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.

January 17, 2022

Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming (Matthew 24:40-42).

These words of Jesus are not intended to set a formula for those who are saved and those who are not when Jesus comes again; it does not teach that in the 2nd coming of Christ 50% of those alive will enter into the Kingdom and 50% will not. Rather, the emphasis is on the suddenness and unexpectedness of His return - you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.

January 16, 2022

But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be (Matthew 24:37-39).

January 15, 2022

But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only (Matthew 24:36).

Mark 13:32-33, But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. These verses provide another difficulty in interpreting Scripture regarding the 2nd coming of Christ. Since Jesus is God incarnate, and God knows all things, then why didn’t Jesus know the day and hour of His return? How was it possible for Jesus Christ not to know this? How could He have been ignorant of anything in light of John 1:1-18?

January 14, 2022

Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away (Matthew 24:35).

January 13, 2022

Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away (Matthew 24:32-35).

This is another controversial text regarding the end-time. Many interpret the budding fig tree as the time when Israel became a nation on May 14, 1948. If that is the case, how do we interpret, Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place?

January 12, 2022

And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other (Matthew 24:31).

During the 7-year Tribulation a great, innumerable host of people will come to faith in Jesus Christ as a result of the Gospel ministry of the 144,000 Jewish converts (Revelation 7:1-8), the 2 Great Witnesses (Revelation 11:1-2), and the 3 angels of heaven (Revelation 14:6-13). Many new Christians will be martyred for their faith, but many will survive the last great holocaust. This text speaks of those who survive.

January 11, 2022

Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory (Matthew 24:30).

A ‘sign’ (semeion) is ‘an indication, especially ceremonially or supernaturally - a miracle, token, wonder’. The text tells us that the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven. Truly mysterious - or is it? Scripture has not left us without some explanation.

January 10, 2022

Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken (Matthew 24:29).

One of the tensions a student of Scripture has when reading prophetic and apocalyptic literature is deciding what is to be interpreted literally and what is to be interpreted figuratively. There is no doubt both the literal and figurative are involved in interpreting the Revelation. Case in point, the churches in Revelation 1. The 7 churches listed were literal, physical, local churches that had literal, spiritual, local issues. But do they also represent the Christian church as a whole? Many would say yes - literally and figuratively.

January 9, 2022

For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together (Matthew 24:27-28).

Jesus said (John 14:1-3), Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. The angels said to the disciples (Acts 1:11), Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.

January 8, 2022

Friends:
 

January 8, 2022

Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it (Matthew 24:23-26).

January 7, 2022

And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened (Matthew 24:22).

In those times when God punished Israel, or allowed Israel to be punished, for its disobedience, He left a remnant alive - those whose faith was in Him and not in men, idols, or their own righteousness. This was true when Assyria conquered the northern 10 tribes (721 B.C.), when Babylon conquered the southern 2 tribes (586 B.C.), when Rome conquered Israel (70 A.D.), it is true now when godless nations have tried to annihilate Jews and Christians (Nazism, Communism, Islam, etc.), and it will be true in the coming Tribulation.

January 6, 2022

Therefore when you see the 'ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (whoever reads, let him understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. (Matthew 24:15-21).

January 5, 2022

Therefore when you see the 'ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (whoever reads, let him understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. (Matthew 24:15-21).

January 4, 2022

Therefore when you see the 'ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (whoever reads, let him understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened (Matthew 24:15-22).

January 3, 2022

Therefore when you see the 'ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (Matthew 24:15).

The words, ‘abomination of desolation’ is a Hebrew expression, meaning an abominable or hateful destroyer. The Gentiles were called an abomination by the Jews. Then he [the Apostle Peter] said to them, "You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean (Acts 10:28). Calling someone ‘unclean’ was another way of saying he/she was abominable.

January 2, 2022

And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come (Matthew 24:14).

Jesus has now shifted His focus from the end of the Jewish age to the end of the human age, the age that we are now living in. It will include the coming rapture, 7-year tribulation, and 1,000-year millennial kingdom. During this time, the Gospel of Jesus Christ will be declared throughout the entire world to the extent that every person will have had heard or read the Gospel and had an opportunity to accept it for themselves.

January 1, 2022

For what is your life? (James 4:14).

As we begin this new year, I thought it good for us to consider this question posed by our Lord’s half-brother in his letter to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad (James 1:1). It is a profound question and worthy of our attention given the trials we have faced over the past 2 years and the uncertainty that lay ahead of us.

December 31, 2021

But he who endures to the end shall be saved (Matthew 24:13).

