Psalm 34:18

Verse of the Day: Psalm 34:18

“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” – 34:18

This is an encouraging verse.  The Lord will always be by our side when we are heartbroken.  We all experience these times.  And they are difficult times.

The idea of broken hearted is pressed and weighed down with afflictions, by intense sorrow.  So, during these times, we can trust that we are never alone.  The language is figurative.  As an omnipresent being, God is always equally near to all persons.  In fact, He is everywhere at the same time.  So, the idea is He is always with us.  Jeremiah put it like this, “Am I a God who is near,” declares the LORD, “And not a God far off?  Can a man hide himself in hiding places, so I do not see him?” declares the LORD. “Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?” declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 23:23-24.

We serve a God who is always near and attentive to us.  He knows everything we do, think, and what we are going through.  And He loves us with a love that is so great it is incomprehensible.  Take comfort in this, for we can always cry out to Him and He is there to comfort us and help us through.  And trust Him that he is faithful to us.

Two more verses that is a comfort to me.  “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1 and “The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.” Psalm 46:11

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

Proverbs 17:22

Verse of the Day Devotion: Proverbs 17:22

“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22.

There are two ways we can focus our thoughts.  We can either focus on that which is good, or we can focus on that which is not good.  Many things happen in our lives, both good and bad.  Some negative situations we cannot control, such as the death of a family member or friend, loss of a job, etc.  These can be very difficult times, and there will be a season where our thoughts will be directed at these issues.  However, more times than not, we have control over our circumstance and how we react.  For instance, when someone offends or insults us.  Or, as an actual instance in my life, a contractor goes to your boss and reports to them something you supposedly did which actually never happened.  In these cases, we must not focus on these things, but give them to God to work through.  We can and should address things that are not truthful about us, but we should never make these things control our lives.

What the writer of Proverbs says is that whether we focus on good things or bad things, they will have an effect on our bodies.  If our thoughts are positive and joyful, the affect is good.  Likewise, if our thoughts are negative and depressing and stressful, the affect is not good.  Let’s look at some of the effects on both sides.

When we focus on the negative, this produces stress.  There are various affects that are common to the person who is experiencing high stress levels.  These include muscle tension, most pronounced at the base of the neck.  Also, headaches which can include migraines.  Nausea, hair loss and weight gain, rapid heartbeat and chest pains as well as insomnia and fatigue.  One other is that stress impacts the immune system making those who are stressed more prone to illnesses.  (This information found on the Cleveland Clinic website.)

However, when we focus on the positive, this produces relaxation and positive body impacts.  When we laugh and feel deep joy, the body releases serotonin and endorphins which are called feel-good chemicals which make us even happier.  This relaxes the body and reduces stress.  These chemicals cause our lungs to expand and become replenished with oxygen.  Laughter even sends more oxygen-rich nutrients and blood throughout the body.  It relaxes the muscles, lowers blood pressure, increases blood flow as well as improving the functions of the blood vessels, which can decrease the risk of heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems.  It also improves our immune system. (This information found on the Medical Daily website.) So, do we want to remain healthy or experience negative impacts on our bodies?  According to the writer of Proverbs, a joyful heart is a good medicine while stress and anguish which can come from negative things can hurt our body.  So, let’s stay positive.  If a negative situation occurs, do what you can but do not focus on it, give it to God and let Him take care of it. Remember what Paul wrote to the Philippians.  “Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, rejoice!  Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything, worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”  Philippians 4:4-8.  Dwell on the good, give God your struggles and cares.  Your body will thank you.

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

Psalm 139:7

Verse of the Day Devotion: Psalm 139:7

“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?” – Psalm 139:7

What the psalmist David is bringing up here is regarding a place where God is not.   He brings this idea up in the form of two questions.  The first starts with where can I go, and the other starts with where can I flee.  Let look at the which speak of God’s greatness.

