Category Archives: Politics

“In the Beginning God” (Genesis 1)

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

Scripture reading – Genesis 1

An Introduction to The First Book of Moses Called Genesis

The Bible is the most influential book in history, and Genesis is its foundation. The Book of Genesis explains the origin of all things, and is the basis of our understanding of the universe, the earth, its atmosphere, and life itself. For example, Genesis 1:27 presents us with the complexity and uniqueness of man, who was created in the “image of God.” In Genesis 2:24-25, God established marriage and family as the foundation of human society.

The origin of sin and its consequences are revealed in Genesis 3. Genesis 3 also unveiled the commencement of God’s answer to man’s wickedness: A son who would be born of a woman (Genesis 3:16), of the lineage of Abraham, and through whom all nations and people of the earth might be blessed (Genesis 12).  The basis of language, culture, and the existence of the nations are all stated in Genesis. (Genesis 11:1-9).

Warning: Reject the Genesis account of Creation, and you must reject the Scriptures entirely!

The New Testament quotes from, or alludes to one hundred sixty-five passages recorded in Genesis. In fact, more than one hundred direct quotes or references to Genesis 1-11 are found the New Testament.

Genesis 1 – “In the Beginning God Created”

Creation declares the person and existence of the God of Creation (Romans 1:20-27), and what you believe regarding the existence, and origin of life shapes your philosophy of life and worldview. Accepting or rejecting the Genesis account of Creation will influence the value you place on human life. If you believe, “God created man in His own image,” meaning in His spiritual likeness (1:26-27), you must conclude that human life is sacred. Reject creation, and you will inevitably come to the conclusion human life is not sacred, and some lives are expendable (for instance, the life of the unborn, elderly, or physically dependent).

To believe God is Creator, and the Genesis account of Creation is true (Genesis 1), you must accept God is Sovereign of all things. He has authority to declare right and wrong. God alone has the right to establish that which is moral and define what is immoral (1:29-31).

When you read the Genesis account of Creation, you must come to the conclusion there is only one of two explanations for the origin of life. Either God is Creator and He has revealed Himself to man in His Word and in His creation, or life and the universe are the result of chance. It behooves us all to ask the question: “Who can be trusted in the matter of the origin of life? Is evolution an unproven theory, or a scientific fact? Can we trust the Bible when it states simply, “In the beginning God created” (1:1)? Can the Scriptures and evolution (chance) co-exist?

The Biblical account of Creation affords no compromise with evolution, and evolution offers no worthy answer to the Biblical account of creation.

If interpreted literally and without prejudice, Genesis 1 gives us an explanation for the world around us, as well as, God’s purpose for our life and existence (1:31-2:2). As Creator, God is Sovereign, and He is providentiallyinvolved in His creation, preserving and sustaining the universe. The Book of Job, believed to be the most ancient of the books of the Bible states of God: “He looketh to the ends of the earth, and seeth under the whole heaven” (Job 28:24). “His eyes are upon the ways of man, and he seeth all his goings” (Job 34:21). Solomon warned, “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good” (Proverbs 15:3).

If you believe God is your Creator, you must accept He has authority to oversee every facet of your life. He has the right to reward, or punish as He deems just. In the words of the psalmist, “Our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased” (Psalm 115:3).

Reject God as Creator, and a man, society, and nation will be overcome by all manner of wickedness and sorrows (Romans 1:28-32).

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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.

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Heart of A Shepherd Inc
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#131
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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.

Armageddon and the Seven Bowls of God’s Wrath (Revelation 16; Revelation 17)

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Scripture reading – Revelation 16; Revelation 17

Review – The Seventh Trumpet and Its Judgments (Revelation 11-15)

The seventh trumpet sounded in Revelation 11:15, and announced the third woe poured out on the earth and its inhabitants. Rather than repent of their wickedness, and turn to God, the nations of the world were stirred to anger and their sins demanded God’s judgments (11:18). The devil was revealed as the “great red dragon” (12:3, 9), and the antichrist, empowered by him, was promoted to rule over a great coalition of nations (13:1-2).

Another man of great wickedness, the false prophet, was empowered by the devil, and deceived the nations of the earth. He commanded all men and nations should worship the antichrist as god (13:11-15). Men who refused “the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name,” were denied an opportunity to “buy or sell” (13:17).

John beheld the Lamb, Jesus Christ, standing on mount Zion, and with him the 144,000 preachers of the tribulation (14:1). The apostle, then, saw three angelic messengers sent from the throne of God (14:6-8). The message of the third angel was a warning, that any who received the mark of the beast (antichrist) would be tormented forever (14:11).

Two judgments followed the third angel, and the first was portrayed as a harvest of grain (14:14-15), and the second a harvest of grapes (14:17-20).  Then, John “looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened” (15:5). “[S]even angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles [or belts worn round the waist]” (15:6). To each of the seven angels was given a “golden vial” or bowl filled with “the wrath of God” (15:7).

Revelation 16 – Seven Bowls of God’s Wrath

The Five of the Seven Bowls (16:1-11)

The seven angels were sent, and commanded to pour God’s wrath out of their bowls upon those who worshipped the antichrist (beast), and had accepted his mark in their hand or forehead (16:1). Each bowl or vial represented a judgment of God. The first angel poured out a judgment that caused “a noisome and grievous sore” (or ulcer, 16:2). The plagued poured out by the second angel turned the sea to blood, and so contaminated the waters that “every living soul [creature] died in the sea” (16:3).

The third angel, bearing the third bowl, turned the fresh waters of the earth to blood (16:4). Destroying the fresh water of the earth would be catastrophic for all humanity. Lest any complain and protest God’s judgment, the angel declared spoiling the fresh waters with blood was a fitting judgment for mankind, for “they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy” (16:6). Then, the altar itself said, “Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments” (16:7).

The judgment borne by the fourth angel followed, and was poured out “upon the sun” (16:8). The consequence was an increase in the sun’s heat and radiation that “men were scorched with great heat” (16:8). Rather than repent, and call out to God for mercy, men “blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory” (16:9).

Then, “the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat [throne] of the beast [antichrist]; and his kingdom was full of darkness” (16:10). The darkness shrouded the lands and people ruled by the antichrist (16:10), and the terror was so excruciating that men “gnawed their tongues for pain” (16:10b). Still, they did not repent, but “blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores” (16:11).

The Sixth Bowl – The Euphrates River Dried Up (16:12-14)

The judgment brought by the sixth angel was directed against “the great river Euphrates” (16:12), which is the longest and most important river in the Middle East. The region depends upon the Euphrates for navigation (ships can sail up the river some 1200 miles), and irrigation of farms and orchards. Although a 2000-year-old prophecy, the unthinkable is happening today…the Euphrates River is drying up! With the salt water and freshwaters polluted by blood, and the Euphrates dried up, John saw what he described as “three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet” (16:13). Frogs are deemed unclean (Leviticus 11:10, 41), and their vileness was symbolic of the demons that had influenced the antichrist and false prophet (16:13). So, was revealed the means by which those evil men had influenced the earth (16:14).

It was “the spirits of devils” that compelled “the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty” (16:14). While the nations of the earth gathered “into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon” (16:16), the Lord comforted those believers who had survived the judgments of the tribulation, and promised, “Behold, I come as a thief” (16:14).

The Seventh Bowl (16:17-21)

The seventh and final angel came forth with the wrath of God filling his bowl, and God lifted up His voice, and said with a loud voice, “It is done” (16:17).  Thundering’s, lightnings, and an earthquake greater than any that had preceded it followed the pronouncement (16:18). The city of Jerusalem was “divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.” (16:19). The earth will be so devastated by the earthquake that islands and mountains will disappear (16:20). Hail will fall from heaven, and the weight of each hail stone will be “about the weight of a talent” (100 pounds or more, 16:21).

Closing thoughts – I hope to address the balance of our Scripture reading (Revelation 17) at another time, and in another year. I conclude for now with the observation that men will refuse to repent of their sins, even though all mankind will have suffered before the Second Coming of Christ. Instead of crying to God for mercy, the wicked who refuse the Lord will blaspheme the name of God (16:21). I close today with the invitation by the writer of Hebrews:

Hebrews 3:15 – “While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.”

* 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.

Faithful Witnesses: The 144,000 (Revelation 14; Revelation 15)

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Scripture reading – Revelation 14; Revelation 15

Author’s note – If you have been a follower of Heart of A Shepherd the past two years, you should share my sense of accomplishment as December 31, 2022 marks the conclusion of a two-year daily devotional journey through the Scriptures. What began as a devotional challenge to my church family, is now followed in over 200 nations and territories.

January 1, 2023 will mark a new beginning as Heart of A Shepherd returns to Genesis, and begins anew, a two-year chronological journey through God’s Word. It continues to be my goal to fulfill Paul’s challenge to Timothy when he wrote, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Heart of A Shepherd will have a new website design as we begin a new year. If all goes as planned, current subscribers should have a seamless transition to the new website. Please email me at HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com if you find you are not receiving daily devotional posts.

Today’s Devotion and Scripture Reading

As we come to Revelation 14 and 15, we are prophetically in the latter half of the Great Tribulation. Christ opened the seventh and final seal of the scroll (Revelation 8:1), and seven angels with trumpets awaited their time to sound the judgment of God that followed (8:2, 6). Revelation 8:7 through Revelation 11:14 recorded the first six blasts of the trumpets. The seventh trumpet sounded in Revelation 11:15, and announced the third woe to befall the earth and its inhabitants during the tribulation.

Revelation 12 identified the devil as the “great red dragon” (12:3-4). In Revelation 13, two men portrayed as beasts (13:1, 11), rose to power. They will be empowered by the devil, possessed by demons, and do great things. The first man, the antichrist, will beguile the nations of the earth, and establish a 7-year peace treaty. The world will believe the antichrist can insure peace and prosperity for all people. Yet, when 3.5 years are past, the antichrist will unleash his fury against God and His people, and demand he be worshipped as god (13:5-10).

A second leader, identified as “another beast” (13:11-18), will be the devil’s false prophet. He will demand all men worship the antichrist (13:12), and take his mark “in their right hand, or in their foreheads” (13:16). Those who refuse the mark, will be unable to buy, sell, or trade in the economy of the tribulation (13:17). The number of the beast (antichrist) was given as 666 (13:18). (Today’s devotion will be taken from Revelation 14).

Revelation 14

As John looked toward the future tribulation, he beheld “a Lamb” (15:1). Who was the Lamb? He was the same Lamb who unsealed the scroll with seven seals…Jesus Christ, the Son of God (Revelation 5:1-2, 5-6). John saw Christ, the Lamb, standing on mount Zion (the site of the Temple in Jerusalem), and with him were 144,000 evangelists (whom we met in Revelation 7, 7:4-8). They had preached the Gospel during the tribulation, and witnessed “a great multitude” from every nation call upon God for salvation (7:9-10). John heard what I believe was the voice of God, sounding like “many waters…a great thunder” and accompanied by harps (14:2).

The 144,000 and the Song of the Redeemed (14:3-5)

John listened as the 144,000 preachers began to sing a “new song before the throne” of God (14:3a). It was the song of the redeemed (14:3b). While it seemed all the world followed the antichrist, the 144,000 refused to defile themselves. They rejected the mark of the beast, and were counted by the Lord as “the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb” (14:4). The 144,000 were not only the first of many who remained faithful to God and the Lamb (14:4), they were also sincere in their witness, for “in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God” (14:5).

Three Angelic Messengers (14:6-11)

As John looked on, he observed three angels sent from the throne of God as messengers. Though the 144,000 evangelists had faithfully preached and called men to repent during the tribulation, God was merciful and also sent an angel to preach “the everlasting gospel” to all the world (14:6). The voice of that angel was loud, and he admonished sinners to turn to their Creator (14:7).

A second angel followed, and his message was one of judgment. He warned, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication” (14:8). In the Scriptures, Babylon was a type of the world, and represents here the world government and authority of the antichrist (14:8).

