Category Archives: Leadership

God is faithful and His promises never fail. (Numbers 1-2)

Devotional Reading – Numbers 1-2

The author of Numbers is Moses and the opening verse gives us an exact chronological timeline for events found in its pages:  “first day of the second month, in the second year after they [the Twelve Tribes of Israel] were come out of the land of Egypt” (Numbers 1:1).

The Book of Numbers follows the journey of the Twelve Tribes of Israel from Egypt, through the wilderness, to the threshold of Canaan, the land God promised Abraham for an inheritance.  The book derives its name from the fact it records three separate census counts conducted during Israel’s sojourn in the wilderness.

Admittedly, one can get lost in the details enumerated in Numbers 1-2; however, there is an important truth concealed in the verses:

God remembers and keeps His promises!

God commanded Moses and Aaron to take a census of the men of Israel, twenty years and older; men who were identified by their tribe, father’s name and own name, and described as “able to go forth to war” (1:1-4).

These are the Twelve Tribes of Israel. They are the progenies of the twelve sons of Jacob, the son of Isaac, who was the son of Abraham. The LORD changed Jacob’s name to Israel, from whom the nation received its name.

The thousands numbered in these verses are a testimony God remembered His covenant with Abraham whom He called out of ancient Ur (modern day Iraq). Commanding Abraham to leave his country and kindred to journey to a land the LORD promised would be an inheritance for his lineage (Genesis 12:1-3).  The LORD promised Abraham would not only be father to a great people, but also “all families of the earth be blessed” through him (a promise fulfilled in Jesus Christ as our Savior Redeemer – Genesis 12:3b).

The first census (Numbers 1:2-54) was of males, twenty years and older, who were able to go to war (Numbers 1:2-3).

Thirteen tribes (Numbers 1:5-15) are named; however, two of the thirteen tribes descended from Joseph (Ephraim and ManassehNumbers 1:10, 32-35). The priestly tribe of Levi was excluded from the census because of their dedication and service to the LORD (1:47-54).

We will see that the LORD set the tribe of Levi apart for Himself in lieu of the first born from every tribe and family being set apart for the priesthood (Numbers 3:12-13).  The Levites were charged with the responsibility of the tabernacle and the vessels used for worship and offering sacrifices (Numbers 1:50; 3:8).  When the nation was on the move, the Levites were responsible for taking down and erecting the tabernacle (Numbers 1:51, 53).

Numbers 2 gives the organization of the encampment by tribe: Simeon (2:12-13), Gad (2:14-15), Ephraim (2:18-19), Manasseh (2:20-21), Judah (2:3-4), Issachar (2:5-6), Zebulun (2:7-8), Reuben (2:10-11) Benjamin (2:22-23), Dan (2:25-26), Asher (2:27-28), Naphtali (2:29-30), and Levi in the midst encamped around the tabernacle (2:17, 33).

I close today’s devotional reflecting with two observations:

1) The tabernacle was located in the center of the encampment and served as a constant reminder of the LORD’S presence (1:53).

2) “The children of Israel did according to all that the LORD commanded Moses.” (2:34)

Is worshipping and serving the LORD central to your life? 

Do you obey the LORD in both attitude and actions?

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Hey Millennial Pastor: God has not called you to be “real”; He has called you to be “holy”! (Leviticus 22-23)

Daily reading assignment – Leviticus 22-23

The opening verses of Leviticus 22 remind ministers that God sets the highest ideals for those who minister before Him.

Understanding the immediate context of Leviticus 22 is its application to the priesthood; we nevertheless observe spiritual standards for all who serve the LORD.

The first principle is in how priests were to treat the sacrifices brought to them by the people (22:2). 

While a portion of some sacrifices supported the priests and their households (Numbers 18:11-19, 26-29); there were other sacrifices wholly dedicated to the LORD and never to be shared or treated as common by the priests (22:2).

There was also the danger of a priest failing to assess his spiritual standing before the LORD (22:3). 

The people might fail to discern a priest who was merely going through the motions; however, the LORD knows the heart and He requires holiness of those who serve Him.

CCM Frontman for Skillet

A third example of treating the priesthood as common was the temptation to be lenient in who might share the portions set aside for the priest and his immediate family (22:10-16).  I suggest a parallel of this temptation is the 21st century church diminishing the preacher’s sacred portion as the shepherd\teacher and apportioning an ever increasing role and influence to musicians lacking the spiritual qualifications to stand before the LORD and His Church.

Finally, sacrifices offered to the LORD were to be of the highest standard (22:17-32).  There was the temptation to offer animals for sacrifice that were deformed, ill or injured.  God’s standard was “there shall be no blemish therein” (22:21).

Leviticus 23 served as a reminder to keep the Sabbath Day holy (23:1-3) and identifies various feast days the nation was to observe during the calendar year:  The Passover (23:4-14); the Feast of Pentecost (23:15-22); the Feast of Trumpets (23:23-32) and the Feast of Tabernacles (23:33-44).

Believer, God’s standard of holiness for those who serve Him has not changed .

Pastors failing to take the high road and live above reproach have become a leprosy in the 21st century church. Projecting an ideology of being “real” and approachable, many pastors are sacrificing holiness in the pulpit, embracing carnality, and leading believers to do the same (1 John 2:15-17).

1 Peter 1:15-16 15  But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16  Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Imagine: The People Gave Too Much! (Exodus 36-38)

Daily reading assignment – Exodus 36-38

Imagine being a part of a congregation in which the hearts of the people are so stirred to give and serve the LORD that the pastor must demand, “Please, stop giving! You have given too much already!”

Such is the spirit of a people when they are “wise hearted…stirred…willing…and willing hearted” (Exodus 35:10-29). The offerings given by the people for the Tabernacle and its furnishings exceeded the need, and Moses “restrained” them from giving any more (36:5-6) for they gave “too much” (36:7).

Because the Tabernacle would serve as a constant reminder of the LORD’S presence in the midst of Israel, God gave Moses precise details for its design and furnishings (review Exodus 26).

Beautiful curtains embroidered with cherubims are described for the interior of the Tabernacle (36:8-13).  “Curtains of goats’ hair” were to be spun and overlay the boards of the Tabernacle’s exterior (36:14-34).

The veil that would serve as a divider between the outer Holy Place and the sacred inner Holy of Holies is also defined (36:25-38). The construction and dimensions of the Ark of the Covenant (37:1-9), representing God’s heavenly throne in the midst of His people, is stated (note – Psalm 80:1; 99:1).

The Ark was to be transported by means of “staves” (i.e. rods) slid into rings when Israel moved during her sojourn in the wilderness (37:3-5).  Gold overlaid the whole of the Ark, including the “mercy seat” upon which two cherubims faced one another with wings outstretched (37:7-9). The angels reflected the purity and holiness of God’s throne of judgment.

Exodus 37:10-29 itemizes other furnishings employed in the Tabernacle, including a table overlaid with gold and gold dishes, bowls, spoons, an elaborate candlestick, and an “altar of incense”.

Exodus 38:1-20 gives the design of an “altar of burnt offering” and the vessels of brass to be used in offering sacrifices (38:1-8).  The arrangement of the outer court of the Tabernacle (including its construction, curtains, and rings on which they hung) is given in exacting detail (38:9-20).

Exodus 38:21-31 might appear as minor, inconsequential information on first reading; however, the names of men recorded here serve as a lasting memorial and reminder:

The LORD honors those who faithfully employ their talents and skills to serve Him (38:22-23).

Are you using your time and talents to serve the LORD?

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

A Casual, “Come as You Are” Culture and the God They Serve (Exodus 28-29)

Daily reading assignment: Exodus 28-29

Exodus 28 describes the clothes Aaron and his sons were to wear as priests. The rich detail and beauty of their priestly garments was to reflect the eminent role of those who minister for the people before the LORD (28:2).  The garments of the high priest were particularly beautiful, well-crafted, and rich in color and detail (28:3-5).

Various stones adorned an ephod worn by the high priest. An ephod being a garment made of linen cloth that crossed the shoulders, the back and breast of the high priest (28:6-14).

The high priest also wore over the ephod a breastplate that was a symbol of judgment.   Embedded in the breastplate were stones on which were engraved the names of the twelve tribes of Israel (28:15-29).

Great attention was given to the robes of the priesthood (28:15-30) down to the bells about the hem of his robe whose sound gave witness to the movement of the high priest within the Tabernacle and his acceptance in the LORD’s presence (28:31-26).

The LORD instructed Moses to perform a formal ceremony consecrating Aaron and his sons to the priesthood in Exodus 29. A ceremonial ritual of washing and adorning priestly garments is described (29:1-7), followed by a ceremony of sacrifices in which Aaron and his sons were commanded to lay their hands on the heads of beasts to be offered, consecrating themselves and the altar of sacrifice (29:8-37).

I close with an observation of a sad irony I see in today’s church.

“Dressing down” has become the style of those who occupy the pulpit and the pew.  A casual demeanor is reflected in the whole atmosphere of 21st century worship.

If ripped jeans, shorts, sandals and t-shirts are appropriate for worship, I am left wondering what became of the God who demanded beautiful robes and dedicated priests who were holy and consecrated to the LORD.

Surely the LORD is no less holy today than He was in Israel’s day!

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Three Keys to Effective Leadership: Objectivity, Wise Counsel and Delegation (Exodus 16-18)

Daily reading assignment: Exodus 16-18

The people began to murmur in the Wilderness of Sin, a desert area along the east shore of the Red Sea that we know today as the Arabian Peninsula. Here they accused Moses of leading them into the wilderness to starve (Exodus 16:1-3).  Murmuring hearts and wagging tongues would be Israel’s nature throughout their wilderness years.

The LORD promised He would provide the people sufficient bread each morning for the day. On the sixth day, the day before the Sabbath; He promised bread for two days so the people would have no need of laboring and gathering food on the Sabbath (16:4-5).  The LORD also promised to send the people meat to eat in the evening (16:8, 12).

In spite of the LORD’s provisions and promises of bread and meat, the people hoarded more than their daily bread and it spoiled in their tents (16:19-21).  Only when they gathered two days provisions on the sixth day, sufficient for the Sabbath, did the bread and meat not spoiled (16:25-30).

Continuing their journey through the Wilderness of Sin, Israel came to Rephidim and finding “no water”, the people began murmuring against Moses (Exodus17:1-3).  Moses cried out to the LORD who commanded him to strike a rock with his staff “and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink” (17:4-7).

The nation of slaves soon faced their first enemy in the wilderness when the Amalekites (descendants of Esau, the twin brother of Jacob) came against Israel at Rephidim (17:8-16).  A dramatic scene unfolds as Moses stands on a hill overlooking the battlefield (17:9).  Two men stood with Moses, Aaron and Hur, and they steadied the arms of Moses as he held high in his hands “the rod of God” (17:10-12).  Joshua, Moses’ aid and successor, emerges as the commander who led Israel to her first battlefield victory.

Exodus 18 records Moses’ reunion with his wife, two sons, and father-in-law Jethro (18:1-6).  What an incredible reunion it must have been as Moses rehearsed all the LORD had done in Egypt (18:7-12).

I close today’s devotional with lessons for all, but especially Christian leaders. Jethro, Moses father-in-law, observed him serving as judge in the people’s matters “from the morning unto the evening” (18:13). Jethro asked Moses, “Why sittest thou thyself alone…from morning unto even?” (18:14).  Jethro warned, Moses, you will wear yourself out; this is too much for one man (18:17-18).

Jethro suggested Moses teach the people the “ordinances and laws” (18:19-20) and delegate the responsibility of judging the simple, miniscule matters to others (18:21).  Wisely, Moses judged the “hard causes”, the weightier matters that rose among the tribes (18:22-25).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith