Matthew 5:6

Verse of the Day: Matthew 5:6

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.’ – Matthew 5:6

We all desire to be righteous before God.  However, how strongly do we desire it?  Jesus said that we should hunger and thirst for it.  In other words, we should desire this above anything else.

This is what God desires of us.  To be righteous, to do the right thing, to be as He created us to be.  However, if we do not make this our focus, or if other things can take precedence, we will not attain it.  I want to encourage everyone reading this to go before God in prayer, asking Him to guide your steps to do all that He commands and turn away from that which He does not want.  Ask Him to help you be a righteous servant and son.  For if this is truly your greatest desire, you will attain it.

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

Matthew 5:6

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Matthew 5:6

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.

In this verse, Matthew is talking about people’s attitudes toward righteousness. Most people want to do things that are right. We, as Christians, are called to do what is right. However, there is a big distinction between doing righteous things and desiring righteousness. And that distinction is defined as even greater then desiring it. We are called to ‘hunger and thirst’ for righteousness. Now this goes far beyond desiring righteousness. Jesus is speaking of an intense longing for righteousness that may be likened to both hunger and thirst. Everyone now and then does what is right, but Jesus is pointing his hearers not to occasional acts but to a passionate concern and regarding what is right.

Righteousness is often used in the New Testament for the right standing believers have before God because of Christ’s atoning work. Now it is plain that Matthew has a strong interest in the upright living that should characterize the servant of Christ. To be more specific, we should notice that he is not suggesting that people can make a strong effort and achieve the righteousness of which he is writing: it is a given righteousness, not an achieved righteousness. The blessed may not totally achieve it but hunger and thirst for it.

There are several verses in the Old Testament that have the same idea as we find in our focus verse. “As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; When shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my food day and night, While they say to me all day long, Where is your God?” Psalm 42:1-3. Note our focus verse. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.” Matthew 5:6. As the dear pants for water, in other words, as the dear needs water due to thirst, I thirst for God and His ways.

Another verse is found in Psalm 63, which is a Psalm of David. “God, You are my God; I shall be watching for You; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and exhausted land where there is no water.” Psalm 63:1. Here, David compares his desire for God as one who desires water where he cannot find it. David sought God at the tabernacle as earnestly as a thirsty man looks for water in a dry and thirsty land. The Wilderness of Judah is largely desert, so this was a picture of longing that came easily to David’s mind. And one more psalm, “I spread out my hands to You; My soul longs for You, like a weary land. Selah” Psalm 143:6. This is another from David, who is spreading out his hands to God to reply.

And then in the book of Amos. “Behold, days are coming, declares the Lord GOD, When I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine of bread or a thirst for water, But rather for hearing the words of the LORD. People will stagger from sea to sea And from the north even to the east; They will roam about to seek the word of the LORD, But they will not find it.” Amos 8:11-12. Notice the nature of this famine. It is not a lack of God’s word, but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD. The condition described is that of being deaf to the words of Jehovah, not able to hear them. It is not a case of God withholding His revelation; but of people being in such a state that they do not see it, do not hear the words.

God is calling us to seek Him, His word, and His righteousness.  We should desire God’s righteousness more than a starving man cries out for food, and more than someone who is intensely thirsty cries out for water. Deeply joyful and spiritually whole are those who actively seek a right relationship with God and, in so doing, discover that He alone can completely save and satisfy our souls.

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

Proverbs 14:14

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Proverbs 14:14 

“The backslider in heart will have his fill of his own ways, but a good man will be satisfied with his.” – Proverbs 14:14

One of the saddest things I have seen are people who confess their loyalty to God and Christ, but do not live in a manner that shows evidence of it.  Sometimes people do not actually accept the ways of Christ and obey them, but simply declare an acceptance of Christ without ever actually becoming His followers.  However, many actually become believers but then are led astray by their own desires and ways.  It is this second idea I want to discuss today.