These words are some of the most controversial in the New Testament. Do these words teach a salvation by personal effort or works; that a person who doggedly hangs in there until the very end will be saved? Do these words teach that the truly saved person will persevere to the end of his/her life or to the end of the age; that a person who doggedly hangs in there until the very end is a person who truly is saved? What do you think? Better yet, what does the Bible say?

December 30, 2021

And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved (Matthew 24:12-13).

The word ‘lawless’ (anomia) means illegal or violation of law; wickedness; unrighteousness. Jesus predicted that before the end of the age of Judaism, Israel would become increasingly lawless. We often think of lawlessness in terms of civil law, but Jesus spoke about spiritual lawlessness, which Israel had already become through the Scribes and Pharisees. 

December 29, 2021

Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many (Matthew 24:11).

Josephus tells us that during the siege of Jerusalem, “The tyrannical zealots who ruled the city suborned ‘many false prophets’ to declare that aid would be given to the people from heaven. This was done to prevent them from attempting to desert, and to inspire confidence in God” (“Jewish Wars”, book 6, chapter 5, sections 2 & 3).

December 28, 2021

And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another (Matthew 24:10).

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the great Pastor/Preacher of London in the 1800s said, “By perseverance the snail reached the Ark.” Think of the adversity, the danger of being stepped on and crushed, the pressure of wanting to keep up with the others to get to safety, but the inability to do so. Yet they made it. Perseverance. Staying the course. Being faithful.

December 27, 2021

Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake (Matthew 24:9).

When Jesus described the days leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, He also described the days leading up to the future age that would end in the destruction of the world. Both eras would see the escalation of persecution toward those who are God’s people - the Jews and Christians prior to A.D. 70, and the Jews and Christians in the 7-year Tribulation.

December 26, 2021

And Jesus answered and said to them: "Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows (Matthew 24:4-8).

December 25, 2021

“The fireplace just don’t warm our hearts like it ought to, the carols seem so hollow to our ears.
A million miles from home we’re feeling lonesome - lonesome for the place we love so dear.
We know the perfect way to spend a holiday, why don’t You come and take us home with You.
Why don’t You come and take us home for Christmas, wrap us all up in arms of shining love;
Ride us through the sky on magic sleighs, we’ll be the gifts for Your birthday, why don’t You come and take us home with You” (Reba Rambo).

December 24, 2021

Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" And Jesus answered and said to them: "Take heed that no one deceives you (Matthew 24:3-4)

The 3rd question the disciples asked focused on the end of the age. It must be made clear here that we understand the question before we try to answer it. The question was regarding the end of the ‘age’ (aion: a specific period; an era), not regarding the end of the ‘world’ (cosmos: an orderly arrangement; the world, including its inhabitants). Follow the sequence of their questions:

December 23, 2021

Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" And Jesus answered and said to them: "Take heed that no one deceives you (Matthew 24:3-4)

December 22, 2021

Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" (Matthew 24:3).

The disciples who asked these questions were Peter, James, John, and Andrew (Mark 13:3). Evidently, they had been discussing the horrific comments of Jesus regarding the destruction of the Temple as they left the Temple courtyard. Wanting to know more about this matter, they asked Jesus privately what He meant.

December 21, 2021

And Jesus said to them, "Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down" (Matthew 24:2).

The Temple in Jerusalem was the one great monument to Israel’s glory as a nation. It was the symbol of God’s presence, power, provision, and protection for the Jews. They believed as long as the Temple stood in Jerusalem, God stood with them as a nation. For Jesus to prophesy the destruction of the Temple was blasphemous. No nation could conquer God. 

December 20, 2021

Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them, "Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down" (Matthew 24:1-2).

It was Tuesday afternoon of Passion Week. Jesus and the disciples left the Temple complex, walked out of the city of Jerusalem, across the Kidron Valley and up the slope of the Mount of Olives. It was here Jesus gave the Olivet Discourse. All of His discourses since Matthew 21:23 were in the temple courtyards. But He had left the Temple complex for the last time until He returns in the 2nd coming when He establishes His earthly Kingdom after the Great Tribulation.

December 19, 2021

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!” (Matthew 23:37-39).

December 18, 2021

Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation (Matthew 23:36).

And it did. In less than 40 years after Jesus spoke these words, Rome grew tired of the rebellious obstinance of the Jews and completely destroyed Jerusalem, Judea, and Galilee. This was in keeping with what Jesus described as the ‘Day of Vengeance’ (Luke 21:22). And, in keeping with their self-condemnation (Matthew 27:24-26), they have continued to suffer under the righteous judgment of God ever since.

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).

Pages