Category Archives: Peace

Remember the Good Old Days? (Job 29)

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Scripture reading – Job 29

Job’s answer to Bildad’s accusations (Job 25) is continued in today’s Scripture reading. Unable to find reprieve from his sorrows, and bearing the disappointment of friends who assailed him, Job reflected on what we might label, “the good old days.” He remembered better days, and happier times.

Job 29

Job’s Complaint (29:1-6)

Having lost everything, the sting of feeling abandoned by God pierced Job’s soul day and night. He was grieved by friends who alleged he must be guilty of some wickedness. He felt God was turned against him, and bemoaned that his dreadful state had given cause for others to ridicule and scorn him.

Job then remembered the security and communion he once enjoyed with his Creator (29:2-6). He said, Oh that I were as in months past, As in the days when God preserved me [watched over him] (29:2). He had lived what some call in our day, “the charmed life.” As a young man, he enjoyed the light of God’s favor (29:3). Comforted by the “secret of God” (His friendship and fellowship, 29:4), and the presence of his children (29:5), Job’s life had overflowed with plenty (29:6).

Job’s Prominence in Former Days (29:7-17)

There had been a day when he was esteemed in all quarters of his realm (29:7-17). He was numbered above the elders and judges of the city (29:7). When he passed in the streets, young men shied from him, and aged men rose in his presence out of respect (29:8). When he spoke, men listened and none questioned his wisdom (29:9-11). Contrary to the charges of his friends, Job had been beloved for his charity and compassion for the less fortunate (29:12-13).

Job’s Reputation (29:14-17)

He was hailed for his character and good deeds, and distinguished as a righteous judge (29:14). His charity for the less fortunate was known among his neighbors, for he served as eyes for the blind, and feet for those unable to walk (29:15). To the needy, he had been a father (29:16), and a foe of the wicked when men sought justice (29:17).

Job’s Delusion (29:18-23)

Like some in our day, Job had believed his prosperity would last forever. He supposed God would favor him for his righteous deeds, for he reasoned the days of the righteous are multiplied (29:18-19). He relished the approval of his peers, and they valued his counsel (29:20-21). When he spoke, lesser men were silent. To those who sought his counsel, his words were like dry soil that opens its “mouth wide” for spring showers (29:22-23).

Closing thoughts (29:24-25) 

For Job, times had changed, and he was left with only memories of better days. He remembered when he was much-loved, and all men sought his company (29:24-25). He had not been proud, or haughty as he was accused (29:24). Though he had been chief and sovereign in his realm, he was a comfort to those overcome with sorrows.

Friend, the day may come when you will be embroiled in trials and troubles. When sorrows come, remember God’s grace and favor is the only solace in your darkest hour. I close with a promise that has sustained believers down through the centuries:

2 Corinthians 1:3–4 – “3Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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Keep Hope Alive: God Knows You! (Job 22; Job 23)

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Scripture reading – Job 22; Job 23

Continuing our two-year chronological study of the Scriptures, we are in the midst of the Book of Job. What a powerful book and reminder that no one is spared the troubles and trials of this earthly life. Job served as a memorable example of a spiritual man who faced not only the hardships of catastrophic losses, but the erroneous, harsh judgments of some who purported to be his friends.

Yet, we should remember Job was not aware his afflictions were a consequence, not of God’s judgment, but His confidence there was “none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil” (1:8). The LORD gave Satan liberty to assail Job, and spared only the man’s life, from that evil one’s assault. In spite of his sorrows, Job’s faith did not falter, even as the evil insinuations of his friends increased.

After listening to Job maintain his innocence, and refute the allegations that he had committed some sin that warranted God’s judgment (Job 21), Eliphaz, obviously offended, spoke up.

Job 22 – Eliphaz’s Rebuke of Job

Eliphaz the Temanite disputed Job for his third and final time (his first two challenges were recorded in Job 4-5, and Job 15). Though claiming to be Job’s friend, Eliphaz accused him of supposing he was righteous, and God was obligated to him (22:1-4).

Impatient with Job’s pleas of innocence, Eliphaz unleashed a torrent of accusations against the man whom God said, “there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man” (1:8). He alleged Job had exploited the poor (22:6), refused water to the thirsty, and denied bread to the hungry (22:7). He suggested he had taken advantage of the most vulnerable, sent widows away wanting (22:9a), and crushed orphans (22:9b). Eliphaz dared suggest Job thought God must be blind to his wicked ways, and warned all the troubles that had befallen Job was God’s punishment (22:12-14).

Eliphaz’s diatribe (22:15-30) against Job’s character continued through the balance of Job 22, as he recapped for Job concerning the wicked, and God’s judgment (22:15). Understanding the Book of Job is believed to be the most ancient of the books of the Bible, we are not surprised to find the worldwide flood still fresh in the minds of the men of Job’s day (22:16). Eliphaz reminded Job how the wicked were destroyed in the flood, for they had rejected the LORD (22:17). Yet, men in Noah’s day, as in our day, enjoyed God’s common grace, and their houses were “filled…with good things” (22:18).

