Category Archives: Creation

The LORD is Sovereign of Wind and Water

September 6, 2017

Scripture Reading – Psalms 105-107

We have three psalms before us for our scripture reading, Psalm 105, Psalm 106 and Psalm 107.

Psalm 105 is a psalm of praise and thanksgiving and rehearses the LORD’s providential care of Israel, His chosen people.  The contextual timeline of the psalm begins with Abraham, runs through Israel’s deliverance from Egyptian slavery and the nation’s wanderings in the wilderness for 40 years.

Psalm 105 is a testimony of God’s care of Israel in the wilderness by a cloud to cover their journey in the day and a fire to light their way at night (105:39).   When they were hungry the LORD gave them quail for meat and manna for bread.  When they were thirsty, water gushed out of the rock (105:40-42).   When the people murmured and tempted Him, the LORD was longsuffering and remembered His covenant promise to Abraham and brought his seed into the land He had promised where they might serve Him and “observe His statutes, and keep His laws” (105:45).

Like Psalm 105, Psalm 106 is a song of praise and thanksgiving to the LORD (106:1).  Psalm 106 reflects on God’s loving care and provision for Israel in spite of the unfaithfulness of the people.  The psalm becomes a penitential psalm (a psalm of confession and repentance) when the psalmist recalls the sins of his forefathers and identifies with them his own bent to sin (106:6).   The bulk of the psalm remembers the LORD’s providential care of Israel in the wilderness and His patience with His people in spite of their sin and rebellion (106:7-48).

Hebrew scribes divide the Book of Psalms into five books: Book 1 consists of Psalms 1-41; Book 2 consists of Psalms 42-72; Book 3 consists of Psalms 73-89; Book 4 consists of Psalms 90-106; and the fifth book is Psalms 107-150.  Psalm 107 is the first psalm in the fifth and last Book of the Psalms.

Psalm 107 begins with a call to give thanks to the LORD for redeeming Israel out of Babylon (107:2-7).   The psalmist remembers how the LORD preserved His people in exile and restored them to the land He had promised Abraham would be his inheritance.  The psalmist writes:

Psalm 107:8-9 – “Oh that men would praise [give thanks] the LORD for His goodness [grace; mercy; loving-kindness], and for His wonderful works to the children of men! 9  For He satisfieth [fills] the longing [seeking; hungry] soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness [good and pleasant things].”

Why should Israel praise the LORD and give thanks?

Because the LORD is good, merciful and a God of grace! 

When His people turned from Him, the LORD humbled them in prison and when they cried out He heard their cry and delivered them (107:10-16).  When they sinned and became sick, He healed them (107:17-22).   When rocked with trouble and turmoil, like seamen at sea caught in the fury of a storm who call out to the LORD, Israel called upon the LORD and He heard their cry and quieted their troubles (107:23-32).

Psalm 107:33-43 is especially pertinent for the United States after witnessing the flood waters of Hurricane Harvey ravaging the coast of Texas and the worrisome approach of Hurricane Irma for Florida.

Remembering God is Sovereign of nature, the psalmist reminds us the LORD, “turneth rivers into a wilderness, and the watersprings into dry ground; 34 A fruitful land into barrenness…35 the wilderness into a standing water, and dry ground into watersprings” (107:33-35).

Friend, God is just, and He blesses the land for the sake of the righteous and brings judgment upon the land because the wicked dwell therein (107:36-41).

Wise are they who understand the way of the LORD and walk in His commandments for “they shall understand [regard; be instructed in] the lovingkindness [mercy; goodness; grace] of the LORD” (107:43).

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Don’t Worry; God is in Control!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Psalms 93-95

Our scripture reading today is three psalms, Psalm 93, Psalm 94 and Psalm 95.  For the sake of brevity, my devotional commentary will focus on Psalm 93.

Scholars believe Psalm 93 was written after the Babylonian captivity when the Jews returned from exile during the reign of Cyrus of Persia.  In a matter of 70 years, Israel had witnessed the implosion of Babylon, arguably the first great world empire.  Nebuchadnezzar had conquered the known world in his day and among the many nations led away to serve him was Israel.  Unlike other ancient nations that resettled and assimilated by the Chaldeans, the Jewish people maintained their identity as a chosen people, distinguished by God’s Law.

Israel’s return to their land and the rebuilding of the Temple and city of Jerusalem gave cause for the author of Psalm 93 to state three truths regarding God and His immutable character.  For the sake of this study, I will post my amplification of the text in a cursive font.

The first principle is, God is Sovereign and His Rule is Forever (93:1-2).

Psalm 93:1-2 – The LORD [Jehovah; the Eternal, Self-Existent God] reigneth [He reigns as King], he is clothed [wrapped in a robe] with majesty [lofty; exalted]; the LORD is clothed [wrapped in a robe] with strength [power; might], wherewith he hath girded [compass or encircled; clothed] himself: the world also is stablished [anchored; immovable; firm], that it cannot be moved [slip; waver; fall; brought down]. 2  Thy throne [place of authority] is established [anchored; immovable; firm] of old [from the beginning; since time began]: thou art from everlasting [eternal; forever; perpetual; always].

A study of world history yields the reality even the greatest nations rise and fall.  With the passing of time, every nation that has ever taken its place on the world stage inevitably evidences corruption and the decay of character and morality.  Such is not the case with the LORD whose sovereignty over His creation is majestic, unwavering and everlasting.  Nations rise and nations fall. Kings rule and presidents preside, but the reign of the LORD is everlasting.

The second principle is, God is Greater than My Circumstances (93:3-4).

Psalm 93:3-4 – The floods [rivers; streams] have lifted up [taken away; carried away], O LORD, the floods have lifted up their voice [noise; sound; thunder]; the floods lift up their waves [i.e. pounding, crashing waves].
4  The LORD on high [above; i.e. sits in the highest place] is mightier [glorious; majestic] than the noise [sound; thunder] of many [great; much] waters, yea, than the mighty [glorious; majestic] waves [breaking, pounding waves] of the sea.

As I write this devotional some very dear friends and members of Hillsdale come to mind who are facing trials and troubles that might easily overwhelm them if it were not for the promise we find in verses 4: “The LORD on high is mightier” (93:4).

Mighty, destructive floodwaters are the picture the psalmist draws upon to describe circumstances that are powerful, sweeping and devastating (93:3).  Whether in person or on news broadcasts, we have witnessed the devastating power of floodwaters sweeping away everything in their path…homes, possessions, even lives are lost to the power of surging waters.

With that picture in mind, the psalmist writes, “The LORD on high is mightier” (93:4).   He is mightier than the thundering waters of a waterfall or the pounding waves of the sea.  He is mightier than the circumstances that seem ready to overwhelm you.  He is mightier than the sorrows and disappointments that have brought you low.

We have seen the LORD is Sovereign (93:1-2) and mightier than our circumstances (93:3-4), bringing us to our third principle found in Psalm 93: God is Faithful – His Word, Testimonies and Promises are Sure (93:5).

Psalm 93:5 – Thy testimonies [witness] are very sure [established; firm; faithful; enduring]: holiness [sacredness; hallownes] becometh [pleasant; befits] thine house [temple; household; residence], O LORD, for ever [continually].

God’s Word and promises never fail.  Israel’s return to their land as a nation fulfilled God’s promise He would not forget or forsake His people.  Surely there were times in Babylon when all seemed lost; the temple destroyed, the walls and city of Jerusalem had become nothing more than a pile of debris and the people removed from their land.  However, not a promise of the LORD had failed and the Jews were restored to their land.

Friend, take heart, God is Sovereign, greater and mightier than your circumstances, faithful to His promises, and His residence is holy forever!

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

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