Category Archives: Anger

Confess Your Bitterness and “Dig Another Well” (Genesis 25-26)

Daily reading assignment: Genesis 25-26

“Fighting Brothers” (Genesis 25)

A story of two brothers: Esau, the father of the Edomites and Jacob, the heir of God’s covenant promises and father of the Twelve Tribes of Israel is recorded in Genesis 25.

Rebekah, Isaac’s wife, conceived twins and became concerned when the movements of the infants in her womb were extremely aggressive (25:22).  The LORD revealed the sons she borne in her womb would become fathers of two nations (25:23) and, contrary to their birth order, the eldest son would “serve the younger” (25:23).

No doubt Rebekah shared the LORD’s unusual revelation with her husband. Isaac, however, loved Esau, his eldest, more than Jacob (25:27-28). In Genesis 27 we will notice how Jacob, opposing the LORD, will attempt to give Esau the inheritance the LORD prescribed for his youngest son.

“Dig Another Well” (Genesis 26)

Isaac, the inheritor of God’s covenant promises and the possessions and riches of his father Abraham, was so blessed by the LORD that we read, “the Philistines envied him” (26:14).   Moved by envy, the Philistines began to stop up the wells Abraham had dug for his flocks and herds and “filled them with earth” (26:14-15). Because fresh water wells were invaluable in a land known for its deserts, one can imagine the hardships and personal offence Isaac might have felt as the wells dug by his father were destroyed.

Before I close today’s devotional commentary, I invite you to consider Genesis 26 and a spiritual truth some might need to hear.

Many years ago, a dear evangelist friend named Reuben Ewert preached a memorable sermon from Genesis 26 titled, Dig Another Well.  Bro. Reuben illustrated how Isaac’s response to the Philistines filling his father’s wells with earth was a worthy model for us all to follow when conflicts arise.

How did Isaac respond?  Did he become embittered?  Did he plot a way and path of revenge?  

No, rather than revenge, Isaac kept digging wells.

Genesis 26:18a – “And Isaac digged again the wells of water, which they had digged in the days of Abraham his father…”

Genesis 26:21a – “And they digged another well…”

Genesis 26:22 – And he removed from thence, and digged another well…”

Not only did Isaac dig wells, he also “builded an altar there, and called upon the name of the LORD” (26:25).

Are you enslaved by a spirit of anger and bitterness? Are your thoughts set upon revenge?  Have you allowed an embittered spirit to not only affect your relationship with the LORD, but also your family and friendships?

I invite you to follow Isaac’s example; set aside bitterness and disappointments, move on with your life and “dig another well”.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Trouble with Settling for Second Best (Genesis 19-21)

Daily reading assignment: Genesis 19-21

Genesis 19 opens with two angels arriving at the gates of the city of Sodom.  Appearing in the physical form of men, the angels entered Sodom and were greeted by Lot whom they found sitting “in the gate” (the place where city leaders transacted business and made judgments in disputes).  Realizing the men were not citizens of Sodom, Lot urged them to find refuge for the night in his home (19:2-3).

As the darkness of night settled on the city, the wickedness and depravity of Sodom emerged when the Sodomites (i.e. homosexuals) of the city encircled Lot’s home demanding he turn his visitors out into the street to be sexually assaulted (19:4-6).  Describing their lusts as wicked (19:7), Lot pled with the men of Sodom, offering to sacrifice his own daughters to their lusts (19:8-9) to protect his guests.

Striking the wicked men of Sodom with blindness, the angels saved Lot  from their violent attack (19:10-11). Displaying God’s grace, the angels urged Lot to flee the city with his family, warning him the LORD would destroy the city for its wickedness (19:12-13).  Sadly, Lot’s married sons and daughters refused his plea to flee the city (19:14).  Warned to not look back, only Lot, his wife, and two daughters fled the city (19:15-23).  Adding to his sorrow, Lot’s wife looked back and “became a pillar of salt” as God rained fire and brimstone upon Sodom and Gomorrah (19:24-29).

One would hope Lot’s drifting from the LORD would end with the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah; however, he became drunk with wine and his daughters committed incest with him (19:30-36).  The eldest daughter conceiving a son she named Moab, the father of the Moabites (19:37).  The youngest daughter conceiving a son she named Ammon, the father of the Ammonites.  Both nations, the Moabites and Ammonites, would become a curse and perpetual trouble for the nation of Israel.

With the ash and salt from God’s judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah settling on the land, Abraham makes a fateful decision to journey from the land God had promised and traveled south to Gerar and the land ruled by the heathen king Abimelech (20:1-2).

Although ninety years old, Sarah is described as a beautiful, desirable woman and Abraham foolishly demanded she again conceal her identity and say she was his sister (20:2).  Once again putting at risk God’s covenant promise that Sarah would bear him a son, the LORD intervened and warned Abimelech in a dream (20:3) that should he would be a dead man should he violate Sarah (20:3-8).  Rising early, Abimelech confronted Abraham and sent him and his household out of his kingdom (20:9-13).

Continuing our study of the life of Abraham, we come to the conception and birth of Isaac, the long-awaited son fulfilling God’s covenant promise, “I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee” (Genesis 12:2).  Abraham had received and believed God’s promise of a son when he was seventy-five years old (Genesis 12:4); however, 25 years passed before he saw that promise fulfilled (21:5).

Hagar, the Egyptian mother of Ishmael, greeted the celebration of Isaac’s birth with jealousy and animosity, knowing her son would not be Abraham’s heir (21:9).  In spite of her having initiated the faithless act of Abraham having a son with her handmaid, Sarah demanded that Hagar and her son be dismissed from their home (21:10).

We have seen in our study of the life of Abraham how he often allowed circumstances and doubt to shadow his confidence in God’s promises. In spite of his faithlessness, God renewed his promise that Sarah would bear him a son in her old age, she being 90 and he nearly 100 years old (17:15-19).

Understanding the weight of his transgressions was also borne by his family, Abraham was comforted by God’s promise to bless Ishmael (21:12-13) though he and his mother must be driven from his home (21:14-21).

A tragic reminder as I close today’s devotion is God’s promise that the effects of a father’s sins will fall “upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate” Him (Exodus 20:5).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“Yes, You Are Your Brother’s Keeper”

Daily reading assignment: Genesis 4-7

Today’s Bible reading covers a broad swath of early history from Eve giving birth to the first sons born of Adam’s seed (Cain, Abel and Seth – Genesis 4:1-2, 26), to Noah, his wife, sons and their wives entering the Ark and the start of the universal flood (Genesis 7).

I could spend months writing devotionals on these chapters, but alas, I must limit myself to a brief highlight of one thought I trust will be instructive.  Consider the conversation between God and Cain, Adam and Eve’s firstborn son, after he had slain his brother Abel (Genesis 4:8).

Obedient to God’s model of atonement for sin (the shedding of blood – Hebrews 9:22), Abel brought a sacrificial offering to the LORD (Genesis 4:4); however, Cain’s attempt to offer a bloodless sacrifice was refused by God (Genesis 4:3, 5).  Rejected, Cain burned in anger toward the LORD, his “countenance” betraying his rebellion (Genesis 4:5).

Ever merciful, the LORD questioned Cain, “Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? 7  If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him” (Genesis 4:6-7).

Rather than repent and do right, Cain’s wrath escalated and he slew his brother (Genesis 4:8).  Ponder the dialogue between the LORD and Cain after he killed his brother.

Genesis 4:9 – And the LORD [Jehovah] said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper [watchman; guard; keeper]?

God’s question presented Cain an opportunity to confess his egregious sin; however, Cain was insolent and responded with defiance.  What an astonishing insight we are given into not only the effect of sin, but also the callous heart of a sinner.  Cain already evidenced the depth of wickedness seeded in a sinner’s nature.

Why did Cain refuse to humble himself and repent of his sin?

The apostle John answers that question writing, [Cain’s] works were evil, and his brother’s righteous”(1 John 3:12).

Cain murdered Abel because he hated his brother’s righteousness.  When confronted, he evaded responsibility for his sin and refused to repent (Genesis 4:9-12).  His focus was not on the evil he had done, but on the punishment and consequences of his sin (Genesis 4:13-16).

Cain’s intent was to shirk accountability for his sin; however, are we any different?

“To grieve over sin is one thing; to repent is another.” – Anonymous

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Be Careful: “Evil Communications Corrupt Good Manners” (Numbers 11-12; 1 Corinthians 15:33)

Today’s Bible reading is Numbers 11-12, Psalm 47, and Luke 3. Our devotional is from Numbers 11-12.

Three days into their journey from Mt. Sinai, an old pattern of sin returned and the people of Israel began to complain (Numbers 11:1).  The LORD’s “anger was kindled” (11:1) and His wrath poured out as fire from heaven beginning with the outskirts of the encampment.

Why the “uttermost parts of the camp” (11:1), meaning the outlying areas, and not the center of the encampment?  I suppose that is where one will always find the grumblers—on the fringe, far from the LORD and neglecting His service.

There arose a spirit of discontentment, a covetous spirit and its source was “the mixt multitude” (11:4).  Who were they? They were non-Hebrew, most likely poor Egyptians who departed with Israel hoping greater opportunities might be found by casting their lot in with the children of Israel. The sinful attitudes of the “mixt multitude” infected the children of Israel who wept asking, “Who shall give us flesh to eat?” (11:4)

Complainers and grumblers are a cancer among God’s people and soon the Hebrews began to “remember the fish…cucumbers, and the melons” they did eat in Egypt (11:5).  They became dissatisfied with God’s provision (11:4-5) and their lusts romanticized their unrealistic memories of Egypt (11:5).

Lamenting the complaints of the people (11:10), Moses felt overwhelmed.  Rather than seeing the complaints of the people as an offense to God, Moses accused the LORD of afflicting him saying, “Wherefore hast thou afflicted thy servant” (11:11a).  In his despair, Moses’ questioned the LORD (11:11-15).

God was angry and gave the people the meat they demanded (11:31-32) and the people gorged themselves until they became sick (11:33).  The root issue of the people’s complaints was not that they were hungry.  The core issue was they had rebellious hearts and “despised the LORD” (11:20).

The sorrow Moses suffered in Numbers 11 was great; however, Numbers 12 brought a more grievous wound when his sister and brother, Miriam and Aaron, challenged his leadership and authority as God’s spokesman (12:2).  Notice the initial complaint was against the wife of Moses (12:1); however, the narrative reveals that criticism was not the real issue.  The heart issue was the envy and jealousy they held against Moses and his leadership before the LORD and the people. 

Moses’ response to criticism is instructive.  We read, “Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth” (11:3).

It is probable Moses was aware of Miriam and Aaron’s contentious spirit and, being “very meek”, would have overlooked their transgressions; however, the LORD determined to confront and punish them while commending Moses’ unique relationship with the LORD (12:6-8).

I close with two observations based on my life experiences.

1) I have found when adversaries are unable to fault or attack your position, they often criticize a deeply personal area of your life.  For Moses it was the race or nationality of his wife.

2) Criticisms are often a smoke screen concealing deeper issues.  While complaints should drive us to search out our hearts for faults, we should remember initial criticisms are seldom the real issue. (Numbers 12:1)

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

Unforgiveness: A Bitter Fruit that Steals Your Joy and Saps Your Soul (Mark 11:22-26)

Today’s Bible reading is Leviticus 15-16, Psalm 39, and Mark 11. Our devotional is from Mark 11.

Mark 11 records the beginning of the final week of Christ’s earthly life . Tradition states Christ’s “Triumphal Entry” into Jerusalem occurred on Sunday (Mark 11:1-11); however, there are many who believe it likely occurred on Monday.  Christ’s cursing the fig tree that bore nothing but leaves and driving the money-changers out of the Temple are both recorded in Mark 11:12-21.

Faith” and “Forgiveness” is the focus of our devotional and the subject of Mark 11:22-26.

Following a challenge on faith and prayer, Jesus admonished: “if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses” (Mark 11:26).

Forty years in ministry has taught me there are many believers who bear a spirit of bitterness in their souls.  In fact, one of the most besetting sins in the 21stcentury church is an unwillingness to deal with offenses in a biblical manner motivated by love for God and love for others.  Many allow bitterness to fester in their souls and, like cancer in the body, spread until family, friendships, and fellowships are spiritually, emotionally, and physically infected.

The writer of Hebrews warns the same: Looking diligently [intently; be watching] lest any man fail of [fall short of] the grace [favor and blessing] of God; lest any root of bitterness [i.e. hatred or resentment] springing up [sprouting up] trouble you, and thereby many [i.e. perhaps the majority] be defiled [tainted; i.e. like one diseased](Hebrews 12:15).

Friend, have you lost your joy because bitterness festers in your soul?  Do you harbor bitterness toward parents for what you perceive as slights of your youth? Are you a parent who struggles with forgiving a child who has disgraced your home with foolish, sinful actions?   Have callous words and broken vows embittered your marriage?  Have you allowed slights and offenses to embitter you toward fellow believers and pastors?

An unwillingness to forgive others is indicative of a soul who has not entered into the joy of God’s forgiveness (Matthew 18:23-35).

Forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” is the LORD’s will (Ephesians 4:32) and when you grasp the magnitude of the sins God has forgiven you, you will find no reason to be unwilling to forgive others!

Harbor an unforgiving spirit and you do so at the sacrifice of joy and unanswered prayers.

Psalm 66:18 – “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.”

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

Unmasking Hypocrites (Mark 7)

Today’s Bible reading is Leviticus 3-4, Psalm 35, and Mark 7. Our devotional is from Mark 7.

An oft criticism of churches and one of the primary excuses given by non-believers for not attending church is, “There are too many hypocrites in the church!” After 40 years in the ministry, I have to agree:  “There are too many hypocrites in the church!”

Hypocrisy, however, is not limited to the church or Christianity. Indeed, I am certain all religions and belief systems have their hypocrites, including non-religious institutions and associations.

The word “Hypocrite” comes from the Greek word for a stage actor – someone who plays a part or role in a play.  Actors in ancient plays would portray more than one character by wearing masks that identified a character’s role.  When playing a comedic character, an actor would wear a mask with a silly smile.  For a sad character the actor would wear a large frowning mask and quote tragic lines inducing sorrow and weeping from the audience.

In effect; a hypocrite is an actor who wears a mask playing one part while in reality being another.

Mark 7 records one of Christ’s most stinging rebukes of the Pharisees, the religious legalists of the day whom He exposed as hypocrites. I invite you to join me in an honest and transparent study of Mark 7.

Jesus’ growing popularity incited a backlash among his enemies. Thousands were following Him in Galilee and the situation for the scribes and Pharisees was intolerable. While the scribes were experts in the Law of God; the Pharisees were its enforcers and the most influential religious group in Israel (Mark 7:1).  Outwardly zealous in matters of the Law, the Pharisees instituted hundreds of man-made laws in an attempt to interpret the Laws and Commandments.

The Pharisees came to Jesus criticizing His disciples’ failure to “wash their hands” before eating (Mark 7:2-3).  The issue was not that the disciples were eating with dirty hands, but they had failed to practice “the tradition of the elders” in ceremonial cleansing (7:4).

Jesus answered His critics quoting the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 29:13) and accusing the Pharisees of being hypocrites (7:7-9).  While professing to be teachers of God’s commandments, they were in fact, advocates of man-made rituals and traditions (7:7-9).

Exposing their hypocrisy, Jesus addressed the Pharisees’ violation of the fifth commandment, “Honour thy father and thy mother” (Exodus 20:12).  Allowing a man to pronounce an oath, It is Corban”, meaning it is an offering, the Pharisees applauded men who dedicated their wealth to the Temple at the neglect of their parent’s material and financial welfare.  Such an oath, they argued, freed a son from honoring and caring for his parents.

What hypocrites!  To enrich the Temple treasury, they applauded men violating the fifth commandment, but judged the disciples harshly for failing to conform to petty traditions. They supplanted God’s Law, hiding behind their traditions.

Friend, are you hiding behind a mask of religion? Are you judging others by your self-imposed standards, while failing to keep the precepts and principles of God’s Word?

Don’t forget “the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

Providence: God is in Control!

Today’s Bible Reading is Genesis 49-50, Psalm 19, and Matthew 19. Our devotional is from Genesis 49-50.

Today’s scripture reading brings us to the close of our study in Genesis.  Genesis 49 records Jacob’s final instructions to his sons and his prophetic insight into the future of their lineages (49:3-27).

Lest there be any doubt what his wishes were, Jacob rehearses with all his sons the request he expressed to Joseph in Genesis 48…that he be buried with his grandfather Abraham, his father Isaac, mother Rebekah, and his wife Leah (49:29-32).  Jacob dies in the closing verses of Genesis 49.

Genesis 50 opens with a dramatic, emotional scene as we read, “And Joseph fell upon his father’s face, and wept upon him, and kissed him” (50:1).

Overseeing the mummification of his father’s body, Joseph’s desire was to give Jacob a burial fitting of a king (50:2-3).  When the days of mourning were past, Pharaoh granted Joseph his blessing to carry Jacob’s body to Canaan and bury him in his ancestral tomb (50:4-7).

The funeral processional out of Egypt was like none ever seen in Canaan (Genesis 50:8-9).  Jacob’s twelve sons, their families, and some senior leaders of Egypt driving chariots and riding horses, escorted Jacob’s body home (50:10-13).  With their father buried, Joseph and his family returned to Egypt (50:14).

Remembering the evil they committed when they sold him as a slave, Joseph’s brothers feared the death of their father would give him opportunity to exact revenge (50:15-17).  Instead of revenge; however, “Joseph wept” (50:17b) as his brothers bowed before him, fulfilling the vision the LORD gave him in his youth (50:18; Genesis 37:3-11).

Far from vengeance, Joseph assured his brothers God was judge (50:19).  Though he remembered their sin, he was confident the wrongs he suffered were providentially used by God to prepare the way for him to preserve his family (50:19-20).

Genesis 50:20 records one of the great statements of faith in God’s sovereignty and providence found in the Bible.

“But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive” (50:20).

Joseph’s life is a testimony of what it means to suffer wrong and continue to walk in faith and humility.  He did not focus on the grievous evil committed by his brothers, nor give rein to bitter, vengeful thoughts.  Instead, Joseph was confident whatever wrongs he suffered, God was faithful and would bring good to pass!

Friend, allow me to close and invite you to take time for a spiritual checkup.  Are you bitter?  Are you nursing hurts and embittered by disappointments?

I do not know your circumstances or the wrongs you have suffered; however, I know God is sovereign and He will bring to pass that which is good.  Will you trust Him?

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith