Category Archives: Faith

We Are Never Alone…God is With Us (Genesis 41-42)

Daily reading assignment: Genesis 41-42

Now two years passed before the butler gave any thought to Joseph, the man who comforted and interpreted his dream in prison (41:1a).  In God’s time, Pharaoh’s sleep was disturbed by dreams (41:1-8) that he was moved to seek assistance in interpreting his foreboding of great trials Egypt would soon face. The stage was set for the butler to remember Joseph and commend him to Pharaoh a man as a man who could interpret dreams (41:9-32).

Interpreting the king’s dreams, Pharaoh rewarded Joseph’s faithfulness appointing him to serve over Egypt, second only to himself (41:33-44).  Only thirty years old when he was promoted (41:46), Joseph was entrusted with the granaries of Egypt as the nation prepared for seven years of famine that would follow seven years of plenty (41:45-57).

Genesis 41 closes with the revelation; “all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn; because that the famine was so sore in all lands” (41:57).

God had providentially set the stage for Joseph’s brothers, forced by famine in their own land, to come to Egypt seeking food for their households.

Joseph recognized his brethren; however, none of them suspected the Egyptian ruler to whom they bowed was their brother Joseph and their fate now rest in the hands of one they had despised and sold into slavery (42:1-20).  Joseph concealed his identity and repressed the emotions that swelled up in his soul as he remembered the dreams of his youth now fulfilled in his brothers bowing before him (42:9a; 37:6-9).

Joseph questioned his brethren; not only to learn the fate of his father Jacob and brother Benjamin, but also to discern whether his brothers had repented of their sins against him (42:10-19).

Overhearing their remorse (42:20-23), God confirmed in Joseph’s heart that the passing years had changed his brothers’ hearts toward him. Rather than bitterness and revenge, we read Joseph turned himself about from them, and wept” (42:24).

Choosing to not disclose his identity, Joseph set in motion a plan (42:25-28) that will ultimately conclude with Benjamin, Joseph’s younger brother, being transported to Egypt (42:29-38).

Joseph’s faith has sustained him through bleak times…from the sorrow of being rejected by his brethren, through being falsely accused and imprisoned…we have observed in Joseph’s life what King David will one day confirm, As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him” (Psalm 18:30).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

What Do You Call A Divine Appointment? – “Providence” (Genesis 38-40)

Daily reading assignment: Genesis 38-40

The life of Joseph is a fascinating reading and a reminder that, regardless our circumstance, the LORD is with us!  Following the life of Joseph is akin to a spiritual rollercoaster…wonderful highs followed by events that would threaten to plunge most men into a slough of despair.

Joseph being sold into Slavery by His Brothers

Joseph was left without the nurturing love and care of his mother when she died giving birth to Benjamin, his youngest brother and the twelfth son of Jacob (Genesis 35:16-19).  Favored by his father (Genesis 37:3), Joseph’s brothers despised him and plotted his murder (37:19-24); eventually selling him to nomadic Midianites traveling to Egypt (37:25-28).

Rather than despair of life, Joseph’s faith in the LORD was unshaken and he rose from a common slave to steward over his master’s household (37:36).   When his master’s wife falsely accused him of an indiscretion (39:1-18) and he was sentenced to prison (39:19-23), Joseph did not entertain an embittered spirit.

What a difference a God-centered, faith-dependent attitude makes when a man faces trials!

In prison, the Lord did not forget or forsake Joseph. We read, “the LORD was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison” (Genesis 39:21).

I do not know what trial or opportunities you and I will face today; however, I do know Christ’s departing promise to His followers: “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20b).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

God Must Break You Before He Will Fully Bless You! (Genesis 32-34)

Daily reading assignment: Genesis 32-34

We continue our devotional commentary in Genesis 32 with Jacob anticipating the arrival of Esau, his elder brother whose birthright he had stolen twenty years prior.  Reminded of the proverb, “A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle”(Proverbs 18:19), Jacob’s sin haunts him (32:3-5).

Told his brother Esau is approaching with four hundred men (32:6), Jacob fears the worse. Desiring to spare his family and possessions from a total loss should Esau attack, Jacob divides his household (32:7-8).  Sending gifts before him and hoping to appease the wrath of his brother, Jacob prayed to the LORD rehearsing His promise to be with him (32:9-23).

In the solitude of that night, we read of Jacob, “there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day” (32:24).

Who was this man? The man who wrestled with Jacob was the LORD Himself; a “theophany” –  the pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ in the physical form of a man (32:24-32).

Even with his thigh out of joint, Jacob refused to allow the LORD to depart until he was assured of His blessing (32:25-28).  The LORD then blessed Jacob (whose name meant trickster or schemer) and changed his name to “Israel” (meaning one who has power with God).

