Matthew 28:19-20

Verse of the Day – Matthew 28:19-20

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Mat 28:19-20

We, as Christians, are called to make disciples of all nations.  The word ‘disciple’ comes from the Greek word ‘mathetes’ which means pupil or learner.  It is not just to get them saved, but to disciple them as well.  They need to understand what being a Christian is really about.  Then, they can go out and make disciples of those who accept Christ.  This is our mission here on this earth.

1 Timothy 4:13

Verse of the Day Devotion 1 Timothy 4:13

“Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching.” – 1 Timothy 4:13

Over the next couple of days as we approach the New Year, I will be looking at verses that I believe we all, including myself, should focus on as we approach and go into 2022.  I am preparing myself to focus my attention on how I want to think next year.  Thus, the verse selections for this week.

Paul here is writing to his disciple Timothy.  He is encouraging him to do the work of God and be a good servant of Jesus Christ. He starts out by reminding him that some will leave the Christian Faith. “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods, which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth.” 1 Timothy 4:1-3.  And this message is also meant for us, for we are seeing the same thing today.  People are falling away from the faith because of the deception by spirits through the bad teachings being put forth in this world, and unfortunately by pastors and teachers in some of our churches today.

Paul then said that we should make this known to our brothers and sisters in Christ. “In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following.” 1 Timothy 4:6. These are important things to tell our brothers and sisters about.  It is important to inform them of what is true and what is error, so that they may be cautious of these things and avoid the effect of wrong teachings. And in so doing, as it says in verse 7, we must tell them and ourselves “But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” 1 Timothy 4:7.  What is meant here is fables and ignorant stories.  As an interesting point, Paul calls them graōdeis, which, in the Greek, literally means “old womanish.” In the culture of that day, superstition and gossip were rampant. Today, we refer to a superstitious myth as an “old wives’ tale,” and this is a similar sense of what Paul is saying here. The claims about God which Timothy needs to avoid are “silly:” unreliable hearsay which does not honor God.

Now we come to our focus verse. “Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching.” 1 Timothy 4:13.  Paul tells Timothy three things which he must devote his time to.  First, the public reading of scripture.  This was an important duty to perform.  In a social setting where few could have afforded or owned copies of Scripture (which would have been scrolls at this point in history), public reading was a primary avenue of teaching what the Scriptures say. Because of its perceived heavenly origin and edifying effect, it would also be a catalyst for worship. 

Second is exhortation. This regards us exhorting, admonishing, and encouraging them through the Word.  Another way to put this is to expound on the word in order to help them live the life they are called to live.  It is easy to be frustrated with the difficulty that this life can be.  And this frustration can cause us to back off if we are not careful.  And this can be done individually or in a group setting.  The idea is to use the Word to encourage and if necessary correct them so that they will stay on the right track.  And finally, teaching. There are many who are new Christians who need to understand what the Word says regarding what is true and what this Christian life is all about. There are also many who have been Christians for a while but have not been taught properly in the past.  If we do not take the opportunity to help these Christians understand this new life they are living, there is a good possibility they will stray from the truth, not because they want to, but because they may easily be duped by false teachers.

As I look forward to 2022, the Holy Spirit is placing this in my heart.  I want to read the scriptures more than I have in the past.  I want to read it privately on my own, as well as to and with those who need help in their Christian walk. I want to preach more so that I can share with a group of Christians what this life is and how to live it with much vigor.  And also, I want to teach more, getting deeper in the scriptures so as to educate people as to what the scriptures say and what they mean at a higher level then they have see before.  And this is another of my New Year resolutions that God has placed on my heart. 

And again, I encourage all of my Christian friends and family members to pray about what God is calling you to do in 2022 in service to Him.  There are many who need our help in understanding this Christian life as well as the scriptures in more depth.  And also, spending time in prayer that God will continue to work through you to become more fruitful in your calling.  These are my prayers for myself, and also for you all.  And for anyone who is reading this and have not accepted Christ, please feel free to send me an email to the address below if you desire more information or just wish to talk about it.

God Bless you All.

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

Colossians 3:16

Verse of the Day Devotion Colossians 3:16

“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. – Colossians 3:16

Paul here is referring to the gospel when he says, ‘the word of Christ’. We see that Paul, in many verses, uses the ‘word of God’ as in “Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God,” Colossians 1:25, as well as “And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:17.  So, what we see is that here in verse 16 he is referring to the ‘message about Christ’ rather then the message from Christ.

The meaning we can derive of the command is that the Christian message must be an integral and permanent living force in all Christian’s hearts, not just an outward performance or routine activities. It may be rather difficult in some languages to speak of a message living in someone’s heart. However, we can re-state it by saying,  a message may speak to the heart. This message should be such that if affects our very being.  Paul makes it clear by saying we must let it ‘richly dwell in us’. Richly is a metaphor for all the resources and blessings which are to be found in the Christian message. The phrase in all its richness may characterize either the message or the way in which the message must live in the believer. The meaning is essentially the same in either case. In the first instance, one may speak of the “the wonderful message” and in the second instance, “must live in a wonderful way.” And this is to be taken in two valid ways, in the heart of each individual as well as in the heart of the Church as a whole.

The main idea is that this message regarding Christ must be what we base our lives on.  We must live out this message in ourselves, and we must also help others live it out as well.  Many people who are new to the faith do not fully understand what this life is all about.  This is what I believe Paul was speaking of.  The word ‘teaching’ is the Greek word didaskō which has the idea of teaching publicly or privately, but also the idea of admonishing when they do not follow appropriately.  And we are called to do it with all wisdom, meaning ‘by using all wisdom’ or ‘by being wise in every way’.  We should not flippantly teach about Jesus and the gospel message but should do all we can to train everyone truly in the ways of Christ.  Too often people share the truth but do not go into the depth needed for others to understand it fully.  This message is far too important to simply present it without making its meaning clear.  You may be able to do this with one discussion, or it may take additional training.  But what is important is that the message is understood.

And the message we present, either of training or admonition, should be such that it prompts praise and thanksgiving to God for all He has done and is doing. The message of Christ is a message of grace and mercy.  We had no hope for salvation until Christ came and presented His body as a sacrifice for us all.  There was nothing we could do, so He did it all.  And finally, when we do all this, we must remember that “whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” Colossians 3:17.  We must let our words be right, and our actions upright.  Theologian Adam Clarke puts it this way. “Begin with him, and end with him; invoke his name, and pray for his direction and support, in all that ye do; and thus every work will be crowned with all requisite success.” We must remember what Paul said to the Church at Philippi. “So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:12-13.  God is working through us to do what we are called to do.  And when we submit to God and allow Him to work through us, we can rejoice with the success we have in helping others become the Christian they are called to be.

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

Acts 2:42

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Acts 2:42  

“They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” – Acts 2:42

One of the more important aspects of our Christian walk is the idea of fellowship and supporting each other.  First, I want to present a quote from the Book of Ecclesiastes which points this out so clearly.  “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone?  And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.  Solomon, whom many scholars believe is the writer of Ecclesiastes points out the importance of not separating ourselves from others.  Simply put, if you are alone who will help you when you fall, who will help you in times of need, and who will fight for you when danger is imminent?

These ideas are found in our focus verse from Acts.  What Luke is pointing out is that Christians need to be in fellowship with each other in order keep each other accountable, encouraged and strong in the truth.  Back in the first century there was much persecution upon the church.  The Jewish leadership hated them for they considered Christianity as an attempt to usurp their position and the Romans were against them because they considered Christianity as a new religion and this was forbidden in the areas they were in control over.

The first part of our focus verse says, “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching.” Act 2:42a.  They were to be always devoted to learning all they could about their new life in Christ.  What did it entail?  What did it not?  This was especially critical for the Jews who were always taught that obedience to the Law of Moses was the critical factor in obeying God, and they needed to understand that it went far beyond that.  Also, as they grew in the faith they would be less likely to walk away and more able to train others they come across.   They would also come together in fellowship, often times in sharing a meal.  This was important in developing strong and Godly relationships which created bonds that were not easily broken.  And lastly, with equal if not more importance with the others, they met to pray together.  They came to God regularly to pray that their faith may be strengthened and increase as they grow in God, and for the extension of the kingdom of Christ via the salvation of more and more people. 

And note the accomplishments that were seen in the first century church.  They were built up on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, of which Jesus Christ and His teachings were the cornerstone.  And not only were they built up in the faith, but they steadfastly continued in this doctrine received through the leaders from Christ, learning more so as to grow in their relationship with Him.  Thirdly, they were separated from the world and instead lived in holy Christian fellowship and building all up who were with them.  They frequently spent time speaking of those things that God, through Christ, did for them through His sacrifice.  And they continued in prayers, knowing it was through this communion with God that they were now His children and they looked to Him for all things, including the beautiful relationship they had with Him.

 These things were done in order that the church would grow, not only in numbers but in devotion and strength and love for God almighty.  And this is the type of lifestyle we need to live as well.  As the times get more difficult and as the world begins to persecute Christians even more harshly, we need to come together to encourage each other, supporting our brothers and sisters in Christ, and together helping those who do not know Christ to accept the sacrifice He made for them through His death on the cross.  This is why we are here, and through the Holy Spirit, we have the means to live this life.  Let us all make the decision to make the Acts 2 lifestyle ours and show the world the reality of who we are and this life we have taken hold of.  The church in the first century grew incredibly.  Wouldn’t it be great to see the true church grow in the same way in this generation?

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

2 Timothy 4:2

Verse of the Day Devotion: 2 Timothy 4:2

“Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” – 2 Timothy 4:2 

This verse addresses the very heart of our responsibility while here on earth.  Jesus, in His last words to the disciples said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” Matthew 28:19.  The wording here is particularly important and precisely stated.   He tells them to make disciples, not just converts.  Too many times people are evangelized and make the decision to become a Christian, but then walk away because there is no follow-up.  It does not need to be the one who leads them to Christ, but someone must take this role to train them in the ways of God.  It could be an individual or a group, such as a church or a fellowship group.  It  is imperative that discipleship be our goal, and not just conversions.  Jesus expresses this idea in the next verse.  “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20. 

Let us now look at what Paul said in this letter to Timothy and examine what he is saying.  Our focus verse states that we are to be ready, in season and out of season.  What this means is that we must be ready to teach the word, to both the saved as well as those needing salvation, whether it is convenient or not.  We must remember that we are doing God’s work and not our own.  First, He desires that all people be saved.  “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9.  And as Jesus stated in Matthew 28:19, He has called us to go out and make disciples. 

And as the time draws closer to His return, it becomes even more essential that we reach out to our brothers and sisters in Christ.  “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” 2 Timothy 4:3-4.  I believe we have reached this time.  The Greek idea translated sound doctrine is “healthful doctrine”, doctrine that contributes to the health of the soul, or true salvation.  Many who claim they are Christians are turning away from what God says and are listening to what they want to hear, whether it is true or not.  And they will adhere only to those who teach these ideas that “tickle their ears”.  And unfortunately, in so doing, they will ignore the truth as laid out in scripture in order to follow these myths that appeal to their desires.

So, what are we called to do?  As stated above, we are to be ready to preach the word, the true word of God.  And how?  Several things are listed.  First, we are to reprove.  This means we are to refute those things which are wrong and help people realize what the truth really is.  For instance, some believe that after salvation you can sin all you want because all your sins are already forgiven.  My wife and I encountered a young man who absolutely believed this, and was having affairs with women because, as the belief states, he is already forgiven.  However, the truth is found in Romans 6.  “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” Romans 6:1-2.  When we encounter someone who believes false doctrine, we are to, in love, work to show them they are wrong and present the truth. 

We also must be willing to rebuke them, again in love.  This means to bring correction to them, to express a judgement that what they believe is absolutely wrong and contrary to God’s will.  In essence, we are to admonish them and show them that they are wrong and need to reject these false teachings and accept what is right.  And we are not just to teach the truth, but also encourage people to follow the truth.  And we are to fulfill this calling with great patience and a persevering spirit.

We are called to preach and teach, spreading the good news of God to a world that so greatly needs to hear it.  And we are to train and disciple our brothers and sisters to understand what the Christian life is truly all about and assist them in moving toward that goal.  We need to take every opportunity we have to evangelize and teach.  We cannot, by ourselves, do it all.  But we can work together with our fellow Christians and, with God’s leading, go out and preach the truth to all we come across.  And by doing this, God will use us to lead many to Christ, and educate our brothers and sisters in the truths we find in His word.     

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

2 Timothy 3:16

Verse of the Day Devotion: 2 Timothy 3:16 

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.” – 2 Timothy 3:16

I believe this verse is one of the most important ideas Paul relayed to Timothy.  There are some intriguing points in this section of chapter 3, one of the most interesting ones is found in verses 14 and 15 where Paul says, “You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 3:14-15.  He starts out by saying Timothy learned the sacred writings and, being convinced they were true, continued in learning all he could about them.  These sacred texts referred to by Paul are basically the Old Testament documents. And it is through these sacred writings that he learned the truth which led to his salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

Now, to our focus verse.  Paul is saying that all scripture is inspired by God.  So, what does he mean by ‘All Scripture’?  Many believe that this refers only to the Old Testament because of what we saw above.  First, the writer of Hebrews says, “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.” Hebrews 1:1-2.  Before God spoke to us through the prophets and many other ways, such as visions and dreams.  However in this time, speaking of when Christ was here and going forward, He spoke through Christ.  And this message of the gospel taught by Paul was given to him by a revelation from Christ.  “For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.” Galatians 1:11-12.  And also note Peter speaking of Paul, “and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.” 2 Peter 3:15-16.  This unequivocally states the Paul’s writings are considered scripture. 

Paul’s writings did nothing more than explain what the Old Testament was actually saying, and what Christ Himself taught.  And because this is what all the writers of the New Testament did, I have to include the New Testament into the group called Holy Scriptures, as well as those not recorded but taught in the same way.  And all these are inspired by God and thus are profitable for the following.  One, for teaching everyone what God is actually communicating to us and what we are to do and not do, believe and not believe, and act out and not act out.  Two, for reproof and correction; helping us understand and convincing us of any wrongs we have done and leading us to repentance and reparations if required.  And third, for training us in righteousness; what is actually right and what is actually wrong.

And why is this important?  “so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”  1 Timothy.  All scripture is used to help us live the life we are called to live.   That includes the Old and New Testaments.  To those alive during the writing of 2 Timothy, these were inspired and communicated by God to the writers and teachers.  Therefore, we must take the time to learn all they say and live accordingly.  For it is God’s calling for us to be equipped for every good work He puts before us. 

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