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.

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. 

May 18, 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).

Parallel passages of the transfiguration of Jesus are found in Mark 9:2-10 and Luke 9:28-36, however, Luke does not use the term ‘transfigured’ but rather the appearance of His face became different . . . .

May 17, 2021

Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom (Matthew 16:28).

When I was a child I was confused over this verse. Like many of the Christians in the church in Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11), I had thought that Jesus had already come and we missed it! If the coming of Jesus Christ in His Kingdom would be seen by those standing in front of Him, then what are we doing here? Let’s take this verse a bite at a time.

First, Jesus said that before they die, some of the disciples would see Him coming in His kingdom. However, all 12 of the disciples are dead, and it’s been 2,000+ years since these words were spoken and Jesus still has not returned. So, what gives?

May 16, 2021

For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and ‘will then repay every man according to his deeds’ (Matthew 16:27).

When Jesus returns He will judge the righteous and the unrighteous before His judgment seat. Because the unsaved person will have no righteous deeds to present before the Lord, that day will be a day of terror and shame. Jesus said (Matthew 7:22-23), Many will say to Me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?” And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.” Lawlessness here refers to one’s disobedience to the laws of God.

May 15, 2021

For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and ‘will then repay every man according to his deeds’ (Matthew 16:27).

May 14, 2021

For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and ‘will then repay every man according to his deeds’ (Matthew 16:27).

The word ‘glory’ is doxa, from which we get the word ‘doxology’. A doxology is a hymn of praise to God. Sometimes we sing the Doxology in worship: “Praise God from whom all blessings flow, praise Him all creatures here below, praise Him above ye heavenly host, praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Amen.” When Jesus returns to establish His Kingdom on earth it will be in the glory of His Father with His angels. In Scripture the glory of God refers to His divine attributes, character, and nature. 

May 13, 2021

For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and ‘will then repay every man according to his deeds’ (Matthew 16:27).
 
As Jesus neared the end of His 3 year public ministry, He became more and more specific regarding His impending death and resurrection. He also began to reveal to His disciples the plan of His second coming. In fact, this is the first mention of the second coming of Christ in Scripture. So, in just a few weeks Jesus had revealed to the disciples:
 
• He was God in human flesh,
• He was the promised Messiah,
• He would establish a Kingdom that is eternal,
• He would suffer, die, and be resurrected before that Kingdom comes, and

May 12, 2021

For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and ‘will then repay every man according to his deeds’ (Matthew 16:27).

May 11, 2021

For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and ‘will then repay every man according to his deeds’ (Matthew 16:27).

May 10, 2021

For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and ‘will then repay every man according to his deeds’ (Matthew 16:27).

This is the first mention of the 2nd coming of Christ in the New Testament. The word is parousia, which means ‘to appear’ or ‘to come’. His 1st appearing was as the Child born to Mary in Bethlehem. He then came as the Savior, Messiah, and Redeemer of Israel. His 2nd appearing will be at an undisclosed time in the future. He then will come as judge.

May 8, 2021

For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:25-26).

The words ‘life’ and ‘soul’ in this passage come from the same Greek word, psuche. Some say the ‘life’ is the basic ‘spirit’ or ‘vitality’ of a person (the ‘lower’ self) whereas the ‘soul’ is the ‘rational’ or ‘immortal’ (the ‘higher’ self) that is eternal. Together they make up the ‘real’ you.

May 7, 2021

Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24).

After having looked briefly at the steps to salvation and spiritual maturity in Christian discipleship, and before passing on to the paradox inherent in those steps, I feel it necessary to address a most important and fundamental part of the above cited text - one’s desire.

May 6, 2021

Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24).

The word ‘sanctify’ and its related terms ‘sanctified’, ‘sanctification’, and ‘sanctifying’ describes the process whereby the Holy Spirit progressively distances a Christian away from sin and toward righteousness. When a person is saved, God declares the person saved, justified, holy (sanctified) and righteous. The work of the Holy Spirit is to make these truths a reality in the Christian’s life. In other words, God declares a Christian righteous before Him and the Holy Spirit makes the Christian righteous before the world.