Then, Eliphaz proved the callous, heartless man he was and boasted the righteous rejoice when the wicked are afflicted (22:19), and the righteous are “not cut down” (22:20). Once again, the implication was only the wicked suffer in the manner Job was afflicted, and called upon Job to repent and “return to the Almighty” (22:21-23). Perhaps the first to preach a “prosperity gospel,” Eliphaz promised God would prosper Job (22:26), and answer his prayers if he confessed his sin and repented (22:27-30).

Job 23 – Job’s Appeal for God to Hear His Plea

Job’s reply to Eliphaz’s harsh inferences was recorded in Job 23 and Job 24; however, today’s devotional will conclude focusing solely on Job 23.

Once again, Job employed the scene of a heavenly courtroom, and God being his judge and he the victim advocating for compassion and understanding (23:1-2). Job complained it seemed God was distant, and were he to find Him, he would come to His throne and petition the LORD to hear his appeal (23:3-4). Knowing the LORD to be just, Job confessed, “I would know the words which He would answer me, And understand what He would say unto me” (23:5). He believed God would not only hear his cause, but would favor him in His judgment (23:6-7). Job complained, he searched everywhere for the LORD, but felt he was abandoned by Him (if only he had known, God was ever watching and attentive to him (23:8-9).

Closing thoughts (23:10-17) – Our devotion concludes with Job giving us a wonderful truth regarding God’s omniscience, mercy, and providences. Job 23:10 presents us with one of the great statements of faith in God’s providences: “He knoweth the way that I take: When he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (23:10).

Though his friends misjudged him, Job was comforted knowing the LORD knew his ways and motives (23:11-12). Though men are given to urges, Job knew the LORD was immutable, and not given to whims. Our God is of “one mind” and does as He pleases, and His plan will be accomplished in our lives (23:13-14).

Job was confident, regardless the accusations brought against him by others, he was sure God knew him to be a man of integrity. While friends slandered and misjudged him, he believed God’s judgment was righteous and perfect.

Take comfort and trust in God: The LORD is not given to whims, for “He is one mind…and what His soul desireth, even that He doeth” (23:13).

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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The Tragic Consequences of Generational Sins (Job 20; Job 21)

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Scripture reading – Job 20; Job 21

Our study of the trials and troubles of Job continues with today’s Scripture reading (Job 20-21). Admittedly, the text is dark, but the insights we gain from our study are illuminating. The chapters before us are lengthy, and at best, time and space permit only a brief commentary. As you read chapter 20, remember Zophar (the third of Job’s friends) is coming from an earthly, human vantage. His purpose was not to impart spiritual wisdom, but to assert that Job’s afflictions were the reward of the wicked.

Job 20

Job 20 is the record of the second and final response of Zophar the Naamathite (his first speech was recorded in Job 11). Zophar was offended by Job’s admonition in the closing verses of chapter 19. Job had maintained his innocence, and warned his “friends” would face God’s wrath for their harsh judgments (19:28-29). Zophar’s rebuke came swift and furious (20:1-3).

Job 20:4-29 – The Fate of the Wicked

Like his friends, Zophar inferred Job’s afflictions were to be expected by those who are wicked. His contentions revealed three erroneous opinions concerning the state and reward of the wicked.

First error: The wicked always come to destruction. (20:4-11)

Zophar suggested the rejoicing of the wicked is brief (20:4), the honors bestowed on them perishes with them, and they are soon forgotten (20:5-8). Neither of those statements are necessarily true. In fact, the wicked often live out their lives enjoying ill acquired wealth, and their funerals and tombs are often grand spectacles to behold.

Second error: The wicked do not prosper. (20:12-23)

Continuing his erroneous observations, Zophar suggested the prosperity of the wicked is brief (20:12), inevitably bites like a poisonous viper (20:13-16), and he dies in want.

The error in Zophar’s observations is evident when we remember the LORD’s parable of a rich fool (Luke 12:16-21). Beguiled with the pleasures of his riches, the rich man ordered his barns be torn down to build greater barns, and said to his soul, “Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry” (Luke 12:19). Rather than die in want, the rich fool died as he lived, enjoying his wealth until he heard in eternity that he was the poorest of men: “20But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? 21So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:20–21).

Third error: Only the wicked suffer devastating sorrows, and catastrophic losses. (20:24-29)

Zophar maintained the wicked are struck down (20:24-25), and all he has is destroyed (20:26).  He declared the wicked feels everything is against him, until his riches are consumed by God’s wrath (20:27-28). (While it may be argued how the wicked often suffer loss; I suggest it is more often true they are rewarded by the system of this fallen world, and hailed for their ill-gotten gains, John 15:19a).

Of course, the implication of Zophar’s argument was that Job’s sorrows were a wicked man’s afflictions, and such is the lot or “heritage” God has “appointed” for the wicked (20:29).

Job 21 – Rather than Suffer, the Wicked Prosper

Job 21 recorded Job’s response to Zophar’s fallacies. He demanded his friends be silent that he might speak, and challenged them, sarcastically, after he had spoken, “mock on” (21:1-2). Job confessed his struggle was with God, and not with men (21:3-6).

Contrary to Zophar’s assertions, he observed the wicked and their children often live long lives, and enjoy prosperity (21:7-13). He contended the riches of the wicked cause their hearts to be calloused, and “they say unto God, Depart from us; For we desire not the knowledge of thy ways. 15What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? And what profit should we have, if we pray unto him?” (21:14-15) The wicked fail to acknowledge they deserve nothing. Indeed,  all they have is a testimony of God’s grace and longsuffering, and the prosperity of the wicked moves them to reject God (21:16).

Closing thoughts (21:17-34) – Warning: Do not assume the wicked go unpunished.

The consequences of sin are inevitable, and the wicked are “as stubble before the wind, And as chaff that the storm carrieth away. 19God layeth up his [the wicked’s] iniquity for his children: He rewardeth him, and he shall know it” (21:18-19).

Generational Sins: Children are not punished for the sins of their parents; however, they often suffer the influence of their sins (Jeremiah 31:29-30; Deuteronomy 24:16). Three times the Law stated: “The Lord is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation” (Numbers 14:18; Exodus 20:5; Deuteronomy 5:9).

Warning: The consequences of your sins may be borne by your children.

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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“Overcoming Bitterness: I Know that My Redeemer Liveth” (Job 19)

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Scripture reading – Job 19

The sad drama between Job and his friends continued in Job 19, as he responded to the callous, unloving reproofs of Bildad the Shuhite (Job 18). Though Job might have anticipated his friends’ arrival would bring some comfort and pity, he soon realized they had come with one opinion – that Job’s afflictions were characteristic of the troubles that befall wicked men.

With that fabricated premise, Bildad assailed Job for being long-winded in his protests (18:2), and too proud to receive counsel (18:3). According to his estimation, the wicked have a hard life, characterized by calamity (18:5-18), and go to their graves with none remembering them (18:16-20). The implication was that Job’s troubles were such as should be expected of the wicked (18:21).

Job 19

An old English adage reads, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!” Alas, life experiences teach us that sticks can leave scars, and stones may indeed break bones; but eventually the body will mend and heal. However, the effect of cutting words from a loved one, or friend, sometimes result in sorrows that follow us to the grave. Such is the protest we read from Job in chapter 19.

Job’s Complaint Against His Friends (Job 19:1-5)

Job answered the scorn of his friends, and challenged them, saying, “How long will ye vex my soul, And break me in pieces with words?(19:2) The harsh judgments of his friends had left Job wounded and despairing of life. He protested, they had treated him reproachfully, and should be ashamed of how they humiliated him while in the throes of sorrows (19:3). Though wronged by groundless judgments, Job fell into the well-worn rut commonly found among the embittered: He kept a tally of the wrongs committed against him. Job declared, “These ten times have ye reproached me (19:3). His heart was turned from the LORD, to those who wronged and accused him. Frustrated by meddling, Job suggested if he was wrong, let it be his business, and his alone (19:4).

“Not Fair!” – Job’s Complaint Against God (19:6-12)

Job then raised a complaint against the LORD, for he believed he was unfairly entangled with sorrows exceeding his failures (19:6). He cried to the LORD, but it seemed heaven was silent (19:7). He felt entrapped (19:8), humiliated (19:9), and his world destroyed (19:10). He complained, it seemed the LORD had become his enemy, and his life under siege (19:11-12).

A Crisis of Alienation (Job 19:13-20)

God’s Word gives us an insight into the human psyche, for in Job’s afflictions, he retreated into the seclusion often sought by those who suffer. If you have known rejection, endured personal attacks, or been dealt a setback, you might have known the temptation to retreat into solitude like a wounded soul.

Job had experienced the alienation of family and friends. He wrote, “[God] hath put my brethren far from me, and mine acquaintance are verily estranged from me” (19:13). He understood God was author of his troubles, but the response of his family, friends, and acquaintances wounded him. Job felt alone, forsaken by family (19:14a), and forgotten by friends (19:14b). Even the servants of his household dishonored him (19:15-16), and his wife abhorred his “breath [life, spirit]” (19:17). “Young children,” the picture of innocence, disdained him (19:18), and his most intimate friends turned against him (19:19).

A Plea for Pity and Vindication (Job 19:20-25)

His body physically wasted (19:20), Job turned his thoughts from self-pity, and plead with his friends for pity and understanding. He asked, “Why do ye persecute me as God, and are not satisfied with my flesh?” (19:21-22). He begged for the vindication of his innocence to be recorded for future generations to consider, and pity him (19:23-24). Though he was overwhelmed by sorrows, and did not know the cause of his afflictions, Job declared his faith saying, 25For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth”(19:25).

Closing thoughts (19:26-29) – Though he was looking through the lens of inexplicable sorrows and losses, Job’s faith remained unshaken. He was confident the LORD was his Advocate and Redeemer, and believed He would rescue and ransom him out of trials. Job reasoned, even if his afflictions ended in death, and worms destroyed his body, he believed his Redeemer would raise him from the dead, and he would see God (19:26-27). Job’s rebuttal of Bildad concluded with a warning we should all consider: God is the final judge, and the day of his judgment will come (19:28-29; 42:7-9).

A word of invitation – Don’t be guilty of keeping a tally of wrongs committed against you (19:3). An angry, unforgiving spirit will eat at your soul and make you a slave to bitterness! Follow Job’s example, answer your enemies (Proverbs 10:12; 1 Peter 4:8), and turn to the LORD (Ephesians 4:30-32).

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

* 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).

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God is with us in joys, and in sorrows. (Job 16)

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Scripture reading – Job 16

Eliphaz had made no allowance for Job to be anything less than guilty of some great wickedness. After all, he reasoned, “the wicked man travaileth with pain all his days” (15:20a).  Having begun with that false premise, Eliphaz wrongly concluded God was punishing Job. Job’s response was recorded in three pleas in chapters 16-17.  The first was a plea for mercy, rather than comfort.

Job’s Response to Eliphaz (Job 16:1-6)

The introductory verses of Job 16 reflect the heart of a man who was weary of accusations, brought by men who came under the pretense of showing compassion. Instead of comfort, Eliphaz had wounded and offended Job. He and his friends were, in Job’s words, “miserable comforters” (16:2). Job rebuked Eliphaz , and said, “Shall vain words have an end? Or what emboldeneth thee that thou answerest?” In 21st century vernacular, Job essentially said, “Stop Talking! What makes you think you have anything worth saying?”

Job’s friends were unsympathetic to his plight, and their words only added to his misery (16:1-14).  Job contemplated, if he were he in Eliphaz’s place, he would be able to heap upon him similar judgments (16:4). Yet, had they born his sorrows, they would have empathy (16:4-5).

Job’s Complaint Against God (Job 16:7-22)

Turning from his friends, I count at least seventeen complaints Job confessed to God in Job 16:7-22. I will not take the time to list all of his complaints, but I remind you they reflect the anguish of a hurting, troubled man. Job believed his trials were from the LORD, but he did not know their cause. His complaints; however, shed light on the plight and emotions that afflict believers when we go through hard times.

Closing thoughts – Take a few moments and consider Job’s grievances. Grief had left him physically, and emotionally exhausted (16:7). Sorrow wrinkled his countenance, and his body was physically wasted (16:8). Yet, rather than pity, his “friends,” attacked him like a lion seizes its prey (16:9). Instead of compassion, they scorned and looked upon him with disdain (16:10-11), leaving him a broken, wounded soul (16:12).

Job was crushed under the weight and sorrows of his troubles (16:13-15). His face was swollen from weeping, and the dark circles under his eyes were like “the shadow of death” (16:16). Still, Job argued his innocence (16:17a), confessed his devotion to God (“my prayer is pure,” 16:17b), and maintained he had harmed no man (16:18). While his friends scorned him, and added to his sorrows (16:19-20a), Job held out hope God would vindicate him before he died (16:20b-22).

I close with a common adage for those who feel life is hanging by a thread:

TIE A KNOT, HANG ON, AND TRUST GOD!

Copyright © 2023 – 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:
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Troubles are Inevitable, in a World Cursed by Sin. (Job 14; Job 15)

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Scripture reading – Job 14; Job 15

Job 14 brings us to the third chapter that served as Job’s reply to Zophar (Job 11). Unlike Eliphaz, Zophar made no pretense of comforting his suffering friend (11:1-3). Instead, he charged Job with concealing sin, and declared he believed the man was suffering God’s judgment (11:4-6).

Job’s reply to Zophar began in chapter 12, and continued through chapter 14. Though wearied by the sorrows of his afflictions, Job nevertheless derided his friends’ assertions that they had greater wisdom into the ways of God than he (12:1-4). Reserving the right to test and examine the “counsel” of his three friends (12:11), Job contended they had spoken much, and said nothing (13:1-2). In fact, he condemned them as “forgers of lies” (13:4), and stated his unshaken faith in God’s providence. Job declared, “though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him” (13:15).

Job 14 – An Elegy to Death

Continuing his response to Zophar, Job stated the tragic universal experience of man: 1Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble” (14:1). There are many joyful days in a man’s earthly sojourn; however, there is no escaping the common experience of man—trouble.

Job disputed his friends’ contentions that troubles were the afflictions of the wicked. He asserted the universality of troubles, trials, sorrows, and death, and declared they were inevitable for sinner and saint alike. Job went on to observe, man’s life is like a flower that is soon cut down and perishes. Man days are like a shadow, soon gone when light is extinguished (14:2). Man’s “days are determined” by God (14:5a), and no man will live beyond the “bounds” He has numbered (14:5b). In other words, God orders both the day of your birth, and the day of your death.

No wonder anxiety is epidemic in our day!  Our world is dominated by amusements, yet, everywhere we turn there are reminders life is temporal and death is coming. The sound of a siren racing, the solitary marker of a roadside cross, or the gathering of solemn mourners standing quietly at a grave, all remind us our days are numbered (Psalm 90:12) and our lives are like a vapor (James 4:14).

Wise men are conscious, “man dieth, and wasteth away: Yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? …12So man lieth down, and riseth not” (14:10-12a). Desiring to escape his afflictions and sorrows, Job pled with God, “hide me in the grave…keep me secret, until thy wrath be past…set a time, and remember me” (14:13).

He was a man of ancient times, and did not have the privilege of God’s written Word; however, Job was confident physical death was not annihilation. Asking and answering the question of death, Job proposed, “If a man die, shall he live again? All the days of my appointed time will I wait, Till my change come” (14:14). On what was Job waiting? The Resurrection! He affirmed to the LORD, “15Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee” (14:15a).

Job 15 – The Second of Three Speeches by Eliphaz (Job 4-5; Job 22)

Although they purported to comfort him, Job’s friends served as prosecutors, judges, and jury. They condemned the wretched man, already stricken by losses and overcome by sorrows. Eliphaz the Temanite once again took up his dispute with Job, and accused him of pride (Job 15:5-6) and hypocrisy (15:34-35). He warned, all Job suffered was a consequence of sin (15:17-35).

Eliphaz, whom I suggested was the elder of Job’s three friends (for he was the first to speak, Job 4-5), avowed that man’s troubles were indicative of the suffering of the wicked. Rejecting Job’s pleas of innocence (15:1-3), he charged him with folly, and accused him of turning from God (15:4-6). Eliphaz began with a false premise, and stated, 20The wicked man travaileth with pain all his days” (15:20a).

Rather than prove his assertion, Eliphaz continued his lie, and claimed the prosperity of the wicked eventually comes to destruction (15:21). He charged, the wicked will be overcome by trouble (15:24), and “shall not be rich, neither shall his substance continue” (15:29).

Closing thoughts – Eliphaz’s conclusions were untrue. In fact, the wicked often prosper, and many die surrounded by wealth, and the praise of their peers. Like many of this world who profess wisdom, he lacked understanding and godly discernment. Eliphaz only added to Job’s sorrows.

Lesson – Don’t assume your sorrows are a consequence of some wrongdoing; after all, troubles are inevitable in a world that bears the curse of sin.

Copyright © 2023 – 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
7853 Gunn Hwy
#131
Tampa, FL 33626-1611

You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

From Riches to Rags: When Things Go from Bad to Worse (Job 1; Job 2)

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Scripture reading – Job 1; Job 2

Introduction to The Book of Job

Our chronological study of The Book of Genesis is interrupted by a diversion to The Book of Job. Among Bible scholars, The Book of Job is commonly believed to be the oldest book of the Bible. So far, our renewed chronological study of the Scriptures has given us a perspective on Creation and the fall of man (Genesis 1-5), and carried the historical narrative from the worldwide Flood, to God calling out Abraham (Genesis 6-11). Job, the subject of the book before us, was believed to have been a contemporary of Abraham. There are several details of the book that lead us to accept that conclusion, but particularly the names of ancient cities whose names were derived from men who were contemporaries of Abraham.

Job 1

Job, the Man (Job 1:1-5)

The Book of Job introduces us to the man whose name it bears; however, we are not presented with any background of the man, nor how he became so incredibly wealthy. We read, “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil” (Job 1:1).

The exact location of the “land of Uz” is one of speculation; however, there are cities mentioned in this book that were located in the land we will later identify as Edom. So, we might place Uz in that geographical region (southeast of today’s Israel, and on the border of Jordan to the east and Egypt to the south). Yet, it is not Job’s birthplace, but his character that identifies him as an important figure in the Bible. Arguably, he was what God would have every man to be: “Perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil” (1:1). He was perfect, meaning blameless, guiltless, a man of integrity. He was an upright man, righteous, and honest before God and man. He was a God-fearing man who revered his Creator, and eschewed, or shunned evil (1:1).

Job was blessed with a large family, having “seven sons and three daughters” (1:2). He was also a man of great wealth (1:3). In our story, we find his children were adults, with their own households (1:4). They shared in their father’s wealth, and enjoyed the bounty of their own riches. As a family, we find they observed a week of feast days, perhaps as a celebration of the harvest. When the feast days were ended, Job, acting as the spiritual priest of his household, summoned his children to offer sacrifices to God, reasoning, “It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually” (1:5). Notice the last phrase: “Thus did Job continually.” Worship and sacrifices were a pattern of Job’s life, and one he did not take lightly as the spiritual head of his family.

A Heavenly Council (Job 1:6-12)

Job 1:6 carried us into the midst of a heavenly council where “the sons of God” (whom I believe were angels), were standing before God’s throne. In their midst was Satan, the serpent, the wicked one, fallen angel Lucifer, the spiritual adversary of God and man (1:6). The LORD inquired of Satan, “Whence comest thou?”, and he answered, “From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it” (1:7b).

God then turned the focus of the heavenly council to a man in whom He found great joy. The LORD asked Satan, “Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?” (1:8).

Evidencing his adversarial heart, Satan questioned God, and disparaged Job asking, “Doth Job fear God for nought? 10 Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. 11 But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face” (1:9-11).

From Riches to Rags (Job 1:12-19)

The LORD accepted Satan’s challenge, and gave him liberty to accost Job in a series of devastating trials. Mercifully, God limited the extent of the devil’s power and commanded him, “Behold, all that he [Job] hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand” (1:12a). Satan departed from God’s presence, and initiated a series of disastrous events that destroyed all Job’s earthly possessions (1:13-17). Eventually, the devil’s assault took that which was dearest to Job, his sons and daughters (1:18-19).

Satan had slandered Job, and suggested he was faithful to the LORD only because he was lavishly blessed, and protected by Him (1:9-11). How did Job respond to his losses? Did he curse God as Satan alleged he would? (1:11)

Rather than reprove his Creator, Job responded with humility, and acknowledged God’s sovereignty over His creation. Then, he worshipped the LORD, and prayed, “Yahweh gives, and Yahweh takes away; blessed be the name of Yahweh” (1:21b). Contrary to Satan’s accusation, Job “sinned not, nor charged God foolishly” (1:22).

Job 2 – Job: His Body Afflicted, His Friends’ Inquisition

A thorough study of Job 2 will have to wait for another time, and another year; however, Job 2 records a second heavenly council (2:1-3), and introduces a trial that will afflict Job’s body and rob him of his health (2:4-7). You will meet Job’s wife who questions why he maintains his integrity in the midst of sorrows (2:9-10), and meet Job’s “three friends” who will assert his losses are a punishment for unconfessed sin (2:11-13).

A Closing Thought: Satan is a real person, and an adversary of believers; however, God limits his power and influence. When trials come, and they will, trust God knowing He is intensely interested in your soul and well-being.

Romans 8:2828 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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The Call to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19; Revelation 20)

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Scripture reading – Revelation 19; Revelation 20

John recorded three events in Revelation 19. The first, the gathering of the saints of God for “The Great Marriage Supper of the Lamb” (19:1-10). The second event was the “Second Coming of Christ the King” (19:11-16), culminating in the third event—”The Battle of Armageddon” (19:17-21).

Revelation 20 recorded the “Binding of Satan for a Thousand years” (20:1-3), and “The Millennial Reign of Christ” (20:4-6). At the end of Christ’s 1,000-year reign, the devil will be loosed to deceive the nations, leading to the destruction of their armies, and Satan being condemned and “cast into the lake of fire and brimstone” (20:7-10). Revelation 20 concluded with the final judgment of unbelievers at “The Great White Throne” (20:11-15). Today’s devotional will be taken from Revelation 19.

Revelation 19

The understated majesty of the Scriptures often stuns me in my personal study in God’s Word. For instance, Revelation 19 records three of the great pinnacle moments in human history, yet the chapter begins simply, “And after these things” (19:1). What things? The fall and destruction of Babylon, the spiritual harlot that embodied the kingdom of the antichrist with its false religions, idolatry, and moral depravity (Revelation 18). After God took vengeance on the nations who shed the blood of the prophets and believers (18:24), John wrote:

“I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and  honour, and power, unto the Lord our God” (19:1). Who were these “people in heaven?” They were worshippers of God, most likely the angels, and other hosts of heaven, including the redeemed who had died and were forever with the Lord. John heard their voices praising God and saying, “Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power,” thus implying those things belong to the Lord and Him alone (19:1).

Exulting over the demise of Babylon, the people said, “For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand” (19:2). With the shout, “Alleluia,” they rejoiced in the destruction of Babylon (19:3). At the same time, the 24 elders and the four beasts (Revelation 4:4, 6, 7), “fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia” (19:4). Then, John heard a voice coming “out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great” (19:5). The voice was not identified, but perhaps it was that of an angel.

The Summons to the Great Marriage Supper of the Lamb (19:6-8)

Suddenly, John heard “the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings” (19:6a). How loud, and powerful were the voices of the throng? It exceeded the deafening roar of the mightiest waterfalls, and the boisterous rumbles of the most frightening thunderstorms. What were the voices shouting? They were praising God for His strength and power, saying, “Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. 7Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready” (19:7).

The Lamb was the focus of the rejoicing, for He was Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who was sacrificed for our sins, and the sins of the world (John 1:29, 36; Revelation 5:6; 7:10, 17; 17:14). The wife of the Lamb was described as a bride “arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints” (19:8). The white speaks of the purity of the saints of God, and “the fine linen” symbolized their works of righteousness.

Even so, this is how God would have the members of His church, which is His body, to present themselves before Him. Being redeemed, and justified, His people should be sanctified [set apart] (Romans 3:24; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 3:8-9), to the end of presenting ourselves to Christ: “a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:27).

Closing thoughts (19:11-21) – Time and space do not afford more than a brief summary of the closing verses of Revelation 19. As John looked on, he witnessed heaven open, and the glorious emergence of Jesus Christ, riding on a white horse, and He was called, “Faithful and True” (19:11). It was the Second Coming of Christ, and He was going forth to “judge and make war” as He promised (10:11; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10; Titus 1:2). His coming was a picture of vengeance and justice (19:12-13), and “the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean” (the same attire as was worn at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, 19:8, 14).

With His Word as His weapon (Revelation 1:16; 19:15), the LORD executed God’s wrath upon the nations (19:15). John noticed, “on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” (19:16). A description of the battle at Armageddon closes our devotion, even as the antichrist (“the beast”) was defeated, and he and “the false prophet…were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone” (19:20)

Revelation 19:20 is the first mention of the “lake of fire” in the Scriptures; however, it is not the last. Revelation 20 warns, “14And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (20:14-15).

The “lake of fire” is the eternal destiny of all who reject Christ as Savior. Only by repenting of your sin, and trusting Christ as Savior, will your name be inscribed with the redeemed who will live forever with the Lord.

* 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 Character of Spiritual Overcomers (1 John 5, 2 John)

Click on this link for translations of today’s devotion.

Scripture reading – 1 John 5, 2 John

A Note from the Author: Our chronological study of the Scriptures is in the homestretch! Our 2-year reading schedule is coming to an end, and it is my prayer you are making plans to re-enlist. Heart of a Shepherd will return to Genesis on January 1, 2023, and begin a new journey in God’s Word.

I am looking forward to unveiling a new website for Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals. The new website will combine daily devotionals that follow our chronological reading plan, host daily video devotionals, and provide links to audio and video recordings of sermons from our ministry at Hillsdale Baptist Church, Tampa, FL. Other resources on the Heart of a Shepherd website will provide additional enrichment. If you have not already, please subscribe to ensure Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals will continue to be sent to your email.

Today’s Scripture reading concludes our study of The First Epistle of John, and introduces The Second Epistle of John. Though only 13 verses long, I believe the second epistle was a personal letter to an individual, whom John addressed as “the elect lady and her children” (2 John 1:1). However, I will wait to a later date to consider John’s second epistle. I invite you to consider with me the 5th and final chapter of The First Epistle of John.

Review of 1 John 1-4

Although brief (only 21 verses in length), 1 John 5 was a powerful finale to John’s letter to believers. We noticed in earlier chapters how John did not mince words in warning believers there were enemies of Christ and the Gospel in the midst of the churches. In 1 John 1, I identified the philosophy of the Gnostics, their carnality, and open rejection of Christ’s person, life, death, and resurrection. In chapter 2, John issued a powerful call to believers, and admonished them, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world” (2 :15a). Lest anyone minimize his warning, the apostle declared, “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (2:15b).

1 John 3 contrasted the lifestyle of sincere believers (3:1-3) with those whom John likened to the children of the devil (3:4, 8, 10). While the “sons of God” reflected the righteousness of Christ in their daily walk (3:2-3), the children of the devil continued in their unrighteousness (3:8, 10). Lastly, in 1 John 4, the apostle warned the “spiritof antichrist” was in the world (4:3). He called on believers to love one another (4:7-8), even as God manifested His love “toward us… [and] sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him” (4:9).

1 John 5

Spiritual Distinctives of Sincere Believers (5:1-3)

The character of the believer was defined as one that “believeth that Jesus is the Christ” (5:1a). The evidence of genuine salvation was that a believer would love God, and be assured of His love (5:1b). Two other proofs of the sincerity of one’s salvation was a believer will “love the children of God…and keep His commandments’ (5:2). Tragically, some reading today’s devotion may find themselves in a church that reviles God’s law and commandments as legalism. How can this be?

Employing a popular adage in today’s English language, John “doubled down” on the importance of one’s attitude toward the commandments, and wrote: “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” (5:3). What is the implication of that verse? A believer who loves God not only obeys His commandments, he does not find them heavy or burdensome.

This is a good time to pause, and ponder: What is your attitude toward the commandments, precepts, and principles of God’s Word? If you love the Lord, you will love and keep His commandments. If you despise His commandments and resent those who teach them, you do not love the Lord, and are not a child of God.

Becoming an Overcomer (5:4-5)

Believers are addressed by many names in the Scriptures. We are identified as the “Children of Light” (John 12:36; Ephesians 5:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:5), the “Children of the Day” (1 Thessalonians 5:5), and the “Children of God” (Romans 8:16; Galatians 3:26; 1 John 5:2). Another name for believers is revealed in 1 John 5:4: Nikao” or “Nike (yes, the name from which the athletic shoemaker “Nike” derives its name).

1 John 5:4-5 reads: “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh [Nikeo] the world: and this is the victory that overcometh [Nikeo] the world, even our faith. 5Who is he that overcometh [Nikeo] the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?”

Everyone “born of God” is “Nikao” (an overcomer, 5:4a). Essentially, “Nikao” means victory or one victorious. The implication of 1 John 5:4-5 is that believers are spiritual overcomers. We are victorious and overcome the world with its enslaving lusts and pride (1 John 2:16), when we have faith (5:4), and believe Jesus is the Son of God” (5:5). By faith, believers have the potential to be victorious, and overcome the world (5:5).

Closing thoughts – The Scriptures are filled with saints who by faith became “Nikao,” spiritual overcomers in their day. Noah was “warned of God,” and “prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith” (Hebrews 11:7). Abraham left his family and country, and “went out, not knowing whither he went…10For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:8, 10). Moses, by faith, rejected the privileges of a prince of Egypt, and “forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing Him [God] who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:27).

Spiritual overcomers believe Jesus is the Son of God, love and keep God’s commandments, love one another, and live by faith.

Are you a spiritual overcomer?

* 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.

Is There Any HOPE? (1 John 3; 1 John 4)

Click on this link for translations of today’s devotion.

Scripture reading – 1 John 3; 1 John 4

We continue our devotional study of the Epistles of John, and come today to 1 John 3 and 4. John was writing to believers near the end of the 1st century, and who found themselves living in a world becoming increasingly hostile to them and the Gospel. After admonishing believers to “love not the world” (1 John 2:15-17), the apostle warned that there were “many antichrists” in the world and tragically, within the congregations (1 John 2:18-23).

Who were the antichrists? Some professed to be believers and were intolerant of sound doctrine (1 John 2:19). Others were false teachers (1 John 2:22-23), who purposed to seduce believers and lead them astray from the truth (1 John 2:26). John assured believers, if they would abide [literally sin not] in Christ, and were sensitive to the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit, they would discern truth from error (2:27-28). The focus of our devotion will be 1 John 3:1-3.

1 John 3

Recalling chapter and verse numbers were not in John’s original manuscript (these being added by editors), John’s letter continued in chapter 3 with a wonderful, affectionate reminder: “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not” (3:1).

A Message of HOPE (3:1-3)

Believers are not only the object of God the Father’s love (3:1), we are “the sons of God” (3:1a), and therefore strangers in the world. Knowing the world rejected Christ, and “knew Him not” (3:1b), we who are “the sons of God” do not look to the world for our identity or affirmation. As we heed God’s Word, and yield to His will (Romans 12:1-2), we grow spiritually and are changed into the likeness of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). Believers who look in anticipation for the coming of Christ, will find “when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (3:2).

In fact, the believer’s HOPE motivates him to be ever purifying his soul of sin, that we might be pure and holy, “even as He is pure” (3:3).

What is HOPE?

Hope, in my opinion, is something you might have and do not appreciate, until it is lost. For instance, it is easy to define “hopeless.” Despair, despondent, dejected, downhearted, downcast, depressed are all terms that describe a state of hopelessness. HOPE, however, is a challenge to define. Words like anticipation, aspiration, and expectation might capture some of the essence of HOPE; however, they fall short in accurately defining it. Generally, the world considers HOPE to be little more than wishful thinking. Interestingly, the ancient world had many gods (gods of war, love, light, fertility, healing, death, beauty, and agriculture); however, to my knowledge no civilization worshiped a “god of hope.”

The God of Hope

HOPE occurs 143 times in the King James Version of the Bible. Twenty-six times in the Psalms, the LORD and His Word are referred to as the believer’s object of HOPE. We are to “Hope in the LORD” (Psalm 31:24), “Hope in [His] mercy” (Psalm 33:18), and “Hope in [His] judgments,” because the LORD is just (Psalm 119:43).

The prophet Jeremiah identified God as the believer’s object of HOPE, writing, “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is” (Jeremiah 17:7). HOPE was also a frequent theme of the apostle Paul, who in his letter to believers in Corinth, wrote, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Corinthians 15:19). Believer, our God is the God of HOPE!

The Believer’s HOPE

The world defines hope as probabilities and wishful thinking; however, the believer’s HOPE is a confident expectation in God’s faithfulness and His ability to keep all He has promised. In other words, the LORD and His promises are the object of the believer’s HOPE.

Two Dimensions of Biblical HOPE: Faith and Action.

HOPE was one of three virtues Paul employed when he defined the essence of a believer’s character: “And now abideth faith, HOPE, [and] charity” (1 Corinthians 13:13). In his letter to believers in Rome, Paul prayed, “Now the God of HOPE fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in HOPE” (Romans 15:13a).

Application – Biblical HOPE is an active expectation the LORD will fulfill all He has promised. HOPE accepts circumstances and challenges as from the hand of the Lord (Romans 8:28). HOPE believes God, and makes the best of one’s circumstances. HOPE trusts, and obeys the LORD even when all seems hopeless.

Closing thoughts –An Old Testament example of Biblical HOPE is identified in the lives of four young Jewish men. Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were among the first Jews taken captive to Babylon (Daniel 1). Their last memories of family, the city of Jerusalem, and their homeland were of a fallen, defeated people. Humanly speaking, all hope was lost. Yet, how did they respond to their circumstances? Did they follow their brethren, embrace the culture of the world, and bow their wills to the commands and idols of a pagan king? No!

Those four young men followed Daniel’s example, who “purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank” (Daniel 1:8). They determined to keep God’s covenant, and obey His Law and Commandments, and HOPE in the LORD.

Biblical HOPE aspires to a pure life, even as the LORD is pure and holy. (1 John 3:3)

Have you any HOPE?

* 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.