Category Archives: Alcohol, Drunkenness

A New World, and A New World Order (Genesis 9)

Click on this link for translations of today’s devotion.

Scripture reading – Genesis 9

Review – Genesis 8

After He fulfilled His Word of judgment, “God remembered Noah” (8:1), and commanded Him to “go forth of the ark” (8:16). Then, Noah “builded an altar unto the LORD…and offered burnt offerings on the altar” (8:20).

Two things remained unchanged in the world after the flood. The first, God’s grace, for He accepted the sacrifices of Noah and his family (8:20), for they were “a sweet savour” to Him (8:21). A second object had not changed, and that was man’s sinful heart. Though He declared He would never again judge the earth as He had with the floodwaters, the LORD knew the heart of man, and judged it was sinful (8:21c). Yet, the LORD in His mercy, promised He would never again destroy “every thing living, as [He had] done” (8:21d). So, the earth continues to be blessed with its seasons, “seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease” (8:22).

A New World, A Renewed Covenant (Genesis 9:1-17)

The world was forever changed after God’s universal judgment, but in His grace, He “blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (9:1, 7). Man’s supremacy over nature was unchanged (Genesis 1:26, 28); however, animals began to fear man, and were terrified of him (9:2). Formerly, men were sustained by plant life (Genesis 1:29-30); however, after the flood they became omnivorous, consumers of the flesh of animals and the fruit of the earth (9:3-4).

Capital Punishment: Life for Life (9:5-6)

Genesis 9:5-6 repeated the value and sanctity of human life in the eyes of God, reminding us God created man in His image and likeness (9:6). Because human life is sacred, God established capital punishment to address all that shed the blood of man, whether man or beast (9:5). God’s justice required blood for blood (Psalm 9:12; Exodus 20:13; 21:12). Thus, a beast that killed a man, was to be put to death (9:5b; Exodus 21:28). Also, a murderer was to be put to death, for shedding the blood of another (9:6a). For that reason, government was instituted and empowered to enforce capital punishment (Romans 13:4).

God’s Universal Covenant (9:7-19)

The future of humanity was seeded by Noah’s three sons, and they were commanded to “be fruitful, and multiply” (9:7). Having accepted Noah’s sacrifices (8:22-23), the LORD established His covenant with him and his sons. What was the covenant? While it was to never again destroy the earth with floodwaters; it was much more.

The covenant promise was universal, and made to Noah, his sons, and his “seed after” him (all humanity, 9:9). I believe it was a renewal of God’s covenant with Adam and Eve; that her “seed” would crush the head (the seed) of the serpent (Satan, 3:15). It was a promise fulfilled through Noah’s lineage, and of whom Christ was born (Luke 3:36). The rainbow was more than a promise to never again destroy the earth by floodwaters (9:8-13). It was a sign God never forgets His covenant promises (9:14-17).

A Shameful, Tragic End (9:18-29)

The flood did not change man’s age-old problem—sin! Noah and his sons had witnessed God’s hatred of sin and judgment; nevertheless, they bore in their hearts the curse of sin, its effects, and tragic consequences. Though they believed God, and were saved by the Ark, they were still sinners! Noah was a just and upright man, and a man who walked with God (6:8-9); however, he and his sons were sinners.

Noah became “an husbandman” (farmer) after the flood, and planted a vineyard (9:20). Tragically, in his old age, Noah drank wine, “and was drunken” (9:21). Indiscreet in his intoxicated state, he was naked and “uncovered within his tent” (9:21). While the cause for Noah’s drunken state was not given, there are lessons we can take from this moment in history. (The first mention of wine in the Scriptures was associated with drunkenness, shame, and a curse that has continued to our day.)

Noah, the “preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5), became an object of scorn (9:21-23).

Whatever the excuse, Noah’s drunkenness was a spiritual and moral failure (9:21). Ham, who became the father of the Canaanites, “saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without” (9:22). The implication is he “saw” and mocked his father, unlike his brothers, Shem and Japheth, who took pangs “and covered the nakedness of their faither” (9:23). Ham took pleasure in his father’s shame, mocked and ridiculed him (9:22).

Noah’s Prophecy (9:24-29)

Noah, realizing Ham, “his younger son” (9:24), shamed him; pronounced a curse upon him and his lineage: Cursed be Canaan; A servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren” (9:25). Why did Noah not curse Ham who scorned his father? Perhaps the best answer is that Ham was a true believer (for he had believed God and been saved by the Ark). Canaan, the grandson of Noah (10:6), would become the father of wicked nations who rejected God, worshipped idols, and were perpetual enemies of God’s people (10:15-19).

Closing thoughts (9:26-29) – Genesis 9 concluded with Noah prophesying the future of his sons, and their posterity (9:26-27), and closed with the revelation that is a certainty for all men: He died (9:28-29). Though not perfect, Noah should be remembered as a righteous man. He was a man of faith who believed, and obeyed God, saving not only his household, but the human race from physical and spiritual annihilation.

How about you? How will you be remembered?

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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Is There Any HOPE? (1 John 3; 1 John 4)

Click on this link for translations of today’s devotion.

Scripture reading – 1 John 3; 1 John 4

We continue our devotional study of the Epistles of John, and come today to 1 John 3 and 4. John was writing to believers near the end of the 1st century, and who found themselves living in a world becoming increasingly hostile to them and the Gospel. After admonishing believers to “love not the world” (1 John 2:15-17), the apostle warned that there were “many antichrists” in the world and tragically, within the congregations (1 John 2:18-23).

Who were the antichrists? Some professed to be believers and were intolerant of sound doctrine (1 John 2:19). Others were false teachers (1 John 2:22-23), who purposed to seduce believers and lead them astray from the truth (1 John 2:26). John assured believers, if they would abide [literally sin not] in Christ, and were sensitive to the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit, they would discern truth from error (2:27-28). The focus of our devotion will be 1 John 3:1-3.

1 John 3

Recalling chapter and verse numbers were not in John’s original manuscript (these being added by editors), John’s letter continued in chapter 3 with a wonderful, affectionate reminder: “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not” (3:1).

A Message of HOPE (3:1-3)

Believers are not only the object of God the Father’s love (3:1), we are “the sons of God” (3:1a), and therefore strangers in the world. Knowing the world rejected Christ, and “knew Him not” (3:1b), we who are “the sons of God” do not look to the world for our identity or affirmation. As we heed God’s Word, and yield to His will (Romans 12:1-2), we grow spiritually and are changed into the likeness of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). Believers who look in anticipation for the coming of Christ, will find “when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (3:2).

In fact, the believer’s HOPE motivates him to be ever purifying his soul of sin, that we might be pure and holy, “even as He is pure” (3:3).

What is HOPE?

Hope, in my opinion, is something you might have and do not appreciate, until it is lost. For instance, it is easy to define “hopeless.” Despair, despondent, dejected, downhearted, downcast, depressed are all terms that describe a state of hopelessness. HOPE, however, is a challenge to define. Words like anticipation, aspiration, and expectation might capture some of the essence of HOPE; however, they fall short in accurately defining it. Generally, the world considers HOPE to be little more than wishful thinking. Interestingly, the ancient world had many gods (gods of war, love, light, fertility, healing, death, beauty, and agriculture); however, to my knowledge no civilization worshiped a “god of hope.”

The God of Hope

HOPE occurs 143 times in the King James Version of the Bible. Twenty-six times in the Psalms, the LORD and His Word are referred to as the believer’s object of HOPE. We are to “Hope in the LORD” (Psalm 31:24), “Hope in [His] mercy” (Psalm 33:18), and “Hope in [His] judgments,” because the LORD is just (Psalm 119:43).

The prophet Jeremiah identified God as the believer’s object of HOPE, writing, “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is” (Jeremiah 17:7). HOPE was also a frequent theme of the apostle Paul, who in his letter to believers in Corinth, wrote, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Corinthians 15:19). Believer, our God is the God of HOPE!

The Believer’s HOPE

The world defines hope as probabilities and wishful thinking; however, the believer’s HOPE is a confident expectation in God’s faithfulness and His ability to keep all He has promised. In other words, the LORD and His promises are the object of the believer’s HOPE.

Two Dimensions of Biblical HOPE: Faith and Action.

HOPE was one of three virtues Paul employed when he defined the essence of a believer’s character: “And now abideth faith, HOPE, [and] charity” (1 Corinthians 13:13). In his letter to believers in Rome, Paul prayed, “Now the God of HOPE fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in HOPE” (Romans 15:13a).

Application – Biblical HOPE is an active expectation the LORD will fulfill all He has promised. HOPE accepts circumstances and challenges as from the hand of the Lord (Romans 8:28). HOPE believes God, and makes the best of one’s circumstances. HOPE trusts, and obeys the LORD even when all seems hopeless.

Closing thoughts –An Old Testament example of Biblical HOPE is identified in the lives of four young Jewish men. Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were among the first Jews taken captive to Babylon (Daniel 1). Their last memories of family, the city of Jerusalem, and their homeland were of a fallen, defeated people. Humanly speaking, all hope was lost. Yet, how did they respond to their circumstances? Did they follow their brethren, embrace the culture of the world, and bow their wills to the commands and idols of a pagan king? No!

Those four young men followed Daniel’s example, who “purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank” (Daniel 1:8). They determined to keep God’s covenant, and obey His Law and Commandments, and HOPE in the LORD.

Biblical HOPE aspires to a pure life, even as the LORD is pure and holy. (1 John 3:3)

Have you any HOPE?

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization.
Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625.
You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

The Character and Moral Depravity of the Last Days (2 Timothy 3; 2 Timothy 4)

Click on this link for translations of today’s devotion.

Scripture reading – 2 Timothy 3; 2 Timothy 4

Our Scripture reading brings us to the close of Paul’s final epistle. Addressed to Timothy, his “dearly beloved son” in the faith (1:2), one can sense the power and passion of that great apostle whose life was a testimony of God’s grace and humility. 2 Timothy 3 served as a powerful warning and exhortation to not only Timothy, but to all believers. 2 Timothy 4 recorded Paul’s final salute, his farewell address to Timothy and all who would read this epistle.

Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (3:16-17), Paul wrote with the passion of a man who knew his earthly ministry and days were ending. For our devotion, I will limit my focus to 2 Timothy 3, with the hope I might return to this powerful passage in the future.

2 Timothy 3 – Preaching to the Church of the Last Days

After urging Timothy to be faithful, and reminding him of his spiritual heritage (2:14-15), Paul admonished the young preacher with a prophetic portrait of “the last days,” warning, “perilous times shall come” (3:1).

The Character of the Last Days (3:1)

The “last days” are the days that followed Christ’s ascension to heaven (Acts 1-2), and precede the Second Coming of Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:13-19). Paul warned: “This know” (meaning be sure, don’t be surprised), “in the last days” (the final time, the end of the ages), “perilous times shall come” (difficult, violent, dangerous times of wickedness and depravity).

Paul warned, the latter days of the earth will be marked by wickedness and apostasy like the world had not seen since the days of Noah. The apostle John would later write concerning the apostate church of Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-20), the church of the last days: “Thou art neither cold nor hot… thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:15-17). Tragically, the 21st century church is everything John warned the apostate church would become!

The Moral Depravity of the Church in the Last Days (3:2-9)

In amazing, prophetic detail, Paul described not only the world, but in particular the congregations of professing believers in the last days. For our study, I suggest four vivid portraits that are an apt depiction of the 21st century church and its moral depravity. (Please note that words in brackets are from the author and meant to amplify or illuminate your study.)

A Heresy of Self-love (3:2-4)

2For men shall be lovers of their own selves [self-centered; self-serving], covetous [lovers of silver], boasters, proud, blasphemers [cursing, reviling God’s name], disobedient to parents (Exodus 20:12), unthankful, unholy [having no regard for God],

3Without natural affection [indifferent; unloving], trucebreakers [hostile; divisive], false accusers [slanderers], incontinent [immoral], fierce [cruel; savage], despisers of those that are good, [hate the righteous] 4Traitors [betrayers], heady [heady], highminded [puffed up], lovers of pleasures [narcissistic] more than lovers of God” (3:2-4)

A Prevalence of Hypocrisy (3:5)

The second trait of the church in the last days is hypocrisy. Professing believers are described as displaying an outward piety, but their lives show no effect of the conviction and power of God’s Word. Paul warned, “turn away” from them (3:5). In other words, do not be a member of a fellowship that is guilty of a pattern of sin and ungodliness (1 Corinthians 5:9-11, 13; 2 Corinthians 6:17).

The Presence of Apostates Leading Astray the Spiritually Weak (3:6-7)

In the last days, the church will be afflicted with false teachers and their doctrines (3:6-7). With the introduction of mass publishing, radio and television in the 20th century, and the internet in the 21st century, apostate teaching has become epidemic. False teachers “creep into houses,” and “silly,” foolish women often fall victim, taking their families with them into all manner of evil (3:6). Interestingly, they are described as “ever learning,” always seeking some new doctrine, but tragically, they are blinded by sin and “never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (3:7).

The Exposure and Punishment of False Teachers (3:8-9)

Apostate teachers were compared with men who were believed to have been part of Pharoah’s court (Exodus 7:11).  We read, Jannes and Jambres had “withstood Moses” (3:8), and perhaps counterfeited the signs (miracles) performed by him. Paul warned, false teachers were like Jannes and Jambres. They are dangerous, often skilled orators, and at first their deviation from the Truth is subtle. Only those with spiritual discernment are able to avoid being carried away with their false doctrine. As Jannes and Jambres were eventually exposed as frauds, and counterfeiters, so false teachers should be exposed, and allowed to “proceed no further” (3:9a).

Question – How might believers avoid false teachers?

Two closing principles (3:10-12; 15-17)

1) Know who you are following (3:10-12).

2) Study and know the Scriptures: They “are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith…[for] 16All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (3:15-17).

I urge you to examine not only your church fellowship, but those you follow for spiritual direction.

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

Are you a Legalist, or a Believer in Progressive Sanctification? (Colossians 3; Colossians 4)

Click on this link for translations of today’s devotional.

Scripture reading – Colossians 3; Colossians 4

We continue our study of Paul’s Epistle to the Colossians, and conclude our two-day study of the book with an examination of Colossians 3 and 4.

“Progressive Sanctification” may be the most neglected topic of the 21st century church. Tragically, few preachers teach this principle for fear of going into an arena where carnal believers will hurl accusations of extremism or legalism. Nevertheless, “Progressive Sanctification” is a Biblical principle, and I dare not overlook this important instruction on spiritual growth. The focus of this devotional will be Colossians 3.

Colossians 3 – New Creature, New Life

The Focus of the New Life (3:1).

In two words, the “new life” is the subject of Colossians 3, as Paul painted a portrait of the believer’s “new life” in Christ. Paul wrote, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God” (3:1). The new believer’s relationship with Jesus Christ changes everything: His desires, focus, affections, and perspective on life, death, and eternity. When a sincere believer identifies with Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection (3:1a), he experiences a radical change in his affections. He begins to “seek” and desire “things which are above” (3:1b).

The Desires and Affections of the New Life (3:1c-4)

Rather than seek the things of the world (1 John 2:15-17), the believer’s desires are heavenly, “where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God” (3:1c). His thoughts and “affections” are “set…on things above, not on things on the earth” (3:2). As a result, he is “dead” to sin, because he treasures the things “hid with Christ in God” (3:3).

Kill the Old Man (3:5-8)

With an eternal perspective and heavenly affections, a sincere believer will be progressively putting to death (“mortify”) sinful attitudes and deeds that have no place in the members of the body of Christ, which is the church. Paul named several sins that are all too familiar: “fornication” (immorality; sexual sins) “uncleanness” (impure thoughts), “inordinate affections” (sexual, vile, forbidden lusts), “evil concupiscence” (sinful desires), and “covetousness, which is idolatry” (greed; an insatiable appetite for more). (3:5)

Then, Paul paused in his litany of sins, and warned, “For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience” (3:6). He admitted, the Colossian believers were no different than others, for they were all guilty of some of the sins, for they had both “walked…and lived in them” (3:7).

Paul exhorted the believers, “put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. 9Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds” (3:8-9). To “put off” was an expression we would associate with changing clothes. To put on a new set of clothes, one must “put off,” (take off) the old; the same is spiritually true of the believer.

“Legalist!” you say? No, not if you live the “new life.” (3:9-11)

If we are to put on the likeness of Christ, we can have no tolerance for “anger, wrath, or malice” (malice representing a deep-seated root of hate and bitterness). Not only does a right relationship with Christ change our spirit, it will change our vocabulary. Blasphemy (insulting God, or slandering others), “filthy communication”(obscene, filthy jests), and lying must be put away, if we are to live the new life in Christ (3:8-9).

Believers are expected to “put off the old man with his deeds” (the sinful ways he named in 3:8-9). We are to “put on the new man” (whose ways, attitudes, and actions he will define in 3:12-14). We are to do all this, because we are members of one body in Christ (3:11).

The Portrait of the New Man in Christ (3:12-14).

Having removed the sinful ways of the unsaved man, Paul challenged believers to “put on” those things that are becoming a believer who is “the elect of God, holy and beloved” (3:12a). Paul identified 8 spiritual traits or qualities characteristic of a spiritually growing, mature believer (3:12-14).

A Christlike believer will be compassionate and sympathetic (“bowels of mercies”) and kind (“kindness”).  A believer will evidence humility (“humbleness of mind”), “meekness” (gentleness), and be patient (“longsufferings”). He will suffer slights (“forbearing one another”), and be forgiving (“forgiving one another…even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye,” 3:13).

Closing thoughts (3:14-15) – The quality that binds and unifies those spiritual attributes (3:12-13) was summed up by Paul in verse 14: “14And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness (3:14). “Charity,” self-sacrificing love is the perfect bond, that unifies and holds everything together! (3:15) Believer, if you will identify and put off your old sinful ways and attitudes (3:5, 8-9), and replace them with the spiritual character of Christ (3:12-14, you will be able to “let the peace of God rule in [your heart]” (3:15a).

If the “peace of God” does not rule your heart, put off your sinful ways, and put on the spiritual attitudes of Christ!

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

“Now the God of Peace be With You All.” (Romans 15; Romans 16)

Click on this link for a translation of today’s devotional.

Scripture reading – Romans 15; Romans 16

Today’s Scripture reading brings us to the conclusion of our study of “The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans.” Romans 15 presents us with a portrait of sincere love and compassion, while Romans 16 follows with a series of loving salutations from Paul on behalf of the saints who were in his company. Our devotional will be taken from Romans 15.

Romans 15

Continuing his exhortation for believers to extend grace and love to the brethren, Paul exhorted the “strong[i.e., mature in the faith] to “bear [endure; receive] the infirmities [weaknesses] of the weak [i.e., weak in the faith; immature], and not to please [i.e., boast; think better of] themselves (15:1).

A Sad Testimony of Spiritual Cannibalism

In my opinion, Romans 15:1 defines one of the great failings of Bible-believing churches in the late 20th century. While weaker, immature believers struggled with carnality (worldliness), those older in the faith judged and condemned them. In the absence of mutual love and understanding, carnal, immature believers have accused their elders of being legalists, and the elders have judged and condemned the carnal.

To both the weak and the strong, Paul wrote: “Let every one of us please [i.e., soften the heart of] his neighbor for his good [to benefit his character] to edification [build up spiritually]” (Romans 15:2). Like “iron sharpeneth iron” (Proverbs 27:17), believers are tasked with the responsibility to focus on the “good to edification” of one another (15:2).  In other words, we are to build up each other in the faith.

Perhaps in defense of the boldness exhibited in his letter, Paul reminded the believers he was called “the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles” (15:15-16). Bearing the weight of the ministry to which he was called, Paul declared: “For I will not dare [presume] to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought [worked; accomplished; fashioned] by me, to make the Gentiles obedient [submissive; in subjection], by word [speech] and deed [i.e., good works; action; behavior] (Romans 15:18).

Paul aspired to preach the Gospel, and give God glory for what He accomplished through him. He was determined that his life, words and deeds, would serve as a testimony of the Gospel he preached.

Closing thoughts – The 21st century has seen the rise of spiritual leaders who have avoided the “legalist” label, and accommodated a generation of “weak,” carnal believers. Instead of edification that requires reproving, rebuking, and exhorting “with all longsuffering and doctrine” (1 Timothy 4:2), pastors, school administrators, and faculty have pacified the worldly appetites of the carnal. Sadly, shallow, spiritually anemic preaching has given rise to a carnality that is a cancer in our homes, churches, and institutions.

I close with Paul’s admonition we should all heed: “17Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them” (Romans 16:17).

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

A World Gone Mad: The Tragedy of Moral Depravity (Romans 1)

Click on this link for a translation of today’s devotional.

Scripture reading – Romans 1

This devotional is a follow-up to my earlier introduction to Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, and one I believe the importance of chapter 1 warrants. Paul’s letter to believers in Rome expressed not only his love for them, but also his longing to fellowship with them for a season (1:10-11). Though his journey to Rome had been prevented (1:12-14), Paul assured the believers, “15So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. 16For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (1:15-16).

Paul was aware of the dark clouds of persecution already visible on the horizon, and would soon engulf the Roman empire. Tens of thousands of believers would be sent to martyrs’ deaths, and Paul felt an urgency to ground them in the faith.

The Sin of Man, and the Wrath of God (1:18-21)

We find in the balance of Romans 1, a depth and breadth of fundamental truths that humanity denies, but are universally shown. While men deny the evidences of the Creator and Divine design, nature itself gives testimony of the handiwork of God; therefore, Paul declared, “the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (1:20). Creation serves as a testimony of perfect design, yet, man’s sin and rebellion has introduced a chaotic, self-destructive state, and provoked God’s wrath “against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness” (1:18).

We have not seen the depth of depravity to which men will go when they deny God, and suppress righteousness and truth. Yet, we are witnessing in the 21st century a denial of the undeniable (an example, some of this generation have denied the biological evidences of two sexes—male and female). What is the lesson? Deny the Creator, and there is no end to man’s wicked imaginations (1:21).

An Attitude of Ingratitude (1:21-22)

The hardness and darkness of man’s heart is visible, and undeniable (1:21). Though the Creator is the source of life and well-being, man has rejected him and proposed an evolutionary process that has no scientific basis, and is as irrational, as it is foolish (imagine, an intricate design, but no designer…the thought is preposterous).

While the concept of Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theory would not be written for 1800 years, Paul diagnosed man’s spiritual crisis, writing of men, they “became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools” (1:21-22). The classrooms of schools, colleges and universities in the 21st century are instructed by men and women who imagine they are wise philosophers, and lovers of wisdom (1:21). Yet, having denied their Creator, they have become fools, incapable of understanding truth or making moral judgments (discerning between good and evil, 1:22).

The Depth of Depravity (1:23-27)

How foolish are men who deny the revelation of God in His creation? In Paul’s day they worshipped nature, “and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things” (1:23). What becomes of a world that rejects God?

There is no limit to the depths of moral depravity to which men will descend. In fact, men become slaves to sin, and “dishonour [shame] their own bodies between themselves” (1:24). Because they reject God’s truth, they worship and serve nature (1:25). Rejecting the Creator, and natural design, men and women turn to sodomy, as “women did change the natural use into that which is against nature [contrary to nature]: 27And likewise also the men, leaving [forsaking; abandoning] the natural use of the woman, burned [inflamed; raged] in their lust one toward another; men with men working [doing] that which is unseemly [shameful; indecent], and receiving in themselves that recompence [penalty] of their error which was meet [demanding the judgment of God]” (1:26-27).

Closing thoughts (1:28-32) – What a tragic portrait of man’s rebellion, and moral depravity! Man has cast aside the knowledge of His Creator, and God has abandoned him to destructive passions and lusts. Recorded in Romans 1:29-31 are twenty-three signs or indications a man, people who have abandoned God.

Romans 1:29All unrighteousness (all manner of sin); fornication (sexual immorality: adultery, prostitution, pornography); wickedness (malice; meanness); covetousness (greed; love of wealth and possessions); maliciousness (desire to hurt or harm another); envy (jealous; despising the success of others); murder (taking innocent life); debate (quarreling; contentious); deceit (lie; guile; entrapment); malignity (dishonorable; evil); and whisperers (slander; gossip).

Romans 1:30Backbiters (slanderers); haters of God; despiteful (scoffers); proud (haughty, arrogant); boasters(braggers); inventors of evil things (new means of sexual debauchers); and disobedient to parents (treating parents with disdain and disrespect);

Romans 1:31Without understanding (foolish, ignorant of God and His Law); covenantbreakers (breaking contracts, covenants, and agreements); without natural affection (lacking a natural love for family); implacable(refusing to forgive and be reconciled); and unmerciful (lack compassion; without mercy)

Sinful man is “without excuse” (1:20, 32). In spite of having the judgment of God written upon his conscience, man not only continues in his sin, but takes pleasure in watching others sin (1:32).

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Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

The Prodigal Son, and the Question of Divorce (Luke 15; Luke 16)

Scripture reading – Luke 15; Luke 16

Today’s devotional reading continues our study of the Gospel of Luke. Chapters 15 and 16 contain some of the most beloved parables taught by our LORD. The Lost Sheep (15:4-10), The Prodigal Son (15:11-32), The Unfaithful Servant (16:1-13), and The Rich Man and Lazarus (16:19-31) are illustrative of God’s longsuffering and love. Because the latter used a man’s proper name (Lazarus), some suggest it was in fact an actual story, and should not fall into the category of an allegory (parable).

Luke 15

The parable of The Prodigal Son (15:11-32) is among the most beloved of all the parables. Notice there are three main characters in the tale: the loving father, the prodigal who was the younger son, and the eldest son who was proud and unforgiving. Because the tale is so well-known, I will limit my observations to a few remarks.

The first two verses reveal the setting and circumstances that prompted the story: “Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. 2And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them” (15:1-2).

As you read the drama between the father, and his sons, notice the parallel between the actors in the parable and those mentioned in Luke 15:1-2. The “publicans and sinners” were like the rebellious younger son, who “wasted his substance with riotous living…and began to be in want,” yet, were received by Christ (15:14). The Pharisees and scribes, like the elder brother who refused to accept his younger brother, resented and criticized Jesus for receiving and eating with sinners (15:2, 28-30). Of course, the father who received his younger son, forgave and restored him as a son, was a picture of Christ’s love for sinners (15:2b, 20-24).

Luke 16

This chapter opens with The Parable of the Unjust Steward (16:1-12), and concludes with the dramatic story of The Rich Man and Lazarus (16:19-31). In the midst of the chapter are five verses that seem to interrupt the flow of the narratives, until we remember they embodied Christ’s response to his adversaries (16:14). The Pharisees, often used the occasion of Jesus teaching the people as an opportunity to criticize and confront Him. Having listened to the parable of “The Unjust Steward” (16:1-13), the Pharisees “who were covetous” (16:14) began to “deride” Jesus, openly mocking Him before the people.

Rather than retreat, Jesus answered the derision of the Pharisees and used the occasion to expose their hypocrisy.  He accused those religious leaders of aspiring for men’s venerations, and unmasked the hypocrisy He knew was in their hearts (16:15).

The Pharisees, who considered themselves experts in the law of God, listened as Jesus said, “16  The law and the prophets were until John [the Baptist]: since that time the kingdom of God is preached [marked by the coming of Jesus Christ], and every man presseth [pushes by force; forcing his own way] into it. 17  And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle [small stroke of a pen] of the law to fail” (16:16-17).

John the Baptist was the bridge from the prophets and prophecies of the Old Testament, to Christ, and His preaching the gospel of “the kingdom of God” (16:16-17). Then, Jesus addressed an issue of Old Testament law the Pharisees had distorted… marriage and adultery— “Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery” (16:18).

The Pharisees had failed to uphold the sanctity of marriage being between one man and one woman as God designed (Genesis 2:21-24; Matthew 5:31-32; 19:4-10; Ephesians 5:28-33). Those hypocrites had mislead the people, and misinterpreted Deuteronomy 24:1-4. They gave liberty for men to divorce their wives for the silliest of reasons.

Closing thoughts – I close today’s devotional with a few parting thoughts.  The first, God’s will and His design of marriage is a lifetime covenant between one man and one woman. Furthermore, the Scriptures are abundantly clear–God hates divorce (“For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that He hateth putting away,” Malachi 2:16).  On a personal, and closing note: I believe the only grounds for divorce is unrepentant adultery, and I cite three proof scriptures for my authority in the matter.

Matthew 5:31-32 – “It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: 32  But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.”

Matthew 19:9 – “And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.”

1 Corinthians 7:15 – “But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.”

So much more might be said on the subject of marriage and divorce, but I will address that topic at another time.

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please email your request to HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com.

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

Divine Providence: The Invisible Hand of An All-Loving God (Esther 1; Esther 2)

Scripture reading – Esther 1; Esther 2

The Book of Esther is one of only two books in the Bible that never mentions God by name (the other is the Song of Solomon). That fact, however, cannot dismiss the indisputable evidences of divine providence seen throughout the pages of this book. Chronologically, the historical events recorded in the Book of Esther fall in the midst of the writings of Ezra and Nehemiah.

What is divine providence?

Simply defined, providence means “to foresee” or “to see before.”  In his book, “The Hand of God in History,” Hollis Read, a 19th century historian writes, “History, when rightly written, is but a record of providence; and he who would read history rightly, must read it with his eye constantly fixed on the hand of God.”

Many great minds have attempted to define providence. T. Dewitt Talmage, a 19th century clergyman observed: “Despots may plan and armies may march, and the congresses of nations may seem to think they are adjusting all the affairs of the world, but the mighty men of the earth are only the dust of the chariot wheels of God’s providence.”

Author and theologian J.I. Packer said of divine providence, “[God] knows, and foreknows, all things, and His foreknowledge is foreordination; He, therefore, will have the last word, both in world history and in the destiny of every man.”

Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States, stated, “The longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, that God governs in the affairs of man.”

I add to the chorus of others who have defined Divine Providence my own definition:

Providence is God’s sustaining oversight of His creation, and His direction of all things to His appointed end and purpose which is His glory and my good (Romans 8:28-29). The providence of God is practical, personal, and cannot be divorced from His divine purpose.” 

The apostle Paul suggested the same, writing: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

The Book of Esther is a testimony of divine providence in the life of Esther, a young Jewish maiden, and the preservation of the Jews, God’s chosen people. The LORD sovereignly guided the affairs of a secular empire to fulfill His divine purpose and end. The focus of today’s devotional commentary is Esther 1 and Esther 2.

Esther 1 – A Royal Divorce, Persian Style

Ahasuerus (also known in history as King Xerxes I) was king of Persia (the region of modern Iran), and reigned from 486 BC to 465 BC. He was the fourth of five kings to rule the Empire of the Medes and the Persians. He was the grandson of Cyrus the Great, and the son of King Darius I. In his day, Ahasuerus was ruler of the most powerful nation in the world, and his kingdom extended from India to Africa (1:1). Divided into 127 provinces, Persia embraced all of today’s Middle East (1:4). Yet, the Persian empire was already past its zenith. According to Greek historian Herodotus, the events recorded in Esther 1 would have occurred before Ahasuerus attacked Greece and suffered the loss of the Persian navy.

Three lavish feasts were recorded in Esther 1. The first lasted 180 days (1:3-4), and the second, though lasting only seven days, was greater than the first and was a scene of sin and drunken debauchery (1:5-8). The third feast, apparently coinciding with the king’s drunken, weeklong banquet, was hosted by Queen Vashti for the women of the city (1:9).

Drunk with wine, and apparently at a loss of his senses, King Ahasuerus commanded his beautiful queen to parade herself before his guests (1:10-11). Queen Vashti, however, refused to obey the king’s command (1:12), and her refusal created a royal crisis (1:13-18) for the drunken king. Too proud to humble himself and accept his queen was the wiser, Ahasuerus issued a decree and forever banished Vashti from her throne and his palace (1:19-22).

Esther 2

A Defeated King and A Virgin Who Became Queen (Esther 2:1-7)

Having suffered his first defeat and the loss of his navy, Ahasuerus returned to his throne and “remembered Vashti, and what she had done, and what was decreed against her” (2:1). The king’s rash banishment of Queen Vashti (1:19-22), set in motion a series of events that propelled a Jewish maiden named Hadassah (her Babylonian name was Esther, 2:7), from the anonymity of a maiden, to the throne of Persia.

Some 50,000 people of the tribes of Benjamin and Judah had returned to Israel (Ezra 1); however, many Jews had chosen to remain in Babylon, and among them was a Jewish man named Mordecai (2:5-7). Mordecai, had taken Hadassah into his household after the deaths of her parents and brought her up as his daughter (2:7). Though tragic, the premature deaths of Esther’s parents, and her adoption by Mordecai, were part of God’s sovereign, providential plan for her life.

A Royal Marriage (2:8-17)

Esther’s life is a lasting testimony of God’s grace, and her beauty and humble demeanor gained her favor with “Hegai, keeper of” the king’s harem (2:8). “Out of the king’s house: [Hegai] preferred her and her maids unto the best place of the house of the women” (2:9). As discreet as she was beautiful, Esther obeyed Mordecai and did not reveal to any she was Jewish (2:10, 20).

Every maiden completed her season of purification, and was summoned by the king to his chamber (2:14), but the king found no delight in any of the women (2:15). Esther, who had “obtained favor in the sight of all them that looked upon her” (2:15), was called before Ahasuerus. “The king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favour in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti” (2:17).

Closing thoughts (2:18-23) – In God’s providence, Mordecai learned of a plot to assassinate the king. Giving the names of the insurgents to Esther, she endeared Mordecai to the king (2:22), and his loyalty was recorded “in the book of the chronicles before the king” (2:23).

Think about it: Because she had experienced the deaths of her father and mother, Esther’s life might have been defined by bitterness. Instead, she chose to accept the LORD’s will with grace and submission, and was honored to serve the LORD as queen of Persia.

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

Belshazzar’s Final Feast: The Party is Over (Daniel 5; Daniel 6)

Scripture reading – Daniel 5; Daniel 6

Our Scripture reading is Daniel 5 and 6, but the focus of today’s devotional will be solely Daniel 5.

I have made the observation how the History of the Nations is “His-Story,” the Story of God’s Sovereignty. The rise of nations, and their precipitous fall serve as a testimony of God’s hand. The ruins of failed nations dot the landscape of the world, and are buried under desert sands, or discovered under the relics of past civilizations. Though leaders of nations boast in their might, they would do well to remember, “Our God is in the heavens: He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased” (Psalm 115:3).

Daniel 5 – The Fall of Babylon

Babylon’s rise from a city-state to a world empire comes to a sudden, and decisive end in Daniel 5. The Chaldean kingdom barely spanned a century. Her rise to power under Nebuchadnezzar, and sudden fall under Belshazzar fulfilled God’s prophecies of judgment against Israel and her restoration to the land after 70 years (Isaiah 13:17-22; 21:1-10; 47:1-5; Jeremiah 51:33-58).

The Actions of a Foolish King (5:1-12)

The Scriptures introduce us to Belshazzar without an introduction, whom we believe was the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar (5:1). Though he knew the astonishing history of his grandfather and the humiliation he suffered when he scorned the LORD (5:21-22), the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar was a fool and dared to blaspheme the God of heaven. Hosting a banquet for a thousand nobles, the drunken king commanded the gold and silver vessels from the LORD’s Temple be brought to his tables. The king and his guests drank from the sacred vessels (5:2-3) and scorned the Creator of the Universe, toasting their “gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone” (5:4).

Suddenly, the king spied the “fingers of a man’s hand writing on the plaster of the wall, over by a candlestick” (5:5). Illuminated by the glow of the light, and the sight of a man’s fingers etching words into the plaster of the wall, the king was terrified and visibly shaken (5:6). The demeanor of the king silenced the banquet, as the king summoned the wise men of his realm to come, read, and interpret the words on the wall (5:7). The king offered the reward of a scarlet robe, a golden chain (probably a symbol of authority), and the role of “the third ruler in the kingdom” (his father is believed to have been his co-ruler, 5:7). Yet, none of the wise men could read, or tell the meaning of the words on the wall (5:8).

Though not a part of the drunken revelry, the queen mother of the realm (most likely the wife of the late king Nebuchadnezzar), received news the banquet was interrupted, and came to the hall to see her grandson (5:10). Offering comfort and counsel (5:10-11), the queen reminded Belshazzar there was yet a man of the Hebrews who served Nebuchadnezzar, and had the reputation of being a man of wisdom (5:11). The queen counseled her grandson to summon Daniel, for he had the reputation of being a man with “an excellent spirit, and knowledge, and understanding, interpreting of dreams” (5:12).

The Appeal of a Foolish King (5:13-17)

Belshazzar summoned Daniel, who was now an elderly man, and inquired if he had served Nebuchadnezzar as counselor (5:13-14). Relating to Daniel his own wise men failed him (5:15), the king appealed to the aged prophet to read the writing on the wall, and promised to reward him with a scarlet robe, a gold chain, and promote him to “the third ruler in the kingdom” (5:16). Indifferent to the promise of reward and promotion (for a man of God will not be bought or bribed), Daniel rejected the king’s proposal (5:16-17a). He did, however, assure the king he would read “and make known to him the interpretation” (5:17).

Daniel’s Analysis of the Inscription (5:18-23)

Before he interpreted the words on the wall, Daniel reminded Belshazzar his grandfather had been a great and powerful king, “but when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he [had been] deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him” (5:20; 4:23). The humiliation of Nebuchadnezzar lasted seven years, until he humbled himself and acknowledged “the most high God ruled in the kingdom of men, and that he appointeth over it whomsoever he will” (5:21).

Daniel then rebuked the king, and said, “thou his son [grandson], O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this” (5:22). The king had mocked “the Lord of heaven” and taken the vessels that were for His Temple, and blasphemed God (5:23). He had praised idols “of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone” (5:23), though they cannot see, “nor hear, nor know” (5:23). Even though the God of heaven holds man’s breath in His hand, Belshazzar had “not glorified” Him (5:23).

Numbered, Numbered, Wanting, and Broken (5:25-28)

Fulfilling his obligation as prophet, and the king’s messenger, Daniel boldly declared and interpreted the writing on the wall: “MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN” (5:25).

Unlike Nebuchadnezzar, whom God gave opportunity to humble himself and repent, there would be no mercy for Belshazzar and his kingdom. He would not escape the judgment of God for his days were numbered and fulfilled; he had been weighed in God’s just scales; and the kingdom would be divided, “and given to the Medes and Persians” (5:27-28).

Closing thoughts (5:29-31) – There was no escape for Belshazzar, for he was guilty: Guilty of pride, Guilty of defying, blaspheming, and profaning God’s name; Guilty of idolatry, and Guilty of failing to honor and acknowledge God as Sovereign.

The foolish king’s final act was to honor the servant of God proclaiming him a ruler of a kingdom that was doomed. He dressed Daniel in a robe of purple, and hanging about his neck a chain of gold, yet, all was for naught (5:29). By diverting the waters of the Euphrates River, the Medes and Persians were already pouring into the city, and that night Babylon would fall and “Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans [was] slain” (5:30).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

Dare to be A Daniel (Daniel 1)

Scripture reading – Daniel 1

The Book of Daniel is a prophetic panorama of human history. Beginning with the days of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, our study of Daniel will encompass a prophetic vision of world empires that would follow: The Medo-Persian empire, followed by Greece, and then Rome. Yet, as we will see, the visions God imparted to Daniel were of the history of man that is past, present, and still future. Daniel’s writing included prophecies that are more than a footnote of history past; they are a foretelling of future events that will conclude with the Second Coming of Christ.

Daniel 1

Daniel 1 opens with a straightforward, historical account of events we studied in 2 Kings 24:12-16, for it was “in the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah (605 BC) came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it” (1:1). This was the first of three sieges by Babylon. The others that followed were 597 BC, and 586 BC (the final destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem, Jeremiah 25:9-12; 2 Kings 25).

The prophet Jeremiah warned Judah’s kings, if the people did not repent and turn to the LORD, His wrath would rise “against His people, till there was no remedy” (2 Chronicles 36:16).   Jeremiah prophesied the captivity in Babylon would last 70 years (Jeremiah 25:12) and when those years were “accomplished at Babylon,” the LORD would return His people to their land (Jeremiah 29:10).

The events recorded in Daniel 1 occurred at the time the Temple was plundered, and king Jehoiakim was taken captive to Babylon (1:1-2). 10,000 Jews were also taken captive following the first siege of Jerusalem (2 Kings 24:14-16), and among them were the finest young men of Jerusalem: “certain of the children of Israel, and of the king’s seed, and of the princes; 4Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans” (1:3-4).

Named among the captives of Judah were “Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah” (1:6). Desiring to complete their assimilation into the Babylonian culture, “the prince of the eunuchs gave names [to the Jewish captives]: for he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abed-nego” (1:7). Though we cannot be certain of his age, Daniel was probably between 13-17 years old when he was taken from his home and brought to Babylon with its strange language and idolatrous culture.

Nebuchadnezzar chose the best and brightest of Israel’s impressionable youth, and prepared them to one day take their place in the administration of his empire (Daniel 1:8).  Daniel was among those youth (1:4), and soon proved he was not only a gifted young man, but also a man of faith. Three other youth of Judah shared Daniel’s passion for the LORD: “Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: 7  Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abednego” (1:6-7).

Leading by example and conviction, “Daniel purposed [pledged; determined; made a decree] in his heart that he would not defile [pollute; soil; stain] himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine [lit. intoxicating wine] which he drank: therefore he requested [desired; sought; enquired] of the prince [captain; governor] of the eunuchs [most likely a castrated servant] that he might not defile [pollute; soil; stain] himself” (Daniel 1:8).

Daniel pledged his heart, and resolved in his character, “he would not defile himself” (Daniel 1:8). What courage!  What conviction!  What passion!  God was at work, and providentially “brought Daniel into favour [mercy; kindness; grace] and tender love [to have compassion; pity; i.e. brotherly love] with the prince [chief] of the eunuchs [who were the servants of the king] (1:9).

Faithful to their convictions and respectful of their authorities, God blessed the faith of Daniel and his three companions, and when they were proved (i.e. tested and examined) by Nebuchadnezzar, they appeared healthier than those “children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat” (1:15).

Closing thoughts (1:17-20) – We will see in our study, how the testing of Daniel’s faith prepared his heart for the opportunities, challenges, and trials he would face in his service to the kings of both Babylon and Persia (1:21).

In closing, I invite you to consider four qualities that defined Daniel’s submissive heart, and his sensitivity to the authority in his life: 1) He was subordinate in his spirit (1:12); 2) He was sincere in his appeal (1:12); 3) He was Scriptural in his purpose (1:12-13); 4) He was sensitive in his request (1:13-14).

Following Daniel as a perfect model of faith and convictions, every believer would do well to examine his own spirit, manner, convictions, and relationship with the authorities in his life.

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.