Romans 14:21

Verse of the Day Devotion: Romans 14:21

“It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles.” – Romans 14:21
n the first century Jews were accepting Christ and the work He did on the cross in droves.  The same can be said of the Gentiles.  However, because their former beliefs were not the same, they had different opinions as to what was acceptable and what was not.  That does not mean that either was wrong, but if they believed it was wrong, then it was wrong for them. There were several ideas in that time period that were most evident.  The first was what they could eat.  The Jews believed that only those foods that were declared clean by God were acceptable, everything else was not.  For instance, sheep were acceptable, but pigs were not.  Bass would be acceptable, but not eels.  “One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only.” Romans 10:2. Another area in that day was when to worship.  “One person regards one day above another; another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind.” Romans 14:5. One group, Jews, believed that the seventh day (Sabbath) was the day to observe in honor to God, others believed that all days, not necessarily the Sabbath only was acceptable. However, Paul sees it like this.  “He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God.” Romans 14:6. As for eating, see what God tells Peter.  “But he became hungry and was desiring to eat; but while they were making preparations, he fell into a trance; and he saw the sky opened up, and an object like a great sheet coming down, lowered by four corners to the ground, and there were in it all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air.  A voice came to him, “Get up, Peter, kill and eat!  But Peter said, “By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean. Again, a voice came to him a second time, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.” Acts 10:10-15.  Some things are not wise to eat, but nothing is unclean as declared by God.  And “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.”  James 1:13. As you can see from this, the Jews had a different view of right and wrong regarding these two ideas. And many today have similar differences as to what is right and wrong in the Christian walk.  One is that some will not drink any alcohol because they believe it is evil, while others believe alcohol is ok as long as there is no drunkenness.  Another area is with clothing.  Some believe that men need to be dressed up in suit and tie to go to church, while others believe anything that is not provocative is acceptable, such as jeans and a nice shirt.  Both examples within the belief described are OK.  However, some have grown up believing a certain way and were taught it was unacceptable to drink even a drop of alcohol, or that any clothing considered casual should not be worn in church. However, Paul wrote to the Romans that whatever we do as unto the Lord, and we truly believe this, honors Him and that it is not declared explicitly in scripture as sin, then we should not judge our brother or sister.  However, we must not do what another believes is wrong in their presence.  For instance, with the alcohol issue, if someone believes any alcohol is wrong, then no alcohol should be served or consumed.  For in doing so, we might cause him to stumble by doing what he believes is wrong; or to judge another by declaring them a sinner.  “The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him.” Romans 14:3. Or, in our example, the one who wears a suit is not to regard with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not wear a suit is not to judge the one who does, for God has accepted him.  What is important in this verse is as long what anyone does is not explicitly considered sin, such as theft, murder or deceit, and they are doing it to honor God, then we must accept it as good.  And we should not do anything in the presence of our brothers and sisters if they do not see it as acceptable, for this may cause them to fall. In closing, we must be careful how we judge the actions of another, for they may truly believe that their actions absolutely honor God, whether they abstain from something or practice something.  God knows what is in the hearts of men, we do not.  So, we must allow God to determine if what they do is acceptable or not.  If we attempt to do so, we may falsely judge them and end up in sin ourselves.  And that would not be a good thing. William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.

Isaiah 55:1

Verse of the Day Devotion Isaiah 55:1 

“Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; And you who have no money come, buy, and eat. Come, buy wine and milk Without money and without cost.” – Isaiah 55:1 

This verse opens with a call for attention. The Hebrew exclamation hôy, usually indicating a lament, can also be a way of hailing people and is expressed in our translation as meaning “you there”. God, through Isaiah, is calling the people to listen to what He is about to say.  He calls for everyone who is thirsty to come and drink. Thirst here has the idea of intense desire and is thus applied to the sense of want which sinners often have, and to their anxious wishes for salvation. It is not improbable that the Savior had this passage in his mind when he pronounced the blessing on those who desire strongly, righteousness. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Matthew 5:6.  No needs are so keen, none demanded, as those of hunger and thirst. They occur daily; and when longing continued, as in the case of those who are shipwrecked and doomed to wander months or years over burning sands with scarcely any drink or food, nothing is more distressing. Hence, the figure is often used to denote any intense desire for anything, and especially an ardent desire for salvation. We also see this picture in Psalms where David said, “As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for Thee, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; When shall I come and appear before God?” Psalm 42:1-2.

And then, He states after this to come and eat and drink.  There is no cost, therefore all can be satisfied.  In this world, those things that are most desired cost the most.  However, in the Kingdom of God, all is free for those who seek God with all their hearts.  There is nothing we should desire more than the salvation God provided through Christ.  And God provided this free of charge for those who will simply accept it.  “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” Romans 10:9-10.   

Then in verse two we read, “Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And delight yourself in abundance.” Isaiah 55:2. Too often, people let money take up all their time and strength, and inevitably their life. And they ignore or do not understand what is truly important.  And what is truly important has no earthly cost but is of infinite value, which exceeds those things which can never nourish or satisfy you, such as worldly goods and pleasures. And as John Wesley put it, “Eat ye – That which is truly and solidly, and everlastingly good. In fatness – In this pleasant food of gospel enjoyments.”

This is the message the world needs to hear, and we as Jesus’ disciples are the ones called to tell them. And then, we are to train them how to live this life that is pleasing to God.  “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.” Matthew 28: 19-20.  Jesus has told His disciples to make disciples who make disciples who make disciples …” ad infinitum. This is what Jesus wants of us.  To help the lost see that what the world has to offer is absolutely insignificant compared to what God has provided by Jesus Christ paying the penalty for us that we could never pay.  And then for these to go out and do the same, ad infinitum.

