Category Archives: Money

Beware That Your Possessions Do Not Possess You (Luke 12-13)

Scripture reading – Luke 12-13

The sin of covetousness is the malady of humanity, and is as ancient as sin itself.

When Satan tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1-7), he proposed that she consider the fruit of the tree that God had forbidden, the “tree of knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:17). Initially, Eve resisted the temptation; however, the more she considered the forbidden fruit, the more she pondered what the serpent (Satan) suggested were its benefits.

She saw that the fruit God had forbidden was “good for food,” appealing, for it was “pleasant to the eyes,” and had the prospect “to make one wise” (Genesis 3:6). Coveting what God had prohibited, Eve “took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. 7And the eyes of them both were opened” (Genesis 3:6-7).

Covetousness goes by many names and is evidenced in many ways: Greed, lust, discontentment, “love of money” (1 Timothy 6:10), hoarding, and stinginess are a few words and attitudes that define a sin that has driven many a man or woman to self-destruction, and eternal damnation.

The Parable of the “Rich Fool” (Luke 12:16-21) is universally known to many.

In the parable, Jesus told the story of a rich man whose “passion for possessions” could not be satisfied. Even when he was blessed and his barns were filled and overflowing, he was not content. So the rich man determined to build larger barns, boasting within himself, “Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.” (12:19). Sadly, the sum of the parable has been repeated and condemned by God since the fall of man: “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?” (12:20)

What prompted this enduring illustration of covetousness?

It was the request of a man whose “passion for possessions” had taken precedence over the natural affection one brother should have for another. The man had come to Jesus demanding, “Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me” (12:13).  The Law was clear regarding inheritance, yet this brother was discontent, demanding his inheritance out of a heart of greed and gain.

Recalling Jesus knew the hearts of all men, He recognized in the brother’s request an inordinate affection for wealth and possessions. Rebuking the man for his demand that He act as judge in a matter where the law had clearly spoken, Jesus warned: “Take heed [be quiet; i.e. listen], and beware of covetousness [i.e. greed; a desire or craving to have more]: for a man’s life consisteth [i.e. is defined by] not in the abundance [surplus; affluence] of the things which he possesseth” (12:15).

Truth: A fool treasures riches, and eventually finds himself a slave of them.

Luke 12:2121So is he [a fool] that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

Where is your treasure?

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“He Knew What Was in Man” (John 2-4)

Scripture Reading – John 2-4

Our chronological reading of the Scriptures continues today with the Gospel of John 2-4. The focus of today’s devotional commentary is John 2.

John 2

Our Scripture reading begins with a statement that connects us with recent events in the previous chapter: “And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there” (John 2:1).

Jesus had arrived in Cana of Galilee and joined His mother Mary. Together they attended a wedding celebration (2:1), one to which Jesus and His disciples were invited (2:2). The wedding feast was the setting for Jesus’ first public miracle when He turned water into wine (2:1-11), and in doing so “manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him” (2:11). With this first miracle, the faith of the disciples grew from Philip’s confession that Jesus was “the son of Joseph” (1:45), to them seeing His miracle and believing He was the Messiah (2:11).

Jesus had then gone up to Jerusalem to observe the Passover, and the Feast of Unleavened Bread that followed (2:13-23). As He entered the Temple, He was appalled at the sight of the corruption He found there. The Temple had become a house of commercialism and exploitation (2:14) of those who came there to worship.

With righteous indignation, Jesus took in hand a “scourge of small cords” (2:15a), and drove them all out of the Temple, the sheep and oxen, and over turned the tables of the money changers (2:15b). The commotion was so great, that Temple officials demanded, “What sign [i.e. sign of authority] shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things?” (2:18) In other words, what right do you have to take upon yourself the purging of this Temple.

The LORD answered with a sign, but not one that would be recognized until His death, burial, and resurrection: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (2:19). The Jews were incredulous by the absurdity of one who could raise up the Temple in three days, citing the fact the edifice where they worshipped had taken forty-six years to build (2:20).

