Revelation 21:1

Verse of the Day Devotion: Revelation 21:1

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.” – Revelation 21:1

This is a prophecy of what will happen at the very end of this age.  This speaks of a time after all the judgements have occurred.  “Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:11-15

This is what we look forward to as Christians.  The old heavens and earth will pass away for they have been tainted because of man’s fall in the garden.  Only that which is good and pure and lovely will even exist.  It is beyond our ability to even imagine what it will be like.  “But, as it is written, ‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him’—”  1 Corinthians 2:9.  Now, this is a quote from Isaiah which says, “From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him.” Isaiah 64:4. This verse includes the idea that no eye has seen, nor ear heard of a God like our God and the actions He performs. The gods known of man were powerless, they were idols created by man.  But the true God is all powerful, and thus can do anything, including recreating of all that is.  Remember the first verse in Genesis, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1.

This new life will be amazing. We will see the new Jerusalem coming down from heaven, prepared for us, His bride.  There will be no more tears and no more death.  There will be no mourning or pain, for the causes of these will be no more.  Our lives, for all eternity, will be perfect for we will be always in the presence of God, for we will live forever with Him.  There will be nobody or nothing that will change this.  In Revelation 22, we see the river of the water of life flowing from His throne.  We will have access to the tree of life, and the fruit that comes from it.  There will be nothing that is cursed, but the throne of God and His Son will be there, never to leave.  There will be no more night, and we will need no lamp or sun, for the Lord our God shall be our light.  And He will reign for all eternity, us being loved and cared for by Him forever.

What a wonderful future we have to look forward to.  And this life is assured to us. “And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.” Revelation 22:6. This is infinitely superior to this life we now live. Therefore, look forward to this new life.  And, tell others who have no clue of what is coming.  It is our calling to spread this word.  And it is a word worth sharing.

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

Mark 9:42.

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Mark 9:42 

“And whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea.” – Mark 9:42   

In our focus verse, we read what Jesus thinks of those who cause one of His people to sin. This does not necessarily refer to little children regarding age, but of those who belong to Him, His disciples, and followers, essentially Christians. If a small act of kindness towards others done in Jesus’ name will be eternally remembered, so will any cause for stumbling. And the punishment is severe: it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea. In other words, it would be better if he drowned. Mill stones in ancient times were either turned by hand or by beasts, chiefly by mules. These last were of the larger kind, and the original words denote that it was this kind that was intended. We see this is Matthew’s gospel. “but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it is better for him that a heavy millstone be hung around his neck, and that he be drowned in the depth of the sea.” Matthew 18:6. This was one mode of capital punishment practiced by the Greeks, Syrians, Romans, and some other nations. The meaning of Jesus’ word is, it would be better for him to have died before he had committed the sin. To injure, or to cause to sin, the feeblest Christian, will be regarded by Christ as a most serious offence, and will be punished accordingly.

Then in the next verses, Jesus speaks of being  ensnared by sin ourselves. “And if your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire,” Mark 9:43. And also “And if your eye causes you to stumble, cast it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes, to be cast into hell,” Mark 9:47. Tragically, some have taken these words literally. He did not intend anyone to cut off their hands or pluck an eye out. Bodily mutilation doesn’t do anything in controlling sin. Sin is more a matter of the heart than of any particular limb or organ. If I cut off my right hand, my left hand is still there to sin. If I pluck out my left eye, my right eye is still there to sin. Or if I completely dismember my body, I can still sin in my mind and in my heart. Jesus was not talking about mutilating ourselves, He was speaking about sacrificing what is necessary not to sin.

Now, in both instances above, He says it is better to have only one eye, or one hand, to enter the Kingdom of God then to have both and be cast into hell. The idea here is what we see in the following verses. “And He summoned the multitude with His disciples, and said to them, if anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s shall save it.” Mark 8:34-35. As said above, this was not a demand for physical self-mutilation, but of the costliest sacrifices.

We must do whatever is necessary to avoid temptation to sin. If reading certain books tempt us to sin, we must get rid of those books. If listening to certain songs tempts us, then we must stop listening to that song. And as I learned the hard way, if certain people tempt us to sin, then we must avoid those people unless we are able to witness to them without being tempted. We must be willing to sacrifice those things that causes us to sin, whether by actions or thoughts. It is better to give these things up and enter eternal life, then to hold onto them and enter eternal torment in hell.

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

Daniel 7:3

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Daniel 7:3

“And four great beasts were coming up from the sea, different from one another. ” – Daniel 7:3  

As we move forward from chapter six to seven, we shift our focus from history to prophecy. Chronologically, Chapter seven belongs between the fifth and sixth chapters, and why it appears after six is unknown. However, seeing it this way, we can see the incredible dream this was.

First, we read in verse one. “In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel saw a dream and visions in his mind as he lay on his bed; then he wrote the dream down and related the following summary of it.” Daniel 7:1. This brings out the actual order because Belshazzar ruled for two years, having been killed at the beginning of his third year. Having had this dream, when he woke up he felt compelled to write it down, therefore he wrote everything he saw.

And essentially, what he saw was a picture of four great kingdoms, symbolized by four beasts that he saw in his dream. “Daniel said, I was looking in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea. And four great beasts were coming up from the sea, different from one another.” Daniel 7:2-3. This sea here probably refers s to the Mediterranean Sea, and it was called the great sea as opposed to the Sea of Galilee or the Dead Sea.  It is stirred up by four winds of heaven, which denotes that out of strife these kingdoms came.  And from these four winds came four beasts.

Now, Daniel did not understand what he saw, and was actually distressed and alarmed. So, in his dream he asked one there what this meant. And this is what he was told. “These great beasts, which are four in number, are four kings who will arise from the earth. But the saints of the Highest One will receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, for all ages to come.” Daniel 7:17-18.  These four beasts/kingdoms were first, the Babylonian empire, the current power. After a time, it would be defeated by the second beast, Medo-Persians, which would be defeated by the Greek/Macedon empire, which would be defeated by the Roman Empire.

However, though these four kingdoms were very powerful, there would be another. “But the saints of the Highest One will receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, for all ages to come.” And this kingdom will be one that never ends and will be a kingdom full of God’s people, those who have truly accepted the truth of the gospel, believing it and making it the most important thing in their lives; their heart’s filled with the Holy Spirit.

And the beautiful thing here is that all these things happened just as was told to Daniel in his dream. And this is because our Great God knows all things. In fact, He knew this would happen from before creation. “Remember this, and be assured; Recall it to mind, you transgressors. 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’; Calling a bird of prey from the east, The man of My purpose from a far country. Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it.” Isaiah 46:8-11.

And this truth should give us extraordinary peace, for God knows everything about us; what we have done, what we are doing, and what we will do. And He knows what has happened to us, what is happening to us, and what will happen to us. There is nothing He does not know. And because of this, we can trust Him completely. God loves us and will take care of us when we place our trust in Him. He brought Daniel and his three friends through every trial that came upon them. We should place our absolute confidence in Him just as they did. And when we do, we shall see things we could never have imagined and be safe through every trial that will come upon us.

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

Matthew 13:47

Verse of the Day Devotion Matthew 13:47 

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea and gathering fish of every kind.” – Matthew 13:47 

Today we will look at the parable of the net.   Here is this parable as found in Matthew’s gospel.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea, and gathering fish of every kind; and when it was filled, they drew it up on the beach; and they sat down, and gathered the good fish into containers, but the bad they threw away. So it will be at the end of the age; the angels shall come forth, and take out the wicked from among the righteous, and will cast them into the furnace of fire; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 13:44.

In Matthew chapter thirteen, Jesus is sitting by the sea and teaching crowds through the use of parables. There were probably fishermen there which would have been able to understand the intent of the message. Starting with our focus verse we read, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea and gathering fish of every kind.” Matthew 13:47.  This parable addresses the intermingling of good and bad at that time, in our present time and the certainty of their separation at the end of the age upon Christ’s return.  The net referred to here was a large dragnet spread out over a considerable area of water. A good catch of fish would require strenuous effort to haul to shore.  This parable though does not focus on the net, but on the catch. The idea regards bringing all the people together, comprised of both what is valuable and what is valueless. There is no discrimination about netting fish; everything in the area, good and bad alike, is caught up.

Now, putting out the net is the first process, but then comes the gathering of the net to the shore with all the fish enclosed. The net is said to be filled, which was denoted as a good catch. It is drawn up on the beach, so Jesus is speaking of the hauling in of the fish at the end of the operation. Then they would sit on the beach and sort out the fish. The good ones would be put into baskets.  The bad fish were thrown away, for they had no value and there was nothing else they could do with them.

Now in the last two verses, Jesus explains what He meant in the first two verses. He starts by saying in the same way. In other words, this was a picture of the end times. It speaks of two very distinct groups of people.  Just as the net is drawn up with every type of fish in the sea, both good and bad, so will all the people be gathered together for judgement, both the righteousness and the evil.  It is important to remember that the division has nothing to do with merit, based on our own efforts.  The righteous are those who follow Jesus and depend on God’s mercy for they know their shortcomings can only be addressed through the shed blood of Christ. In contrast, the wicked are those who rely on their own merit and believe they can do enough to be saved. Jesus then says that the angels will come and take out the wicked from the righteous, just as the fisherman separated the bad fish from the good.  And just as the bad fish was discarded, the evil ones, those who did not accept the work of Christ and relied on themselves and other ways to be made right with God would be cast into the lake of fire, where it says there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

It is important that we do not rely on our goodness to save us. Just as a bad fish cannot become a good fish by what they do, wicked and unrighteous people cannot make themselves righteous based on what they do.  Only God, through the shed blood of Christ, can turn us from evil to good.  And He wants to do this for all people. But we must rely on Him to make it happen.  This message must be spread to all so they understand this truth.  And that is where we come in.

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

John 6:19

Verse of the Day Devotion: John 6:19 

“When therefore they had rowed about three or four miles, they *beheld Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near to the boat; and they were frightened.” – John 6:19  

Over the next week we will be looking at seven miraculous signs performed by Jesus as recorded in the Gospel of John.  These signs show that Jesus was not just some ordinary man but was truly the Son of God.  Today we will look at the fifth sign which is Jesus walking on the water.

After the feeding of the five thousand, Jesus left to go to the hills to pray. “Jesus therefore perceiving that they were intending to come and take Him by force, to make Him king, withdrew again to the mountain by Himself alone.” John 6:15. John does not say He went to pray, but we read this detail in Mark’s account. “And after bidding them farewell, He departed to the mountain to pray.” Mark 6:46. The disciples went down to the sea to take the boat west to Capernaum. “and after getting into a boat, they started to cross the sea to Capernaum. And it had already become dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them.” John 6:17.

As they were crossing, the wind picked up significantly and caused the water to get rough.  As they continued, they saw Jesus on the sea. “When therefore they had rowed about three or four miles, they beheld Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near to the boat; and they were frightened.” John 6:19. It is somewhat understandable they would be afraid, for in such rough waters they saw a man walking on these waves. Again, in the account by Mark, it gives a clearer reason for their fear. “But when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed that it was a ghost, and cried out; for they all saw Him and were frightened.” Mark 6:49-50a. But Jesus calmed their fears. “But He said to them, It is I; do not be afraid.” John 6:20. And upon hearing Him, they were relieved. “They were willing therefore to receive Him into the boat; and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.” John 6:21.

The next day, the multitude that were at the feeding of the five thousand saw something they could not understand. “The next day the multitude that stood on the other side of the sea saw that there was no other small boat there, except one, and that Jesus had not entered with His disciples into the boat, but that His disciples had gone away alone. There came other small boats from Tiberias near to the place where they ate the bread after the Lord had given thanks. When the multitude therefore saw that Jesus was not there, nor His disciples, they themselves got into the small boats, and came to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. And when they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, “Rabbi, when did You get here?” John 6:22-25. It did not make sense that He could be over there, when He did not get in the only boat that had been there or with the disciples. 

But Jesus does not answer their question.  On the contrary, He questions their motives in looking for Him. “Jesus answered them and said, Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves, and were filled. Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man shall give to you, for on Him the Father, even God, has set His seal.” John 6:26-27. He was referring here to Himself as the Bread of Life. “Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, He gave them bread out of heaven to eat. Jesus therefore said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.” John 6:31-33. And then culminates with “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” John 6:35

There is a significant point here. Jesus showed the disciples, once again, that He was not an ordinary man but proved to the disciples that He was in command of all things, including the elements, which is something that God alone could do. He revealed this truth to the disciples who recognized His divinity and responded with a confession of faith in Jesus as God. Matthew records, “And when they got into the boat, the wind stopped. And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “You are certainly God’s Son!” Matthew 14:32-33. Interesting note, this was the first time Jesus was called the Son of God by the disciples or that they had worshipped Him. And this is what worship is, acknowledging who God is and praising Him both for who He is and for what He has done. It was in this story that the disciples took the first step and worshiped Jesus as the Son of God. And it was due to the sign of Him walking on the water to meet them.

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