Philippians 4:13

Verse of the Day: Philippians 4:13

“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13

Of all people here on earth, we Christians have the most excellent reason to rejoice.  Paul, in this letter to the Philippians lays out what that reason is. “But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked an opportunity to act.” Philippians 4:10. Paul understood that all good comes from God. This could either be immediately from God’s providence or from his grace and therefore, the apostle gives thanks to God for the kindness directed to him, for it was God that gave them the power and desire that directed their hearts to him. There is nothing quite so cheerful and optimistic to the weary soul as an unexpected visit from an old friend. No wonder as Paul turns to express gratitude for their gift, he starts by telling them that he did then what he has been urging them to do throughout: “I rejoiced” greatly in the Lord. The reason for his great joy is expressed with a botanical metaphor, meaning to “blossom again”, like perennials or the spring shoots of deciduous trees and bushes. After a period of dormancy in the matter of giving and receiving, the Philippians were able to renew this part of their friendship with Paul.

Now in verse 11 we see that Paul, who was very well educated, had learned something very important to help him in the life he was currently living. He was very content. “Not that I speak from need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” Philippians 4:11. This was probably something that took time for him to grasp. If he was ever in the Mamertine, that being a Roman prison for those condemned to die, he would confess that it would take a deal of grace to make us content to be there. And if he was shut up in the prison of the Palatine hill, in the barracks near the morass, it was, to say the least, that it was not a desirable place to be in. A soldier chained to your hand day and night, however good a fellow he may be, does not always make the most delightful company for you, nor you for him, and it takes some time to learn to be content with such a companion. But, says Paul, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” Philippians 4:10b.

Contentment in all states is not natural to us. As weeds grow in soil; covetousness, discontentment, and murmuring are things that can  grow in us. And as there is no need to sow thistles and weeds because  they come up naturally, we have no need to teach others to complain or be discontent for these also come up naturally. But the precious things of the earth must be cultivated. If we want wheat, we must plough the ground and sow the wheat seeds. if we want flowers, there must be the garden, and all the gardener’s care. Contentment is one of the flowers of heaven, and if we would have it, it must be cultivated. It will not grow in us naturally; it is the new nature alone that can produce it, and even then we must be especially careful and watchful that we maintain and cultivate the grace that God has sown in it. Paul says, “I have learned to be content,” which says he was not content before he learned to be.

Now Paul adds to this thought. “I know how to get along with little, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.” Philippians 4:12. Paul here says he has learned how to live with very little, as he does now, and to live with an abundance of things, as he did prior to his conversion. A Christian, who had been rich, when he was asked how he could bear his reduced state so happily, put his answer to this question so beautifully, and it has been called the ‘secret to contentment.’ “When I was rich, I had God in everything, and now I am poor I have everything in God.” We must always remember that no matter our situation, God is always with us. He will bring us through any difficulty. We must honor Him in every situation. Here is an interesting quote from Charles Spurgeon regarding this issue. “How many Christians have I seen grandly glorifying God in sickness and poverty when they have come down in the world, and how often have I seen other Christians dishonoring God when they have grown rich, or when they have risen to a position of influence among their fellow men! These two lessons grace alone can fully teach us.

Now we come to our focus verse. “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13. There is no boasting in this statement. Paul only spoke truth here. The former part of the sentence would be a piece of impudent daring without the latter part to interpret it. This passage is not about having financial abundance. Some teach a prosperity gospel that says God will bless us financially if we are faithful. In contrast, Paul taught that the believer would endure suffering but can be content in any circumstance, given Christ’s strength. Just as He faithfully endured the suffering forced upon Him on the cross, His followers can faithfully endure the problems they face. Christ can give contentment during times of plenty and of poverty. He can help us do all things through His strength. In Paul’s case, it was the strength to spread the gospel even though  he was experiencing intense suffering. In our lives, this same strength is available during our times of trials. Whether we serve in another country or help someone in our own community, Christ’s power can enable us to stand firm on His promises and endure the most difficult of life’s challenges.

I want to encourage us all to stand firm in the Lord no matter our situation. Note the wording in our focus verse. “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.“ Philippians 4:13. Not just some things, but all things. If God calls us to do a work, He will not leave us alone, but will work through us to make it happen. We must trust Him completely in all we do. He will never let us down. This pertains to all who love and follow Him. So, do all you can and let the Lord help you through the rest.

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

1 John 2:15

Verse of the Day: 1 John 2:15

“Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” – 1 John 2:15  

Our focus verse here has a lot to say about where many are heading in this world today. To start with, John wrote this epistle to help the Christians of that time be filled with joy. “These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete. This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1:4-5. This is the same message Jesus gave His disciples. “If you keep My commandments, you will remain in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and remain in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” John 15:10-11. This is what God wants for us, to be filled by His joy. Charles Spurgeon put it this way. “What an evidence of our Savior’s deep attachment to His people that He is not content with having made their ultimate salvation sure, but He is anxious concerning their present state of mind! He delights that His people should not only be safe, but happy; not merely saved, but rejoicing in His salvation. Hear this, people of God! The object of the revelation of Jesus Christ is that you may have joy, indeed, that you may have a heart full of joy, and that you may know what full joy means.

Moving to chapter two, John speaks of Christ as the Christian’s advocate. “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. By this we know that we have come to know Him if we keep His commandments.” 1 John 2:1-3. John is encouraging the readers not to sin, but if they do, Christ will be their advocate before the Father. He, as advocate for us, stands there on our behalf, pleading our case. And because of this, He is able to save completely all who will come to God by Him, seeing He ever lives to make intercession for us. And we know these are Christians regarding verses that follow. “I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you on account of His name. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father. I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God remains in you, and you have overcome the evil one.” 1 John 2:12-14.

Now we come to our focus verse. “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” 1 John 2:15. This is a very strong statement, for what he is telling them is if they love the things of the world, they cannot love God, for the ways of the world and God are contrary to each other. The same idea is found in Matthew where Jesus says, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” Matthew 6:24. Pastor Chuck Smith put it this way. “You cannot, not you should not, you cannot. And wealth, of course, refers to worldly materialistic things, the monetary system of the world. You can’t serve them both.

Next, John defines for us what he is meaning by ‘the world.’ First, he is not referring here to the physical world, creation. He is referring to the world system itself. “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.” 1 John 2:16. John proceeds to explain more fully why love for the world is incompatible with love for God. It is because everything in the world is not from God but from the world itself. Its origin lies in the world, viewed as a system in opposition to God. Let us look at these three worldly ways. First, let us look in Genesis where these ideas are first exhibited. “The serpent said to the woman, you certainly will not die! For God knows that on the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will become 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 some of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband with her, and he ate.” Genesis 3:4-6. Eve here was tempted by the serpent to disobey God and eat the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. She coveted the fruit in three ways. First, it was appealing to her appetite. This John refers to as the ‘lust of the flesh,’ Next, the fruit was also pleasing or delightful to the eye, that which we see and desire to own or possess. This John referred to as the ‘lust of the eyes.’ And lastly, Eve saw that the fruit would make her wise, giving her a wisdom beyond her own. Part of Satan’s lie was that eating the fruit would make her ‘like God, knowing good and evil.’ This was also tempting to her, which is referred to as the ‘pride of life.’

Christians have and will always be lured by the same three temptations Eve and Jesus experienced. Satan doesn’t change his methods; he doesn’t have to because they continue to be successful. He tempts us with the lust of the flesh; sexual gratification, gluttony, excessive alcohol consumption, and drugs, both legal and illegal, as well as the “deeds of the flesh” about which Paul warned the Galatians, “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: sexual immorality, impurity, indecent behavior, idolatry, witchcraft, hostilities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:19-21. He tempts us with the lust of the eyes—the endless accumulation of “stuff” with which we fill our homes and garages and the insatiable desire for more, better, and newer possessions, which ensnares us and hardens our hearts to the things of God. It is also lusts that go beyond things but includes sinful behaviors.

But perhaps his most evil temptation is the pride of life, the very sin that resulted in Satan’s expulsion from heaven. He desired to be God, not to be a servant of God. See Isaiah 14:12-15. The arrogant boasting which constitutes the pride of life motivates the other two lusts as it seeks to elevate itself above all others and fulfill all personal desires. It is the root cause of strife in families, churches, and nations. It exalts the self in direct contradiction to Jesus’ statement that those who would follow Him must take up their cross and deny themselves. The pride of life stands in our way if we truly seek to be servants of God. It is the arrogance that separates us from others and limits our effectiveness in the kingdom.

These three things, lust of the flesh and eyes, plus the pride of life comes not from the Father, but from the world. And, as such, it is passing away with the world, but those who resist and overcome the temptations listed above do the will of God, and the person who does the will of God lives forever. As I said in the beginning, many are accepting what the world offers, which automatically rejects God and what He offers. It is important that we shine the light of truth on those who do not see it, for the time is close for Jesus’ return, and if they continue to deny God’s ways, then it will be too late..

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

1 John 2:15

Verse of the Day: 1 John 2:15

“Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” – 1 John 2:15  

We are not to love this world and what it has to offer.  The things down here are not worth it.  What does it have to offer us?  Verses 16-17 answer this question.  “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.

If you love the world then you truly cannot love the Father, for they are diametrically opposed to each other.  So, Is the world and all its pleasures worth more than our eternal God?  If so, then you will need to examine yourself prayerfully and ask why.  Then take what God tells you and change your focus.  You will not regret making the adjustments.

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

Titus 2:1

Verse of the Day: Titus 2:1

“But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine.” – Titus 2:1 

Paul here is speaking with one of the great leaders of the first century church.  Titus was a faithful servant of Christ and a valuable companion of Paul in some of his missionary journeys.  He served several churches in Corinth, Dalmatia and Crete.  Paul here is encouraging Titus to make sure all that he speaks and teaches should be of sound doctrine, ensuring that they grow in Christ and believe the absolute truth.  This word, I am confident was not meant just for Titus, but for all Christian leaders.

However, I want to assert that, as Christians, if we are discussing Christian issues with fellow Christians in a training context or are going out and spreading the gospel of Christ to the lost, this applies to us as well.  We must make it our focus to understand what we teach or share.  Be like the Berean’s in that you do not tell others what someone else says without checking it out to ensure it is truth.  It does not matter how famous or educated they are.  Remember, Paul commended the Bereans for checking what he said for accuracy.

As Christians, we are called to make disciples of all nations.  Jesus said in Matthew 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  If you are not, I encourage you to study and prepare to make it happen.  And if/when you do, ensure what you are saying is truth.  “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” 2 Tim 2:15.  It is our calling.

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

Matthew 6:33

Verse of the Day: Matthew 6:33

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” – Matthew 6:33

As Christians, we have no need to worry about the needs in our life.  This verse does not mean we will get everything we ‘want’, but everything we ‘need’.  This has nothing to do with the name it, claim it heresy. Look at the list in vs 25 and 31.  It deals with food, clothing and shelter.  These are really our only needs; food to eat, clothes to wear, and a place for shelter.

What Jesus is saying here is that if we truly, with everything that is in us, seek first His kingdom, His righteousness, His life, God will take care of meeting the above needs.  It is important that we understand that it may not be the way we would like it.  For instance, we may want and get a full meal, however, we may only get some bits and pieces of food.  But it is food and gives us what we need.  Also, we may want and get a new house, however, we may only get a small room or someplace to hang out with protection from the environment.  God will provide our absolute needs, but He will do it in the way that is best for us with the tasks He has for us to accomplish.

Be thankful for all His gifts, and all His provision.  Use all these things in your work for Him.  Do not compare yourself and what God provides with what others have.  If you have any food to eat, any clothes to wear, and anyplace to shelter yourself, you are blessed.  There are many people in the world who do not have anything at all.  Therefore, be thankful.

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

Job 9:10

Verse of the Day Devotion: Job 9:10

“Who does great things, unfathomable, And wondrous works without number.” – Job 9:10

This verse speaks to God’s all-powerful ways.  What Job is saying here is that there is nothing He cannot do.  This is important to remember when we go through difficult times, especially when there is nothing, we can think of to get out of the terrible situation.  There is nothing He does not know, there is nothing He cannot do, and there is no place He is not present.  And because of this, what Job declares is absolute truth.

First, God is omniscient.  He knows everything.  “Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure” Isaiah 46:10.  From the very beginning of the universe, and even before it’s creation, He knew us.  He knew when we would be born, and everything about us.  He knew we would sin, and He provided the means for reconciliation before the world, and everything was created.  “For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you. “1 Peter 1:20. He knows when we will be troubled or forlorn and is there to encourage us.  He knows when we will praise and lift Him up and will be there to receive it.  Nothing surprises God because we cannot be surprised by what we already know. There will never be a time when He is late or never shows up.

Next, He is omnipotent.  He is all powerful.  “For nothing will be impossible with God.” Luke 1:37 He created everything that exists.  “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” John 1:3. He has created all things we see and will never see.  No matter what we are going through, He will bring us through.  No one can defeat Him, and no one can prevent Him from doing anything or make Him do anything.  He divided at least two bodies of water such that His people walked across on dry land.  He saved the Israelites from many empires and will eventually deliver us from this world and take us to live with Him forever.

And finally, He is omnipresent.  He is everywhere.  “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.  Wherever we go, God is there.

Wherever we are not, God is there.  There is never a place He cannot hear our cries or our thoughts.  Moreover, He is in us as Christians.  He is never too far away that we must wait for Him to get to us.

Since God is all powerful, all knowing and everywhere at each moment, there is no reason we should be fearful, anxious, or worried.  This is why we can trust Him in everything.  “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.”  Proverbs 3:6. What a great life we can live if we take our focus verse to heart and be fully content no matter what. William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.

Job 42:2

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Job 42:2  

“I know that Thou canst do all things, and that no purpose of Thine can be thwarted.” – Job 42:2  

Job was a man that endured more than I could ever imagine.  In chapter one, he loses everything that He owned.  He lost all his property and all his children. This is an amazing story of a man who withstood the greatest test imaginable. And after all that happened to Job in chapter one, it says “Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.” Job 1:22.

In Job up through chapter 37, Job is tested by Satan.  Then in chapters 38 through 41, God goes to Job and asks a series of questions, showing Job that he has no understanding of Him at all.  “Who is this that darkens counsel By words without knowledge? Now gird up your loins like a man, And I will ask you, and you instruct Me!” Job 38:2. God is informing Job that He does not truly speak what he knows. The theologian Adam Clarke puts it this way. “As if he had said, who art thou who pretends to speak on the deep things of God, and the administration of his justice and providence, which thou canst not comprehend; and leaves my counsels and designs the darker for thy explanation?” In other words, speaking without understanding what he is speaking about. How often do we see this happening today?

Then God tells Job to get ready for He is going to ask him some questions. “Now gird up your loins like a man, And I will ask you, and you instruct Me!” Job 38:3. Notice the words “and you instruct me. Here are a few of the questions God asked him. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding,” Job 38:4. “Who set its measurements, since you know? Or who stretched the line on it?” Job 38:5. And then finally, “Have you ever in your life commanded the morning, and caused the dawn to know its place?” Job 38:12.

Then after all the questions were asked, Job fully understood that he really did not understand. Then in an act of repentance we read in our focus verse, “I know that Thou canst do all things, And that no purpose of Thine can be thwarted.” Job 42:2.  Now. remember the question asked by God in chapter thirty-eight where God started asking His series of questions, “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?  well, Job now answers God.  “Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge? Therefore, I have declared that which I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.” Job 42:3. Then he says to God, “Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask Thee, and do Thou instruct me. Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask Thee, and do Thou instruct me. Therefore, I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:4-6.  The meaning of repenting in ‘dust and ashes’ has the idea of repenting in humility before the Lord and His greatness.

We must be careful how we view our knowledge of God and His ways.  Things we can know is that God loves us, cares for us, and desires a strong relationship with us. This is clear.  But do we know why God does one thing rather than another?  Not always, but we can trust that what He allows in good. “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. We do not have to know everything, for God does and He will protect us and make good come from bad. And finally, the prophet Isaiah puts it well when he declared, “Remember this, and be assured; Recall it to mind, you transgressors. Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure.” Isaiah 46:8-10.

In closing, we cannot always know why things happen or why they do not. For only God knows all things.  But what we can know is that God is in control, and because He loves us, we can know that everything that happens is for our good.  Let us be careful that we do not assume what we deem as bad is bad, for God may mean it for our good. And alternately, let us be careful that we do not assume what we deem as good is necessarily good, we can pray that God will remove our trials and tribulations from us. However, we should remember the prayer Jesus prayed just prior to His arrest. “And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, saying, “Father, if Thou art willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Thine be done.” Luke 22:41-42.

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

Hebrews 11:3

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Hebrews 11:3 

“By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.” – Hebrews 11:3

In this world there are two different views of the universe.  One is that the universe has been here forever with no beginning, and the other is that the  universe has a beginning.   Logically, both of these statements cannot be true.  And as we look at the reality of existence, we will see that what the Bible states is far more plausible than what man has come up with.

Stephen Hawking, the most famous theoretical physicist in the world, said the following regarding the universe.  “So long as the universe had a beginning, we could suppose it had a creator. But if the universe is really completely self-contained, having no boundary or edge, it would have neither beginning nor end it would simply be. What place, then, for a creator?”  From here, we can see he believed that because the universe was eternal, both past and future, and that the universe has no boundaries, hence filling infinite space, there is no need for a God.  In his words, what place is there for a creator?

Today, science puts forth the idea that there is no need for a creator because modern science can explain everything.  Again, Stephen Hawking put it this way.  “Before we understand science, it is natural to believe that God created the universe. But now science offers a more convincing explanation. What I meant by ‘we would know the mind of God’ is, we would know everything that God would know, if there were a God, which there is not. I’m an atheist.”  This is a prevailing view of modern man, that God does not exist, and they strive to find evidence to prove this point.  However, there are several truths that show this view is improbable. 

First, The universe is running down, and something that is running down must have started at some point.  For is the universe is eternal, it would have already lost all energy.  The second law of thermodynamics states that the universe is running out of usable energy.  No matter how long it would take, a fixed amount of energy that is being depleted would eventually use up all energy, with the result being a dead universe.  And the universe is expanding.  How can something continually expand without at some point having a  beginning from which to expand fron? 

However, the Bible makes it clear that the universe is not eternal, that it does have a beginning.  In fact, the very first verse in the scriptures bring out.  “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1.  And as you read through chapter one of Genesis, we see that He also created everything in this universe.  Paul wrote to the Church of Colossae the following.  “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.” Colossians 1:16.  And John said in Revelation, “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.” Revelation 4:11. 

So, looking at the above, it actually makes complete sense that the universe had a beginning.  This then brings up the question, how did it come into existence.  Again, we have two choices.  The first is that it just came into existence, out of nothing, without the action of anyone or anything.  Or secondly, a supreme and eternal being brought it into existence.  And by faith, understanding that what exists could not have come into existence but for an eternal and intelligent being, God created everything just as stated in His word.  And it must be truth, for God spoke to John which he wrote in his gospel; “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.” John 17:17.  If anything came into existence, it had to be by an eternal being with infinite power to do anything He pleases.  And  I can see no other way for what is to exist.   

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

Colossians 3:2

Verse of the Day Devotion: Colossians 3:2 

“Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” – Colossians 3:2         

Now that we are saved, our minds should be thinking on our new life, and not the life we have left behind.  We see what we should be focused on in the first verse in this chapter. “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” Colossians 3:1.  We need to set aside our old self, our old nature.  Paul puts it this way.  “that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” Ephesians 4:22-24.  If we are born again, then the old man was killed, crucified.  “For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.” Romans 6:5-7. 

So, this begs the question.  If our old man with its old ways is dead, then why should we set our minds on the worldly ways of our old man?  The answer is easy, we should not.  Our minds should be focused on God; what He desires from us, what we can do for Him here.  We should direct our thoughts to Christ, where He dwells and His will for us.  We should not be focusing on the things of this world such as wealth, self-honor and pleasure.  The theologian Albert Barnes in his commentary on Colossians stated, “Our affections should not be fixed on houses and lands; on scenes of fashion and gaiety; on low and debasing enjoyments.” That man, the one who’s mind was fixed on earthly pleasures and ways has died. 

We, as Christians, should love the things of God, and detest the things of this world.  Now, I am not saying we should neglect our needs here, essentially food, clothing and shelter; or we should not enjoy some things here, such as a concert or a ball game.  It is that we should not make these things the center of our life.  These are not sinful activities, except if they take precedence over the things of God.   It is sin we should not think on.  “Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.”  Colossians 3:5.  We must see these things as dead and no longer enticing us.  We once focused on these things, but we should not now.  We are new creatures.  We think differently, we act differently.  We used to live to satisfy ourselves, now we must live to satisfy God, and in so doing, He will satisfy us.  This is setting our minds on the things above.  This is denying the things of this world.  And I have no doubt life will be so much better when we follow the words of this verse.

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

Isaiah 43:18

Verse of the Day Devotion: Isaiah 43:18 

“Do not call to mind the former things or ponder things of the past.” – Isaiah 43:18         

The Lord is speaking through Isaiah regarding the things of the past.  What is he referring to in regard to the former things?  Just before this verse Isaiah starts regarding delivering them from Babylon, “Thus says the LORD your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, for your sake I have sent to Babylon, and will bring them all down as fugitives, Even the Chaldeans, into the ships in which they rejoice.” Isaiah 43:14. He tells them that He sent the Medes and Persians with their king Cyrus to deliver them from Babylon.  Before that, we read “For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I have given Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in your place.” Isaiah 43:3. Egypt as a ransom may refer to when God delivered Israel from Egypt with various plagues, especially the last one regarding the death of the first born and ultimately the charioteers and their chariots in the Red Sea.  The reference to Cush and Seba probably refers to a time when the king of Assyria diverted from Palestine and Judea to deal with Egypt and Ethiopia. 

What Isaiah is saying is that though these events were amazing and worth being remembered with thankfulness, praise and rejoicing, and no doubt bringing encouragement, they are not to be compared with what God is going to do and must not take precedent over future workings of God. “Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert.”  Isaiah 43:19 God has great plans for Israel.  And He will declare them to Israel before they spring forth.  “Behold, the former things have come to pass, Now I declare new things; Before they spring forth, I proclaim them to you.” Isaiah 42:9. The metaphor here refers to plants and flowers and the springing up out of the ground from the seed.  The idea is that before there is any indication of life in a certain place, there is the seed and at this time God will proclaim it to them. 

And this new thing is the coming of the Messiah.  Note the first four verses in chapter 42.  “Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry out or raise His voice, Nor make His voice heard in the street. A bruised reed He will not break and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not be disheartened or crushed Until He has established justice in the earth; And the coastlands will wait expectantly for His law.” Isaiah 42:1-4.  This servant He refers to is the Messiah, and He will bring forth a future deliverance to Israel, but not as the past deliverances.  Before it was deliverance from those who held them captive but coming will be a deliverance from their sins which now holds them captive.  They were not to dwell on past deliverances but focus on the great one coming.

This speaks to us today as well.  God has done many things in our past that has helped and guided us.  But we must be careful not to dwell too much on these and assume what He will do for us will follow the pattern of the past. God may be doing brand new things in our lives that are completely different than anything He has done before.  Dwelling on what He has done may affect how we see His new work or may make us miss the new work altogether; just as Israel missed the future divergence by Jesus because it did not match past works.  If He is doing something new in our lives, then let us see it as a totally new thing, asking Him to make it clear, so we can fully understand.  I think we will be amazed by how God works in our lives. 

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