Interjecting His own explanation, the apostle John confessed that neither He nor the disciples realized Jesus was speaking of His own bodily resurrection, “the Temple of His body” (2:21-22).

Jesus began to perform miracles in Jerusalem and there were “many who believed in His name when they saw the miracles which He did” (2:23). Jesus, however, “did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, 25And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man” (2:24-25). You see, there were many who believed Jesus, for they had observed His miracles; however, Jesus knew their hearts, and He did not believe in them (2:24-25).

God knows your heart better than you know yourself!

The prophet Jeremiah declared, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). The LORD declared to Jeremiah, “I the LORD search the heart, try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings” (Jeremiah 17:10).

The LORD admonished His prophet Samuel, “for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

What is in your heart?

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Hillsdale’s Wednesday Night Bible Institute and LifeSteps Classes

Dear Heart of A Shepherd Followers and Hillsdale Family Members,

You are invited to join Hillsdale’s Wednesday evening Bible studies, beginning with tonight’s Teen Bible Study\Activity at 6:00pm, AWANA Clubs for Preschool-6th Grades at 6:15 PM, and a time of prayer in our Adult Bible classes that also begins at 6:15 pm.

Around 6:35\6:40 pm, Pastor Smith’s Bible Institute Class series titled, Character Studies in Proverbs, will meet in Cox Hall and also be broadcast live on Hillsdale’s Facebook Page and at www.HillsdaleBaptist.org.

Tonight’s study is from Proverbs 6:1-19, and will focus on four topics: Financial Bondage (6:1-5), A Warning to Sluggards (6:6-11), The Character of the Wicked (6:12-15), and Seven Things God Hates (6:16-19).

The following are student notes for tonight’s study in Proverbs 6. 01 – Enemies of a Man’s Soul – Proverbs 6 – September 23, 2020 student blank notes without verses

A copy of Pastor Smith’s student notes with his word studies is available by emailing your request to HeartofAShepherd@gmail.com. 

Although not live streamed, Hillsdale is also offering two additional Wednesday evening classes (6:30pm). Mrs. Sheilah Smith is teaching a Ladies’ class titled, “Ancient Paths.” a study of the Covenants of the Scriptures.

Travis and Tanya Henry are teaching a Family Life Class that covers marriage, family, and parenting.

Don’t forget to sign up or call the church office to enjoy Dinner with our church family each Wednesday ($4.00 ea) in the Friendship Hall (5pm-6pm).

With the heart of a shepherd,

Travis D. Smith, Senior Pastor

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

 

“Seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek Them Not!” (Jeremiah 41-45)

Scripture reading – Jeremiah 41-45

The prophet Jeremiah has been warning Judah and her kings that the time for repentance had passed and the destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldean army and King Nebuchadnezzar was sealed. Rather than heed the prophet’s warnings, the people abused, persecuted and imprisoned Jeremiah. However, because He is a gracious God, and in spite of the nation’s wickedness, the LORD did not leave His people without hope.

Jeremiah 42

The fate of Judah was decided; however, the LORD assured the people, “Be not afraid of the king of Babylon, of whom ye are afraid; be not afraid of him, saith the LORD: for I am with you to save you, and to deliver you from his hand. 12 And I will shew mercies unto you, that he may have mercy upon you, and cause you to return to your own land.” (42:11-12)

Foreknowing some of the people would flee south to Egypt, Jeremiah warned the nation,  “Hear the word of theLORD, ye remnant of Judah; Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; If ye wholly set your faces to enter into Egypt, and go to sojourn there; 16  Then it shall come to pass, that the sword, which ye feared, shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt, and the famine, whereof ye were afraid, shall follow close after you there in Egypt; and there ye shall die.”  (42:15-16)

Jeremiah 43

Jeremiah warned the people, “Behold, I will send and take Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, my servant11  And when he cometh, he shall smite the land of Egypt…and he shall array himself with the land of Egypt”  (43:10-12).

Jeremiah 45

Jeremiah 45 is a brief, but fascinating passage. Comprising only five verses, the LORD lovingly addressed Baruch (45:1), the scribe who had served beside Jeremiah as he faithfully declared God’s Word. Baruch had been deeply moved by the prophecies of imminent judgment, even as he faced the same hardships, persecutions and imprisonment as the old prophet (45:2-3). The LORD commanded Jeremiah to admonish Baruch, his faithful friend and scribe, and warn him:

Jeremiah 45:5 – “Seekest [require; beg; strive after] thou great things [high; greater; proud thing] for thyself? seek [require; beg; strive after] them not: for, behold, I will bring [come in; enter; give; advance] evil [bad; adversity; affliction; distress] upon all flesh [person; mankind; bodies], saith the LORD: but thy life [soul; person; heart] will I give [deliver; commit; give up; abandon] unto thee for a prey [spoil; possessions; booty; plunder] in all places whither thou goest [walk; depart; follow].”

I close today’s commentary inviting you to consider the same challenge: “Seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek Them Not!”

Matthew 6:19-21 19  Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
20  But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
21  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Two Things God Hates: A Covetous Heart and Lying Lips (2 Kings 5-8)

Scripture reading – 2 Kings 5-8

Our Scripture reading covers four chapters; however, today’s devotional will focus only on 2 Kings 5.

2 Kings 5

With Elijah’s dramatic departure into the presence of the LORD (2 Kings 2), Elisha became the principal prophet in Israel. Several miracles, including those recorded in 2 Kings 4, validated that Elisha was Elijah’s successor and proved the power of God rested upon him.

The news of God’s anointing upon Elisha reached the household of a man named Naaman, “captain of the host of the king of Syria” (5:1). We read that Naaman “was a great man [noble; but perhaps great in size as well] with his master, and honourable [exalted; respected]…a mighty [heroic; valiant; champion] man in valour [virtuous; strong], but he was a leper” (5:1).

Every man has his flaws and challenges; however, for Naaman his was a physical affliction…leprosy. Apart from a miracle, there was no cure. A leper would eventually face exclusion from the living, as the dreaded disease slowly ate away his face, limbs, and extremities of his body.

Providentially, a slave girl from Israel shared with Naaman’s wife that there was a great prophet in Samaria who could heal her husband (5:2-3).  Hearing there was hope for the captain of his armies to be healed, the king of Syria sent Naaman to Israel with gifts and a letter to the king requesting that his servant might be healed of leprosy (5:4-6).  Knowing the request was an impossible one for him to fulfill, the king of Israel “rent his clothes” fearing the king of Syria was provoking a conflict with Israel (5:7).

When Elisha understood the king of Israel’s distress, he requested that Naaman be sent to his household, assuring the king, “let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel” (5:8). Imagine the drama as Naaman, the great captain of Syria, arrives at Elisha’s house. His plight with leprosy was no doubt visible and this great warrior found his body plagued with a curse that not only stole his dignity, but would inevitably rob him of life.

Rather than the dramatic miracle healing he had hoped, Elisha sent a messenger and commanded Naaman to take a path of humiliation and “Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean” (5:10). Naaman’s response brings to light the fact that Naaman not only had an affliction of the flesh, his soul was also cursed and blinded with another disease…pride.

Naaman was enraged (5:11-12). Instead of some great, ceremonial act of healing, the prophet’s demand that he wash himself in Israel’s small Jordan River (5:9-10) was an affront to the man of Syria. Fortunately, Naaman’s servants prevailed upon him and persuaded their master to obey the prophet.  When Naaman came forth from the Jordan “his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean” (5:13-14).

Miraculously healed, Naaman offered to reward Elisha for his service; however, the prophet refused his gifts (5:15-16).  Naaman then responded with a moving statement of his faith in the LORD, Jehovah, the Self-existent, Eternal God of Israel, and swore that he would never again offer sacrifices to other gods (5:17-18).

The closing verses of 2 Kings 5 turns the spiritual lens of this passage from Naaman’s dramatic statement of faith to the petty, covetousness of “Gehazi, the servant of Elisha” (5:20). Knowing Elisha had refused Naaman’s reward for healing him of leprosy, Gehazi determined he would not allow the moment to pass without seeking opportunity to enrich himself (5:20-22).

Without Elisha’s knowledge, Gehazi followed after Naaman and when the captain of Syria saw him he halted. Stepping down from his chariot, Naaman greeted Elisha’s servant with a question of shalom, “Is all well?” (5:21). Gehazi responded with shalom, “All is well” (5:22), but then lied by suggesting Elisha had sent him for a portion of the reward. Naaman granted Gehazi’s request who then took and hid the gifts (5:23-24) before returning to Elisha (5:25).

With the keen discernment of a spiritual man, Elisha questioned his servant “whence comest thou” (5:25). Gehazi lied, answering, his master, “Thy servant went no whither” (5:25). Knowing the covetous, disingenuous spirit of Gehazi, Elisha pronounced God’s judgment on his unfaithful servant who was immediately smitten with the leprosy that had plagued Naaman (5:26-27).

There are many spiritual lessons we might take from 2 Kings 5. One is that Naaman’s sinful pride nearly robbed him of not only the physical healing of his body from leprosy, but also the spiritual healing that came to his soul when he believed and confessed, he would only offer sacrifices to the LORD hereafter (5:17).

Another spiritual lesson is the reminder that God hates covetousness and lying lips: Gehazi coveted Naaman’s reward and then lied to Elisha. The consequences of his sins was not only that leprosy would plague him the rest of his life, but his children would also bear the curse of their father’s sins (5:27).

I close being reminded there are seven things the LORD despises and that will invite His judgment (Proverbs 6:16-19).

Proverbs 6:16-19 – “These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: 17  A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18  An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, 19  A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Uncommon, Common Sense (Proverbs 22-24)

Scripture Reading – Proverbs 22-24

We are continuing our study of the Proverbs of Solomon, chapters 22-24. Today’s devotional commentary, Proverbs 22:1-3, is appropriated from earlier posts at http://www.HeartofAShepherd.com.

Proverbs 22:1 – “A Good Name: Better Than Silver and Gold”

(Photo by © CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, is one of my heroes. Born in 1809 on the western frontier of the United States in the state of Indiana, Lincoln’s life story is inspiring. The son of a farmer, Lincoln’s childhood home was a log cabin. He was homeschooled and largely self-educated.

This man of the most common stock would challenge a nation to confront its soul and weigh its fundamental declaration that, “all men are created equal.” Honest AbeThe Rail SplitterThe Great Emancipator was mocked by his enemies; however, even they admired his character and reputation for honesty.

Proverbs 22:1 calls you to consider the reputation associated with your name.

Proverbs 22:1 – “A good name [honorable reputation] is rather to be chosen than great riches [wealth]and loving favour [grace] rather than silver and gold.”

A good name is not something you can purchase with silver and gold. Your reputation is something you earn. Your parents named you when you were born; however, your character and life choices have shaped and colored the hue of your name. What character qualities come to mind when someone hears your name?

Solomon challenged his son that it was better to be an honorable man, than to possess wealth, but be cloaked with dishonor.

Proverbs 22:2 – A man’s worth is not defined by what he owns, but by what or who owns him.

Parable 22:2 – “The rich and poor [destitute] meet together [concur; encounter]: the LORD is the maker [Creator] of them all.”

There is little difference between the rich and the poor; with the exception the rich man has much goods. We are all God’s creatures.  The rich man is no better than the poor man, and a poor man is no less than a rich man.

Whether rich or poor, we are sinners in need of a Savior Redeemer—Jesus Christ. Regardless of the designer label in our clothes, we need God’s mercy and grace. In the end, death is the great equalizer of both the rich and poor.

We read in the Book of James:

James 1:9-10 – “Let the brother [believer] of low degree [poor circumstances] rejoice in that he is exalted [rich in Christ]10  But the rich, in that he is made low [humbled]: because as the flower of the grass he [rich man] shall pass away.”

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

Proverbs 22:3 – A Word to the Wise and a Warning to the Foolish

Proverbs 22:3 – “A prudent [cunning; sensible] man foreseeth [perceive; understands] the evil [sin; wickedness; adversity], and hideth [conceal; hide; shelter] himself: but the simple [foolish; silly] pass on, and are punished [condemn; inflict a penalty].”

We are living in dangerous, uncertain times and Proverbs 22:3 challenges believers to be wise and discerning in a world that is no friend of the spiritually-minded. Consider the contrast between two men who are polar opposites when it comes to discernment—the Prudent and the Simple.

The Prudent man is a learner. He is a student of the Scriptures [the Wisdom of God] and human nature.  His senses are exercised by the Word of God and a lifetime of experiences.  He is wary of the wiles and ways of the world. Prudence dictates that he foresees the ways of the wicked and withdraws himself from the consequences of their sinful ways.

The Simple are not learners.  They are stubborn, and ignore the admonitions of their parents and have disdain for godly counsel. They pursue the pleasures of sin, giving no thought to their tragic end. The Simple rush past moral restraints and headlong down the path of self-destruction. This same proverb is repeated in Proverbs 27:12, thus magnifying the need to read and heed its truth.

Proverbs 27:12 – “A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished.”

Truth – Men who are wise will seek and heed godly counsel.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“There Are Some Things Money Can’t Buy, for They Are More Precious Than Gold” (Proverbs 19-21)

Scripture Reading – Proverbs 19-21

Today’s Scripture reading challenges me with an impossible task: How to choose one or two proverbs when the chapters assigned are too rich to mine in a year, let alone, in one daily devotional! Today’s commentary will focus on Proverbs 19:3-4 and I pray its application will be a blessing.

Proverbs 19:3-4 offers us insight into the heart and mind a foolish person. Solomon observes two characteristics of a fool [one who is silly and whose path is folly].

Proverbs 19:3 “The foolishness [silliness; folly] of man perverteth [distorts; overthrow] his way [journey]: and his heart [mind; thoughts; seat of his feelings] fretteth [rage; be troubled] against the LORD.”

The fool has a distorted view of life. His heart, thoughts and emotions rage against the LORD [Jehovah—Eternal God; Self-existent God]. He is double minded (James 1:84:8), denying His Creator in his heart and thoughts (Psalm 14:1), while blaming God and others for his woes.

A second parable offers a lesson in friendship—contrasting the rich and the poor.

Proverbs 19:4  “Wealth [riches; possessions] maketh [adds to; increases] many friends [companions]; but the poor [needy; helpless] is separated [scattered; dispersed] from his neighbour [companion; friend].”

“Wealth maketh many friends” and Solomon warns his son that riches and possessions are like magnets. Though wealth buys friends, they often prove to be temperamental, shallow friends. Friends whose aspirations are self-centered and motivated by what they hope to gain.

Poverty is not inviting and economic failure often breeds loneliness. While fair weather “friends” flatter the rich, the poor find themselves the bane of society and “separated from [their] neighbor.” The poor often find they are lonely and rejected by their friends and family.

The parable of the Prodigal son comes to mind when I ponder Proverbs 19:3-4.

The Prodigal was a proud, disobedient, rebellious son (Luke 15:11-32). Setting his heart on the world and its lascivious ways, he despised his father, demanded his inheritance and left home (Luke 15:12-13).

For a season he was the life of the party until he had wasted all his father had given him (Luke 15:13b-14). With no money, friends or hope—the prodigal found himself impoverished and estranged from his father and God (Luke 15:14-16).

Financially destitute and spiritually broken, a longing arose within the heart of the prodigal to return to his father’s house (Luke 15:15-19). Drawing near to home, the prodigal greeted his father with a confession of sin and unworthiness, but his father greeted him with grace, love, and forgiveness (Luke 15:20-24).

Lesson – There are some things money cannot buy, for they are too precious to affix a price.

Money cannot buy GRACE, for it is a gift that is GIVEN. Money cannot buy LOVE, for biblical love calls for an act of self-sacrifice. Money cannot buy FORGIVENESS, for it is imparted as an act of freewill.

If your life is graced by a friend whose love is enduring, matchless and true, you are blessed! For believers, such a friend is Jesus Christ whose love for sinners held Him to the cross as He died for the sins of the world.

Bad News: The gift of forgiveness and salvation exceeds more than all the world can afford.

Good News: Salvation is freely given to any who call upon the LORD to be saved.

Romans 5:8-9 – “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.”

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

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Hype, Hysteria, and Hope (in the midst of uncertainty)

March 16, 2020

Dear Heart of A Shepherd readers,

I have been away from Tampa for only one week, however, the world and our nation have dramatically changed in that short span of time.

While I am not generally a conspiracy theorist, I believe there is a dark purpose behind what is happening in our nation. I think there are unseen, dark figures driving the present crisis and I wonder if this is a “dry run” for something diabolical and more malicious. Knowing the spiritual character of this generation is far different than the faith of our nation a century ago, I fear the potential of violent societal conflict.

The hype around the Coronavirus is a potential catalyst for an overreach of government that is, in my opinion, the perfect stage for a socialist agenda. The draconian measures that are being suggested and taken by federal and state governments (closing schools, churches, restaurants, and businesses; threatening curfews and outlawing gatherings of more than 50) threatens to ruin the economy and plunge our nation and world into an economic depression. Unless sanity prevails, businesses, ministries, and families will soon be forced into bankruptcy. (I do not write that sentence lightly).

No one could have foreseen the events of the past two weeks, nor can we predict the future ripple effect across our lives, families, and ministries. I have many concerns that I am sure are shared across our nation.

What impact will current events have on employers and employment?  What is the economic impact on businesses and families who survive paycheck to paycheck?  With hoarding on a scale never witnessed in my lifetime, how secure are our food supplies and staple goods?

In the immediate, I offer you counsel and encouragement:

Pray – Someone has said, “Courage is fear that has said its prayers.”

Mark 11:22-24 – “22 And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. 23 For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. 24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”

Plan – The distance between a panic attack and confidence is a plan.

Definition of “Plan” – “Since God knows exactly what would happen in every situation, He plans for the best thing to happen. God takes counsel, puts all things under advisement, and chooses the best way.” – Practical Word Studies in The New Testament.

Purpose – Put your trust in the LORD and hope in Him.

Isaiah 26:3-4 – “3  Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. 4  Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength:”

With the heart of a shepherd,

Travis D. Smith

Senior Pastor

http://www.HillsdaleBaptist.org

www.HeartofAShepherd.com

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Baldheads, Charity, Generosity, and Blind Justice (Deuteronomy 14-16)

Scripture reading assignment – Deuteronomy 14-16

Today’s scripture reading covers a wide swath of rules, laws, and regulations Israel was to follow as a nation in the Promised Land.

Outward Signs of Mourning Forbidden (14:1-2)

Deuteronomy 14 opens with an unusual command: “Ye are the children of the LORD your God: ye shall not cut yourselves, nor make any baldness between your eyes for the dead” (14:1).

Shaving one’s head as an outward sign of mourning had been a practice of the Hebrews (Micah 1:16; Amos 8:10; Ezekiel 7:18) and other ancient cultures. Reminding Israel, they were “an holy…chosen…peculiar people unto [the LORD]”, Moses commanded the men to no longer follow that practice when they entered the Promised Land (14:3).

The people were to be different, set apart in their diet, distinguishing between the clean and unclean as the LORD had commanded (14:4-21). They were to remember to give the LORD His tithe, and when the distance to bring tithes of beasts or fruits was too far, they were to sell them and bring the money to the sanctuary (14:22-26).

They were to be a charitable people, supporting the Levites who ministered before the LORD and caring for the poor, widow, orphan, and foreigner (14:27-29) with the promise the LORD would bless them “in all the work of thine hand which thou doest” (14:29b).

Deuteronomy 15 reminded the nation they were to observe the Sabbath year which occurred every seven years.

The Sabbath year was the year debtors would be forgiven their debts (15:1-5) and Hebrews who had enslaved themselves due to their impoverished state were released from servitude (15:12-15).

Permit me to invite you to consider several monetary principles and spiritual truths found in this chapter. The first, a sign of the LORD’S blessing on Israel was His prohibition against that nation ever becoming a debtor nation.  While they might lend to nations, they were to never borrow from them less they become their servants (15:6). Sadly, we as citizens of the United States, now over 20 trillion dollars in debt, find ourselves debtors to our adversaries.

A second truth is the perpetual presence of the poor in the world. We read, “the poor shall never cease out of the land” (15:11). The Hebrews were to be known for their generosity to the poor and needy.

A third principle is the requirement of generosity toward those who served their master or employer faithfully (15:12-18). A Hebrew slave who was given his freedom on the Sabbath year was not to be sent away empty-handed (15:12-14).  The nation was to remember they had been slaves in Egypt and were to extend compassion to their brethren.

Some who had served out their debt, and so loved their masters that they voluntarily accepted a lifetime of servitude, were marked by a hole in their ear (15:16-17). Hired servants were generally obligated to a three-year term; however, some were “double hired,” serving six years and were to be honored with the promise “thy God shall bless thee in all that thou doest” (15:18).

Three feasts are recorded in Deuteronomy 16 (Feast of the Passover, Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Tabernacles) and were given to all Israel to observe. The men of Israel were commanded to observe them each year in Jerusalem (16:1-16). The standard for giving at the feasts was, “Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which he hath given thee” (16:17).

I close today’s devotional commentary inviting you to consider the justice system Israel was to implement (16:18).  Knowing the tribes of Israel would be scattered in the Promised Land, it was essential that judges be appointed by each tribe. God valued justice, and judges were to be impartial and not prejudiced by bribes (16:19-20).

The law of God requires impartiality; however, in all fairness, I fear equity has been lost in our world, and the scales of justice weigh heavily in favor of the rich and powerful.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Gender Roles and Spiritual Synergy (Numbers 35-36)

Scripture Reading – Numbers 35-36

Twelve tribes have been assigned their portion in the Promised Land (34:16-29); however, the priestly tribe of Levi was not assigned an inheritance in the land.  Instead, forty-eight cities in the midst of the lands apportioned to the other tribes were allotted to the Levites (35:1-5).

Of the forty-eight cities assigned, six were to serve as cities of refuge to which a man accused of slaying another might flee to seek justice (35:6-34).

The Book of Numbers ends on an interesting note as a concern arises regarding the matter of inheritance when a man would die and have no son to be his heir.

Though often maligned by secularists and assailed by militant women, the Scriptures prove in Numbers 36 the LORD’s sensitivity to justice and fairness in a family, and in this instance, two unmarried daughters whose father had no son to be his heir (36:1-4).

There was concern what would become of tribal lands when a man had no son. It was argued the lands assigned to a tribe would be lost should a man’s daughters marry outside their tribal bloodlines. The dilemma was solved by requiring daughters who were heirs to marry within the tribe of their father (36:5-9), thereby keeping the land within the tribe.

Numbers 36 concludes with the “daughters of Zelophehad” being assured of their inheritance in the land and their submitting to the LORD’s will that they marry men within their tribal bloodline, securing the inheritance for future generations of their tribe (36:10-13). The context of the matter of a man’s heirs and the rights of his daughters began in Numbers 27 and concludes in Numbers 36

The decision that a daughter had a right of inheritance in the absence of a son was a radical one for ancient times since women were viewed as less than men in matters of culture and inheritance.

As late as the 20th and early 21st century, the majority of women lived in oppressive conditions in the world; however, such was not to be the case among God’s people.

Lesson – The church and believers must recognize that, though gender roles differ, there is to be a spiritual synergy between male and female, husband and wife.

When a man accepts that woman was created, not as his servant, but as his helpmeet (suitable helper), and companion (Genesis 2:18; Ephesians 5:25) and the woman recognizes her role is fulfilled in following her husband’s lead (Genesis 3:16; Ephesians 5:23-24), there is harmony, respect, and peace in the home and the church (Ephesians 5:31-33).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith