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.

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).

November 3, 2020

Then He began to denounce the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent (Matthew 11:20).

This statement is one of many in the Gospels that counter the popular belief that Jesus was a mild mannered, compassionate, and forgiving Man who never judged or rebuked anyone. There are several human characteristics Jesus demonstrated in His 3 year ministry that are not translated very well in the English Bible. Jesus did have a dry wit about Him. He was a master of the pun. He would often use a play on words. And He did condemn people and cities.

November 2, 2020

But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places, who call out to the other children, and say, “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.” For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, “He has a demon!” The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, “Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!” Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds (Matthew 11:16-19).

November 1, 2020

He who has ears to hear, let him hear (Matthew 11:15).

One of the rules to effective communication is to engage in ‘active hearing’. When I first came across that phrase it was in a counseling course in college. Since then I have heard it used a lot. When you think about it, it makes sense.

How many times have we, as men, heard our significant other ask pointedly, “Are you listening to what I’m saying!?” or “Did you hear me!?” This usually happens when our mind is thinking about something else other than what is being said - bottom line, we’re not paying attention.

October 31, 2020

For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come (Matthew 11:13-14).

From Genesis 3:15 onward through the Law, Writings, and Prophets, all the way to John the Baptizer the message of Scripture is clear - the Messiah of God will come. The Old Testament people lived for that hope. They believed God’s promise and looked for its fulfillment. But nothing was said in Scripture that the appearing of the Messiah would be immediate. It took nearly 3,000 years before Christ came as Israel’s Messiah. But His appearing was at the right time.

October 30, 2020

From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force. For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come (Matthew 11:12-14).

Violence. It’s the product of sin. The world knew no violence until sin entered into the human experience. Who’s behind it? Satan. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12).

October 29, 2020

Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he (Matthew 11:11).

There’s and old saying that goes, “The darkest day is lighter than the brightest night.” John the Baptizer was the greatest of the Old Testament prophets because his ministry was unlike the prophets who came before him. John MacArthur said, “He was the greatest human being who had lived until that time. From an earthly perspective, John’s character and calling made him the greatest man yet born besides Jesus Himself.”

October 28, 2020

What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who wear soft clothing are in kings' palaces! But what did you go out to see? (Matthew 11:7-8).

Sometimes things are not as they seem. Sometimes people are more than they appear to be. Such was the case with John the Baptizer. Jesus wanted to know what the people thought of John the Baptizer, so He asked two questions regarding his character.

October 27, 2020

As these men were going away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John, "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who wear soft clothing are in kings' palaces! But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and one who is more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written, “Behold, I send My messenger ahead of You, who will prepare Your way before You.” (Matthew 11:7-10).

October 26, 2020

Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the Gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me” (Matthew 11:4-6).

Down through the ages people have had their doubts about Jesus. Today there are those who do not regard Jesus as Son of God, Messiah, Lord and Savior, etc. even though they recognize Him as a great teacher, the leader of the Christian religion, and even a prophet from God.

October 25, 2020

Now when John, while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to Him, "Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?" (Matthew 11:2-3).

Jesus said John the Baptist was greater than the prophets who preceded him (Matthew 11:9). John had a more complete understanding of Jesus as Messiah and his message was more specific than theirs. Plus, he was specifically chosen to prepare Israel for the Messiah. It’s hard to believe he would have doubts about Jesus - or did he?

October 24, 2020

He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward. And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward (Matthew 10:40-42).

October 23, 2020

He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me (Matthew 10:40).

Not everyone has or will believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Not everyone has or will receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Jesus said (Matthew 7:13-14), Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

October 22, 2020

He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it (Matthew 10:39).

I remember in the old Sears catalogues there were pictured certain products that had three different classifications, ‘good’, ‘better’, and ‘best’ with a graded cost for each classification. Same product (i.e. vacuum cleaner, etc.) but three grades of quality. You don’t see that anymore. In fact you don’t see catalogues much anymore. It seems everything is done on-line.

The word ‘life’ in this text is psuche (breath; spirit), not zoe (physical, biological life). However, Jesus used the word in both its temporal and eternal sense.

October 21, 2020

He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me (Matthew 10:37-38).

The words of Jesus in these two verses are difficult to accept. Relationships in this life are valuable and necessary. God created man and woman and gave them the responsibility to procreate and to ‘fill up’ the earth (i.e. populate; Genesis 1:28).The family was the first institution created by God in the earth for the benefit of mankind. So why would Jesus seek to destroy that relationship by driving a wedge between the potential disciple and his/her family?

October 20, 2020

And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me (Matthew 10:38).

What is your cross to bear? My grandmother said her cross to bear was grandpa! Some believe their cross to bear is an illness or physical or mental disability. Some even think it’s their job. None of these define the ‘cross’ that Jesus was talking about.

October 19, 2020

He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me (Matthew 10:37).

This can be a very startling, even discouraging verse to a non-Christian or a new Christian. But those who have walked with Jesus Christ for some time and have matured in faith understand the meaning of these words.

October 18, 2020

Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to “Set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household” (Matthew 10:34-36).

I have witnessed first-hand the impact Jesus has had in a person’s life and how that person was ostracized by the family for becoming a Christian. I have known Jews and Muslims who were disowned by their families for becoming Christians. One person was issued a death certificate by his father for confessing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. In other words, he was dead to them.

October 17, 2020

Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to “Set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household” (Matthew 10:34-36).

Some people who read this text feel it is atypical of the loving, compassionate nature of Jesus. In our mind’s eye we see Jesus as drawing people together, especially families, rather than creating division among people.

October 16, 2020

Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven (Matthew 10:32-33).

We need to clear up a misconception. Verse 32 is an Aramaic ‘idiom’ (an expression that has a meaning not specific of the individual words, i.e. ‘raining cats and dogs’). The English translation is a Greek translation of the Aramaic idiom which should read “everyone who confesses in Me before men, I will also confess in him before My Father who is in heaven.” This is a most important point to make, and explains why much of our efforts in witnessing proves fruitless.

October 15, 2020

But the very hairs of your head are all numbered (Matthew 10:30).

I remember when I first read Psalm 147:4, He (God) counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them. I was just a boy, about 10 years old. I waited until dark to look up into the night sky to see if I could count the stars. We lived in Arkansas, on the top of a small mountain, far away from the city lights. I remember the night being crystal clear with the stars shining brightly. Of course there were far too many stars to count. In fact, I lost count several times! 

October 14, 2020

Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father (Matthew 10:29).
 
Sparrows are so common we don’t take note of them much anymore. They are not as large as an eagle nor as colorful as a peacock that we would notice them. They’re just a common, ordinary bird. While we don’t care much about sparrows, God does. They are part of His creation.
 

October 13, 2020

Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Matthew 10:28).

October 12, 2020

What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops (Matthew 10:27).

We are living in a day when truth is a rare commodity. It seems you can’t trust what you read, hear, or even see anymore. We’ve always had ‘fake news’, but it is more prevalent now than ever. People have taken to heart the right to ‘freedom of speech’, I just wish they would take to heart the right to ‘freedom of truth’.

October 11, 2020

Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows (Matthew 10:26-31).

October 10, 2020

A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign the members of his household! (Matthew 10:24-25).

Jesus spoke to His disciples regarding their work, which was His work through them, and the response of the people to their work, which was their response to His work. Jesus said some would not receive them or their message just as many did not receive Him or His message. But there would be others who would respond to Jesus through their work. In this way the disciple is like his Teacher, but not above his Teacher.

October 9, 2020

But whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes (Matthew 10:23).

This is a tough passage to understand because of the last clause, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes. It is clear Jesus was not talking about His 2nd coming when He reigns on earth for 1,000 years (Revelation 20:1-7). Matthew wrote his gospel long after Jesus was crucified, resurrected, and ascended to heaven. And the context of these words have to do with persecution for spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So these words have something to do with the work of the apostles before Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.

October 8, 2020

Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved (Matthew 10:21-22).

As stated yesterday, “Facing persecution has been, and will always be inescapable for the Christian and the Christian church. This is not a deterrent for witnessing and ministry, but a motivation to continue to press the Gospel to others.”

October 7, 2020

But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues; and you will even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you (Matthew 10:17-20).

Facing persecution has been, and will always be inescapable for the Christian and the Christian church. This is not a deterrent for witnessing and ministry, but a motivation to continue to press the Gospel to others.

October 6, 2020

Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves (Matthew 10:16).

Most of us don't consider ourselves to be courageous people. For the most part we want to live our lives in peace and pursue our dreams and goals with as little controversy as possible. But we live in a world that doesn't permit that.

October 5, 2020

Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet. "Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city” (Matthew 10:14-15).

Sodom and Gomorrah experienced the wrath of God for their unrepentant sin. But there is a greater judgment on those who have opportunity to believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ yet refuse.

October 4, 2020

Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet. "Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city” (Matthew 10:14-15).

Not everyone received Jesus as Messiah, or as Lord and Savior. Not everyone will. We know the Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). But there comes a time when the Lord’s patience ends and the consequences for our decision begins. That’s what’s so frightening about Hebrews 6:4-8.

October 3, 2020

And whatever city or village you enter, inquire who is worthy in it, and stay at his house until you leave that city. As you enter the house, give it your greeting. If the house is worthy, give it your blessing of peace (Matthew 10:11-13).

October 2, 2020

Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give (Matthew 10:8).

Carol Owens wrote a once popular hymn entitled “Freely, Freely.” It goes like this:

God forgave my sin in Jesus' name.
I've been born again in Jesus' name
And in Jesus' name I come to you
To share his love as he told me to.
He said 'Freely, freely you have received;, freely, freely give.
Go in my name, and because you believe others will know that I live.

October 1, 2020

And as you go, preach, saying, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 10:7).

In the western world we are not as familiar with the idea of ‘kingdom’ as our cousins ‘across the pond’. The U.S. is a republic, not a monarchy so the concept of ‘kingdom’ to us is vague at best. But even the U.K. is not a kingdom comparable to what Jesus came to bring.

The word ‘kingdom’ in this text literally means ‘reign’. The reign of heaven is the reign of God. That it is ‘at hand’ meant it had drawn (come) near. The apostles were to preach to everyone that God had come near to them in Jesus Christ.

September 30, 2020

These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: "Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 10:5-6).

Zig Zigler said, “You can’t hit a target you cannot see, and you cannot see a target you do not have.”  President Trump said, “To get momentum, you must first focus on a specific goal with passion and intensity.”

September 29, 2020

These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: "Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 10:5-6).

September 28, 2020

Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him (Matthew 10:2-4).

Dr. E.V. Hill said it was necessary for him as pastor of a large church in Los Angeles to surround himself with staff ministers from all types of backgrounds (corporate executives, police officers, ex prostitutes, ex mafia members, recovered addicts, etc.), but ready and willing to talk to people about Jesus because those were the kinds of people the church ministered to.

September 27, 2020

Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness (Matthew 10:1).
 
S.D. Gordon imagined Jesus’ return to heaven in His ascension. As the angel Gabriel greeted Jesus he asked, “Master, You died for the world, did You not?” 
Jesus replied, “Yes.” 
“You must have suffered much,” he said. 
Jesus answered, “Yes, I did.” 
“Do they all know that You died for them,” Gabriel asked.
“No. Only a few in Palestine know about it so far,” Jesus responded.
“Well then, what is Your plan for telling the rest of the world that You shed Your blood for them?” Gabriel asked.

September 26, 2020

Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness (Matthew 10:1).

In continuing with the examination of those called to ministry, we should understand that not all people called to ministry will serve as pastors. God calls people to serve as missionaries, evangelists, teachers, church leaders, and ministry leaders as well. John MacArthur identifies four phases to ministry preparation for the disciples that should also be considered for all areas of ministry today.

September 25, 2020

Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness (Matthew 10:1).

The word ‘summoned’ (proskaleomai) means ‘to call to one’s self’. Jesus called the 12 to be with Him. Here is the crux of what it means to be called into ministry by the Lord. It is important we understand this because it makes all the difference in the success or failure of a minister and his/her ministry.

September 24, 2020

Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness (Matthew 10:1).

Matthew states Jesus summoned His 12 disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. Mark 3:14-15 states Jesus ‘appointed’ 12, so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach, and to have authority to cast out the demons.

September 23, 2020

Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness (Matthew 10:1).

There were many disciples who followed Jesus from the beginning of His ministry, but He specifically chose 12 men to be with Him, to be taught and trained by Him, empowered by Him, and sent by Him to spread the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. Why 12?

September 21, 2020

Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36).

In and around the Central Valley of California you will find shepherds tending sheep. The sheep are used to ‘clean up’ fields that have been harvested of grain, or pasture land that needs to be rejuvenated or reinvigorated. Shepherds are instrumental in not only getting the sheep from one site to another, but they stay with the sheep at every site. Why?

September 20, 2020

As they were going away, behold, a demon-oppressed man who was mute was brought to him. And when the demon had been cast out, the mute man spoke. And the crowds marveled, saying, “Never was anything like this seen in Israel.” But the Pharisees said, “He casts out demons by the prince of demons” (Matthew 9:32-34).

We have dealt with the subject of demons and demon possession before (see September 3,4,5). In this text a mute man is brought to Jesus. It is possible he was a friend of the healed blind men and it was they who brought him to Jesus. If so, this is evidence of not only genuine friendship, but also of genuine faith in the Lord.

September 19, 2020

And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them: "See that no one knows about this!" (Matthew 9:30).

Blindness was not uncommon in the ancient Middle East. Hygiene was not a priority and with diseases carried by flies, sand mites, lice, etc., people suffered very poor health.

Jesus was in Capernaum where His ministry had really taken hold, so it's no wonder these two blind men had heard about His healing powers. They came to Jesus, calling Him 'Son of David'. This is a Messianic title, so this was an acknowledgment on their part that Jesus was the Messiah.

September 18, 2020

Jesus turning and seeing her said, "Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well." At once the woman was made well (Matthew 9:22; this event is also recorded, with some added detail, in Mark 5:25-34; Luke 8:43-48).

Have you ever suffered a health issue that kept you quarantined from others for a long period of time? Do you know someone like that? The Covid pandemic is just a tiny taste of what the woman in this story experienced for 12 years - and we’ve been quarantined for only 6-7 months! We know people who have cancer, MRSA, hepatitis, emphysema, etc. and can’t be around people for fear their problem would get worse. Such conditions are debilitating physically, emotionally, mentally, and sometimes spiritually.

September 17, 2020

But when the crowd had been sent out, He entered and took her by the hand, and the girl got up (Matthew 9:25).

Word was spreading about Jesus. Those who had seen the miracles of Jesus told others. Then those people told others, and so on. There had not been a prophet in Israel for 400 years, so the Jews were not used to seeing miracles. The teaching of Jesus accompanied by miracles excited the people.

September 16, 2020

Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast? . . . . Nor do people put new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wineskins burst, and the wine pours out and the wineskins are ruined; but they put new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved (Matthew 9:14,17).

In the days of Jesus, wine was stored in 'wineskins' - bottles made from the skins of sheep or goats. The argument that Jesus makes is very practical. New wineskins are pliable. They can stretch as new wine ferments in them. Old wineskins are not pliable. If you put new wine in old wineskins, they will bust because they cannot expand to accommodate the fermentation of the new wine.

September 15, 2020

Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast? . . . . No one puts a piece of un-shrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch tears away from the garment, and a worse tear is made (Matthew 9:14,16).

I remember the days when my mother would spend hours mending our clothes with needle and thread or with patches of cloth. We were not a wealthy family and could not afford to buy new clothes every time a shirt or pair of pants or shoes were ripped or worn. Today wearing ripped or worn out clothes is a fashion statement. Back then it made a different statement.

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.

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