Category Archives: Creation

Take Time to Pray

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Psalms 63-65

David’s flight from his enemies into the wilderness is the setting of Psalm 63 and Psalm 64.  David sought refuge in the wilderness during two times of trouble.  The first when he fled from king Saul who out of envy and fear sought to kill him (1 Samuel 23:14-15; 24:1).  The second flight into the wilderness was when David fled Jerusalem as his son Absalom led a rebellion against him (2 Samuel 15:23).

Rather than discouragement, we find David turning his heart to the LORD and worshipping his God in the wilderness.  Far from the Tabernacle and the Ark, and without the company of a priest, David cried out to the LORD, “O God, thou art my God” (63:1).  David’s prayer, yearning and worship of the LORD gives believers a pattern we should all follow when calling upon Him (63:1-4).  Psalm 63 concludes with David expressing confidence the LORD heard his plea, would answer his prayer and deliver him from his enemies (63:5-11).

David most likely wrote Psalm 64 when he was seeking safety and refuge from his enemies (64:1-6).  After rehearsing all the evil the enemies intended for him, David’s thoughts turned to God and trusting Him to give him victory over those who sought his harm (64:7-10).

David praises the LORD in Psalm 65, expressing his gratitude for God hearing his prayers, forgiving his sins, and blessing him (65:1-4).  Reflecting on God’s Sovereignty over His creation (65:5-8), David praised the LORD for providing rain and running streams, quenching the thirst of creation and providing for the needs of all creatures (65:9-13).

There was a time American families followed a tradition of not only sharing family mealtimes, but also began every meal with “Grace”.  I have not heard that expression in years, but I remember my parents and grandparents asking, “Who would like to say grace?” or “Who would like to say the blessing?”  Both expressions of prayer acknowledged the LORD as our Provider and the source of all blessings.

The closing verses of Psalm 65 were just that, David’s acknowledgement of God’s grace and blessings.  Might I encourage you to do the same?

Take a moment before your meals, bow your head, say “Grace” and thank God for His blessings.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

“Beware ‘Fair Weather’ Friends”

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Daily reading assignment: Job 41-42

Today’s reading brings us to the closing chapters in the Book of Job and the conclusion of trials and troubles that shadowed Job’s life throughout our study.

God patiently allowed Job’s “friends” to accuse the poor man of concealing a sin that was the cause of his sorrows and He heard Job’s defense.  The LORD began to address Job with a series of questions in chapter 38 and invoked the man to turn his thoughts from himself to the glory and majesty of his Creator.

Having pondered the reality of God’s majesty, power, and sovereignty over His creation, Job replied, “Behold, I am vile [cursed; despised]; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth [i.e. silent; have nothing to say]. 5  Once have I spoken; but I will not answer: yea, twice; but I will proceed no further” (Job 40:4-5).

Hearing Job’s confession, the LORD suddenly appeared in the midst of a great windstorm and began to speak and challenge Job in a series of penetrating questions meant to move Job to have a right perspective of himself and God (40:6-9).  The LORD continues to question Job in chapter 41.

Realizing it is impossible to address the series of questions in a brief devotional commentary, I will make a few passing observations.

The LORD invited Job to consider the “leviathan” in Job 41:1.  The identity of this great creature is uncertain; however, some scholars suggest it was a giant saltwater crocodile.  Perhaps it was a giant creature of the sea that is extinct, but whose remains we identify today as those of a dinosaur.  Either way, the analogy draws Job to conclude that man is foolish to question his Creator when he pales in size and strength to the majestic creatures God has created (41:1-9).

God challenged Job to consider, if man cannot tame a “leviathan”, he has no right to question or stand before God (41:10-33).  The LORD declares of Himself,  “He beholdeth [considers; sees] all high things [i.e. He is Master of His creation]: He is a king over all the children of pride” (41:34).

Having heard God’s revelations of Himself and pondered the evidences of the LORD’s power and might as sovereign of His creation, Job humbled himself and confessed, “I abhor [despise] myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:1-6).

God turned the focus of His wrath toward Job’s foolish “friends” (42:7-9) and commands “Eliphaz the Temanite” and Job’s other “friends” to go to Job with sacrifices, humble themselves, and ask the very man they had condemned to pray for them (42:8-9).  Job, evidencing the grace of a humble, repentant man of God, “prayed for his friends” and God rewarded him with “twice as much as he had before” (42:10).

Consider with me a few closing thoughts on “Fair-Weather Friends” from Job 42:11.

Job 42:11 – “Then [i.e. after God prospered Job “twice as much”] came there unto him all his brethren [kindred], and all his sisters, and all they that had been of his acquaintance [i.e. friends and neighbors] before [before Job’s trials], and did eat bread with him in his house: and they bemoaned [i.e. showed sympathy] him, and comforted [pitied] him over all the evil [troubles] that the LORD had brought [i.e. allowed to enter] upon him: every man also gave him a piece of money, and every one an earring of gold.”

 I find Job 42:11 sadly familiar for anyone who has gone through difficult times that brought extended sorrows.  We have studied forty-two chapters in the life of Job and, with the exception of his wife who in the midst of her own anguish suggested Job curse God and die and four “friends” who proposed to be his counselors but became his critics, all other acquaintances in Job’s life have been strangely absent. Suddenly, with the hard times past and Job enjoying financial prosperity again, we read: Then [i.e. after God prospered Job “twice as much”] came there unto him all his brethren [kindred], and all his sisters, and all they that had been of his acquaintance [i.e. friends and neighbors] before [before Job’s trials]” (42:11).

Where were these “brethren” and “sisters” when Job lost everything?  Where were Job’s acquaintances when he lost his sons and daughters, servants, home, physical health and possessions?  Why appear now to show sympathy and comfort?  Why wait to bring Job “a piece of money” and gold earrings after God has begun to pour out his blessings on Job and he has need of nothing?

Some reading this devotional commentary are and have been “fair-weather” friends to family, friends, and spiritual leaders.

You went MIA when loved ones needed you most.  You stopped calling when you could have encouraged.  You stopped visiting when a shoulder to cry on would have brought welcome relief.  When you should have offered a word of encouragement, you were silent.  When you were needed most, you departed and forsook your family, friends, church and pastors.

Friend, look into the mirror we find in Job 42:11, humble yourself and go to your “friend” if you were a “fair-weather” friend when you were needed most.

I confess, after thirty-eight years of ministry, I have had my share of “fair-weather” friends; however, my heart rejoices in the knowledge God prospered Job in his last years and he “died, being old and full [satisfied] of days” (Job 42:10, 17).

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Reality check: Prayer is Not Enough; God Requires Obedience!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Daily reading assignment: Jeremiah 37-41

The prophetic ministry of Jeremiah has taken him from the grandstand of the king’s palace to the stocks of a prison cell; however, the devotion of God’s prophet to the LORD and his message of God’s impending judgment on Judah has been consistent.   Zedekiah, the last king of Judah before the Chaldeans defeated the nation and took the people captive, failed to heed God’s Word (37:2); however, as the armies of the Chaldeans and the Egyptians clashed over the spoils of Judah, the king hypocritically called upon Jeremiah saying, “Pray now unto the LORD our God for us” (37:3).

Rather than prayer, the LORD directed Jeremiah to warn king Zedekiah that He had determined the destruction of Jerusalem and the Chaldeans would burn the city (37:6-10).   Rather than repent, the people took God’s prophet, beat him and cast him into prison (37:11-21).   The hearts of the people were so hardened against the LORD, they rose up and demanded Jeremiah be put to death (38:1-4).

For the prophet, things went from bad to worse when king Zedekiah heeded the demands of the leaders of Jerusalem and delivered Jeremiah into their hands who then took him from prison and left him to die in a dungeon described as a place where “there was no water, but mire: so Jeremiah sunk in the mire” (38:5-6).  Providentially, a man named Ebedmelech interceded for Jeremiah and petitioned the king for the old prophet’s release from the dungeon (38:7-13) and his removal to the palace prison where he remained until the Chaldeans conquered Jerusalem (38:14-28).

Jeremiah 39 records the siege of Jerusalem. Having failed to heed Jeremiah’s counsel to surrender the city to Nebuchadnezzar, king Zedekiah and his sons fled Jerusalem (39:1-5). Tragically, the sons of Zedekiah and all the nobles of Judah were slain before putting out the king’s eyes and leading he and the people to Babylon (39:6-10).  In an ironic, but also providential twist of fate, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon removed Jeremiah from prison and directed his servants to care for his needs and released the old prophet to go home (39:11-14; 40:1-6).

Friend, history is “His Story”; a testimony of the providential works of God Who is Creator, Sustainer, and Sovereign of all things.  He is El Shaddai, Almighty God and directs the evil purposes of wicked men to His ends for the good of His people and for His glory (Romans 8:28-29).  Whatever or whoever you may face today is not so big they are outside the sovereignty of El Shaddai!

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

God is not only the Creator of all things; He is the Sustainer of all He has created.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Daily reading assignment: Job 25-26

Today’s Bible reading offers an incredible insight into God’s revelation of Himself and His creation.

“Bildad the Shuhite”, one of Job’s “friends” whose role has been more of an accuser than a comforter, pretends to speak words of wisdom concerning the person and nature of God in Job 25.  Only six verses in length, the first three verses are devoted to God’s dominion and power (25:1-3), followed by verses 4-6 that focus on God’s justice and man’s natural, wretched state (25:4-6),

Job 26 records Job’s response to Bildad the Shuhite’s empty counsel.   After answering his accuser (26:1-4), Job began a discourse declaring not only the nature of God as Creator, but stating facts about creation that were not fully understood or proved until the emergence of modern science. Consider the following revelations found in Job 26:

  • God is omniscient: He knows even the abode of the dead. (26:5-6)
  • The earth hangs on nothing. (26:7)
  • God is omnipotent:
    1. He gives or withholds the water in the clouds as it pleases Him. (26:8-9)
    2. He has determined the boundaries of the oceans. (26:10, 12a; Proverbs 8:29)

The Book of Job, regarded as one of the oldest, if not the oldest, book in the Bible; reveals God “hangeth the earth upon nothing” (26:7)!  “Scientific opinions” expressed as late as the Middle Ages were debating a flat earth and wondering on what the earth was resting.   Job had the answer to that question, perhaps as early as 4,000 years ago!  Who has not looked at photos of the earth taken from outer space and marveled that this beautiful sphere we call home is, like the sun, moon, stars, and planets..hanging on nothing!

God is not only the Creator of all things; He is the Sustainer of all He has created.

Colossians 1:16-17 – “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17  And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.”

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

The LORD is Creator and Sovereign of the Universe

creationFriday, March 3, 2017

Daily reading assignment: Isaiah 45-50

We have read Isaiah’s prophetic warnings that Judah and the capital city Jerusalem would be conquered and destroyed because of the sin and rebellion of the people (fulfilled when Nebuchadnezzar’s armies razed the city and Temple and took the people captive to Babylon).  Isaiah prophesied God would send a great king who would conquer the nations and direct the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Temple.   In a stunning announcement, God identified the king as “Cyrus…my shepherd”, more than a hundred years before his birth (Isaiah 44:28)!cyrus-king-of-persia

Isaiah’s prophecy is directed to Cyrus in chapter 45 where the Lord describes the future king of Persia as His  “anointed”.  Why would God call a heathen king His “anointed” (45:1)? The answer to that question is summed up in one word, “Sovereignty”.  The LORD Who is Almighty, Omniscient, and Creator is the Sustainer and Sovereign of His creation.  No created being is beyond the rule and authority of the LORD. Every nation, king, dictator, and president is an instrument in the hand of the LORD. Consider the words of the LORD in Isaiah’s prophecy:

Isaiah 45:5-8 – “I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded [bind; encircle] thee, though thou hast not known me:
6  That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else.
7  I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil [not sin, but calamity; sorrow]: I the LORD do all these things.”

lord-is-kingKings, presidents, dictators, and even pastors may boast, “Look what I have wrought”; however, we are all nothing without God!  We are frail creatures of clay and, though we strive to do much apart from His will, the LORD will have His way with us according to His eternal purposes. Isaiah’s prophecy expresses the foolishness of men who suppose they operate independent of God in these words:

Isaiah 45:9 – “Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds [i.e. broken pieces of pottery] of the earth. Shall the clay say to him [the potter] that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?”

More than a century before he was born, the scriptures described the extent of Cyrus’ conquest in Isaiah 45:13-14.  Unlike all the ancient nations of history that rose to greatness only to fall and become a footnote in history, the LORD promised Israel she “shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation” (45:17).  One of the great testimonies of the LORD’s sovereign faithfulness is the existence of an ancient people called the Jews and a state named Israel!

Isaiah 45:18 is one of the great verses of the Bible that eliminates any possibility of evolution or the co-existence of both a Creator and an evolutionary process. This verse declares unequivocally, the LORD, Jehovah, Eternal, Self-existent God is Creator of all things!sovereign

Isaiah 45:18 – “For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain [lit. without form; confusion], he formed [made and shaped it like a potter shapes a clay vessel] it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else.”

Proponents of evolution would have you believe the earth was a lifeless mass without form and, somehow over billions and billions of years a process of evolution caused the earth to become an inhabitable place that would support microscopic life forms that would eventually, over billions and billions of years, evolve into the our world [in my opinion, evolution takes a lot of blind faith in a “science” that cannot be tested or proved].

What does Isaiah 45:18 tell us about creation?  “The LORD created the heavens”…the sun, stars, moons, and planets (45:18a).  The LORD “formed the earth and made it”… fashioned and shaped as a potter with a plan and design (45:18b).  The LORD “established” the earth…in other words, He made it perfect according to His purpose (45:18c).   The LORD “created it not in vain”…unlike evolutionist who postulate the universe came into existence out of confusion, Isaiah declares exactly the opposite…God shaped and formed the world so that it was inhabitable from the beginning (45:18d).   To cap off the fact that creation is a reflection of the glory of its Creator, God declares: “I am the LORD; and there is none else.”psalm-19-1

Who is the LORD? Look at His creation and you will see a display of His greatness and glory.

Psalm 19:1 – “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.”

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

He Alone is God and There is No Other!

great-is-the-lordFriday, February 24, 2017

Daily reading assignment: Isaiah 40-44

The breadth of today’s prophetic reading in Isaiah 40-44 is so broad I find it impossible to do more than a cursory oversight and a brief commentary.

The destruction of Jerusalem and God’s judgment against Judah for her sin and rebellion appears imminent in Isaiah 40; however, nearly a century would pass before Babylon would attack the city, destroy the Temple and take the people captive.  Let’s take a few minutes and glean from these verses some insight into the character of our God.

The God of Israel is longsuffering, forgiving and comforting (40:1-2).   Seven hundred years before he was born, the birth of John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ the Messiah, is foretold here (40:3-5; Matthew 3:3). circle-of-the-earth Observing this earthly life is temporal and our physical lives are like grass that withers and flowers that fade, Isaiah proclaims, “the Word of our God shall stand forever (40:6-8).  Times have changed and men have changed; however, God’s Word is unchangeable!

Who is my God?  He is the Creator and the deep waters of the ocean depths are like “the hollow of his hand” (40:12a).  He knows the span of the heavens, the stars, moons, and planets.  He has calculated the dust of the earth and knows the weight of the mountains and hills (40:12b).

My God is so great that all the nations and their armies are as nothing to Him (40:15-17).  There is nothing and no one greater than my God!  The beauty of earth’s sphere reflects the glory of His throne and men are like grasshoppers in his presence (40:22-23).   He is omniscient, and calls the host of heaven by name (40:26).  He is Everlasting God, Creator and Sustainer of all things (40:28).  He is my Savior and my Strength (40:30-31).

wings-as-eaglesIsaiah 40:30-31 – “Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: 31  But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

You wonder from whence my God came?  He was God before there was time and Creation.

Isaiah 43:10b-11, 13a – “… I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. 11  I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour…13  Yea, before the day was I am he…”

Isaiah 44:6 – “Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.”

Before the first day…there was God!  He alone is God and there is no other!

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Standing at the Precipice of God’s Judgment

Friday, January 6, 2017

Daily reading assignment: Isaiah 1-6

The Book of Isaiah is the first prophetic book in our yearlong “Read-Thru the Bible” challenge. The prophet Isaiah lived in the 8th century BC during the final days of Israel before the armies of Nebuchadnezzar conquered the nation and the Jews were taken captive to Babylon.  His prophetic ministry was directed to a rebellious people who had maintained an outward formality of religion; however, whose hearts had turned to idols and rejected God and His Law.

Isaiah stands out as the foremost among the Old Testament prophets; however, in his lifetime his people viewed him as a traitor. He was a fearless preacher, courageously confronting the sins of Judah’s kings and boldly calling the Jews to repent.  His preaching was powerful, his style soaring, and his prophesies vivid.

isaiah-5-20Isaiah foretold the judgment of God in a series of “Woes” pronounced against the nation should the people not repent of their sins (Isaiah 5:20-23, 26-30). In a parallel to our own day, the first “woe” condemned the nation for rejecting God’s Laws leaving the people with the dilemma of no moral absolutes. We read:

Isaiah 5:20 – “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”

Such is the condition of our nation and world. I will illustrate with one example, “Gay Marriage”. Our nation’s leaders, judicial courts, secular schools and liberal churches have rejected God’s definition of marriage, condemned those who embrace the biblical and historical definition of marriage between one man and one woman, and now promotes the lunacy of men marrying men and women marrying women (Romans 1:26-27)! Condemning moral virtue, our society has embraced wickedness and depravity.

A second “woe” describes the people as unteachable.

Isaiah 5:21 – “Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent [wise, shrewd] in their own sight!”

Paul’s letter to Christians in Rome described the same in these words, “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:22).

A third “woe” illuminated the narcissistic nature of the people and the “pay to play” sin of 21st century politicians.

Isaiah 5:22-23 – “Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine [drunkards], and men of strength to mingle strong drink [boasting of their drunkenness]23 Which justify [acquit] the wicked for reward [bribe], and take away the righteousness [innocence; justice, rights and liberties] of the righteous from him!”moral-absolutes

I close with a fourth “woe” stated by Isaiah of himself.  Shaken by a vision of the LORD sitting on His heavenly throne (Isaiah 6:1-4), the conviction of his own sinfulness overwhelmed the prophet:

Isaiah 6:5“…Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”

When God asked, “Who shall I send [i.e. to preach to the nation], and who will go for us?” Isaiah answered God’s call, “Here am I; send me” (Isaiah 6:8).

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith