2 Thessalonians 3:3

Verse of the Day Devotion 2 Thessalonians 3:3 

“But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.” – 2 Thessalonians 3:3

Paul started out this section of his second letter to the Church in Thessalonica with a request for prayer, both for him and his fellow workers. The first request Paul was that the message of Jesus would be spread by them. “Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord may spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you;” 2 Thessalonians 3:1.  This message was the gospel Paul and his companions were dedicated to proclaim wherever they could. This was the main calling they had.  And he requested prayers that they could reach as many as possible with this good news. And the second prayer request was that this word from the Lord would be honored, just as it was when it was presented to the church there. In the Book of Acts, he speaks of such a reception that he desires everywhere they go. “And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.” Acts 13:48.

We learn from Acts and the Pauline letters that in city after city Paul and his associates met with great opposition, and from the depth of these experiences Paul solicits this request for the Thessalonians’ prayers. This message and its messengers had been dishonored by the tumult and riots that frequently ensued when it was proclaimed, as in the case of Thessalonica. On other occasions the gospel was simply rejected as so much foolishness. “For indeed Jews ask for signs, and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, and to Gentiles foolishness.” 1 Corinthians 1”22-23.  In other cases, it is mocked as it was in Athens . “Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer, but others said, “We shall hear you again concerning this.” Acts 17:32.

Now he returns to the desperate situation of the Thessalonians. They were suffering persecution generated by their contemporaries. They were suffering persecution generated by their contemporaries, the prime mover behind the hostilities being Satan himself. “For indeed when we were with you, we kept telling you in advance that we were going to suffer affliction; and so, it came to pass, as you know. For this reason, when I could endure it no longer, I also sent to find out about your faith, for fear that the tempter might have tempted you, and our labor should be in vain.” 1 Thessalonians 3:4-5.

Then in our focus verse, we read “But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.” 2 Thessalonians3:3.  Paul now reminds the Thessalonians of something they already know: that being the Lord is faithful. In the first letter the founders of the church reminded the Thessalonians of the fidelity of God. But while that confession underscored God’s faithfulness in completing his work in the lives of the believers, here his faithfulness is tied to the protection of the Thessalonians in the midst of their sufferings: that being He will strengthen and protect them from the works of the evil one. 

In the ancient system of patronage, which defined many social relationships as well as religious and governmental institutions, the patron was expected to demonstrate fidelity toward his or her clients, which was understood, at least in part, as the patron’s “protection” of the client. A person or even a nation could be under the protection of another. In the present text, the Lord is viewed as the patron/protector in his faithfulness to the persecuted believers. As such, he will strengthen them, that is, he will establish them in the midst of their trials so that they do not fall.  Plus, He will protect them from Satan. “and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.” 2 Thessalonians 3:3b.  This promise is hardly meant to convey to the church that they will not suffer but rather affirms that in the midst of their sufferings their faithful Patron, The Lord our God,  will strengthen them so that they will not fall. He will shield them from the ultimate shame of succumbing to the wiles of their adversary.

And this promise was not just for then but is very much relevant today.  We could very well find ourselves being persecuted for our belief in Christ, and especially so if we are doing the work God has called us to do.  However, God has told us He will protect us and strengthen us so we can remain strong in the faith.  Satan is working to do as much damage as possible to the church. Whatever he can do to destroy the work of God in this world through us, he will do.  When this happens, we must remember that God will always be close by.

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

Isaiah 41:10

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Isaiah 41:10  

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10

Isaiah here in this verse is speaking to Israel regarding primarily those Jews who were exiled in Babylon, and as stated by theologian Albert Barnes, “during their long and painful captivity in Babylon; and the idea is, that they who had been selected by God to be his special people had nothing to fear.” God, through Isaiah was telling His people not to fear Babylon and what they are doing to them and how they could be affected by them.  And why should they not fear?  God, through Isaiah, tells them “for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10b. 

This is a wonderful promise God gave to His people, the Jewish nation.  However now we, as Christians, are His people.  Paul said it this way. “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.”  2 Corinthians 6:14-16.  The highlighted phrase comes from Leviticus where He tells the Israelites, “I will also walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people.” Leviticus 26:12.   So, God’s people are those who believe in the Christ as the Messiah and have accepted Him as their Lord and God.  These include both Jews and Gentiles.  “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. So, our focus verse applies to all people, both Jews and Gentiles who are Christians.   

So, let us see this promise in relation to out time today.  There is no need for us to be afraid no matter what comes our way.  We should not fear anything because God is our strength and He will always help us.  Whether is be an illness such as Corona Virus or Flu or any type of sickness.  He can protect us and heal us from any sickness.  Therefore, we should place our trust in Him no matter what illness comes our way.  “and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.”  James 5:15.  If we are in need of anything, no matter what it is, God will provide it.  “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19. 

Closing, we must not let anything that happens to us make us afraid.   We know that there is nothing that God cannot do for He can do all things.  If we are sick He can heal us.  If we are hungry He can provide us food.  If we are thirsty He can provide us drink.  He will never leave us of forsake us.  And remember what Jesus said to us.  “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?  And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?  And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!  Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or What will we wear for clothing?  For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:25-34.  And even if He is ready to call us home, He has a tremendous promise as well given through Paul, where he said, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21.  Therefore, do not be afraid of anything, for as I like to say, God has this.  He is in control and He wants the absolute best for us.  “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28.

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

Isaiah 35:3

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Isaiah 35:3 

“Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble” – Isaiah 35:3

When I listen to people talk about what they see in our country going forward, I hear a lot of opinions and thoughts, however, when I listen carefully to what they are saying overall, I hear one thing clearly.  They are afraid.  They are afraid of what is happening now with the COVID-19 virus, and with what is coming in new proposed government policies that could change our country radically with restrictions and oversight we have not seen before.  Many people are becoming tired of all this stuff and simply want to live their lives in a way that is enjoyable and where their needs are met.

The prophet Isaiah speaks to this issue.  He is telling us who are followers of God to encourage those who are fearful, especially believers.  This is essentially what our focus verse is saying.  The idea is to encourage and help sustain the weak and despondent by laying out the promises God has promised us.  He has assured us that we have a glorious future that has nothing to do what is happening now. 

In the first two verses we read, “The wilderness and the desert will be glad, And the Arabah will rejoice and blossom: Like the crocus.  It will blossom profusely And rejoice with rejoicing and shout of joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, The majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They will see the glory of the LORD, The majesty of our God.” Isaiah 35:1-2.  This speaks of a time after the Lord returns and what it will be like when all the enemies of the people of God are gone.  This will be an incredible time of joy and rejoicing.  It will be infinitely better than what we are enduring today.  This is a place for the redeemed of the Lord.  “And the ransomed of the LORD will return And come with joyful shouting to Zion, With everlasting joy upon their heads. They will find gladness and joy, And sorrow and sighing will flee away.” Isaiah 35:10. 

This should be the message we bring to weak and downcast Christians.  “Say to those with anxious heart, “Take courage, fear not. Behold, your God will come with vengeance; The recompense of God will come, But He will save you.” Isaiah 35:4.  We have nothing to fear when He returns.  On the contrary, we have everything to rejoice about.  When He returns, it will be a good day for us, but not for our enemies.  He will revenge us and will deal with justice to those who cause us to be afraid, but for us, He will save us, keeping us in safety.  Notice all the good stuff to come.  “Then the lame will leap like a deer, And the tongue of the mute will shout for joy. For waters will break forth in the wilderness And streams in the Arabah. The scorched land will become a pool And the thirsty ground springs of water; In the haunt of jackals, its resting place, Grass becomes reeds and rushes. A highway will be there, a roadway, And it will be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean will not travel on it, But it will be for him who walks that way, And fools will not wander on it. No lion will be there, Nor will any vicious beast go up on it; These will not be found there. But the redeemed will walk there,” Isaiah 35:6-9.  This is what we have to look forward to.  And this is what our minds should be thinking on, the glorious day of Christ’s return.  Those who were lame or injured will be lame and injured no more.  There will be no vicious beasts in this place.  This reminds me of a section in Chapter eleven in Isaiah.  “And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, And the leopard will lie down with the young goat, And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little boy will lead them. Also the cow and the bear will graze, Their young will lie down together, And the lion will eat straw like the ox. The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra, And the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’s den. They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD As the waters cover the sea.” Isaiah 11:6-9.

This here is our future, a place with absolutely nothing to be afraid of and where everything is good and beautiful.  Therefore, it does not matter what happens here now, for this will all pass away.  Plus, He is always with us in difficult times.  As God said to Joshua He also says to us.  “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9.  Trust God in all things and do not be afraid or dismayed.  Our future will be wonderful, and it is the promise of God to bring it forth.  I am not saying things are not difficult.  However our focus should not be on our difficulties but on our God and His promises.  As David wrote in the psalms, “When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me?” Psalm 56:3-4.

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