Category Archives: Doctrine

God is Faithful, and His Promises Are Sure (Genesis 12-13)

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Scripture reading – Genesis 12-13

After a lengthy study of the life and afflictions of Job, our chronological reading of the Scriptures returns to the Book of Genesis, chapters 12-13. Remember, Genesis 11 concluded with a focus on the lineage of Shem, and the bloodline through whom Abram (i.e. Abraham) was born (11:26). Abram is not only a central figure in the Scriptures, but he is also one of the pivotal men in human history. Three of the world’s great religions, Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, consider Abram to be a foundational character in their faith.

Genesis 12 – God’s Covenant with Abram and His Lineage

The LORD came to Abram in Genesis 12 and commanded him to separate from his country, his kindred (relatives), and the influence of his extended family (12:1).  God promised Abram, if he obeyed, He would establish a covenant with him consisting of seven promises (12:2-3).  Although he was elderly (75 years old, 12:4) and childless, God promised to bless Abram with a son, make him great, his name famous, and through his lineage “all families of the earth [would] be blessed” (a promise fulfilled in Jesus Christ, 12:3).

Abram believed and obeyed God, and traveled from Haran to Canaan, the land he was promised as his inheritance (12:5-6). Characteristic of his enduring faith, when the LORD appeared to Abram in Canaan and rehearsed His covenant promises, Abram “builded an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him” (12:7). Then, Abram continued his sojourn in Canaan, and arrived at Bethel, where he once again “builded an altar unto the LORD” and worshipped Him (12:8).

A Crisis of Faith (Genesis 12:10-20)

Abram’s resolve to obey the LORD was soon tested when “there was a famine in the land” (12:10). Unfortunately, he abandoned his trust in God to provide and keep His promises, and left Canaan. Abram then journeyed to Egypt, putting all of God’s covenant promises in jeopardy, including the promise to give him and his wife Sarai a son in their old age (12:10-13).

We read that Sarai was a beautiful woman, and Abram feared she would be taken from him, and he be put to death. Rather than trust the LORD, he requested Sarai would tell others she was his sister and not his wife (12:11-13). When her beauty came to Pharaoh’s attention (12:14), he took her into his harem to become one of his wives (12:15) and thereby risked God’s promise that she would bear a son and heir to Abram.

Despite Abram’s faithlessness, God intervened and spared Sarai, and sent a plague of judgment on Pharaoh’s household. In doing so, God revealed Abram’s deception to the king of Egypt, (12:17-19). Providentially, Pharaoh had not harmed Sarai, and sent her, Abram, and their household out of Egypt (12:20).

Genesis 13 – “A Lot to Remember”

Abram and Lot were exceedingly wealthy.

With their families and servants of their households, the entourage that accompanied Abram and Lot most likely consisted of hundreds of men, women, and children. (For example, when Lot’s family and possessions were taken in Genesis 14:14, Abram took 318 armed men from his household to pursue and rescue Lot’s family. If we assume those men had wives and children, the members of Abram’s household alone would have numbered more than a thousand souls.)

With that number, it was a major undertaking when Abram and Lot moved their flocks and herds to new pastures. Indeed, the caravan formed by their households would have stretched far into the distance. When they encamped, hundreds of tents would have dotted the valley and hillsides near where Abram and Lot pitched their tents.

Two Very Different Views of Life (13:8-18)

Abram desired to avoid further conflict between himself and Lot and suggested they separate from one another, and divide their households. Evidencing humility, the elderly Abram graciously offered his nephew the first choice of the land (13:8-9).

Lot evidenced his covetous spirit, and failed to defer to his uncle. He contemplated the land before him, and then chose the best of the land for himself (13:10). His decision would prove a fateful one, for it included the cities in the plain, and among them the wicked city of Sodom (13:10-13). After Lot departed, God again renewed His covenant promises with Abram (13:14-18).

Closing thoughts – As we close, I invite you to consider some critical distinctions between Abram and Lot.For instance, Abram’s love for the LORD was incompatible with Lot’s love for the world. Another difference was Abram’s affections were eternal, and God-centered, while Lot’s affections were earthly and self-centered. Unlike his uncle, there is no mention in the Scriptures of Lot building altars for worship, or offering sacrifices to the LORD.

Tragically, as we shall see in future devotions, Lot will continue to move closer to Sodom [a symbol of the world, and a city indicative of gross wickedness in the Scriptures], and further away from Abram and the LORD.

Take a moment and consider two personal questions: Which way is your life moving? Are you moving toward the LORD, or closer to the world?

1 John 2:15–1715 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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THE END: “Job Died Old, and Full of Days” (Job 42)

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Scripture reading – Job 42

Job had remained silent since he confessed, “I am vile” (40:4). Being reminded of the majesty of God, he “answered the Lord, and said, 2I know that thou canst do every thing, And that no thought can be withholden from thee” (42:1-2). He had complained, but now he resigned himself to God’s sovereignty. He acknowledged he had spoken in ignorance (42:3), and accepted the LORD was not obligated to answer his questions.