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

John 2:3

Verse of the Day Devotion:  John 2:3   

“And when the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, they have no wine.” – John 2:3

Over the next week we will be looking at seven miraculous signs performed by Jesus as recorded in the Gospel of John.  These signs show that Jesus was not just some ordinary man but was truly the Son of God.  The first sign we will look at is where He changed water into wine at a wedding in Cana.

Jesus and His disciples were invited to a wedding in Cana. “And on the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; and Jesus also was invited, and His disciples, to the wedding.” John 2:1-2.  This wedding is said to take place on the third day, a note that connects this story with those in John 1:19–51. And along with Jesus and His disciples, Jesus’ mother was also invited and present. And as seen in our focus verse, they ran out of wine during the celebration. According to theologian J. D. M. Derrett, “their unexpected presence at the wedding may account for the wine shortage. Since guests were to provide some of the wine, it is also possible that the supply ran out because Jesus did not contribute, either because of his last-minute arrival or because of his poverty.” It is also understood that wedding celebrations could last a week, with the final financial responsibility falling on the groom. To run out of supplies would be a horrible embarrassment in a “shame culture”.

When the wine does run out Jesus’ mother told Him they had run out of wine. Jesus then replies, “Woman, what do I have to do with you? My hour has not yet come.” John 2:4. Jesus was not being insulting by calling her woman, it was a normal way of addressing a mother or wife and had an endearing meaning. In fact, when Jesus was on the cross, He referred to Mary in the same way. “When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, Woman, behold, your son!” John 19:26. Also, the phrase ‘what do I have to do with you?is probably better rendered as the ESV translation puts it, “what does this have to do with us?” And He explains this with the phrase, “My hour has not yet come.” John 2:4b. The reference to His “hour” means that Jesus was constantly working from a divine timetable. So, He was not going to reveal His power sooner than the Father intended. This is clarified in John 5. “I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” John 5:30. Based on this verse, I believe Jesus received an OK from the Father to do what was necessary, for it would be wrong to perform a miracle if the time and place are not according to God’s will.

I also believe His mother understood this as well. She responded in such a way so as not to pressure Jesus. “His mother said to the servants, Whatever He says to you, do it.” John 2:5. Mary does not waver in her conviction that He will help by perform something to bring about a solution. Then Jesus tells the servants, “Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.” John 2:7.  There were six waterpots, made of stone, which could hold twenty or thirty gallons each.  After the pots were filled and brought back to Jesus, He then told them, draw some out now, and take it to the headwaiter. And they took it to him.” John 2:8. “And when the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom, and said to him, Every man serves the good wine first, and when men have drunk freely, then that which is poorer; you have kept the good wine until now.” John 2:9-10. Jesus did act, performing His first miracle. He turned the water into wine, but He did so in a very subtle, subdued way. Only the servants, Mary, and a few disciples even knew what He had done. The miracle was to introduce the disciples to His ability, not to show off or to go public with His power. “This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.” John 2:11.

As we can see, the turning of water into wine was the first sign, or miracle, Jesus performed.  This sign, as seen above, helped His disciples to believe what He said about Himself and who He was; the Son of Man. “Jesus answered and said to him, because I said to you that I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You shall see greater things than these. And He *said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you shall see the heavens opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” John 1:50-51. Jo

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

Psalm 4:7

Verse of the Day Devotion: Psalm 4:7 

“You have put gladness in my heart, more than when their grain and new wine abound.” – Psalm 4:7          

This is a psalm of David, and it speaks of where our joy comes from.  Many in the world, and unfortunately many who belong to a church, do not understand what the source of true joy is.  Many find their joy in what they do, others in what they have, and still others in who they know down here.  When our job is doing well and we are making a good salary, we find ourselves happy.

Now, I am not saying that we cannot be happy about things we have.  And I am not saying we cannot enjoy a concert, sports events, or dinner with friends.  Of course, we can, as long as what we do does not involve something that is against the will of God for our lives.  These things are enjoyable and may be something that God brings our way for His service.  For instance, when we go to a concert, and we are able to speak of the Lord to someone who really needed to hear it.  Or we have a rifle and can go hunting with several friends which opens the door to encouraging them.  These are definite things that God does.  However, true joy has its source from God Himself.

Let’s look at a few ideas which will help us understand this concept.  How do we react when something very precious and important to us is stolen.  Do we get depressed and angry?  It can be understandable. Or do we look at it as something God allowed, and He will comfort us and bring joy.  Suppose you go to work, and someone has spoken lies about you to your boss.  This is something I have experienced.  I did get upset, but I took the time to get with my boss and talked with her, sending her evidence that what was said was false.  I did get very nervous about how this could affect my job there. I had a great position, and I was only several years away from retirement.   I then spoke to the person and worked it out with them.  Now, I was not perfect in how I addressed this, but I prayed, and God brought this thought to my mind.  It was something a former pastor told me when I was let go from a previous job.  “If God wanted you to have that job, there is nothing in this world that would have caused anyone to take it away.  And if God did not want me to have that job, there was nothing in this world that could have allowed me to keep it.” 

It is important that we do not look to things or events for our joy but look to God for our source.  Things, jobs, people and events can be taken from us, cancelled, or destroyed.  However, if these things do happen, rejoice that it did happen.  For maybe someone else needed something more than us, or maybe we were not to attend or stay working at the place we were at.  God knows what we need and what we do not.  He knows what He has called us to and what He has not.  And since nothing is too hard for Him, then we can rejoice that His will was accomplished and go from there.  True joy comes from Him and is about Him.  There may be things we love or have been waiting to do for a long time.  If things do not work out as we wanted, we know they took place as He wanted.  And knowing that infinite love He has for us, it was for our good. 

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