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.

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’!?”

July 24, 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 23, 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).

To forgive is a difficult act because we are fallen and sinful creatures. From the Garden of Eden throughout biblical history the reality is seen repeatedly that humans are selfish, self-centered, and self-promoting beings. That God would demonstrate His love toward us by offering us salvation through Jesus Christ is incomprehensible, even offensive to sinful men. But that is the nature of holy God vs. the nature of sinful men.

July 22, 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).

Matthew 18:21-35 is one of several places in the Gospels where our Lord teaches on the subject of forgiveness. The word ‘forgive’ means to lay aside, leave, let go, omit, put away, suffer, or yield up. While we may intellectually, even emotionally understand the meaning of the word, it is often very difficult for people to exercise true forgiveness. Scripture states:

July 21, 2021

Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them (Matthew 18:19-20).

July 20, 2021

Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven (Matthew 18:18).

Similar words are found in Matthew 16:19, And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

July 19, 2021

Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that "By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established." And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven (Matthew 18:15-18).

July 18, 2021

Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that “By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.” And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven (Matthew 18:15-18).

July 17, 2021

Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that “By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.” And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven (Matthew 18:15-18).

July 16, 2021

Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that “By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.” And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven (Matthew 18:15-18).

July 15, 2021

Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that “By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.” And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven (Matthew 18:15-18).

July 14, 2021

Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that “By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.” And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven (Matthew 18:15-18).

July 13, 2021

Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that “By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.” And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven (Matthew 18:15-18).

July 12, 2021

Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. "What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish (Matthew 18:10-14).

July 11, 2021

What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray (Matthew 18:12-13).

Jesus used parables to teach spiritual truth to people. Some of His parables were taken from the fields (The Parable of the Sower). Others were taken from the marketplace (The Parable of the Pearl of Great Price). This parable was taken from the care of livestock.

July 10, 2021

What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray (Matthew 18:12-13).

It is not often that you find Jesus asking others what they think. We know on one occasion as He and the disciples were walking through the region of Caesarea Philippi He asked the disciples, Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am? and then again, But who do you say that I am? (Matthew 16:13,15; Mark 8:27,29). Here Jesus asks the disciples, What do you think?

July 9, 2021

What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray (Matthew 18:12-13).

July 8, 2021

. . . in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven (Matthew 18:10).

It was a common belief among the Jews that the nation of Israel had a guardian angel. In fact, they believe every nation on earth is assigned a guardian angel. (Daniel 10:13) But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia.

July 7, 2021

Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish (Matthew 18:10-14).

July 6, 2021

If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire (Matthew 18:8-9).

July 5, 2021

If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire (Matthew 18:8-9).

July 4, 2021

If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire (Matthew 18:8-9).

I remember first reading this passage (many years ago) wondering, “Is Jesus really serious about this?” I couldn’t believe that Jesus would advocate self-mutilation, which I believed to be sin, in order to counter sin in my life. I really struggled with this because, like all Christians, I struggled with sin.

July 3, 2021

Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes! (Matthew 18:6-7).

The ‘little ones’ are fellow Christians. To cause them to sin is to set a stumbling block before them so they would be trapped in sin. A millstone was a very large wheel made of stone that had a beam attached to it and was pulled by a mule, horse, or ox around a trench wherein a farmer would shovel grain to be ground into powder. These millstones weighed hundreds of pounds.

July 2, 2021

Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me. Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea (Matthew 18:5-6).

July 1, 2021

Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me. Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea (Matthew 18:5-6).

Literally the text reads, “But whoever causes one of these little ones believing in Me to offend, it is better for him that a millstone turned by an ass be hung on his neck, and he be sunk in the depth of the sea.”

The word ‘to offend’ or ‘to sin’ is skandalizo from which we get the English word ‘scandal’ or ‘scandalize’. Literally it means ‘to set a snare or trap’ or ‘to cause to stumble and fall’.

June 30, 2021

Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me. Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea (Matthew 18:5-6).

As a young boy I remember my mother explaining to me how much God loves me. I raised the question when I began reading the Bible on my own. We didn’t have ‘children’s Bibles’ back then, and the only acceptable version of the Bible in my family and church was the King James Version.

June 24, 2021

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:1-6).

June 23, 2021

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" (Matthew 18:1).

In a Republic, or a Monarchy, or Dictatorship, etc., people will fight for the top position of ruler (President, King, Dictator, etc.). All too often the one who obtains that position is not the right one to have such power and authority. History has taught us that. The fact is, humans are flawed. We are fallen creatures. We are sinful, which makes us ego-centric, disposed to corruption, and unjust in our dealings with others. 

June 22, 2021

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" (Matthew 18:1).

When the Bible speaks of the Kingdom of Heaven, the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Christ, etc., it is referring to that place where the Lord reigns as the supreme ruler. In the U.S. we are not as familiar with the term ‘kingdom’ as our cousins in England or other European nations. We are a Republic - a nation in which the ultimate power is held by the people and their elected representatives, including an elected president.

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