Daily Devotionals

The Pastors of the church provide a daily devotional entitled Today's Word of Encouragement they hope will be a source of inspiration, encouragement, and strengthening of your faith. It is not intended to take the place of other devotional materials (Our Daily Bread, Open Windows, etc.) but to supplement those devotionals. Contact the church office if you wish to receive Today's Word of Encouragement via email, or subscribe to the church's website and it will be sent to you automatically. We pray it will be an encouragement to you.

September 14, 2021

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight - that You may be found just when You speak, and blameless when You judge (Psalm 51:1-4).

September 13, 2021

And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace (John 1:16).

“Sin and despair, like the sea waves cold, threaten the soul with infinite loss;
Grace that is greater, yes, grace untold points to the Refuge, the mighty Cross.
Grace, grace, God's grace, grace that will pardon and cleanse within
Grace, grace, God's grace, grace that is greater than all our sin!” (Julia H. Johnston)

September 12, 2021

And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace (John 1:16).

We will take a momentary detour from Matthew for a few days to explore more carefully the doctrine of grace because it is so misunderstood by many people today. The encounter between the rich young man and Jesus, and Jesus’ subsequent discussion with His disciples, has afforded us the opportunity to engage in the subject of God’s grace.

The word ‘grace’ is found 170 times in 159 verses the Bible. In the Old Testament the word translated ‘grace’ is khane. It is found 39 times in 37 verses. In the New Testament the word translated ‘grace’ is charis. It is found 131 times in 122 verses.

September 11, 2021

For many are called, but few chosen (Matthew 20:16).

This text has caused a great deal of controversy in the Christian church and much consternation in the mind and heart of many Christians. The angst comes from taking the passage out of context and trying to fit our personal theology into it. This is called eisegesis - reading into the text what is not there. Students of Scripture pronounce anathema on such practice. We strive to be diligent to present ourselves approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). To that end we practice exegesis - reading out of the text what is there.

September 10, 2021

For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard (Matthew 20:1).

We continue today to outline those truths that can be gleaned from The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard.

7.    God keeps His promises. Every time the landowner went to the marketplace, he hired all who wanted to work, promising a reward for their labor. He did not welch on his promise. At the close of the day each man was given what he was promised. The landowner did not fudge on the wages because of the complaints of a few. He paid what he promised. The Lord grants salvation to those who answer His call to salvation in genuine faith. It is not an ‘iffy’ proposition.

September 9, 2021

For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard (Matthew 20:1).

There is a single point to The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard - God’s great grace shown toward us. There are, however, several truths that can be gleaned from this parable.

1.    As Charles Spurgeon said, “Salvation is all of God.” God is the Sovereign Lord over all creation and over all of salvation. Salvation is His, not ours. Well did King David say, Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit (Psalm 51:12). Salvation is God’s investment of grace in our lives, not our possession to have or to lose, or to do with as we please.

September 8, 2021

For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard (Matthew 20:1).

If we were to translate and interpret The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard with the meaning Jesus intended for us to understand, it would go something like this:

September 7, 2021

For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard (Matthew 20:1).

The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard is an illustration of the great grace of God and how it relates to the work of God’s Kingdom. Because this is a parable, we will need to identify the players and places in the parable.

September 6, 2021

For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard (Matthew 20:1).

With this verse Jesus introduces us to The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard. It is a parable of God’s great grace. There is one simple truth to this parable, as there is one simple truth to every parable of Jesus, but there are many spiritual and practical lessons that can be learned from it. Every Christian should study this parable again and again to draw from it a more complete understanding of the grace of God and how it operates in the lives to those it is offered.

September 5, 2021

But many who are first will be last, and the last first (Matthew 19:30).

The above cited text most likely was a common saying among the ancient Jewish people. Jesus repeated these words in Matthew 20:16; Mark 9:35; 10:31; and Luke 13:30. The common saying is a principle of exaltation and humbling. In reference to the rich young man who inquired about eternal life, Jesus pointed out that he, and others like him who were superior in riches and honor, were first in this world according to rank and order but will be the last in the world to come. Those who are last in this world according to rank and order, i.e. the Apostles, who were poor, seemingly insignificant, and hopeless and helpless, will be first in the world to come.

September 4, 2021

But many who are first will be last, and the last first (Matthew 19:30).

This text forms a natural bridge between the encounter of Jesus with the rich young man who inquired about eternal life but went away grieving because he thought the cost was too high, and The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard. The former reveals the principle governing entrance into the Kingdom, while the latter illustrates the application of that principle.

September 3, 2021

Then Peter answered and said to Him, "See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?" So Jesus said to them, "Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name's sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first (Matthew 19:27-30).

September 2, 2021

Then Peter answered and said to Him, "See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?" So Jesus said to them, "Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name's sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first (Matthew 19:27-30).

September 1, 2021

Then Peter answered and said to Him, "See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?" So Jesus said to them, "Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name's sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first (Matthew 19:27-30).

August 31, 2021

THE COMING KINGDOM: PART 1
Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Then Peter answered and said to Him, "See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?" So Jesus said to them, "Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name's sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first (Matthew 19:27-30).

August 30, 2021

Then Jesus said to His disciples, "Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, "Who then can be saved?" But Jesus looked at them and said to them, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:23-26).

August 29, 2021

Then Jesus said to His disciples, "Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God" (Matthew 19:23-24).

August 28, 2021

But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions (Matthew 19:22).

Discipleship is a serious calling. It’s a serious undertaking. It’s a serious life choice. Yesterday we said 3 things were required for a person to be a disciple of Jesus in that day and time: (1) a person had to be invited by Jesus to be a disciple, (2) a person had to obey what the Lord commanded, and (3) a person was to follow the Lord’s example and live as He lived. Understand that submitting to these 3 requirements may make a person a disciple, but they don’t save a person. In other words, a saved person is called to be a disciple of Jesus, but not everyone called by Jesus to be a disciple will be saved.

August 27, 2021

Jesus said to him, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me" (Matthew 19:21).

The word ‘perfect’ (teleios) means perfect or whole as God is perfect and whole. The young man testified that he was as perfect as he could be in keeping the Mosaic Law. Jesus was clear in His response, “One thing you lack” (Mark 10:21). In other words, “you are not as perfect as you think.” He then gave the man 3 things to do: (1) divest yourself of all your worldly goods, (2) enrich others with what you have, and (3) forsake everything to be My disciple.

August 26, 2021

What do I still lack? (Matthew 19:20).

There have been times when I have been engaged in conversation with people that I noticed there was no light in their eyes. It was as though they were dead inside. Their conversation had no passion or conviction; it was almost mechanical and routine. 

If you will remember John the Baptist burst on to the scene of Jewish life 400 years after the last prophet of the Old Testament had spoken the Word of God. A lot of things developed in Jewish life during those 400 years. Most of it was not good at all. One of the more prominent developments from that period was the rise of the Pharisees, Scribes, and Sadducees. 

August 25, 2021

What do I still lack? (Matthew 19:20).

This is what religion does to a person. It confuses him/her. It gives a false sense of security. Note the thinking of this man (vv.16-20), “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He said to Him, “Which ones?” Jesus said, “You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not bear false witness, honor your father and your mother, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?”

August 24, 2021

He said to Him, “Which ones?” Jesus said, “You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not bear false witness, honor your father and your mother, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?" (Matthew 19:18-20).

Jesus’ reply to the young man’s question, “Which ones?” was to select the 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, and 5th Commandments, which constitute the 2nd Great Commandment, you shall love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 22:37-40). Why these and not the others?

First, the 2nd tablet of the Law (our duty toward men) is not the whole Law of God.

August 23, 2021

Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments (Matthew 19:17).

