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.

September 14, 2020

Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast (Matthew 9:15).

It is believed that John the Baptist had already been arrested and put in prison by Herod Antipas. This would have prompted the ‘days of fasting’ for John’s disciples since fasting was often associated with sorrow and grief.

When asked why the Pharisees and the disciples of John practiced fasting, but Jesus’ disciples did not, Jesus responded with three parables or illustrations. The first is taken from the ancient wedding ceremony.

September 13, 2020

Then the disciples of John came to Him, saying, "Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?" (Matthew 9:14).

Fasting is a spiritual discipline. It is not an activity engaged to lose weight or to impress people on one’s piousness. It is personal and it is private. In fact, when a person fasts no one is to know about it except the person and God.

September 12, 2020

Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.” For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners (Matthew 9:12-13).

Jesus said, wisdom is justified by her deeds (Matthew 11:19). By that He meant those who follow wisdom are wise; they understand the motives behind certain actions and approve of them.

September 11, 2020

And Levi made Him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at His disciples, saying, "Why do You eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?" And Jesus answered them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance" (Luke 5:29-32).

True Christianity is never silent. It expresses itself in many ways, but it always expresses itself. It seeks no retirement, rather it delights in advancing the Kingdom of Jesus Christ with those who have yet to hear. 

September 10, 2020

As Jesus went on from there, He saw a man called Matthew, sitting in the tax collector's booth; and He said to him, "Follow Me!" And he got up and followed Him (Matthew 9:9).

The call of Matthew to discipleship is consistent with the call of every person to follow Jesus. Those not called by Jesus (i.e. the Scribe - Matthew 8:19; a learner - Matthew 8:21) usually turn back. Those called by Jesus (except for Judas Iscariot) are saved and enter into His Kingdom.

September 9, 2020

And behold, some people brought to Him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, "Take heart, My son; your sins are forgiven." And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, "This Man is blaspheming" (Matthew 9:2-3).

The word 'blaspheme' originally meant 'to speak evil of someone', to hurt a person with words, to blame someone unjustly. When applied to Jesus, it meant to charge Him with acts and attributes He didn't possess, or to say He was evil and godless. It also meant to say or do something by which God's name is dishonored or insulted; to attempt to do or say in one's own name which only God can do. That's the meaning here.

September 8, 2020

And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Take heart, My son; your sins are forgiven" (Matthew 9:2).

How powerful is a person’s faith in Jesus Christ? We often think of faith as affecting self - like the leper in Matthew 8:1-4, or the woman with the blood problem in Matthew 9:20-22. But faith also reaches out on behalf of others. I know many of us are intercessors for others, and I personally thank you for your prayers for me, my family, and our ministry together.

We have before us an example of the power of faith when it is exercised on behalf of others. This is a well known story of a paralyzed man whose friends took him to see Jesus. This same account is recorded in Mark 2:3-12 and Luke 5:18-26 with some added details. 

September 7, 2020

The herdsmen ran away, and went to the city and reported everything, including what had happened to the demoniacs. And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus; and when they saw Him, they implored Him to leave their region (Matthew 8:33-34).

September 6, 2020

And they cried out, saying, "What business do we have with each other, Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?" (Matthew 8:29).

Jesus had demonstrated His divine authority over the spiritual life in His Sermon on the Mount. He demonstrated that same authority over nature by calming the storm on the Sea of Galilee. Now He demonstrated that same authority over evil spirits.

Satan and his demonic hosts know who Jesus is. They know He is the Son of God. They have a history that goes all the way back to heaven prior to the creation of the universe. At this point they knew they were standing before the 2nd Person of the divine Trinity, and that frightened them. Why? Note their question, Have You come here to torment us before the time?

September 5, 2020

When He had come to the other side, to the country of the Gergesenes, there met Him two demon-possessed men, coming out of the tombs, exceedingly fierce, so that no one could pass that way (Matthew 8:28).

While in seminary I took a class on puppeteering. The final for the class was to perform a puppet show for an orphanage in San Francisco, not far from the seminary. Four of us drove to the site and performed for the children. After the show, one of the guys suggested we drive to China Town and have supper. So we headed out across town.

September 4, 2020

When He had come to the other side, to the country of the Gergesenes, there met Him two demon-possessed men (Matthew 8:28).

Demons are fallen angels. They are extremely powerful (2 Kings 19:35; Psalm 103:20; 2 Peter 2:11). Some are as powerful as holy angels (Daniel 10:4-13). They are far more powerful than humans (Ephesians 6:10-18). They have superior intelligence (Ezekiel 28:3-4), strength (Mark 5:4; Acts 19:16), power to perform signs and wonders (2 Thessalonians 2:9), and know humans better than we know ourselves since they have been around since the beginning of the human race. They are not limited by time or space, and can take on any form they choose (ghosts, strange and unnatural phenomena, etc.).

September 3, 2020

When He had come to the other side, to the country of the Gergesenes, there met Him two demon-possessed men (Matthew 8:28).

Back in the late 1960s and early 70s Satanism exploded to the forefront of American culture. He’s always been around and active, but he became really popular with the production of “The Exorcist” in 1973. It was a frightening movie that scared the socks off of folks. What made the movie (and others like it) different from Frankenstein, the Wolfman, and Dracula, was its saturation of the demonic. Monsters are a figment of one’s imagination. Demons aren’t. They’re real. They’re really evil. And they’re everywhere.

September 2, 2020

And the men marveled, saying, "What sort of Man is this, that even winds and sea obey Him?"  (Matthew 8:27).

September 1, 2020

. . . He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm (Matthew 8:26).

There is a wonderful contrast between the power of the storm and the power of the Savior. In the midst of the storm, the wind and waves not only mastered the physical lives of the disciples, they also mastered their souls - they were afraid they would die. On the other hand, in the midst of the storm, the wind and waves were mastered by the Lord Jesus Christ who created them.

August 31, 2020

He said to them, "Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?" (Matthew 8:26).

Have you ever been in a situation where you were truly afraid for your life? We know life is a dangerous reality, but sometimes there are specific incidences where the danger is very real and the threat to life and limb is unmistakable.

Some of the disciples were experienced fishermen. Certainly those at the helm of this boat were expert boatmen. They would have known not to go out on the Sea of Galilee if there was the possibility of a storm. But there were times when storms happened suddenly and without warning. This was one of those times. Whether this storm was orchestrated by Jesus for just this occasion or not, I’ll leave that to you to figure out.

August 30, 2020

Another of the disciples said to Him, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father." And Jesus said to him, "Follow Me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead" (Matthew 8:21-22).

Note the difference in this encounter with Jesus. In the previous encounter it was a Scribe that came to Jesus. Scribes were, for the most part, hostile toward Jesus. They often approached Jesus in order to argue with, or entrap Him. Here it is a ‘disciple’ that approached Jesus. This disciple was not one of the original 12, but a ‘learner’, someone in the crowd that followed Jesus. In fact, Jesus had not yet called the 12 men that would be His immediate disciples.

August 29, 2020

Now when Jesus saw a crowd around Him, He gave orders to go over to the other side. And a scribe came up and said to Him, "Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go." And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head" (Matthew 8:18-20).

August 28, 2020

This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: "He took our illnesses and bore our diseases" (Matthew 8:17).

This text is connected to the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law that saw many others come to Jesus for help and healing. What is significant is that Matthew is quoting the prophet Isaiah (53:4) to explain the purpose of the healing ministry of Jesus.

It must be stated that the primary purpose of the incarnation of Jesus Christ was to bring spiritual healing to those lost and dying in sin. He gave His life as the atoning sacrifice for sin when He was crucified on the cross. That’s why Jesus came to us.

August 27, 2020

When Jesus came into Peter's home, He saw his mother-in-law lying sick in bed with a fever. He touched her hand, and the fever left her; and she got up and waited on Him (Matthew 8:14-15).

Anyone who is familiar with the New Testament knows the public ministry of Jesus was fraught with healing the sick, diseased, handicapped, and demon possessed. In many instances those who were on the receiving end of Jesus’ healing power were Jewish men. But there were occasions when Jesus ministered to Gentiles and to women. In the case of the Roman officer we see the grace and mercy of Jesus extended to the Gentiles. In the case of Peter’s mother-in-law we see that same hand of grace and mercy extended to a woman.

August 26, 2020

When Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who followed Him, "Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith" (Matthew 8:10).

Faith is not passive, it is active or it is not faith. James said, What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead (James 2:14-17).

August 25, 2020

And a leper came to Him and bowed down before Him, and said, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean" (Matthew 8:2).

It is often said the word ‘if’ is the biggest little word in the English language. It has all the possibilities of great achievement and all the potential of great adversity. In the Greek language the word translated ‘if’ is ean and, in this text, should be understood as something that will probably happen in the future.

August 24, 2020

And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at His teaching, for He was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes (Matthew 7:28-29).

We all have our favorite pastor/teachers. We listen to them and talk to others about them because they are able to speak to us in a way that ‘connects’ with who we are and where we’re at in life. Two of my favorite pastor/teachers are John MacArthur and Charles Stanley. You may like Ravi Zacharias, David Jeremiah, J. Vernon McGee, R.C. Sproul, Alistair Begg, Albert Mohler, Rick Warren, or another person who is solid in the Word of God and in the Christian faith.

August 23, 2020

And everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it (Matthew 7:26-27).

August 22, 2020

Everyone then who hears these words of Mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock (Matthew 7:24-25).

In the many years I spent in academia, I’ve encountered, and even studied under individuals I call ‘intellectual idiots’. They were highly intelligent, but lacked wisdom - they didn’t know what to do with the knowledge they had except to parrot it to others in a classroom setting.

August 21, 2020

Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven (Matthew 7:21).

Jesus did not advocate a ‘works salvation’ in this verse. If that were true, then He lied to the repentant thief on the cross who said to Him, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” and He said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in paradise.” The man died that very hour, so he had no time to do anything in the Kingdom of God that we would consider ‘works’ worthy of salvation. Yet Jesus promised him eternal life that very moment.

August 20, 2020

Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven (Matthew 7:21).

Previously I said we would look at ‘Actions Speak Louder than Words’. We’ll hold off on that until next time because a dear lady wrote to me, “This has to be one of the scariest verses in the Bible.” She’s right. But if it motivates us to examine our spiritual standing in light of God’s Word, then so be it.

August 19, 2020

Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven (Matthew 7:21).

Things are repeated in the Bible for emphasis. The fact that some who will stand before Jesus Christ on the day of judgment and say, ‘Lord, Lord’ stresses the fact they know who Jesus is. This is further demonstrated in verse 22 when they repeat ‘Your name’ three times. So, these are people who, in this life, professed to be Christian.

August 18, 2020

Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven (Matthew 7:21).

This is the summum bonum of the Sermon on the Mount. It is true that, ". . . one can never know with absolute certainty the spiritual state of any other individual" (Craig Blomberg). It is also true that God knows the spiritual state of an individual with absolute certainty. And it is also true that we can know our own spiritual state ourselves.

August 17, 2020

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. (Matthew 7:15-20).

August 16, 2020

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves (Matthew 7:15).

I was on staff as Youth and Education leader in a small church in S. California. One Sunday I saw a group of 5 people enter and sit on the back row in the sanctuary after the service had started. They looked like a pulpit committee to me. I looked at Pastor Findley to see if he had seen them. He did, but the look on his face was not one of appreciation. 

August 14, 2020

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few (Matthew 7:13-14).

This is a letter written to a Melbourne, Australia, daily newspaper.

August 12, 2020

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few (Matthew 7:13-14).

The narrow gate is Jesus Christ. The wide gate is everyone and everything else that promises salvation. The narrow gate opens up to the path that is hard. The wide gate opens up to the path that is easy. The hard way is the way of holiness and righteousness. The easy way is the way of ungodliness and worldliness. Both gates and paths lead to eternity, but the narrow gate and hard path leads to eternal life, whereas the wide gate and easy path leads to eternal damnation.

