Luke 9:35

Verse of the Day Devotion: Luke 9:35

“Then a voice came out of the cloud, saying, this is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!” – Luke 9:35

This passage is found at the end of what is called the transfiguration.  Jesus took Peter, James and John with Him up onto a mountain to pray.  While Jesus was praying, it says that something changed with Him.  He was transfigured.  “And while He was praying, the appearance of His face became different, and His clothing became white and gleaming.”  Luke 9-29.  Matthew gives us a more detailed description of the change in Jesus.  “And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light.”  Matthew 17:2. And with Him stood two other men, also appearing in glory, Elijah and Moses.

After a time, the voice of God the Father came from out of the clouds saying, ‘Listen to my Son, the chosen one.’  This is key.  As the disciples were told to listen to Jesus, we are to as well.  Too often we only listen to pastors and teachers when it comes to theological issues, and just accept what they say.  This is where heretical teachings and practices arise.  The question we should ask is, ‘Does what they are saying line up with the Word of God?’  If it does, then accept it and follow it.  If it does not, then reject it.

Paul spoke of the Bereans in Acts 17, and this should be our mindset.  “Now these (Jews from Berea) were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.”  Acts 17:11.   They did not take what Paul said without checking it out first.  We also should not accept what someone tells us, even if they are greatly credentialed, without checking it out ourselves.  There are some things that are obvious, however, if you have not heard it before or are questioning the accuracy of the interpretation, look it up.  And while checking it out, pray that God will reveal the truth to you.  Let Christ be the one who validates what men say.

Now this does require discipline.  We must be willing and desirous of knowing the reality of what is being said.  Let Him show you the truth.  He will never lead you astray and will always guide you, through His Spirit, into all truth.  And is not the truth what we are striving for?

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

Isaiah 58:1

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Isaiah 58:1

“Cry loudly, do not hold back; Raise your voice like a trumpet, and declare to My people their transgression, And to the house of Jacob their sins.” – Isaiah 58:1

The first two words ‘Cry loudly’, seen in the first two words of our focus verse, has the idea of calling out someone with your full throat. By this, the prophet is being called by God to declare loudly and clearly that the house of Jacob is committing sinful deeds, specifically ‘missing the mark’ that God called them to follow, and flat-out being treasonous and rebellious.  This introduction suggests that a judgment speech will follow, but the format that follows is very different from the normal judgment speech. Verse one provides the reason for the prophet’s speech (God told him to cry out) and legitimates the idea that these criticisms come from God.

So, what were these criticisms? He starts by showing there hypocrisy. “Yet they seek Me day by day, and delight to know My ways, As a nation that has done righteousness, And has not forsaken the ordinance of their God. They ask Me for just decisions, They delight in the nearness of God.” Isaiah 58:2. The whole description in verse two is appropriate to the character of formalists and hypocrites; and the idea is, that public worship by sacrifice was celebrated daily in the temple and was not held up at any time. It is not improbable also that they kept up the regular daily service in their dwellings. Their priests and prophets consult about the laws and institutions of religion, as if they were really afraid of violating the Divine commands. While at the same time that they are full of oppression, strife, and wickedness, they are scrupulously careful about violating any of the commands pertaining to the rites of religion.

Then in verse three and four. “Why have we fasted and Thou dost not see? Why have we humbled ourselves and Thou dost not notice?’ Behold, on the day of your fast you find your desire and drive hard all your workers. Behold, you fast for contention and strife and to strike with a wicked fist. You do not fast like you do today to make your voice heard on high.” Isaiah 58:3-4. Now God exposes the reality, which was that His people didn’t fast with the right heart and did it only as an empty ritual. Even on a day when they fasted, they still exploited their employees. God didn’t accept their fasting when it wasn’t connected with a sincere heart of obedience. They fasted for needs, certainly; but selfish needs like ‘Help me win this argument.’ or ‘Help me defeat this person.’  Though their prayer was accompanied with fasting, it was still a selfish, even wicked prayer, thus God did not answer. The purpose of their fasting was to glorify themselves, to make their voice heard on high. And God says, ‘No more. You will not fast as you do this day.’ 

Then God describes what He is looking for in us. “Is this not the fast which I choose, To loosen the bonds of wickedness, To undo the bands of the yoke, And to let the oppressed go free, And break every yoke? Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry, And bring the homeless poor into the house; When you see the naked, to cover him; And not to hide yourself from your own flesh?” Isaiah 58:6-7. God tells His people, If you want to fast the way that pleases Me, begin with getting right with your brothers and sisters. Stop oppressing others and reach out to help them. Loose the bonds of wickedness, undo the heavy burdens, and let the oppressed go free. How is this done? They had to stop acting wickedly towards others. This means that getting right with God begins by stopping the evil we do towards others. They were to share their bread with the hungry and their clothes with the naked. It was not hide everything for themselves. They had to start acting lovingly towards everyone. This means that getting right with God continues by showing true love to all.

We must be careful that what we do is not to lift up and please ourselves, but to lift God up and please Him. It will not matter if we take communion, read His Word, or go to church if we are only doing it because it is a Christian thing to do.  I did this for many years until God showed me I was not truly saved. And when I finally listened to God and gave my life to Him, I finally understood what the true Christian life is all about. Doing the do’s and not doing the don’ts is not enough, for we can do all we want, but if it is not to please and honor our Lord, it is actually a waste of our time. We need to give Him our life and focus on making Christ the core of our existence, pleasing Him in everything we do and we will be in His will. And that includes loving everyone as Christ loves us. Remember when Christ was asked the question of what is the foremost commandment of them all. “Jesus answered, The most important is, Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31. If we do not love God above everything else, and love everyone as we love ourselves, then all we are doing is going through the motions without honoring and giving our all to God. And this is not what we are to do.

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

Psalms 3:4

(Editor’s Note: Christiaan here still, William is in the hospital still, and your continued prayers for his speedy and complete recovery are appreciated).

Verse of the Day Devotion – Psalms 3:4 (Alter)

“With my voice I cry out to the Lord, and He answers me from His holy mountain. (Selah) – Psalms 3:4 (Alter)

The third psalm holds a unique place in biblical literature. It’s the first psalm with a title, and one of only a few that gives us a setting for the psalm. While we will, more than likely, never be in his exact situation, we can learn a lot from David’s response in his unique situation. The title of the psalm is, A David psalm, when he fled from Absalom his son. Absalom murdered his brother (David’s other son), rallied the armies of Israel against David, so much so that David had to flee the palace with his servants and his personal bodyguard. An emissary from the nation of Gath had a group of six hundred men that accompanied David. Absalom wasn’t content with the throne, he wanted his father, David, dead and to those ends he mobilized the entire army of Israel to hunt David down.

On the run David cries out to God, telling him of the sheer number of enemies he has (in the final battle between David and Absalom twenty thousand soldiers died) and how they taunt him telling him that “God will never rescue him” And David affirms the truth of our verses of the day. In Robert Alter’s translation and commentary, he paints the picture, “The palpable strength of this psalm resides in its sheer simplicity and directness. The speaker, a man beleaguered by bitter foes, is first mocked by them when they tell him no god will rescue him. Ignoring the mockery, he cries out to the Lord for help sure he will be answered. Surrounded by enemies, he can sleep undisturbed.”

We will probably never have our children murder their sibling and then hunt us down to murder us. But there are times in our lives where we will feel overwhelmed with what’s going on in our lives. People will tell us that God can’t help us, or we’ll think that our problem is too small or not important enough for God to help us. Health issues, job issues, family issues, whatever issues pop up, David is testifying that when he cried out to God, God moved.

Kinda like with my But God verse of the day eight months ago, I want to look at how God responds to our cries.

God moves when we cry out to him.
He proved it throughout the old testament.

When the Israelites cried out to God:
He gave them Moses and liberated them.
He raised judges to liberate them.
He turned the tide in battle for them.

Throughout the psalms David continually reminds us that when we cry out, God acts here are just two examples:

In Psalm 61, David cries out to God, again, for help. He tells God that his heart is overwhelmed, this could also be translated to become weak or sickly. His prayer is that God will, “lead me to the rock that is higher than I” and mentions that God is a strong tower and refuge to him.

In Psalm 34, David tells those who are helpless (the Hebrew word Anaw means to be suffering, oppressed, emaciated or tormented) to “take heart… let us exalt his name together [for when] I prayed to the Lord… he freed me from all my fears… in my desperation (same Anaw word) he saved me from all my troubles.” He continues later on in the psalm, “The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the broken hearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.”

God is unique to every other deity in all of time and space.
At his core is the fact that God always hears the cries of his people.

Often times however we don’t know how to pray. We don’t know what to ask for. Sometimes we may not even know that we’re oppressed or in need, but as believers we have Holy Spirit living inside us. Paul writes in Romans 8, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness…. the spirit himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words… the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”

While Holy Spirit does pray on our behalf, it’s important for us to continue to cry out to God ourselves as and when we’re able. In Luke 18, Jesus tells the Parable of the Persistent Widow, she keeps asking an unjust judge for justice eventually because of her persistence the unjust judge grants her cries for justice. Jesus ends the parable by saying, “And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly.”

So, may you not feel ashamed or concerned in crying out to God. May you be attentive to Holy Spirit’s intercessions, and may you find freedom from your fears, and rescue from your troubles that only God can give.