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.

November 29, 2020

Behold, My Servant whom I have chosen; My Beloved in whom My Soul is well-pleased; I will put My Spirit upon Him, and He shall proclaim justice to the Gentiles (Matthew 12:18).

Given the history, philosophy, and attitude of the Jews then and now, this prophecy of Isaiah would seem out of place. For all intents and purpose, the Jews have nothing to do with the Gentiles. The Gentiles are heathen pagans outside the commonwealth of the Kingdom of God - or so they believe. The natural result when religion becomes institutionalized is that it becomes exclusive; only those like us are welcome. But that was not the plan or intent of the Lord when He called Abraham to be the father of the Hebrew nation.

November 28, 2020

Behold, My Servant whom I have chosen; My beloved in whom My soul is well-pleased; I will put My Spirit upon Him, and He shall proclaim justice to the Gentiles (Matthew 12:18).

November 27, 2020

Behold, My Servant whom I have chosen; My Beloved in whom My soul is well-pleased (Matthew 12:18).

Jesus was confronted by the elders of Israel for disregarding their laws concerning the Sabbath - twice. In the first incident He qualified His actions by stating that the Sabbath was created for man and not man for the Sabbath. He proved this by referring to King David who, when hungry, ate the showbread from the Temple - bread that was reserved for the priests.

November 26, 2020

Behold, My Servant whom I have chosen; My Beloved in whom My soul is well-pleased (Matthew 12:18).

When you read a text like Matthew 12:18 it can be confounding and confusing. How is it that God the Father ‘chose’ Christ to be the Servant-Son-Savior? Who else would He have chosen? Who else would have qualified? And did Christ have to be ‘chosen’ to serve in this capacity? Would there have been an inkling of dissension in Him that would have caused the Father to ‘choose’ someone else? But there was no one else to ‘choose’, was there?

November 25, 2020

Behold, My Servant whom I have chosen; My Beloved in whom My soul is well-pleased (Matthew 12:18).

This quote is from Isaiah 42:1-4. It is a striking prophecy that reveals so much about God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It’s what I love so much about the Old Testament. The unvarnished truth about the Godhead is so clear and precise. I don’t understand why so many Christians ignore reading or studying it.

November 24, 2020

But Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. Many followed Him, and He healed them all, and warned them not to tell who He was. This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: “Behold, My Servant whom I have chosen; My Beloved in whom My soul is well-pleased; I will put My Spirit upon Him, and He shall proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not quarrel, nor cry out; nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets. A battered reed He will not break off, and a smoldering wick He will not put out, until He leads justice to victory. And in His name the gentiles will hope" (Matthew 12:15-21).

November 23, 2020

But Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. Many followed Him, and He healed them all, and warned them not to tell who He was. This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: “Behold, My Servant whom I have chosen; My Beloved in whom My soul is well-pleased; I will put My Spirit upon Him, and He shall proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not quarrel, nor cry out; nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets. A battered reed He will not break off, and a smoldering wick He will not put out, until He leads justice to victory. And in His name the gentiles will hope" (Matthew 12:15-21).

November 22, 2020

Departing from there, He went into their synagogue. And a man was there whose hand was withered. And they questioned Jesus, asking, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?" - so that they might accuse Him. And He said to them, "What man is there among you who has a sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will he not take hold of it and lift it out? "How much more valuable then is a man than a sheep! So then, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath." Then He said to the man, "Stretch out your hand!" He stretched it out, and it was restored to normal, like the other. But the Pharisees went out and conspired against Him, as to how they might destroy Him (Matthew 12:9-14).

November 21, 2020

But if you had known what this means, “I desire compassion, and not a sacrifice,” you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:7-8).

As a child my mother taught me to memorize passages from the Bible - many passages from the Bible. As a teenager I had no problem winning contests in the church for citing verse after verse. It wasn’t until I got to college that I realized knowing (ginosko: to know) Scripture and knowing (epiginosko: to understand) Scripture were two different things.

November 20, 2020

But I say to you that something greater than the temple is here (Matthew 12:6).

In the Book of Hebrews, the writer spends a great deal of time arguing the fact that, because of the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, Judaism became a defunct religion. The Apostle Paul discussed the same in the Book of Romans. Throughout his career he fought the Judaizers who believed Christians must honor the Mosaic Law. His argument was that the Gospel was free from the Law, grace and faith have always been the salvation of the human soul beyond the sacrificial system.

November 19, 2020

But he said unto them, “Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungered, and they that were with him; How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests?”(Matthew 12:3-4)

November 18, 2020

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath, and His disciples became hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat. But when the Pharisees saw this, they said to Him, "Look, Your disciples do what is not lawful to do on a Sabbath." (Matthew 12:1-2).

Critical hearts and closed minds have little compassion for those who are pure in heart and sincere in mind. A few of issues are reflected in this incident that takes us through verse 8.

November 17, 2020

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30).

In concluding His invitation to come to Him, Jesus states My yoke is easy and My burden is light. Reflecting back on the yoke, we understand that it is coming under the authority and will of Christ. It is salvation and, after that, living the Christ life as a co-laborer in His Kingdom.

November 16, 2020

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30).

November 15, 2020

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30).

Jesus spoke of His true character as Lord and Savior. The word ‘gentle’ is the same word ‘meek’. It means a quiet spirit. It is patience in the face of difficulties, trials, and opposition. It is not the surrender of one’s rights and it is not cowardice. It does not mean weakness. It is self-control over one’s temperament and emotions.

November 14, 2020

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30).

Back in Arkansas in the 1960s, my best friend’s father use to plow some of his fields with a team of horses. He has a perfectly good John Deere tractor in his barn, but he liked to get back to his roots by preparing the land for planting the ‘old school’ way. The horses worked side by side and were attached to each other with a harness. It’s the same thing as a yoke, but a yoke is made out of wood and is heavy while a harness is made out of leather straps and is lighter.

November 13, 2020

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30).

November 12, 2020

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30).

I use to think the ‘weary and heavy-laden’ are those Christians who grow tired in ministry and service, who struggle with living the Christian life in a lost world. I was right to believe that, and I still do. But I have also come to understand that this invitation applies to those who grow weary and heavy-laden trying to earn their way into heaven through their particular religion or belief system.

November 11, 2020

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30).

November 10, 2020

All things have been handed over to Me by My Father. . . . (Matthew 11:27).

November 9, 2020

All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him (Matthew 11:27).

In college I was fascinated by the book 'These Sought a Country' written by Robert L. Cate, Professor of Old Testament at Golden Gate Seminary. It’s a history of Israel in the Old Testament, but its literary style is such a 5th grade student can understand it. I came to know something of Dr. Cate through his biography and book, but I was thrilled to get to know him personally when I attended Golden Gate Seminary. I was a student of his for 4 years.

November 8, 2020

At that time Jesus said, "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).

November 7, 2020

And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you (Matthew 11:23-24).

November 6, 2020

Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. Nevertheless I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you (Matthew 11:21-22).

November 5, 2020

Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. Nevertheless I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you (Matthew 11:21-22).

There is an old saying that ‘the Lord works in mysterious ways, His wonders to behold’. The Gospel is indeed mysterious for its effect on some and not on others.

November 4, 2020

Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. Nevertheless I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you (Matthew 11:21-22).

November 3, 2020

Then He began to denounce the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent (Matthew 11:20).

This statement is one of many in the Gospels that counter the popular belief that Jesus was a mild mannered, compassionate, and forgiving Man who never judged or rebuked anyone. There are several human characteristics Jesus demonstrated in His 3 year ministry that are not translated very well in the English Bible. Jesus did have a dry wit about Him. He was a master of the pun. He would often use a play on words. And He did condemn people and cities.

November 2, 2020

But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places, who call out to the other children, and say, “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.” For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, “He has a demon!” The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, “Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!” Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds (Matthew 11:16-19).

November 1, 2020

He who has ears to hear, let him hear (Matthew 11:15).

One of the rules to effective communication is to engage in ‘active hearing’. When I first came across that phrase it was in a counseling course in college. Since then I have heard it used a lot. When you think about it, it makes sense.

How many times have we, as men, heard our significant other ask pointedly, “Are you listening to what I’m saying!?” or “Did you hear me!?” This usually happens when our mind is thinking about something else other than what is being said - bottom line, we’re not paying attention.

October 31, 2020

For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come (Matthew 11:13-14).

From Genesis 3:15 onward through the Law, Writings, and Prophets, all the way to John the Baptizer the message of Scripture is clear - the Messiah of God will come. The Old Testament people lived for that hope. They believed God’s promise and looked for its fulfillment. But nothing was said in Scripture that the appearing of the Messiah would be immediate. It took nearly 3,000 years before Christ came as Israel’s Messiah. But His appearing was at the right time.

October 30, 2020

From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force. For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come (Matthew 11:12-14).

Violence. It’s the product of sin. The world knew no violence until sin entered into the human experience. Who’s behind it? Satan. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12).

October 29, 2020

Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he (Matthew 11:11).

There’s and old saying that goes, “The darkest day is lighter than the brightest night.” John the Baptizer was the greatest of the Old Testament prophets because his ministry was unlike the prophets who came before him. John MacArthur said, “He was the greatest human being who had lived until that time. From an earthly perspective, John’s character and calling made him the greatest man yet born besides Jesus Himself.”

October 28, 2020

What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who wear soft clothing are in kings' palaces! But what did you go out to see? (Matthew 11:7-8).

Sometimes things are not as they seem. Sometimes people are more than they appear to be. Such was the case with John the Baptizer. Jesus wanted to know what the people thought of John the Baptizer, so He asked two questions regarding his character.

October 27, 2020

As these men were going away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John, "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who wear soft clothing are in kings' palaces! But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and one who is more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written, “Behold, I send My messenger ahead of You, who will prepare Your way before You.” (Matthew 11:7-10).

October 26, 2020

Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the Gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me” (Matthew 11:4-6).

Down through the ages people have had their doubts about Jesus. Today there are those who do not regard Jesus as Son of God, Messiah, Lord and Savior, etc. even though they recognize Him as a great teacher, the leader of the Christian religion, and even a prophet from God.

October 25, 2020

Now when John, while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to Him, "Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?" (Matthew 11:2-3).

Jesus said John the Baptist was greater than the prophets who preceded him (Matthew 11:9). John had a more complete understanding of Jesus as Messiah and his message was more specific than theirs. Plus, he was specifically chosen to prepare Israel for the Messiah. It’s hard to believe he would have doubts about Jesus - or did he?

October 24, 2020

He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward. And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward (Matthew 10:40-42).

October 23, 2020

He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me (Matthew 10:40).

Not everyone has or will believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Not everyone has or will receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Jesus said (Matthew 7:13-14), Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

October 22, 2020

He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it (Matthew 10:39).

I remember in the old Sears catalogues there were pictured certain products that had three different classifications, ‘good’, ‘better’, and ‘best’ with a graded cost for each classification. Same product (i.e. vacuum cleaner, etc.) but three grades of quality. You don’t see that anymore. In fact you don’t see catalogues much anymore. It seems everything is done on-line.

The word ‘life’ in this text is psuche (breath; spirit), not zoe (physical, biological life). However, Jesus used the word in both its temporal and eternal sense.

October 21, 2020

He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me (Matthew 10:37-38).

The words of Jesus in these two verses are difficult to accept. Relationships in this life are valuable and necessary. God created man and woman and gave them the responsibility to procreate and to ‘fill up’ the earth (i.e. populate; Genesis 1:28).The family was the first institution created by God in the earth for the benefit of mankind. So why would Jesus seek to destroy that relationship by driving a wedge between the potential disciple and his/her family?

October 20, 2020

And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me (Matthew 10:38).

What is your cross to bear? My grandmother said her cross to bear was grandpa! Some believe their cross to bear is an illness or physical or mental disability. Some even think it’s their job. None of these define the ‘cross’ that Jesus was talking about.

October 19, 2020

He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me (Matthew 10:37).

This can be a very startling, even discouraging verse to a non-Christian or a new Christian. But those who have walked with Jesus Christ for some time and have matured in faith understand the meaning of these words.

October 18, 2020

Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to “Set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household” (Matthew 10:34-36).

I have witnessed first-hand the impact Jesus has had in a person’s life and how that person was ostracized by the family for becoming a Christian. I have known Jews and Muslims who were disowned by their families for becoming Christians. One person was issued a death certificate by his father for confessing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. In other words, he was dead to them.

October 17, 2020

Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to “Set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household” (Matthew 10:34-36).

Some people who read this text feel it is atypical of the loving, compassionate nature of Jesus. In our mind’s eye we see Jesus as drawing people together, especially families, rather than creating division among people.

October 16, 2020

Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven (Matthew 10:32-33).

We need to clear up a misconception. Verse 32 is an Aramaic ‘idiom’ (an expression that has a meaning not specific of the individual words, i.e. ‘raining cats and dogs’). The English translation is a Greek translation of the Aramaic idiom which should read “everyone who confesses in Me before men, I will also confess in him before My Father who is in heaven.” This is a most important point to make, and explains why much of our efforts in witnessing proves fruitless.

October 15, 2020

But the very hairs of your head are all numbered (Matthew 10:30).

I remember when I first read Psalm 147:4, He (God) counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them. I was just a boy, about 10 years old. I waited until dark to look up into the night sky to see if I could count the stars. We lived in Arkansas, on the top of a small mountain, far away from the city lights. I remember the night being crystal clear with the stars shining brightly. Of course there were far too many stars to count. In fact, I lost count several times! 

October 14, 2020

Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father (Matthew 10:29).
 
Sparrows are so common we don’t take note of them much anymore. They are not as large as an eagle nor as colorful as a peacock that we would notice them. They’re just a common, ordinary bird. While we don’t care much about sparrows, God does. They are part of His creation.
 

October 13, 2020

Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Matthew 10:28).

October 12, 2020

What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops (Matthew 10:27).

We are living in a day when truth is a rare commodity. It seems you can’t trust what you read, hear, or even see anymore. We’ve always had ‘fake news’, but it is more prevalent now than ever. People have taken to heart the right to ‘freedom of speech’, I just wish they would take to heart the right to ‘freedom of truth’.

October 11, 2020

Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows (Matthew 10:26-31).

October 10, 2020

A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign the members of his household! (Matthew 10:24-25).

Jesus spoke to His disciples regarding their work, which was His work through them, and the response of the people to their work, which was their response to His work. Jesus said some would not receive them or their message just as many did not receive Him or His message. But there would be others who would respond to Jesus through their work. In this way the disciple is like his Teacher, but not above his Teacher.

October 9, 2020

But whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes (Matthew 10:23).

This is a tough passage to understand because of the last clause, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes. It is clear Jesus was not talking about His 2nd coming when He reigns on earth for 1,000 years (Revelation 20:1-7). Matthew wrote his gospel long after Jesus was crucified, resurrected, and ascended to heaven. And the context of these words have to do with persecution for spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So these words have something to do with the work of the apostles before Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.

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