Category Archives: Money

Ever wonder, “Where is Justice?” (Job 24)

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(Additional languages available upon request by emailing HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com.)

Scripture reading – Job 24

Eliphaz, the third of Job’s friends to argue Job’s troubles were like those of the wicked, evoked a response from Job that began in chapter 23 and continued to chapter 24. Having slandered Job’s character, Eliphaz accused him of some great evil and urged him to repent promising God would restore him (22:23-27).

Nevertheless, though he suffered overwhelming afflictions and felt abandoned by God, Job maintained his innocence (Job 23). He lamented, if God would give him a hearing, he would maintain his troubles were greater than his sins (23:1-7). Yet, though he was wrongly accused by his friends, Job was confident God knew he was a man of integrity, who desired to walk according to His commandments (23:8-12).

Job 24

Accused of gross wrongdoing, the accusations brought against Job by his “friends” left him wondering why he suffered, when the wicked prospered and went unpunished? Job’s reflections on the sins of the wicked was recorded in Job 24:2-17.

Wrongs Committed by the Wicked (Job 24:2-17)

Tyrannical Thieves (24:2-8)

Job first considered the company of thieves, and their wiles, deceptions, and effronteries  against God and humanity. (Remember, as you read verses 2-8, the setting was an agrarian society, and the perspective was rural and agricultural. Of course, thievery and robbery are the same, though the coveted objects of the thief change with the culture). Times have changed, but the nature of man is as wicked as ever!

Before making an application to 21st century society, let’s consider Job’s observations. The first were land thieves who removed “landmarks,” essentially physical stakes, that designated the boundaries of a family’s lands (24:2a).  Not surprising, but the same criminal activity continues in our day. (Note – Deuteronomy 19:14; 27:17; Proverbs 23:10-11). There were thieves who would seize a neighbor’s sheep, and move them to graze in his pastures, thus robbing a man of his livelihood (24:2b).

Tragically, the wicked have always preyed upon the most vulnerable of a society, the poor and the weak (24:3-8). In Job’s day, evil men would steal the donkey of an orphan (24:3a), and demand a widow’s ox for surety or collateral (24:3b). They would abuse the poor, and mislead them (24:4), and leave them to forage for food and shelter like wild beasts (24:5-8).

Cruel Oppressors of the Weak and Defenseless (24:9-17)

Job described children taken from their mothers (24:9) as collateral for debt (tragically, the 21st century has revived this abuse with “human trafficking,” and the mass movement of humanity across international borders). The wicked would take the robes of the poor (a symbol of the bare necessities for life) as collateral for debt (24:10). Such is the way of the wicked. While a farmer would reward an ox with the grain he treads, the wicked would leave the poor destitute, hungry, and thirsty (24:11-12; Deuteronomy 25:41 Corinthians 9:91 Timothy 5:18).

Murderers and Adulterers (24:14-17)

The rise of violent crimes and murder in 21st century society is akin to the observations of Job. He observed murderers who plotted and preyed upon the poor and needy (24:14). Numbered among the wicked were adulterers who disguised their faces to avoid recognition (24:15). Rounding out the society of the wicked were thieves who marked houses in the day, and enjoyed the guise of darkness to break into them and steal at night (24:16-17).

The Character and Fate of the Wicked (24:18-25)

Having considered the character and sins of the wicked, Job agreed with his friends, for the wicked will not go unpunished. The wicked are swift to steal the fruits of other men’s labor, because they are unwilling to toil in their own vineyards (24:18). Nevertheless, the end of the wicked is akin to “drought and heat [that consumes] the snow;” they will go the way of all sinners, to “the grave” (24:19).

Closing thoughts (24:20-25) – Describing the fate and destiny of the wicked, Job graphically detailed his end, writing: “20The womb shall forget him; the worm shall feed sweetly on him; He shall be no more remembered; And wickedness shall be broken as a tree” (24:20).

Rich or poor, famous or infamous, powerful or weak, the bodies of the dead eventually become the diet of worms. While the most stately of trees will eventually be broken and fall, the bodies of the powerful will inevitably decay in their graves. We might ponder with Job, why the LORD is patient with the wicked, and his pernicious ways; however, we are assured, “His eyes are upon their ways” (24:23).

Warning: “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, Beholding the evil and the good” (Proverbs 15:3). 

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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The Character and Moral Depravity of the Last Days (2 Timothy 3; 2 Timothy 4)

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Scripture reading – 2 Timothy 3; 2 Timothy 4

Our Scripture reading brings us to the close of Paul’s final epistle. Addressed to Timothy, his “dearly beloved son” in the faith (1:2), one can sense the power and passion of that great apostle whose life was a testimony of God’s grace and humility. 2 Timothy 3 served as a powerful warning and exhortation to not only Timothy, but to all believers. 2 Timothy 4 recorded Paul’s final salute, his farewell address to Timothy and all who would read this epistle.

Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (3:16-17), Paul wrote with the passion of a man who knew his earthly ministry and days were ending. For our devotion, I will limit my focus to 2 Timothy 3, with the hope I might return to this powerful passage in the future.

2 Timothy 3 – Preaching to the Church of the Last Days

After urging Timothy to be faithful, and reminding him of his spiritual heritage (2:14-15), Paul admonished the young preacher with a prophetic portrait of “the last days,” warning, “perilous times shall come” (3:1).

The Character of the Last Days (3:1)

The “last days” are the days that followed Christ’s ascension to heaven (Acts 1-2), and precede the Second Coming of Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:13-19). Paul warned: “This know” (meaning be sure, don’t be surprised), “in the last days” (the final time, the end of the ages), “perilous times shall come” (difficult, violent, dangerous times of wickedness and depravity).

Paul warned, the latter days of the earth will be marked by wickedness and apostasy like the world had not seen since the days of Noah. The apostle John would later write concerning the apostate church of Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-20), the church of the last days: “Thou art neither cold nor hot… thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:15-17). Tragically, the 21st century church is everything John warned the apostate church would become!

The Moral Depravity of the Church in the Last Days (3:2-9)

In amazing, prophetic detail, Paul described not only the world, but in particular the congregations of professing believers in the last days. For our study, I suggest four vivid portraits that are an apt depiction of the 21st century church and its moral depravity. (Please note that words in brackets are from the author and meant to amplify or illuminate your study.)

A Heresy of Self-love (3:2-4)

2For men shall be lovers of their own selves [self-centered; self-serving], covetous [lovers of silver], boasters, proud, blasphemers [cursing, reviling God’s name], disobedient to parents (Exodus 20:12), unthankful, unholy [having no regard for God],

3Without natural affection [indifferent; unloving], trucebreakers [hostile; divisive], false accusers [slanderers], incontinent [immoral], fierce [cruel; savage], despisers of those that are good, [hate the righteous] 4Traitors [betrayers], heady [heady], highminded [puffed up], lovers of pleasures [narcissistic] more than lovers of God” (3:2-4)

A Prevalence of Hypocrisy (3:5)

The second trait of the church in the last days is hypocrisy. Professing believers are described as displaying an outward piety, but their lives show no effect of the conviction and power of God’s Word. Paul warned, “turn away” from them (3:5). In other words, do not be a member of a fellowship that is guilty of a pattern of sin and ungodliness (1 Corinthians 5:9-11, 13; 2 Corinthians 6:17).

The Presence of Apostates Leading Astray the Spiritually Weak (3:6-7)

In the last days, the church will be afflicted with false teachers and their doctrines (3:6-7). With the introduction of mass publishing, radio and television in the 20th century, and the internet in the 21st century, apostate teaching has become epidemic. False teachers “creep into houses,” and “silly,” foolish women often fall victim, taking their families with them into all manner of evil (3:6). Interestingly, they are described as “ever learning,” always seeking some new doctrine, but tragically, they are blinded by sin and “never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (3:7).

The Exposure and Punishment of False Teachers (3:8-9)

Apostate teachers were compared with men who were believed to have been part of Pharoah’s court (Exodus 7:11).  We read, Jannes and Jambres had “withstood Moses” (3:8), and perhaps counterfeited the signs (miracles) performed by him. Paul warned, false teachers were like Jannes and Jambres. They are dangerous, often skilled orators, and at first their deviation from the Truth is subtle. Only those with spiritual discernment are able to avoid being carried away with their false doctrine. As Jannes and Jambres were eventually exposed as frauds, and counterfeiters, so false teachers should be exposed, and allowed to “proceed no further” (3:9a).

Question – How might believers avoid false teachers?

Two closing principles (3:10-12; 15-17)

1) Know who you are following (3:10-12).

2) Study and know the Scriptures: They “are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith…[for] 16All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (3:15-17).

I urge you to examine not only your church fellowship, but those you follow for spiritual direction.

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Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

Love, Marriage and Money (Hebrews 13; 2 Timothy 1)

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Scripture reading – Hebrews 13; 2 Timothy 1

Our journey through the Epistle to the Hebrews concludes with today’s Scripture reading, Hebrews 13. The author has reminded the believers of the saving faith of their forefathers (naming many of the great patriarchs in Israel’s history; Hebrews 11). In chapter 12, he challenged the saints to keep the faith (12:1) and focus upon Christ, “looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” (12:2). The believers were exhorted to accept God’s chastening, for like a loving earthly father, the Lord chastens His people that their lives might yield “the peaceable fruit of righteousness” (12:11). With a reminder, “God is a consuming fire” (12:29), the writer of Hebrews closed chapter 12 by urging believers to revere the Lord and fear His displeasure.

Today’s devotional is taken from Hebrews 13:1-6.

Hebrews 13

In the closing verses of his letter, the author addressed several topics that are personal and practical in nature.

The Believer’s Relationship with the Congregation (13:1-3)

The first topic was the believer’s conduct within the congregation and was addressed in three exhortations: “Let brotherly love continue” (13:1); in other words, love is the bond that binds us as brothers and sisters in Christ. The second exhortation regarded the ministry of hospitality (13:2). Believers are not only to love one another; we are also to show hospitality and love for strangers. Imagine, there may come a time when, like Abraham in Genesis 19, you will serve “angels unawares” (13:2). Lastly, believers are to love those in prison (remember, seasons of persecution would see many confined to prisons, 13:3).

An Exhortation to Purity and Contentment (13:4-6)

“Marriage is Honourable” (13:4)

Roman society in the first century was not much different from our own. Believers who read this epistle were confronted by gross immorality. Sexual promiscuity and sodomy were ever present in the Roman world. Sadly, 21st century society has followed the same path of moral erosion, and attacked marriage as an institution. Liberal judges and politicians have impaled our homes with the whims of political correctness, and introduced a moral decadence that now threatens to destroy not only our families, but our nation.

The author admonished believers, 4Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge” (13:4). While society has changed, be forewarned, God has not changed. Our Creator founded and established marriage as a sacred institution between one woman and one man (Genesis 2:23-24), and none dare defile it by sexual immorality without risking the wrath and judgment of God (13:3).

Be Content (13:5-6)

Covetousness was another sin addressed by the writer (13:5). Understanding the word “conversation” implied one’s conduct or way of life, we read: “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have” (13:5a). While the world of 1st century believers was different than our own, the problem of a covetous, money-loving nature was the same. In his letter to Timothy, Paul observed, “they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition” (1 Timothy 6:9). The apostle continued, “For the love of money is the root of all evil,” warning many had coveted, and were “pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:10).

Closing thoughts – Rather than trust in riches that take wings and fly away (Proverbs 23:5), we should place our faith in the Lord, who has said, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (13:5b). Only then might we face the world, and “boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (13:6).

If only believers would learn, happiness will never be found in money or possessions.

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

Who was Melchisedec, and does it matter? (Hebrews 7)

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Scripture reading – Hebrews 7

Today’s devotional is taken from Hebrews 7, and continues with the focus upon Melchisedec, the king and high priest of Salem (the ancient name of Jerusalem, 7:1). The writer of Hebrews introduced us to Melchisedec in chapter 5, where Christ was described as “a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec” (5:6). In the same chapter we read, Christ was the “author of eternal salvation” (5:9), and “called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec” (5:10). The final verse of chapter 6 concluded the same, saying, “Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec” (6:20).

Who was Melchisedec? (7:1-3)

If you followed this “Heart of a Shepherd” over the course of the past two years, you may recall a man named Melchizedek (the same, though the spelling differs) in our study of the life of Abraham in Genesis 14. Abraham overcame raiders that had captured his nephew Lot’s household, and taken his family and possessions as spoils of war (Genesis 14:10-12). Returning victorious from battle, Abraham was greeted by “Melchizedek king of Salem”(7:1; Genesis 14:18). Of Melchizedek we read, he was “the priest of the most high God” (Genesis 14:18). He pronounced a blessing on Abraham, who in turn rewarded Melchizedek with a tithe, a tenth of the spoils taken in battle (7:2; Genesis 14:19-20).

Besides being a man renown in the Scriptures for his righteousness, Melchizedek was named as king of ancient Jerusalem (Genesis 14:18a), and a priest of Jehovah, “the most high God” (Genesis 14:18b). This Melchizedek was no ordinary king and priest, for he was described as eternal, and “without father, without mother, without descent [human lineage], having neither beginning of days, nor end of life” (7:3).

While I cannot say with certainty who Melchizedek was, we do know: As king and priest, he served as a “type” or picture of Christ who existed before His incarnation, being the Son of God.

Like Melchisedec, Christ is King and High Priest. (7:4-10)

The evidence Melchisedec was a greater priest than Abraham, is that the father of the Hebrews offered a tithe to him (notice the tithe predated the Mosaic Law, 7:4).

The discussion concerning Levi (7:5-10), whose sons were chosen as the priestly order, is an interesting one, because Levi was a son of Jacob, the grandson of Isaac, and the great grandson of Abraham. When Abraham offered a tithe to Melchisedec, he acknowledged that ancient king and priest of Jehovah was greater than himself. Therefore, we can conclude the ancient king and priest was greater than all his lineage, including the priests of Levi (7:5-10).

Closing thoughts – The Priesthood of Jesus Christ (7:11-14)

The balance of chapter 7 continued the parallel drawn between Melchisedec and Jesus Christ (7:11-28). However, I conclude today’s study with Hebrew 7:11-14, hoping to return to this chapter in another year.

Why did Jesus Christ assume the role as High Priest? Answer – Because the Levitical priesthood did not suffice for addressing man’s sin (7:11). The priests were mere men, and had to offer sacrifices for their sins and that of the people. Jesus Christ, however, was like Melchisedec and not of Levi or the Aaronic priesthood. We read, Christ came, not “after the order of Aaron” (7:11), but after “another tribe” (7:13). What was the other tribe? “[Jesus Christ] sprang out of Juda [the tribe of Judah]; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.”

Summary – In the same way Melchisedec was “king of Salem, [and] priest of the most high God” (7:1), Jesus Christ is our King, and “a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec” (7:17). Unlike the priest of Levi, who continually offered sacrifices for their sins, Christ offered Himself “once, when He offered up Himself” (7:27).

What a Savior! What a great High Priest!

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

Spiritual Principles for Employees and Employers in an Entitlement Age (1 Timothy 6)

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Scripture reading – 1 Timothy 6

Our brief study of Paul’s 1st Epistle to Timothy concludes with today’s Scripture reading. Readers will notice Paul continues a broad sweep of issues that have confronted believers since the 1st century. Arguably, times have changed, but the prevailing sins and spiritual challenges of mankind are the same. Today’s devotional will consider 1 Timothy 6:1-6.

The Culture of the 1st Century Church (6:1-2)

Paul’s letter was addressed to a culture where slaves and masters were members of the church. In fact, the membership of the 1st century church had some slaves who found themselves serving “believing masters” (6:2). Paul did not tackle the moral or ethical nature of slavery, as slavery was a common way of life in the first century. Nor did he urge Timothy to lead an uprising against slavery. Instead, the apostle addressed the dynamics of believing slaves and their masters (whether unbelieving or believing).

Author’s note – Before I consider an exposition of 1 Timothy 6:1-2, I hope you might give me liberty for a personal observation.

Mirroring the attitude of the 21st century world, I have observed the growing presence and influence of a rebellious spirit of entitlement even among believers. Sadly, our families, churches, and Christian institutions have embraced entitlement as a right, of which few are willing to challenge. Entitlement arises from a self-focused heart, in essence, from those who would espouse employees’ rights and privileges above all else. I believe the pendulum has swung so far in favor of employees, that they now abuse their employers thus driving corporations to the edge of fiscal insanity, if not bankruptcy.

What is the Believer’s Duty to An Unbelieving Employer? (6:1)

Paul challenged Timothy to teach slaves and servants to be characterized by the same attitude of which he wrote, namely – Respect. Whether a slave served a master who was an unbeliever or a believer, the requirement was the same: Servants were to treat their masters with honor and respect, knowing their actions and attitudes reflected on their faith and profession in Christ. Paul wrote, “1Let as many servants as are under the yoke [the yoke of bondage or slavery] count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed” (6:1).

In his epistle to believers in Ephesus, Paul challenged servants and slaves to obey their masters, and fear and honor them out of a sincere heart, “as unto Christ” (Ephesians 6:5). Peter commanded, “18Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward” (1 Peter 2:18). The heart attitude of a believer is to serve, honor, and obey an employer to the end they will give them no cause to have an ill opinion of God and the Scriptures (6:1).

What is the Believer’s Duty to a Believing Employer? (6:2)

Today, many believers bring a spirit of entitlement when they are employed by believers or a ministry. Some believers become so offensive in their expectations, they become a sorrow to fellow believers that employ them.

There were some in the congregation Timothy pastored who were masters (6:2). Surely, salvation so transformed the lives of some that they evidenced love and Biblical virtues toward their slaves (2 Corinthians 5:17). Perhaps, some believing masters even divested themselves of slavery entirely.

Nevertheless, slavery was a component within the culture of the 1st century church. Therefore, Paul commanded Timothy teach and exhort believers regarding the relationship of the servants and their masters (6:2). What was Timothy to “teach and exhort” servants? (6:2) Paul wrote: “they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit” (6:2).

While the servants and some masters were believers, the believing servants were to remember their place and role, and treat their masters with respect (“not despise them,” 6:2b). A believing servant was to “do them service,” meaning serve them with a right heart attitude and spirit (6:c). Because the master was a believer, the believing slave was to value the privilege of serving a fellow believer, knowing both were “partakers of the benefit,” meaning the Gospel of the grace of God in Christ (6:2d).

Closing thoughts (6:3-6) – I close today’s devotion, exhorting you to not entertain any other spirit or attitude that arises and hinders your testimony in the world. There are believers who justify a belligerent, divisive spirit toward their employers. If believers were to exercise an honest self-examination, some would find a spirit of entitlement contrary to the Spirit of God, and the teachings of the Scripture.

If believing slaves were commanded to honor and obey their masters, surely no less can be expected of us.

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

A World Gone Mad: The Tragedy of Moral Depravity (Romans 1)

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Scripture reading – Romans 1

This devotional is a follow-up to my earlier introduction to Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, and one I believe the importance of chapter 1 warrants. Paul’s letter to believers in Rome expressed not only his love for them, but also his longing to fellowship with them for a season (1:10-11). Though his journey to Rome had been prevented (1:12-14), Paul assured the believers, “15So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. 16For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (1:15-16).

Paul was aware of the dark clouds of persecution already visible on the horizon, and would soon engulf the Roman empire. Tens of thousands of believers would be sent to martyrs’ deaths, and Paul felt an urgency to ground them in the faith.

The Sin of Man, and the Wrath of God (1:18-21)

We find in the balance of Romans 1, a depth and breadth of fundamental truths that humanity denies, but are universally shown. While men deny the evidences of the Creator and Divine design, nature itself gives testimony of the handiwork of God; therefore, Paul declared, “the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (1:20). Creation serves as a testimony of perfect design, yet, man’s sin and rebellion has introduced a chaotic, self-destructive state, and provoked God’s wrath “against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness” (1:18).

We have not seen the depth of depravity to which men will go when they deny God, and suppress righteousness and truth. Yet, we are witnessing in the 21st century a denial of the undeniable (an example, some of this generation have denied the biological evidences of two sexes—male and female). What is the lesson? Deny the Creator, and there is no end to man’s wicked imaginations (1:21).

An Attitude of Ingratitude (1:21-22)

The hardness and darkness of man’s heart is visible, and undeniable (1:21). Though the Creator is the source of life and well-being, man has rejected him and proposed an evolutionary process that has no scientific basis, and is as irrational, as it is foolish (imagine, an intricate design, but no designer…the thought is preposterous).

While the concept of Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theory would not be written for 1800 years, Paul diagnosed man’s spiritual crisis, writing of men, they “became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools” (1:21-22). The classrooms of schools, colleges and universities in the 21st century are instructed by men and women who imagine they are wise philosophers, and lovers of wisdom (1:21). Yet, having denied their Creator, they have become fools, incapable of understanding truth or making moral judgments (discerning between good and evil, 1:22).

The Depth of Depravity (1:23-27)

How foolish are men who deny the revelation of God in His creation? In Paul’s day they worshipped nature, “and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things” (1:23). What becomes of a world that rejects God?

There is no limit to the depths of moral depravity to which men will descend. In fact, men become slaves to sin, and “dishonour [shame] their own bodies between themselves” (1:24). Because they reject God’s truth, they worship and serve nature (1:25). Rejecting the Creator, and natural design, men and women turn to sodomy, as “women did change the natural use into that which is against nature [contrary to nature]: 27And likewise also the men, leaving [forsaking; abandoning] the natural use of the woman, burned [inflamed; raged] in their lust one toward another; men with men working [doing] that which is unseemly [shameful; indecent], and receiving in themselves that recompence [penalty] of their error which was meet [demanding the judgment of God]” (1:26-27).

Closing thoughts (1:28-32) – What a tragic portrait of man’s rebellion, and moral depravity! Man has cast aside the knowledge of His Creator, and God has abandoned him to destructive passions and lusts. Recorded in Romans 1:29-31 are twenty-three signs or indications a man, people who have abandoned God.

Romans 1:29All unrighteousness (all manner of sin); fornication (sexual immorality: adultery, prostitution, pornography); wickedness (malice; meanness); covetousness (greed; love of wealth and possessions); maliciousness (desire to hurt or harm another); envy (jealous; despising the success of others); murder (taking innocent life); debate (quarreling; contentious); deceit (lie; guile; entrapment); malignity (dishonorable; evil); and whisperers (slander; gossip).

Romans 1:30Backbiters (slanderers); haters of God; despiteful (scoffers); proud (haughty, arrogant); boasters(braggers); inventors of evil things (new means of sexual debauchers); and disobedient to parents (treating parents with disdain and disrespect);

Romans 1:31Without understanding (foolish, ignorant of God and His Law); covenantbreakers (breaking contracts, covenants, and agreements); without natural affection (lacking a natural love for family); implacable(refusing to forgive and be reconciled); and unmerciful (lack compassion; without mercy)

Sinful man is “without excuse” (1:20, 32). In spite of having the judgment of God written upon his conscience, man not only continues in his sin, but takes pleasure in watching others sin (1:32).

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

The Blessed Grace of Giving (2 Corinthians 8; 2 Corinthians 9)

Scripture reading – 2 Corinthians 8; 2 Corinthians 9

Click on this link for translations of this devotional.

Today’s Scripture reading is well known to believers as a passage where Paul taught and encouraged what I like to refer to as “Grace Giving.” Grace, essentially the favor of God, is not only the basis, but also the motivation for all we do in serving the Lord, and as we will see in today’s devotional…giving.

Remember, Paul’s first letter to Corinth presented the afflictions and sufferings of the brethren in Judea, and in particular, Jerusalem. Hearing of the physical want of those believers, Paul urged the churches throughout Macedonia to give, and share in the relief of their fellow believers. The believers in Corinth set an example of compassion and willingness to give, and pledged themselves to be gracious. Unfortunately, a year later, the apostle was concerned they had failed to fulfill what was promised (though he had boasted of them to other congregations).

2 Corinthians 8

Among the many truths we glean from Paul’s letter are four spiritual truths in regard to “Grace Giving.” The first, “Grace Giving” evidences the grace of God when a believer gives liberally out of God’s blessings (8:1). An unregenerate heart is naturally selfish, and not inclined to give. In fact, sinners tend to evidence two extremes: Some are hoarders, and give little to nothing, while others are narcissists, and waste their material blessings and possessions on self-centered pursuits and pleasures. A second characteristic of “Grace Giving” is joy (8:2). The believers of Macedonia, though suffering afflictions, and poverty, were described as expressing “the abundance of joy,” and abounding “unto the riches of their liberality” (8:2).

Another trait of “Grace Giving” is personal consecration. We read, the Macedonian believers “first gave their own selves to the Lord” (8:5). Having dedicated their all to the Lord, they kept back nothing. Lastly, the sincerity of a believer’s love for others is demonstrated in a willingness to deny oneself for the welfare of others (8:9). In other words, the Macedonian believers proved the sincerity of their love for Christ in their sacrificial giving (8:8). Paul summed up that principle in these words: “24Wherefore shew ye to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love, and of our boasting on your behalf” (8:24).

Closing thoughts (9:1-15) – I invite you to read 2 Corinthians 9 and search out seven additional qualities of “Grace Giving” that are found in that chapter. I close with a quote of Amy Carmichael, who served as a missionary to India for 55 years without a furlough:

“You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.”

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

God’s Answer to Despair: Trust Me! (1 Corinthians 16; 2 Corinthians 1)

Scripture reading – 1 Corinthians 16; 2 Corinthians 1

Click this link for translations of today’s devotional into other languages,

Our study of Paul’s first letter to believers in Corinth concludes with today’s Scripture reading (1 Corinthians 16), and introduces the apostle’s second letter to the same congregation (2 Corinthians 1).

1 Corinthians 16

After an inspiring passage on the hope of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15), Paul concluded his letter with practical instructions, and a loving salutation (1 Corinthians 16).

Guidelines for Giving (16:1-4)

The letter was written at a time believers in Jerusalem were in the midst of dire straits. In other Scripture passages, Paul instructed the churches to collect a special offering to aid the impoverished believers in Jerusalem (Romans 15:26; 2 Corinthians 8:1; 9:1; Acts 24:17). It is speculation on my part, but I believe the poverty experienced by the Jerusalem church was a result of prejudice and persecution (1 Thessalonians 2:14).

1 Corinthians 16:2-4 is instructive in the manner the offering was to be collected, and taken to the Jerusalem church. Briefly, Paul instructed the believers on:

1) When the offering was taken: “the first day of the week”
2) From whom the offering was taken: “every one of you”
3) How the offering was prepared: Set aside, or “lay by him in store”
4) The basis of the offering: “as God hath prospered him”
5) The urgency: Paul insisted the offerings be collected in advance, “that there be no gatherings when I come.”
6) Who was to administrate and deliver the offering? – “Whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality [gift] unto Jerusalem” (16:3). It was Paul’s intent to accompany the Corinthian brethren as they carried the offerings to believers in Jerusalem.

Though much of his letter was spent in addressing problems in Corinth, nevertheless, Paul hoped to spend the winter with the believers there (16:6). In his prolonged absence, he determined to send Timothy to Corinth, a man whom he loved as a son in the faith (1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:2; 2:2). Concerning Timothy, who was a young minister, Paul urged the Corinthians to show him the respect of one who “worketh the work of the Lord” (16:10).

Closing thoughts (16:13-14) – So much more might be considered, but I close our study with a believer’s call to duty: 1) “Watch ye” – Be alert, vigilant; 2) “Stand fast in the faith” – Refuse false teachings, and defend the truth; 3) “Quit you like men” – Be bold, courageous in your ministry; 4) “Be strong” – Stand against the wiles of the devil and the world; 5) Do everything “with charity” (note, 1 Corinthians 13).

2 Corinthians 1

Paul’s first epistle to Corinth contained many admonitions induced by its carnality, divisions, and failure to deal with sin in the congregation. His second letter manifested the joy, and loving compassion of a faithful pastor, and apostle of Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians

When the believers in Corinth received Paul’s admonitions in his first epistle, they humbled themselves, and repented of their sins. No wonder Paul’s opening salutation in his second letter to Corinth was one of rejoicing. After sending Timothy to Corinth for a season, he had returned to Paul (1:1; 1 Corinthians 16:10-11). Though he found himself in the midst of persecutions and afflictions, he nevertheless bid the Corinthian believers God’s loving favor and peace (1:2). The old apostle rejoiced, writing, “the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies [compassion], and the God of all comfort [encouragement]” (1:3).

Suffering Equips Believers to Comfort and Encourage Others (1:4-8)

A scarred veteran of persecutions, Paul assured believers, “the God of all comfort” (1:3) would comfort and console them in their times of trouble (1:4a). To what end had he suffered? “That we [Paul and other suffering believers] may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God” (1:4b).

Who better to bring aid and help to another, than one who had known trouble, and found God’s comfort was sufficient? Paul gave hope to believers who found themselves suffering hardships for Christ’s sake, and assured them by his own experiences, Christ’s comfort exceeded his sorrows (1:5b).

Looking beyond his troubles, Paul took comfort knowing he would be better equipped to minister to others in their trials (1:6). Unshaken by his sorrows, he had an affinity for believers going through similar trials, and encouraged them that his confidence and hope for them had not wavered (1:7).

Closing thoughts (1:8-9) – Unashamed by the sorrows and afflictions he had borne, Paul confessed he knew what it was to be so overcome with trouble he “despaired even of life” (1:8).  In fact, the toil of trouble had so exhausted his strength he thought he might die (1:9a). It was in the hour of his extremity; he learned what every believer should know:

We dare not trust ourselves, but “but [trust] in God which raiseth the dead” (1:9).

Click this link for translations of today’s devotional into other languages,

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

Beware Wolves in the Midst of Sheep (Luke 20)

Scripture reading – Luke 20

Putting today’s Scripture reading in its historical context, remember Jesus is ministering in the midst of the week He will be betrayed by Judas, face a mock trial, and be crucified.

We find Jesus teaching in the Temple in the introductory verses of Luke 20.  His antagonists, the religious leaders (“the chief priests and the scribes…with the elders”), came and confronted Him in the Temple (20:1). They demanded by whose authority He performed miracles and taught the people (20:1-2; Matthew 21:27-27; Mark 11:27-33).

Jesus, evidencing divine wisdom and discernment into the heart of man 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?”  (20:3b-4). Fearing the people, the leaders refused to answer (20:5-7). Then, Jesus responded, “Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things” (20:8).

Parable of the Wicked Tenants (20:9-19)

Jesus then turned from the hypocrites who masqueraded as devout religious men, and taught the people the Parable of the Vineyard (20:9-19; Matthew 21:33-46; Mark 12:1-12).

The parable told the story of tenants [religious leaders] who labored in their master’s [God the Father’s] vineyard [Israel] while he was away. When the master sent his trusted servants [prophets] to collect the profits he was due from the vineyard, those who labored there refused. Those wicked men beat the servants, and sent them away. Finally, the master sent his own son and heir [picture of Jesus Christ] (20:13), and reasoned the tenants would surely pay his son respect and his due (20:13). The laborers [chief priests, Pharisees, and scribes], however, rose up and slew their master’s son (20:14-16).

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

A Question Concerning the Resurrection (20:27-38)

Over the years, I have had some ask me if the husband and wife relationship is bound in heaven. This is especially a concern to those who have, whether by death or divorce, had more than one husband or wife.  While I am convinced the saints of God will know one another in heaven, I 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 (20:35).

Jesus, having silenced the scribes by His answers and questions (20:39-40), turned to His audience, and warned His disciples, “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”  (20:46-47).

Closing thoughts – The proud and pious often are the same in the world, and their presence is found as much in the church as it is in the realm of education and politics. As it was in Christ’s day, so it is today—there are many who burden others with a demand to be favored, often while they ravage the poor and vulnerable.

Remember: Reject Christ, and you will surely suffer His judgment one day. He who knows the hearts of men, will see past the religious veneer and every man will receive his due according to his works (Matthew 16:27).

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please email your request to HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com.

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

The Gifts of the Rich Paled in Comparison to the Widow’s Offering (Mark 12; Matthew 23)

Scripture reading – Mark 12; Matthew 23

The Synoptic Gospels

Continuing our chronological Scripture reading in the Gospels, we notice again the beauty of the Synoptic Gospels. Each writer complemented the others with his own remembrance or understanding of Christ’s miracles, teachings and conversations. Matthew, also known as Levi (who may have been of the tribe of Levi), wrote to the Jews of his day who had a knowledge of the Old Testament scriptures.

Mark’s gospel seems to have been written to a non-Jewish audience, as he puts forth effort to explain biblical practices and traditions. Most likely Mark was writing to a Roman audience. Luke, thought to be a Gentile by birth, addressed his gospel to a man whom he addressed as “most excellent Theophilus” (1:3). Scholars are generally in agreement that Luke’s audience was Greek-speaking. Finally, John’s Gospel, not one of the synoptics, was written to all men and women, and declared Jesus is the Son of God (John 3:16). Together, Matthew, Mark, and Luke give what might be described as a three-dimensional portrait of Christ’s life and ministry.

Our Scripture reading in Mark chapter 12, is parallel to what we have read in Matthew 21-22 and Luke 20. For instance, Mark recorded the Parable of the Wicked Tenants (12:1-12), which we have considered in Matthew 21:33-36 and Luke 20:9-19. The question posed by the Pharisees and Herodians regarding civil and religious authority is found in the synoptic gospels (Mark 12:13-17; Matthew 22:15-22; and Luke 20:20-26). There is also the challenge of the Sadducees concerning the resurrection in Mark 12:18-27 (as it was in Matthew 22:23-33 and Luke 20:27-38. Even the question, “What is the greatest commandment?” is reiterated in Mark 12:28-34 (Matthew 22:34-40 and Luke 10:25-37).

For our devotional, I invite you to direct your attention to a story known widely as “The Widow’s Mite,” but one I will subtitle: “A Portrait of Consecration” (Mark 12:41-44 and Luke 21:1-4). Remember, we are in the midst of Christ’s final week before the Cross.

Mark 12 – A Portrait of Giving

Mark wrote, “Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much” (12:41). The treasury of the Temple is believed to have been located in a large room known as the “Court of the Women.” Jesus sat and observed the rich bringing their offerings, and making a great fanfare of the size or amount of their gifts (Matthew 6:1-2). As He looked on, a poor widow came to the Temple to worship the LORD with her offering that was no more than “two mites, which make a farthing” (12:42).

Who was this widow? Why did one who gave so little, become an object lesson for giving one’s offering?

There are several items we might note concerning the widow. The obvious, she was alone, and described as a “poor widow” (12:42). Vulnerable, perhaps childless (or at least without one who cared to accompany her to the Temple), and lowly. Assuming the literal meaning of what it meant to be “poor,” she lived in an impoverished state. Perhaps with a haggard countenance, and in tattered robes she came to the Temple to cast into the treasury “two mites” (the smallest Jewish coin), which together was equal to a small brass coin known as a farthing(12:42).

Closing thoughts – You might wonder, “So what?” Herein is a wonderful truth: The widow’s offering was a great sacrifice in proportion to her means, and Christ looked upon her gift with admiration. She had given what she could not spare, while the rich gave out of their abundance (12:43-44). She “cast in all that she had, even all her living” (12:44). Giving up her right to use her two mites for her needs, she chose to trust God to provide. Think about it: For all eternity, the poor widow will be commended, not for the size of her gift, but for her faith and sincere devotion.

Lesson – When we give as the LORD would have us give, God’s heart is moved with compassion.

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please email your request to HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com.

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.