As the sun rose, Jacob, now named Israel, was a changed man.  He had spent his life scheming; however, he was now a man transformed by the experience of seeing “God face to face” and living to tell it (32:30).  No longer a man relying upon his own wits, the painful limp in his stride will serve as a constant reminder of the night God broke his will (32:30-31).

In the words of A.W. Tozer, “The Lord cannot fully bless a man until He has first conquered him.” [The Divine Conquest (Harrisburg, PA: Christians Publications, 1950), p. 53].

Jacob had finally come to the end of himself and the God of his grandfather Abraham and his father Isaac was his God.  More than an intellectual assent to the person and promises of the LORD, Jacob’s life was so transformed he was a new man…no longer Jacob, he was Israel.  If you saw him, you would recognize him; he was a man with a limp whose faith was in the LORD.

Genesis 33-34

After an absence of 20 years, Jacob returned to Canaan (Genesis 33) and was met by his brother Esau who, in spite of his treachery, gave him a loving embrace.  Although received in peace, Jacob refused his brother’s invitation to dwell in Bethel (lit. the house of God), and instead traveled to Succoth where he lived among the heathen of the land (33:17).

Jacob’s failure to go to Bethel and dwell with his father Isaac and brother Esau turned tragic when his daughter Dinah was raped by Shechem, the son of Hamor who was ruler in Succoth (34:1-2). Pretending to save face and make peace, the decision was made for Dinah to become Shechem’s wife and the households of Jacob and Hamor become one on the condition that Hamor’s men accepted circumcision (34:8-16).

Hamor accepted the stipulation and convinced the men of his household to accept the rite of circumcision, reasoning they would inevitably be enriched by Jacob’s possessions (34:20-23).

The circumcision of Harmor’s household was a ruse by Jacob’s sons who were bent on revenge (34:25-29).  Knowing the men would be incapacitated, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s full brothers, attacked Hamor’s household, killing the men (34:25-26).  Jacob’s other sons, joined their brothers, claiming the wives and possessions of the city for spoil.

Take a lesson from Israel’s (Jacob) life: His failure to separate himself from the ungodly citizens of the land became a grief and sorrow Jacob and his sons carried to their graves. (2 Corinthians 6:14, 17)

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Lord is Faithful (Genesis 30-31)

Daily reading assignment: Genesis 30-31

Twelve sons of Jacob will be borne by his wives, Leah and Rachel, and their servants, Zilpah and Bilhah.  Twelve sons who are destined to be the fathers of the Twelve Tribes of Israel.

Knowing Leah was Jacob’s least favored wife, God blessed her and we read, the LORD “opened her womb” (29:31). Leah was confident the LORD had blessed her because of the “affliction” (29:32) and rejection she suffered (29:33).  She became the mother of Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah (29:31-35).

Rachel, provoked by envy (30:1), demanded Jacob give her a son by her servant Bilhah to whom was born Dan (30:1-6) and Naphtali (30:7-8).

To Zilpah, the maid servant of Leah, was born Gad and Asher (30:9-13).  God once again blessed Leah with two sons, Issachar and Zebulun (30:17-20) and a daughter she named Dinah (30:21).

Ten sons of Jacob were born in his household before the LORD answered Rachel’s prayers for a son.  Bearing the cultural shame of a barren wife, God opened Rachel’s womb and she conceived and gave birth to Jacob’s eleventh son whom she named Joseph (30:22-24). Later in our study of Jacob’s life, his beloved Rachel will die giving birth to his twelfth son whom he will name Benjamin (35:16-19).

With two wives, two handmaids, and eleven sons, a longing for home revived in Jacob’s heart and he stated his desire to return to his father’s household (30:25-26).  When Laban denied his request, Jacob struck a deal and evidencing a knowledge of husbandry, became a wealthy man with large flocks and herds (30:37-43).

The LORD commanded Jacob to depart for the land He had promised him for an inheritance (31:1-3). Unfortunately, rather than trust the LORD and announce his plans to leave, Jacob plotted and schemed to take flight without Laban’s knowledge (31:4-20).

Learning Jacob had departed, Laban pursued and overtook him (31:1-23).  Having been warned by God to not harm Jacob (31:24), Laban departs (31:25-55) as Jacob prepares to enter his homeland where he will soon face his brother Esau (32:1-3).

Jacob returns to Canaan; not a perfect man, but a man whose faith in the LORD has been magnified. The God of Abraham is his LORD.  As a young, faithless, self-willed, man he fled his father’s household with nothing; now he returns home a man of wealth whom God had blessed and prospered.  Not a promise of the LORD had failed.

I close with a prayer for you:

1 Peter 5:1010  But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

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

Daily reading assignment: Genesis 25-26

“Fighting Brothers” (Genesis 25)

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

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

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

“Dig Another Well” (Genesis 26)

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

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

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

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

No, rather than revenge, Isaac kept digging wells.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

A Lesson in LAW and GRACE (Genesis 22-24)

Daily reading assignment: Genesis 22-24

Genesis 22 puts the faith of Abraham to the test as God proves his faith by commanding him to sacrifice Isaac, the son of God’s covenant promise.  Isaac’s question, “Where is the Lamb?” (22:7) is answered 2,000 years later when John the Baptist says concerning Jesus, “Behold the Lamb” (John 1:29, 36).

Reminding us God’s people are sojourners in this world of sin, we read, “Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old: these were the years of the life of Sarah. 2  And Sarah died in Kirjatharba; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her” (Genesis 23:1-2).

I close this historical crossroads in Abraham’s life inviting you to consider spiritual lessons concerning Law and Grace illustrated in the births of Ishmael and Isaac (Galatians 4:21-31). 

Ishmael, born a slave of a slave woman, was the fruit of Abraham’s effort to have a son and heir apart from God (Galatians 4:22a, 23a).   Isaac, born a free man of a free woman, was the son of promise whose birth was miraculous and the work of God (Galatians 4:22b, 23b).

The mothers, Hagar and Sarah, represent two covenants: Hagar, the LAW, the covenant between God and man (Galatians 4:24-25) reminding us the impossibility of man fulfilling the demands of the Law (Romans 3:19-20).  Sarah, represents God’s covenant of GRACE, His provision and unmerited favor (Galatians 4:26-27) extended to man.

Ishmael’s birth is a tragic reminder of man attempting in his own efforts to do and fulfill what only God can do.  Isaac’s birth, fulfilling God’s covenant promise to Abraham and Sarah, is a portrait of GRACE, God doing what only He could do.

My friend, that is why salvation is not by works that merit God’s favor, but is an act of God’s grace alone.

Ephesians 2:8-9 – “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

My theme for Genesis 24 is “Here Comes the Bride”.   Following the death of his beloved Sarah (23:1-2), Abraham was burdened that Isaac, his son and heir of God’s covenant promises, should have a fitting wife.

Fearing Isaac might be tempted to take a wife of the heathen tribes that dwelled in Canaan, Abraham determined to send his “eldest servant”  (24:2-4) to his kindred residing in “Ur of the Chaldees” (11:27-31).  Reflecting the faith of his master, Abraham’s servant prayed for the LORD to make His will clear in choosing the young woman who would become Isaac’s wife  (24:12-14).

God heard and answered the servant’s prayer even as he was praying (24:15-26).  In a prayer of praise that should comfort all who call upon and desire the will of the LORD, the servant prayed, I being in the way, the LORD led me to the house of my master’s brethren” (24:27).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Two New Sermon Series to Begin a New Year at Hillsdale

After a couple of weeks of vacation, I look forward to beginning two new sermon series for the New Year this Sunday at Hillsdale Baptist Church.

In the 10:30 AM worship service I will introduce a new verse-by-verse study of Paul’s Epistle to the churches in Galatia titled, “Freedom That Lasts.”

Unlike the majority of his letters to the early churches, the Epistle of Galatians is short and direct.  In Paul’s absence, false teachers had entered the churches in Galatia, not only questioning his authority as an apostle, but attacking the very heart of the Gospel of Christ which he had taught and preached while he was in the churches.

What was the heresy that had disrupted the churches and threatened the Gospel? Judaizers had entered the churches teaching believers that salvation was not only a matter of God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ’s substitutionary death, burial and resurrection; but also required works of righteousness [observing the ordinances of Judaism and obeying the Law] contrary to what Paul had taught when he was among them (Galatians 2:16, 21).

I am also beginning a new series in the Book of Proverbs in our 6:00 PM worship service. The theme of the series is “Heavenly Wisdom for Earthly Problems” (my subtitle is, “Uncommon Common Sense”).

This Sunday’s introductory message is titled, “Common Sense is Dead.”

I am not sure when “Common Sense” died, but I am convinced she was buried in an unmarked grave and an impostor named “Political Correctness” has usurped her place in our society.  Common Sense has been expelled from our schools, demonized by politicians and scorned by adherents of godless ideologies promoting progressivism, socialism and liberalism.

Join us Sunday evenings as Hillsdale resurrects Common Sense in our study of Proverbs!

With the heart of a shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith