Daily Devotionals

The Pastor of the church provides a daily devotional entitled Think Upon These Things hoping it 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 Think Upon These Things 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.

December 17, 2021

Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar (Matthew 23:34-35).

The word ‘therefore’ is transitional, signaling a conclusion to an argument or a body of information. Jesus pronounced 7 ‘woes’ or words of judgment upon the Scribes and Pharisees for their many forms of hypocrisy. He then made a final statement to them that ‘sealed the deal’, that indicated they would fill up the measure of their fathers’ guilt (Matthew 23:32).

December 16, 2021

Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? (Matthew 23:33).

Jesus called these Scribes and Pharisees serpents and vipers, a name given to them because of their pretense of being righteous and devoted to God, but in reality were evil. They were nothing more than the serpent Satan used to deceive Eve and destroy humanity (Genesis 3:1-5). They were totally influenced, if not possessed by Satan to destroy Jesus Christ. They were a wicked clergy and spiritually deadly with a corrupt and evil nature. As the bad fruit comes from a corrupt tree, so the words and works of these men came from a satanic source.

December 15, 2021

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, 'If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.' Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers' guilt. (Matthew 23:29-32).

In this final condemnation of the Scribes and Pharisees, Jesus exposes the true nature of those who held the office of priest in Israel. The hypocrisy of these men was blatant and accusatory.

December 14, 2021

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness (Matthew 23:27-28)

December 13, 2021

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also (Matthew 23:25-26).

Jesus did not condemn the Scribes and Pharisees for poor kitchen sanitation. At issue here is consistency in one’s holiness and righteousness. These priests were very careful to present themselves to the public as holy and righteous men (the outside of the cup and dish). However, their heart, mind, and spirit were anything but holy or righteous (the inside of the cup and dish).

December 12, 2021

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! (Matthew 23:23-24).

December 11, 2021

Woe to you, blind guides, who say, “Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obliged to perform it.” Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifies the gold? And, “Whoever swears by the altar, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gift that is on it, he is obliged to perform it.” Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift? Therefore he who swears by the altar, swears by it and by all things on it. He who swears by the temple, swears by it and by Him who dwells in it. And he who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by Him who sits on it (Matthew 23:16-22).

December 10, 2021

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves (Matthew 23:15).

December 9, 2021

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation (Matthew 23:14).

To be pretentious is to be characterized by the assumption of dignity or importance, especially when exaggerated or undeserved. It is the making of an exaggerated outward show without factual basis; to be false. It is the same thing as being a hypocrite - you are one thing to some people, and another thing to others.

December 8, 2021

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation (Matthew 23:13).

December 7, 2021

But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in (Matthew 23:13).

The problem with false religions and cults is not that they aren’t ethical, moral, or mentally, emotionally, or physically helpful. It’s that they aren’t spiritual. Religious organizations can feed the hungry, educate the ignorant, comfort the emotionally distressed, counsel families on interpersonal relationships, or teach employers and employees how to maximize their resources - and there’s nothing wrong with that. But if a religious organization does not lead a person to faith and salvation is Jesus Christ, it damns the soul to eternal separation from God.

December 6, 2021

But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in (Matthew 23:13).

In His final words to the false teachers and preachers of His day, Jesus presented a scathing denunciation of their hypocrisy. Matthew 23 is one of the most serious passages in the entire Bible. To understand the depth of His condemnation against the Scribes and Pharisees you must understand two key words used by our Lord in this address.

December 5, 2021

But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted (Matthew 23:11-12).

We’ve all heard the lyrics, or have heard people refer to Mac Davis’ 1980s hit, “Oh Lord it's hard to be humble when you're perfect in every way. I can't wait to look in the mirror ‘cause I get better looking each day. To know me is to love me, I must be a **** of a man. Oh Lord it's hard to be humble, but I'm doing the best that I can.”

December 4, 2021

But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. (Matthew 23:8-10).

This warning of Jesus is one of pride and arrogance in desiring or insisting to be called by certain titles. It’s not an uncommon practice today to give titles to people. While for most people it is a simple acknowledgment of rank, achievement, or profession, it can be a problem when a person insists on being recognized by a title.

December 3, 2021

Jesus spoke to the multitudes and His disciples, saying: “The Scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi’” (Matthew 23:1-7).

December 3, 2021

Jesus spoke to the multitudes and His disciples, saying: “The Scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi’” (Matthew 23:1-7).

December 2, 2021

Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying: “The Scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi’” (Matthew 23:1-7).

December 1, 2021

While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying, "What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?" They said to Him, "The Son of David." He said to them, "How then does David in the Spirit call Him 'LORD’, saying: ‘The LORD said to my LORD, “Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool”’? If David then calls Him 'LORD,' how is He his Son?" And no one was able to answer Him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare question Him anymore (Matthew 22:41-46).

November 30, 2021

But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind’. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:34-40).

November 29, 2021

But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind’. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:34-40).

November 28, 2021

For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven. But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob' ? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living" (Matthew 22:30-32).

November 27, 2021

Jesus answered and said to them, "You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven. But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob' ? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living" (Matthew 22:29-32).

November 26, 2021

The same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Him and asked Him, saying: "Teacher, Moses said that if a man dies, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife and raise up offspring for his brother. Now there were with us seven brothers. The first died after he had married, and having no offspring, left his wife to his brother. Likewise the second also, and the third, even to the seventh. Last of all the woman died also. Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had her" (Matthew 22:23-28).

November 25, 2021

To All of Our Families, Church Families, and Friends:
 
Nancy and I wish you a blessed day as you celebrate God's grace and goodness. May your day be filled with peace, joy, and gratitude to the Lord.
 

Pastor Martin

November 25, 2021

Oh, give thanks to the LORD! Call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples! Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; talk of all His wondrous works! Glory in His holy name; let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the LORD! Seek the LORD and His strength; seek His face evermore! Remember His marvelous works which He has done, His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth  (1 Chronicles 16:8-12).

This song of the shepherd king is repeated in Psalm 105:1-5. His song of praise to the Lord is one of many that exalts the Lord God for who He is and for all He has done for His people. His song reminds us of several blessings He bestows upon us, even in times of trouble and distress.

November 24, 2021

The same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Him and asked Him, saying: "Teacher, Moses said that if a man dies, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife and raise up offspring for his brother. Now there were with us seven brothers. The first died after he had married, and having no offspring, left his wife to his brother. Likewise the second also, and the third, even to the seventh. Last of all the woman died also. Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had her" (Matthew 22:23-28).

November 23, 2021

But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, "Why do you test Me, you hypocrites? Show Me the tax money." So they brought Him a denarius. And He said to them, "Whose image and inscription is this?" They said to Him, "Caesar's." And He said to them, "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." When they had heard these words, they marveled, and left Him and went their way (Matthew 22:18-22).

November 22, 2021

But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, "Why do you test Me, you hypocrites? Show Me the tax money." So they brought Him a denarius. And He said to them, "Whose image and inscription is this?" They said to Him, "Caesar's." And He said to them, "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." When they had heard these words, they marveled, and left Him and went their way (Matthew 22:18-22).

November 21, 2021

Then the Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle Him in His talk. And they sent to Him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, "Teacher, we know that You are true, and teach the way of God in truth; nor do You care about anyone, for You do not regard the person of men. Tell us, therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?" (Matthew 22:15-17).

To entangle means to trap. The plotting to trap Jesus was done in secret among enemies - the Pharisees and the Herodians. The Herodians were not members of Herod’s family or Herod’s court, but were partisans or followers loyal to Herod. What trap did they hope to spring on Jesus?

November 20, 2021

But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?” And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, “Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” For many are called, but few are chosen (Matthew 22:11-14).

Although The Parable of the Wedding Feast was intended to convict the hearts of the Chief Priests and Elders by revealing their hard-hearted hypocrisy and rejection of Jesus Christ, it was also intended to reveal to them, and to us, the penalty of unrepentant sin and rejection of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

November 19, 2021

But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?” And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, “Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” For many are called, but few are chosen (Matthew 22:11-14).

The man who dressed inappropriately for the wedding celebration was removed from the party because of his attitude. His dress demonstrated a grave disrespect for the king and his son. How are we to understand this?

November 18, 2021

But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?” And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, “Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” For many are called, but few are chosen (Matthew 22:11-14).

November 17, 2021

Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests (Matthew 22:9-10).

November 16, 2021

The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. (Matthew 22:7-8).

November 15, 2021

SHALLOW, SUPERFICIAL, SELF-CENTERED
Monday, November 15, 2021

And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’ But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them.” (Matthew 22:1-6).

November 14, 2021

When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that he was speaking about them. And although they were seeking to arrest him, they feared the crowds, because they held him to be a prophet (Matthew 21:45).

The Scripture states that after Jesus spoke these last parables the Chief Priests and Pharisees perceived He was speaking about them. The word ‘perceived’ means to know, understand, or realize. They knew Jesus was talking about them in parables. They realized they were the ones being condemned in the parables. But did they understand they were spiritually condemned?

November 13, 2021

Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes'? Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder" (Matthew 21:42-44).

November 12, 2021

 “There was a certain landowner who planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it, dug a winepress in it and built a tower. And he leased it to vinedressers and went into a far country. Now when vintage-time drew near, he sent his servants to the vinedressers, that they might receive its fruit. And the vinedressers took his servants, beat one, killed one, and stoned another. Again he sent other servants, more than the first, and they did likewise to them. Then last of all he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the vinedressers saw the son, they said among themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance.’ So they took him and cast him out of the vineyard and killed him.

November 11, 2021

What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him. (Matthew 21:28-31).

November 10, 2021

And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” Jesus answered them, “I also will ask you one question, and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, from where did it come?

November 9, 2021

WITH AUTHORITY
Tuesday, November 09, 2021

Now when He came into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people confronted Him as He was teaching, and said, "By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority?" (Matthew 21:23).

Dick Vitale was an ESPN college basketball broadcaster in the 1980s through the early 2000s. His commentary and catchphrases during a game were legendary - “This is awesome, baby!”, “He’s a diaper dandy” (an outstanding freshman player), and “He’s Mr. Pac Man” (a player who eats you alive on defense). But the one that still rings in my ears is “With authority!”, a player who slam-dunks the basketball with such power it shakes the backboard.

November 8, 2021

And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith (Matthew 21:22).

As a boy growing up in church, I was told that if I wanted the Lord to do something for me or for someone else, I had to pray in faith, believing He would answer my prayer. I was told that praying in faith meant to pray repeatedly, that repeating the same prayer was a sign of faith.

As a young man in college, I was told that if I wanted the Lord to do something for me or for someone else, I had to pray in faith, believing He would answer my prayer. I was told that praying in faith meant to pray once and leave it at the altar of faith; that praying once was a sign of faith, but praying repeatedly was a sign of doubt. Who was right? What is right?

November 7, 2021

When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?” And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith” (Matthew 21:20-22).

The day after Jesus rebuked the fig tree, He and the disciples passed by it on the way from Bethany to Jerusalem. Mark 11:20 tells us the tree was withered from the roots up. That the tree demonstrated physical death overnight is the point of the parable Jesus then told the disciples.

November 6, 2021

TRUST IN THE LORD
Saturday, November 06, 2021

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).

We will take a break from Matthew’s Gospel to reflect on a personal word from King Solomon. To ‘trust’ is to lean on with the whole body, fully rest upon, to be completely strengthened by something or someone. We call this faith, and so it is, but our concept of faith tends to be more emotionally motivated than directed by our will; “I feel like I can (should) trust in the Lord” vs. “I will trust in the Lord no matter what.”

November 5, 2021

But to what shall I liken this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their companions, and saying: 'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we mourned to you, and you did not lament' (Matthew 11:16-17).

Children love to play games. The children mentioned in the above text were playing ‘wedding’ and ‘funeral’. As children we played ‘hide and seek’, ‘red rover’, and ‘leapfrog’ with each other - remember, I’m old. Adults are adept at playing games - power games, pity games, games of manipulation, etc. We also play games with God. Israel played games with God for centuries.

November 4, 2021

And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, "Let no fruit grow on you ever again." Immediately the fig tree withered away (Matthew 21:19).

Not everyone who says he/she’s a Christian is a Christian. There must be evidence. There will be fruit. There is a two-fold consideration regarding fruit bearing - internal spiritual fruit and external spiritual fruit. If there is internal spiritual fruit, there will be external spiritual fruit.

November 3, 2021

Now in the morning, as He returned to the city, He was hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves. . . (Matthew 21:18-22).

November 2, 2021

But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple and saying, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" they were indignant and said to Him, "Do You hear what these are saying?" And Jesus said to them, "Yes. Have you never read, 'Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants you have perfected praise'?" Then He left them and went out of the city to Bethany, and He lodged there (Matthew 21:15-17).

November 1, 2021

But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple and saying, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" they were indignant and said to Him, "Do You hear what these are saying?" And Jesus said to them, "Yes. Have you never read, 'Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants you have perfected praise'?" Then He left them and went out of the city to Bethany, and He lodged there (Matthew 21:15-17).

October 31, 2021

And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant . . . (Matthew 21:14-15).

October 30, 2021

And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them (Matthew 21:14).

October 29, 2021

Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD. And the LORD said to Satan, "From where do you come?" Satan answered the LORD and said, "From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it." Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause." So Satan answered the LORD and said, "Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life.

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