In a wonderful expression of humility, Job confessed, 5I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: But now mine eye seeth thee(42:5). Though dreadful to have experienced the afflictions, the trials, troubles, and sorrows moved Job from a theoretical knowledge of God (“hearing of the ear”), to a personal and practical familiarity (“now mine eye seeth thee”) of his God and Creator. Job confessed, 6Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes (42:6).

God Rewards Faithfulness (Job 42:7-10)

Having accepted Job’s penitence, the LORD turned His focus to his foolish “friends” (42:7-9). “Eliphaz the Temanite” had been the first to challenge Job, and “the Lord said to [him], My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath” (42:7).

Then, God commanded Eliphaz and his peers saying, “take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering” (42:8a). The man whom they scorned, now served God as their priest, and the LORD assured Job’s friends, “My servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job” (42:8).

What an astonishing turn of events! Job had been the object of his friends’ scorn and judgments. Their unkindness, and false arguments had so provoked the LORD, He commanded them to humble themselves, and appeal to Job to intercede for them.

Evidencing the grace of a humble, godly man, Job “prayed for his friends,” and the LORD rewarded him with “twice as much as he had before” (42:10). 

Closing Thoughts (42:11-17) – We have studied 42 chapters in the life of Job. With the exception of his wife (who suggested he curse God and die), and four “friends” who proposed to be counselors but became critics, Job’s acquaintances have been strangely absent. With the hard times past, and Job enjoying God’s blessings and financial prosperity, we read:

Then came there unto him [Job] 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). I ask, where were those “brethren” and “sisters” when he lost everything?  Where were his acquaintances when he suffered the loss of his sons and daughters, servants, home, possessions, and health?  Why did they wait until Job had been vindicated to empathize with him? Why bring Job “a piece of money” and gold earrings, when he had need of nothing? (42:12-15)

As we conclude our study of the life of Job, we can learn many lessons from this man who lived centuries before us. Though he had suffered much, God prospered Job, and he “died, being old and full [satisfied] of days” (Job 42:10, 17). When he humbled himself before God, he was restored to His favor, and died very old, and content with his life (42:17).

Is that not what we all want? To not only live a long life, but be content, and satisfied when we draw our last breath!

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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

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What is Man? (Job 40; Job 41)

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Scripture reading – Job 40-41

A note from the shepherd: Today’s devotional is the second to the last in our study of the Book of Job. I congratulate you for completing a difficult journey. Indeed, one of the great disciplines of a chronological reading schedule is it disciplines us to consider subjects that are not appealing. Certainly, a study of troubles, trials, sickness, sorrows, and death is unattractive, but necessary. I trust a study of Job’s life has challenged each of us to accept life in this sin-cursed world will be characterized by times of sorrow, as well as fleeting times of joy.

Job 40

Today’s Scripture reading (Job 40-41) is a continuance of the Lord’s discourse with Job. Perhaps God’s question to Job is one He has brought to you and me.  Ultimately, it is the question of authority. The Lord asked Job: Shall he that contendeth [strives with] with the Almighty [Shaddai] instruct him? He that reproveth God, let him answer it (40:2).

Frightened by the reality of God’s majesty, power, and sovereignty, Job saw himself for what he was as a man, and replied: Behold, I am vile [cursed]; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth [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).

Humbled by the presence of God, Job yielded to the LORD. He no longer attempted to justify himself, and had nothing more to say.

Then, the LORD questioned, “8Wilt thou also disannul [dispute] my judgment? Wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest be [i.e., appear to be] righteous?” (40:8) Will you dare to question the ways of the LORD (40:6-14)? Will you challenge My majesty? (40:10)

To demonstrate His power, and sovereignty over nature, God proved His dominion over creation with two great beasts that roamed the earth in Job’s day: The behemoth (40:15-24), and the leviathan (41:1-34).

The Behemoth, and God’s Sovereignty Over Nature (Job 40:15-24)

The identity of the “behemoth” (40:15) is uncertain; however, the prevailing opinion among scholars is he was either a hippopotamus, elephant, or water buffalo. I am, however, of the opinion the behemoth may be an extinct beast. Perhaps a great dinosaur that roamed the earth following the flood.

Physical characteristics of the behemoth (40:15-24)

The behemoth was a vegetarian, for we read, “he eateth grass as an ox” (40:15b). He was a powerful beast, with great “strength…in his loins [hips, and] …his belly” (40:16). The movement of his tail, described “like a cedar” (40:17a), was like the movement and swaying of a cedar tree.

The description of the behemoth continued in Job 40:18-24. His bones were like brass and iron (40:18). He had a voracious appetite for mountain pastures (40:20), and when he quenched his thirst it was as though he “drinketh up a river” (40:23). The behemoth was described as “the chief [greatest] of the ways [works; creatures] of God,” and yet the Creator had power over him and could “make his sword to approach unto him” (40:19).

Before we consider the question, “What did all this mean to Job, and why should it matter to us?”, let us ponder another great beast…the Leviathan.

Job 41 – The Leviathan, and God’s Sovereignty Over Nature

The LORD invited Job to consider a second great beast, the “leviathan” (41:1). Once again, the identity of this great beast is uncertain; however, scholars suggest it might have been a giant saltwater crocodile, one that is probably extinct today. Whatever its identity, the analogy between the “behemoth” (Job 40) and leviathan was meant to draw Job to conclude he was foolish to question his Creator. After all, man paled in size and strength to the majestic leviathan God created (41:1-9).

Job was asked to ponder if a man could tame a leviathan? Of course, the implication was absolutely not; therefore, what right did Job have to question or stand before God (41:10-33).  We read how the leviathan “beholdeth all high things [for no man is his master]: He is a king over all the children of pride [and retreats from none](41:34).

Closing thoughts – Having considered the beauty and majesty of God’s creation, and the great creatures over whom He reigns supreme, we must ask, “What is man?” 

Job 7:17What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him? and that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him?”

Job 15:14What is man, that he should be clean? and he which is born of a woman, that he should be righteous?”

Psalm 8:4 – “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?”

Psalm 144:3 – “LORD, what is man, that thou takest knowledge of him! or the son of man, that thou makest account of him!”

Hebrews 2:6aWhat is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him?”

Man is an eternal soul, and was created in the likeness and image of God (Genesis 1:27; 2:7, 18-20). Because of sin, we are physically feeble, sinners by nature (Romans 3:10, 23), and bearing the weight and curse of sin (Romans 6:23). Yet, in spite of our sins and failures, God loved us and demonstrated His love “in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

God is our Creator. He is majestic in His glory, and sovereign of His creation. The LORD is omnipotent, holy, just, and forgiving. Yet, He is willing to save all who come to Him by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), and accept His offer of salvation through Jesus Christ (John 3:16; 1 John 5:13).

Hebrews 2:9 – “9But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

Is He your Savior? If so, have you given Him authority over your life?

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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

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Dare You Question God? (Job 38; Job 39)

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Scripture reading – Job 38; Job 39

Elihu, the fourth, youngest, and last of Job’s friends to contend with him, urged him to consider God’s majesty as Creator. He proclaimed the nature and sovereignty of the LORD was revealed in thunderstorms (Job 37:1-5), snow and ice (37:6-10), and the winds, clouds, and rain (37:11-18). He challenged Job, “Stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God” (37:14), and disputed his audacity to question God’s providence in his life (37:15-22). Having waxed eloquent in his comments concerning the sovereignty and nature of God as Creator, Elihu fell silent.

Job 38

When Elihu finished speaking, the LORD suddenly appeared, and His voice was heard “out of the whirlwind [great storm]” (38:1). He questioned Job, saying, Who is this that darkeneth [obscures] counsel by words without knowledge [discernment]? (38:2) In other words, “Job, dare you question my providences in your life? Stand up, speak up, and justify your right to question Me! (38:3)

A Divine Inquisition: Job Had No Grounds to Contend with God (Job 38:4-41)

Notice a series of questions fills the balance of Job 38. As you will see, the implication was that Job had no right to question or argue with God. The LORD  proposed questions meant to convince Job he was ignorant of God’s ways, and therefore had no right to query Him.

Then, the LORD asked Job, where were you when I created the earth? “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?” (38:4-5). Do you know upon what the “foundations” of the earth are set? (38:6) Where were you when I set the boundaries of the sea? (38:8-11) Where were you when I created light, and divided the day and the night? (38:12)

Indeed, Job knew nothing of the depths, or the darkness of the sea (38:16). He did not know from where light originated, nor how far it had traveled (38:19-21). He could not explain the origin of snow or hail (38:22-23). He did not understand the currents of the wind (Job 38:24), or the clouds that carry water according to their courses (Job 38:25).

Because the Book of Job is believed to be the oldest book of the Scriptures, we should be amazed at the knowledge and insights recorded in this chapter regarding the stars and constellations. Four constellations of stars are mentioned (38:31-32), and Job was asked: “Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? Canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth?” In effect, Job, can you command the course of the stars? (38:33) Can you command the rain to fall (38:34), or control the lightnings? (38:35) Job, can you feed the lions, or provide food for the ravens? (38:36-41).

Of course, all the questions put to Job were intended to give him a proper perspective of God as Creator, and himself.

Job 39 – Mortal Man Cannot Understand the Course of Nature or the Providences of God Apart from His Revelation.

The LORD began a series of questions to Job in chapter 39, as He paralleled proposals concerning His sovereign care of the animals of His creation.

Goats and Deer (39:1-4)

The LORD first probed an area unknown to Job, inquiring, “Knowest thou the time when the wild goats of the rock bring forth [give birth]? Or canst thou mark when the hinds [deer] do calve [give birth]?” (39:1) The implication was, though Job was ignorant of those matters, God knows the exact moment wild goats give birth, and deer go into labor (39:1). He knows when the months of their gestation are fulfilled (39:2), and when their offspring are old enough to “go forth, and return not” unto their parents (39:4).

Donkeys and Unicorns (39:5-12)

The LORD asked Job, “Who hath sent out the wild ass [donkey] free? Or who hath loosed the bands of the wild ass?” (39:5) Imagine this: God takes care of wild donkeys, providing them a home in the wilderness, and pasture in the mountains (39:6-8).

Job was then asked regarding the unicorn (39:9-12). Down through the centuries, there has been much debate on the identity of the unicorn. While I can assure you it was not the mythical creature of man’s imagination, it was nevertheless a beast known to men of Job’s day. Rather than a one-horned beast, there are scholars who identify the unicorn as a two-horned animal, perhaps a wild ox or an antelope. Some suggest the unicorn was a rhinoceros, others the one-horned oryx. Regardless, they were wild beasts, that could not be tamed, nor serve as domesticated beasts of burden.

Peacocks and Ostrich (39:13-17)

The LORD then questioned Job, had he given the peacock or ostrich beautiful feathers (39:13). The description of the ostrich was notable, for that bird was accurately described as ignorant, and one that buries her eggs in the earth (39:14). The ostrich is said to bury her eggs, only to forget where she buried them. Thus, she “forgetteth that the foot may crush them, or that the wild beast may break them” (39:15). Then, God declared He “deprived her [the ostrich] of wisdom, neither hath He imparted to her understanding” (39:17).

Horse, Hawk, and Eagle (39:19-30)

The horse, known for its beauty and courage, was proposed to Job, and the LORD asked, “19Hast thou given the horse strength? Hast thou clothed his neck with thunder?” (39:19-25) Concluding His line of questioning, the Lord offered an additional request for Job to consider, asking, “Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom, And stretch her wings toward the south? 27Doth the eagle mount up at thy command, And make her nest on high?” (39:26-27)  No doubt, Job had to stop and consider the vast diversity between himself (man) and his Creator (God).

Closing thoughts – What was the summation and purpose of the LORD interrogating Job?

Among many answers that could be given, one was the LORD wanted to demonstrate that man has no right to complain when he feels he has been treated unfairly, or strive against God. The LORD is God, and is sovereign of not only His creation, but He is man’s absolute authority. Therefore, man has no right to question the ways of God, for His ways are past finding out.

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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

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Don’t Trifle with God! (Job 37)

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Scripture reading – Job 37

Job 37 brings us to the final chapter in Elihu’s protracted admonition of Job. Like his other friends, the younger Elihu suggested Job’s troubles had come because he had provoked the wrath of God. Humiliated by his sorrows, and troubled by friends who showed him no pity, Job remained silent throughout Elihu’s indictment.

Consider the Majesty of God Displayed in Creation (Job 37:1-5)

Speaking figuratively, Elihu encouraged Job to “hear attentively the noise [rumbling] of [God’s] voice, and the sound that goeth out of his mouth. 3He [God] directeth it [the thunder] under the whole heaven, And his lightning unto the ends of the earth” (37:2-3). Elihu observed, the sound of thunder was the voice of God, and He “thundereth marvellously with his voice; Great things doeth he, which we cannot comprehend” (37:5).

God is the Director of the Snow, Ice, Rains, and Wind (Job 37:6-13)

Not only is the majesty of God displayed in thunderstorms, but in them He displays His power and authority over nature. The LORD guides the snow, ice, rain, and winds where He wills. He controls winter weather, and sends spring showers (37:6). He is able to stop all human activity with a storm, and “He sealeth up the hand of every man; that all may know His work” (37:7a).

Speaking allegorically, Elihu suggested frost was “the breath of God” (37:10), and the clouds a reminder of His presence and providence (37:11). The movement of storms and winds accomplish God’s will, and “do whatsoever He commandeth them upon the face of the world in the earth” (37:12b). Some storms come as a manifestation of divine judgment (“correction”), and others as an expression of God’s mercy (37:13).

Elihu’s Parting Admonition: No Man Dare Judge Divine Providence (Job 37:14-20)

After he illustrated the nature and power of God in His creation, Elihu challenged: “Hearken [Listen] unto this, O Job: Stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God” (37:14). Man cannot know why God sends the lightning, nor why He distributes the clouds as He does (37:15-16). Irrespective of a man’s attempt to control nature, he is nothing for God orders nature, and spreads out the sky as He wills. The sky above is like a metal mirror, displaying the glory of God (37:18; Psalm 19:1).

Earlier, Job had complained, if he were he given opportunity, he would ask God to explain the reason for all he suffered (Job 13:8, 18-22). Therefore, Elihu, having described the majesty of God revealed in His creation, remembered Job’s complaint, and challenged him, “19Teach us what we shall say unto Him; For we cannot order our speech by reason of darkness” (37:19). In other words, Elihu suggested, should any man be so foolish as to question God’s providence, “surely he [would] be swallowed up” and destroyed by Him (37:20).

Closing thoughts – The Majesty of Almighty God (Job 37:21-24)

Some scholars suggest, as Elihu concluded his speech, he saw and felt an unusual stirring in nature, a “a bright light…in the clouds,” and a rising wind coming out of the north (37:21-22).

Elihu observed, no man can measure, define, or find El Shaddai, “the Almighty” (37:23). God is all powerful, and just, and “He will not afflict” or oppress for the purpose of doing evil (37:23b). He is Sovereign, and to be feared and revered (37:24a). The LORD respects no man who thinks himself wise (37:24).

Seeing the approach of a great storm, Elihu and Job’s friends fell silent. Even Job, who boasted he would have a word with God, did not speak. It was “then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind” (38:1).

Our next devotional study will consider God’s counsel to Job and his “friends” (Job 38-41). For now, let’s conclude with a warning from LORD:

Matthew 10:2828And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him [the LORD] which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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

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Remember the Good Old Days? (Job 29)

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Scripture reading – Job 29

Job’s answer to Bildad’s accusations (Job 25) is continued in today’s Scripture reading. Unable to find reprieve from his sorrows, and bearing the disappointment of friends who assailed him, Job reflected on what we might label, “the good old days.” He remembered better days, and happier times.

Job 29

Job’s Complaint (29:1-6)

Having lost everything, the sting of feeling abandoned by God pierced Job’s soul day and night. He was grieved by friends who alleged he must be guilty of some wickedness. He felt God was turned against him, and bemoaned that his dreadful state had given cause for others to ridicule and scorn him.

Job then remembered the security and communion he once enjoyed with his Creator (29:2-6). He said, Oh that I were as in months past, As in the days when God preserved me [watched over him] (29:2). He had lived what some call in our day, “the charmed life.” As a young man, he enjoyed the light of God’s favor (29:3). Comforted by the “secret of God” (His friendship and fellowship, 29:4), and the presence of his children (29:5), Job’s life had overflowed with plenty (29:6).

Job’s Prominence in Former Days (29:7-17)

There had been a day when he was esteemed in all quarters of his realm (29:7-17). He was numbered above the elders and judges of the city (29:7). When he passed in the streets, young men shied from him, and aged men rose in his presence out of respect (29:8). When he spoke, men listened and none questioned his wisdom (29:9-11). Contrary to the charges of his friends, Job had been beloved for his charity and compassion for the less fortunate (29:12-13).

Job’s Reputation (29:14-17)

He was hailed for his character and good deeds, and distinguished as a righteous judge (29:14). His charity for the less fortunate was known among his neighbors, for he served as eyes for the blind, and feet for those unable to walk (29:15). To the needy, he had been a father (29:16), and a foe of the wicked when men sought justice (29:17).

Job’s Delusion (29:18-23)

Like some in our day, Job had believed his prosperity would last forever. He supposed God would favor him for his righteous deeds, for he reasoned the days of the righteous are multiplied (29:18-19). He relished the approval of his peers, and they valued his counsel (29:20-21). When he spoke, lesser men were silent. To those who sought his counsel, his words were like dry soil that opens its “mouth wide” for spring showers (29:22-23).

Closing thoughts (29:24-25) 

For Job, times had changed, and he was left with only memories of better days. He remembered when he was much-loved, and all men sought his company (29:24-25). He had not been proud, or haughty as he was accused (29:24). Though he had been chief and sovereign in his realm, he was a comfort to those overcome with sorrows.

Friend, the day may come when you will be embroiled in trials and troubles. When sorrows come, remember God’s grace and favor is the only solace in your darkest hour. I close with a promise that has sustained believers down through the centuries:

2 Corinthians 1:3–4 – “3Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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

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The Procurement of Wisdom Requires Hard Work and Sacrifice (Job 27; Job 28)

Click on this link for translations of today’s devotion.
(Additional languages available upon request by emailing HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com.)

Scripture reading – Job 27; Job 28

Bildad had concluded his final discourse with Job (Job 25), and reminded him no man can be justified in the sight of God (25:4). Job’s response initiated his lengthiest speech in the book, beginning with Job 26:1 and concluding with Job 31:40. Our examination of Job’s response continues with today’s Scripture reading, Job 27-28.

Job 27 – Job’s Parable

Verse 1 described Job’s response to Bildad as a “parable,” or a wise saying. Appealing to God as Creator, Job complained the LORD had denied him justice and “vexed” or embittered his soul (27:1-2). Interestingly, though the Book of Genesis was not yet penned by Moses, he understood the uniqueness of man’s creation, and confessed, the “spirit of God is in my nostrils” (27:3; Genesis 2:7).

Job friends had argued his troubles were a consequence of sins, yet, he declared his innocence, and said, “My lips shall not speak wickedness, Nor my tongue utter deceit [lies]. 5God forbid that I should justify you [agree with their false accusations]: Till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me” (27:4-5). This ancient of men refused to compromise his integrity to pacify the men who assailed him. He accepted the disdain of his “friends,” rather than the weight of a guilty conscience (27:6).

The Family of the Wicked Often Pay for Their Transgressions. (27:11-23)

Job acknowledged the wicked are not always punished according to their sins, but he was confident God’s judgment was inevitable (27:11-23). They may enjoy the pleasure of sin for a season (Hebrews 11:25), but their children often bear the consequences of their transgressions. In Job’s reflections, the children of the wicked are destined “for the sword” (often die early deaths), and never “satisfied with bread” (never happy or content, 27:14). Even the wives of the wicked become embittered by their pernicious ways, as the Scripture says they “shall not weep” for their husbands when they die (27:15).

The wicked enrich themselves at the sacrifice of others, but when they die their possessions are sometimes divided among the just and innocent (27:16-17). Their households are unstable, and as fragile as the cocoon of a moth (27:18). Regardless their boasting, the wicked go to the grave, and the honors heaped upon them perish with them (27:19). When the terror of death, and the wrath of God comes upon them (27:20), they will not find mercy (27:22).

Job 28 – The Search for Wisdom

Drawing an analogy where men mine for silver and refine gold (28:1), Job described the great lengths men must go to find wisdom.

The intense labor of a miner (Job 28:3-11)

The miner digs a shaft into the earth, and brings light into the darkness in search of ore (“stones of darkness,” 28:3). As he excavates the earth brings forth “sapphires…[and] dust of gold” (28:6). The miner lays his hand to the rocks, and overturns mountains seeking rich ore (28:9). He cuts channels in the rock (“rivers among the rocks”), and prevents waters from flowing into the mine shaft (28:10-11).

“Where Shall Wisdom Be Found?” (28:12-22)

Unlike “book learning,” wisdom is not something that can be acquired in a classroom. True wisdom, the wisdom only God can impart to a man, is priceless (28:13a). Wisdom cannot be mined out of the earth, nor found by exploring the depths of the sea (28:14). Wisdom cannot be purchased with gold or silver (28:15), and the purest gold is not to be compared with it (28:16-19). Then, if wisdom is so valuable, and rare, “Whence then cometh wisdom?” (28:20). Wisdom is “hid from the eyes” of man and “the fowls of the air” (28:21). One cannot find wisdom, though it is sought among the dead who have passed from this life (28:22).

God Alone is the Source of Wisdom (28:23-28)

Man can only know wisdom by God’s revelation: He is omniscient, and “understandeth the way thereof, And He knoweth the place thereof” (28:23). He is omnipresent, and sees and knows all things, “For he looketh to the ends of the earth, And seeth under the whole heaven” (28:24). Because He is Creator and Sustainer of the earth, the LORD even knows the weight of the winds and the water, and regulates the rain and the “way for the lightning” (28:25-26).

Closing thoughts (28:27-28) – Where might a man acquire wisdom? Job answered:

“The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; And to depart from evil is understanding” (28:28). The “fear of the LORD” is more than an emotional response; it is a practical response that obeys the Law of the LORD, and forsakes the way of sin (“to depart from evil is understanding” – 28:28b).  Moses commanded Israel to keep the statutes and judgments of God, “for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations” (Deuteronomy 4:5-6).  Hebrew fathers and mothers instructed their sons and daughters in the statutes and judgments of God, that they might “learn to fear” the LORD (Deuteronomy 4:10).

Tragically, the 21st century has given rise to a generation of pastors, teachers, and preachers who purport “Grace” and “Liberty,” and have neglected to teach and instruct our sons and daughters in the statutes and judgments of God. The result is a culture of pride and carnality that is a cancer in our homes and churches.

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization.

Mailing Address:
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You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

Did You Know, Ancient Men Knew the Earth Was Suspended in Space? (Job 25; Job 26)

Click on this link for translations of today’s devotion.
(Additional languages available upon request by emailing HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com.)

Scripture reading – Job 25; Job 26

Job 25 – Bildad’s Final Reply

Bildad the Shuhite, the last of Job’s friends to speak, offered his concluding retort in Job 25. Unlike the vein of his earlier pronouncements, the focus of Bildad’s comments was God’s character. Remember, Job’s friends were of the opinion his troubles were God’s retribution for sin.

In his final speech, Bildad declared lofty truths concerning God, and identified Him as the Sovereign of creation (25:2a) whose reign brings peace (25:2b). He described the heavenly armies of the Lord as innumerable, and declared the bright light of His countenance never sets upon His creation (25:3). Indeed, the righteousness of God surpasses the moon, and is purer than the brilliance of the stars of heaven (25:5).

In light of God’s character and person, Bildad questioned, “4How then can man be justified with God? Or how can he be clean that is born of a woman?” (25:4) The universal doctrine of the Scriptures is man cannot be justified (declared righteous) in the sight of God. We know that all men are sinners by nature, and “there is none righteous” (Romans 3:10). “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

What is man? In contrast to God who is altogether holy, man is “a worm…and the son of man, which is a worm” (25:6). The “worm” defined here was a maggot; a disgusting worm that feeds upon dead flesh. In other words, men are so depraved, so inferior to God, we are as maggots.

If sinful man is hopelessly depraved, and cannot find peace with God, what is a sinner to do? Paul answered man’s dilemma when he declared, “being justified [declared righteous and acceptable] by faith [in God’s offer of salvation and forgiveness], we have peace with God through [by] our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).

Friend, there is no peace apart from God’s peace.

Job 26 – The Majesty of Our Creator

Job 26 commences Job’s longest, and last speech (Job 26-31:40). He denounced Bildad for his miserable failure. Instead of comfort, he condemned (26:2). Rather than spiritual counsel, he taught error, and brought sorrow (26:3-4). Having listened to his “friends” claims of wisdom, Job then imparted a knowledge of God and creation that is amazing to study, even from the perspective of 21st century students. Recalling the Book of Job is believed to be the oldest book in the Scriptures, we find truths in Job 26 that are a marvel to consider, and only in the past millennium accepted by scientists. Contrary to “scientific opinions” as late as the Middle Ages, we read:

Job 26:7 – He [God] stretcheth out the north over the empty place, And hangeth the earth upon nothing.

Did you know, astrologers have found a space above the north pole where there are no visible stars? In other words, it is an “empty place?” (26:7a). Job went on to reveal that God “hangeth the earth upon nothing” (26:7b).

Men of ancient days believed the earth was held up, or was sitting upon something. Hindu worshippers believed the earth rested on the back of an elephant, which, by the way, was supposed to be standing on a tortoise. The Greeks believed the god they identified as Atlas was holding the world on his shoulders. Yet, the God of the Scriptures revealed to Job, the earth was suspended in space, and hanging on nothing!

Job 26:8 – He [God] bindeth up [wraps up; locks up] the waters in his thick clouds; And the cloud is not rent [breached; torn] under them.

Job knew the Creator locked up tons of water in the fluffy, beautiful clouds suspended in the sky. Though bearing vast sums of water, the clouds are “not rent,” until God has determined where and when rain will fall upon the earth. Much more might be considered, but I conclude our study with Job’s assertion:

Job 26:14  Lo, these are parts [limits; vastness] of his [God’s] ways: But how little a portion [only a whisper]is heard of him? But the thunder [roar] of his power who can understand [grasp; make sense of]?

Closing thoughts – Your Creator is so great; no man can define Him with words. Let the heavens declare His majesty (Psalm 19:1; 97:6), and allow the image of His Son dying on the Cross remind you how much He loves you, and loved the world (John 3:16; Romans 5:8).

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.”

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

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization.

Mailing Address:
Heart of A Shepherd Inc
7853 Gunn Hwy
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You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

“In the Beginning God” (Genesis 1) – The God of Creation – Sunday, January 1, 2023

Dear Heart of a Shepherd followers,

I am beginning a new sermon series at Hillsdale Baptist Church, titled, “Logos: A Journey of Faith, Hope, and Love.” This series will complement and parallel my chronological daily devotional series for Heart of A Shepherd. I invite you to subscribe as we journey from the Beginning (Genesis1:1) to Eternity (Revelation 22:21). 

The following sermon is the first of the new series, and is taken from Genesis 1. The title of the message is, “In the Beginning God.” I begin the message with an exposition of the pseudo-science known as Evolution, and end with a bold, unapologetic declaration of the Genesis account of Creation.

With the heart of a shepherd,

Travis D. Smith
Senior Pastor

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization.

Mailing Address:
Heart of A Shepherd Inc
7853 Gunn Hwy
#131
Tampa, FL 33626-1611

You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

Tragedy in Paradise (Genesis 2; Genesis 3)

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Scripture reading – Genesis 2; Genesis 3

Review – Genesis 1

We read, on the sixth day of creation, God [Elohim] said, Let us make [create] man in our image, after our likeness (1:26a). Notice the plurality of the Godhead (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit) was indicated in Genesis 1:26 in two ways. In English, “God” appears to be a singular noun; however, in Hebrew it is the plural name for God, “Elohim.” A second indication of the Trinity was the plural pronouns, “us…our” (1:26a). So, we conclude, the three persons of the Godhead determined by divine counsel, to create man in God’s image and after His likeness (1:26a).

Understanding “God is a Spirit” (Genesis 1:2; John 4:24), we determine the image of God, after which man was created was a spiritual, not a physical likeness. Furthermore, “God created man…male and female created he them” (1:27). Physically, God determined two sexes, “male and female,” and biologically and genetically there was no exception.

When the sixth day concluded (a day consisting of an evening and morning, and thus a 24-hour passage of time), “God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (1:31). The emphasis on “good” (Genesis 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25) and “very good” (1:31) implied creation was perfect, lacking in nothing. Therefore, any possibility of an evolutionary process for life and nature was eliminated.

Adam, as the federal head of the human race, was commissioned by God to be a steward of creation. Man was commanded, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (1:28). The procreation of the human race was God’s will and plan. Moreover, nature was created for man, and not man for nature. When God commanded Adam to “subdue…and have dominion” over creation, He imparted to man the authority and responsibility to harness and utilize earth’s resources for himself (1:28-30).

Genesis 2

The sum of all God created in six days was deemed, “very good” (1:31). God not only gave Adam life; He gave Him purpose. (2:7-8). Returning to the sixth day of creation, we read, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul (2:7). Unlike the rest of creation, which He spoke into existence, God “formed man” (2:7). Like a potter shapes and fashions clay into a vessel, Adam was a “hands on” creation, fashioned and shaped by God. Now, the body of Adam was lifeless, until God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (2:7).

The moment described in verse 7 is full of meaning. For instance, the word “breathed” (2:7) is the word used to describe a blacksmith using a bellows to rekindle or increase the heat of a fire. So, God breathed into Adam, not only the “breath of life,” but a living, eternal, consciousness of life and His Creator. God then placed Adam in “a garden eastward in Eden,” that He planted and prepared for man (2:8).

Why did God put a tree in the garden, and forbid Adam to eat its fruit? (2:9-17)

The answer to that question addresses the nature of man. Adam was not a mindless robot, for he was given the privilege of “free will.” He had the freedom and responsibility of free choice, and the power to choose between obedience and disobedience (Genesis 2:9, 16-17). Adam was given liberty to eat of any tree (1:29; 2:16), but with one limitation: the fruit of “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (2:17). Remember: The forbidden fruit was not a test of God’s love for Adam, but a test of Adam’s love and devotion to God.

A Wife for Life (2:18-25)

God declared all He created good (Genesis 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25); with one exception: It is not good that the man should be alone” (2:18). Spiritually, Adam had the company and fellowship of His Creator (3:8-9).Physically, God provided food to sustain him, and a purpose for life, for Adam was “to dress…and keep” the garden (2:15). Socially, however, Adam was incomplete; he lacked a companion (2:18). Time and space do not permit me to illustrate the beauty and spiritual meaning of marriage, but it is a union of two independent lives, who in the sight of God, become “one flesh” (2:24).

In the infinite wisdom of God, He created woman from Adam’s rib and side (2:21-22). Eve was truly of the bones and flesh of Adam (2:23). All other men have been born of woman, but the first woman was made from man, and for man (1 Corinthians 11:8). Genesis 2 closed with the Scriptures revealing marriage and family were conceived in the heart of God: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (2:25). “One flesh” is in essence, a unity of heart and purpose: Together, forever, Adam and Eve were to love, obey, and serve God with a singleness of heart.

Genesis 3  – Adam, Eve, and the Forbidden Fruit

The forbidden fruit was, in Eve’s opinion, “good for food…pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise” (3:6). Yet, the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil was the one place Adam could turn from God. Rather than a temptation to sin, the forbidden fruit provided the first man and woman an opportunity to love, trust, and obey their Creator. Tragically, Eve strayed from the loving boundaries God had placed on humanity, and Adam, as the federal head of the human race, made a decision of fatal consequence for all mankind: “He did eat”(3:6). With their consciences awakened to sin, and “the knowledge of good and evil” (2:17), for the first time, Adam and Eve felt shame and fear (3:7-10). God interrogated Adam, asking him, “Where art thou?” (3:9). Adam confessed, “I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself” (3:10).

The consequences of Adam’s sin were not limited to himself or his wife.

Condemned for his disobedience, the effect of Adam’s sin was immediate and far-reaching. His labor would be judged, and the fertile ground that once brought forth a bounty of fruit, would be cursed, and choked with thorns and thistles (3:17-19). Without God’s intervention, Adam was doomed, for the LORD had warned him, “thou shalt surely die” (2:17). In an act of grace, and loving compassion, God “made coats of skins, and clothed” Adam and Eve’s nakedness (3:21).

Closing thoughts – Adam’s Sin is Our Problem (1 Corinthians 15:21-22) – Adam was the first man, and his nature, like his genetics, has been passed from generation to generation. Paul wrote, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22). Yet, in an act of loving mercy and grace, we read, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Roman 6:23).

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

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization.

Mailing Address:
Heart of A Shepherd Inc
7853 Gunn Hwy
#131
Tampa, FL 33626-1611

You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.