Category Archives: Family

Human Life is Sacred: Thou Shalt Not Kill! (Job 10)

Scripture reading – Job 10; (Exodus 20:13; Deuteronomy 5:17)

Note from the Author: This is a bonus devotional from today’s Scripture reading, Job 9-10. My earlier writing focused entirely on Job 9; however, I feel the central theme of Job 10 is too important for us not to take a moment to consider the sanctity (sacredness) of human life (Exodus 20:13; Deuteronomy 5:17).

Job 10:1-6 – Job’s Petition

Job’s reply to Bildad continued in Job 10, and he confessed to God what many have felt when besieged with trials and beset by troubles: “My soul is weary of my life” (10:1a).

Job’s statement was not a threat of suicide, but an honest, transparent complaint that the sorrows and losses he had experienced had taken their toll on him physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

Distressed in his soul, Job prayed, “Do not condemn me,” do not abandon me; show me why you have allowed such hardship and difficulties to fall upon me (10:2). Notice that Job’s appeal to His Creator was deeply personal, and he identified himself to the LORD as “the work of thine hands” (10:3b). He was not under any delusion that he merited God’s favor. In fact, the opposite was true. He acknowledged his “iniquity” and “sin” (10:6); however, he protested, “7Thou knowest that I am not wicked; And there is none that can deliver out of thine hand” (10:7).

Job 10:7-17 – Job’s Appeal to His Creator

The sanctity of human life is the central truth we find in these verses (10:7-17). Here is an inspiring passage that leaves no doubt that human life is consecrated from the moment of conception, and that God is intimately interested in each of us. From the unborn, to the very ancient among us, every human life is sacred, and conceived in the heart of God.

Notice Job’s description of God’s personal affection, and His attentiveness to everything about us:

Job 10:8–98Thine hands have made [shaped; formed] me and fashioned [created] me Together round about; yet thou dost destroy me. 9Remember, I beseech thee, that thou hast made [fashioned] me as the clay [an allusion to God creating Adam, Genesis 1:27; 2:7]; And wilt thou bring me into dust again? [implying death and decay]

God is not only the giver, and preserver of life; He is the gatekeeper for every trial and blessing that graces our lives.

Job 10:1212Thou hast granted [make; wrought; create] me life and favour [grace; loving-kindness], And thy visitation [lit. oversight] hath preserved [keep watch over] my spirit. 13And these things hast thou hid [treasured] in thine heart: I know that this is with thee.

David penned similar truths regarding the sacredness of human life, and acknowledged God as His Creator in Psalm 139:13-16.

Psalm 139:13–1613 For thou hast possessed [get; acquire] my reins [lit. kidneys; figuratively the mind; feelings]: thou hast covered [protect; defend] me in my mother’s womb [belly; bosom; body].
14 “I will praise [give thanks; confess] thee; for I am fearfully [amazingly; stand in awe or reverence] andwonderfully made [distinguish; uniquely; set apart]: marvellous [wonderful; distinguish; extraordinary; surpassing] are thy works [labor; i.e. needlework; deed]; and that my soul [life; person; being] knoweth [perceives; observes] right well [exceedingly; greatly].
15 My substance [bones and being] was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought [woven as a tapestry] in the lowest parts of the earth.
16 Thine eyes did see [perceive; look; behold] my substance [might; body; frame; bones], yet being unperfect[embryo; unformed mass]; and in thy book [letter; scroll] all my members were written [described; lit. – all the days of my life were ordained], which in continuance [day; time; continually] were fashioned [formed, as a potter; to mold], when as yet there was none [i.e. not the first] of them [before one day of my life was past].”

God is your Creator, and He knows you personally, and intimately. He has followed your life from the moment you were conceived, and has kept you by His sovereign, providential care. In fact, He loves you so much that He has extended His grace to you, offering salvation and forgiveness of sin through the death, burial, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Will you accept Him as your Savior?

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

When Trials Come, and Sorrows Overwhelm (Job 3)

Scripture reading – Job 3 

Continuing our study of Job, we have noted that this suffering saint, though having lost everything, had in the words of his wife, “retained [his] integrity,” (2:9a). Frustrated by his humility before God, Job’s wife urged him to “curse God, and die” (2:9).

Job, however, reproved his wife for speaking the way of “foolish women,” and reasoned, “What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” In spite of his trials, and overwhelming sorrows, Job never sinned by complaining against his God (2:10).

Job 2 concludes with the arrival of his “three friends” (2:11), who having heard of his trials, came purposing “to mourn with him and to comfort him” (2:11b). Arriving together, they were shocked when they beheld the physical toll of Job’s trials (2:12a). In an outward expression of their compassion and sorrow, “they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every one his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven” (2:12b). For “seven days and seven nights,” they sat on the ground with Job, never speaking a word, “for they saw that his grief was very great” (2:13).

Job 3 – The Silence is Broken

Seven days having passed, the silence was finally broken when Job began to speak. Contrary to Satan’s slander, that he would curse his Creator in the midst of his sorrows (1:11; 2:5), Job lamented that his suffering was so great it would be better had he never been born (3:1).

The balance of Job 3 records the anxiety of this man whose faith had not wavered, but whose mind and soul were weighted by an avalanche of trouble. Finding no solace, Job finally gave expression to his anguish, acknowledging his deepest, inmost doubts for his very existence (3:2-12). He bewailed the day he was conceived (3:2-12), and began to look upon death as a welcome release from his sufferings, and the great equalizer that all men must eventually face (3:12-19). Mourning his misery (3:20-23), Job questioned why God gives “light” (i.e. life) to a soul that longs to be free from sorrows (3:20-26).

But, lest we be too hard on Job, let us remember that his words serve as a reminder that even good men struggle deep within their soul. Though overwhelmed with misery, Job was no less the man in whom God had boasted, “there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil” (2:3).

Any who have suffered deeply can relate to the hopelessness that grasped Job’s heart. Pain, especially when it affects family and loved ones, can drive anyone to entertain dark or despairing thoughts.

Job did not know the calamities he had suffered were a matter in which heaven itself had an acute interest. Nor was God with him less in his sorrows, than He had been in his prosperity. I close reminding you of a spiritual principle that should lift your heart when you feel trials are overwhelming you:

1 Corinthians 10:1313 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God isfaithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Just When You Think Things Could Not Get Worse! (Job 1-2)

Scripture reading – Job 1-2

Introduction to The Book of Job

Our chronological study of The Book of Genesis is interrupted by a diversion to The Book of Job.

The Book of Job is commonly accepted among scholars as the oldest book of the Bible. Genesis 1-5 gave us a perspective on Creation and the fall of man, and Genesis 6-11 carried the historical narrative from the worldwide flood, to God calling out Abraham. The man named Job is believed to have been a contemporary of Abraham. There are several details that lead us to accept that conclusion, particularly the names of ancient cities whose names were derived from men who were contemporaries of Abraham.

Job 1:1-5 – Job, the Man

The Book of Job introduces us to the man whose name it bears, giving us no background of the man, or how he came to be so incredibly wealthy.

Job 1:1 – “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.”

The exact location of the “land of Uz” is one of speculation; however, because there are cities mentioned in the book that are located in the land of Edom, we might place Uz in that geographical area (southeast Israel, on the border of Jordan to the east and Egypt to the south).

It is not Job’s birthplace, but his character that identifies him as an important figure in the Bible. He was what God would have every man to be: “Perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil” (1:1). He was perfect, meaning blameless, guiltless, a man of integrity. He was an upright man, righteous, and honest before God and man. He was a God-fearing man; a man who revered his Creator, and eschewed, or shunned evil (1:1).

Job was blessed with a large family, “seven sons and three daughters” (1:2), and great wealth (1:3). His children were adults with their own households (1:4), and having shared in their father’s wealth, they were enjoying the bounty of their own riches and observing a week of feast days with their siblings, perhaps as a celebration of the harvest.

When the feast days were finished, Job, acting as the spiritual priest of his family, summoned his children to offer sacrifices to God, reasoning, “It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually” (1:5). Notice that last phrase: “Thus did Job continually.” Worship and sacrifices were a constant pattern in Job’s life, and one he did not take lightly as the spiritual head of his family.

Job 1:6-12 – A Heavenly Council

Job 1:6 carries us into the midst of a heavenly council where “the sons of God” (whom I believe are angels), are standing before God’s throne, and in their midst was Satan, the serpent, the wicked one, the adversary of God and man (1:6). The LORD inquired of Satan, “Whence comest thou?”, and he answered saying, “From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it” (1:7b).

God turned the focus of the heavenly council to a man in whom He found great joy, and asked Satan, “Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?” (1:8).

Evidencing his adversarial heart, Satan questioned God, and implicated Job asking, “Doth Job fear God for nought? 10 Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. 11 But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face” (1:9-11).

Job 1:12-19 – From Riches to Rags

Accepting Satan’s challenge, the LORD gave him liberty to accost Job in a series of devastating trials, but limiting the devil’s power and commanding him, “Behold, all that he [Job] hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand” (1:12a). Departing from the presence of God, Satan went out and initiated a series of disastrous events that destroyed all Job’s earthly possessions (1:13-17), ultimately taking from him that which was dearest, his sons and daughters (1:18-19).

Now, Satan had slandered Job, supposing he was only faithful to God because he had been abundantly blessed and protected by Him (1:9-11). How did Job respond to his losses? Did he curse God as Satan alleged, he would? (1:11)

Rather than reprove his Creator, Job responded with humility, and acknowledged God’s sovereignty over His creation. He worshipped the LORD, and prayed, “Yahweh gives, and Yahweh takes away; blessed be the name of Yahweh” (1:21b). Contrary to Satan’s accusation, Job “sinned not, nor charged God foolishly” (1:22).

Job 2 – Job: His Body Afflicted, His Friends’ Inquisition

A thorough study of Job 2 will have to wait for another time, and another year; however, Job 2 records a second heavenly council (2:1-3), and introduces a trial that will afflict Job’s body and rob him of his health (2:4-7). You will meet Job’s wife who questions why he maintains his integrity in the midst of sorrows (2:9-10), and meet Job’s “three friends” who will assert his losses are a punishment for unconfessed sin (2:11-13).

A Closing Thought: Satan is a real person, and an adversary of believers; however, God limits his power and influence. When trials come, and they will, trust God knowing He is intensely interested in your soul and well-being.

Romans 8:2828 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

The Tower of Babel and One Big Unhappy Family (Genesis 10-11)

Scripture reading – Genesis 10-11

The conflicts among the races and nations of the world have their origin in today’s Scripture reading (Genesis 10-11). Genesis 10 lists the descendants of Noah’s three sons and concludes by introducing us to Terah, the father of Abraham, the patriarch. We find in Genesis 10-11 the common kinship of all humanity, traced back to Noah’s three sons.

Genesis 10 is where God begins to deal with the Hebrew people through the lineage of Shem. Though the Old Testament focuses upon the history of Israel, and God’s dealing with His chosen people, nonetheless, the LORD never forsook humanity.

Genesis 10

Genesis 10 records the names of sixteen sons who were born to Noah’s three sons (and perhaps as many daughters). Genesis 10 registers seventy individual nations that emerged from Noah’s sons: fourteen associated with Japheth (10:2-5), thirty linked to Ham (10:25-27), and twenty-six from Shem (10:21-31).

Japheth, Noah’s oldest son, was the father of many Gentile nations (9:27; 10:2-5), among them the ancient empires of Persia, Greece, and Rome, and the European people (namely, Germans, Russians, Italians, French, Spanish, and the English).

Ham, Noah’s youngest son who was identified as “Canaan” in Genesis 9:25, was father to some of the great empires of the ancient world, among them the Egyptians, Hittites, Sumerians, Canaanites, Phoenicians, and some scholars would suggest Chinese, Japanese, American Indians, and African tribes (10:6-20).

Although cursed to be a “servant of servants” (9:25-27), the accomplishments of Ham’s progeny were so vast that it appears they set their minds to cast off the curse of being a “servant of servants.” Nimrod, the grandson of Ham, and the son of Cush, was the first ruler following the flood (10:8-10). He was a “mighty hunter” (10:9), and founded what would become ancient “Babel…in the land of Shinar” (10:10).

Shem, Noah’s second born son, was “the father of all the children of Eber” (10:21-31). Scholars believe the name “Eber,” is an ancient word from which the word “Hebrew” was derived (10:21). “Eber” was the father of the Hebrews (Abraham is described as “Abram the Hebrew” in Genesis 14:13, and the nomadic Arab tribes and nations.

Shem’s lineage is the ancestral line through which God would fulfill His promise of a Redeemer Savior. Genesis 10 concludes leaving no doubt that all nations and people in our world today are descended from Noah’s three sons:

Genesis 10:32 – “32 These are the families of the sons of Noah, after their generations, in their nations: and by these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood.”

Genesis 11 – The Tower of Babel

Resisting God’s command to “replenish the earth” (9:1), Noah’s sons and their families continued as “one language, and of one speech” (11:1), and congregated in “a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there” (11:2).

Arising from their desire to continue as they were (being “of one language, and of one speech,” 11:1), mankind resolved to build “a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven” (11:4). Man’s sinful pride, self-sufficiency, and rebellion was summed up in this: Let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth” (11:4).

Once again, we are made privy to a heavenly conversation when the LORD determined to intervene, lest the wickedness and rebellion of man be carried so far that there would be no hope of salvation, and “nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do” (11:6).

Confounding their one language into multiple languages, the LORD caused the work on the tower and the city to cease, and men were forced to scatter abroad “upon the face of all the earth” (11:7-8).

Genesis 11 concludes with the lineage of Shem, and leading our Bible study to a great crossroads in the history of mankind: God calling Abraham (11:31-12:1).

Friend, never forget that the story of history is “HIS-STORY;” a testimony of God’s invisible, providential hand and His “Amazing Grace.”

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

“How Will You End?” (Genesis 9)

Scripture reading – Genesis 9

“God [had] remembered Noah” (8:1), after He had fulfilled His Word as He had promised. Then, God commanded Noah to “go forth of the ark” (8:16), and Noah “builded an altar unto the LORD…and offered burnt offerings on the altar” (8:20).

Genesis 9:1-17 – A New Covenant

Many things had forever changed after God’s judgment. Animals would fear man (9:2), and man was now omnivorous, a consumer of the flesh of animals and the fruit of the earth (9:3-4). Government was established, and man was empowered with the authority of capital punishment, A Life for a Life:

Genesis 9:5-6 – “And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.”

Why capital punishment? Because human life is sacred, “for in the image of God made he man” (9:6). God established the sanctity of human life, and whether man or beast had shed the blood of man, the law demanded that the transgressor (man or beast) would forsake his life (9:6).

The future of humanity would be seeded by Noah’s three sons, and they were commanded to “be fruitful, and multiply” (9:7). Having accepted Noah’s sacrifice (8:22-23), the LORD established His covenant with Noah and his sons, promising to never again destroy the earth with floodwaters (9:8-13). As a symbol of His enduring covenant with man, the LORD set a rainbow in the sky (9:14-17).

Genesis 9:18-29 – A Shameful, Tragic End

The flood had not changed man’s age-old problem—sin! Noah and his family had witnessed God’s hatred of sin and His judgment; nevertheless, those men bore in their hearts the curse of sin, its effects, and tragic consequences. Though saved by the Ark, they were still sinners! Noah was a great man, a just and upright man, a man who walked with God (6:8-9); however, he was still a man and with the innate nature of a sinner.

Noah became “an husbandman” (farmer) after the flood, and planted a vineyard (9:20). In his old age, Noah began to drink wine, “and was drunken” (9:21). Unguarded in his drunken state, he was naked, and “uncovered within his tent” (9:21).

Noah dropped his guard, and the “preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5), had become an object of mocking and scorn (9:21) for his son Ham.

The reason for Noah’s drunken state is not given, and perhaps it is that we might each take a lesson and make our own application. Was it his old age, and failing strength that turned him to drink? Perhaps it was loneliness; after all his sons had their own families, houses and lands. Maybe Noah thought he had earned the right for some fleshly comfort. With his work as a ship builder and preacher behind him, was he despondent, as he reflected on the world that had been, but was destroyed?

Whatever the cause, Noah’s drunkenness was a spiritual and moral failure, and tempted his son to sin (9:21).

Though he had directed his scorn at his father, it is obvious that Ham’s response evidenced a deep-seeded rebellion against God (9:25), and Noah pronounced a curse upon him and his lineage: “Cursed be Canaan; A servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren” (9:25).

Genesis 9 concludes with Noah prophesying the future of his sons, and their posterity (9:26-27), and closes with the revelation that is a certain end for all men: “And all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years: and he died” (9:28-29).

The apostle Paul, comparing his earthly life to a race, declared: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished mycourse, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).

Noah, though not perfect, should be remembered as a righteous man. His obedience, and faith in God saved not only his household, but the human race from physical and spiritual annihilation.

How about you? How will you be remembered?

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

A Tale of Two Lineages (Genesis 5-6)

Scripture reading – Genesis 5-6

Genesis 4 concluded with Cain being driven from the presence of Adam’s household (4:12-16),and him taking a wife, and establishing an ungodly lineage (4:17) that would be the curse of righteous men (4:18-24).

Several sons and daughters were born of Adam and Eve’s union (5:4); however, it was a son whom Eve named Seth that God chose as His godly lineage (4:25). Seth had a son whom he named Enos, and then we read, “then began men to call upon the name of the LORD” (4:26).

Genesis 5 – A Tale of Two Lineages

Before we identify the two lineages that proceeded from Adam and Eve, consider for a moment the incredibly long life spans of the men of these first generations. For instance, Adam lived 930 years (5:4); his son Seth lived 912 years (5:8); and Enos lived 905 years (5:11). How might we explain the longevity of early human life?

Various scholars have tackled that question, and many have scoffed at the possibility of men living nine hundred years or more. Although not original with me (and I do not know whom to cite as my source), there are generally two explanations: That earth’s atmosphere was an expanse of water “above the firmament” (1:7) and therefore shielded man and the world from harmful environmental factors that hasten aging (an example would be the cosmic rays of the sun). A second explanation for longevity, and one I believe is most important, is that the human race was more genetically pure, and there was less disease and sickness. By the way, the longevity of man in those early centuries would have contributed to a boom in population growth that some have estimated might have reached billions of souls before the Flood!

The ungodly lineage of Cain was recorded in Genesis 4:16-24, but remember only a few of his descendants are named, and only because of their important role in the Biblical narrative. I hope to address Cain’s lineage at a later time.

The godly lineage of Adam, through his son Seth is given in Genesis 5 and takes us through to the birth of Noah, and his three sons, “Shem, Ham, and Japheth” (5:32).

Genesis 6 – Judgment and Destruction: The Worldwide Flood

Like our day, the world of Noah’s day before the Flood evidenced not only a population explosion, but also a wickedness that motivated God to intervene, allowing the Flood to cleanse the earth, in preparation for His promise of a Redeemer to be fulfilled. Once again, we are made privy to the thoughts and heart of God.  Seeing the proliferation of sin in the world, the LORD avowed, “My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years” (6:3).

The heart of man had become so consumed with wickedness, that even the godly lineage (“the sons of God”), intermingled with the “daughters of men” (6:4, I believe a reference to the line of Cain). God determined, “every imagination of the thoughts of [man’s] heart was only evil continually” (6:5). Grieved by the wickedness of man, the LORD declared, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them” (6:7).

I close inviting you to consider an incredible phrase, and a wonderful doctrine:

But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (6:8). The statement concerning Noah’s spiritual relationship continues: “Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God” (6:9).

Genesis 6:8 is the first mention of God’s “grace” in the Scriptures (although amazing grace was evident when the LORD sacrificed to cover Adam and Eve’s nakedness with skins).

How did Noah respond to God’s gracious commandment to build an ark to the saving of his house, and thereby establishing His covenant (6:18)? He responded in the same way that all sinners must to be saved…Faith. Noah believed God!

Hebrews 11:7 – “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things [and events] not seen as yet, moved with fear [took heed of God’s warning and used due diligence], prepared an ark to the saving [deliverance] of his house; by the which [FAITH] he condemned the world [of unbelief], and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.”

Noah’s faith in God was expressed in his obedience: “Thus did Noah; according to all that God had commanded him, so did he” (6:22).

What of your faith? What do your works say about your faith, and trust in God? After all, “faith without works is dead” (James 2:20).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Sin is Like A Slithering Snake (Genesis 4)

Scripture reading – Genesis 4

Adam’s sin, and his fall from God’s favor, had immediate consequences on himself, his wife, and the world God had created.

Satan was cursed and his fate sealed with the revelation that he would be at enmity (an enemy) with “the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it [the seed of the woman, fulfilled in Jesus Christ] shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel [fulfilled in Christ’s crucifixion]” (Genesis 3:14-15).

The sanctity of marriage and the home were affected, as the woman’s role would become one of pain in childbirth, and a desire to please her husband, who would “rule” (headship or authority) over her (3:16).

Adam, as the federal head of humanity, and the caretaker of God’s creation, learned that the curse of his sin not only affected the human race, but infected all creation: “Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; 18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; 19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (3:17b-19).

While the consequences of sin were grave and irreparable in Adam’s hands, there was hope in the revelation of God’s mercy and grace: 21 Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them” (3:21).

Rather than risk man eating of the fruit of “the tree of life” (2:9; 3:22) and living forever in his fallen state, Adam and Eve were shamefully, but mercifully driven from the Garden. God placed at its east entrance “Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life” (3:24).

In Genesis 4 we learn that Eve had borne Adam two sons, Cain, the elder (4:1), and his younger brother Abel (4:2).  

The curse of sin was soon manifest in the home. Cain and Abel brought sacrifices to the LORD, as they had seen demonstrated and taught by Adam (4:3-4). God accepted Abel’s offering that consisted of “the firstlings [firstborn]of his flock and of the fat thereof” (4:4); however, he rejected Cain’s offering of “the fruit of the ground” (4:5), for it fell short of the standard of a blood sacrifice that God had demonstrated when He covered man’s nakedness with the skins of animals (3:21).

Abel’s offering followed God’s pattern, and was a humble acknowledgement of his sinfulness and need for God’s grace and forgiveness (Hebrews 11:4; Leviticus 17:11; Hebrews 9:22). Cain’s sacrifice, the fruits and vegetables of the ground, was an offering of the fruit of his labor, but insufficient to represent the blood offering which was symbolic for covering sin. Sin offerings could only be accepted from one who came with humility and a heart of repentance (4:3,5).

Rather than accept the LORD’s rejection with self-abasement, Cain became angry, and with his face betraying his wayward heart, “his countenance fell” (4:5b)! God mercifully confronted Cain, and reasoned with him, “Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? (4:6). Cain, stubborn and proud, refused God’s invitation to “Do Right” (i.e. “doest well” – 4:7a), and failed to heed the admonition, “if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him” (4:7b).

Notice the swift degradation of sin as the first son, in a sudden act of jealousy, murdered his brother (4:8-9).

Luke 11:50-51 identifies Abel as a prophet, implying that he had reasoned with his brother to obey God (4:8a). Tragically, the degressive nature of sin in Cain’s heart moved from pride and jealousy, to defiance and hatred, and “Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him” (4:8b). He hated Abel, “because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous” (1 John 3:12).

Summary thoughts: God had warned Cain, “sin lieth at the door” (4:7).

That is the nature of sin. Sin stalks mankind just as a wild animal stalks its prey. Knowing the blood of Abel had stained the soil of the earth, God mercifully confronted Cain, and five times reminded him that Abel was his brother (4:9-10); yet, each time, Cain hardened his heart and became more defiant. Depressed with his guilt, and overwhelmed with its consequences (4:13), he exaggerated his suffering (4:14).

Consider three spiritual principles from today’s devotional.

The first, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: But whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13). Cain had a choice; heed God’s invitation to “doest well,” or face the consequence of sin lying at the door (4:7). Cain rebelled, and murdered his brother.

A second principle is summed up in this: “His [a sinners] own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, And he shall be holden [entrapped] with the cords of his sins” (Proverbs 5:22). Like a snake silently slithering, then apprehending its prey, constricts the life of its victim. Patterns of sin, if unbroken, will bind the soul until there is no hope.

The third principle is, the greater sin’s guilt, the greater the sinner’s depression. When a man despises correction, and refuses to repent and confess his sin, his sin invariably leads him to deeper, more dominating sins (4:13-14).

An invitation: There is hope for deliverance from sin’s constraining grip and guilt…Repentance!

The prodigal son, came to the end of himself, confessed his sin, humbled himself, and found forgiveness (Luke 15:17-19). That same path of restoration and happiness is open to all.

1 John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

“In the Beginning God Created” (Genesis 1)

Scripture reading – Genesis 1

January 1, 2021 marks the start of a new journey, a new opportunity, and a new challenge as you are presented with an opportunity to subscribe to a two-year Scripture reading schedule that will take you through a chronological study of God’s Word, from Genesis to Revelation. Let the journey begin!

An Introduction to The First Book of Moses Called Genesis

The Bible is the most influential book in history, and Genesis is its foundation. Genesis explains the origin of all things, and is the basis of our understanding of the universe, the earth, its atmosphere, and life itself. For instance, Genesis 1:27 presents us with the complexity and uniqueness of man, who was created in the “image of God.”  The societal foundation of marriage and family are established in Genesis 2:24-25. Genesis 3 reveals the origin of sin and its consequences. The basis of language, culture, and the existence of the nations are all declared in Genesis. Genesis also unveils the commencement of God’s answer to man’s wickedness; a Son who would be born of Abraham’s lineage, through whom all nations and people would be blessed (Genesis 12), fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

Warning: If you reject the Genesis account of creation you must reject the Bible!

The New Testament quotes from, or alludes to one hundred sixty-five passages in Genesis. In fact, there are more than one hundred direct quotes or references from Genesis 1-11 that are found the New Testament.

Genesis 1 – “In the Beginning God Created”

Creation declares the person and existence of the God of Creation (Romans 1:20-27), and what you believe concerning the existence, and the origin of life shapes your philosophy of life and worldview. Accepting or rejecting the Genesis account of Creation will influence the value you place on human life. If you believe, “God created man in His own image,” meaning His spiritual likeness (1:26-27), you must conclude that human life is sacred. Reject creation and you will come to the conclusion that the life of the unborn has little value.

Believe God is Creator, and the Genesis account of creation is true (Genesis 1), and you must accept that God has the sovereign authority to establish right and wrong, and define morality from immorality (1:29-31).

As you read the Genesis account of creation, you must come to a conclusion about the origin of life, and ask yourself, “Who can be trusted in the matter of the origin of life? Is evolution an unproven theory, or a scientific fact? Can you trust the Bible when it states simply, “In the beginning God created” (1:1)? Can the Bible and evolution co-exist?

The Biblical account of Creation offers no compromise with evolution, and evolution offers no compromise with the Biblical account of creation.

A literal interpretation of Genesis 1 must accept that God created the heaven and the earth in a literal six-day period (a day being 24 hours), and He rested on the seventh day (1:31-2:2). As Creator, God is Sovereign, and He is providentially involved in His creation, preserving and sustaining all the universe. “He looketh to the ends of the earth, and seeth under the whole heaven” (Job 28:24). “His eyes are upon the ways of man, and he seeth all his goings” (Job 34:21). “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good” (Proverbs 15:3).

Because God is our Creator, He has authority to oversee every facet of our lives, and to reward, or punish as He deems just in His providential will. The psalmist declared, “Our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased” (Psalm 115:3).

Reject God as Creator, and inevitably, ungodliness will command the soul of not only an individual, but a nation (Romans 1:28-32).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

P.S. You are invited to join me on January 1, 2021, and begin a Two-Year Chronological Bible Reading Schedule that will take you from Genesis to Revelation. 2_year_chronological_Bible_schedule_2021

I plan to continue writing, and publishing daily, devotional commentaries at www.HeartofAShepherd.com. It is a long journey, but it is well worth the effort, on both our parts.

He Died for You; Will You Live for Him? (1 Peter 1-5)

Scripture reading – 1 Peter 1-5

Today’s Scripture reading brings us to the First Epistle of Peter. Though brief in comparison to other books of the Bible, this small letter is a spiritual gold mine, but to sum up its doctrines and applications in one devotional commentary is an impossible task. For the sake of brevity, I will limit my focus to Peter’s opening salutation, 1 Peter 1:1-2.

Historical Background

The Roman Empire was near its peak when this letter was written to first century saints. Reaching as far west as Britain, and into the African continent as far south as Egypt, Rome’s territories covered nearly two million square miles. The emperor of the day was the infamous Nero, and by the time Peter penned his epistle, the dark clouds of persecution were beginning to form. The church would soon experience its first wave of persecution, and among those who would become martyrs were the apostles Paul, and Peter, the author of our Epistle.

The Author – “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ…” (1 Peter 1:1a)

What a testimony of God’s saving grace!  Peter, the fisherman (Mark 1:16-20), brother of Andrew, a disciple of Jesus Christ, and an apostle!  He was a natural leader, and along with James and John, was privileged to be named in Christ’s inner circle (Matthew 17:1-2; Mark 5:37, 9:2, 14:23). He was the disciple who had boasted he would never deny Jesus (Matthew 26:29-35), but thrice denied Him the night He was betrayed (Matthew 26:69-74). Humiliated, broken, and finally restored; Peter became a testimony of faith, courage, and faithfulness to the Lord.

The Addressees of the First Epistle of Peter (1 Peter 1:1b-2)

Peter identified the recipients of his letters as “the strangers [sojourners; exiles] scattered [dispersed] throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia” (1:1). Who were these “strangers”? They were not “strangers” to Peter, but aliens in this world (1:1) because they had been scattered from their homelands (1:1). Driven from their homes by religious persecution, they were believers, who had accepted the Messiah, and become sojourners, people without a home or country.

They were not only “Strangers”, they were the Saved, the Elect,” the chosen “according to the foreknowledge of God” (1:2a). The elect were the same in Peter’s day as they were in every generation.  God’s chosen people are elect.  The blessing for you and me is that anyone can be elect if he or she accepts Christ and becomes part of God’s family.  To be elect is a term of endearment, much like a parent refers to his children as his family.  When we become a part of God’s kingdom, we become part of His family, and we are elect – endeared to the Father.  

I believe the “elect” are chosen by God, according to His foreknowledge, and they are the objects of His saving grace, through faith in the sacrificial offering of Christ for our sin [His suffering, death, burial, and resurrection]. The apostle Paul described “election” in Ephesians 1:4 in these words:

Ephesians 1:4 – “According as [Even as] He hath chosen us in Him [for Himself] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy [consecrated & set apart] and without blame [above reproach] before him in love.”

Who then are the chosen? Who are the elect? Who can be saved?

Some might take me to task on this point, but my answer is, “whosoever will” (John 3:16; Romans 10:13).  The elect are “whosoever will.”

John 3:16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in himshould not perish, but have everlasting life.

Romans 10:13For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

My heart rejoices to close with this eternal promise:

“And He [Jesus] is the propitiation [atoning sacrifice] for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

A Call for Unity (Ephesians 1-6)

Scripture reading – Ephesians 1-6

Our devotional study of the Acts of the Apostles concluded with Paul under house arrest in Rome, where he was imprisoned for two years (Acts 28:30). Today’s Scripture reading, The Epistle to the Ephesians, is one of four “Prison Epistles” that the apostle wrote during those years of confinement (the others being Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon).

You might remember that Paul had spent three years ministering in Ephesus, and had warned the leaders of that congregation, that “grievous wolves” (Acts 20:29), would enter the assembly after his departure and would spiritually ravage the believers. Indeed, the very life and health of the church would be threatened by enemies from within the congregation.

Ephesians 1-3 – The Believer’s Relationship in Christ

In the first three chapters, Paul reminded the believers of their position in Christ: Redeemed “through His blood” (1:7), “saved through faith…created in Christ Jesus unto good works” (2:8-10), “sealed [secured] with the Holy Spirit of promise” (1:13), “made nigh by the blood of Christ” (2:12-13), Jew and Gentile “fellowheirs, and of the same body” (3:6) which is the church.

Ephesians 4-6 – The Believer’s Life and Walk in the World

Paul exhorted the believers of Ephesus to live, “with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love” (4:2), to the end that they “keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (4:3). Whether Jew or Gentile, Greek or Roman, slave or master, sincere believers were to have a mutual affection, a spiritual kinship because they were “one body, and one Spirit” (4:4-6).

Paul taught that unity and harmony would characterize believers as they accepted their place and function in the body of Christ (4:7-8, 11-12, 4:16). While the world was known for its self-centeredness, and narcissistic pursuit of sinful pleasures (4:14, 19, 22, 25-30), the believers were to “put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (4:23-24).

Because the Gentile believers had been saved out of a heathen, idol worshipping culture, Paul took pangs to define the character of God’s people and the transformation their salvation and sanctification was to have made in their relationships with others. Unlike their culture, believers were to be characterized by self-sacrificing love (5:2), “goodness and righteousness and truth” (5:9), gratitude (5:20), and submission (5:21).

Husbands were commanded to love their wives, “even as Christ also loved the church” (5:25), and their wives were to love and revere their husbands (5:33). Children were to fulfill the fifth commandment (Exodus 20:12), and obey and honor their parents (6:1-3). Servants were to obey their masters “as unto Christ” (6:5-8), and masters were to treat their servants with dignity and respect (6:9).

In other words, salvation and sanctification was to have turned their world upside down from the common order!

Paul’s letter closes with a challenge, a warning, and an exhortation: “Be strong in the Lord11 Put on the whole armour of God12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (6:10-13).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith