Proverbs 27:19

Verse of the Day Devotion: Proverbs 27:19

“As in water face reflects face, So the heart of man reflects man.” – Proverbs 27:19

When a man looks in the water or a mirror, he sees his image reflected back at him.  Whether good or bad, the reflection is a true picture of what we look like.  We do not see our true appearance until such time as we take the time to view it.  Sometimes we see certain things we do not like, so we adjust our appearance such that we will see ourselves more like we want.  However, the most important thing to remember is that how we appear in our reflection is how others see us.

Now, a mirror reflects our outward appearance.  But what reflects who we are inside?  The answer to this question is our heart.  What is important to us?  How do we feel about things?  And per Jeremiah,  what do we do?  “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?  I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds.”  Jeremiah 17:9-10  Notice the idea here that our ways and deeds are seen in our heart and mind.  The real man is reflected by his heart.  Peter put it this way, “Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.” 1 Peter 3:3-4.  These two verses speak of women; however, it does speak of men and woman in the idea it presents.

So, this begs the question.  When the world looks at us, our ways and deeds (as Jeremiah put it), what do they see?   Do they see a heart truly committed to God?  Do they see a heart that is full of love for God and mankind?  When you honestly and with no bias look inside yourself, what do you see?  Remember, what you see is very likely what others see.  If, perchance, we do not like what we see, we must ask God to help us in changing our hearts to the one God desires of us.  We must be open to this change and submissive to Him as the changes are made.  There is a song done by Vineyard that speaks clearly of this.  “Change my heart oh God, make it ever true. Change my heart oh God, may I be like you.”

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

Exodus 20:4

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Exodus 20:4

“You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.” – Exodus 20:4

In the first commandment, God declared He was the true God, and everything else was not.  He commanded that He alone should be worshipped and here He makes clear what is unlawful worship.  In the next two verses He states, “You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”  Exodus 20:5-6. 

In these three verses God shows that He is the one to be worshipped and non-other. We are not to make for ourselves idols.  We are not to make anything from any material into any image for the purpose of worship.  Under the leadership of Moses himself, figures of cherubim, brazen serpents, oxen, and many other things in the earth beneath, were made and never condemned.   What was condemned was making anything for the purpose of worshipping it.  And you see from our focus verse there is no exception for any image.  He states that we are not to make any likeness of things in the heavens, or on the earth, or in the seas.  This includes everything.  The things in heaven include but not limited to stars, planets, the sun and moon.  This can also include angels since they are in the heavens. In regard to the things of the earth again include but not limited to oxen, sheep, goats, dogs, cats, calves, etc.  Many animals were made idols/false gods in Egypt.  And of the water fish and crocodiles which were also gods of Egypt, along with anything else in the waters. 

They were told not to bow down to anything that they make and thus make it an idol.  They were not to serve them in a capacity or perform any religious activities to them.  For if they did, they were dishonoring the true God.   And He tells them He is a jealous God.  This shows in a most expressive manner the love of God to this people. He felt for them as the most affectionate husband could do for his spouse; and was jealous for their fidelity, because he willed their invariable happiness.  And if they did create an idol, their sons and remote descendants inherit the consequences of their fathers’ sin in disease, poverty, captivity, with all the influences of bad example and evil communications.  We see this idea from the writer of Lamentations where he said, “Our fathers sinned, and are no more; It is we who have borne their iniquities.” 

Now to those who love God and keep His commandments not because works provided anything, but because of their love for Him, He shows mercy and kindness.  He performs acts of grace and helps them by showing mercy to them.   And those who love Him will worship Him alone, and not creating anything else to worship instead of Him.  Remember the words of Jesus where He says, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”. 

And we are called to do the same.  We are not to make anything that we will worship aside from the true God.  There are many religions today who create images of things to worship aside from God.  And we must be careful that we do not fall into this practice.  What can anything we create do to deliver us from our troubles, provide for our needs, or love us beyond what our God does?  We are called to worship the true God only, the one who created all things, including ourselves.  Can these idols do this?  If we choose to create an idol to worship, what we are saying to God is  we do not love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.  (See Mark 22:30).  And if we do not, then do we really love Him?

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

John 21:7

(Editor’s Note: William underwent surgery yesterday – a positive outcome – and thus this verse was delayed. We’re excited to have him back, hopefully soon.)

Verse of the Day Devotion – John 21:7 (NLT)

“Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped in the water and headed to shore.” –  John 21:7 (NLT)

John’s gospel is my favorite. He shows the most personality, and includes little Easter eggs throughout the gospel. One of these being a pseudo rivalry with Peter. The most notable of these is that when Jesus was announced to be risen, Peter and John race there John makes sure he mentions that he arrived first (John 20:8). We also get a lot of details surrounding events that are crucial to Peter’s future, and his development as a Christian and leader within the church. As I spoke about last time, when I covered John 21:22, those events happened after Peter’s reconciliation with Jesus. Tomorrow, I’ll be writing directly about that. But as usual, let’s set the stage.

Jesus has died, been raised from the dead, and visited with the disciples and Peter before. The disciples keep not recognizing Jesus (that’s a whole other story). Prior to Jesus’ murder, Peter had argued with Jesus about his devotion to him in Matthew 26:33-35 and even after Jesus told Peter that he would deny Jesus, Peter contradicts Jesus by saying, “No! Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you.” Matthew does point out that the other disciples agreed – John is the only one (that we’re aware of) that doesn’t avoid Jesus in some way.

As fiercely loyal and close to Jesus as Peter was, in Peter’s last few interactions with Jesus Peter failed Jesus repeatedly. When Jesus told them that “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death” (Matthew 26:38) and asked them to pray with him, Peter and the other disciples couldn’t stay awake, Jesus says to Peter, “Could you watch with me even one hour?” (Matthew 26:40). When Jesus was captured, Peter chopped off the ear of one of the guards and was chastised by Jesus, “Put away your sword…” (Matthew 26:52-54). After Jesus’s Capture Peter hangs in the back, and eventually denies Jesus three times, Matthew gives the most detailed description of what happens in Matthew 26:69-75 which involves Peter’s escalation in denying knowing Jesus, with just an denial, then denying him with an oath, and finally as the ESV puts it, Peter Invokes a curse on himself and swears, “I do not know the man” Luke tells us that after Peter did this, Jesus from inside the house, “turned and looked at Peter. and Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, “before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” All four accounts of Peter’s denial end with Peter weeping bitterly. Mark’s account (Mark 14:72) mentions that Peter “broke down and wept.” To make matters worse, based on the records we have Peter never gets to speak to or really interact with Jesus until after his death, and those times he doesn’t recognize Jesus at first.

Then comes our verse in John 21. After spending some time hiding behind locked doors, Peter decides to go fishing and the disciples follow him. After fishing all night, Jesus (though they don’t realize it’s him) appears at dawn standing on the shore. Jesus asks them if they’ve caught anything, they say no, and Jesus in a throwback to when he called them to be disciples tells them to cast to the right side, and just like in that time, they catch so many fish they can’t hold them all. It’s at this moment that John connects the dots at what is happening, and identifies the stranger on the shore as Jesus. As soon as Peter hears this he wraps himself in his cloak and swimps the hundred yards from the boat to shore, leaving behind everything else.

Without any hesitation. Without a second guess. Without thinking through how additional clothes could hinder his ability to swim. and perhaps most importantly, without judging himself based on his past and using that as something to hinder his pursuit of Jesus.

Peter puts on his tunic (as a form of respect to Jesus), and rushes to Jesus. He doesn’t shyly hide in the boat, or avoid the situation by focusing on the fish that were just caught. Peter doesn’t let his shame, bitterness, or fear prevent him from running (swimming) to Jesus. And the experience is transformative to Peter. He rushes towards Jesus with a greater zeal than Peter had demonstrated before his repeated betrayal of Jesus. Peter in this place, chooses to embrace a truth he may not have even realized in his rush to see Jesus that Paul articulated in Romans 8:1, “There is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.”

It can be argued that Peter knew that Jesus had forgiven him. It can be argued that Peter knew this or that… if you’re anything like me, even when you know that on paper everything is straightened out, I still don’t rush out to see someone I’ve had issues with more excitement and zeal than before my betrayal. How many times when we’ve wronged someone, especially with God, we’ll impose a sort of punishment on ourselves. We don’t pray (talk to them). We definitely won’t ask them for anything. Once we’ve done enough penance, we’ll finally ease ourselves back into relationship with them.

Peter, more so than any of the other disciples at that time, had a lot to be forgiven of, But Jesus, consistent and teaching lessons through his love and compassion, demonstrated to Peter the same grace he showed in Luke 7:47, that he who is forgiven much loves much.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at how Jesus uniquely chose to reconcile Peter.

So, May you realize that as a Christian, Jesus has already forgiven you. May you embrace the lack of condemnation you have within Christ and not let it hinder you. May you understand at your core that they that are forgiven much love much, and may we begin to have a zeal for God greater than we’ve had in the past, in spite of our screw ups.