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.

July 15, 2021

Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that “By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.” And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven (Matthew 18:15-18).

July 14, 2021

Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that “By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.” And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven (Matthew 18:15-18).

July 13, 2021

Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that “By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.” And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven (Matthew 18:15-18).

July 12, 2021

Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. "What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish (Matthew 18:10-14).

July 11, 2021

What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray (Matthew 18:12-13).

Jesus used parables to teach spiritual truth to people. Some of His parables were taken from the fields (The Parable of the Sower). Others were taken from the marketplace (The Parable of the Pearl of Great Price). This parable was taken from the care of livestock.

July 10, 2021

What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray (Matthew 18:12-13).

It is not often that you find Jesus asking others what they think. We know on one occasion as He and the disciples were walking through the region of Caesarea Philippi He asked the disciples, Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am? and then again, But who do you say that I am? (Matthew 16:13,15; Mark 8:27,29). Here Jesus asks the disciples, What do you think?

July 9, 2021

What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray (Matthew 18:12-13).

July 8, 2021

. . . in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven (Matthew 18:10).

It was a common belief among the Jews that the nation of Israel had a guardian angel. In fact, they believe every nation on earth is assigned a guardian angel. (Daniel 10:13) But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia.

July 7, 2021

Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish (Matthew 18:10-14).

July 6, 2021

If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire (Matthew 18:8-9).

July 5, 2021

If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire (Matthew 18:8-9).

July 4, 2021

If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire (Matthew 18:8-9).

I remember first reading this passage (many years ago) wondering, “Is Jesus really serious about this?” I couldn’t believe that Jesus would advocate self-mutilation, which I believed to be sin, in order to counter sin in my life. I really struggled with this because, like all Christians, I struggled with sin.

July 3, 2021

Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes! (Matthew 18:6-7).

The ‘little ones’ are fellow Christians. To cause them to sin is to set a stumbling block before them so they would be trapped in sin. A millstone was a very large wheel made of stone that had a beam attached to it and was pulled by a mule, horse, or ox around a trench wherein a farmer would shovel grain to be ground into powder. These millstones weighed hundreds of pounds.

July 2, 2021

Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me. Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea (Matthew 18:5-6).

July 1, 2021

Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me. Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea (Matthew 18:5-6).

Literally the text reads, “But whoever causes one of these little ones believing in Me to offend, it is better for him that a millstone turned by an ass be hung on his neck, and he be sunk in the depth of the sea.”

The word ‘to offend’ or ‘to sin’ is skandalizo from which we get the English word ‘scandal’ or ‘scandalize’. Literally it means ‘to set a snare or trap’ or ‘to cause to stumble and fall’.

June 30, 2021

Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me. Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea (Matthew 18:5-6).

As a young boy I remember my mother explaining to me how much God loves me. I raised the question when I began reading the Bible on my own. We didn’t have ‘children’s Bibles’ back then, and the only acceptable version of the Bible in my family and church was the King James Version.

June 24, 2021

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:1-6).

June 23, 2021

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" (Matthew 18:1).

In a Republic, or a Monarchy, or Dictatorship, etc., people will fight for the top position of ruler (President, King, Dictator, etc.). All too often the one who obtains that position is not the right one to have such power and authority. History has taught us that. The fact is, humans are flawed. We are fallen creatures. We are sinful, which makes us ego-centric, disposed to corruption, and unjust in our dealings with others. 

June 22, 2021

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" (Matthew 18:1).

When the Bible speaks of the Kingdom of Heaven, the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Christ, etc., it is referring to that place where the Lord reigns as the supreme ruler. In the U.S. we are not as familiar with the term ‘kingdom’ as our cousins in England or other European nations. We are a Republic - a nation in which the ultimate power is held by the people and their elected representatives, including an elected president.

June 21, 2021

When they came to Capernaum, those who collected the two-drachma tax came to Peter and said, "Does your teacher not pay the two-drachma tax?" He said, "Yes." And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, "What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?" When Peter said, "From strangers," Jesus said to him, "Then the sons are exempt. "However, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for you and Me" (Matthew 17:24-27).

June 20, 2021

When they came to Capernaum, those who collected the two-drachma tax came to Peter and said, "Does your teacher not pay the two-drachma tax?" He said, "Yes." And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, "What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?" When Peter said, "From strangers," Jesus said to him, "Then the sons are exempt. "However, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for you and Me" (Matthew 17:24-27).

June 19, 2021

Jesus said to him, "Then the sons are exempt. "However, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for you and Me" (Matthew 17:26-27).

June 18, 2021

Jesus said to him, "Then the sons are exempt. "However, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for you and Me" (Matthew 17:26-27).

In the conversation between Jesus and Peter regarding the payment of taxes, Jesus affirmed the sons of kings are exempt from taxes, as are the sons of the priests. But Jesus then affirmed to Peter that what taxes were required of anyone else would be paid by Jesus and His disciples, and that was to be done ‘without offense’.

June 17, 2021

When they came to Capernaum, those who collected the two-drachma tax came to Peter and said, "Does your teacher not pay the two-drachma tax?" He said, "Yes." And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, "What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?" When Peter said, "From strangers," Jesus said to him, "Then the sons are exempt. "However, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for you and Me" (Matthew 17:24-27).

History, especially that of ancient customs and laws, is necessary to understand this text.

June 16, 2021

And while they were gathering together in Galilee, Jesus said to them, "The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men; and they will kill Him, and He will be raised on the third day." And they were deeply grieved (Matthew 17:22-23).

Some people believe Jesus was the victim of the apostate Jewish elders who wanted nothing more than to get rid of Him so they could preserve their authority and control over the masses. Although the Jewish elders hated Jesus for His popularity and their declining influence, Jesus was no victim of their insidious plot to kill Him.

June 15, 2021

And while they were gathering together in Galilee, Jesus said to them, "The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men; and they will kill Him, and He will be raised on the third day." And they were deeply grieved (Matthew 17:22-23).

We need to consider the parallel passage in Mark 9:30-32 which reads, From there they went out and began to go through Galilee, and He did not want anyone to know about it. For He was teaching His disciples and telling them, "The Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and when He has been killed, He will rise three days later." But they did not understand this statement, and they were afraid to ask Him.

June 14, 2021

And He said to them, "Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you (Matthew 17:20).

June 13, 2021

Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, "Why could we not drive it out?" And He said to them, "Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you. ["But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting."] (Matthew 17:19-21).

June 12, 2021

Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, "Why could we not drive it out?" And He said to them, "Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you. ["But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting."] (Matthew 17:19-21).

June 11, 2021

And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was healed instantly (Matthew 17:18).

We must appeal again to Mark’s Gospel for information that is absent from Matthew’s account. And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose (Mark 9:25-27).

June 10, 2021

And He asked his father, "How long has this been happening to him?" And he said, "From childhood. "It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!" And Jesus said to him, " 'If You can?' All things are possible to him who believes." Immediately the boy's father cried out and said, "I do believe; help my unbelief" (Mark 9:21-24).

“Lord, I believe: help Thou mine unbelief;
Be this my prayer though good report and ill;
Only to Thee I cling; if long my day or brief,
Master and Savior, I will trust Thee still!”

June 9, 2021

And He asked his father, "How long has this been happening to him?" And he said, "From childhood. "It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!" And Jesus said to him, " 'If You can?' All things are possible to him who believes." Immediately the boy's father cried out and said, "I do believe; help my unbelief" (Mark 9:21-24).

This is the parallel text to Matthew 17:14-18. John Mark, who wrote the Gospel of Mark, was not a disciple of Jesus, but a disciple of Peter, who was the spokesman for the 12 disciples. This added information on the event of the demon possessed boy came from Peter as he mentored John Mark many years later.

June 8, 2021

And Jesus answered and said, "You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? (Matthew 17:17).

Adding to His indignation, the Apostle Matthew reveals the frustration of Jesus over the faithlessness of the disciples, the father of the demon possessed boy, and the crowd that had gathered at the foot of Mt. Tabor. These are emotions we rarely see in Jesus, but we must remember He is human as well as divine and the emotions of His humanity are just as real as yours and mine.

June 7, 2021

And Jesus answered and said, "You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? (Matthew 17:17).

Rarely do we see such indignation in the spirit of Jesus. He became angry at the money changers in the Temple courtyards. He became disheartened at those who stopped following Him when He outlined the difficulty of being a disciple. He was broken hearted at the tomb of Lazarus. But here, with the disciples and the Scribes, He is spiritually indignant.

Jesus did not give into the petty and childish attitude of name-calling by calling the disciples, Scribes, and other Jews ‘unbelieving and perverted’. He was exposing the spiritual condition of the people.

June 6, 2021

"I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him" (Matthew 17:16).

It is a heart-breaking and spiritually sobering thing when a Christian or a Christian church cannot help a person in need. I know of those who choose not to help. I also know of those who want to help but are spiritually powerless to do so. Could it be that it is not God’s will for certain individuals to be healed? Possibly.

June 5, 2021

When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus, falling on his knees before Him and saying, "Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic and is very ill; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water” (Matthew 17:14-15).

From the parallel passages in Mark 9:14-29 and Luke 9:37-43 we learn of the severity of the boy’s condition resulting from demon possession: he was deaf and mute, he had violent seizures, convulsions, foaming at the mouth, grinding of the teeth, uncontrollable physical actions that threw him to the ground, into the fire, into water, contorting his body muscles, causing him to shriek and scream. Demonic possession is no trifling matter. It is evil and does evil to anyone who has yielded to the power of the devil.

June 4, 2021

When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus, falling on his knees before Him and saying, "Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic and is very ill; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water” (Matthew 17:14-15).

June 3, 2021

When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus, falling on his knees before Him and saying, "Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic and is very ill; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water” (Matthew 17:14-15).
 
There are a number of matters that need to be addressed before we can come to a better understanding of that is going on in this encounter. First of all, we need to include the parallel passages of the event for a fuller, more complete rendering of what is being said. All of the texts regarding this event are found in Matthew 17:14-21; Mark 9:14-29; and Luke 9:37-43a. When harmonized together it reads, 
 

June 2, 2021

When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus, falling on his knees before Him and saying, "Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic and is very ill; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water” (Matthew 17:14-15).

June 1, 2021

And His disciples asked Him, "Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?" And He answered and said, "Elijah is coming and will restore all things; but I say to you that Elijah already came, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they wished. So also the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands." Then the disciples understood that He had spoken to them about John the Baptist (Matthew 17:10-13).

May 31, 2021

As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, "Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man has risen from the dead" (Matthew 17:9).

We are often confused at our Lord’s insistence, on occasion, that people refrain from telling other people of certain events they had experienced with Jesus. We would think Jesus would want people to know He was the long-awaited Messiah and that if word got out about all He had said and done there would be greater numbers of people flocking to Him to be saved. Not so.

May 30, 2021

While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, "This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!" When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground and were terrified. And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, "Get up, and do not be afraid." And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus Himself alone (Matthew 17:5-8).

May 29, 2021

While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, "This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!" When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground and were terrified. And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, "Get up, and do not be afraid." And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus Himself alone (Matthew 17:5-8).

May 28, 2021

While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, "This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!" When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground and were terrified. And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, "Get up, and do not be afraid." And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus Himself alone (Matthew 17:5-8).

May 27, 2021

While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, "This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!" When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground and were terrified. And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, "Get up, and do not be afraid." And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus Himself alone (Matthew 17:5-8).

May 26, 2021

While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, "This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!" When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground and were terrified. And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, "Get up, and do not be afraid." And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus Himself alone (Matthew 17:5-8).

As the Son of God, the Father declared Jesus to possess the same nature, character, and essence that He has. In other words, the Father declared Jesus Christ to be God as He is God. Christians are also declared to be children of God. 

May 25, 2021

While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, "This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!" When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground and were terrified. And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, "Get up, and do not be afraid." And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus Himself alone (Matthew 17:5-8).

May 23, 2021

Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah" (Matthew 17:4).

A ‘tabernacle’ was a tent made by fixing posts into the ground, stretching cloth over them, and fastening it together with cords. In some instances they were made of tree branches as a temporary shelter from the sun and rain. These tents were also houses common to the nomadic tribes in the ancient Middle East.

May 22, 2021

Six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him (Matthew 17:1-3).

May 21, 2021

Six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him (Matthew 17:1-3).

May 20, 2021

Six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him (Matthew 17:1-3).

What was the purpose of Moses and Elijah appearing with Jesus during His transfiguration? Of all the people God could have chosen to appear with Jesus in the transfiguration, Moses and Elijah served the unique role at this critical point in the life of Jesus.

May 19, 2021

Six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him (Matthew 17:1-3).

In the metamorphosis of a caterpillar to a butterfly, the transformation is progressive and permanent. In the transfiguration of Jesus, the transformation was immediate, yet temporary. The glory of Christ in heaven was cloaked or concealed in human flesh at His incarnation (when He became the baby born to Mary in Bethlehem). For 33 years the glory of Christ was not seen by men other than through His transfiguration. 

Pages