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.

June 21, 2021

When they came to Capernaum, those who collected the two-drachma tax came to Peter and said, "Does your teacher not pay the two-drachma tax?" He said, "Yes." And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, "What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?" When Peter said, "From strangers," Jesus said to him, "Then the sons are exempt. "However, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for you and Me" (Matthew 17:24-27).

June 20, 2021

When they came to Capernaum, those who collected the two-drachma tax came to Peter and said, "Does your teacher not pay the two-drachma tax?" He said, "Yes." And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, "What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?" When Peter said, "From strangers," Jesus said to him, "Then the sons are exempt. "However, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for you and Me" (Matthew 17:24-27).

June 19, 2021

Jesus said to him, "Then the sons are exempt. "However, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for you and Me" (Matthew 17:26-27).

June 18, 2021

Jesus said to him, "Then the sons are exempt. "However, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for you and Me" (Matthew 17:26-27).

In the conversation between Jesus and Peter regarding the payment of taxes, Jesus affirmed the sons of kings are exempt from taxes, as are the sons of the priests. But Jesus then affirmed to Peter that what taxes were required of anyone else would be paid by Jesus and His disciples, and that was to be done ‘without offense’.

June 17, 2021

When they came to Capernaum, those who collected the two-drachma tax came to Peter and said, "Does your teacher not pay the two-drachma tax?" He said, "Yes." And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, "What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?" When Peter said, "From strangers," Jesus said to him, "Then the sons are exempt. "However, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for you and Me" (Matthew 17:24-27).

History, especially that of ancient customs and laws, is necessary to understand this text.

June 16, 2021

And while they were gathering together in Galilee, Jesus said to them, "The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men; and they will kill Him, and He will be raised on the third day." And they were deeply grieved (Matthew 17:22-23).

Some people believe Jesus was the victim of the apostate Jewish elders who wanted nothing more than to get rid of Him so they could preserve their authority and control over the masses. Although the Jewish elders hated Jesus for His popularity and their declining influence, Jesus was no victim of their insidious plot to kill Him.

June 15, 2021

And while they were gathering together in Galilee, Jesus said to them, "The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men; and they will kill Him, and He will be raised on the third day." And they were deeply grieved (Matthew 17:22-23).

We need to consider the parallel passage in Mark 9:30-32 which reads, From there they went out and began to go through Galilee, and He did not want anyone to know about it. For He was teaching His disciples and telling them, "The Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and when He has been killed, He will rise three days later." But they did not understand this statement, and they were afraid to ask Him.

June 14, 2021

And He said to them, "Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you (Matthew 17:20).

June 13, 2021

Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, "Why could we not drive it out?" And He said to them, "Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you. ["But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting."] (Matthew 17:19-21).

June 12, 2021

Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, "Why could we not drive it out?" And He said to them, "Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you. ["But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting."] (Matthew 17:19-21).

June 11, 2021

And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was healed instantly (Matthew 17:18).

We must appeal again to Mark’s Gospel for information that is absent from Matthew’s account. And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose (Mark 9:25-27).

June 10, 2021

And He asked his father, "How long has this been happening to him?" And he said, "From childhood. "It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!" And Jesus said to him, " 'If You can?' All things are possible to him who believes." Immediately the boy's father cried out and said, "I do believe; help my unbelief" (Mark 9:21-24).

“Lord, I believe: help Thou mine unbelief;
Be this my prayer though good report and ill;
Only to Thee I cling; if long my day or brief,
Master and Savior, I will trust Thee still!”

June 9, 2021

And He asked his father, "How long has this been happening to him?" And he said, "From childhood. "It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!" And Jesus said to him, " 'If You can?' All things are possible to him who believes." Immediately the boy's father cried out and said, "I do believe; help my unbelief" (Mark 9:21-24).

This is the parallel text to Matthew 17:14-18. John Mark, who wrote the Gospel of Mark, was not a disciple of Jesus, but a disciple of Peter, who was the spokesman for the 12 disciples. This added information on the event of the demon possessed boy came from Peter as he mentored John Mark many years later.

June 8, 2021

And Jesus answered and said, "You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? (Matthew 17:17).

Adding to His indignation, the Apostle Matthew reveals the frustration of Jesus over the faithlessness of the disciples, the father of the demon possessed boy, and the crowd that had gathered at the foot of Mt. Tabor. These are emotions we rarely see in Jesus, but we must remember He is human as well as divine and the emotions of His humanity are just as real as yours and mine.

June 7, 2021

And Jesus answered and said, "You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? (Matthew 17:17).

Rarely do we see such indignation in the spirit of Jesus. He became angry at the money changers in the Temple courtyards. He became disheartened at those who stopped following Him when He outlined the difficulty of being a disciple. He was broken hearted at the tomb of Lazarus. But here, with the disciples and the Scribes, He is spiritually indignant.

Jesus did not give into the petty and childish attitude of name-calling by calling the disciples, Scribes, and other Jews ‘unbelieving and perverted’. He was exposing the spiritual condition of the people.

June 6, 2021

"I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him" (Matthew 17:16).

It is a heart-breaking and spiritually sobering thing when a Christian or a Christian church cannot help a person in need. I know of those who choose not to help. I also know of those who want to help but are spiritually powerless to do so. Could it be that it is not God’s will for certain individuals to be healed? Possibly.

June 5, 2021

When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus, falling on his knees before Him and saying, "Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic and is very ill; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water” (Matthew 17:14-15).

From the parallel passages in Mark 9:14-29 and Luke 9:37-43 we learn of the severity of the boy’s condition resulting from demon possession: he was deaf and mute, he had violent seizures, convulsions, foaming at the mouth, grinding of the teeth, uncontrollable physical actions that threw him to the ground, into the fire, into water, contorting his body muscles, causing him to shriek and scream. Demonic possession is no trifling matter. It is evil and does evil to anyone who has yielded to the power of the devil.

June 4, 2021

When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus, falling on his knees before Him and saying, "Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic and is very ill; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water” (Matthew 17:14-15).

June 3, 2021

When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus, falling on his knees before Him and saying, "Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic and is very ill; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water” (Matthew 17:14-15).
 
There are a number of matters that need to be addressed before we can come to a better understanding of that is going on in this encounter. First of all, we need to include the parallel passages of the event for a fuller, more complete rendering of what is being said. All of the texts regarding this event are found in Matthew 17:14-21; Mark 9:14-29; and Luke 9:37-43a. When harmonized together it reads, 
 

June 2, 2021

When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus, falling on his knees before Him and saying, "Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic and is very ill; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water” (Matthew 17:14-15).

June 1, 2021

And His disciples asked Him, "Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?" And He answered and said, "Elijah is coming and will restore all things; but I say to you that Elijah already came, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they wished. So also the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands." Then the disciples understood that He had spoken to them about John the Baptist (Matthew 17:10-13).

May 31, 2021

As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, "Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man has risen from the dead" (Matthew 17:9).

We are often confused at our Lord’s insistence, on occasion, that people refrain from telling other people of certain events they had experienced with Jesus. We would think Jesus would want people to know He was the long-awaited Messiah and that if word got out about all He had said and done there would be greater numbers of people flocking to Him to be saved. Not so.

May 30, 2021

While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, "This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!" When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground and were terrified. And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, "Get up, and do not be afraid." And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus Himself alone (Matthew 17:5-8).

May 29, 2021

While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, "This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!" When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground and were terrified. And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, "Get up, and do not be afraid." And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus Himself alone (Matthew 17:5-8).

May 28, 2021

While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, "This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!" When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground and were terrified. And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, "Get up, and do not be afraid." And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus Himself alone (Matthew 17:5-8).

May 27, 2021

While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, "This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!" When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground and were terrified. And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, "Get up, and do not be afraid." And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus Himself alone (Matthew 17:5-8).

May 26, 2021

While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, "This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!" When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground and were terrified. And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, "Get up, and do not be afraid." And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus Himself alone (Matthew 17:5-8).

As the Son of God, the Father declared Jesus to possess the same nature, character, and essence that He has. In other words, the Father declared Jesus Christ to be God as He is God. Christians are also declared to be children of God. 

May 25, 2021

While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, "This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!" When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground and were terrified. And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, "Get up, and do not be afraid." And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus Himself alone (Matthew 17:5-8).

May 23, 2021

Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah" (Matthew 17:4).

A ‘tabernacle’ was a tent made by fixing posts into the ground, stretching cloth over them, and fastening it together with cords. In some instances they were made of tree branches as a temporary shelter from the sun and rain. These tents were also houses common to the nomadic tribes in the ancient Middle East.

May 22, 2021

Six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him (Matthew 17:1-3).

May 21, 2021

Six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him (Matthew 17:1-3).

May 20, 2021

Six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him (Matthew 17:1-3).

What was the purpose of Moses and Elijah appearing with Jesus during His transfiguration? Of all the people God could have chosen to appear with Jesus in the transfiguration, Moses and Elijah served the unique role at this critical point in the life of Jesus.

May 19, 2021

Six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him (Matthew 17:1-3).

In the metamorphosis of a caterpillar to a butterfly, the transformation is progressive and permanent. In the transfiguration of Jesus, the transformation was immediate, yet temporary. The glory of Christ in heaven was cloaked or concealed in human flesh at His incarnation (when He became the baby born to Mary in Bethlehem). For 33 years the glory of Christ was not seen by men other than through His transfiguration. 

May 18, 2021

Six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him (Matthew 17:1-3).

Parallel passages of the transfiguration of Jesus are found in Mark 9:2-10 and Luke 9:28-36, however, Luke does not use the term ‘transfigured’ but rather the appearance of His face became different . . . .

May 17, 2021

Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom (Matthew 16:28).

When I was a child I was confused over this verse. Like many of the Christians in the church in Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11), I had thought that Jesus had already come and we missed it! If the coming of Jesus Christ in His Kingdom would be seen by those standing in front of Him, then what are we doing here? Let’s take this verse a bite at a time.

First, Jesus said that before they die, some of the disciples would see Him coming in His kingdom. However, all 12 of the disciples are dead, and it’s been 2,000+ years since these words were spoken and Jesus still has not returned. So, what gives?

May 16, 2021

For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and ‘will then repay every man according to his deeds’ (Matthew 16:27).

When Jesus returns He will judge the righteous and the unrighteous before His judgment seat. Because the unsaved person will have no righteous deeds to present before the Lord, that day will be a day of terror and shame. Jesus said (Matthew 7:22-23), Many will say to Me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?” And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.” Lawlessness here refers to one’s disobedience to the laws of God.

May 15, 2021

For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and ‘will then repay every man according to his deeds’ (Matthew 16:27).

May 14, 2021

For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and ‘will then repay every man according to his deeds’ (Matthew 16:27).

The word ‘glory’ is doxa, from which we get the word ‘doxology’. A doxology is a hymn of praise to God. Sometimes we sing the Doxology in worship: “Praise God from whom all blessings flow, praise Him all creatures here below, praise Him above ye heavenly host, praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Amen.” When Jesus returns to establish His Kingdom on earth it will be in the glory of His Father with His angels. In Scripture the glory of God refers to His divine attributes, character, and nature. 

May 13, 2021

For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and ‘will then repay every man according to his deeds’ (Matthew 16:27).
 
As Jesus neared the end of His 3 year public ministry, He became more and more specific regarding His impending death and resurrection. He also began to reveal to His disciples the plan of His second coming. In fact, this is the first mention of the second coming of Christ in Scripture. So, in just a few weeks Jesus had revealed to the disciples:
 
• He was God in human flesh,
• He was the promised Messiah,
• He would establish a Kingdom that is eternal,
• He would suffer, die, and be resurrected before that Kingdom comes, and

May 12, 2021

For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and ‘will then repay every man according to his deeds’ (Matthew 16:27).

May 11, 2021

For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and ‘will then repay every man according to his deeds’ (Matthew 16:27).

May 10, 2021

For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and ‘will then repay every man according to his deeds’ (Matthew 16:27).

This is the first mention of the 2nd coming of Christ in the New Testament. The word is parousia, which means ‘to appear’ or ‘to come’. His 1st appearing was as the Child born to Mary in Bethlehem. He then came as the Savior, Messiah, and Redeemer of Israel. His 2nd appearing will be at an undisclosed time in the future. He then will come as judge.

May 8, 2021

For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:25-26).

The words ‘life’ and ‘soul’ in this passage come from the same Greek word, psuche. Some say the ‘life’ is the basic ‘spirit’ or ‘vitality’ of a person (the ‘lower’ self) whereas the ‘soul’ is the ‘rational’ or ‘immortal’ (the ‘higher’ self) that is eternal. Together they make up the ‘real’ you.

May 7, 2021

Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24).

After having looked briefly at the steps to salvation and spiritual maturity in Christian discipleship, and before passing on to the paradox inherent in those steps, I feel it necessary to address a most important and fundamental part of the above cited text - one’s desire.

May 6, 2021

Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24).

The word ‘sanctify’ and its related terms ‘sanctified’, ‘sanctification’, and ‘sanctifying’ describes the process whereby the Holy Spirit progressively distances a Christian away from sin and toward righteousness. When a person is saved, God declares the person saved, justified, holy (sanctified) and righteous. The work of the Holy Spirit is to make these truths a reality in the Christian’s life. In other words, God declares a Christian righteous before Him and the Holy Spirit makes the Christian righteous before the world.

May 5, 2021

Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24).

The 3 stages or steps to Christian discipleship are given in this text: (1) deny self, (2) die to self, and (3) follow Jesus. What does it mean to follow Jesus in today’s world?

May 4, 2021

Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24).

May 3, 2021

Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24).

I remember as a child reading this verse and asking my paternal grandmother what ‘her cross’ in life was. She replied, “Your grandfather.” I don’t think that’s what Jesus had in mind when He said “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me."

Taking up one’s cross is the willingness to die to self and live for Jesus. The cross was a means of execution. Crosses were designed to torture and kill people. It is estimated that under Roman rule, some 30,000 people (Jews and Gentiles) were executed on crosses in Palestine alone.

May 2, 2021

Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24).

To deny self is to genuinely, sincerely, honestly, and seriously believe you have nothing in you, or are nothing in yourself to commend before God. It is utter and complete humility before holy God. It is to truly believe as the tax collector (Luke 18:13), God, be merciful to me, the sinner! It is to realize and accept that . . . all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; and all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away (Isaiah 64:6).

May 1, 2021

Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24).

As stated earlier, salvation is on God’s terms, not on ours. We cannot come to salvation on our own because we are dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1,5; Colossians 2:13). Last time I checked a dead person cannot do anything except . . . well, you know. 

April 30, 2021

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26).

For the Christian, discipleship is more than being saved and attending church every now and again. Christian discipleship is following Jesus. The New Testament is replete with exhortations and examples of the need for the Christian to press on in Christian faith and Christian life.

April 29, 2021

Then Jesus said to the disciples, “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For anyone who keeps his life for himself shall lose it; and anyone who loses his life for me shall find it again. What profit is there if you gain the whole world - and lose eternal life?” (Matthew 16:24-26).

Christian discipleship begins with salvation. A person cannot be a true disciple of Jesus Christ unless and until he/she has surrendered to the call of Christ to salvation. That’s the truth behind, if anyone wants to be a follower of mine (disciple), let him deny himself and take up his cross (repent of sin; be saved) and follow me.

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