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.

April 19, 2021

I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven (Matthew 16:19).

These verses are some of the most controversial in the Bible. They are controversial because they are misunderstood. Much of the misunderstanding comes from the influence of the Roman Catholic Church. Because the Roman church interprets vv. 16-17 as referring the papacy under the authority of the Apostle Peter, they also interpret v. 19 as referring to the authority of the papacy to administer or withhold God’s grace via the sacraments. This is not what Jesus said or meant.

April 18, 2021

I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it (Matthew 16:18).

April 17, 2021

I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it (Matthew 16:18).

I must confess, this is the hardest lesson for me to learn as a pastor - Jesus Christ will build His church. We may be able to build buildings and campuses, but it is Jesus who builds His church. What I have known in my mind has been difficult to accept in my heart and spirit, and that is it is totally impossible to bring a person to faith in Jesus Christ apart from the sovereign will and act of God. Human effort produces human converts. Only God can produce spiritual children.

April 16, 2021

I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it (Matthew 16:18).

Jesus is building His church on the confession of the Apostles that He is the Christ, the Son of the true and living God, and the Lord and Savior of God’s people. The ‘church’, those who are called out of the world and into the Kingdom of God, those who confess Jesus Christ as Lord because they believe in their hearts that God raised Him from the dead, these belong to Jesus. They are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). They are the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27). They are the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:23-30; 2 Corinthians 11:2).

April 15, 2021

I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it (Matthew 16:18).

Jesus is building His church on the confession of the Apostles that He is the Christ, the Son of the true and living God, and the Lord and Savior of God’s people. Jesus declared “the gates of Hades will not overpower it;” overpower what - the church, the foundation, or Christ Himself?

What/Where is Hades? The Greek word Hades is the same as the Hebrew word Sheol. They both refer to the unseen or spiritual realm of the dead. They do not refer to eternal hell.

April 14, 2021

I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it (Matthew 16:18).

This text and the next (v.19) have caused “volumes of controversy and endless theological strife” (A.T. Robertson) down through Christian history. Our English text has not helped matters at all. The original Greek and Aramaic languages make the meaning clear.

April 13, 2021

And Jesus said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven (Matthew 16:17).

The word ‘blessed’ means ‘happy’ but not in a superficial or frivolous way. The root form of the word means ‘great’ or ‘enlarged’, and its earlier meaning had to do with prosperity. It was used at times as a synonym for rich. Since the Jews believed prosperity came from God, a blessed person was one who had the favor of God resting upon him. Is that the meaning of Jesus here?

April 12, 2021

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16).

‘Christ’ is not Jesus’ last name. Humanly speaking Jesus was the legal son of Joseph, so He would have been commonly known as ‘Jesus bar Joses’ (Jesus son of Joseph). The term ‘Christ’ is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew ‘Messiah’, or ‘the Anointed One’. It was a reference to the promise of God in providing a Savior or Deliverer to Israel. Immediately and emphatically Peter confessed that Jesus was that long awaited, long ago promised Savior of Israel; He was the One Israel had longed for and waited for throughout their history.

April 11, 2021

He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" (Matthew 16:15).

Without taking any more time to consider the answer to His first question, Jesus put this question to His disciples. This was really the point of the questioning in the first place. It was important for Jesus to hear the disciples declare His Messiahship as it was important for them to declare it.

April 10, 2021

When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?" So they said, "Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets" (Matthew 16:13-14).

It’s always risky business to ask people what they think of you, but we do it all the time - especially politicians. Public officials are always concerned about public opinion polls and how the people perceive their leadership. Basically it’s a popularity exercise. What is tragic is that a lot of leaders base their policies and decisions on polls - what’s popular- rather than on truth, what is right, or what is best for the people they serve.

April 9, 2021

When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?" (Matthew 16:13).

One of the freedoms we enjoy in this country is the freedom of worship. It was one of the motivating factors that brought the Europeans to this country. We understand that freedom of worship can mean the freedom to worship and the freedom from worship. We also understand this freedom permits all types of religious practices insofar as those practices do not advocate the abuse, destruction, or death of humans, animals, etc.

April 8, 2021

Then Jesus said to them, "Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees." And they reasoned among themselves, saying, "It is because we have taken no bread." But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, "O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread? Do you not yet understand, or remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many baskets you took up? Nor the seven loaves of the four thousand and how many large baskets you took up?

April 7, 2021

Then Jesus said to them, "Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees." And they reasoned among themselves, saying, "It is because we have taken no bread." But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, "O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread? Do you not yet understand, or remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many baskets you took up? Nor the seven loaves of the four thousand and how many large baskets you took up?

April 6, 2021

Now when His disciples had come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. Then Jesus said to them, "Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees" (Matthew 16:5-6).

Yeast is what makes bread rise. When added to a lump of dough, the yeast ferments the starches in the dough and causes it to swell up. Without yeast the loaf of bread comes out of the oven flat. It doesn’t take a lot of yeast to make dough rise. A small amount is all it takes to ‘leaven’ dough thoroughly.

April 5, 2021

And He left them and departed (Matthew 16:14).

There are certain texts in Scripture that, when read carefully, send a chill up my spine. One such text is found in the Upper Room Discourse in John 13. Jesus and the disciples had gathered in a borrowed upper room to observe their last Passover together. Jesus, one last time, told the disciples of His impending death. He said, Most assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me (13:21). The disciples were upset and confused that such a thing would happen, and it would be one of them who would be guilty of the crime.

April 4, 2021

“A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” And He left them and departed (Matthew 16:14).

For two years the Scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees had been privy to the miraculous power of Jesus. There was no mistaking His power divine because that power was performed for the good of mankind. And if there was any question remaining in their mind, Jesus even cast out demons that possessed people, demonstrating His power over Satan.

April 3, 2021

He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the sings of the times (Matthew 16:2-3).

Have you ever wondered why there are great strides being taken to erase the distinctions between race, culture, sex, politics, economics, even religions? There has been a push in the last several years to be ‘unified’ (to make or become a single unit), or is that ‘uniform’ (identical or consistent; without variations in detail), or is that ‘unity’ (absence of diversity)?

April 2, 2021

He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the sings of the times (Matthew 16:2-3).

April 1, 2021

He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the sings of the times (Matthew 16:2-3).

March 31, 2021

He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the sings of the times (Matthew 16:2-3).

March 30, 2021

He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the sings of the times (Matthew 16:2-3).

March 29, 2021

He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the sings of the times (Matthew 16:2-3).

Someone said, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me 92,748 times, you are a weatherman!” This parable of Jesus is not about the weather, it’s about reading the signs of the times.

March 28, 2021

And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven (Matthew 16:1).

Pharisees and Sadducees. This is the first time we read of these two religious parties associating with each other. They hated each other. Quite frankly the word ‘hate’ is not strong enough. They were Satan to each other. And yet, “hate makes strange bedfellows.” We see that a lot in our modern culture.

What was their motive for joining forces? They hated Jesus more than they hated each other. Their hostility toward each other did not decrease during the time Jesus had been out of the country ministering to the Gentiles. Now that He was back in Israel, they set aside their differences and made an alliance to kill the object of their hatred.

March 27, 2021

And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven (Matthew 16:1).

The Pharisees and Sadducees were the most powerful religious leaders in Israel in the time of Jesus. Yet they were polar opposites. The Sadducees were a religious/political group that confronted Jesus only on occasions. They were from the aristocratic class of society. They were wealthy and held powerful positions as religious leaders. The Chief Priests and the High Priest were members of the Sadducee sect, as were many of the members of the Sanhedrin (the ruling council or religious Supreme Court of the Jews).

March 26, 2021

And He sent away the multitude, got into the boat, and came to the region of Magdala. Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven (Matthew 15:39 - 16:1).

My sister-in-law’s father was a preacher. I remember Pastor Spencer House’s no-nonsense preaching at Temple Baptist Church in Waldron, AR, when I was a boy. His way of making application of the biblical text was preceded by his oft repeated words, “This day in which we live . . . .” 

March 25, 2021

And He sent away the multitude, got into the boat, and came to the region of Magdala. Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven (Matthew 15:39 - 16:1).

March 24, 2021

And He sent away the multitude, got into the boat, and came to the region of Magdala (Matthew 15:39).

Continuing on from the lessons learned on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, we conclude:

March 23, 2021

And He sent away the multitude, got into the boat, and came to the region of Magdala (Matthew 15:39).

Continuing on from the lessons learned on Sunday and Monday, we add:

Lesson 8: We should not be discouraged when our prayers are not immediately answered. God knows the proper time to respond to our requests, and it may be of greater significance to us that the answers should be delayed. And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.” But He answered not a word (Matthew 23).

March 22, 2021

And He sent away the multitude, got into the boat, and came to the region of Magdala (Matthew 15:39).

We are looking at some of the lessons Jesus taught His disciples in ministering to Gentiles. These are important for Christians today to learn in that same ministry to our pluralistic culture. We started with 3 lessons yesterday. We will continue with a few more today.

March 21, 2021

And He sent away the multitude, got into the boat, and came to the region of Magdala (Matthew 15:39).

Before we move on to Jesus’ return to ministry in Galilee, there are some lessons we need to glean from His ministry to the Gentiles. Race issues have plagued our country since its very inception. My purpose in pointing this out is not to aggravate or even attempt to resolve the issue because I can’t (and it’s been proven that no one can).

March 20, 2021

And He sent away the multitude, got into the boat, and came to the region of Magdala (Matthew 15:39).

Trying to identify places in the land of Jesus is not always an easy task, especially since we are 2,000 years removed from the biblical record. That is true with identifying Magdala. The parallel passage in Mark 8:10 identifies the place as Dalmanutha. A.T. Robertson identifies the place as Magadan, Albert Barnes says it is ancient Migdol (Joshua 19:38) in the land of Gennesaret on the western side of the Sea of Galilee, directly east of Cana where Jesus turned water into wine. 

March 19, 2021

And He took the seven loaves and the fish and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitude. So they all ate and were filled, and they took up seven large baskets full of the fragments that were left (Matthew 15:36-37).

March 18, 2021

Jesus said to them, "How many loaves do you have?" And they said, "Seven, and a few little fish." So He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And He took the seven loaves and the fish and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitude (Matthew 15:34-36).

March 17, 2021

Now Jesus called His disciples to Himself and said, "I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way." Then His disciples said to Him, "Where could we get enough bread in the wilderness to fill such a great multitude?" (Matthew 15:32-33).

We have spoken of the compassion of Jesus before (Sunday, March 14th devotional). Again Jesus speaks of His sympathy toward the crowd that had gathered around Him. He demonstrated His compassion by healing their sick family members and friends. Now He will demonstrate His compassion for them by feeding their hunger.

March 14, 2021

Jesus departed from there, skirted the Sea of Galilee, and went up on the mountain and sat down there. Then great multitudes came to Him, having with them the lame, blind, mute, maimed, and many others; and they laid them down at Jesus' feet, and He healed them. So the multitude marveled when they saw the mute speaking, the maimed made whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel (Matthew 15:29-31).

March 13, 2021

Jesus departed from there, skirted the Sea of Galilee, and went up on the mountain and sat down there. Then great multitudes came to Him, having with them the lame, blind, mute, maimed, and many others; and they laid them down at Jesus' feet, and He healed them. So the multitude marveled when they saw the mute speaking, the maimed made whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel (Matthew 15:29-31).

March 12, 2021

Then Jesus answered and said to her, "O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire." And her daughter was healed from that very hour (Matthew 15:28).

Three tests designed to prover her faith in Jesus were given to this woman. He was silent at her initial request. She pressed the need further. He stated the priority of His ministry to the Jews. She pressed the need further. He reminded her of her status. She pressed the need further. Jesus admired and declared her faith genuine and strong - Great is your faith!

March 11, 2021

Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, "Lord, help me!" But He answered and said, "It is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the little dogs." And she said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters' table" (Matthew 15:25-27).

March 10, 2021

And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed." But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us” (Matthew 15:22-23).

March 9, 2021

And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed." But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us” (Matthew 15:22-23).

As stated in yesterday’s devotional, this woman was not a Jewess, had no previous contact with Jesus, had only heard of Him and His power to heal, yet turned away from her pagan gods, made her way to Jesus, and immediately trusted in Him as her Master and Messiah. Her faith was ‘great’ given her lack of background with Jesus. But there is another characteristic of ‘great faith’ demonstrated by this woman - her tenacity in the testing of her faith.

March 8, 2021

And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed." (Matthew 15:22).

March 7, 2021

And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed." (Matthew 15:22).

Someone once said, “Faith is when you get to the end of your rope, you tie a knot, and hold on.” Someone else once said, “Faith is when you walk to the edge of the dark abyss, then take one more step.” Friedrich Nietzsche, the oft quoted darling of the philosophical atheist, said “Faith is not wanting to know what is true.”

March 6, 2021

And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed." (Matthew 15:22).

We spoke earlier (Thursday, March 04) of this woman’s background, but what we didn’t mention that she was a Canaanite. Because she was a Syro-Phoenician (Mark 7:26), she was a Phoenician by race and Syrian by language and culture. She was also Greek in her religion, most likely a worshiper of Astarte, the Greek equivalent of the Northwestern Semitic goddess Astoreth (which you hear a lot of in the Old Testament) and the Eastern Semitic goddess Ishtar.

March 5, 2021

And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed." But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, "Send her away, for she cries out after us." But He answered and said, "I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, "Lord, help me!" But He answered and said, "It is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the little dogs." And she said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters' table." Then Jesus answered and said to her, "O woman, great is your faith!

March 4, 2021

Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon (Matthew 15:21).

Jesus left the town of Capernaum and walked to the coast of the Mediterranean Sea into ancient Phoenician territory - Gentile territory, out and away from Israel and Judah. Tyre was over 30 miles (as the crow flies) northwest of Capernaum. Sidon was another 20+ miles north of Tyre.

March 3, 2021

For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man" (Matthew 15:19-20).

Jesus said it’s not what goes in the mouth and into the stomach that defiles (to make or consider profane; polluted, unclean) a person, but what comes out of the mouth that proves the person is already defiled (vv.17-18). It’s a heart thing.

March 2, 2021

Then Peter answered and said to Him, "Explain this parable to us." So Jesus said, "Are you also still without understanding? Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man" (Matthew 15:15-20).

March 1, 2021

Then Peter answered and said to Him, "Explain this parable to us." So Jesus said, "Are you also still without understanding? Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man" (Matthew 15:15-20).

February 28, 2021

Then His disciples came and said to Him, "Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?" But He answered and said, "Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch" (Matthew 15:12-14).

February 27, 2021

Then His disciples came and said to Him, "Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?" But He answered and said, "Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch" (Matthew 15:12-14).

February 26, 2021

Then His disciples came and said to Him, "Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?" But He answered and said, "Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch" (Matthew 15:12-14).

Hypocrites will always be offended by the truth. Truth becomes a stumbling block to their agenda. That’s the first reality of hypocrisy. The second reality is that hypocrites will be judged for their hypocrisy. Jesus used a very simple and brief parable to emphasize God’s attitude toward those who manipulate His truth for their purposes.

February 25, 2021

Then His disciples came and said to Him, "Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?" But He answered and said, "Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch" (Matthew 15:12-14).

The parallel passage to this text is found in Mark 7:17. After confronting the Scribes and Pharisees, Jesus and the disciples went into a house in Capernaum to get away from the crowds and the elders. The text doesn’t say, but the house most likely belonged to Peter. It was there the disciples voiced their concern over Jesus’ response to the elders.

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