May 5, 2021

Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24).

The 3 stages or steps to Christian discipleship are given in this text: (1) deny self, (2) die to self, and (3) follow Jesus. What does it mean to follow Jesus in today’s world?

May 4, 2021

Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24).

May 3, 2021

Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24).

I remember as a child reading this verse and asking my paternal grandmother what ‘her cross’ in life was. She replied, “Your grandfather.” I don’t think that’s what Jesus had in mind when He said “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me."

Taking up one’s cross is the willingness to die to self and live for Jesus. The cross was a means of execution. Crosses were designed to torture and kill people. It is estimated that under Roman rule, some 30,000 people (Jews and Gentiles) were executed on crosses in Palestine alone.

May 2, 2021

Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24).

To deny self is to genuinely, sincerely, honestly, and seriously believe you have nothing in you, or are nothing in yourself to commend before God. It is utter and complete humility before holy God. It is to truly believe as the tax collector (Luke 18:13), God, be merciful to me, the sinner! It is to realize and accept that . . . all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; and all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away (Isaiah 64:6).

May 1, 2021

Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24).

As stated earlier, salvation is on God’s terms, not on ours. We cannot come to salvation on our own because we are dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1,5; Colossians 2:13). Last time I checked a dead person cannot do anything except . . . well, you know. 

April 30, 2021

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26).

For the Christian, discipleship is more than being saved and attending church every now and again. Christian discipleship is following Jesus. The New Testament is replete with exhortations and examples of the need for the Christian to press on in Christian faith and Christian life.

April 29, 2021

Then Jesus said to the disciples, “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For anyone who keeps his life for himself shall lose it; and anyone who loses his life for me shall find it again. What profit is there if you gain the whole world - and lose eternal life?” (Matthew 16:24-26).

Christian discipleship begins with salvation. A person cannot be a true disciple of Jesus Christ unless and until he/she has surrendered to the call of Christ to salvation. That’s the truth behind, if anyone wants to be a follower of mine (disciple), let him deny himself and take up his cross (repent of sin; be saved) and follow me.

April 28, 2021

Then Jesus said to the disciples, “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For anyone who keeps his life for himself shall lose it; and anyone who loses his life for me shall find it again. What profit is there if you gain the whole world - and lose eternal life? (Matthew 16:24-26).

April 27, 2021

Then Jesus said to the disciples, “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For anyone who keeps his life for himself shall lose it; and anyone who loses his life for me shall find it again. What profit is there if you gain the whole world - and lose eternal life? (Matthew 16:24-26).

April 26, 2021

He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's" (Matthew 16:23).

In Luke 4:13 we read, When the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him until an opportune time. This was one of those opportune times. From the lips of Peter, the de facto leader of the disciples, the temptation to skip the cross was once again confronted. The cross loomed large in Jesus' mind, heart, and spirit because it was God’s will for the plan of salvation. But it was Satan’s will that God’s plan of salvation would fail - and Jesus was the key. Tempting Him to abandon God’s will would become critical to that failure.

April 25, 2021

He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's" (Matthew 16:23).

This is not ‘payback’ for Peter’s continued rebuke of Jesus regarding His words of impending persecution and death. There was no such intent in the heart or spirit of Christ toward His disciple. His intent was to correct the disciple who, after all this time with Jesus, should have known better than to counter His words or His will.

April 24, 2021

Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You” (Matthew 16:22).

April 23, 2021

From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raise up on the third day (Matthew 16:21).

To show that His crucifixion was no accident, that it wasn’t a last ditch effort to save us because nothing else had worked, Jesus revealed the plan had already been ‘set in stone’. Jesus would not ‘go with the flow’ of events as they transpired; He would be in complete control of the events.

April 22, 2021

From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raise up on the third day (Matthew 16:21).

From this point on Jesus would focus the attention of the disciples on the deeper and more difficult aspects of God’s plan of salvation. He had spoken of these things before (Matthew 12:40; John 2:19), but the minds and hearts of the disciples were in tune with the popular desires of the Jewish people for a military Messiah, not with the plan and purpose of God.

April 21, 2021

From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raise up on the third day (Matthew 16:21).

This is the Gospel in a nut-shell. This is the key that opens the door of salvation to anyone who will believe. The problem with humanity is that we will not accept simple truth for what it is. We take simple truth and make it complex and challenging. Nothing is spelled out in ‘plain English’ any more. The same is true with saving faith.

April 20, 2021

Then He warned the disciples that they should tell no one that He was the Christ (Matthew 16:20).

You would think Jesus wanted to get the word out that He was the Christ sent by God to save Israel. All of His ministry in Judea, Galilee and the surrounding regions saw thousands of people coming to Jesus to hear Him teach and heal. What a great opportunity to reveal who He was on an ongoing basis. Why would Jesus prohibit the disciples at this time to stay quiet about His Messiahship?

April 19, 2021

I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven (Matthew 16:19).

These verses are some of the most controversial in the Bible. They are controversial because they are misunderstood. Much of the misunderstanding comes from the influence of the Roman Catholic Church. Because the Roman church interprets vv. 16-17 as referring the papacy under the authority of the Apostle Peter, they also interpret v. 19 as referring to the authority of the papacy to administer or withhold God’s grace via the sacraments. This is not what Jesus said or meant.

April 18, 2021

I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it (Matthew 16:18).

April 17, 2021

I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it (Matthew 16:18).

I must confess, this is the hardest lesson for me to learn as a pastor - Jesus Christ will build His church. We may be able to build buildings and campuses, but it is Jesus who builds His church. What I have known in my mind has been difficult to accept in my heart and spirit, and that is it is totally impossible to bring a person to faith in Jesus Christ apart from the sovereign will and act of God. Human effort produces human converts. Only God can produce spiritual children.

April 16, 2021

I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it (Matthew 16:18).

Jesus is building His church on the confession of the Apostles that He is the Christ, the Son of the true and living God, and the Lord and Savior of God’s people. The ‘church’, those who are called out of the world and into the Kingdom of God, those who confess Jesus Christ as Lord because they believe in their hearts that God raised Him from the dead, these belong to Jesus. They are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). They are the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27). They are the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:23-30; 2 Corinthians 11:2).

April 15, 2021

I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it (Matthew 16:18).

Jesus is building His church on the confession of the Apostles that He is the Christ, the Son of the true and living God, and the Lord and Savior of God’s people. Jesus declared “the gates of Hades will not overpower it;” overpower what - the church, the foundation, or Christ Himself?

What/Where is Hades? The Greek word Hades is the same as the Hebrew word Sheol. They both refer to the unseen or spiritual realm of the dead. They do not refer to eternal hell.

April 14, 2021

I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it (Matthew 16:18).

This text and the next (v.19) have caused “volumes of controversy and endless theological strife” (A.T. Robertson) down through Christian history. Our English text has not helped matters at all. The original Greek and Aramaic languages make the meaning clear.

April 13, 2021

And Jesus said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven (Matthew 16:17).

The word ‘blessed’ means ‘happy’ but not in a superficial or frivolous way. The root form of the word means ‘great’ or ‘enlarged’, and its earlier meaning had to do with prosperity. It was used at times as a synonym for rich. Since the Jews believed prosperity came from God, a blessed person was one who had the favor of God resting upon him. Is that the meaning of Jesus here?

April 12, 2021

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16).

‘Christ’ is not Jesus’ last name. Humanly speaking Jesus was the legal son of Joseph, so He would have been commonly known as ‘Jesus bar Joses’ (Jesus son of Joseph). The term ‘Christ’ is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew ‘Messiah’, or ‘the Anointed One’. It was a reference to the promise of God in providing a Savior or Deliverer to Israel. Immediately and emphatically Peter confessed that Jesus was that long awaited, long ago promised Savior of Israel; He was the One Israel had longed for and waited for throughout their history.

April 11, 2021

He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" (Matthew 16:15).

Without taking any more time to consider the answer to His first question, Jesus put this question to His disciples. This was really the point of the questioning in the first place. It was important for Jesus to hear the disciples declare His Messiahship as it was important for them to declare it.

April 10, 2021

When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?" So they said, "Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets" (Matthew 16:13-14).

It’s always risky business to ask people what they think of you, but we do it all the time - especially politicians. Public officials are always concerned about public opinion polls and how the people perceive their leadership. Basically it’s a popularity exercise. What is tragic is that a lot of leaders base their policies and decisions on polls - what’s popular- rather than on truth, what is right, or what is best for the people they serve.

April 9, 2021

When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?" (Matthew 16:13).

One of the freedoms we enjoy in this country is the freedom of worship. It was one of the motivating factors that brought the Europeans to this country. We understand that freedom of worship can mean the freedom to worship and the freedom from worship. We also understand this freedom permits all types of religious practices insofar as those practices do not advocate the abuse, destruction, or death of humans, animals, etc.

April 8, 2021

Then Jesus said to them, "Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees." And they reasoned among themselves, saying, "It is because we have taken no bread." But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, "O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread? Do you not yet understand, or remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many baskets you took up? Nor the seven loaves of the four thousand and how many large baskets you took up?

April 7, 2021

Then Jesus said to them, "Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees." And they reasoned among themselves, saying, "It is because we have taken no bread." But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, "O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread? Do you not yet understand, or remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many baskets you took up? Nor the seven loaves of the four thousand and how many large baskets you took up?

April 6, 2021

Now when His disciples had come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. Then Jesus said to them, "Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees" (Matthew 16:5-6).

Yeast is what makes bread rise. When added to a lump of dough, the yeast ferments the starches in the dough and causes it to swell up. Without yeast the loaf of bread comes out of the oven flat. It doesn’t take a lot of yeast to make dough rise. A small amount is all it takes to ‘leaven’ dough thoroughly.

April 5, 2021

And He left them and departed (Matthew 16:14).

There are certain texts in Scripture that, when read carefully, send a chill up my spine. One such text is found in the Upper Room Discourse in John 13. Jesus and the disciples had gathered in a borrowed upper room to observe their last Passover together. Jesus, one last time, told the disciples of His impending death. He said, Most assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me (13:21). The disciples were upset and confused that such a thing would happen, and it would be one of them who would be guilty of the crime.

April 4, 2021

“A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” And He left them and departed (Matthew 16:14).

For two years the Scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees had been privy to the miraculous power of Jesus. There was no mistaking His power divine because that power was performed for the good of mankind. And if there was any question remaining in their mind, Jesus even cast out demons that possessed people, demonstrating His power over Satan.

April 3, 2021

He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the sings of the times (Matthew 16:2-3).

Have you ever wondered why there are great strides being taken to erase the distinctions between race, culture, sex, politics, economics, even religions? There has been a push in the last several years to be ‘unified’ (to make or become a single unit), or is that ‘uniform’ (identical or consistent; without variations in detail), or is that ‘unity’ (absence of diversity)?

April 2, 2021

He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the sings of the times (Matthew 16:2-3).

April 1, 2021

He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the sings of the times (Matthew 16:2-3).

March 31, 2021

He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the sings of the times (Matthew 16:2-3).

March 30, 2021

He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the sings of the times (Matthew 16:2-3).

March 29, 2021

He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the sings of the times (Matthew 16:2-3).

Someone said, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me 92,748 times, you are a weatherman!” This parable of Jesus is not about the weather, it’s about reading the signs of the times.

March 28, 2021

And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven (Matthew 16:1).

Pharisees and Sadducees. This is the first time we read of these two religious parties associating with each other. They hated each other. Quite frankly the word ‘hate’ is not strong enough. They were Satan to each other. And yet, “hate makes strange bedfellows.” We see that a lot in our modern culture.

What was their motive for joining forces? They hated Jesus more than they hated each other. Their hostility toward each other did not decrease during the time Jesus had been out of the country ministering to the Gentiles. Now that He was back in Israel, they set aside their differences and made an alliance to kill the object of their hatred.

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