imaginable to preserve the peace, short of compromise.  First, we are not to begin or to originate a quarrel.  Our words are to be ones that show the love we have for the person or persons we are speaking with.  If we become angry and our words and actions show it, then we may lose the ability to speak into their lives.  If to a Christian, they may not be willing to listen to us when we are trying to help them in their walk with God; thus causing them to continue doing that which is wrong, where if we remained cool, calm and collected, we may have been able to help them see their error and turn from it.  And if to the unsaved, they may turn away and not receive Christ as Savior, or at least look into it.  Both instances will be problematic regarding our ability to speak into their lives.  And because they may tell others, we may even close the hearts of anyone else who may endeavor to speak with them.

Secondly, if the anger is started by them, we must do all we can to appease that anger.  We should not walk off until we have done all we can to bring peace to the conversation, and possibly come to the point where they could listen to what we have to say, though this may not be possible because their hearts may be so closed to the truth that any attempt to speak it may incite the anger in them.  If this occurs, we should apologize and make peace if we can.  And we should then pray for, not necessarily with, the individual that God would open their hearts to receive the truth we intended to share with them.  The psalmist put it this way, “Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it.” Psalm 34:14.  I believe the evil he speaks of does include quarreling with those we speak with.  But note, we are not just to seek peace, we are to pursue it as well.  As Albert Barnes states in his commentary of Psalms, we must follow after it, make it an object of desire and put forth the effort to life in peace with all people.

It is important that we follow this with all our heart.  I have seen far too much quarreling and gossiping within churches, and all it does is create division.  Both sides may be desiring the same outcome, but they have differences in how to approach it.  We must do all we can to be at peace with everyone.  This way, we can remove the divisions that hurt the work of the church, and open people’s hearts to the message we have from God to them.  This is a huge part of our calling, for it provides the platform by which we make it happen.

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

Romans 10:14

Verse of the Day Devotion: Romans 10:14

“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” Romans 10:14 

Paul here in this verse is writing to the Church at Rome regarding the Jews and their inability to understand the message of salvation.  He declares in an earlier verse, “For I bear them witness that they (the Jews) have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” Romans 10:2-4.

The Jews, whose forefathers had received the law from God turned to the law as a basis of their salvation. But the prophet Joel states the following, “And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls.” Joel 2:32. As noted in this verse, it is not the doing of the law but calling out to God.  Jesus said it like this, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16. But because the Jews held to the law due to the traditions of the leaders and elders, they could not accept Christ as the Messiah because He did not act as they thought the Messiah would.

There were many in the first century that did not believe that Jesus was the Son of God.  In fact, all the religious practices of that time believed their gods demanded a following of specific rules in order to be saved.  It was not just the Jews.  However, going back to the Jews, they believed the law was the path to their salvation.  So, what is our focus verse saying.  To all Christians it is saying the following.  First, that how can they call on Jesus if they do not believe?  Putting this another way as Albert Barnes so clearly stated, “How could they call on one in whose existence, ability, and willingness to help, they did not believe?”  Good question.  Then he goes further.  And how can they call on someone who they have never heard of.  There were many in that day who had never heard of Him.  And then lastly, how can they hear of Him if no one tells them?

Paul is calling Christians, then and now, to tell people of the saving knowledge of Jesus, showing that He was the long-awaited Messiah.   Quoting Isaiah, he says “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’” Isaiah 52:7. Isaiah is saying that God richly approves and is delighted in those who go out and declare the good news of the love of God and His great salvation.  In one of Jesus’ last words He says, “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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20. He is calling all His disciples to go out and spread the good news.  We are the ones who, in our focus verse, are the preachers, the ones He has called to let everyone know who the true God and Savior is.  Some are called to go into nations and places far away, others to our neighbors, friends, co-workers and those whom we meet.  We must tell them, for if we do not, who will?

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

Romans 12:15

Verse of the Day Devotion: Romans 12:15

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” – Romans 12:15

This verse speaks of the love we should have for one another in the body of Christ.  It is important to remember that we, as Christians, are united in one body.  “For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” Romans 12:4-5.  And because we are united in one body, we should have should care for what happens to each other.  Paul put the unity of the body this way.  “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.” Colossians 3:12-14.

Note the last part of the verses above,  “Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.” Colossians 3:14.  It is love that is the binding force that unites all Christians together.  We should love each other with the love God has for us.  Having this love one for another enables two very important things.  First as stated above, we will all be in unity.  If we are not in unity within the body, then there is a lack of love that exists within the disunity.  I have been in this type of environment several times, and when this was the case, God’s work through the body was impeded.  We can disagree sometimes, but when a decision is made, the love we have for each other should then work together to make things happen as decided.

And the second enables the world to see what true love is.  “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35  When the world sees the love we have, they will look at us differently than if we are being divisive.  It goes a long way in opening the door to successful evangelism.

How can we show love to each other.  There are endless ways, but our focus verse points out two.  The first is to rejoice with those who rejoice.  We should be interested in how our brothers and sisters in Christ are doing.  When a great blessing comes their way, we should be as excited for them as they are for themselves.  God has provided it to them, and we should be thankful to God for their sake.  And we must be careful not to envy them or covet their blessing.  Rejoice with them, letting them know we are so happy for them.

And on the other side, we should weep with those that weep.  We should join them in their mourning, being with them to help them through this difficult time.  We should show true love by walking with people who suffer some type of loss that moves them to weep.  It is a difficult thing to mourn alone, and we should love each other to the point we would never leave anyone alone.

Through these two things, rejoicing with the rejoicing, and weeping with the weeping, the body of Christ is greatly strengthened, and the bonds that unite us will grow even stronger.  Take whatever time necessary to fulfil these two commands.  If we all did this, it would be amazing to see all that God will accomplish through us.

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

Romans 10:15

Verse of the Day Devotion: Romans 10:15

“How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!” – Romans 10:15

There are so many people in this world have never given their life to Christ.  Some because they have heard the message and have decided to reject it.  However, there are a great number who have never heard the truth of the gospel; some never having heard it at all and some who have heard about Jesus but do not understand what the Christian life is about.

The verse just prior to our focus verse states, “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?” Romans 10:14. The reason we use the term unbeliever is because those who are not Christians do not believe Jesus is the Son of God and that He came to die for their sins.  So, Paul is asking a fair question.  How can they, who do not believe in Jesus, call out to Him?  Many people around the world have never heard about the God we serve.  They worship false gods that have been introduced to them by the people around them.  They are told that these gods are real, and they must please them through various ordinances laid out in their religious rituals.  So, if these are the only gods they know, why would they cry out to a God they have never heard of?

Now, at the end of verse 14, Paul asks the question, how can they hear about the true God and His Son Jesus if there is no one to tell them?  The answer is simple, they most likely will not hear about Him.  The religious leaders of their false gods will not tell them, mostly because they have never heard of Him as well.  Also, because they would never speak against the gods they serve for fear of losing their favor.  So, it is up to us, as Christians who know Christ intimately, to spread the word of Jesus and the gift of salvation He has provided.

Now, not all of us are called to be missionaries in a foreign country or even away from where we live.  But we are all called to reach the lost where God sends us.  Jesus said this to His disciples, and through His word, to us.  “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 28:19-20.  This is about evangelism and sharing the good news because you cannot make someone a disciple unless He is a Christian.  So, from our focus verse, we are the ones sent by God to the world.

Paul then, in quoting Isaiah when He says that how beautiful are the feet of those bring the good news to the lost.  We are all called to preach the gospel, whether in a foreign country, a distant city or only as far as your neighborhood.  When we fulfill that calling, our work with its message is a beautiful thing in the eyes of God.  It is why we are here.  Let’s make it happen and bring the message of salvation to all God brings to our path.

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