Category Archives: Elderly

“Behold thy Mother!”

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Daily reading assignment: Luke 1-2

We continue our “Read-thru the Bible” scripture reading today focusing on the Gospel of Luke chapters 1-2.  Written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the human author of the Gospel of Luke is “Luke, the beloved physician” (Colossians 4:14).  Luke’s occupation was that of a medical doctor; however, his writings in the Gospel of Luke and Book of Acts reveal he was a historian and travel companion of the apostle Paul on his missionary journeys (Acts 16:10).  The Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts are historical letters penned by Luke to a friend named Theophilus (Luke 1:1-3; Acts 1:1) and the opening verses of each reflect the passion of a historian who was a well-educated man.

Given the length and historical character of Luke 1-2, I will limit this devotional commentary to an overview of the chapters and close with a brief focus on Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Luke 1 introduces us to the miraculous conception of John the Baptist, the long-awaited forerunner of the Messiah (Luke 1:5-25).   Destined for greatness from his conception; however, it was not the greatness men thrust upon one because of his lineage (John’s father Zacharias was a priest who lived in relative obscurity).   It was prophesied of John he would be “great in the sight of the LORD” (Luke 1:15) because of his mission.  He would be the messenger of the LORD dedicated to heralding the coming of Jesus Christ, the “Lamb of God”.

Luke 1:26-38 is the record of the miraculous incarnation of Jesus Christ, conceived in the womb of the virgin named Mary of Nazareth, a child of the Holy Ghost, the only begotten Son of God (Luke 1:35-37).

Luke 1:39-56 is the record of the expecting Mary’s retreat from Nazareth to the home of her elder cousin Elisabeth whom Mary found great with child as the angel Gabriel had told her (Luke 1:36).  Luke 1:57-80 records the birth of John the Baptist and his divine mission.

The historical events surrounding the birth of Jesus and the angelic announcement of His birth are found in Luke 2:1-20.  The circumcision of Jesus (2:21-24), the prophesies of Simeon and Anna (2:25-38), and a brief insight into Jesus’ childhood are found in Luke 2:39-52.

I am taking my sermon for this Mother’s Day,  Sunday, May 14, 2017 from the dramatic moment Jesus’ gaze fell upon his mother who was standing near the cross.  When Mary visited the Temple with her eight-day-old Son (Luke 2:25-35), she received a prophecy from the elder Simeon who, taking Jesus up into his arms said to Mary, “a sword shall pierce through thy own soul” (Luke 2:35).  I believe those words haunted Mary’s thoughts throughout the years Jesus was growing from a child to a man in her home.  Standing at the foot of His cross, untold sorrows pierced Mary’s soul as she watched her sinless Son become the object of curses and scorn.

Through her tears, Mary understood Jesus was the Son of His Heavenly Father and the suffering He endured on the cross was as much for her sins as the sins of those who crucified Him (note Luke 1:46-47).   The cross severed all human ties with this physical world; however, Jesus, bearing the burden and penalty of the sins of the world, did not forget his mother.  Gazing through swollen eyes nearly closed from abuses He has suffered, His lips bruised and bleeding, Jesus speaks to His mother, “Woman, Behold thy son!” (John 19:26).  Jesus was not referring to Himself, but to John who stood at her side.  Turning His gaze to John, Jesus said, “Behold thy mother!” (John 19:27).  We read concerning John, “from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home” (John 19:27b).

On this Mother’s Day eve, contemplate Jesus’ example.  He remembered to provide for His mother by doing the one thing He could do…He entrusted her to the care of the one disciple who stood near the cross.   Jesus knew John shared Mary’s zeal for the LORD and would care and provide for her as though she were his mother.

In the hour of His greatest agony; He did not forget His mother!   What a wonderful lesson for us all who have mothers and grandmothers!

Friend, whether you are a mother or not, you are blessed if there are men and women in your life who love and care for you!

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

God Never Punishes Children for the Sins of Their Parents; however, Children Often Suffer the Consequences!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Daily reading assignment: Job 21-22

Poor Job, in his distress he answers the judgments of “friends” who, like Zophar’s statements in Job 20, imply his sorrows and losses are attributable to some sin he has not confessed to God.

In Job 20:4-29, Zophar stated the wicked suffer calamities because of their sins:  Their lives cut short (20:4-11); their joys  temporal (20:12-19); and their end full of sorrow (20:20-29).   Zophar’s observations concerning the fate of the wicked assumed a tacit implication that Job’s sorrows mirrored that of wicked men.

Job answered Zophar’s conclusions in chapter 21, contradicting his assertions that the path of the wicked concludes with a shorten life, suffering, and sorrows.  Job observes the way of the wicked often appears to succeed in this sinful world:  The wicked appear to live long prosperous lives in spite of their sins (21:7-21) and their deaths differ little from that of other men (21:22-34).

How many of my readers have beheld with wonder that the wicked appear to flourish while the righteous are left impoverished?  I have often observed that liars, cheats, and swindlers prosper, while their victims languish in the wake of their path of destruction.  I have seen trusting widows deceived, single moms impoverished, and the naïve swindled out of their inheritance…by wicked men who evidenced no guilt of conscience or visible consequences for their sins.

Friend, do not be hasty in your judgment and think God is not just!  God is “longsuffering…not willing that any should perish” (2 Peter 3:9) and His patience exceeds our own; however, He is just and sin always demands its payday.  Job’s friends implied the deaths of his children were a result of his sins (Job 21:19); however, that assertion is contrary to the scriptures.

Children are not punished for their parent’s sins (Jeremiah 31:29-30; Deuteronomy 24:16); however, they often bear the consequences of a parent’s sin for three and four generations (Exodus 20:5; Numbers 14:18; Deuteronomy 5:9).  A man’s ill-gotten wealth often proves a sorrow and curse to his children and his children’s children.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Caleb: Finishing Strong

inheritanceTuesday, January 17, 2017

Daily reading assignment: Joshua 11-15

A string of successes in battle under Joshua’s leadership raised the ire of Israel’s enemies and was the catalyst of a gathering of adversaries against God’s people (Joshua 11:1-5).  Having learned well the lesson of not presuming upon the LORD’s blessing or moving ahead of His leading, Joshua went to war obeying the LORD’s plan for battle (Joshua 11:6-23).

Joshua 12 is the record of the heathen kings Israel conquered and the lands the people took as their inheritance in the land God had promised.

faithfulThe LORD comes to Joshua in chapter 13 and reminds the mighty leader that he is old (probably 100 years old or more) and, in spite of the victory’s that had been won under his leadership, there was still much land to be possessed (13:1). Identifying the lands yet to be taken and the enemies who dwelt in them, the LORD commanded Joshua to divide the lands among the tribes and direct the tribes to drive the inhabitants out of the land God had given them for an inheritance (13:2-33).  The exception being the priestly tribe of Levi for whom God promised He would provide through the sacrifices of His people (13:14, 33).

Leaving the dividing of the land to the providence of God, the tribes were assigned their geographical lands by lot (Joshua 14:1-5).  One man, Caleb, one of two spies who had faith God would give Israel the land under Moses’ leadership (Joshua being the other), reminded Joshua that 45 years earlier Moses had assured him an inheritance in the land (14:6-9).  finishing-strongThough 85 years old, the fire of a warrior still burned in Caleb’s soul (14:10-13).  What an encouragement to read the words of this great man of faith who, though chronologically old, declared his readiness to claim his inheritance with these words, “Now therefore give me this mountain, whereof the LORD spake in that day” (14:12)!

Joshua 15 is the sum of the lands the tribe of Judah would have for an inheritance.

I close by inviting you to consider two failures that will inevitably haunt Israel in the future.

The first failure is, “the children of Israel expelled not the Geshurites, nor the Maachathites: but the Geshurites and the Maachathites dwell among the Israelites until this day” (Joshua 13:13). A second failure of the same is stated in Joshua 15:63 when we read, “As for the Jebusites the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the children of Judah could not drive them out: but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Judah at Jerusalem unto this day.”

Concerned for the sanctification of His people, the LORD had commanded Israel to drive the heathen nations out of the land. Israel’s failure to obey the LORD would one day have grave consequences for the nation.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Stop Complaining and Choose to Be a Blessing!

noah-found-graceMonday, January 16, 2017

Daily reading assignment: Genesis 8-11

We return to our study of Genesis as we continue reading through the Bible in a year.  It is not too late to take up the challenge of reading through the Bible and I trust my feeble attempt at authoring a Daily Devotional from a portion of each day’s reading assignment will be a blessing to you. Today’s assignment is Genesis 8-11.

The historical narrative of the universal flood began in Genesis 6 where we read, “5 the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually…7 And the LORD said, I will destroy man…” (Genesis 6:5).

noahOut of all the earth, one man “found grace [divine favor] in the eyes of the LORD” (Genesis 6:8), for unlike men of his day, “Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God” (Genesis 6:9).  The last four words of verse 9 answers the question, “Why did God spare Noah and his family?”  The answer, Noah was a man of faith, who “walked with God”.  While wickedness and rebellion were universal, Noah alone believed God, called upon Him and walked with Him.

Because he was a man of faith who “walked with God”, God spared Noah and his family from the greatest cataclysmic event to ever come upon the earth.  It rained upon the earth 40 days and 40 nights (7:12,17) and, when the rains stopped, the waters covered the earth another 150 days.  The story of God’s universal judgment is interrupted with a phrase that is a joy to read, “God remembered Noah…” (Genesis 8:1).  Altogether, Noah and his family would remain in the Ark 370 days (Genesis 8:14-16).

After leaving the Ark, Noah’s first act as the priest of his household was to offer a sacrifice to God (Genesis 8:20-21a), acknowledging God’s salvation, mercy and grace in sparing him and his family.  Accepting Noah’s sacrifice, God set a rainbow in the sky as a symbol of his covenant with man to never again destroy the earth with universal floodwaters (Genesis 9:11-13).alcohol

Sadly, following Noah’s sacrifice, we read about his shame and the reality that the best of men are sinners.  Noah became a farmer after the flood and planted a vineyard (Genesis 9:20), contenting himself with the fruit of his labor.  The juice made from the grapes of the vineyard inevitably fermented and Noah became drunk, lacking the consciousness of his condition, he exposed himself.  We read in Genesis 9:22 that Ham “saw [i.e. with a mocking, scornful gaze] the nakedness of his father”.

Awakening from his drunken stupor, Noah was enraged by Ham’s scorn and cursed him with a prophecy that would follow Ham’s lineage throughout human history… “a servant of servants shall he [Ham and his lineage] be unto his brethren [the descendants of Shem and Japheth] (Genesis 9:26-27).

Many have observed that a man’s weakness is often exposed following his greatest victory.  In Noah’s case, that statement was true. He had been a faithful preacher to the world and a godly testimony to his family before the flood.  Following the flood, Noah let down his guard and became drunk with wine.  We might conjecture that Noah’s physical strength was failing; perhaps his wife had died, and his sons were occupied tending their own lands and raising their families.  Whatever the reason, Noah’s last years were scarred by his moral failure and the sorrow of a son who held him in contempt.older

To those who, like this writer, are conscious we are not getting any younger, let’s takeaway a spiritual lesson from today’s reading and heed three challenges:

  • Get your eyes off yourself and focus on the LORD and His promises.
  • Rejoice in the life God has given you and vow to serve Him until the day you die.
  • Quit talking about what you use to do and find something to do and be a blessing to others.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Professor Higgins, Your dream has come true!

Bruce-Caitlyn JennerTopic: Eight Tenets of Feminine Graces (part 2) (Titus 2:4-5)

Radical feminism’s boorish obsession with equality has become a cancer threatening marriage, home, and family.

The Broadway musical and classic movie “My Fair Lady” is an illustrative reminder of how much western civilization has eroded in 60 years.  The plot of the musical, first premiering on Broadway in 1956, centers on a bet between two Englishmen, a professor Henry Higgins and his friend Pickering.  Professor Higgins wagers he can take a simple, “uncivilized” flower street urchin and, through lessons in speech and etiquette, pass her off as a lady.  Among the many beautiful songs in the musical is one humorously titled, “A Hymn to Him” in which Professor Higgins bemoans the differences between men and women.  Higgins, openly expressing his frustration with Eliza, played by Audrey Hepburn, finds himself falling for her precisely because of the somewhat frustrating, sometimes maddening differences between men and women.  Higgins observes the following…Fair Lady

Women are irrational, that’s all there is to that!

Their heads are full of cotton, hay, and rags!

They’re nothing but exasperating, irritating,

vacillating, calculating, agitating,

Maddening and infuriating hags!

 

Why does ev’ryone do what the others do?

Can’t a woman learn to use her head?

Why do they do ev’rything their mothers do?

Why don’t they grow up- well, like their father instead?

Why can’t a woman take after a man?

Men are so pleasant, so easy to please;

Wherever you’re with them, you’re always at ease.

I fear professor Higgins observations regarding the wonderful and complementary differences between men and women no longer holds true in a culture that has become so inane it entertains the foolishness of those who allow for “self-identification” with the opposite sex.  Professor Higgins’ wish that “ a woman take after a man” has sadly come true as radical feminism’s boorish obsession with equality has become a cancer threatening marriage, family, and society.

Higgins’ observation that young women learn to “do ev’rything their mothers do” is precisely the reason Titus was to challenge older women to be “teachers of good things” (Titus 2:3).  Rather than follow their peers, young women were to look to the “aged women” for instruction in eight spiritual disciplines.  We considered three of the eight disciplines in an earlier devotion.  Older women are to teach young women “to be sober, to love their husbands, [and] to love their children” (Titus 2:4).old teaching the young

Titus 2:5 “To be discreet [soberminded], chaste [holy; pure from carnality; free from evil], keepers at [workers in the] home, good [honorable; pleasing to God], obedient [subordinate to; ranking under; submitting] to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed [reproached; discredited].”

The fourth tenet of feminine grace older women were to teach the younger is “to be discreet” (2:4a), literally “sober minded”.  Radical feminism has introduced into mainstream America the opposite; silliness, partying and drunkenness have become the trait of a gender that rejects discipline and discretion as a feminine grace and discipline.  Models themselves, the older women were to challenge the young women to be sensible, exercising good judgment.

The fifth tenet of feminine grace and discipline is chastity.  Granted, society has changed and the notion of chastity and fidelity has been relegated to Victorian taste; however, God’s Word has not changed and God’s will is that young women would be “chaste” in attitude, appearance and action.  Paul directed Timothy to teach women in the church to reflect in their dress and manner a modesty that is lost in our day of selfies and brazen nudity.

immodesty1 Timothy 2:9-10 – “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness [modest, rather than brazen demeanor] and sobriety [exercising good judgment and restraint]; not with broided hair [elaborate design], or gold, or pearls, or costly [expensive] array; 10 But (which becometh [befits] women professing godliness) with good works.”

The inconvenient truth is the dress and conduct of the average young woman in our churches today is far from “chaste”.  Rather than that “which becometh women professing godliness” (1 Timothy 2:10), too many young women, wives and mothers identify more with Madonna and Taylor Swift than with the Bible’s exhortation that wives are to adorn themselves in a “meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price” (1 Peter 3:4).

To be continued….

Copyright 2016 – Travis D. Smith

“Fundamental Tenets of Feminine Graces”

aged womenWe transition in our study of Titus 2 from a focus on the “aged men” to the “aged women” Titus was to instruct in the churches.

Titus 2:3 – “The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;”

Who are the “aged women”? I suggest they are past the childbearing and child-rearing years of life. I think we can safely say the “aged women” of our day would be 50 years or older, having reared their own children to adulthood.

Having instructed Titus to challenge the “aged men” of the church (2:2), the apostle now encourages the young preacher to exhort the “aged women” to aspire to four godly traits.

mature womenTitus 2:3 – The aged women [old women; note – 1 Timothy 5:2] likewise [in like manner; in the same way…as the older men], that they be in [in earnest; about] behaviour [demeanor; i.e. condition; manner of life] as becometh holiness [reverence; suitable; i.e. worthy of character; holy], not false accusers [slanderer; malicious gossips; note – 1 Timothy 3:11], not given [servants; enslaved; in bondage] to much wine, teachers of good things [i.e. teacher of the right, good or what is beautiful];”

The first trait of “aged women” was they were to be holy in demeanor [“in behaviour as becometh holiness”], models of godly character in their bearing and whole manner of life.  In word, deeds, dress and personal disciplines, the “aged women” were to be portraits of holiness.   Paul instructed the same in his letter to Timothy when he writes:

1 Timothy 2:9-10 – “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest [goodly and proper] apparel, with shamefacedness [reverence; modest, rather than brazen and irreverent] and sobriety [discreet; good judgment and restraint]; not with broided hair [elaborate weaves with], or gold, or pearls, or costly [expensive] array; 10 But (which becometh [befits] women professing godliness) with good works.”

Secondly, the “aged women” were to be cautious in conversation [“not false accusers”].  They were not to be numbered among those who have a proclivity to gossip and tale bearing.  Not unlike our own day, Paul described some women in the early church as idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not” (1 Timothy 5:13). The “aged women” were to not be in the company of slanderers or gossips.

alcoholThirdly, the “aged women” were to be free from intoxicants [“not given to much wine”].  Some aged women, perhaps because of the loneliness of old age, had turned to “much wine” to dull their sorrows.  As one who frequently visits nursing homes and shut-ins, I have seen more than my share of elderly men and women who, having been all but forgotten by their loved ones, fell into what John Bunyan described in “The Pilgrim’s Progress” as the “slough of despondency” [described as melancholy in the early 20th century and today defined as depression].

There are a growing number of professing Christians who champion strong drink as an expression of Christian liberty in spite of numerous biblical arguments against Christians indulging in the use of wine, beer and alcohol.  Giving little thought to the Bible’s admonitions concerning intoxicants that impede one’s judgment or the historical reality that wine in ancient times was not only far less alcoholic than our own day, but was also watered down for consumption, some who defend their indulgence, will tomorrow mourn their influence in their children and friends.teaching

I invite you to consider the following verses in your research of this subject (Proverbs 20:1; 23:20-21, 31; Romans 14:21).

Finally, the “aged women” were to be “teachers of good things” (Titus 2:3). They were to teach the “younger women” (2:4-5) by word and example.

My next devotional will focus on the “good things” the “aged women” were to teach the “young women” (Titus 2:4-5).

Have a blessed day!

Copyright 2016 – Travis D. Smith