Isaiah 44:2

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Isaiah 44:2

“Thus says the LORD who made you And formed you from the womb, who will help you, ‘Do not fear, O Jacob My servant; And you Jeshurun whom I have chosen.” – Isaiah 44:2  

At the end of chapter 43, Isaiah gave a warning of judgement to His people. “Your first forefather sinned, And your spokesmen have transgressed against Me. So I will pollute the princes of the sanctuary; And I will consign Jacob to the ban, and Israel to revilement.” Isaiah 43:27-28. This is the argument from God’s side to show that they were neither unjustly punished, nor punished with undue severity. The argument is that their rulers and teachers had been guilty of crimes, and therefore it was right to bring all this vengeance upon the nation. From the very beginning it’s history has been a string of sins.

However, starting with our focus verse, he changes His focus to His grace. “Thus says the LORD who made you And formed you from the womb, who will help you, Do not fear, O Jacob My servant; And you Jeshurun whom I have chosen. For I will pour out water on the thirsty land And streams on the dry ground; I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring, And My blessing on your descendants; And they will spring up among the grass Like poplars by streams of water.” Isaiah 44:2-4. The LORD had created and formed Israel, in as much as he had caused them to grow up to be a nation by means of their ancestors from Adam on successively. And because the LORD Himself made Israel, and from the beginning prepared him as an instrument of His purposes, He calls to the nation living in exile, not to fear, for two things are promised. First, that the land they are given will be fertile because of the water poured out on the dry ground. “Do not call to mind the former things or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert. The beasts of the field will glorify Me; The jackals and the ostriches; Because I have given waters in the wilderness And rivers in the desert, To give drink to My chosen people.“ Isaiah 43:18-20.  

 And second He will pour His Spirit and blessings on their offspring/descendants. This points back to chapter 32, where Isaiah states, “Until the Spirit is poured out upon us from on high, And the wilderness becomes a fertile field And the fertile field is considered as a forest. Then justice will dwell in the wilderness, And righteousness will abide in the fertile field. And the work of righteousness will be peace, And the service of righteousness, quietness, and confidence forever. Then my people will live in a peaceful habitation, And in secure dwellings and in undisturbed resting places.” Isaiah 32:15-18. This refers to when  the Spirit of God, as the source of all blessings, and especially as able to meet and remove the ills of the long calamity and desolation, comes to His people. This evidently refers to some future period, when the evils which the prophet was contemplating would be succeeded by the spread of the true faith.

Then we come to verse 5. “This one will say, ‘I am the LORD’S’; And that one will call on the name of Jacob; And another will write on his hand, ‘Belonging to the LORD,’ And will name Israel’s name with honor.” Isaiah 44:5. The idea of the phrase ‘call on the name of Jacob’ refers to gentiles who, because of the Holy Spirit, join themselves with the children of Jacob in serving the true God. I belong to Yahweh; I devote myself to him. These express the true nature of a profession of faith – a feeling that we are not our own, but that we belong to God. It is, that we not only feel that we are bound to worship him, but that we actually belong to him; that our bodies and spirits, and all that we have and, are to be sacredly employed in his service. Nothing, in few words, can more appropriately describe the true nature of a profession of faith than the expression used here.

In serving God, we must give our everything to Him, not holding anything back. In the Book of Matthew, we see Jesus’ answer to what the greatest commandment is. “And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40. He calls us to give Him everything, all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and as found in Mark, all our strength as well. Let us not, in anything, give Him less than our all.

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

Luke 16:13

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Luke 16:13 

“No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” – Luke 16:13 

First, I want to clarify the meaning of the word ‘Hate’ in this context.  The meaning here is not necessarily to detest and/or despise, but to ‘love less’.  As an example, you have a choice between two cars that you can buy.  There is one car you absolutely love, while the other you love as well, but not as much.  Thus, you love the second car less than the first car.  And stating as our focus verse says, the first car you love and second care you hate.

Now, let us look at this verse.  We cannot serve two masters. This is fairly clear.  I have been in a situation where I had two people over me at the same time.  I was a computer programmer responsible for much of the financial systems in the company.  There was a time when one wanted me to focus on one problem, whereas the other wanted me to ignore that issue and focus on what he wanted.  I had to make a decision as to which one I would serve at that moment, for I could not serve both because they required different duties.  Now, I was able to make a decision based on which caused the greatest problems to those who used the programs.  As stated, I could not do both because one wanted ‘A’ to be done, while the other wanted ‘B’. 

Now, Jesus gives the reason why no one can serve two masters.  For we will love one master more than the other.  Putting this part of the verse into perspective, the master we love the most will be the master we focus on and serve.  Therefore, whatever we love the most is truly our master.  So, this leads to the basic question here.  Who do we serve?  If God requires us to do one thing, and our own desires requires us to do another, who will be our master? 

The Greek word translated wealth here is the word ‘mammon’.  It is interesting that Jesus uses this word, but it makes very clear what He intended.  Mammon was the name given to an idol worshipped as the god of riches.  The Jews used this word to denote wealth, and it is not known if any Jews ever formerly worshipped the actual idol Mammon.  What He is essentially saying is ‘you cannot serve the true God, and at the same time be supremely engaged in obtaining the riches of this world.‘  And unfortunately, many in this world look to obtain things over and above serving the true God.  They are more interested in storing up treasures here on earth.  Earlier in this chapter we read, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21. 

Putting these ideas together, No one can serve two masters, but that which he loves more will be the one he serves.  For if our goal is to gain much wealth in this world, then we do not desire to gain it in the next.  And which one will a man store up? It is where his heart is, it is what he loves and desire over the other.  It is always a good idea to examine our hearts to see what it is that drives us, what we desire over and above anything else.  Which is more important to us.  Our lives here and what we can store away or our future life and what we can store away there?  So, which do we love the most?  This answer makes clear which master we will serve.  For as our focus verse says, ‘we will be devoted to one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and wealth” Luke 16:13b.

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

Matthew 20:26

Verse of the Day Devotion: Matthew 20:26 

“It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant,” – Matthew 20:26    

I worked at many different companies in my time prior to retirement.  I had places I enjoyed working at and places I very much did not.  I distinctly remember a company I went to immediately after my discharge from the Air Force.  It was a service bureau in Miami, FL where banks used their computer to process all banking functions.  I was working around sixty hours a week, but it was a good job to start my non-Military career.  After about two months, my parents wanted to visit me from Washington State.  I figured I could spend time with them in my off hours, but I wanted one day to spend with them.  So, I asked my supervisor for one day off.  He looked at me and said, this is no lie, “This job is more important than your parents, this job is more important than your church, this job is more important than anything else in your life.”  I could not believe He said that.  However, I responded with, “I’m sorry, but this job is nothing more than a paycheck in my pocket.”  I then went back to my chair and turned the newspaper to the want ads, right there in front of him.  And by God’s grace, I had a great new job in three weeks.

This is an example of how many companies back in the late 1970s, yes I am that old, treated their employees.  If he would have told me in a nicer way, I may not have responded as I did.  However, this was in many ways the norm.  Jesus tells His disciples that the rulers of the Gentiles were extremely overbearing to those who worked for them. “But Jesus called them to Himself and said, You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them.” Matthew 20:25. They were far more arrogant and harsher than my boss, but it was typical back then.  Even today there are many bosses who lord over their employees.  However, according to our focus verse, this is not the way the leaders of the church are to act.

In the world, if anyone wants to be great in their company, they will take charge and order others around.  However, this is the opposite of how leaders in the church should act.  “It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant,“ Matthew 20:26, our focus verse.  This is understandable, in fact, the work environment today exhibits this tendency.  But then He takes it a step farther.  “And whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave;” Matthew 20:27.  This goes against the way of the world where leaders lead and workers work.  He says that those who want to lead must work with and be willing to work for others.  Theologian Adam Clarke puts it this way.  “A minister of Christ is not to consider himself a lord over Christ’s flock.”  He is not to become a taskmaster, but a co-worker who guides the work while training them how to train others. 

We are always looking at Christ as an example of how we are to live our lives, and this idea is not any different.  For He completes this teaching with Himself as the example.  “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”  Matthew 20:28.  In all ways, we are to be like Christ.  He did not come to be served by us, He came to serve us, all mankind.  To give His life as a means for our salvation.  He taught them truth and the ways of God.  But He did not expect anything in return but for them to do the same, “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 28:20. 

And this is our calling.  To go out and do the same as He called them to do.  Not necessarily to send others out, but to go out ourselves.  To call the unsaved to Christ, disciple them in this Christian walk, and teach them to make disciples who will  call the unsaved to Christ, discipling then in this Christian walk, and then to make disciples themselves.  Jesus calls us to humble ourselves and do His work on the earth, giving our lives in service to Him, doing as He desires.  Just as He gave His life in service to His Father, doing what He desired.

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