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.

March 26, 2021

And He sent away the multitude, got into the boat, and came to the region of Magdala. Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven (Matthew 15:39 - 16:1).

My sister-in-law’s father was a preacher. I remember Pastor Spencer House’s no-nonsense preaching at Temple Baptist Church in Waldron, AR, when I was a boy. His way of making application of the biblical text was preceded by his oft repeated words, “This day in which we live . . . .” 

March 25, 2021

And He sent away the multitude, got into the boat, and came to the region of Magdala. Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven (Matthew 15:39 - 16:1).

March 24, 2021

And He sent away the multitude, got into the boat, and came to the region of Magdala (Matthew 15:39).

Continuing on from the lessons learned on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, we conclude:

March 23, 2021

And He sent away the multitude, got into the boat, and came to the region of Magdala (Matthew 15:39).

Continuing on from the lessons learned on Sunday and Monday, we add:

Lesson 8: We should not be discouraged when our prayers are not immediately answered. God knows the proper time to respond to our requests, and it may be of greater significance to us that the answers should be delayed. And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.” But He answered not a word (Matthew 23).

March 22, 2021

And He sent away the multitude, got into the boat, and came to the region of Magdala (Matthew 15:39).

We are looking at some of the lessons Jesus taught His disciples in ministering to Gentiles. These are important for Christians today to learn in that same ministry to our pluralistic culture. We started with 3 lessons yesterday. We will continue with a few more today.

March 21, 2021

And He sent away the multitude, got into the boat, and came to the region of Magdala (Matthew 15:39).

Before we move on to Jesus’ return to ministry in Galilee, there are some lessons we need to glean from His ministry to the Gentiles. Race issues have plagued our country since its very inception. My purpose in pointing this out is not to aggravate or even attempt to resolve the issue because I can’t (and it’s been proven that no one can).

March 20, 2021

And He sent away the multitude, got into the boat, and came to the region of Magdala (Matthew 15:39).

Trying to identify places in the land of Jesus is not always an easy task, especially since we are 2,000 years removed from the biblical record. That is true with identifying Magdala. The parallel passage in Mark 8:10 identifies the place as Dalmanutha. A.T. Robertson identifies the place as Magadan, Albert Barnes says it is ancient Migdol (Joshua 19:38) in the land of Gennesaret on the western side of the Sea of Galilee, directly east of Cana where Jesus turned water into wine. 

March 19, 2021

And He took the seven loaves and the fish and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitude. So they all ate and were filled, and they took up seven large baskets full of the fragments that were left (Matthew 15:36-37).

March 18, 2021

Jesus said to them, "How many loaves do you have?" And they said, "Seven, and a few little fish." So He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And He took the seven loaves and the fish and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitude (Matthew 15:34-36).

March 17, 2021

Now Jesus called His disciples to Himself and said, "I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way." Then His disciples said to Him, "Where could we get enough bread in the wilderness to fill such a great multitude?" (Matthew 15:32-33).

We have spoken of the compassion of Jesus before (Sunday, March 14th devotional). Again Jesus speaks of His sympathy toward the crowd that had gathered around Him. He demonstrated His compassion by healing their sick family members and friends. Now He will demonstrate His compassion for them by feeding their hunger.

March 14, 2021

Jesus departed from there, skirted the Sea of Galilee, and went up on the mountain and sat down there. Then great multitudes came to Him, having with them the lame, blind, mute, maimed, and many others; and they laid them down at Jesus' feet, and He healed them. So the multitude marveled when they saw the mute speaking, the maimed made whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel (Matthew 15:29-31).

March 13, 2021

Jesus departed from there, skirted the Sea of Galilee, and went up on the mountain and sat down there. Then great multitudes came to Him, having with them the lame, blind, mute, maimed, and many others; and they laid them down at Jesus' feet, and He healed them. So the multitude marveled when they saw the mute speaking, the maimed made whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel (Matthew 15:29-31).

March 12, 2021

Then Jesus answered and said to her, "O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire." And her daughter was healed from that very hour (Matthew 15:28).

Three tests designed to prover her faith in Jesus were given to this woman. He was silent at her initial request. She pressed the need further. He stated the priority of His ministry to the Jews. She pressed the need further. He reminded her of her status. She pressed the need further. Jesus admired and declared her faith genuine and strong - Great is your faith!

March 11, 2021

Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, "Lord, help me!" But He answered and said, "It is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the little dogs." And she said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters' table" (Matthew 15:25-27).

March 10, 2021

And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed." But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us” (Matthew 15:22-23).

March 9, 2021

And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed." But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us” (Matthew 15:22-23).

As stated in yesterday’s devotional, this woman was not a Jewess, had no previous contact with Jesus, had only heard of Him and His power to heal, yet turned away from her pagan gods, made her way to Jesus, and immediately trusted in Him as her Master and Messiah. Her faith was ‘great’ given her lack of background with Jesus. But there is another characteristic of ‘great faith’ demonstrated by this woman - her tenacity in the testing of her faith.

March 8, 2021

And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed." (Matthew 15:22).

March 7, 2021

And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed." (Matthew 15:22).

Someone once said, “Faith is when you get to the end of your rope, you tie a knot, and hold on.” Someone else once said, “Faith is when you walk to the edge of the dark abyss, then take one more step.” Friedrich Nietzsche, the oft quoted darling of the philosophical atheist, said “Faith is not wanting to know what is true.”

March 6, 2021

And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed." (Matthew 15:22).

We spoke earlier (Thursday, March 04) of this woman’s background, but what we didn’t mention that she was a Canaanite. Because she was a Syro-Phoenician (Mark 7:26), she was a Phoenician by race and Syrian by language and culture. She was also Greek in her religion, most likely a worshiper of Astarte, the Greek equivalent of the Northwestern Semitic goddess Astoreth (which you hear a lot of in the Old Testament) and the Eastern Semitic goddess Ishtar.

March 5, 2021

And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed." But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, "Send her away, for she cries out after us." But He answered and said, "I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, "Lord, help me!" But He answered and said, "It is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the little dogs." And she said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters' table." Then Jesus answered and said to her, "O woman, great is your faith!

March 4, 2021

Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon (Matthew 15:21).

Jesus left the town of Capernaum and walked to the coast of the Mediterranean Sea into ancient Phoenician territory - Gentile territory, out and away from Israel and Judah. Tyre was over 30 miles (as the crow flies) northwest of Capernaum. Sidon was another 20+ miles north of Tyre.

March 3, 2021

For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man" (Matthew 15:19-20).

Jesus said it’s not what goes in the mouth and into the stomach that defiles (to make or consider profane; polluted, unclean) a person, but what comes out of the mouth that proves the person is already defiled (vv.17-18). It’s a heart thing.

March 2, 2021

Then Peter answered and said to Him, "Explain this parable to us." So Jesus said, "Are you also still without understanding? Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man" (Matthew 15:15-20).

March 1, 2021

Then Peter answered and said to Him, "Explain this parable to us." So Jesus said, "Are you also still without understanding? Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man" (Matthew 15:15-20).

February 28, 2021

Then His disciples came and said to Him, "Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?" But He answered and said, "Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch" (Matthew 15:12-14).

February 27, 2021

Then His disciples came and said to Him, "Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?" But He answered and said, "Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch" (Matthew 15:12-14).

February 26, 2021

Then His disciples came and said to Him, "Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?" But He answered and said, "Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch" (Matthew 15:12-14).

Hypocrites will always be offended by the truth. Truth becomes a stumbling block to their agenda. That’s the first reality of hypocrisy. The second reality is that hypocrites will be judged for their hypocrisy. Jesus used a very simple and brief parable to emphasize God’s attitude toward those who manipulate His truth for their purposes.

February 25, 2021

Then His disciples came and said to Him, "Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?" But He answered and said, "Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch" (Matthew 15:12-14).

The parallel passage to this text is found in Mark 7:17. After confronting the Scribes and Pharisees, Jesus and the disciples went into a house in Capernaum to get away from the crowds and the elders. The text doesn’t say, but the house most likely belonged to Peter. It was there the disciples voiced their concern over Jesus’ response to the elders.

February 24, 2021

Then His disciples came and said to Him, "Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?" But He answered and said, "Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch" (Matthew 15:12-14).

February 23, 2021

When He had called the multitude to Himself, He said to them, "Hear and understand: Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man" (Matthew 15:10-11).

The words of Jesus are just as important today as they were in His day. It is true that God prescribed certain rules and regulations, ceremonies and rituals, for a reason. The Jews had been delivered from Egypt where they had lived for 430 years. There they lived under pagan Pharaohs, were subject to pagan laws, and exposed to a pagan religion with ceremonies and rituals that were involved in the worship of idols.

February 22, 2021

When He had called the multitude to Himself, He said to them, "Hear and understand: Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man" (Matthew 15:10-11).

After confronting the Scribes and Pharisees in opposition to their false doctrines, Jesus took the opportunity to speak to the crowd about the real issue behind their corruption. It’s a heart problem. The elders of Israel believed the issue was ignoring and/or rejecting ceremonial law. But their traditions were a corruption of the ceremonial law - it was the Law of Moses that was being ignored and rejected. Jesus knew the problem went beyond keeping Mosaic Law.

February 21, 2021

Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:7-9).

The word hypocrite comes from the 1st century B.C. Greek word hypokrites, which means ‘an actor’ or ‘a stage player’. It is a compound noun made up of two Greek words that literally translate as ‘an interpreter from underneath’. The actors in ancient Greek theater wore large masks to mark which character they were playing, and so they interpreted the story from underneath their masks.

February 20, 2021

He answered and said to them, "Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.' But you say, 'Whoever says to his father or mother, "Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God" - then he need not honor his father or mother.' Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: 'These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men'" (Matthew 15:3-9).

February 19, 2021

He answered and said to them, "Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.' But you say, 'Whoever says to his father or mother, "Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God" - then he need not honor his father or mother.' Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: 'These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men'" (Matthew 15:3-9).

February 18, 2021

He answered and said to them, "Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.' But you say, 'Whoever says to his father or mother, "Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God" - then he need not honor his father or mother.' Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: 'These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men'" (Matthew 15:3-9).

February 17, 2021

He answered and said to them, "Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.' But you say, 'Whoever says to his father or mother, "Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God" - then he need not honor his father or mother.' Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: 'These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men'" (Matthew 15:3-9).

February 16, 2021

He answered and said to them, "Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.' But you say, 'Whoever says to his father or mother, "Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God" - then he need not honor his father or mother.' Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: 'These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men'" (Matthew 15:3-9).

February 15, 2021

Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, "Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread." He answered and said to them, "Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?” (Matthew 15:1-3).

February 14, 2021

Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, "Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread." He answered and said to them, "Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?” (Matthew 15:1-3).

February 13, 2021

Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, "Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread." He answered and said to them, "Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?” (Matthew 15:1-3).

I’ve been around a while now, and I’ve seen and heard a lot of things inside and outside the church. One of the burdens I have for the church is there are a lot of members who know a lot about Jesus, but they don’t know Jesus; they’ve never entered into a personal relationship with Jesus. They’ve never believed in and received Jesus as personal Lord and Savior.

February 12, 2021

When they had crossed over, they came to the land of Gennesaret. And when the men of that place recognized Him, they sent out into all that surrounding region, brought to Him all who were sick, and begged Him that they might only touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched it were made perfectly well (Matthew 14:34-36).

February 11, 2021

When they had crossed over, they came to the land of Gennesaret. And when the men of that place recognized Him, they sent out into all that surrounding region, brought to Him all who were sick, and begged Him that they might only touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched it were made perfectly well (Matthew 14:34-36).

February 10, 2021

Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, "Truly You are the Son of God" (Matthew 14:33).

Previously (Matthew 8:27) when Jesus was with the disciples in the boat on the Sea of Galilee and a storm arose, He rebuked the wind and waves and the storm immediately stopped. The response of the disciples was, Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?

February 9, 2021

And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, "Truly You are the Son of God"  (Matthew 14:32-33).

When Jesus and Peter stepped into the boat immediately the storm stopped. Jesus didn’t have to say a word like He did in Mark 4:39. John 6:21 tells us that as soon as Jesus stepped into the boat it arrived at their destination.

February 8, 2021

But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, "Lord, save me!" And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" (Matthew 14:30-31).

What makes our relationship with Jesus so intriguing and important is that He challenges us to examine ourselves, often in times of crisis. O you of little faith is a rebuke because Peter did not trust Jesus in his time of crisis. But Jesus didn’t stop there. He asked the question, why did you doubt?

February 7, 2021

When Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, "Lord, save me!" (Matthew 14:29-30).

“Poor impetuous Peter,” some would say. “His belief in Jesus got him out of the boat, but his lack of faith nearly caused him to drown.” Not so.

The word ‘believe’ is pisteuo and means ‘to have faith, to trust, to commit one’s self to’. The word ‘faith’ is pistis and means ‘assurance, belief, faith’. Though spelled differently, in the Bible these two words are used synonymously.

February 6, 2021

And Peter answered Him and said, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water." So He said, "Come." And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus (Matthew 14:28-29)

Getting out of the boat and walking on the water to Jesus was not motivated by personal pride. Peter had nothing to prove to the disciples, to Jesus, or to himself. It was motivated by the desire to be with Jesus because with Jesus there is safety and security. Never forget that. To be ‘in Christ Jesus’ and to have Christ Jesus ‘in you’ is to be in His presence where there is safety and security. Did Jesus understand Peter’s motive? Yes. He answered Peter’s request by inviting him to come to Him.

February 5, 2021

And Peter answered Him and said, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water." So He said, "Come." (Matthew 14:28).

The Apostle Peter is often the recipient of bad press. He did many things that we would shake our heads at and say, “Man, what was Peter thinking!” As stated earlier, he was bold, impulsive, and strong willed. At times his tongue got ahead of his brain. My dad use to say Peter suffered from ‘foot in mouth’ syndrome. Again, he was a lot of things, but he was no fool. He stepped out of the boat and onto the storm driven Sea of Galilee because that’s where Jesus was. He had learned that wherever Jesus was, it would be safe and that’s where he wanted to be. Why? Because of his great love for Jesus. Let me explain.

February 4, 2021

And Peter answered Him and said, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water." So He said, "Come." (Matthew 14:28).

I’ve never been sky-diving, but I know people who have. My sentiment regarding the activity is parroted by Leroy Jethro Gibbs (NCIS) who said, “It’s insane to jump out of a perfectly good airplane!” I’m not a thrill seeker or an adrenaline junkie, even though I do ride a Harley.

In the midst of a huge storm on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus came walking on the water to the disciples who feared they would die in the midst of the sea. Jesus calmed their fears by calling out to them, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” Peter’s response to Jesus was, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”

February 3, 2021

And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea (Matthew 14:23-25).

February 2, 2021

And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, "Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid" (Matthew 14:26-27).

Mark tells us Jesus saw the disciples straining at rowing the boat (6:48). Remember, Jesus was on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee. The disciples in the boat were somewhere near the middle of the Sea - 5 to 7 miles away. It’s the 4th watch of the night - between 3:00 and 6:00 am - so it was dark. Yet Jesus saw them and came walking to them on the water. Another demonstration of His deity.

February 1, 2021

But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea (Matthew 14:24-25).

Webster defines panic as a ‘sudden overpowering fright; acute, extreme anxiety; a sudden unreasoning terror often accompanied by mass flight’. We’ve all experienced it. Some are experiencing it now in the midst of the pandemic. The disciples were in a panic in the midst of a storm out in the middle of the Sea of Galilee. What could they do? What would we have done? What do we do today when we face a panic charged situation? Quite often we forget.

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