God knows everything about us.  “O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down and are intimately acquainted with all my ways.” Psalm 139:1-3.  David is saying here there is nothing God does not know about us.  We cannot hide anything from Him, for as He says, He is ‘intimately’ acquainted with our ways.  There is nowhere we can go where His Spirit is not there as well.  There are many verses which state this.  “Am I a God who is near, declares the LORD, And not a God far off? Can a man hide himself in hiding places, so I do not see him? declares the LORD. Do I not fill the heavens and the earth? declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 23:23-24.  “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, Watching the evil and the good.” Proverbs 15:3.  And finally what God spoke to Joshua.  “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Continuing with verses prior to our focus.  “Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O LORD, you know it all. You have enclosed me behind and before and laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high I cannot attain to it.” Psalm 139:4-6. God knows everything we will say or do before we have even thought about it.  His knowledge is so much above us, so thorough, so complete that it is beyond us to understand it let alone attain it.

Our focus verse should give us, who are Christians, great peace and contentment, for it declares there is nowhere He is not.  God loves us beyond our understanding.  “For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, But My lovingkindness will not be removed from you, And My covenant of peace will not be shaken,” Says the LORD who has compassion on you.” Isaiah 54:10. And because His love for us is infinite, and He knows everything about everything, what can truly harm us?  And if we have an all-powerful, all knowing, and everywhere present God that protects us, why should we ever be afraid?

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

Matthew 4:1

Verse of the Day Devotion: Matthew 4:1

“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” – Matthew 4:1

After His baptism, Jesus was led by the Spirit to be tempted by the devil.  This is looked at as the first act of His ministry, a battle so to speak with Satan.  This was not something He did of His own accord but was led there by the Spirit for a purpose.  I believe that purpose was to show that He could be tempted and not fall as man has, and thus reveal who He actually is, the one who could and would pay the penalty for our sins.  Note a similar situation of temptation.  “The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.” Genesis 3:4-7.  They also were tempted by Satan, however, they listened to him rather than God.  They believed the words of the serpent and followed what he said.

Jesus, on the other hand, did not fall into Satan’s trap.  The first temptation was “And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” Matthew 4:2-3.  Here, Satan told Jesus how to address His hunger.  But Jesus quoted Deuteronomy to answer him.  “He humbled you and let you be hungry and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD.”  Deuteronomy 8:3. In other words, what proceeds from God is what man lives by, not simply bread.

Then Satan brings Him to the pinnacle of the temple for the second temptation.  “and said to Him, If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written, HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU’; and ‘ON their HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP, SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.”  Matthew 4:6. This is a quote from the Psalms. “For He will give His angels charge concerning you, to guard you in all your ways.”  Psalm 91:11.   Satan attempted to use scripture himself, however, “Jesus said to him, On the other hand, it is written, ‘YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.” This is a quote from Deuteronomy which says, “You shall not put the LORD your God to the test, as you tested Him at Massah.” Deuteronomy 6:16. Notice the words of Jesus “On the other hand, it is written…”

Then lastly, the third temptation, which he did from the top of a very high mountain.  “And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.” Matthew 4:9. And of course, He again quoted scripture with this.  “Then Jesus said to him, Go, Satan! For it is written, YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY ” Matthew 4:10.  And this is a quotation from Deuteronomy again.  “You shall fear only the LORD your God; and you shall worship Him and swear by His name. You shall not follow other gods, any of the gods of the peoples who surround you,” Deuteronomy 6:13-14.

This is why we need to study the scriptures and get to know what God said.  Jesus used scripture to answer all the temptations placed on Him by Satan, and this is a good way for us to fight temptation.  Knowing what God says is good and what He says is sin will give us the weapons we need to resist him and get him to flee from us.  We need to take advantage of this so we will be able to say “NO!” to Satan when he tries to defeat us.  Remember the words of James when he wrote, “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” James 4:7. And the way to submit to Him is to follow His word completely.

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

1 John 4:1

Verse of the Day Devotion: 1 John 4:1

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” – 1 John 4:1

One of the things that John warned the Christians of his day was that there are many false prophets in the world.  And this is just as true today as it was in the first century.  The enemy will do whatever it takes to convince us that the truth is actually a lie, and their lies are actually truth.  Jesus called them wolves.  “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”  Matthew 7:15.  In other words, they will appear as true Christians trying to help us understand the truth, when actually they are there to lead us away from the truth of Jesus Christ.

So, how will we know these false prophets?  “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?” Matthew 7:16. It is important that we look at what they are saying and see if it lines up with the Word of God.  We must be like the Bereans of Thessalonica as written in Acts 17:11. For they checked out everything that was taught to them to ensure it was absolutely true.  Too many people simply accept what is taught to them in church, especially from famous and prominent preachers.  They think because they are famous, they must be speaking the truth.  Or, they have great credentials so they must know what they are talking about.  Not always.  The fruit of teachers are the words they teach.  Truth comes from good and Godly teachers, sheep.  Heresy comes from liars and deceivers, wolves.  Sheep never dress as wolves, but wolves will dress as sheep.  Sheep never want to deceive the people, but wolves do.

So, back to our focus verse.  How can we ensure that we are hearing truth?  We must spend time studying God’s word and hold these truths deep in our hearts.  Then, when we hear something that is false, we will know it and reject it.  In the event we are not sure, we must check the scriptures or ask someone to show you so as to verify the validity of the teaching.  If we find it true, we can accept it.  If we find it is not, then we reject it, and if necessary, the teacher as well.

There are many false teachers out there whose purpose is to tickle our ears as Paul says to Timothy and lead us astray to further their own ambitions and desires.  Be careful what you accept as truth.  Many times, their words are in the bible, but taken out of context.  Be careful and seek the Lord, asking Him to show you what is truth and what is not.  “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” John 16:13. The Spirit of Truth is with us.  And He will, as stated above guide you into all truth.  Follow His guiding.

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

Mark 7:25.

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Mark 7:25

“But after hearing of Him, a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit, immediately came, and fell at His feet.” Mark 7:25.  

Jesus now goes to the region of Tyre and Sidon. These were ancient cities of Phoenicia which are mentioned several times in both the Old and New Testaments. Jesus mentions Tyre and Sidon in Luke 10 in the context of judgments He was pronouncing against the cities of Chorazin and Bethsaida. We read in Luke the following, “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had been performed in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the judgment, than for you.” Luke 10:13-14. They were considered some of the most sinful cities, however, it was said of both Bethsaida and Chorazin that it would be better for Tyre and Sidon, both cities known for their idolatrous ways, in the last days then for Bethsaida and Chorazin.

We read in Mark the following, “And from there He arose and went away to the region of Tyre. And when He had entered a house, He wanted no one to know of it; yet He could not escape notice.” Mark 7:24. There is no indication as to why Jesus did not want others to know He was there, but I believe He was so well known they could not keep this hidden. However, see what comes up next. “But after hearing of Him, a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit, immediately came and fell at His feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, of the Syrophoenician race. And she kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter.” Mark 7:25-26. She heard that He was there, and undoubtedly knew about the great works He had done. Therefore she went to Him with the purpose of Jesus helping her daughter be freed from the demon. Now she was a Syrophoenician. She was not a Jew but was someone from the borders near Tyre and Sidon. According to Matthew, she was a Canaanite. And when she arrived, she fell at His feet, prostrate before Him, asking for help for her daughter. Prostration was an indication of both grief and reverence. And she did not stop asking Him, for she so wanted her daughter to be delivered.

Then in the next verse, we see His response to her. “Let the children be satisfied first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” Mark 7:27. In the Greek the word for dog can refer to a ‘puppy’ or ‘dog’. Jews often used the word dogs to refer to Gentiles. Even though it seems out of character for him to have done so, Jesus almost certainly used it in the same way. The obvious meaning is that Jews took precedence over Gentiles during the ministry of Jesus. Even Paul later adhered to a similar principle. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Romans 1:16. But now notice her response, which shows the faith she had in Jesus. “But she answered and said to Him, Yes, Lord, but even the dogs under the table feed on the children’s crumbs.” Mark 7:28. The woman did not deny the precedence of Israel over the gentiles but commented that this did not exclude the Gentiles, for the leftovers were theirs. And she referred to Jesus as Lord. This would not have been as significant if a Jew had called Him Lord, but this was a gentile who used this eminent title for Him.

Jesus was astounded by her answer to His comment. “And He said to her, because of this answer go your way; the demon has gone out of your daughter. And going back to her home, she found the child lying on the bed, the demon having departed.” Mark 7:29-30. Jesus commended the woman for her humility and, I believe, her faith. Although her faith is not explicitly mentioned, I am certain she trusted in Jesus that He could and would deliver her daughter. We need to see the power of coming in faith and humility to God as we are and letting Him make true His promises to those weak and unclean. If the woman had responded, who are you calling a dog, she would not have been humble toward Him and may not have received healing for her daughter. Her humble, faith-filled submission to Jesus brought the victory. This should be our attitude when coming to God. We must not order Him or come across as someone who deserves all we ask for. We must come to Him as someone who trusts God that He knows what is best and will bring what is best, according to His will, to fruition. God loves us. The question is do we love and trust Him enough to let Him decide what is best?

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

Isaiah 66:2

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Isaiah 66:2 

“For My hand made all these things, thus all these things came into being, declares the LORD. But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.” – Isaiah 66:2 

Again, we see ‘the heavens and the earth’, the last time was in the previous chapter. “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind.” Isaiah 65:17. In Isaiah 66:1, He is not necessarily speaking of a new one, but simply the idea of the heavens and earth. Now, the first time this phrase appears is in the first verse in the Old Testament as He speaks about the original creation. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1. Now, in all three of these, it speaks of ‘everywhere’, for there is nothing outside of the heavens and earth in His creation. And everything is His temple, for it says, “Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool.” Isaiah 66:1a.

Therefore, the Lord asks “And where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest?” Isaiah 66:1b. The reference to God’s throne and house is somewhat confusing. This appears to be a quotation or a reference to a previous statement that God’s presence cannot be limited to Solomon’s temple. “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain Thee, how much less this house which I have built! Yet have regard to the prayer of Thy servant and to his supplication, O LORD my God, to listen to the cry and to the prayer which Thy servant prays before Thee today; that Thine eyes may be open toward this house night and day, toward the place of which Thou hast said, ‘My name shall be there,’ to listen to the prayer which Thy servant shall pray toward this place. And listen to the supplication of Thy servant and of Thy people Israel when they pray toward this place; hear Thou in heaven Thy dwelling place; hear and forgive.” 1 Kings 8:27-30. Solomon says that there is no way the temple they have built can contain Him, for the highest heaven cannot. It seems to mean the heaven in its most extended compass. Solomon combines with his belief in Yahweh’s special presence in the temple, the strongest conviction that He is no local or finite deity but is ever present everywhere. Then Isaiah continues, speaking for God, “For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being, declares the LORD. But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.” Isaiah 66:2. We may want to build God something, but what can we build that is worthy of God? Instead, what God really wants from us is a poor and a contrite spirit, and to tremble at His word. Contrite is literally ‘lamed’ or disabled, here used with spiritual significance: one who is aware of the damage wrought by sin, of personal inability to stand upright before God.

I want to end this devotion with a quote from Charles Spurgeon. “Are you one of those who trembles at God’s word? “They tremble at the searching power of God’s Word. Do you never come into this place and sit down in the pew, and say, ‘Lord, grant that thy Word may search me and try me, that I may not be deceived’? Certain people must always have sweets and comforts; but God’s wise children do not wish for these in undue measure. Daily bread we ask for, not daily sugar.” What Charles is asking is does God’s word make a difference in us? When we go to church, do we simply sit in a pew or chair and listen, or do we take what is in God’s word and examine our lives, seeing if we need to make any changes in order to please God with our lives. Too many attend church so they can say the attended church. However, we should attend church in order to learn where we do not live up to what God wants and make any changes necessary to become who He desires us to be, as well as giving Him all the praise, glory, and honor we can give Him, which is what He so deserves.  Let us look at our time in church not as something simply to do, but as a time to honor Him with our obedience and worship. The church is not His throne or temple, it is where we can focus our attention and focus on Him. It is for His people to come together and worship Him and support each other. What could be better?

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

Isaiah 61:1

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Isaiah 61:1

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives, And freedom to prisoners.” – Isaiah 61:1   

In Chapter 60, Isaiah speaks of the blessings that will come to the city of God that it’s people will enjoy. Now in Chapter 61 he will speak of the one who will bring these blessings. Putting it another way, after having described the city with the light reflecting from it, he now speaks of the light itself. There is a part of this focus verse that helps us understand who the light is. Note the words in our focus verse, ‘The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me’.  Specifically the word, ‘me’.

Now, in the Luke’s gospel, Jesus speaks these words in the synagogue. He had arrived in Nazareth where He grew up and because it was the Sabbath, He went to the synagogue. “And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.” Luke 4:17-20. There was probably more that was said by Him, but these are the words Luke chose to write in his gospel due to its importance. But the main point is what He was promising.

Now, there is no indication in Isaiah 61 regarding who the ‘me’ was referring to, but the key factor to be noted is that it is God who empowers and directs this person through the Spirit. Thus the Anointed One is doing tasks assigned by God (for he was sent by God), and the power of the Spirit will guarantee that he will successfully accomplish the will of God. And this list given by God is detailed. And what is this list? In our focus verse, the prophet announced the good news of God’s restoration for the people of Israel: “The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor, bind up the brokenhearted, proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.

We may not see here in our focus verse who the ‘me’ is but seven centuries later, Jesus Christ began His public ministry in the synagogue of Nazareth by opening up the scroll of Isaiah and applying this passage to Himself. And how does He do this? After reading Isaiah 61:1-2, He rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and began His message by saying, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:21b.  In essence He was saying, I am the person here spoken of; and at this present time the Spirit of God is upon me; I am anointed with the Holy Ghost, and now preach glad tidings to you as well as and all the good things here mentioned. Also, all the endings proposed in this Scripture has its full accomplishment which has been read unto you; that you have heard this day. And the Jews themselves acknowledge, that these words are spoken of the Messiah.

Jesus Christ, our Messiah, brought the good news of salvation to the poor, the needy, and the spiritually barren, that is, all who were corrupted by sin. Before salvation, sin separated us from God. Without Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, we would all be eternally lost. But Jesus came to set us free from the fear and power of death. The corruption of sin that had left us spiritually crushed was overcome by the work of Christ on Calvary. Christ’s redeeming sacrifice opens the way for us to experience His glorious resurrection life. Accepting His salvation is our greatest spiritual need, and that is why it is such good news: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” 1 Peter 1:3-5. We were all brokenhearted, helpless, and separated from God before we received Christ’s gift of salvation. But now we have peace with God because of the Messiah who came to provide us with the peace that God offered to us. And as a final point, we know He is the light for Jesus says He is. “Again therefore Jesus spoke to them, saying, I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life.” John 8:12.

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

Romans 8:2

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Romans 8:2  

“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” – Romans 8:2  

Paul here is writing this letter to the Church in Rome.  Now, this verse is a clarification of what he wrote in the previous verse.  ‘For’ or ‘because’ begins this verse. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1. When we accepted the work Christ did for us on the cross and became a Christian, there is no condemnation that we must suffer, for the payment has been paid. There is no reason for us to do anything, for we are pardoned. 

Now in our focus verse he gives the reason for this. “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” Romans 8:2. We see a similar verse in 2 Corinthians where Paul says, “Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” 2 Corinthians 3:17. Again, in this verse, there are two laws that Paul is contrasting. The first is the Law of Sin and Death. This is  essentially the written law of Moses. It was intended to be kept perfectly by the Jewish people, and if it was not, then there was required a sacrifice to God to deal with this sin. What the law does for us is help us to understand what sin is. “What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “YOU SHALL NOT COVET. But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead. And I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive, and I died, and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me.” Romans 7:7-10. If we rely on the law to please God, we will fail for if we violate this law even in one issue,  then we die.  Notice verse ten here. “and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me.” Romans 7:10.

However, the first law mentioned above, which is the law of the Spirit of Life takes the requirement of keeping the law to a different level. “because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. “Romans 5:5-6. And then, “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.” Romans 5:9.  Regarding the Jewish Law (Law of Moses), perfection was required. “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.” James 2:10. If we stumble in one point, and are not a true Christian, then we are required to pay the penalty. And since we cannot address our sins because it requires perfection to do so, there is no way to address it.  And this is where the first law comes in.  If we become Christians, and accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, then He, being perfect, can address our sin. For in doing this, the requirement of us addressing our sin is removed for He, Christ, addressed them for us.

One more thing we need to see here. There are many people who believe that if they do what is good and follow God’s way, they are saved.  This is in essence, salvation by works, which is what the Jews believed in following the Law of Moses. But salvation cannot come by this means. The Old Testament law can be a good guidepost for knowing how to love God and knowing what goes into loving your neighbor. At the same time, to say that the Old Testament law applies to Christians today is incorrect. The Old Testament law is good for knowing how to love God and knowing what goes into loving your neighbor. At the same time, to say that the Old Testament law applies to Christians today is incorrect. The Old Testament law is a unit. Either all of it applies, or none of it applies. And we must be careful that we do not fall into this trap. The Old Testament law was never intended by God to be the universal law for all people for all of time. We are to love God and love our neighbors. If we truly obey those two commands faithfully, we will be upholding all that God requires of us.

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

Ephesians 6:17b

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Ephesians 6:17b   

“And the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” – Ephesians 6:17b 

I want to start again with the several verses that introduce this idea Paul is putting forth.  “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.” Ephesians 6:10-13.  He is telling us to put on the full armor of God for the following reason, that we can stand firmly against the powers of the enemy, namely the sly schemes of the devil. 

The phrase “sword of the Spirit” is found only once in Scripture, here in our focus verse.   The sword is one of the pieces of spiritual armor Paul tells the Ephesian Christians to put on as part of the full armor of God that will enable us to stand our ground against evil.  The sword is both an offensive and defensive weapon used by soldiers or warriors. In our case here, it is a weapon belonging to the Holy Spirit.  Swords were used to protect oneself from harm or to attack the enemy to overcome or kill him. In both cases it was necessary for a soldier to get rigid training on the proper use of the sword to get maximum protection. All Christian soldiers need the same rigid training to know how to properly handle the Sword of the Spirit, the sword that Paul refers to here as the Holy Scriptures.

This sword is useful for every good work we do.  “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17.  The scriptures are from God written through men.  And as stated above, it is both defensive and offensive.  Since every Christian is in a  spiritual battle with the satanic and evil forces of this world, we need to know how to handle the Word properly. Only then will it be an effective defense against evil, but we will also be on the  offensive to demolish strongholds of error and falsehood. And this is very much needed for there is an abundance of false teachings going around, and we need to, first know what is error as opposed to truth, and secondly we need to know where in scripture this is laid out.  And we must be bold in pronouncing all falsehoods and wrong teachings, providing for them the truth that is found in the word of God.

We see this analogy also in the book of Hebrews.  “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12.  Here the Word is described as living and active and sharper than a double-edged sword. The Roman sword was commonly made in this manner. The fact that it had two edges made it easier to penetrate, as well as to cut in every way. The idea is that of piercing, or penetrating; the Word of God reaches the “heart,” the very center of action, and lays open the motives and feelings of those it touches.

It is because of this that it is important for us to study His Word and plant it deep within our hearts.  “Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.”  1 Peter 3:13-15.  Note the words “always being ready to make a defense.”  This is important for we are those called to bring the gospel to all.  And how can we do this if we do not know His word. 

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