In answering the man’s question , “. . . what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?”, Jesus took him to the Mosaic Law. In essence Jesus said, “You want to believe yourself to be the model of a righteous life, then let’s see what the Bible says.” There is no one, absolutely no one, the Old Testament testifies as keeping the Mosaic Law perfectly - not even Moses himself!

August 22, 2021

Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments (Matthew 19:17).

“Judged by the principles and strategy of much contemporary evangelism, Jesus seems to have made a serious and insensitive mistake. He not only did not take advantage of the man’s obvious readiness to make a decision but He even seemed to be teaching righteousness by works” (John MacArthur). 

August 21, 2021

A WORKS SALVATION?
Saturday, August 21, 2021

Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments (Matthew 19:17).

This nameless wealthy young religious leader called Jesus ‘good Teacher’. This indicates that he respected Jesus as an authority on Mosiac Law, a teacher of spiritual truth, and an honored Rabbi among the common people. In that sense he was like Nicodemus (John 3:1-2), Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him. Neither man believed Jesus to be the Messiah and Son of God.

August 20, 2021

Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16).

The word ‘good’ is agathos. It means that which is beneficial and well. There is another word in the Greek that is translated ‘good’ in the English. It is kalos. It means morally good; valuable and virtuous. What is the point?

August 19, 2021

Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16).

Yesterday we considered some aspects/characteristics of eternal life in heaven and in hell. But that’s not all eternal life is. Yes, it is quantity of life - to live forever. Yes, it is quality of life - many of the aspects outlined in yesterday’s devotional. But there’s more to the quality of life in heaven than these.

August 18, 2021

Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16).

What is eternal life? To some it is existence in eternity. It is to ‘live forever’, to ‘live eternally’. Obviously it is that, but scripturally speaking it is so much more than quantity of life. It is also quality of life. In simply thinking about living forever we would conclude eternal life would be undesirable after a while. What will a person do if he/she lived forever? Even though the possibilities would seem equally endless, the ideas of how to occupy our eternity eventually run out and we are left with a huge question mark.

August 17, 2021

Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16).

One of the great disappointments I have had in the area of evangelism is that of people wanting to know what they need to do to be saved, hearing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, following through with prayer, baptism, and church attendance, only to have them drift away or drop out completely from church life. Were they really saved?

August 16, 2021

Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He said to Him, “Which ones?” Jesus said, "You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not bear false witness, honor your father and your mother, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth.

August 15, 2021

Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven." And He laid His hands on them and departed from there (Matthew 19:13-15).

John MacArthur lists 5 key words that prove helpful in giving guidance to parents and Christian workers in leading children to Jesus Christ. The following are those key words and a brief synopsis of each (see John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, ‘Matthew 16-23’, pp. 182-184).

August 14, 2021

Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven." And He laid His hands on them and departed from there (Matthew 19:13-15).

August 13, 2021

Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven." And He laid His hands on them and departed from there (Matthew 19:13-15).

August 12, 2021

Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven." And He laid His hands on them and departed from there (Matthew 19:13-15).

“Those who share the mind of Christ share His concern and love for children. No church or Christian movement has prospered spiritually that has disregarded or neglected the care and training of its children. The heart that is warm toward the Lord will inevitably be warm toward children” (John MacArthur).

August 11, 2021

Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven." And He laid His hands on them and departed from there (Matthew 19:13-15).

August 10, 2021

Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven." And He laid His hands on them and departed from there (Matthew 19:13-15).

August 9, 2021

His disciples said to Him, "If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry." But He said to them, "All cannot accept this saying, but only those to whom it has been given: For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother's womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it" (Matthew 19:10-12).

August 8, 2021

His disciples said to Him, "If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry." But He said to them, "All cannot accept this saying, but only those to whom it has been given: For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother's womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it" (Matthew 19:10-12).

August 7, 2021

He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.” (Matthew 19:8).

It is a dangerous thing to tolerate even the ‘slightest’ of sins. We love to categorize sin in order to justify ourselves and to make us feel better that we are not as sinful as most people. But it doesn’t matter - a lie is a lie regardless if it’s a ‘little white lie’ or a ‘double feature in full technicolor’. Stealing is stealing whether it is a candy bar from the local mini-mart or millions of dollars in a Ponzi scheme. And, according to Jesus, adultery is adultery whether it is looking at pornography or sleeping around with multiple partners.

August 6, 2021

They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” (Matthew 19:7).

The Pharisees just didn’t get it. They weren’t listening. They had their minds already made up on the matter. Anticipating that Jesus would counter their argument with Scripture, they were ready to quote the great prophet, lawgiver, and servant of God - Moses - as their prime authority. But Moses was not the prime authority in this or any other argument that involves the moral Law of God.

August 5, 2021

And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘Made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:4-6).
 
From Genesis 1:27 and 2:24, Jesus laid down 4 reasons why God made no provision for divorce in His plan for marriage.
 

August 4, 2021

And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘Made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’ ? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:4-6).

I remember taking a class in college on the Pentateuch. It was taught by a highly revered Professor of Old Testament. Dr. Hyatt was a Hebrew scholar. Seldom did he ever bring an English translation to class. He always brought his Hebrew Bible. Seldom did open his Bible to hunt for a passage of Scripture. He could quote chapter and verse from practically every book of the Bible.

August 3, 2021

And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘Made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:4-6).

The wisdom of Jesus is beyond measure. Knowing the motive and intent of the Pharisees in bringing up the subject of divorce, Jesus did not answer the question with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Sometimes Jesus would respond to attacks by answering a question with a question. Sometimes He would respond by telling a parable. Sometimes He didn’t answer at all; He just walked away!

August 2, 2021

Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these sayings, that He departed from Galilee and came to the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them there. The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?" (Matthew 19:1-3).

August 1, 2021

Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these sayings, that He departed from Galilee and came to the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them there. The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?" (Matthew 19:1-3).

July 31, 2021

Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these sayings, that He departed from Galilee and came to the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them there. The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?" (Matthew 19:1-3).

What’s the big deal about divorce? When I was being interviewed for the pastoral position of a church, the committee questioned my views on divorce. I thought it an odd issue to be brought up in the interview, but answered the question based on my understanding of Scripture and my moral and ethical upbringing.

July 30, 2021

Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these sayings, that He departed from Galilee and came to the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them there. The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?" (Matthew 19:1-3).

It was time for Jesus to make His last trip from Galilee to Jerusalem to attend His last Passover on this earth. Time had elapsed since the final words of Matthew in chapter 18 and these first words in chapter 19. Luke and John recorded several events that took place during that time. They include:

July 29, 2021

So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses (Matthew 18:35).

This verse contains the spiritual lesson of the parable. In most instances, even though a parable has several components that are true, what is stated last is the point of the parable - in most instances. As stated earlier, the point of the parable can be expressed this way, “Christians, who have themselves been forgiven their immeasurable sin debt by God, are to extend the same forgiveness, in the same measure, to their fellow Christians.” It is basically the same thing stated in this verse.

The following points are worthy of note about this parable, but they are not to detract from the main point as stated above.

July 28, 2021

Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt (Matthew 18:27).

I’ve been asked on several occasions, “Why do I have to confess my sins to the Lord every day if He has already forgiven me all of my sins when I was saved?” It’s an honest question borne from an honest concern about the extent of God’s forgiveness of sin and the continuing influence of sin in the life of the believer. Consider, If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:8-9).

July 27, 2021

Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, 'Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.' Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.

July 26, 2021

Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:21-22).

July 25, 2021

Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:21-22).

Peter was a fisherman before Jesus called him to discipleship. He was also a disciple of Jesus Christ going on 3 years at that time. He understood human nature; he understood his own human nature. He knew the tendency of people is to offend, confess, be forgiven, repeat. No wonder he thought, “How often can such forgiveness be granted to someone? How often should a follower of Jesus Christ be called to repentance and restored to fellowship knowing it will be repeated? Is there some point when we should say ‘enough’!?”

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