Category Archives: Marriage

God’s Call to Holiness

Monday, July 17, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Leviticus 16-18

After addressing the issue of leprosy (Leviticus 13-14), the opening verse of Leviticus 16 reminds us of a tragedy that occurred in the priesthood when two sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, “offered strange [foreign] fire before the LORD, which He commanded [charged] them not” (Leviticus 10:1) and were slain for their sin against the LORD (Leviticus 10:2).

Reminding us the office of high priest was a holy office and Aaron’s ministry before the LORD on behalf of the people was a sacred duty; the LORD instructs Moses the high priest was only to enter the holy place, the “holy of holies”, once a year (16:2) on “the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month” (16:29).   The Day of Atonement, known as “Yom Kippur” and the “Sabbath of Sabbaths”, is the most holy day on the Jewish calendar and was the day the high priest offered sacrifices for nation’s sins against God.

The pattern of blood sacrifices was necessary to remind all sinners the penalty of sin is death and there is no forgiveness of sins apart from the shedding of blood, for “without shedding of blood is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22).

Once a year and every year, the high priest offered sacrifices for the sins of the people.  Under the new covenant, this annual ritual is no longer needed following Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross for sin, His burial and resurrection from the dead. We read in the Book of Hebrews,

Hebrews 9:24-28 – “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:
25  Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others;
26  For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
27  And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
28  So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”

Leviticus 17 continues the LORD’s instructions to Moses concerning sacrifices the priests were to offer for the people before the door of the tabernacle.   Thirteen times in chapter 17 the centrality of blood sacrifices for sin is mentioned and explicit instructions are given regarding the offerings to the LORD, including the prohibition regarding the consumption of blood (17:10-14).   For those curious regarding the meaning of “Kosher” meats; they are meats derived from animals slaughtered and the blood drained according to Biblical guidelines.

Morality and the sanctity of marriage is the subject of Leviticus 18:1-30 and one that should be a subject of teaching in the 21st century church.   Several moral issues are addressed including the prohibition of incest (18:6-19), adultery (18:20; Exodus 20:14), homosexuality (18:22), and bestiality (18:23).

The wicked immoral practices the people might remember from Egypt and the immorality that might observe in the new land were prohibited.  In other words, the world was not to be the standard of God’s people in conduct and lifestyle.  Israel was to not follow in the ways of Egypt and Canaan (Leviticus 18:3; 24-29).  The LORD commanded His people, “Ye shall do my judgments, and keep mine ordinances, to walk therein: I am the LORD your God” (18:4).  Excommunication from fellowship and living among the people was the judgment against any who chose to walk contrary to the law and commandments (18:29).

Friend, there was a time the church and God’s people set the moral standard for these United States and defined a godly lifestyle according God’s Word, law and commandments.   It troubles me to observe the average Christian home in America has an appetite for the world and looks to society, politicians, judges, and liberal media for their moral judgments.  Our homes, churches and schools will not be blessed until we allow our consciences to be disciplined by God’s Word, law and commandments (18:30).

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Beware Wolves in the Midst of Sheep

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Luke 19-20

Today’s devotional reading brings us to Jesus’ last days before Judas’ betrayal, the abandonment of His disciples and His crucifixion.

Luke 19 is rich in much that characterized our LORD’s earthly ministry.  His love for sinners, seen in the story of His meal in the home of Zacchaeus, a despised tax collector of Jericho (19:1-10); His challenge to be faithful and vigilant in His parable of the pounds (19:11027); and His love and sorrow for the citizens of Jerusalem knowing God’s judgment would come on the people and city after they rejected Him (19:28-44).

We find Jesus teaching in the Temple in the opening verses of Luke 20.  His antagonists, the religious leaders of Judaism, confronted Him in the Temple demanding by whose authority He performed miracles and taught the people (20:1-2).  Our beloved LORD, evidencing divine wisdom and insight into the heart of sinners answered their question with a question: “I will also ask you one thing; and answer me: 4  The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men?” (Luke 20:3b-4). When the Jewish leaders refused to answer, Jesus responded, “Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things” (Luke 20:8).

Turning from hypocrites masquerading as devout religious men, Jesus taught the people the Parable of the Vineyard (20:9-19) and told the story of servants laboring in their master’s vineyard while he was away on a prolonged journey.  When the master sent trusted servants to collect the profit he was due from the vineyard, those laboring in the vineyard refused them and sent them away.  Finally, the owner of the vineyard sent his son (20:13); however, the laborers in the vineyard rose up and slew him (20:14-16).

Quoting Psalm 118:22, Jesus made it clear the application of that parable was those who rejected the son would themselves be rejected (20:17-18).   The chief priests and scribes realized the parable described their own wicked designs against Jesus and renewed their plot to kill Him (20:19-26).

I have had some ask over the years about the relationship of husband and wife and if they are bound in heaven.  This is an important concern to those who have, whether by death or divorce, had more than one husband or wife.   I believe the saints of God will know one another in heaven and am also convinced there will be no marriage in heaven.  We read in Luke 20:35, “But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world [heaven], and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage” (Luke 20:35).

Having silenced the scribes by His answers and questions (20:39-40), Jesus warned His disciples, 46 Beware of the scribes, which desire to walk in long robes, and love greetings in the markets, and the highest seats in the synagogues, and the chief rooms at feasts; 47  Which devour widows’ houses, and for a shew make long prayers: the same shall receive greater damnation” (Luke 20:46-47).

As it was then, so it is today–religious leaders, rather than serve the people as shepherds and servants, often burden their churches with an expectation they should be favored while they ravage the poorest and weakest to enrich themselves and make a pretense of religious piety.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Divorce: Don’t Do It!

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Luke 15-16

Today’s devotional reading is from the Gospel of Luke, chapters 15-16 and contains some of the most beloved parables taught by our LORD:  The Lost Sheep (15:4-10); The Prodigal Son (15:11-32); The Unfaithful Servant (16:1-13); and The Rich Man and Lazarus (16:19-31).  The latter is believed by some to not fall into the category of a parable because it uses a man’s proper name, Lazarus.

In the midst of Luke 16 we come to five verses that seem an interruption in the passage until we remember they come as a response to the Pharisees (16:14) who were adversaries of the LORD and often used occasions He taught the people in public to confront Him.   Having listened to the parable of “The Unjust Steward” (16:1-13), the Pharisees “who were covetous” (16:14) chose the occasion to “deride” the LORD (i.e. to openly mock, sneer, scoff).

Rather than retreat, the LORD answered the derision of the Pharisees using the occasion to expose their hypocrisy.  Accusing them of aspiring for men’s venerations, Jesus unmasked the hypocrisy God knew was in their hearts (16:15).

Having rebuked the Pharisees who considered themselves experts in the law of God, I believe Jesus turned His focus to His audience and said, 16  The law and the prophets were until John [the Baptist]: since that time the kingdom of God is preached [marked by the coming of Jesus Christ], and every man presseth [pushes by force; forcing his own way] into it. 17  And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle [small stroke of a pen] of the law to fail” (Luke 16:16-17).

After addressing the transition between the Old Testament Law bridged by John the Baptist to the LORD’s ministry and His preaching concerning the gospel of “the kingdom of God” (16:16-17), Jesus addressed an issue of Old Testament law the Pharisees had distorted… marriage and divorce (16:18).

Luke 16:18 “Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.”

Rather than being strong advocates of the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman as God designed (Genesis 2:21-24; Matthew 5:31-32; 19:4-10; Ephesians 5:28-33), the Pharisees misinterpreted Deuteronomy 24:1-4 and gave liberty for men to divorce their wives for the silliest of reasons.

I close with a few parting thoughts on marriage, divorce and remarriage.  The first, there is no doubt God’s will and design is that marriage is a lifetime covenant between one man and one woman.  The second, God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16 – “For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that He hateth putting away”).

Finally, although there is heated debate over this point, I believe the only grounds for divorce is unrepentant adultery and I cite three passages of scripture for my authority in this matter.

Matthew 5:31-32 “It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: 32  But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.”

Matthew 19:9 “And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.”

1 Corinthians 7:15 – “But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.”

Some might ask, “What if my adulterous spouse claims to be a believer, does 1 Corinthians 7:15 apply?”  My answer is, “Yes”; but you must be a member of a church that is willing to address the sins of its members biblically and follow the guidelines for restoration found in Matthew 18:15-17.  When a professing believer refuses to repent after repeated attempts for restoration, the church is to declare that one “an heathen”, an unbeliever.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

The Appearance, Attitude and Actions of a Seductress

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Proverbs 7

Proverbs 7 is the story of a young man who, in the company of other like-minded fools, allows his heart to be drawn away by a temptress (Proverbs 7:6-9).  The verses in today’s study take our focus to a woman who, in the absence of her husband, forsakes the vows of her marriage and commits adultery.

We will note the appearance, attitude and actions of an adulterer.

Proverbs 7:10-12 And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart. 11  (She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house: 12  Now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.)”

Notice the adulterer’s appearance:  Her dress is as the “attire of an harlot” (7:10a).  Solomon lived 3,000 years ago, well before malls, slick advertisements and Hollywood glitz; however, he drew a distinction in a woman’s dress and that of an adulterer.

It is my observation that the dress of the harlot has moved from the immodestydarkened, seedy street corner to Main Street in America.  Modesty is still God’s standard for Christian women (1 Timothy 2:9-10) and believers should strive for appropriate decorum in dress and action (1 Peter 3:1-2).  Sad to say, the church has followed the world in its style and standards.

Solomon also addresses the adulterer’s attitude:  She is “subtil of heart” (cannot be trusted; her ways are sly and cunning – 7:10) and “loud and stubborn” (7:11a).  She has a rebel’s heart.  She is loud and raging, venting her rebellion with angry words and threats.

Finally, we notice her actions betray the heart of a fornicator, driven by lust and a passion for sin (7:11b-12).  Her thoughts are not set upon the matters of her household nor the needs of her family; “her feet abide not in her house” (7:11b).   She is everywhere, when she should be at home!   She is “without” [on the highways], “in the streets” [in the marketplaces, shopping centers and malls] and “lieth in wait at every corner” [as one lying in ambush, she entraps the fool who entertains her in his heart and thoughts].

chicken-run1Some say the rate of divorce in the church is equal to that of secular society.  There was a time I would have challenged that observation, but no longer.  I have known far too many professing Christians who allowed their hearts and thoughts to entertain forbidden lust, casting aside the sacred vows of marriage, as though God will overlook their sinful indiscretions!  What preachers of past eras use to say still holds true: “The chickens do come home to roost” and your sins will find you out (Numbers 32:23; Galatians 6:7)!

Some reading this devotional are victims of an unfaithful spouse; like the husband of the adulteress in today’s devotional, you carry the sorrows and consequences of a spouse’s sins.

If you are a member of a Bible-believing church that addresses adultery, as it should, the unfaithful spouse who refuses to repent should be declared by the church an unbeliever (Matthew 18:17).   When the church addresses adultery in its midst, Paul writes that the believer married to an unrepentant spouse is “not under bondage” (1 Corinthians 7:15).guard your heart

I close with Solomon’s challenge to his son:

Proverbs 4:23Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”

“The Hand that Rocks the Cradle Rules the World”

mother rocking cradle

  • Happy Mother’s Day to all the godly women who touch and enrich our lives!

The feminist movement of the 20th century, sometimes referred to as the “Women’s Liberation Movement”, did much to seek equality in areas that were justified [i.e. a woman’s right to vote; equal pay for equal work—are two of the major issues I applaud as right and just].  However, the diminishing of the role of wife and mother by the same movement has hastened the decay of marriage, family and our nation.  In an effort to break what they viewed as the constraints of traditional marriage and home, feminist have attacked and distorted God’s design for man and woman (Genesis 2:18, 21-25).

The Biblical role of a husband to his wife is that of provider, protector, lover and friend; after all, God’s observation was that “It is not good that the man should be alone”  (Genesis 2:18).   The woman’s role is that of “help meet” to her husband (Genesis 2:18) and “nurturing” mother to her sons and daughters (Proverbs 31).  Sadly, it is the very essence of womanhood and the powerful influence that women have in their traditional roles that feminist have distorted and nearly destroyed.

The powerful influence of the women in our lives and homes is the theme of the opening verse in Proverbs 14.  Solomon draws a contrast between the influence of a woman of wisdom and a foolish woman.

Proverbs 14:1 – “Every wise woman buildeth [establish; construct; manufacture] her house: but the foolish [woman who rejects wisdom and instruction] plucketh it down [beat down; break down; destroy] with her hands.”

A wise woman builds her family (14:1a). The quality of wisdom implied is more than a “love of knowledge”; the implication is that she loves the Lord and His commandments. She is wise because she is spiritually minded and exercises spiritual discernment.

Prov 1:7The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

By contrast, a foolish woman (14:1b) destroys her family; she “plucketh it down with her hands”. She is a rebel…rejecting her God-given role, refusing instruction and bristling at correction. She is not spiritually minded, lacks discernment and destroys those closest to her.

For those who have been so blessed, thank God for godly wives and nurturing mothers. Pray for the women in your life, family and church—the responsibility of being a wise woman has never been greater or more needed.  Encourage them; thank them; and praise them.

 Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Two Sins That Will Bring a Man to Ruin

Monday, April 17, 2017

Daily reading assignment: Job 31-32

Job 31 records the conclusion of Job’s defense against his three “friend’s” accusations that his sufferings are the consequence of unconfessed sin.

The opening verse of Job 31 is one every man should vow before God: I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?” (Job 31:1)

What a powerful statement for 21st century believers to embrace and commit themselves to…purity in heart, thoughts and emotions!  The violation of moral and marital fidelity is one of the greatest sins of the 21st century church and I doubt there is a pastor who comprehends the degree to which his members have titillated their lusts and emotions with lewd and pornographic images in the privacy of their homes and hearts.

I remind my readers of the following commands and principles regarding adultery; the first, our Lord’s summation on this subject reminding us that to look on another with lust is adultery.

Matthew 5:27-28 “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: [Exodus 20:14 – 7th Commandment] 28  But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”

God’s people are not to tolerate adultery and its punishment under the law was severe:  “the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death” (Leviticus 20:10).

Adultery destroys a man’s reputation, scars his life, brings reproach he will carry to his grave and wrecks his marriage, home and family.

Proverbs 6:32-33 – “But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding [without moral principle]: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul [life]. 33 A wound and dishonour [disgrace] shall he get; and his reproach [shame] shall not be wiped away.”

Declaring his innocence and integrity, Job asserts, let me suffer the dreadful consequences of my sin if I have lusted after another man’s wife (Job 31:9-12).

Job 31:12 – “For it [adultery] is a fire that consumeth [eats; devours; burns up] to destruction, and would root out [pluck up; uproot] all mine increase [good; income].”

Elihu, a fourth and younger “friend” of Job, joins the others in Job 32, not only condemning Job, but also his “friends” who had failed to convince Job of his sin. It is interesting that the youngest of the five, Elihu, begins a monologue of judgment and condemnation that will continue for six chapters (Job 32-37).

Elihu’s introductory statements to his elders are sadly familiar for they are reflective of the proud, untempered spirit of inexperienced youth (32:1-3, 5).  In his own words, Elihu confesses, “I am full of matter…my belly is as wine which hath no vent; it is ready to burst” (32:18-19).  That statement, dear friend, is the gushing of unrestrained pride.  In the words of Solomon, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18).   When the LORD addresses the contention that rose between Job and his “friends”, He will disregard everything Elihu said.

In a parting observation, the sins I have addressed in this devotional commentary are prevalent, not only in our culture, but also in our churches and homes.  Adultery is destroying lives, marriages, and families.  Webroot.com estimates that 40 million Americans visit pornography sites regularly and 2.5 billion emails a day contain pornography.  That same website estimates pornography is a problem in 47% of American homes.  In other words, you, your spouse, your children, or your friends are struggling with the putrid effects of pornography.

The other sin in today’s devotional is the besetting sin of today’s youth…Pride!  Pride has been the curse of man from the fall; however, this Millennial generation is enslaved to it like no other before it.   The pride of this generation is manifest in their self-centered, unteachable, demanding, narcissistic spirit…a sin that will inevitably bring them and our nation to ruin.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

“Love Has Everything to Do With It!”

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Daily reading assignment: 1 Corinthians 13-14

Aging rock\pop star Tina Turner, known for her screaming, gritty voice, in one of her songs belts out, “What’s love got to do with it?”  The biblical answer?

“Love has everything to do with it!”

The world has many ideas and definitions for “Love”. Greek philosopher Plato suggested, “Love is a serious mental disease.” Robert Frost, the famous American poet wrote, “Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired.” Author E. Joseph Cossman described Love as “a friendship set to music.” One Thomas Dewar suggested, “Love is an ocean of emotions entirely surrounded by expenses.” Another, Pauline Thomason wrote, “Love is blind — marriage is the eye-opener.”

We find three forms of love in the Greek language: 1) “Eros”, the word for sexual desire (moral or immoral) from which our English word “eoritc” is derived; 2) “Phileo”, defines the affection between friends; a relationship that is mutually beneficial; a “give and take” love; 3) “Agape’” love is expressed as a sacrificial love and based, not on what one can get, but can give to a relationship.

“Agape’ Love” is translated “charity” in 1 Corinthians 13 and is the greatest and highest expression of love.  God’s love for sinners is “Agape’ love”.

Romans 5:8 – But God commendeth his love [agape] toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

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

John 15:13Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

A husband’s love for his wife is “agapao love” (self-sacrificing, unconditional love): “Husbands, love [agapao] your wives, even as Christ also loved [agapao] the church, and gave himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25).

Love is also the first fruit, the root out of which all the other “fruit of the Spirit” grow.

Galatians 5:22-23 – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23  Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”

Love is the foundation of the Law and the prophets (Matthew 22:37-40).

Matthew 22:37-40 – “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38  This is the first and great commandment. 39  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40  On these two commandments hang [hinge; depend; sum of all the other laws and commandments] all the law and the prophets.”

Finally, love is the greatest, most enduring and indispensable quality that can be expressed by a Christian.

1 Corinthians 13:13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

Friend, as you worship the LORD with His church this Sunday, your love for the brethren is to be a sacrificial, patient, kind, honest…rejoicing in the truth, and enduring… “never faileth” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)!

With a shepherd’s heart,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

* I was unable to post Saturday’s devotional reading. Mark 7-8 was the scheduled reading for those who missed it.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith