Hebrews 12:3

Verse of the Day Devotion: Hebrews 12:3

“For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” – Hebrews 12:3 

This can be a very difficult verse to accept.  What the writer of Hebrews is saying is we should be as Christ in our strength and fortitude regarding the hostility and suffering we experience.  “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2. Jesus freely came here to suffer death for us, knowing through His own death we could be counted righteous and able to enter into the kingdom of God.  And this was a great joy to Him.  In fact, we would be joint heirs with Him.  “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.” Romans 8:16-17.  As Jesus suffered, we must also be willing to suffer for in so doing we will be glorified with Him.  We should look at these trials as a precursor to great joy promised to us by Him, just as He, in joy, sacrificed Himself for us.

The Apostle Peter had a few things to say about this.  “Servants be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable.  For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly.  For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it; this finds favor with God.” 1 Peter 2:18-20.  We are to be kind to all, no matter what anyone does to us.  If we are treated harshly, we are to endure it with patience.  This is what we see in how Jesus dealt with unjust suffering.  He could have saved himself but chose not to.  “Then Jesus said to him,Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.  Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?  How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it must happen this way?’” Matthew 26:52-54.

We are called to follow this example.  Paul again says here, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”  Ephesians 5:1-2.  We are to be like Him, walking in love to the point that we would sacrifice our very life as well.  This seems impossible; however, our focus verse shows us the way.  We need to look to Jesus; see how He endured even more than we have or ever will.  How He was treated even more harshly for no cause then we ever will.  We must, through the Holy Spirit, suffer for the cause of Christ.  We are not to compromise but be steadfast under every circumstance.  And when we begin to faint and lose heart, go to God.  “I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come?  My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1-2

We are not alone.  God will be with us, helping us to follow the ways of Jesus, so that we will not grow weary and lose heart when persecuted.  This is a great promise that we must grasp with all we have.  And the harder the persecution, the more we can count on Him.  What a great and loving God we serve.

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

Galatians 6:9

Verse of the Day Devotion: Galatians 6:9

“Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” – Galatians 6:9   

Adam Clarke, a British Methodist theologian and Biblical scholar said the following in His commentary on this passage in Galatians.  “Well-doing is easier in itself than ill-doing; and the danger of growing weary in the former arises only from the opposition to good in our own nature, or the outward hinderances we may meet with from a gainsaying and persecuting world.”  I have found this to be very true in my own life.   First of all, I do not desire to do what is wrong.  Unfortunately, I at times do things I really do not want to do; things I need to ask forgiveness for, and these are the things that I find hard to accept in myself.  Doing good is my heart’s desire, that being spreading the gospel, teaching the Word of God, encouraging someone who is down, discipling Christians, helping the poor and needy, and other things.  These good acts themselves, as Adam Clarke says, is easier to do.  However, it is the enemy which makes me weary in these things, both from tempting me to do something rather than serving God by serving His people, and by the negativity and harsh rhetoric against the truth of God.

However, we must never back down from doing good simply because others do not like, and actually hate what we do and who we are.  Paul did better for the cause of Christ than the vast majority of Christians, even though he suffered for it.  Let’s look at a few verses.  “Are they servants of Christ? I speak as if insane—I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death.  Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes.  Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.” 2 Corinthians 11:23-27.  This is a huge list; however, Paul was willing to go beyond this.  “And coming to us, he (Agabus) took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands, and said, “This is what the Holy Spirit says: ‘In this way the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles. When we had heard this, we as well as the local residents began begging him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” Acts 21:11-13.  Paul was not going to stop doing good simply because Rome and the Religious leaders persecuted, tortured and worked to kill him.  He was probably physically tired, but He never wearied of doing the Lord’s work.

And why?  Let’s look at the second part of our focus verse.  “For in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” Galatians 6:9b.  In the end, no matter what happens to us here, if we do not grow weary of doing good, we will receive our reward, which will be infinitely greater than our sufferings.  That does not mean we do it for the reward, but we do it because we love the Lord.  “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.” Colossians 3:23-24.  We are to do all we do in service to the Lord.  And what is the promised reward, our inheritance.  “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.” Romans 8:16-17.

So, in conclusion, do not weary in doing good, no matter what that good is.  He has called all of us who are Christians to do His work, not necessarily the same work, but His work, nonetheless.  Do not tire of doing this work and end up stopping.  When you begin to feel this way, remember that God will reward us for all the work we do according to His calling.  When comparing the weight of His work and the coming reward, there is no comparison. William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.

2 Thessalonians 3:13

Verse of the Day Devotion: 2 Thessalonians 3:13   

“But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good.” – 2 Thessalonians 3:13 

Paul, in this section, is warning the Christians not to become idle regarding the works of God.  “For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies.” 2 Thessalonians 3:11. We are not completely sure how Paul heard about this, whether by Timothy, or by someone else. He did not doubt its truth, and he seems to have been prepared to believe it the more readily from what he saw when he was among them. However, he was notified, it was related to Paul they were not doing the work for which they had, by God, been called.  On the contrary, they were simply being busybodies. The idea here regarding the term ‘busybody’ is going about doing useless deeds, to keep busy with trivial and useless matters.  Here, Paul is essentially saying they are doing none of what they should be doing yet overdoing and being involved in the business of others. In other words, busy about everyone’s business but their own. The well-known theologian Charles Spurgeon puts it this way. “Not doing their own business, and therefore putting their noses into everybody else’s business”.

Also, they did no real work but put forth the pretense they were. To put forth a pretense is to make something that is not true appear to be true. And taking this to a higher level, the problem of these declared as disorderly was not simply that they did not want to work, but that they refused to work. They did not want to help others, but rather to be helped by others. We do not know the exact reason why they opted to continue to live as clients. Manual labor was, as we have seen, despised by not a few, especially the social elite, but some philosophers and others considered such labor noble.

Now, Paul corrects these people in the next verse. “Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread.” 1 Thessalonians 3:12. He is telling these that at the least, they should do whatever work is necessary to meet their own needs, and to do I quietly in a peaceful manner.  We read this idea in the first letter. “Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; for indeed you do practice it toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you; so that you may behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.” 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12. Now this is interesting because what we read in this verse is exactly what He calls for the ‘busybodies’ to do, except in the second letter he makes this statement to those who refuse to work, whereas here it is meant for those who work to assist others. In other words, take care of your own needs while you assist others where they need help.

Now to our focus verse. “But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good.” 2 Thessalonians 3:13.  Here, Paul turns his focus from those who had grieved him in the church to speak to the rest of the brothers and sisters in Christ. He is telling them not to be discouraged in doing what is right and good.  The command not to be discouraged does not mean simply that they should not become weary with doing what is right but rather that they should not give up or abandon their efforts. Paul said a very similar thing to the Church in Galatia. “And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” Galatians 6:9-10.  Although the apostle had absolved the patrons of their responsibility to those who did not want to work, this in no way implied that they should quit doing what was correct on behalf of those in genuine need. Just because there were some who did not participate, there were still many who needed their help, and thus they should continue to meet their needs. 

It Is important to understand that because we are called to be Christians through the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, our calling does not end there.  For He has called us all to do His work in this world.  Becoming a believer and Christian is simply the beginning. Paul, in his letter to the Church in Colossae wrote, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men; knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality.” Colossians 3:23-25.

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

Isaiah 40:31

Verse of the Day Devotion: Isaiah 40:31 

“Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.” – Isaiah 40:31   

Chapter 40 of Isaiah is a chapter of comfort for God’s people.   The reason this comfort was necessary was due to a meeting King Hezekiah had with Merodach-Baladan, the son of Baladan, king of Babylon; followed by the prophecy given by Isaiah.  Hezekiah gives Baladan a tour of his place.  “Hezekiah was pleased, and showed them all his treasure house, the silver and the gold and the spices and the precious oil and his whole armory and all that was found in his treasuries. There was nothing in his house nor in all his dominion that Hezekiah did not show them.” Isaiah 39:2.  Hezekiah showed Baladan everything he could, including all their treasures and the spices and precious oils, plus the armory where all the weapons were stored. 

This was not a good idea because it let Baladan know how they could profit if they took Israel, and Isaiah points this point to Hezekiah.  “Then Isaiah the prophet came to King Hezekiah and said to him, what did these men say, and from where have they come to you?  And Hezekiah said, they have come to me from a far country, from Babylon.  He said, “What have they seen in your house?  So Hezekiah answered, They have seen all that is in my house; there is nothing among my treasuries that I have not shown them.” Isaiah 39:3-4.  Isaiah then declares the prophecy.  “Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house and all that your fathers have laid up in store to this day will be carried to Babylon; nothing will be left, says the LORD. And some of your sons who will issue from you, whom you will beget, will be taken away, and they will become officials in the palace of the king of Babylon.” Isaiah 39:6-7.

This prophecy from Isaiah no doubt caused distress withing Israel.  Therefore, God calls for Isaiah to bring comfort to Israel.  “Comfort, O comfort My people, says your God. Speak kindly to Jerusalem; And call out to her, that her warfare has ended, That her iniquity has been removed, That she has received of the LORD’S hand Double for all her sins ” Isaiah 40:1-2.  Israel’s warfare has been completed and her iniquities have been removed.  She will, at this time, be at peace.  However, Israel feels that God has left them.  “Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel, My way is hidden from the LORD, And the justice due me escapes the notice of my God? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth Does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power.” Isaiah 40:27-29.  He is pointing out that God is always seeing them, He does not become weary and His understanding is assured.  He knows what they are going through and gives them the strength they need.

He then tells them even though the strongest and most fit young men become tired in their labor, and those selected as the bravest, and most vigorous and manly become weary in their duties, “Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.” Isaiah 40:31.  God is not contingent on anything.  He does not grow tired or find Himself in a position where He cannot do something like man does.  But those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength.  To wait on the Lord is to have complete dependence on God, knowing He will come through to deliver them, and to admit that help can come from nowhere else but Him. 

And those who wait on Him will renew their strength; physical, emotional, and mental.  God will give them the strength they need; therefore, they can be free like an eagle who has molted its old feathers and have grown healthy new one.  They will have the endurance to do what He has prepared them to do.  However, only if they wait on God.

And it is the same for us.  If we encounter a situation that is difficult and wonder how we will make it through, we should simply give it to God and wait for Him, who is faithful to bring us through.  We can do our part, essentially those things we can do, but let God guide us through to victory.  It does no good to stress about things we cannot resolve.  By giving it to God, we can be at peace as He brings us through to a good end.

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

Matthew 11:28

Verse of the Day Devotion: Matthew 11:28 

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28

Jesus is here giving a word of encouragement.  He started this by giving thanks to His Father.  “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight.” Matthew 11:25-26.  First He thanks His Father for hiding His message from the wise and revealing it to the infants. What is meant here by the wise are those who think themselves wise and intelligent, those being the Scribes and Pharisees who refuse to submit to the righteousness of God (Salvation by Christ), to follow the righteousness they themselves have established.  They knew of the coming Messiah, and if He did not fit their rules and beliefs, then they wanted nothing of Him.  However, it was revealed to the infants, those who were the simple-hearted people who submitted to be instructed and saved in the way God intended.

In those day’s things were hard for many people.  And this was especially hard for the poor and weak in society.  Much of the leadership in both Rome and Israel were more often concerned with how to benefit themselves rather than others.  This placed a lot of stress on the hearts and minds of the people.  Jesus put it this way in a later chapter, referring to the leadership.  “They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger.”  Matthew 24:5.  In other words, they placed rules and burdens on the people they themselves are unwilling to carry, unless of course they were to be seen.  “But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments. Matthew 23:5.

Now, where the Jewish leadership placed burdens on the people, God takes them away and gives them rest.  Sinners who are burdened and wearied by their iniquities, are invited by Jesus to come to Him to have their sins removed.  Those burdened with crimes who now are penitent can go to Him and receive an instant pardon from the sins they have committed.  Believers who are caught in a pattern of temptation, oppressed by the remains of their carnal thoughts can go to Him and find rest.  All are invited to go to Him and find rest.  Jesus put it this way.  “Behold, an hour is coming, and has already come, for you to be scattered, each to his own home, and to leave Me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:32-33.  We will all go through difficult times, but Jesus promised us that we are to be courageous and strong, for He has overcome the world. 

Let us always remember we are never alone when we trust in Christ.  We can always go to Him and He will give us the rest we need.  Call on Him, He is always ready to meet our needs in the midst of any struggle. 

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