Read Matthew 15 -- 17
In Today’s Reading:
Scribes and Pharisees rebuked; 4,000 fed; the leaven; Peter's confession; transfiguration; the disciples' unbelief; Temple tax from a fish.
Caesarea Philippi is located near the northern border of the Promised Land. It is just 50 miles southwest of Damascus on the southern slopes of Mount Hermon. Its waters are one of the four sources of the River Jordan and it was also a major site of many pagan shrines.
Here, in the midst of numerous idol worshipers, Jesus said: I will build My Church (Matthew 16:18). The word Church means "called out ones," a fellowship of those who have received Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord and consequently no longer live like the world.
Following the preaching of Peter on the Day of Pentecost, they that gladly received His Word were baptized. . . . And the Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved (Acts 2:41,47). In the New Testament, a church exists as soon as believers associate themselves to worship the One True God -- God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 3:10; I Peter 2:9). The Church also provides fellowship for its members. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. . . . continuing daily with one accord in the Temple . . . Praising God (Acts 2:42,46-47).
In the Book of Acts, the Church fellowship was very significant and also provided a channel for service (4:32-35). Later, the Apostle Paul organized a large-scale offering among the various churches which he had founded in order to meet the needs of the poverty-stricken Church in Jerusalem (Romans 15:25-26; I Corinthians 16:1; II Corinthians 8:1-2). A sense of mutual obligation was recognized and fulfilled as Christians in different local churches were reminded of their essential unity in Christ with believers in other localities.
The New Testament never implies the possibility of a believer living his Christian life apart from a local church. Paul encouraged Timothy to give attention to the public reading of the Old Testament Scriptures, as well as his own letters, at public worship (Colossians 4:16; I Timothy 4:11-13; Philemon 1:2).
The Apostle Peter described believers as [living] stones . . . built [into] a spiritual house (I Peter 2:5). This illustration emphasizes the special relationship that believers have to the Lord as well as to one another (Galatians 6:10). It also stresses that we are holy because we are born into the family of God.
Let us follow the example given by the Apostle Paul as He encouraged the Church at Ephesus. Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord . . . Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God (Ephesians 5:19-21).
Thought for Today: Our worship is in vain unless we truly desire to obey God's Word.
15:17 draught = sewer; 16:6 leaven = false teaching; 16:18 gates of hell = the powers of Satan; 17:15 lunatic = one affected by the moon, such as epilepsy; 17:25 prevented him = Jesus spoke before Peter could speak.
For Matthew 15:4: See Ex. 20:12; 21:17; Lev. 20:9; Deut. 5:16. Matt. 15:8-9: See Isa. 29:13. Matt. 16:27: See Psa. 62:12; Prov. 24:12; Jer. 17:10.
Government Official: Rep. George Nethercut (WA) · Pray for one another · Country: Albania (3 million) in southeastern Europe · Major languages: Albanian and Greek · Newly opened to Evangelism · 40% Muslim; 11% Albanian Orthodox; 7% Roman Catholic · Prayer Suggestion: Pray for grace to overcome temptation, and God will reward you (James 1:12).
Memory Verse for the Week: Ephesians 5:21