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.

December 25, 2020

Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears to hear, let him hear! (Matthew 13:3-9).

December 24, 2020

Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears to hear, let him hear! (Matthew 13:3-9).

December 23, 2020

Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears to hear, let him hear! (Matthew 13:3-9).

December 22, 2020

Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears to hear, let him hear! (Matthew 13:3-9).

December 21, 2020

Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears to hear, let him hear! (Matthew 13:3-9).

December 20, 2020

And great multitudes were gathered together to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore. Then He spoke many things to them in parables (Matthew 13:2-3).

Jesus was a consummate teacher. He used a number of methods to reveal and emphasize spiritual truths. One such method of teaching is the parable. A parable is a story told to illustrate a truth. Telling stories using familiar characters and activities was a favorite way for ancient rabbis to hold an audience's attention while illustrating an important moral point.

December 19, 2020

On the same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the sea (Matthew 13:1).

Matthew doesn’t usually give us such cameos of Jesus. We would expect a statement as this to be found in Luke who, as a physician, revealed the more personal and human side of our Lord. 

December 18, 2020

While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him. Then one said to Him, "Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You." But He answered and said to the one who told Him, "Who is My mother and who are My brothers?" And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, "Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother" (Matthew 12:46-50).

December 17, 2020

When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, “I will return to my house from which I came.” And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation (Matthew 12:43-45).

Demons are fallen angels who supported Lucifer in his attempted coup in heaven prior to the physical creation. When he was thrown out of heaven, they were thrown out with him. Now they serve Lucifer (Satan), in disrupting, discrediting, and destroying God’s word and work throughout creation.

December 16, 2020

The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here. The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here  (Matthew 12:41-42).

December 15, 2020

But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:39-40).

Prior to this discussion, and even after this discussion, Jesus performed many miraculous ‘signs’ that authenticated His Messiahship. But faithless hearts choose not to believe, rather they will not believe. An unbelieving heart will hold to a lie rather than admit the truth. That was the extent of the godlessness of the Scribes and Pharisees. 

December 14, 2020

Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, "Teacher, we want to see a sign from You" (Matthew 12:38).

A sign in the Bible is some event or activity, natural or supernatural, that authenticated a messenger and his message. It was usually a miracle with a clear meaning regarding something specific. Signs were used two ways in the Bible: 1) to convince, and 2) to confirm. When Moses was sent to Egypt to lead the Israelites out of slavery, he was given power to perform certain signs: turn his staff into a snake, turn the Nile River to blood, the plagues of frogs, gnats, flies, etc., in order to convince the Egyptians to release the Jews and to convince the Jews to follow his leadership. 

December 13, 2020

But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned (Matthew 12:36-37).

The New Testament Theologian Donald Guthrie cites this text as one of the more difficult sayings of Jesus. The reason is because of the words ‘idle’ and ‘judgment’ and the relationship between the two. Will God hold us accountable for every off-hand word we speak? If so, what will the judgment be? How long will it take for a person to account for every ‘idle’ word that he/she speaks on the day of judgment? Is this the point Jesus wanted to make with the Pharisees?

December 12, 2020

Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things (Matthew 12:34-35).

To the Hebrews the heart was the center of life - it was the core of one’s being. If the heart was right, the life would be right. If the heart was evil, the life would be evil. Jesus emphasized that principle as He continued in His assessment of the Pharisees who accused Him of being a servant of Satan.

December 11, 2020

Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit (Matthew 12:33).

This is a recurring theme of Jesus (Matthew 3:10; 7:15-20; 13:23 and parallel passages). What is His point?

December 10, 2020

Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come (Matthew 12:31-32).

Jesus said every sin can be forgiven except the specific sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Luke is more specific, And anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but to him who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven (Luke 12:10).

December 9, 2020

He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad (Matthew 12:30).

In American politics the cardinal doctrine of success is compromise. It is “an agreement or a settlement of a dispute that is reached by each side making concessions; an ability to listen to two sides in a dispute, and devise a compromise acceptable to both” (Webster’s Dictionary). Compromise may work in American politics, but it does not work in the Kingdom of God.

December 8, 2020

Or how can one enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house (Matthew 12:29).

Repetition is an effective tool used to aid in remembering something that is important. God has used repetition throughout Scripture to drive home certain truths we cannot afford to overlook or ignore. Repetition can take the form of repeating a word or statement verbatim. It can be the repeating of a principle in different ways. Sometimes repetition takes the form of a statement followed up by an example.

December 7, 2020

And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you (Mat 12:27-28).

There are a number of techniques Jesus used to counter the arguments of the Pharisees, Scribes, and Sadducees. The primary argument was to simply tell the truth and let the truth stand on its own merit. But let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No.' For whatever is more than these is from the evil one (Matthew 5:37). Too often we make a trap for ourselves by trying to justify the truth with arguments that actually weaken it.

December 6, 2020

Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand (Matthew 12:25).

Jesus stated a principle well known by all of us. Division is a good thing when we share with others to everyone’s benefit. It is a bad thing when we disagree to the point we go our separate ways to everyone’s detriment.

We pride ourselves in our diversities. It’s good to disagree and to debate because then we are exposed to different ideas and principles we may not have considered on our own. But disagreeing and division are two different things.

December 5, 2020

But Jesus knew their thoughts (Matthew 12:25).

Sometimes you can almost know what a person is thinking by observing their body language. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle made his celebrated detective Sherlock Holmes almost omniscient through his powers of observation and deduction. But Jesus Christ was, and is omniscient.

Among the many attributes of the Godhead, there are three ‘omnies’ that are familiar in Christian theology: God is omnipotent (all powerful), omnipresent (present everywhere), and omniscient (knowing all things). These Latin words describe attributes of God that lie beyond human ability. Did Jesus possess these attributes when He walked among us? Yes.

December 4, 2020

Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, "This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons" (Matthew 12:24).

Beelzebub/Baal-zebub was a pagan Philistine demon/god worshiped in the city of Ekron in Old Testament times. The name means ‘lord of flies’ (2 Kings 1:2). After the time of the Philistines, the Jews changed the name to ‘Beelzeboul’, meaning ‘lord of dung’. Some biblical scholars believe Beelzebub was also known as the ‘god of filth’. So Beelzebub was a particularly contemptible demon, and his name was used by the Jews as an epithet for Satan.

December 3, 2020

All the crowds were amazed, and were saying, "This man cannot be the Son of David, can he?" (Matthew 12:23).

I remember attending the opera at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles as a requirement for the Music Appreciation course I took as a freshman in college. To this day I don’t remember what opera was being performed, but I do remember standing in the plaza outside the Pavilion waiting for the doors to open. As I stood looking around, not more than 3 feet away from me was June Lockhart the actress. She smiled at me and said hello. I said hello, then her bodyguards escorted her into the Pavilion. I was stunned, excited, and beside myself that I had actually met a movie and t.v. star - Timmy’s mom!

December 2, 2020

Then a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute was brought to Jesus, and He healed him, so that the mute man spoke and saw. All the crowds were amazed, and were saying, "This man cannot be the Son of David, can he?" But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, "This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons" (Matthew 12:22-24)

December 1, 2020

A battered reed He will not break off, and a smoldering wick He will not put out, until He leads justice to victory. And in His name the Gentiles will hope (Matthew 12:20-21).

By quoting the prophet Isaiah 42:1-4 in these verses, Matthew paints a portrait of our Lord as One who is meek and mild, not weak and passive, but meek and mild. It is typical of other such passages in the Old Testament that prophesy of the coming Messiah.

November 30, 2020

He will not quarrel, nor cry out; nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets (Matthew 12:19).

Isaiah said the Messiah would be called the ‘Prince of Peace’ (Isaiah 9:6). Jesus said those who are ‘peace makers’ will be blessed with happiness and will be called ‘sons of God’ (Matthew 5:9). In our text for today, the prophet Isaiah said the Lord would not ‘quarrel’. The word means to wrangle, hassle, or to brawl. To ‘cry out’ is to shout out with intensity like children screaming while they play.

November 29, 2020

Behold, My Servant whom I have chosen; My Beloved in whom My Soul is well-pleased; I will put My Spirit upon Him, and He shall proclaim justice to the Gentiles (Matthew 12:18).

Given the history, philosophy, and attitude of the Jews then and now, this prophecy of Isaiah would seem out of place. For all intents and purpose, the Jews have nothing to do with the Gentiles. The Gentiles are heathen pagans outside the commonwealth of the Kingdom of God - or so they believe. The natural result when religion becomes institutionalized is that it becomes exclusive; only those like us are welcome. But that was not the plan or intent of the Lord when He called Abraham to be the father of the Hebrew nation.

November 28, 2020

Behold, My Servant whom I have chosen; My beloved in whom My soul is well-pleased; I will put My Spirit upon Him, and He shall proclaim justice to the Gentiles (Matthew 12:18).

November 27, 2020

Behold, My Servant whom I have chosen; My Beloved in whom My soul is well-pleased (Matthew 12:18).

Jesus was confronted by the elders of Israel for disregarding their laws concerning the Sabbath - twice. In the first incident He qualified His actions by stating that the Sabbath was created for man and not man for the Sabbath. He proved this by referring to King David who, when hungry, ate the showbread from the Temple - bread that was reserved for the priests.

November 26, 2020

Behold, My Servant whom I have chosen; My Beloved in whom My soul is well-pleased (Matthew 12:18).

When you read a text like Matthew 12:18 it can be confounding and confusing. How is it that God the Father ‘chose’ Christ to be the Servant-Son-Savior? Who else would He have chosen? Who else would have qualified? And did Christ have to be ‘chosen’ to serve in this capacity? Would there have been an inkling of dissension in Him that would have caused the Father to ‘choose’ someone else? But there was no one else to ‘choose’, was there?

November 25, 2020

Behold, My Servant whom I have chosen; My Beloved in whom My soul is well-pleased (Matthew 12:18).

This quote is from Isaiah 42:1-4. It is a striking prophecy that reveals so much about God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It’s what I love so much about the Old Testament. The unvarnished truth about the Godhead is so clear and precise. I don’t understand why so many Christians ignore reading or studying it.

November 24, 2020

But Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. Many followed Him, and He healed them all, and warned them not to tell who He was. This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: “Behold, My Servant whom I have chosen; My Beloved in whom My soul is well-pleased; I will put My Spirit upon Him, and He shall proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not quarrel, nor cry out; nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets. A battered reed He will not break off, and a smoldering wick He will not put out, until He leads justice to victory. And in His name the gentiles will hope" (Matthew 12:15-21).

November 23, 2020

But Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. Many followed Him, and He healed them all, and warned them not to tell who He was. This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: “Behold, My Servant whom I have chosen; My Beloved in whom My soul is well-pleased; I will put My Spirit upon Him, and He shall proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not quarrel, nor cry out; nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets. A battered reed He will not break off, and a smoldering wick He will not put out, until He leads justice to victory. And in His name the gentiles will hope" (Matthew 12:15-21).

November 22, 2020

Departing from there, He went into their synagogue. And a man was there whose hand was withered. And they questioned Jesus, asking, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?" - so that they might accuse Him. And He said to them, "What man is there among you who has a sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will he not take hold of it and lift it out? "How much more valuable then is a man than a sheep! So then, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath." Then He said to the man, "Stretch out your hand!" He stretched it out, and it was restored to normal, like the other. But the Pharisees went out and conspired against Him, as to how they might destroy Him (Matthew 12:9-14).

November 21, 2020

But if you had known what this means, “I desire compassion, and not a sacrifice,” you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:7-8).

As a child my mother taught me to memorize passages from the Bible - many passages from the Bible. As a teenager I had no problem winning contests in the church for citing verse after verse. It wasn’t until I got to college that I realized knowing (ginosko: to know) Scripture and knowing (epiginosko: to understand) Scripture were two different things.

November 20, 2020

But I say to you that something greater than the temple is here (Matthew 12:6).

In the Book of Hebrews, the writer spends a great deal of time arguing the fact that, because of the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, Judaism became a defunct religion. The Apostle Paul discussed the same in the Book of Romans. Throughout his career he fought the Judaizers who believed Christians must honor the Mosaic Law. His argument was that the Gospel was free from the Law, grace and faith have always been the salvation of the human soul beyond the sacrificial system.

November 19, 2020

But he said unto them, “Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungered, and they that were with him; How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests?”(Matthew 12:3-4)

November 18, 2020

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath, and His disciples became hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat. But when the Pharisees saw this, they said to Him, "Look, Your disciples do what is not lawful to do on a Sabbath." (Matthew 12:1-2).

Critical hearts and closed minds have little compassion for those who are pure in heart and sincere in mind. A few of issues are reflected in this incident that takes us through verse 8.

November 17, 2020

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30).

In concluding His invitation to come to Him, Jesus states My yoke is easy and My burden is light. Reflecting back on the yoke, we understand that it is coming under the authority and will of Christ. It is salvation and, after that, living the Christ life as a co-laborer in His Kingdom.

November 16, 2020

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30).

November 15, 2020

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30).

Jesus spoke of His true character as Lord and Savior. The word ‘gentle’ is the same word ‘meek’. It means a quiet spirit. It is patience in the face of difficulties, trials, and opposition. It is not the surrender of one’s rights and it is not cowardice. It does not mean weakness. It is self-control over one’s temperament and emotions.

November 14, 2020

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30).

Back in Arkansas in the 1960s, my best friend’s father use to plow some of his fields with a team of horses. He has a perfectly good John Deere tractor in his barn, but he liked to get back to his roots by preparing the land for planting the ‘old school’ way. The horses worked side by side and were attached to each other with a harness. It’s the same thing as a yoke, but a yoke is made out of wood and is heavy while a harness is made out of leather straps and is lighter.

November 13, 2020

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30).

November 12, 2020

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30).

I use to think the ‘weary and heavy-laden’ are those Christians who grow tired in ministry and service, who struggle with living the Christian life in a lost world. I was right to believe that, and I still do. But I have also come to understand that this invitation applies to those who grow weary and heavy-laden trying to earn their way into heaven through their particular religion or belief system.

November 11, 2020

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30).

November 10, 2020

All things have been handed over to Me by My Father. . . . (Matthew 11:27).

November 9, 2020

All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him (Matthew 11:27).

In college I was fascinated by the book 'These Sought a Country' written by Robert L. Cate, Professor of Old Testament at Golden Gate Seminary. It’s a history of Israel in the Old Testament, but its literary style is such a 5th grade student can understand it. I came to know something of Dr. Cate through his biography and book, but I was thrilled to get to know him personally when I attended Golden Gate Seminary. I was a student of his for 4 years.

November 8, 2020

At that time Jesus said, "I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight” (Matthew 11:25-26).

November 7, 2020

And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you (Matthew 11:23-24).

November 6, 2020

Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. Nevertheless I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you (Matthew 11:21-22).

November 5, 2020

Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. Nevertheless I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you (Matthew 11:21-22).

There is an old saying that ‘the Lord works in mysterious ways, His wonders to behold’. The Gospel is indeed mysterious for its effect on some and not on others.

November 4, 2020

Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. Nevertheless I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you (Matthew 11:21-22).

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