August 11, 2020

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few (Matthew 7:13-14).

The narrow gate is Jesus Christ. The wide gate is everyone and everything else that promises salvation. The narrow gate leads to the way that is hard. The wide gate leads to the way that is easy. The hard way is the way of holiness and righteousness. The easy way is the way of ungodliness and worldliness. There are two gates to eternity and there are two ways to travel to eternity.

August 9, 2020

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few (Matthew 7:13-14).

The Marvel Cave, a cavern ca. 500 feet underground, is one of the main attractions at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri. The Cathedral Room in the cavern is large enough to stand the Statue of Liberty. The entrance into the room is so narrow and the ceiling so low only one person at a time can squeeze through.

July 25, 2020

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? (Matthew 6:25).

Over the door of my Old Testament Professor’s door in Seminary was a sign that read, “Your life is God’s gift to you, what you make of it is your gift to God.” I’ve thought of those words many times since my seminary days. My life has been filled with successes and struggles, good days and bad, just like everyone else. But one thing I have known through it all - God has been faithful to provide for my needs and the needs of my family, without fail. That’s His promise to all who trust in Him faithfully.

July 24, 2020

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? (Matthew 6:25).
 

July 23, 2020

No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money (Matthew 6:24).

Someone ask me along time ago, “Man, how did Solomon make it with all those wives to deal with?” The answer is, “He didn’t.” What began as a promising career as the King of Israel ended up a sad and lamented epitaph of a life ruined with too many masters. In truth, when you read Ecclesiastes 2:1-11 you will realize the problem was not with Solomon’s wives, his wealth, his fame, or even his status as king. The problem with Solomon was Solomon. He did not have a ‘healthy eye’ or a ‘single eye’ (6:22-23). God was not his master, he was his own master.

July 22, 2020

     The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! (Matthew 6:22-23).

    It is a given that most of us take our eyes for granted . . . until something goes wrong with our sight, then we get very concerned. In this text Jesus used our eyesight as an illustration for what He had just talked about – focusing our attention on the Lord and His ministry through our generosity.

July 21, 2020

     . . . but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:20-21).

July 20, 2020

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal (Matthew 6:19).

What do you prize most of all in life? What is it that you treasure? Family? Peace? Contentment? Health? Safety? Do you treasure the material things of life - wealth, fine clothes or foods, a luxurious car or house? Or do you treasure status, popularity, acceptance, power, influence?

July 19, 2020

And your Father who sees in secret will reward you (Matthew 6:18).

July 18, 2020

And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you (Matthew 6:16-18).

Fasting is the abstaining from food and drink out of necessity or as a religious practice. In Scripture, fasting is primarily a religious activity that expresses grief or sorrow.

July 17, 2020

For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions (Matthew 6:14-15).

These two verses are not a part of the Model Prayer, but are a commentary of Jesus on a significant point of the prayer. Jesus repeated one of the petitions in the prayer for a purpose, . . . forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors (v.12).

July 16, 2020

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen (Matthew 6:13).
 
This is properly called a doxology - a hymn of praise - akin to our “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.”
 

July 15, 2020

     . . . forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors (Matthew 6:12).

June 15, 2020

COVENANT
Monday, June 15, 2020

    It was also said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce' (Matthew 5:31).

June 14, 2020

LOVE AND MARRIAGE
Sunday, June 14, 2020

    It was also said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.' But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery (Matthew 5:31-32).

June 13, 2020

SELF CONTROL
Saturday, June 13, 2020

    If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. . . . And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell (Matthew 5:29-30).

June 12, 2020

Friday, June 12, 2020

    But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matthew 5:28).

June 11, 2020

LUST
Thursday, June 11, 2020

     You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matthew 5:27-28).

June 10, 2020

STUBBORNNESS
Wednesday, June 10, 2020

    Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny (Matthew 5:25-26).

June 9, 2020

HYPOCRISY
Tuesday, June 09, 2020

    So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift (Matthew 5:23-24).

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