Category Archives: America

Ever Think, “Life Seems So Unfair?” (Job 24)

Scripture reading – Job 24

Job’s response to Eliphaz began in Job 23, and continues in Job 24. His friends had slandered his character, and accused him of some great evil; however, Job had continued to maintain his innocence. He had suffered overwhelming afflictions, and felt abandoned by God (Job 23). He had lamented, if only God would give him a hearing, he would argue his troubles were greater than his sins (23:1-7). Yet, Job was comforted (23:8-12). He had been wrongly accused, but he was confident that God knew he was a man of integrity, and that he sincerely desired to walk in His commandments (23:10-12).

Job 24 – “Where is Justice?”

Job had been accused of gross wrongdoing, and those accusations had left him wondering why he, an innocent man, had suffered so many sorrows, while the wicked seemed to prosper and go unpunished? Job pondered the sins of the wicked, and marveled that they seemed to prosper (24:2-17).

There are some men who are thieves (24:2-8). They remove “landmarks,” stakes that mark the boundaries of a man’s lands (24:2a). Some seize a neighbor’s sheep, and cause them to graze in his pastures (24:2b). Others prey upon the poor and the weak (24:3-8). Evil men steal the donkey of the orphan (24:3a), and demand a widow’s ox for surety or collateral (24:3b). They abuse the poor, and mislead them (24:4); leaving them to forage for food and shelter like wild beasts (24:5-8).

Some men are cruel to the weak and defenseless (24:9-17). They enslave fatherless children (24:9), and take his robes as collateral for debt (24:10). An ox is allowed the grain he treads out for his reward, but the wicked leave the poor man destitute, hungry, and thirsty (24:11-12; Deuteronomy 25:4; 1 Corinthians 9:9; 1 Timothy 5:18).

Some men are murderers, and adulterers (24:14-17). Murderers plot and prey upon the poor and needy (24:14), and adulterers wait for the twilight of the evening, and disguise their faces to avoid recognition (24:15). They mark the houses in the daytime, and enjoy the shadows of darkness to conceal their sins (24:16-17).

The Character and Fate of the Wicked (24:18-25)

Job agreed with his friends, the wicked will not go unpunished. They steal the fruits of other men’s labor, because they are unwilling to toil in their own vineyards (24:18). Nevertheless, like “drought and heat consume the snow,” the wicked will eventually go the way of all sinners, to “the grave” (24:19).

The destiny of the wicked is inevitable:20The womb shall forget him; the worm shall feed sweetly on him; He shall be no more remembered; And wickedness shall be broken as a tree” (24:20). Rich or poor, famous or infamous, powerful or weak, the bodies of the dead eventually become the food of worms. While the most stately of trees will eventually be broken and fall, the bodies of the most powerful will inevitably decay in their graves.

We may wonder why God is so patient with the wicked, and his pernicious ways. We can be assured of this, “His eyes are upon their ways” (24:23).

Proverbs 15:33The eyes of the Lord are in every place, Beholding the evil and the good.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

The Tragic Consequences of Generational Sins (Job 20-21)

Scripture reading – Job 20-21

Job 20 records the second and final response of Zophar the Naamathite (his first speech was recorded in Job 11). Offended by Job’s admonition that his “friends” would face God’s wrath for their harsh judgments (19:28-29), Zophar’s rebuke came swift and furious (20:1-3).

Job 20:4-29 – The Fate of the Wicked

Like his friends, Zophar inferred that Job’s afflictions were to be expected by those who are wicked. Consider three erroneous opinions Zophar stated regarding his observations of the wicked.

The first error, that the wicked always come to destruction (20:4-11).

Zophar submitted that the rejoicing of the wicked is brief (20:4), and the honors bestowed on them perishes with them, and they are soon forgotten (20:5-8). Neither of those statements are necessarily true. In fact, the wicked often live out their lives enjoying ill acquired wealth, and their funerals and tombs are often grand spectacles to behold.

The second error, that the wicked will not prosper (20:12-23).

Continuing his erroneous observations, Zophar suggested that the prosperity of the wicked is brief (20:12), inevitably bites like a poisonous viper (20:13-16), and he dies in want.

One need remembers the LORD’s parable of a rich fool (Luke 12:16-21) to understand the error in Zophar’s reasoning. Beguiled with the pleasures of his riches, the rich man ordered his barns be torn down to build greater barns, and said to his soul, “Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry” (Luke 12:19). Rather than die in want, the rich fool died as he had lived, enjoying his wealth until he learned in eternity that he was the poorest of men: “20But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? 21So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:20–21).

The third error in Zophar’s observations was that only the wicked suffer devastating sorrows, and catastrophic losses (20:24-29).

Zophar maintained that the wicked are struck down (20:24-25), and all that he has is destroyed (20:26).  He observed that the wicked feel everything is against him, until his riches are consumed by God’s wrath (20:27-28).

While it might be argued that the wicked often suffer loss, it is more often true that they are rewarded by the system of this fallen world, and hailed for their ill-gotten gains (John 15:19a).

The implication of Zophar’s argument was that Job’s sorrows were a wicked man’s afflictions, and such is the lot or “heritage,” God has “appointed” for the wicked (20:29).

Job 21 – Rather than Suffer, the Wicked Prosper

I will summarize Job 21 by outlining Job’s disagreement with Zophar’s fallacies. Demanding his friends be silent that he might speak, Job sarcastically challenged them that after he had spoken, “mock on” (21:1-2).

Confessing his struggle was with God, not with men (21:3-6), Job observed that the wicked and their children often live long lives, and enjoy prosperity (21:7-13). He contended that the riches of the wicked cause their hearts to be calloused, and “they say unto God, Depart from us; For we desire not the knowledge of thy ways. 15What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? And what profit should we have, if we pray unto him?” (21:14-15)

Failing to realize that they deserve nothing, and all that they have is a testimony of God’s grace and longsuffering, the prosperity of the wicked moves them to reject God (21:16).

Do not assume that the wicked go unpunished.

The consequences of sin are inevitable, and the wicked are “18 as stubble before the wind, And as chaff that the storm carrieth away. 19God layeth up his [the wicked’s] iniquity for his children: He rewardeth him, and he shall know it” (21:18-19).

Here is a tragic truth: The children of the wicked often suffer the influence of their parent’s sins. That truth is stated three times in the Law (Exodus 20:5; Numbers 14:18; Deuteronomy 5:9).

Numbers 14:18 – “18The Lord is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.”

Warning: The consequences of your sins may be borne by your children.

A Personal Note: Knowing this devotional series is read daily by hundreds of believers, I covet your prayers for my wife. She was hospitalized today, January 19, 2021, with pneumonia and we are waiting on confirmation if her illness is COVID-19 related. As you might imagine, the devotions in the Book of Job have been personal, and have coincided with my wife and me facing our own afflictions. Thank you for interceding for us. I will update this prayer request when I receive news.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Troubles are Inevitable in a World That Bears the Curse of Sin. (Job 14-15)

Scripture reading – Job 14-15

Job 14 brings us to the third of three chapters outlining Job’s reply to Zophar (Job 11). Unlike Eliphaz, Zophar made no pretense of comforting his suffering friend (11:1-3), and instead charged him with concealing sin and deserving what he believed was God’s punishment (11:4-6).

Job’s reply to Zophar began in Job 12 when he mocked his friends’ delusion that they had wisdom into the ways of God that he did not (12:1-4). Reserving the right to test and examine their counsel (12:11), he contended they had spoken much, but said nothing (13:1-2), and condemned them as “forgers of lies” (13:4). Stating his unshaken faith in God’s providence, Job declared, “though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him” (13:15).

Job 14 – An Elegy to Death

Job’s response to Zophar continues in Job 14 with an observation that is as beautiful as it is tragic. We read, 1Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble” (14:1).

There may be many joyful days in our earthly sojourn; however, there is no escaping the reality that humanity has a shared universal experience—trouble. Contradicting his friends’ counsel that his troubles were the afflictions of the wicked, Job challenged that troubles, trials, sorrows, and death are inevitable for sinner and saint alike. Job goes on to observe that the life of a man is like a flower that is soon cut down and perishes, and like a shadow that is soon gone when light is extinguished (14:2).

Confessing God sees, and knows man intimately (14:3-4), Job declared that a man’s “days are determined” (14:5a), and the “bounds” of his life “he cannot pass” (14:5b). In other words, God orders your birth, and your death. Wise men are conscious that it is inevitable that “man dieth, and wasteth away: Yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? …12So man lieth down, and riseth not” (14:10-12a). Desiring to escape his afflictions and sorrows, Job pled with God, “hide me in the grave…keep me secret, until thy wrath be past…set a time, and remember me” (14:13).

Though he was a man of ancient times, and did not have the privilege of the written Word that we possess today, nevertheless, Job was confident that physical death was not annihilation. Asking and answering the question of death, Job proposed, 14If a man die, shall he live again? All the days of my appointed time will I wait, Till my change come” (14:14).

On what was Job waiting? The Resurrection! He affirmed to the LORD, “15Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee” (14:15a).

Job 15 – Eliphaz’s Second of Three Speeches (Job 4-5; Job 22)

Eliphaz again picks up his accusation that Job’s troubles were indicative of what wicked men suffer. Rejecting Job’s plea of innocence (15:1-3), he charged him with folly, and turning away from God (15:4-6).

Eliphaz then stated a foolish supposition regarding the way and fate of the wicked (15:17-35). Beginning with a false premise, he stated, 20The wicked man travaileth with pain all his days” (15:20a). Rather than prove his assertion, he continued in his lie claiming that the prosperity of the wicked eventually comes to destruction (15:21). He contended that the wicked will be overcome by trouble (15:24), and “he shall not be rich, neither shall his substance continue” (15:29).

I close reminding you that Eliphaz’s conclusions were false. Contrary to his assertion, the wicked often prosper, and many die surrounded by their wealth, and often praised by their peers. Like many who profess wisdom, Eliphaz lacked understanding and godly discernment. He began his dispute with a false premise, and added to poor Job’s sorrows.

Lesson – Don’t assume your sorrows are the consequence of some wrongdoing;  troubles are inevitable in a world that bears the curse of sin.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Human Life is Sacred: Thou Shalt Not Kill! (Job 10)

Scripture reading – Job 10; (Exodus 20:13; Deuteronomy 5:17)

Note from the Author: This is a bonus devotional from today’s Scripture reading, Job 9-10. My earlier writing focused entirely on Job 9; however, I feel the central theme of Job 10 is too important for us not to take a moment to consider the sanctity (sacredness) of human life (Exodus 20:13; Deuteronomy 5:17).

Job 10:1-6 – Job’s Petition

Job’s reply to Bildad continued in Job 10, and he confessed to God what many have felt when besieged with trials and beset by troubles: “My soul is weary of my life” (10:1a).

Job’s statement was not a threat of suicide, but an honest, transparent complaint that the sorrows and losses he had experienced had taken their toll on him physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

Distressed in his soul, Job prayed, “Do not condemn me,” do not abandon me; show me why you have allowed such hardship and difficulties to fall upon me (10:2). Notice that Job’s appeal to His Creator was deeply personal, and he identified himself to the LORD as “the work of thine hands” (10:3b). He was not under any delusion that he merited God’s favor. In fact, the opposite was true. He acknowledged his “iniquity” and “sin” (10:6); however, he protested, “7Thou knowest that I am not wicked; And there is none that can deliver out of thine hand” (10:7).

Job 10:7-17 – Job’s Appeal to His Creator

The sanctity of human life is the central truth we find in these verses (10:7-17). Here is an inspiring passage that leaves no doubt that human life is consecrated from the moment of conception, and that God is intimately interested in each of us. From the unborn, to the very ancient among us, every human life is sacred, and conceived in the heart of God.

Notice Job’s description of God’s personal affection, and His attentiveness to everything about us:

Job 10:8–98Thine hands have made [shaped; formed] me and fashioned [created] me Together round about; yet thou dost destroy me. 9Remember, I beseech thee, that thou hast made [fashioned] me as the clay [an allusion to God creating Adam, Genesis 1:27; 2:7]; And wilt thou bring me into dust again? [implying death and decay]

God is not only the giver, and preserver of life; He is the gatekeeper for every trial and blessing that graces our lives.

Job 10:1212Thou hast granted [make; wrought; create] me life and favour [grace; loving-kindness], And thy visitation [lit. oversight] hath preserved [keep watch over] my spirit. 13And these things hast thou hid [treasured] in thine heart: I know that this is with thee.

David penned similar truths regarding the sacredness of human life, and acknowledged God as His Creator in Psalm 139:13-16.

Psalm 139:13–1613 For thou hast possessed [get; acquire] my reins [lit. kidneys; figuratively the mind; feelings]: thou hast covered [protect; defend] me in my mother’s womb [belly; bosom; body].
14 “I will praise [give thanks; confess] thee; for I am fearfully [amazingly; stand in awe or reverence] andwonderfully made [distinguish; uniquely; set apart]: marvellous [wonderful; distinguish; extraordinary; surpassing] are thy works [labor; i.e. needlework; deed]; and that my soul [life; person; being] knoweth [perceives; observes] right well [exceedingly; greatly].
15 My substance [bones and being] was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought [woven as a tapestry] in the lowest parts of the earth.
16 Thine eyes did see [perceive; look; behold] my substance [might; body; frame; bones], yet being unperfect[embryo; unformed mass]; and in thy book [letter; scroll] all my members were written [described; lit. – all the days of my life were ordained], which in continuance [day; time; continually] were fashioned [formed, as a potter; to mold], when as yet there was none [i.e. not the first] of them [before one day of my life was past].”

God is your Creator, and He knows you personally, and intimately. He has followed your life from the moment you were conceived, and has kept you by His sovereign, providential care. In fact, He loves you so much that He has extended His grace to you, offering salvation and forgiveness of sin through the death, burial, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Will you accept Him as your Savior?

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Just When You Think Things Could Not Get Worse! (Job 1-2)

Scripture reading – Job 1-2

Introduction to The Book of Job

Our chronological study of The Book of Genesis is interrupted by a diversion to The Book of Job.

The Book of Job is commonly accepted among scholars as the oldest book of the Bible. Genesis 1-5 gave us a perspective on Creation and the fall of man, and Genesis 6-11 carried the historical narrative from the worldwide flood, to God calling out Abraham. The man named Job is believed to have been a contemporary of Abraham. There are several details that lead us to accept that conclusion, particularly the names of ancient cities whose names were derived from men who were contemporaries of Abraham.

Job 1:1-5 – Job, the Man

The Book of Job introduces us to the man whose name it bears, giving us no background of the man, or how he came to be so incredibly wealthy.

Job 1:1 – “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.”

The exact location of the “land of Uz” is one of speculation; however, because there are cities mentioned in the book that are located in the land of Edom, we might place Uz in that geographical area (southeast Israel, on the border of Jordan to the east and Egypt to the south).

It is not Job’s birthplace, but his character that identifies him as an important figure in the Bible. He was what God would have every man to be: “Perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil” (1:1). He was perfect, meaning blameless, guiltless, a man of integrity. He was an upright man, righteous, and honest before God and man. He was a God-fearing man; a man who revered his Creator, and eschewed, or shunned evil (1:1).

Job was blessed with a large family, “seven sons and three daughters” (1:2), and great wealth (1:3). His children were adults with their own households (1:4), and having shared in their father’s wealth, they were enjoying the bounty of their own riches and observing a week of feast days with their siblings, perhaps as a celebration of the harvest.

When the feast days were finished, Job, acting as the spiritual priest of his family, summoned his children to offer sacrifices to God, reasoning, “It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually” (1:5). Notice that last phrase: “Thus did Job continually.” Worship and sacrifices were a constant pattern in Job’s life, and one he did not take lightly as the spiritual head of his family.

Job 1:6-12 – A Heavenly Council

Job 1:6 carries us into the midst of a heavenly council where “the sons of God” (whom I believe are angels), are standing before God’s throne, and in their midst was Satan, the serpent, the wicked one, the adversary of God and man (1:6). The LORD inquired of Satan, “Whence comest thou?”, and he answered saying, “From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it” (1:7b).

God turned the focus of the heavenly council to a man in whom He found great joy, and asked Satan, “Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?” (1:8).

Evidencing his adversarial heart, Satan questioned God, and implicated Job asking, “Doth Job fear God for nought? 10 Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. 11 But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face” (1:9-11).

Job 1:12-19 – From Riches to Rags

Accepting Satan’s challenge, the LORD gave him liberty to accost Job in a series of devastating trials, but limiting the devil’s power and commanding him, “Behold, all that he [Job] hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand” (1:12a). Departing from the presence of God, Satan went out and initiated a series of disastrous events that destroyed all Job’s earthly possessions (1:13-17), ultimately taking from him that which was dearest, his sons and daughters (1:18-19).

Now, Satan had slandered Job, supposing he was only faithful to God because he had been abundantly blessed and protected by Him (1:9-11). How did Job respond to his losses? Did he curse God as Satan alleged, he would? (1:11)

Rather than reprove his Creator, Job responded with humility, and acknowledged God’s sovereignty over His creation. He worshipped the LORD, and prayed, “Yahweh gives, and Yahweh takes away; blessed be the name of Yahweh” (1:21b). Contrary to Satan’s accusation, Job “sinned not, nor charged God foolishly” (1:22).

Job 2 – Job: His Body Afflicted, His Friends’ Inquisition

A thorough study of Job 2 will have to wait for another time, and another year; however, Job 2 records a second heavenly council (2:1-3), and introduces a trial that will afflict Job’s body and rob him of his health (2:4-7). You will meet Job’s wife who questions why he maintains his integrity in the midst of sorrows (2:9-10), and meet Job’s “three friends” who will assert his losses are a punishment for unconfessed sin (2:11-13).

A Closing Thought: Satan is a real person, and an adversary of believers; however, God limits his power and influence. When trials come, and they will, trust God knowing He is intensely interested in your soul and well-being.

Romans 8:2828 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.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

The Tower of Babel and One Big Unhappy Family (Genesis 10-11)

Scripture reading – Genesis 10-11

The conflicts among the races and nations of the world have their origin in today’s Scripture reading (Genesis 10-11). Genesis 10 lists the descendants of Noah’s three sons and concludes by introducing us to Terah, the father of Abraham, the patriarch. We find in Genesis 10-11 the common kinship of all humanity, traced back to Noah’s three sons.

Genesis 10 is where God begins to deal with the Hebrew people through the lineage of Shem. Though the Old Testament focuses upon the history of Israel, and God’s dealing with His chosen people, nonetheless, the LORD never forsook humanity.

Genesis 10

Genesis 10 records the names of sixteen sons who were born to Noah’s three sons (and perhaps as many daughters). Genesis 10 registers seventy individual nations that emerged from Noah’s sons: fourteen associated with Japheth (10:2-5), thirty linked to Ham (10:25-27), and twenty-six from Shem (10:21-31).

Japheth, Noah’s oldest son, was the father of many Gentile nations (9:27; 10:2-5), among them the ancient empires of Persia, Greece, and Rome, and the European people (namely, Germans, Russians, Italians, French, Spanish, and the English).

Ham, Noah’s youngest son who was identified as “Canaan” in Genesis 9:25, was father to some of the great empires of the ancient world, among them the Egyptians, Hittites, Sumerians, Canaanites, Phoenicians, and some scholars would suggest Chinese, Japanese, American Indians, and African tribes (10:6-20).

Although cursed to be a “servant of servants” (9:25-27), the accomplishments of Ham’s progeny were so vast that it appears they set their minds to cast off the curse of being a “servant of servants.” Nimrod, the grandson of Ham, and the son of Cush, was the first ruler following the flood (10:8-10). He was a “mighty hunter” (10:9), and founded what would become ancient “Babel…in the land of Shinar” (10:10).

Shem, Noah’s second born son, was “the father of all the children of Eber” (10:21-31). Scholars believe the name “Eber,” is an ancient word from which the word “Hebrew” was derived (10:21). “Eber” was the father of the Hebrews (Abraham is described as “Abram the Hebrew” in Genesis 14:13, and the nomadic Arab tribes and nations.

Shem’s lineage is the ancestral line through which God would fulfill His promise of a Redeemer Savior. Genesis 10 concludes leaving no doubt that all nations and people in our world today are descended from Noah’s three sons:

Genesis 10:32 – “32 These are the families of the sons of Noah, after their generations, in their nations: and by these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood.”

Genesis 11 – The Tower of Babel

Resisting God’s command to “replenish the earth” (9:1), Noah’s sons and their families continued as “one language, and of one speech” (11:1), and congregated in “a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there” (11:2).

Arising from their desire to continue as they were (being “of one language, and of one speech,” 11:1), mankind resolved to build “a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven” (11:4). Man’s sinful pride, self-sufficiency, and rebellion was summed up in this: Let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth” (11:4).

Once again, we are made privy to a heavenly conversation when the LORD determined to intervene, lest the wickedness and rebellion of man be carried so far that there would be no hope of salvation, and “nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do” (11:6).

Confounding their one language into multiple languages, the LORD caused the work on the tower and the city to cease, and men were forced to scatter abroad “upon the face of all the earth” (11:7-8).

Genesis 11 concludes with the lineage of Shem, and leading our Bible study to a great crossroads in the history of mankind: God calling Abraham (11:31-12:1).

Friend, never forget that the story of history is “HIS-STORY;” a testimony of God’s invisible, providential hand and His “Amazing Grace.”

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

“In the Beginning God Created” (Genesis 1)

Scripture reading – Genesis 1

January 1, 2021 marks the start of a new journey, a new opportunity, and a new challenge as you are presented with an opportunity to subscribe to a two-year Scripture reading schedule that will take you through a chronological study of God’s Word, from Genesis to Revelation. Let the journey begin!

An Introduction to The First Book of Moses Called Genesis

The Bible is the most influential book in history, and Genesis is its foundation. Genesis explains the origin of all things, and is the basis of our understanding of the universe, the earth, its atmosphere, and life itself. For instance, Genesis 1:27 presents us with the complexity and uniqueness of man, who was created in the “image of God.”  The societal foundation of marriage and family are established in Genesis 2:24-25. Genesis 3 reveals the origin of sin and its consequences. The basis of language, culture, and the existence of the nations are all declared in Genesis. Genesis also unveils the commencement of God’s answer to man’s wickedness; a Son who would be born of Abraham’s lineage, through whom all nations and people would be blessed (Genesis 12), fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

Warning: If you reject the Genesis account of creation you must reject the Bible!

The New Testament quotes from, or alludes to one hundred sixty-five passages in Genesis. In fact, there are more than one hundred direct quotes or references from Genesis 1-11 that are found the New Testament.

Genesis 1 – “In the Beginning God Created”

Creation declares the person and existence of the God of Creation (Romans 1:20-27), and what you believe concerning the existence, and the origin of life shapes your philosophy of life and worldview. Accepting or rejecting the Genesis account of Creation will influence the value you place on human life. If you believe, “God created man in His own image,” meaning His spiritual likeness (1:26-27), you must conclude that human life is sacred. Reject creation and you will come to the conclusion that the life of the unborn has little value.

Believe God is Creator, and the Genesis account of creation is true (Genesis 1), and you must accept that God has the sovereign authority to establish right and wrong, and define morality from immorality (1:29-31).

As you read the Genesis account of creation, you must come to a conclusion about the origin of life, and ask yourself, “Who can be trusted in the matter of the origin of life? Is evolution an unproven theory, or a scientific fact? Can you trust the Bible when it states simply, “In the beginning God created” (1:1)? Can the Bible and evolution co-exist?

The Biblical account of Creation offers no compromise with evolution, and evolution offers no compromise with the Biblical account of creation.

A literal interpretation of Genesis 1 must accept that God created the heaven and the earth in a literal six-day period (a day being 24 hours), and He rested on the seventh day (1:31-2:2). As Creator, God is Sovereign, and He is providentially involved in His creation, preserving and sustaining all the universe. “He looketh to the ends of the earth, and seeth under the whole heaven” (Job 28:24). “His eyes are upon the ways of man, and he seeth all his goings” (Job 34:21). “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good” (Proverbs 15:3).

Because God is our Creator, He has authority to oversee every facet of our lives, and to reward, or punish as He deems just in His providential will. The psalmist declared, “Our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased” (Psalm 115:3).

Reject God as Creator, and inevitably, ungodliness will command the soul of not only an individual, but a nation (Romans 1:28-32).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

P.S. You are invited to join me on January 1, 2021, and begin a Two-Year Chronological Bible Reading Schedule that will take you from Genesis to Revelation. 2_year_chronological_Bible_schedule_2021

I plan to continue writing, and publishing daily, devotional commentaries at www.HeartofAShepherd.com. It is a long journey, but it is well worth the effort, on both our parts.

Let Your Light Shine! (Titus 1-3)

Scripture reading – Titus 1-3

Today our chronological reading of the Scriptures brings us to Paul’s Epistle to Titus. This letter was most likely written after Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome, following his visit to the infant churches on the island of Crete. We know Paul was set free from prison sometime after his epistle to the believers in Philippi; however, the cause of his liberty is not revealed (although it may be that his accusers from Jerusalem had failed to appear before Caesar to bring a witness against the apostle.).

Like 1 Timothy, the Epistle to Titus is included in the books of the Bible known as “The Pastoral Epistles.” Though addressed to Titus, it appears the letter was meant to be read to the churches in Crete among whom he was a minister. Paul’s purpose seems to have been that of assuring the churches that Titus was empowered to act upon Paul’s authority.

As we observed with Timothy in an earlier devotion, Paul had a loving bond with Titus and addressed him as “mine own son after the common faith” (1:4). Titus was a Greek convert, and is identified in the Scriptures as an uncircumcised Gentile (Galatians 2:3). He was also a member of Paul’s inner-circle, and his “partner and fellowhelper,” privileged to be recognized as Paul’s co-laborer (2 Corinthians 8:23). Titus was entrusted and charged with the responsibility of ordaining “elders [pastors] in every city” on the isle of Crete (Titus 1:5-9).

Unlike contemporary letters that conclude with a parting salutation and signature, the Epistle to Tituscommences as Paul has all of his letters, introducing himself as its author, and stating his calling and authority as “a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness” (1:1).

Titus 1:1 captured the essence of Paul’s calling as a minister: A “servant,” literally a slave subject to the will of God. An “apostle,” a messenger sent to bear the message of another, and representing the authority of the sender, Jesus Christ. A custodian of the Faith, and a purveyor of the Truth that promotes godliness (1:1).

I invite you to pause and consider that, though you and I do not bear the authority of the apostle Paul, we are nevertheless the servants of God, the witnesses of our faith in Jesus Christ, and bear the responsibility of speaking the truth and promoting godliness (1:1).

Jesus taught His disciples the same responsibility (Matthew 5:13–16) in His Sermon on the Mount when He said:

Matthew 5:13–16 – “13 Ye are the salt of the earth [salt having a natural cleansing, healing, and preserving nature]: but if the salt have lost his savour [meaning to have been contaminated, compromised, and unfit for use], wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. 14 Ye are the light of the world [guiding lights, guiding sinners to Jesus Christ]. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven [unlike the world that seeks the spotlight for themselves, and the applause of men; believers are to direct the focus of the world to Jesus Christ].”

Fellow believer, we are living in a day that is growing spiritually darker, and even the smallest of God’s lights (believers), will stand out in such an hour.

Let’s shine for Christ, in words and our works!

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Who Made You Judge, Jury, and Executioner? (Romans 14-16)

Scripture reading – Romans 14-16

Today’s reading assignment concludes our reading in Paul’s Epistle to the Romans. Unlike any other book in our chronological schedule, Romans has presented us with a succession of great doctrines that are fundamental to our faith in Christ. I am limiting today’s devotional to Romans 14, and what is a practical challenge to all believers: Accepting one another’s differences, without being harsh in our judgment.

Christian Liberty

“Christian Liberty” has become a hot topic over the past two decades, and I fear its excesses have blighted the testimony of the church in the world. Unfortunately, the insistence by some believers who, either out of ignorance or sinful pride, demand their liberty in what others define as “questionable things,” has resulted in little discernable difference between the world and its lusts, and believers and their fellowships. Every generation of believers face the question of “Christian Liberty;” however, I fear this generation has lost its perspective of the ultimate standard: What pleases the Lord, and brings Him glory.

The Strong, the Weak, and the Judge (Romans 14:1-12)

Paul identified a debate that was raging between believers he identified as “weak in the faith” (14:1), and limited their diet to “herbs” (vegetables), and others who believed that they might “eat all things (14:2). The debate had become so contentious that believers were admonished for despising (having disdain for), and judging (condemning) one another (14:3). Rather than parsing out the historical debate (eating meat vs. eating herbs; legalistic rules devised by men regarding acceptable and unacceptable activities on holy days, 14:5-6), I will suggest principles to guide our decisions on Christian liberty in our day.

The first principle: We should accept that differences in practice will arise (14:1-2); however, the matter of judgment and condemnation is God’s role, not mine or yours (14:3-4, 10).

Another principle, realizing God is the final judge, we should have our consciences exercised by His Word, being mindful that He will call each of us to account for himself in the day of judgment (14:11-12).

Consider Paul’s admonition regarding our individual Christian liberty choices:

Romans 14:13 – “13 Let us not therefore judge [decide; determine; pass judgment] one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock [trigger of a trap; set a trap; give cause for falling] or an occasion to fall [stumble] in his brother’s way.”

I fear some believers are watching and waiting for other believers to stumble, and fall into sin. Rather than judging themselves, they pounce upon other believers with criticisms (audibly or by slights), that dispirit the soul, and sometimes turn one “weak in the faith” away from the Lord, and the church. Sadly, it is often those who perceive themselves as “strong,” and mature in the faith, who are the greatest violators and offenders, having made themselves the judge, jury, and executioners.

Before you pass judgment, might I suggest you look in the mirror and ask: Who art thou that judges another? (14:4a)

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Does Your Pastor Deserve a Raise? (1 Corinthians 9-11)

Scripture reading – 1 Corinthians 9-11

Today’s Scripture reading (1 Corinthians 9-11) opens with Paul’s defense of not only his apostleship, but also his calling and qualifications as an apostle. Paul writes,

1 Corinthians 9:1– Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord?

Paul had opened the letter to Corinth, introducing himself as “an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God” (1:1), and now returns to the same, asserting his authority as one having seen Jesus Christ after His resurrection and ascension to heaven (Acts 1:21-22). Whether his enemies might question his apostleship (and there were some who did), it did not matter to Paul, for he looked upon the believers in Corinth as the “seal of [his] apostleship…in the Lord.” (9:2).

Having established his authority as an apostle, Paul then addressed the material obligation of the churches to support all who are pastors (9:3-14).  Paul reasoned that God’s servants have the “power to eat and to drink” (9:4), and to support their families (“to lead about a sister, a wife” (9:5), meaning a spouse).

Continuing his argument that God’s servants should receive compensation for their labor, Paul reasoned that soldiers are compensated when they go to war, farmers eat the fruit of their labor, and shepherds profit from shepherding (9:7). Not only is it rational from a human perspective, but it is also commanded in the Law that servants of God must receive a fair compensation for their labor (9:8-9; Deuteronomy 25:4).

1 Corinthians 9:9 – “For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?”

What is the application of 1 Corinthians 9:9?  If God is concerned for the fair treatment of oxen, there can be no doubt He is particularly concerned about the welfare of His servants (9:10).  Taking that truth to its conclusion, Paul admonished believers they are debtors to those who minister to them spiritually, and are under material obligation to meet their physical needs (9:11).

1 Corinthians 9:12 indicates the believers in Corinth had given to meet the needs of others who ministered in the church; however, Paul had not asked the same of the church.  In case some were tempted to continue the same practice towards other ministers, Paul reminded them that priests who ministered in the Temple received a portion of the sacrifices as compensation for their families (9:13; Leviticus 6:14-7:36; 27:6-33).

Principle – In both the Old Testament and New Testament, God has ordained that His servants be supported, and fairly compensated for their labor (9:14). 

Sadly, many church members give little thought to the personal sacrifices, and needs of their ministers.  If you believe “the labourer is worthy of his hire” (Luke 10:7), you should see to it that your pastor is fairly compensated and financially secure.

Paul would later take that principle a step further and write, “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine” (1 Timothy 5:17).

How about it, does your pastor deserve a raise?

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith