Category Archives: Family

Saying, “I’m Sorry”, is Not Enough! (Exodus 21-22)

Today’s Bible reading is Exodus 21-22, Psalm 26, and Matthew 26. Our devotional is from Exodus 21-22.

Moving beyond the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17) that are the foundation of God’s Law, we find specific applications of God’s judgment and the bases of democratic law and order in Exodus 21:1-23:19.

In matters of servitude, Exodus 21:1-11 states God’s Laws for masters, slaves, and indentured servants.  Regarding the sanctity of human life, Exodus 21:12-17 draws a distinction between murder (21:14-16), a violation of the sixth commandment (20:13), and manslaughter (taking a human life without intent).

Violating the commandment to honor one’s parents (the fifth commandment, 20:12) was such a grave offense that to curse a parent was a capital crime mandating death of a son or daughter (21:17).

In case of accidental injury, the law mandates proper compensation and punishment (Exodus 21:18-32).  Should a beast cause injury or death and the owner be proved negligent, the beast and its owner could be put to death.

The agricultural nature of ancient societies meant one’s livestock were an essential part of a man’s livelihood and the well-being of his family (21:33-36). The negligent injury or theft of oxen or sheep was a serious crime requiring compensation (22:1-4) as was damage to a man’s crops (22:5-6).  Personal responsibility and liability were important issues among God’s people and He demanded fair compensation (22:7-15).

The closing verses of Exodus 22 address other moral and societal issues including rape (22:16-17), witchcraft (22:18), bestiality (22:19), and idolatry (22:20).

In the matter of borrowing, the law condemned “usury” (charging excessive interest) because it imposed an unnecessary hardship on the poor (22:25-27).

I close stating an important principle in the matter of personal integrity;  Saying, “I’m Sorry”, is not enough when someone has suffered loss or personal injury (22:14-15).

An illustration: A farmer borrows another man’s ox and the beast is injured or dies.  Under such circumstance the borrower is debtor to the lender and under obligation to “make it good” (22:14); in other words, repay or replace.

In summary: God’s law requires honesty and integrity. Borrow or rent another’s property or goods, you are under obligation to make whole any damages or loss suffered by the lender.

In other words,“I’m sorry” is not enough!

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

Providence: God is in Control!

Today’s Bible Reading is Genesis 49-50, Psalm 19, and Matthew 19. Our devotional is from Genesis 49-50.

Today’s scripture reading brings us to the close of our study in Genesis.  Genesis 49 records Jacob’s final instructions to his sons and his prophetic insight into the future of their lineages (49:3-27).

Lest there be any doubt what his wishes were, Jacob rehearses with all his sons the request he expressed to Joseph in Genesis 48…that he be buried with his grandfather Abraham, his father Isaac, mother Rebekah, and his wife Leah (49:29-32).  Jacob dies in the closing verses of Genesis 49.

Genesis 50 opens with a dramatic, emotional scene as we read, “And Joseph fell upon his father’s face, and wept upon him, and kissed him” (50:1).

Overseeing the mummification of his father’s body, Joseph’s desire was to give Jacob a burial fitting of a king (50:2-3).  When the days of mourning were past, Pharaoh granted Joseph his blessing to carry Jacob’s body to Canaan and bury him in his ancestral tomb (50:4-7).

The funeral processional out of Egypt was like none ever seen in Canaan (Genesis 50:8-9).  Jacob’s twelve sons, their families, and some senior leaders of Egypt driving chariots and riding horses, escorted Jacob’s body home (50:10-13).  With their father buried, Joseph and his family returned to Egypt (50:14).

Remembering the evil they committed when they sold him as a slave, Joseph’s brothers feared the death of their father would give him opportunity to exact revenge (50:15-17).  Instead of revenge; however, “Joseph wept” (50:17b) as his brothers bowed before him, fulfilling the vision the LORD gave him in his youth (50:18; Genesis 37:3-11).

Far from vengeance, Joseph assured his brothers God was judge (50:19).  Though he remembered their sin, he was confident the wrongs he suffered were providentially used by God to prepare the way for him to preserve his family (50:19-20).

Genesis 50:20 records one of the great statements of faith in God’s sovereignty and providence found in the Bible.

“But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive” (50:20).

Joseph’s life is a testimony of what it means to suffer wrong and continue to walk in faith and humility.  He did not focus on the grievous evil committed by his brothers, nor give rein to bitter, vengeful thoughts.  Instead, Joseph was confident whatever wrongs he suffered, God was faithful and would bring good to pass!

Friend, allow me to close and invite you to take time for a spiritual checkup.  Are you bitter?  Are you nursing hurts and embittered by disappointments?

I do not know your circumstances or the wrongs you have suffered; however, I know God is sovereign and He will bring to pass that which is good.  Will you trust Him?

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

Trust God, His Way is Perfect (Genesis 43-44)

Today’s Bible Reading is Genesis 43-44, Psalm 16, and Matthew 16. Our Devotional is from Genesis 43-44.

Now the famine continued in Jacob’s country and he reluctantly gave his sons liberty to return to Egypt with Benjamin his youngest son (43:1-14).  Arriving in Egypt, Joseph’s brothers once again appeared before Joseph whose identity was still unknown to them (43:15-16).

Joseph ordered his servant to prepare lunch and commanded his brothers be his guests (43:16-17).  Fearing the worse, Joseph’s brothers cowered at the thought of entering the home of Egypt’s second most powerful ruler, especially when they remembered the money from their previous purchase had found its way into their grain sacks (43:18).  Unable to contain their fear, the brothers began confessing their anxieties to Joseph’s servant and learned he was responsible for returning their money to their sacks (43:19-23a).  To their amazement, Simeon, the brother who had been left in Egypt, was restored to them (43:23b).

Still speaking through an interpreter, Joseph greeted his guests and questioned them regarding their father’s welfare (43:26-27).  Answering Joseph, the brothers bowed before him and fulfilled a vision God gave him in his youth (43:28; 37:9-10).  Suddenly overcome with emotion, Joseph fled to the privacy of his room and wept (43:30-31).

The meal being concluded, Joseph directed his steward to covertly place his brothers’ money in their grain sacks and ordered his silver cup placed in Benjamin’s sack (44:1-3).  Sending his brothers on their journey, Joseph soon ordered his servants to pursue and overtake them as they exited the city gate (44:4-12).

Searching through sacks of grain beginning with the eldest to the youngest brother, the servants uncovered  Joseph’s silver cup in Benjamin’s sack and charged him with theft.  Taken with grief, the brother’s pled for Benjamin.  Finally Judah, the fourth son of Jacob and the brother proved to be most honorable, confessed his fear the trials that befell them was God’s judgment for the grievous sin they had committed against Joseph (43:13-17).

Judah pled for Joseph to spare Benjamin, lest his loss be a sorrow unto death for their father (44:18-32).  Finally, in an act of humility, Judah offered himself as Joseph’s slave in Benjamin’s place (44:33-34).

Joseph’s life has taken a path he did not choose; however, his faithfulness and faith in the LORD has borne him from the humiliation of a household slave and prisoner to the pinnacle of power and earthly success.  Friend, I do not know the circumstances in which you find yourself, but I challenge you to Do Right, trust God, His way is perfect (Psalm 18:30)!

To Be Continued…

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

The Secret to a Prosperous Life (Genesis 39-40)

Today’s Bible Reading and Devotional is Genesis 39-40.

The life of Joseph is a reminder, regardless our circumstance, the LORD is with us! 

Joseph was a child when he was left without the love and nurturing care of his mother who died giving birth to Benjamin, Jacob’s twelfth son and Joseph’s only full brother (Genesis 35:16-19).  The favorite son of his father (Genesis 37:3), Joseph’s childhood was scarred by the rejection of his brothers (37:4) who plotted his murder (37:19-24), eventually selling him as a slave to nomadic Midianites traveling to Egypt (37:25-28).

Rather than despair and bitterness, Joseph’s faith in the LORD was unshaken and in Egypt he rose from slave to steward of his master’s household (37:36).  Refusing the advances of his master’s wife who falsely accused him (39:1-18), Joseph was sentenced to prison (39:19-23).

In spite of a series of heartbreaking events, we never find Joseph bearing a bitter spirit.  Indeed, as a testimony of his humility, we read, “the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man” (39:2).  In Genesis 39:21, “the LORD was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison.” What a difference a God-centered, faith-dependent attitude makes!

Time nor space permits an exhaustive study of the dreams of the butler and baker or Joseph’s interpretation of their dreams (40:5-23); however, Joseph’s request for Pharaoh’s butler to remember him appeared to end in disappointment.  Restored to Pharaoh’s service, we read, “Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him” (Genesis 40:23).  Two years would pass before the butler remembered Joseph (Genesis 41)!

Far from home and family, Joseph’s love and passion for the LORD was not diminished.  In spite of trials and injustices, he was faithful, the LORD was with him, and “he was a prosperous man” (Genesis 39:2).

What a testimony Joseph is to all and I trust, especially to Christian teens and young adults.

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

Innocence Lost (Genesis 34)

Today’s Bible reading is Genesis 33-34, Psalm 13, and Matthew 13.  Our devotional is from Genesis 34.

One wonders if Shakespeare, the great English playwright, did not take his inspiration for “Romeo and Juliet” from today’s love tragedy found in Genesis 34.

The desire for popularity and acceptance is universal among youth.  No matter the culture, the teen years breed a mix of excitement and danger.  Independence, new life experiences, physical growth, raging hormones…and temptations before one’s values are grounded shadow the teen years.

Genesis 34 is a story of opposites attracting and the all-too-often tragic ending.  It is the stuff of love novels…lust, sex, bitterness, revenge, and murder.

Now Jacob was the father of eleven sons (the twelfth son, Benjamin, not yet born) and at least one daughter named Dinah, the central figure in Genesis 34.  The sons of Jacob were chronologically in their late teens to early 20’s in this chapter.

Perpetual strife and jealousies filled Jacob’s home brought on by his having sons of four different wives and concubines.  Growing up in the midst was Dinah, Jacob’s daughter born to Leah, his less favored wife (Gen. 30:21; 34:1).  Dinah’s wandering ways and her involvement with Shechem, a Canaanite prince, introduced into Jacob’s home the first great sorrow upon his return to Canaan.

A wealthy and powerful man (Genesis 33), Jacob made the fateful decision to live in the land among the heathen, a choice that had far-reaching consequences for his household.  Dinah, perhaps no more than 13-15 years old, decided to “spread her wings” and “went out [from her father’s household] to see the daughters of the land” (Genesis 34:1).  Young, beautiful, innocent and naive, Dinah was taken by “Shechem the son of Hamor” and “defiled” (34:2).

Hearing the news, Jacob waited until his sons came from the fields to tell them how Dinah had fallen prey to Shechem’s lust (34:5-7).  Pretending to save face and make peace, the decision was made for Dinah to become Shechem’s wife and the sons and daughters of Jacob’s and Hamor’s households to 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).  Their brothers, Jacob’s other sons, joined them claiming the wives and possessions of the city for spoil.

Genesis 34 ends with Jacob rebuking Simeon and Levi (34:30).  The brothers; however, defended their lies, murder, and pillaging for spoils as honorable acts in light of their sister’s shame (34:31).  On his death-bed, Jacob would remember their sins against them (Genesis 49:5-7).

Galatians 6:7 – Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

“Too Late!” (Genesis 17-18)

* Today’s Bible reading assignment is Genesis 17-18, Psalm 7, and Matthew 7. Our devotional is from Genesis 17-18.

God renewed His covenant with Abraham in Genesis 17 and ten years later when Abraham was nearly 100 years old, God announced the impossible: 90-year-old Sarah “shall be a mother of nations” (17:15-17).  Abraham laughed, saying in his heart, “Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?” (17:17)

Betraying his lack of faith and willing to content himself with less than God’s best, Abraham suggested Ishmael be his heir (17:18).   God, however, renewed His covenant with Abraham stating Sarah would bear him a son and his name would be Isaac (17:19). While God refused Ishmael as Abraham’s heir, He comforted him promising Ishmael would be father to a “great nation” (17:20).

A “theophany”, the LORD appearing in the form of man, occurs in Genesis 18 when He and two angels appeared as men before Abraham’s tent bringing news within Sarah’s hearing that she would bear a son.  We read how Sarah “laughed within herself” at the thought that she, a woman “waxed old” would bear Abraham’s son (Genesis 18:12).  The LORD questioned Abraham, “Wherefore did Sarah laugh?” (Genesis 18:13).

Sarah, was surprise Abraham’s visitor not only knew she scoffed at the promise she would bear a son, but laughed at the thought of it!  The LORD asked Abraham, “Is any thing too hard for the LORD?” (Genesis 18:15) The LORD asserted He would return when the promise son was born (Genesis 18:14).  Sarah, perhaps fearing the visitor who knew her thoughts, denied she laughed at the birth announcement, and the LORD rebuked her lie (Genesis 18:15).

The closing verses of Genesis 18 contain the fateful message the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah would be judged and destroyed for their wickedness (18:20-22).  Knowing his nephew Lot and his family lived in Sodom; Abraham interceded that the LORD might spare the city (18:23-33).  The LORD mercifully agreed to Abraham’s request when he proposed if ten righteous people be found in Sodom the city would be spared God’s judgment.

Ten righteous souls; perhaps the size of Lot’s own family, would have spared a city of lost, hell-bound souls.  Of course, Lot’s presence in Sodom was not ordered of the LORD nor was Lot’s interest the lost souls of his neighbors. Abraham cared for the inhabitants and interceded for the city, but all was lost when Lot was unable to stir the hearts of his own children to flee before God’s judgment (Genesis 19).

Allow me to close by suggesting you and I have a sphere of influence, a providential presence, among lost souls.  While the fate of a city does not rest within our realm, I wonder how many might?

Comparing the two, Abraham and Lot, whom did you most resemble? Abraham who compassionately made intercession for the wicked of that city or Lot who lived in the midst, but waited too late to plead even for the souls of his children?

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

What is in Your Heart? (Genesis 7-8)

It is not too late to take up the challenge of reading through the Bible in a year.  You can download the Bible Reading Plan at www.HillsdaleBaptist.org. Today’s assignment is Genesis 7-8, Psalm 4, and Matthew 4.

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

Out of all the earth, one man “found grace [divine favor] in the eyes of the LORD”(Genesis 6:8).  “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?”  He was a man of faith “and walked with God”.  While wickedness and rebellion were universal, Noah believed God, called upon Him, and walked with Him.

A testimony of Noah’s faith and God’s grace is he and his family were saved from the greatest cataclysmic event to ever come upon the earth.  It rained 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 remained in the Ark 370 days until the waters receded (Genesis 8:14-16).  When God commanded him to leave the Ark, Noah’s first act as spiritual leader of his household was to build an altar and offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving to God (Genesis 8:20-21a).  The LORD accepted Noah’s sacrifice, promising He would never again destroy the earth.

We read an ominous statement regarding the heart of man after the flood;  “the imagination [thinking; inner thoughts] of man’s heart [mind; understanding; center of his thinking] is evil [sinful; wicked; ] from his youth”(Genesis 8:21b).

The pre-flood world had been laid waste and the face of the earth scarred as a lasting reminder of God’s wrath [example – the Grand Canyon]; however, one thing had not changed…the heart of man.

God’s observation before the flood was, “every imagination of the thoughts of his [man’s] heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).  The same malady was true of the heart of man after the flood (Genesis 8:21b).

Sadly, that reality will be too soon apparent in Genesis 9.

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith