Hebrews 12:3

Verse of the Day Devotion: Hebrews 12:3

“For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” – Hebrews 12:3 

This can be a very difficult verse to accept.  What the writer of Hebrews is saying is we should be as Christ in our strength and fortitude regarding the hostility and suffering we experience.  “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2. Jesus freely came here to suffer death for us, knowing through His own death we could be counted righteous and able to enter into the kingdom of God.  And this was a great joy to Him.  In fact, we would be joint heirs with Him.  “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.” Romans 8:16-17.  As Jesus suffered, we must also be willing to suffer for in so doing we will be glorified with Him.  We should look at these trials as a precursor to great joy promised to us by Him, just as He, in joy, sacrificed Himself for us.

The Apostle Peter had a few things to say about this.  “Servants be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable.  For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly.  For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it; this finds favor with God.” 1 Peter 2:18-20.  We are to be kind to all, no matter what anyone does to us.  If we are treated harshly, we are to endure it with patience.  This is what we see in how Jesus dealt with unjust suffering.  He could have saved himself but chose not to.  “Then Jesus said to him,Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.  Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?  How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it must happen this way?’” Matthew 26:52-54.

We are called to follow this example.  Paul again says here, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”  Ephesians 5:1-2.  We are to be like Him, walking in love to the point that we would sacrifice our very life as well.  This seems impossible; however, our focus verse shows us the way.  We need to look to Jesus; see how He endured even more than we have or ever will.  How He was treated even more harshly for no cause then we ever will.  We must, through the Holy Spirit, suffer for the cause of Christ.  We are not to compromise but be steadfast under every circumstance.  And when we begin to faint and lose heart, go to God.  “I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come?  My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1-2

We are not alone.  God will be with us, helping us to follow the ways of Jesus, so that we will not grow weary and lose heart when persecuted.  This is a great promise that we must grasp with all we have.  And the harder the persecution, the more we can count on Him.  What a great and loving God we serve.

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

Psalm 1:1

Verse of the Day Devotion: Psalm 1:1

“How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!” – Psalm 1:1  

Psalm chapter 1 to me is a wonderful read.  This looks at the differences of those who follow God, and those who do not.  This verse says how blessed the man is who does not follow the ways of this world but follows the ways of God.  And what are the ways of the world?  First, by walking in the counsel of the wicked rather than the righteous.  He gives ear to the advice of the wicked. He is not at peace with His relationship with God and listens to that which is contrary to His word.

I have seen too many people who niche out their lives, some to their Christian walk, and some to the ways of the world.  I know because I did it myself.  There was my church life, then there was my regular life.  If there was a decision to make, many times I would take the wrong advice down the wrong path.  I would listen to worldly people, and this often did not turn out well.  However, when I became a true Christian, one that lived it as well as professing it, I stopped listening to the world, and I found I was much more at peace.  I did not have to worry about being caught or having to answer to my wrong decisions.  I was truly at peace.

We are not to go and linger in places where ungodly things happen and focus our attention on what is going on.  If we come across a place like this, or people who live in ungodly ways, we should be willing to present the truth of the gospel to them and help them turn their lives to God.  But we should not go somewhere and participate in their worldly ways.  This destroys the light we want to shine in the darkness, and our witness to the unsaved.

And we are not to participate in mocking or derision of others.  Especially where we do it regarding people who are leaders in the church.  We can differ in what we believe, and we can counter those beliefs.  However, we should never deride or mock the people involved.  We are to love them, and how can we say we love them if we speak evil of them?  And why would they listen to us when endeavoring to help them understand the truth when they see our mocking?

We must not listen to the wicked, participate in the activities of sinners or join in mocking of those we disagree with.  Aside from these activities being wrong or sin, we can instead live a blessed life which is pleasing to God, where we can be at peace because we are living a life of love and not animosity.  “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.” Colossians 3:15. We can do this only by following the words of the psalmist in our focus verse.  “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!”  Psalm 1:1

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

Mark 2:17

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Mark 2:17 

“And hearing this, Jesus said to them, it is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:17 

Jesus again went out to the Sea of Galilee. “And He went out again by the seashore; and all the multitude were coming to Him, and He was teaching them.” Mark 2:13. In this, Jesus was fulfilling the purpose of His coming. “And He said to them, Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, in order that I may preach there also; for that is what I came out for.” Mark 1:38. God the Father sent Jesus here to show the world the truth. “The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life and might have it abundantly.” John 10:10. Therefore, when there were people interested in hearing what He had to say, He spent time with them, Note the end of the above verse. “and all the multitude were coming to Him, and He was teaching them.”

Now, as He was walking He sees Levi, also known as Matthew. “And as He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting in the tax office, and He said to him, Follow Me! And he rose and followed Him.” Mark 2:14. This was no doubt where the first toll station would have been found for those coming from across the sea. This particular station was probably set up to gather taxes to be given to the Roman leader Herod Antipas. Levi was an official of the Jewish client-king Herod and was not a Roman tax collector. However, they were probably hated as much as those of the Romans, and for the same reasons. Their dishonesty was well known, using intimidation as well as force to collect them. Furthermore the Herodian rulers were at best semi-Jews and were hated as much as the Roman governors. And when Jesus calls him to follow Him, there was no hesitation. He immediately left and followed Him.

Now after the above, Jesus had a meal with Levi at his home. “And it came about that He was reclining at the table in his house, and many tax-gatherers and sinners were dining with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many of them, and they were following Him.” Mark 2:15. Because of Levi’s conversion,  he prepared a meal in which Jesus was invited, along with many other tax collectors along with those who were seen as sinners by the Jews. Now, needless to say this was not taken well by the scribes and Pharisees. “And when the scribes of the Pharisees saw that He was eating with the sinners and tax-gatherers, they began saying to His disciples, Why is He eating and drinking with tax-gatherers and sinners?” Mark 2:16. Today, we do not understand just how outrageous it was for Jesus to associate with outcasts. In ancient Jewish society, fellowshipping at a table was one of the most intimate expressions of friendship. This was why the religious leaders could not understand how Jesus, whom they considered a religious person, would share a meal with such awful people. In fact, they were offended and disgusted that Jesus would not just speak to them but dine with them.

Now the Pharisees were speaking to Jesus’ disciples, and Jesus overheard their words. “And hearing this, Jesus said to them, it is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:17. What He is saying is that He did not come to minister to the healthy but the sick. And He is referring to their sinful ways. He came here for those who know they are sinners and desire to be forgiven and made whole. But those who believe they are righteous because they do the works they believe make them righteous believe they do not need what Christ offers. The Jewish leadership: Pharisees and Sadducees, and the Scribes believed they were righteous because they believed they followed the Law as God desired. What they did not understand is that man is ‘sick’ if they sin but once. And this applied to all people.

There are many in this world who need to accept the truth of the gospel. And these are the ones who need to hear the message of Christ. We are called to go out to the sick and lost to declare the truth. “And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” Mark 16:15-16. Those who are called the ‘sick’ are the ones who are unsaved. And they can only be healed if they recognize their situation and give themselves to Christ. There are many who believe they are healed but have never accepted Christ. But also, we must be willing to go out and present this truth to all who are willing to hear it. For as the Apostle Paul said, “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. 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? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” Romans 10:13-15. Let’s go out to the sinners and unsaved, no matter who they are, and help them be healed of their sinful life via the blood of Christ.

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

Matthew 9:13

Verse of the Day Devotion Matthew 9:13 

“But go and learn what this means, ‘I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT SACRIFICE,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” – Matthew 9:13 

This verse is part of the story where Matthew was called by Jesus to be one of His disciples.  “And as Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man, called Matthew, sitting in the tax office; and He said to him, “Follow Me! And he rose and followed Him.” Matthew 9:9. There appears to have been no hesitation from Matthew in making this decision for it says he got right up and followed.  In fact, Luke tells us that Matthew left everything behind to follow Him. “And he left everything behind and rose and began to follow Him.” Luke 5:28.

After Jesus called him, Matthew invited Jesus and His disciples to his home for dinner. The length of time between Matthew’s call and the dinner mentioned here is not specified in the text, but it was likely a short time span. And more people showed up to attend. “And it happened that as He was reclining at the table in the house, behold many tax-gatherers and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples.” Matthew 9:10. These were probably friends and colleagues of Matthew who were also invited to the dinner. Tax collectors would likely be unacceptable to the Pharisees due not only to their deserved reputation for extortion but also to their frequent associations with Gentiles. The term ‘sinners’ designates those whose behavior was egregiously ungodly, but from the Pharisaic perspective it may also include those who did not observe the traditional interpretations of the scriptures on such matters as ritual purity, food laws, and Sabbath observance.

Now, the Pharisees thought this to be unacceptable, so they questioned it. “And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why is your Teacher eating with the tax-gatherers and sinners?” Matthew 9:11. The attitude of the Pharisees was one of disgust. In essence, their attitude was such that their intended question was probably, “Why is your Teacher eating with such scum?” Now, when Jesus heard this, He immediately answers them with an analogy, even though the question was not addressed directly to Him. “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick.” Matthew 9:12. Jesus is associating sin with  disease. Metaphorically and proverbially speaking, the sinners with whom he associated with were “ill” and needed help. Jesus takes a humble illustration from ordinary life, where it is the sick, not the well, who need medical help.

Next, we come to our focus verse. “But go and learn what this means, ‘I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT SACRIFICE,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:13. First, he tells the Pharisees to look at Hosea so they can truly understand what it means. He is not telling them to go away, but to think about what He means.  Then He proceeds to quote the prophet Hosea from the Old Testament.  “For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, And in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” Hosea 6:6. This is what He was saying they did not understand.  Jesus used the word ‘compassion’ rather than loyalty, but when looking at the Hebrew for this word, it can mean ‘goodness’ and ‘kindness’, which is basically compassion. The Pharisees would have understood this. But then He goes further to say, “for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:13b.

The Pharisees presumed they were good enough because they believed they kept the letter of the law.  That they followed all the rituals and deeds that they believed God required of them, and this was adequate to attain eternal life. The prophets did not want to abolish the sacrificial system but to reform it by stressing inner purity over ritual purity. Jesus’ final words apply the metaphorical language to the reality of his mission—the ‘healthy’ are those who think they are righteous, like the Pharisees, and the ‘sick’ are those who realize that they need Jesus’ ‘medicine.’ It is to this second group that Jesus was sent, and he called them to repentance. And this is what we are called to do. “And He said to them, Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Mark 16:15. There should be no one we consider  unworthy of hearing the truth and having the opportunity to repent and receive salvation. The Pharisees believed they were just fine. The tax collectors and sinners did not, and therefore Jesus spent His time with them.  We must always be ready to present the gospel, no matter who it is.  If we speak to them the truth of the gospel, we have done what He desires us to do.  But if we choose not to because we do not want to associate with them, then we are not. We must be humble and go to all with the medicine of the gospel. Let’s make doing our best to reach the lost our goal in this life.  iz

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

Romans 5:8

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Romans 5:8 

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8

Paul is speaking here in this verse about the love of God that goes beyond anyone else’s love.  And this is a love that He has manifest to us.  He fully demonstrated His deep love for us.  And He has absolutely confirmed this love as well.  And how did He show us this love? It is stated in our focus verse.  “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8. 

In an earlier verse, he includes an additional word that clarifies the why.  “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” Romans 5:6.  So, when we put these ideas together we see this, while we were still sinners and helpless to do anything to redeem ourselves, Christ died for all these  ungodly sinners, of which this group we were also affiliated with.  From the very beginning when Eve and Adam disobeyed God and ate the fruit, and even before because He knows the end from the beginning, He loved us enough to address our dilemma. This shows the infinite love God has for us. 

This brings up another question.  Would anyone else die for another?  He answers this in the following verse.  “For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die.” Romans 5:7.  This verse shows that the love God has for us is matchless and unparalleled.  When Paul uses the words ‘righteous’ and ‘good’, he does not mean a truly gracious and holy man that is made righteous by the obedience of Christ.  This righteousness and goodness is what he and others deem righteous and good outside of how God deems it, through Christ’s sacrifice.  Those who being outwardly moral and righteous before men who keeps to the letter of the law and what man deems and imagines as good, such as the Pharisees in Paul’s time period where goodness is determined by outward behavior.  In other words, most men who do not have a relationship with God  does not truly have a sacrificial love that helps others, even if it means their own death.  

 However, this shows the infinite love that God has for us.  For while we were still in sin and doing wrong, and while we had no means to make it right with God, and even before we knew about our situation, God sent His only begotten Son to die for us so our sins can be forgiven.  Even when we have denounced Him and refused to obey Him.  This is true love and this is the love He has for us.  If it were not for this love that God has for us, we would ultimately die in our sins and be eternally separated from God into a horrendous place.

 And finally, the kind of love God has for us is the kind we are to have for others.  “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.  We are to love our brothers and sisters in Christ AND those who are not yet Christians.  He loved all men and gave access to all men through Christ.  “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.  For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” John 3:16-17.  We should care enough for the lost that we will do anything we can to introduce them to Christ, and we should love our fellow Christians enough to help them in any need.  Christ loved us enough to give His life for us. Do we love each other in the same way?

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

Romans 8:3

Verse of the Day – Romans 8:3

“It is impossible to do what God’s standards demand because of the weakness our human nature has. But God sent his Son to have a human nature as sinners have and to pay for sin. That way God condemned sin in our corrupt nature.” Romans 8:3 (GWT)

When I was a child we attended a local Calvary Chapel church, the pastor there was a very unique. He was a drummer back in the 70’s (if I remember right). My family left that church in 2003 for a number of reasons I won’t get into but to this day, he’s one of the few people I would look to and consider my pastor – he is the personification of the concept of being forgiven much and therefore loving much. There was a time we went through the book of Romans (at the time my favorite book of the bible) and during that period of time, it wouldn’t be uncommon for the pastor to tear up on stage talking about the grace of God given to us. I remember looking through the passage we were going to read for two specific and simple words that would lead to him crying, and unbeknownst to me leave such an impression on me that twenty years later, I would be writing about them in a daily devotion…

But God.

These two words, I would argue aside from “I Am” as used in John, are two of the most powerful words in all of scripture when put together. Whenever you see these two words together they are typically placed after a description of impossibilities or dispair. But God is a phrase that denotes a moment in time where the creator of the universe chose to step into time and space to stop the natural order of things and personally intervene in the affairs of men.

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20 (NIV)

“They refused to obey and did not remember the miracles you had done for them. Instead, they became stubborn and appointed a leader to take them back to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God of forgiveness, gracious and merciful, slow to become angry, and rich in unfailing love. You did not abandon them…” Nehemiah 9:17 (NLT)

But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead; he will surely take me to himself.” Psalms 49:15 (NIV)

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26 (NIV)

“I sank down to the very roots of the mountains. I was imprisoned in the earth, whose gates lock shut forever. But you, O LORD my God, snatched me from the jaws of death!” Jonah 2:6 (NLT)

“Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” Matthew 19:26 (NLT)

But God released him from the horrors of death and raised him back to life, for death could not keep him in its grip.” Acts 2:24 (NLT)

“You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead.” Acts 3:15a (NIV)

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 (NIV)

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” 1st Corinthians 1:27 (NIV)

“It is impossible to do what God’s standards demand because of the weakness our human nature has. But God sent his Son to have a human nature as sinners have and to pay for sin.” Romans 8:3a (GWT)

Your past is completed. Your sins have been committed but the future isn’t set. God still breaks through the realms of time and space to disrupt the natural order of death and life, the schemes of angel and demons, our own sabotaging of our lives through fears and worry, and the entirety of the powers of the kingdom of Hell so he can finish the good work he started in you, the role that he has for you in his plan, and to accomplish Jesus’s prayer of ‘as in heaven so on earth’.

  • Christiaan

(Edited to correct a misstatement about my former pastor being from California – turns out he’s a Georgia boy.)