The first part of our focus verse speaks of this.  “The backslider in heart will have his fill of his own ways” Proverbs 14:14a.  One who is a ‘backslider in heart’ is someone whose heart has departed from the Lord.  It is leading them away from what God desires, and actually commands, them to do.  I remember having a discussion with a Christian who daily watched some inappropriate television programs, essentially soap operas,  that showed people in sinful behavior and foul speech  through the entire program.  I asked them why they felt a compulsion to watch these shows even though the activities shown went against the ways of God.  Her answer shocked me.  She said, well, it is my little ‘sin’.  She was OK with it because it was just a small sin, it would not affect her.  However, she was deceived because we are called to stop all sin.  “No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. Little children make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.” 1 John 3:6-8. 

Now, we will at times slip up and sin.  “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  1 John 1:8-9.  The idea of our focus verse is not that we may at times sin, but that we make sin a part of life.  We do not backslide if we recognize what we did as sin, ask for forgiveness from God, and then focus on not sinning again.  The backslider is one who recognizes their action is sinful but continues in it, because his heart desires to do so.  In the second part of this verse, “But a good man will be satisfied with his.” Proverbs 14:14b, speaks of one who is satisfied with the life God has called them to, and will not be swayed by their heart to sin.  This is the main difference between the two types mentioned in Proverbs 14:14.  One finds it acceptable to sin, the other does not and strives to keep his heart pure in order not to be led astray.

I want to encourage everyone reading this, including myself here, to examine ourselves and see if there is anything that may be working to lead us astray.  It is important that we keep our desires in check. And we are not alone but God who is with us will help us.   “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. 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 10:12-13.  And this High Priest is gracious toward us.  “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:14-16. 

God loves us enough that He gave His life for us.  Let us show our amazing love by desiring to live the life He has called us to.  Remember what Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” John 14:15.   

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

Ecclesiastes 5:10

Verse of the Day Devotion: Ecclesiastes 5:10 

“He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. This too is vanity.” – Ecclesiastes 5:10 

Some years ago, a rich entrepreneur was asked a question regarding his goals.  Not remembering the exact quote, the question was essentially, ‘You have everything you could ever need, millions of dollars, a large and fancy home, and an incredible business growing fast and prosperously.  What keeps you motivated?  His answer was this, “To make another million.” 

This is a sad response to the question; however, I believe many more would answer this question in the same way.  This person could have said enjoying time with family and friends, learning new skills, or just enjoying life.  However, it appears that his mind was focused on making as much money as possible for his heart was focused on wealth. 

Money is but a small part of what life is about.  It should be used as a means of meeting our needs and the needs of others.  Of course we should set aside some provisions for future use.  “Go to the ant, O sluggard, Observe her ways and be wise, Which, having no chief, Officer or ruler, Prepares her food in the summer And gathers her provision in the harvest.” Proverbs 6:6-8. We should not take all we make and spend it, for harvests happen one or two times a year, and some should be saved for when there is no harvest.  And this verse.  “There is precious treasure and oil in the dwelling of the wise, But a foolish man swallows it up.” Proverbs 21:20.  This is saying that it is wise to put some of our money away for future needs, because if we consume it all, we shall have nothing to support us during these times.

The problem with loving money is that we will never be satisfied and will focus on getting more and more.  People who love certain things will desire to acquire more of what they love.  Those who love snacks will buy assorted snacks to satisfy their desire for snack foods.  Those who love books will acquire books in order read what they desire, then put them away for future use.  And those who love admiration will seek admiration from others.  What we love we pursue as we have the means to do so.  But to put all our focus on anything other than God is not wise and will take our focus from pursuing God. As the writer of Proverbs says, it is vanity.  According to Strong’s dictionary, vanity is that which brings emptiness and is unsatisfactory and vain. Ultimately, loving anyone or anything more than God is empty and unfulfilling.

Let us work to place our focus on God: who He is and what we can do to give ourselves completely to Him.  Nothing can ever satisfy us more than God can.  And besides, as Timothy said, many have been lured away from God by its tentacles.  “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” 1 Timothy 6:10.  This makes it clear that money is not the problem, but the love of it is.  It is not an abundance of money, but the love of it that causes us to desire more and more, focusing on wealth rather than obedience and love for God.  This life is so short, and the next life is eternal.  And we have two ultimate destinations.  We can be forever with God or forever separated from Him.  I know which I desire.  I pray you focus on life with God forever as well.

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