Psalm 8:4-5

Verse of the Day Devotion: Psalm 8:4-5

“What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him?  Yet You have made him a little lower than God, and You crown him with glory and majesty!” – Psalm 8:4-5

I am sure that most Christians have heard this verse at least once.  This is believed by most scholars to have been written by King David.  He is kneeling in humility before God and asking the questions in this verse.

First, let us look at what caused him to pray this prayer.  “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained;” Psalm 8:3.  David has looked up into the heavens, sees the moon and the uncountable multitude of stars, and He attributes them to God.  He does not see this as a universe that either, naturally came out of nothing, or as an infinite universe that has no beginning.  (If you would like information regarding the universe coming into existence without God, do not hesitate to email me at [email protected].)

Because of David’s awe of God’s amazing creation, he asked the question of why we are so important to God that He cares for us.  For you made Him a little lower than God.  The Hebrew for God here is “Elohim”, which is the plural for El, which is God and refers to a triune being, not many gods.  I see this as us being created in His image.  For God said, “Then God said, Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” Genesis 1:26 We rule down here over all living things and have authority over them.  Compare with verse 6, “You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet,” Psalm 8:6.  Therefore, we were made in His image and given authority.

Do we look up into the heavens and gaze in awe of God and His creation?  Do we come before Him in humility knowing how much lower we are, especially because of our rebellion?  Are we humbled by the fact that God sent His very Son who “…humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” for our sake?  Philippians 2:8b I sometimes look at myself and wonder why He cares about me.  Then I remember His love and grace.  And that says everything.

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

Luke 9:35

Verse of the Day Devotion: Luke 9:35

“Then a voice came out of the cloud, saying, this is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!” – Luke 9:35

This passage is found at the end of what is called the transfiguration.  Jesus took Peter, James and John with Him up onto a mountain to pray.  While Jesus was praying, it says that something changed with Him.  He was transfigured.  “And while He was praying, the appearance of His face became different, and His clothing became white and gleaming.”  Luke 9-29.  Matthew gives us a more detailed description of the change in Jesus.  “And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light.”  Matthew 17:2. And with Him stood two other men, also appearing in glory, Elijah and Moses.

After a time, the voice of God the Father came from out of the clouds saying, ‘Listen to my Son, the chosen one.’  This is key.  As the disciples were told to listen to Jesus, we are to as well.  Too often we only listen to pastors and teachers when it comes to theological issues, and just accept what they say.  This is where heretical teachings and practices arise.  The question we should ask is, ‘Does what they are saying line up with the Word of God?’  If it does, then accept it and follow it.  If it does not, then reject it.

Paul spoke of the Bereans in Acts 17, and this should be our mindset.  “Now these (Jews from Berea) were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.”  Acts 17:11.   They did not take what Paul said without checking it out first.  We also should not accept what someone tells us, even if they are greatly credentialed, without checking it out ourselves.  There are some things that are obvious, however, if you have not heard it before or are questioning the accuracy of the interpretation, look it up.  And while checking it out, pray that God will reveal the truth to you.  Let Christ be the one who validates what men say.

Now this does require discipline.  We must be willing and desirous of knowing the reality of what is being said.  Let Him show you the truth.  He will never lead you astray and will always guide you, through His Spirit, into all truth.  And is not the truth what we are striving for?

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

Luke 1:57

Verse of the Day Devotion: Luke 1:57

“Now the time had come for Elizabeth to give birth, and she gave birth to a son.” – Luke 1:57

The time had finally come for Mary’s cousin Elizabeth to give birth to John.  “Her neighbors and her relatives heard that the Lord had displayed His great mercy toward her; and they were rejoicing with her.”  Luke 1:58.  This was a time of celebration.  She had lived beyond the age where she could have children, however, the Lord caused her to give birth to the one who would cry out in the wilderness declaring the coming of the Messiah to His ministry. “He said, “I am A VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, ‘MAKE STRAIGHT THE WAY OF THE LORD,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.” John 1:23 This is the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah where he said, “A voice is calling, “Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.” Isaiah 40:3

As was the custom regarding the law, on the eighth day, they circumcised the child.  Everyone who was visiting was thinking the child should be named Zacharias, after the father.  Another part of Jewish tradition was that the child was named when he was circumcised, and ordinarily the name of the father was given to the first-born son.  So, this made sense to everyone there.  But Elizabeth interjected, “But his mother answered and said, “No; indeed, but he shall be called John.” Luke 1:60.  This of course was the name the angel told Zacharias to give him. “But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John.” Luke 1:13.

This was not the norm, thus, “And they said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who is called by that name.” Luke 1:61. Again, this was important in regard to tradition.  Their reasoning was that the Jewish tribes customarily kept their families sacredly distinct, and this included family names.  They would name their children the name of an ancestor that was found in the line of the tribe, partly because of reverence for them, but also partly to avoid confusion in the genealogical tables, which for the sake of distinguishing the inheritances, were carefully preserved.  It seems that because John never appeared in the family line of Levi, they argued it was not a good name to give.

They then asked the father Zacharias what he wanted to name the child.  “And they made signs to his father, as to what he wanted him called. And he asked for a tablet and wrote as follows, His name is John. And they were all astonished.” Luke 1:63. Therefore, he declared what the angel said.  Now Zacharias was unable to speak because he doubted the words of the Lord spoken through the angel. “Zacharias said to the angel, “How will I know this for certain? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years. The angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. And behold, you shall be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time.” Luke 1:18-20.  However, now that he obeyed the words of God by going against tradition, he received his voice back.

Then Zacharias prophesied saying, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people, And has raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of David His servantAs He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old— Salvation FROM OUR ENEMIES, And FROM THE HAND OF ALL WHO HATE US; To show mercy toward our fathers, And to remember His holy covenant, The oath which He swore to Abraham our father, To grant us that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies, Might serve Him without fear, In holiness and righteousness before Him all our days. And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; For you will go on BEFORE THE LORD TO PREPARE HIS WAYS; To give to His people the knowledge of salvation By the forgiveness of their sins, Because of the tender mercy of our God, With which the Sunrise from on high will visit us, TO SHINE UPON THOSE WHO SIT IN DARKNESS AND THE SHADOW OF DEATH, To guide our feet into the way of peace.”  Luke 1:68-80.

Now, he who is the forerunner of the Messiah has been born.  And he will prepare the way for the Messiah, who shall be born fairly soon.  Zacharias dropped all traditions of men to obey God.  Jesus rebuked those who followed traditions of men rather then God. “Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.” Mark 7:8. Let us not fall into this trap, just as Zacharias did not.

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

Matthew 8:20

Verse of the Day Devotion: Matthew 8:20

“Jesus said to him, the foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” – Matthew 8:20

Jesus was speaking to a crowd of followers.  It was not just the twelve who walked with Him, there were many who heard what He was teaching, saw the many miracles He performed, and desired to know more about Jesus, who He was and what He taught. We read in Matthew the following, “Then a scribe came and said to Him,  Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.” Matthew 8:19.   The use of the word teacher tells us that He truly did not understand who Jesus was.  Also, in the rabbinic culture, the scribes were held in high esteem.  They normally were well taken care of and all their needs were met.  I am sure he expected Jesus to say, “Sure, come along, that would be great.” However, Jesus knew this man’s heart and that he was no doubt expecting everything to be the same, and for him to be taken care of as he was being a Rabbi.  However, the focus verse states His answer, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” Matthew 8:20.  As we continue reading, we see no indication that he followed Jesus.

Notice that Jesus did not say to him that he was not welcome to follow Him.  But what He did say was the truth of what it meant to follow Him.  He did not paint a beautiful image of what it was like to be a follower.  But what He did say showed that it was not as easy as he had thought.  In essence He told the scribe that there were no guarantees.  There was nothing that promised they would have a place to sleep that was comfortable and safe.  The animals will have more assurance of a good night sleep then he would if He followed Him.  As you see what happened throughout Jesus’ ministry, there were a lot of uncertainties.  Food was not always available, and they were not always in places of safety.

And we need to be careful that we do not present a rosy picture of this life.  Yes, God will never leave us or forsake us.  Yes, He will give us joy and peace in all situations.  And yes, He will always love us and take care of us.  Too many times evangelists will use the technique of painting a picture to new believers and disciples that all is well, you can get what you want, and that you always will be safe. If we do, we are hiding what is going on in many countries where the governments are out to punish all those who worship Jesus.  Also, we are telling them that everyone will listen to them, and not give them any trouble.  Times can get tough.  And Jesus did not hide this aspect of following Him.  And if He did not hide this, then neither should we.

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

John 3:17

Verse of the Day Devotion: John 3:17

“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” – John 3:17

This verse comes just after probably the most famous and well-known verse in all the Bible.  “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.” John 3:16.  God loved the whole world.  He loved us and gave us a way that we can be reunited with the Himself.  And we know what that was, it was through the death, burial and resurrection of His only begotten Son.  And it is because we believe in the Christ, that we are saved.

In Genesis we read the following, “The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you will go, And dust you will eat All the days of your life; And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.” Genesis 3:14-15.  In the very beginning God told Adam and Eve that there would come a seed of Eve that would defeat the serpent, which is the enemy that rebelled before God created them.  And this is what happened when Jesus came.  Through His work on the cross, He defeated him and provided a way that man may be rectified with the Father.  This is important, for there was no final condemnation for anyone here during His first coming.

And this is what our focus verse is saying.  God did not send Him here to condemn the world.  He was not sent here to judge or pronounce judgement on anyone.  His whole purpose was to provide a means by which man may be saved.  He was the sacrificial lamb presented as a sin offering for us, since our own sacrifices were insufficient to restore the relationship broken in Genesis 3.  For, according to the Law, the lamb that is sacrificed must be perfect with no blemishes at all.  We are far from perfect.  Therefore, anything we would do, even in dying, would not be recognized.  And this was why He had to come.

We now have the opportunity to be reconciled and have a very loving relationship with Him if we simply believe.  When He comes the second time, it will not be to provide a means of salvation, but it will be to condemn those who did not believe and chose the worlds ways rather than God’s, and to take to our final home those of us who truly believe.  There are many in this world who still have not believed, and many who have not heard.  It is important that we show them the love of God through the sacrifice given.  For now is the time for people to hear and believe.  Sometime, and I believe soon, that time of reconciliation will be over.  We must go out and tell the world.  It is our calling down here.

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

John 3:16

Verse of the Day Devotion: John 3:16

“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.” – John 3:16

This verse is probably one of the most recognized verses in all of scripture.  This shows how much God loves us and wants to be reconciled with us.  He loved us even though we did not love Him.  He loved us even though we refused to follow His ways.  However, His love for us does not constitute an approval of our conduct.  It shows that He loved us in spite of what we do.

This was a gift, the most valuable gift that can ever be conceived.  This was not just a book of rules or laws.  It was nothing we could ever have imagined.  And it was a free and undeserved gift.  It was a gift given for the sole reason that He loved us beyond all measure.  It was an act of pure love and eternal compassion.  It was because He did not want us to perish, to be separated from Him forever.

And what was this unimaginable gift?  It was His Son, His only begotten Son.  Something man has no claim to.  And again, something that was so amazing and incredible, it is inconceivable to the minds of men.  Imagine someone you know who committed a great crime that was punishable by death.  Someone you love and desire to fellowship with, even though they do not care to fellowship with you.  You then find out that someone who has not committed a crime could pay for the man’s crime by suffering the consequences that man deserved.  And you have a child who is completely free from any wrongdoing and could set this man free by dying in his stead.

This is what God did.  He conceived a child in the womb of Mary for the sole purpose of having Him die to pay the penalty for the sins we had committed.  He loved us before we could ever have loved Him.  Note this verse, “We love, because He first loved us.”  1 John 4:19. The basis of our love for Him is because He first loved us.  However, let’s go a little farther with this idea.  “All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.” Revelation 13:8.  Our names, us who have accepted Christ and are Christians, have been written in the Lambs book of life from before our world was created.  And this is due to God’s foreknowledge of our accepting Him, not His indiscriminate choice.  And because our names are there before the foundations of the world, so must have been the plan to give His Son for us in sacrifice.  He loved us before we were even created, before Christ came to die.  And because He came to die, we have the immense honor to love Him.  Remember, we love Him and others because He first loved us.

This beautiful and powerful verse has so much in it, we could contemplate for a long time and still not understand the full ramification of its meaning.  He loved us before He created us.  He knew we would fall away, and He still created us.  He provided the means of salvation before we even sinned, and it was through the death of His only begotten Son.  And anyone who believes in Him and the work He did on the cross will have eternal life.  There is no greater love than that which God gave.  “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13. This will be a difficult question, but is this the kind of love we have for others?  Jesus said, “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” John 15:12

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

Matthew 22:42

Verse of the Day Devotion Matthew 22:42

“What do you think about the Christ, whose son is He? They said to Him, The son of David.” –  Matthew 22:42

Now, after the Pharisees had asked questions of Jesus, He then turned the tables on them, and He asked a question of them.  “Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question,” Matthew 22:41. They had been asking Him questions, so He chooses to ask them one as well. He had evaded all their traps, which were based fundamentally on their refusal to recognize him as Messiah. Their problems were the fact that they were looking for a purely human, nationalistic liberator, and as far as they were concerned, He did not fit this idea. Now, we see this question in our focus verse. “What do you think about the Christ, whose son is He?” Matthew 22:42a.

Jesus directs his question to explore the scriptural nature of messiahship. From whose ancestry is the Messiah to come. The answer, at least for Jesus’ immediate audience, would have indisputably been from the lineage of David. Their answer no doubt came from verses like one found in 2 Samuel.

When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men, but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you.” 2 Samuel 7:12-15.

Now, Jesus responds to their answer with another question. “He said to them, Then how does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying, The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet? If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his son?”  Matthew 22:43-45. Their answer sets up the opportunity for Jesus to denounce their beliefs regarding the Messiah with the above questions. If the Messiah is merely the human offspring of David, why does David himself speak of him as “Lord”, a master or sovereign above the one who is king of Israel and the highest human authority in the land? Jesus here employs the rabbinic method of setting up antinomy, a contradiction between the two beliefs that are themselves reasonable.

He bases this on a verse in a Psalm of David.  “The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at My right hand, Until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet.” Psalm 110:1. Now, in order to completely understand this, we need to look at a couple of Jewish words that are translated as one word in English. The first ‘Lord’ (The Lord says) is YAHWEH, which is the Hebrew covenant name for God, the eternal God of the universe, the Great I AM who revealed Himself to Moses.  The second ‘Lord’ (says to my Lord) is Adonai, someone or something having power, authority, or influence, a master or ruler, but not almighty God.  Only Yahweh would be the word translated ‘God’, Therefore, what David said here was essentially, “God said to the Messiah, sit at my right hand, until your enemies are a footstool for you.”

Jesus’ reasoning is this: ‘Son of David’ is your title for the Messiah, yet David himself calls Him ‘Lord.’ The Messiah, then, must be much more than just a son, a physical descendant of David. According to Psalm 110:1, this ‘Son of David’ was alive during David’s time and was greater than David. All of this information is contained in the statement that “the LORD says to my Lord.” Jesus is David’s Lord; He is the Christ, the Jewish Messiah, and Psalm 110 is a promise of Jesus’ victory at His second coming.

Jesus made it clear when He said, “If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his son?” Matthew 22:45. The Messiah could not be a physical son of David because David died long before the Messiah was born. And this left the Pharisees speechless.  “And no one was able to answer Him a word, nor did anyone dare from that day on to ask Him another question.” Matthew  22:46.

They refused to accept this, for it went against everything they had been taught by Jewish Leaders and Scholars.  We need to be careful that we do not accept something as truth simply because it has always been taught that way.  We must be open to the truth we may not fully understand, and then honestly study to understand it.  And when we do this, asking the Lord to guide us, we can learn what is actually truth, and not merely tradition.

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

Luke 6:5

Verse of the Day Devotion Luke 6:5 

“And He was saying to them, The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” Luke 6:5

Starting in verse one we read, “Now it came about that on a certain Sabbath He was passing through some grainfields; and His disciples were picking and eating the heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands.” Luke 6:1. 

This is interesting because the picking of grain from someone else’s field was permitted according to the Law. “When you enter your neighbor’s vineyard, then you may eat grapes until you are fully satisfied, but you shall not put any in your basket. When you enter your neighbor’s standing grain, then you may pluck the heads with your hand, but you shall not wield a sickle in your neighbor’s standing grain.” Deuteronomy 23:24-25.  Therefore, the issue was not picking the grain but doing so on the Sabbath, as the next verse makes clear. “But some of the Pharisees said, why do you do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” Luke 6:2. Note that they were accusing Jesus and not His disciples, because they said, “why do you do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?.

Jesus then answers their question.  “Have you not even read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him, how he entered the house of God, and took and ate the consecrated bread which is not lawful for any to eat except the priests alone, and gave it to his companions?” Luke 6:3-4.  Luke’s use of the verbal form “answering said” indicates that Jesus assumed the responsibility of his disciples’ behavior in answering the criticism of the previous verse.  Jesus recalled an event in David’s life when due to hunger he and his men ate the consecrated sanctuary bread, the bread of the presence. The account in 1 Samuel 21:1–6 does not mention that this took place on a Sabbath, but the issue was not so much the day or the need but Jesus’ authority, which extends over even the Sabbath. If David was free of the restraints of the law on that occasion, how much more is the Son of Man.

And now to our focus verse.  “And He was saying to them, The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” Luke 6:5. By what authority does Jesus violate the prohibition or order of Sabbath convention and presume to redefine it? The answer is given in the pronouncement of our focus verse.  True lordship over Sabbath is invested in the Son of Man. If, as we have seen in Genesis, Sabbath was grounded in creation and was the most distinctive characteristic in Judaism, it is inconceivable that Jesus or any other rabbi would declare human supremacy over it. It is not given to a mere human to supersede an order of creation.  This can only be done by God Himself, the one who instituted the Sabbath. “Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. And by the seventh day God completed His work which He had done; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.” Genesis 2:1-3. 

God instituted the Sabbath, and Jesus expressly claims preeminence over Sabbath!  We read what the Sabbath is and how it is to be observed in Exodus. “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.” Exodus 20:8-11. The purpose of the Sabbath, as originally intended by God, cannot be understood by Moses, and especially not by the rabbinic tradition subsequent to Moses, but only by Jesus, the Son of Man and ultimately the Lord of the Sabbath.

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

Luke 19:10

Verse of the Day Devotion Luke 19:10 

“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” – Luke 19:10  

As of today, we are three days away from Christmas.  We have looked at some of the prophecies that foresaw the coming of the Messiah.  In todays verse of the day, I want to look at the reasons God the Father sent His Son.  And these reasons speak highly of His glory and love for us in providing the opportunity for us to live eternally with Him.

The first reason is to reveal the Father to us.  In the Old Testament, we see God as the creator of all things; we see His eternal power and majesty.  Paul said it this way.  “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” Romans 1:20. However, when Jesus came, we are now able to see and interact with Him at a personal level.  “No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.” John 1:18.  Jesus showed us the Father through His teachings and His ways, which was also the way of the Father.  The writer of Hebrews said, “And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high;” Hebrews 1:3. And Jesus also alluded to this. “Jesus said to him, Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how do you say, Show us the Father?” John 14:9.

He also came to do away with Sin, not by way of the High Priest and animal sacrifice, but in a way that it is done forever. “Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” Hebrews 9:26.  The sacrifices of the old Levitical system were insufficient to take away sin permanently. But Jesus offered the perfect sacrifice, once for all time. God sent Jesus not to deny the fact of sin or help us forget about our sin. Denials and cover-ups were not His purpose. God wanted to do away with sin once and for all. In Christ, God forgave sin and released us from its penalty. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1.

A third reason He came was to destroy the work of Satan.  I found this writing while doing research and I like the way this was put.  “It was a divine mission, executed with the precision of a well-planned military strike. Two thousand years ago, the Son of God landed on foreign soil, behind enemy lines, with a mission to demolish something, and He succeeded in His objective. He wrecked all that the devil had been doing.” Starting in the Garden of Eden, Satan had been doing all he could to cause mankind to sin and draw them away from God.  Jesus came to destroy this work and turn mankind’s heart back toward the Father. 

And finally, He came to save us that we may have everlasting life with Him.  “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.” John 3:16-17.  And He did this through the death of Christ.  “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.” Romans 5:8-9. He did what we could not do, He paid the penalty we could not pay so that our debt would be gone and we can live forever in His presence.

This is why He came into the world, and this is why we celebrate Christmas.  And this needs to be remembered in our times of celebration.  There is nothing wrong with exchanging gifts or anything else  that is a family tradition.  But let us never forget the glorious work Jesus did and the cost He paid for our redemption.  There is a song named ‘He Paid a Debt’. Here is a section of lyrics to this song that clearly lays out this idea. “He paid the debt he did not owe I owe the debt I could not pay I needed someone to wash my sins away.  And now I sing a brand-new song, Amazing Grace All day long, Christ Jesus paid the debt that I could never pay.” This is why He came, and this is why we celebrate the coming of the blessed Messiah.

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

Luke 1:13

Verse of the Day Devotion Luke 1:13 

“But the angel said to him, Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John.” –  Luke 1:13 

Up to Christmas day, I will be looking at the different prophesies which foresee the coming of the promised Messiah, Jesus the Christ.  He came here in order to offer the means of salvation for all.  An important idea to remember is that God knows everything and forgets nothing.  “Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,” Isaiah 46:9-10.

This verse is an important one, for it foretells the coming of John the Baptist: the forerunner of the Messiah.  “In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.” Luke 1:5.  This speaks of a priest named Zacharias and his wife Elizabeth.  They were both righteous before God, however up to this time they were unable to have children.  And now being advanced in years, it was not probable they ever would.

Now while Zacharias was performing his priestly functions, an amazing thing happened. “And an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. And Zacharias was troubled when he saw him, and fear gripped him.” Luke 1:11-12. It is probable that the angel appeared while his eyes were closed, but when he did see him, he became afraid.  The angel who appeared to Zacharias was not simply like a man with wings. This angel was a glorious, fearful, and an awesome creature, and like most angels in the Bible, the first thing this angel had to say to his human contact was “Do not be afraid.”

Then the angel tells Zacharias in our focus verse.  “Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John.” Luke 1:13.  The angel told them they would have a child.  And they were told they were to name him John. And according to Thayer’s Hebrew dictionary, his name means “Jehovah is a gracious giver”. Then Gabriel went on to say, “And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and he will drink no wine or liquor; and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, while yet in his mother’s womb. And he will turn back many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God. And it is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous; so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Luke 1:14-17.

Zacharias and Elizabeth had their prayer answered.  In their old age, they shall have a son.  Their son would be seen as great in God’s sight.  He will probably live under the Nazirite vow due to not drinking wine or strong drink.  He also would be filled with the Holy Spirit from the womb.  This has the idea that he was appointed to and set apart to the work God called him to before he was born.  We see the same with the prophet Jeremiah.  “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5. And even more so, of Jesus.  “Yet Thou art He who didst bring me forth from the womb; Thou didst make me trust when upon my mother’s breasts. Upon Thee I was cast from birth; Thou hast been my God from my mother’s womb.” Psalm 22:9-10.

And finally, we see what his calling was in the gospel of Mark.  “As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “BEHOLD, I SEND MY MESSENGER BEFORE YOUR FACE, WHO WILL PREPARE YOUR WAY; THE VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, ‘MAKE READY THE WAY OF THE LORD, MAKE HIS PATHS STRAIGHT. John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  And all the country of Judea was going out to him, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. And John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist, and his diet was locusts and wild honey. And he was preaching, and saying, “After me One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals. I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” Mark 1:2-8. John came into this world to prepare the way of the Messiah and to inform Israel of His coming, calling them to repent and be baptized in reference to the remission of sin.  Repentance prepared the soul for it, and Baptism was the type or pledge of it.   

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