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 8:11.

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Mark 8:11 

“And the Pharisees came out and began to argue with Him, seeking from Him a sign from heaven, to test Him.” – Mark 8:11  

Now this is an interesting scripture, for here the Pharisees were testing Jesus again regarding proof of what He declared regarding Himself.  We see this in our focus verse, “And the Pharisees came out and began to argue with Him, seeking from Him a sign from heaven, to test Him.” Mark 8:11. Considering the number of miracles Jesus had already performed as well as the types of miracles, it is surprising at first that the Pharisees would ask for another. Readers today need to realize that miracles were quite common in ancient times, whether they were real or in people’s imagination, and the fact that a person performed miracles did not by itself make him an exceptional person. What the Pharisees wanted was not another healing or exorcism but a sign from heaven, an incredible manifestation, a dramatic sign from the sky, something similar to Elijah’s fire from heaven. “Answer me, O LORD, answer me, that this people may know that Thou, O LORD, art God, and that Thou hast turned their heart back again. Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust and licked up the water that was in the trench.” 1 Kings 18:37-38.

Jesus was frustrated by this request and replies as such. “And sighing deeply in His spirit, He said, why does this generation seek for a sign? Truly I say to you, no sign shall be given to this generation.” Mark 8:12. In Matthew’s version He gives the type of sign they will be shown. “But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign shall be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; for just as JONAH WAS THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS IN THE BELLY OF THE SEA MONSTER, so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Matthew 12:39-40.  They sought some direct miracle from heaven. Jesus replied that no such miracle would be done for them. He did not mean He would work no more miracles or give no more evidence that he was the Christ, but he would give no such miracle as they required. He would give one that ought to be satisfactory evidence to them that he was from God, as the miraculous preservation of Jonah was to the Ninevites. As Jonah was preserved three days by a miracle and then restored alive, so he would be raised from the dead after three days. On this miracle, the Ninevites believed Jonah and repented, so, on the ground of his resurrection, the people of an adulterous and wicked generation ought to repent and believe that he was from God.

The only sign Jesus would give them was His resurrection from the dead.  This should be sufficient, but as we know it was not. Few scribes and Pharisees would be saved, not because they could not accept it, but would not accept it. They did not want to give up the authority they had over the Jewish people. We need to be careful that we understand all that Jesus did for us and place Him over everything else in our lives. He gave everything, including His life for us. We must be willing to give our everything to Jesus, including our lives.

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

Luke 4:12

Verse of the Day Devotion Luke 4:12 

“And Jesus answered and said to him, it is said, YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.” – Luke 4:12  

Now we move on to the final temptation Satan inflicted upon Jesus.  After Jesus told Satan “You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve”, Satan led Jesus to Jerusalem. “And he led Him to Jerusalem and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here; for it is written, HE WILL GIVE HIS ANGELS CHARGE CONCERNING YOU TO GUARD YOU, and, ‘ON their HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP, LEST YOU STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.” Luke 4:9-11.  Satan starts this temptation as he did the first of the three here in Luke with, “If you are the Son of God”. He was again trying to get Jesus to fall for this idea of showing who He actually was.  However, it is a bit different from the other two because in this one, Satan quotes scripture to Jesus.  “For He will give His angels charge concerning you, To guard you in all your ways. They will bear you up in their hands, Lest you strike your foot against a stone.” Psalm 91:11-12. 

Theologian Robert H. Stein says this about Satan using these verses.  “Even the devil can quote Scripture, and here he sought to support his challenge to Jesus from the Scripture itself. Defeated by Jesus’ use of the Word of God in the previous two temptations, the devil sought to use the Scriptures for his own purposes. There is no evidence that which the devil quoted was interpreted messianically in Judaism; but if the psalm states a truth concerning any believer, how much more is this true of the Messiah. Yet knowing Scripture is not enough; one must interpret it correctly.”

Now Jesus’ response is strong with this reference of Himself as The Lord your God. “And Jesus answered and said to him, It is said, YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.” Luke 4:12.  Jesus here is quoting from Deuteronomy, “You shall not put the LORD your God to the test, as you tested Him at Massah.” Deuteronomy 6:16. And what happened in Massah? 

“Then all the congregation of the sons of Israel journeyed by stages from the wilderness of Sin, according to the command of the LORD, and camped at Rephidim, and there was no water for the people to drink. therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, give us water that we may drink. And Moses said to them, why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?” Exodus 17:1-2. They were thirsty, and they wondered why no water was provided to them.  In fact, in verse 7 we read, “And he named the place Massah and Meribah because of the quarrel of the sons of Israel, and because they tested the LORD, saying, Is the LORD among us, or not?” Exodus 17:7.  Jesus uses the example of when Israel was camping at Rephidim and was thirsty for there was no water to drink.  So, they tested the Lord by asking if He was with them or not.  The test was that if He was there among them, why is He not providing for their needs.  And because they put God to the test, the name of this place became Massah, meaning ‘temptation’ because it was there Israel tempted God.

I have heard people do this on many occasions, saying ‘If God truly loves me He will do this”, or “If He exists He will keep me from all trials”.  He never promised we would not have trials, but He did promise great things if we persevere. “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12. Therefore, I call on everyone reading this not to test Him, but to trust Him.  He said He would always be with us who are believers. “Teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20. And He always keeps His promises.

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

1 Peter 4:12

Verse of the Day Devotion:  1 Peter 4:12 

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” – 1 Peter 4:12

Throughout the years, many Christians have suffered for the cause of Christ.  We see it all over the world today, especially in Islamic countries, China, North Korea and various countries in Africa and Asia.  In the first century, the Jewish leadership hated Christians because they were leading many Jews away from the Jewish faith to Christ and His teachings.  Throughout centuries following the death and resurrection of Christ, Christians have been put to death simply for believing in and following Jesus’ teachings.  And now, in the United States, there is a movement to punish churches if they do not follow some of the evil ways being accepted by our leadership and many who reject the teachings of Christ.

What Peter is writing about here is that we, as Christians, should expect hard times because of out faith.  As we read in our focus verse, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” 1 Peter 4:12.  He is saying this should not be a surprise, for our beliefs and teachings go radically against what many leaderships throughout the centuries.  In Jesus’ time, the Jews hated Christ and hated them who follows Him. 

In ancient Rome, when they took over a city or nation, they would allow the current religions in that land to continue being followed and their gods to be worshipped as long as Caesar was put first.  However, if a new religion were introduced then this was a violation of the law and Rome would require them to remove this religion.  This was the main reason Rome went against Christianity for it was considered a new religion in a land they already ruled. 

Peter then takes this to another level.  Not only are we to not be surprised , but we are to rejoice.  “But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” 1 Peter 4:13. The idea here is not that we should want to suffer, but that in our suffering we are identified with Christ in His suffering.  Paul put it this way in his letter to the Philippians.  “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:10-11.  In suffering for the cause of Christ, we can become like Him, even to the point of dying for your faith.  To the church at Colossae Paul wrote, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints.” Colossians 1:24-26. 

Here in the United States we are starting to see many Christian principles and beliefs being looked at as hate speech and there are many hints that, though we are Christians, we may need to reject various beliefs to avoid punishment by the government.  Currently, this is something that is coming, but there is no specifics at this time.  However, it is prophesied in scripture that Christians will go through trials and tribulations because of our faith, so we know these days are coming.  And when we are persecuted now for what we believe, and in the future as the day of His return moves closer. We must understand that we will be persecuted.  However, Luke speaks of a great day coming, and in this we can rejoice in our suffering.  “There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see THE SON OF MAN COMING IN A CLOUD with power and great glory. But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Luke 21:25-28. 

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

Lamentations 3:40

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Lamentations 3:40   

“Let us test and examine our ways and return to the LORD!” – Lamentations 3:40

Let us start this with the verse just before our focus verse in order to understand what is being said.  “Why should a living man complain, a man, about the punishment of his sins?” Lamentations 3:39.  What he is saying is, if a man sins why should He gripe and complain about what happens to him.  The writer of Proverbs put it this way.  “When a man’s folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against the LORD.” Proverbs 19:3. The writer is basically saying that when a man gives into the sinful ways and desires of his heart, it causes him to go astray from the ways God has called him to go.  And when things do not go well for him, he places all the blame upon God and not on the one who actually caused this to happen, himself.  Thus, the writer of Lamentations is saying, why should someone complain about what God allows to happen because of their sins?  I like the way Theologian Adam Clarke put it.  “He who has his life still lent to him has small cause of complaint. How great soever his affliction may be, he is still alive; therefore, he may seek and find mercy unto eternal life. Of this, death would deprive him; therefore let not a living man complain.” 

So, going back to verse 39, why should a man complain about the outcome of his own behavior?  At least he is still alive and can make adjustments in his ways.  And if he still lives, what should he do rather than sit around and complain?   The answer lies in our focus verse.  “Let us test and examine our ways and return to the LORD! “ Lamentations 3:40.  This is a more reasonable and profitable thing to do rather than complaining to and about God.  We should look within ourselves and see whether our ways have been good or bad.  Do we have things we do which are not good?  Do we think badly about others who may be more happy and  content than we are?  When we look inside, do we see areas which we know God is not happy with? 

The main idea here is that God is calling us to look inside ourselves and look deep within and see if there is anything we need to ask forgiveness for and repent of.  And ask God to help us see these things.  David called out to God and asked Him to assist in seeing what was in his heart.  “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me and lead me in the way everlasting!”  Psalm 139:23-24. 

This should be our desire as we walk on the earth in the Lord.  We should want to see any wrong thing we do or desire and work toward wiping them out.  We should, with the Lord’s help, examine our heart and our ways, looking deep into what drives us  and what our focus is on.  And we should pray that God will take these desires away and lead us back to Him. 

This can be a difficult endeavor.  We may not want to know where our hearts are, what we desire in our lives, and where our thoughts lead us.  However, God wants us to do this and more, for He wants a great and loving relationship with us.  He has amazing grace for us and will forgive us when we repent of these things and give our all to Him.  So, take some time to make the same requests David made.  “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me and lead me in the way everlasting!” Psalm 139:23-24.  In doing this, we will test and examine our ways, and by making the necessary changes, we can return to the Lord and have a much more wonderful relationship with God than we ever had.

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