A third angel followed, and warned, if any worshipped the beast (antichrist), and accepted his mark in their forehand or hand, they would be condemned to God’s wrath. Their doomed was to be “tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb (Jesus Christ)” (14:10). Those sinners who received the mark of the beast were warned, they would be condemned to everlasting torment (14:11).

Closing thoughts (14:12-20) – Revelation 14 concluded with a prophecy of two judgments yet to come in the Tribulation. The first judgment was portrayed as a harvest of grain and described as seven bowls of judgments that would be poured out on the earth (14:14-16; 16:1-21). The second judgment was portrayed as a harvest of grapes, and is a picture of the battle of Armageddon (14:17-20; 19:11-21). The horror of that final battle, when the antichrist and his forces will be defeated, was revealed…for the blood of men who died in the battle will reach the “horse bridles,” and stretch for 200 miles.

Revelation 14:12-13 described those who will be saved, and martyred during the Great Tribulation. In spite of sorrows and persecution, there will be saints who persevere, keeping “the commandments of God” and keeping “the faith of Jesus” (14:12). Though many will die, the Lord declared them “Blessed,” for they will have rest, and their works will be commended by Him (14:13).

What do your works say about you and your faith?

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

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

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.

* 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.

Women in the Church, and God’s Blueprint for Church Leadership (1 Timothy 2-3)

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Scripture reading – 1 Timothy 3

1 Timothy 3 addresses two ministering offices of the church. The office of the bishop defines the function and qualifications of a pastor as overseer of a local congregation of believers (3:1-7). The second church office is that of the deacons (meaning servant; 3:8-13).). Notice the bishop\pastor and deacons’ offices were defined by personal, spiritual, and family qualifications (3:1-13). The focus of this devotion will be the office of the bishop\pastor; however, I will first set the context for our study by examining the role of women in the church.

The Women of the Congregation (2:9-15)

While there are many controversies challenging the 21st century church, I suggest the role of the sexes, and leadership is the most hotly debated. Beginning with the conviction believers accept the authority of the Scriptures in faith and practice, the teachings regarding the role of women becomes simple and straightforward.

After writing regarding the importance of prayer (2:8), Paul addressed the adorning and decorum of women in public worship. As he commanded men to “pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting” (2:8), the apostle commanded women to be adorned “in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; 10But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works” (2:9-10).

Dress Matters: A Principle for Women’s Dress and Decorum (2:9-10)

Contrary to the “come as you are” invitation of many churches, Paul taught believers to dress in a manner that befits God’s holiness (2:9a). With reverence and restraint, women are to dress in a manner that would not distract from public worship (2:9b). Modeling godly character, a woman’s works (her outward deeds) are to be a reflection of her dedication to the Lord (2:10).

The Attitude and Demeanor of Women in the Church (2:11-12)

Then, Paul’s attention turned to the attitude and demeanor of women in public worship. The apostle wrote: “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection” (2:11).

The church is graced with women who are wonderful examples of spiritual piety and Biblical knowledge. Nevertheless, in public worship women are to be learners, and not teachers. Indeed, the role of women in the church is one of subjection (Paul had written the same to believers in Corinth, stating: “It is a shame for women to speak in the church,” 1 Corinthians 14:35). Paul taught the same principle in his letter to Timothy, stating, “I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence” (2:12).

Two Spiritual Foundations for Paul’s Instructions Regarding the Role of Women (2:13-15)

The apostle Paul needed no justification for the limits he placed on the role of women in the church; nevertheless, he identified two principles for his instructions (2:13-14). The first, God’s creative order: “For Adam was first formed, then Eve” (2:13; 1 Corinthians 11:8-9). The second principle arose from the historical fact concerning the fall of the human race (2:14). Adam and Eve disobeyed the Lord’s commands; however, it was the woman, not the man who was “deceived” and transgressed (2:14; Genesis 3:1-6a). Adam sinned of his own volition, and disobeyed God. Eve, however, usurped her husband’s authority, and was deceived by the serpent (2:14).

Having clearly, and unequivocally defined the role of women in the church (2:9-15), Paul then set in order the leadership offices of the church (1 Timothy 3). For today’s study, the focus with be the office of the bishop\pastor (3:1-7).

1 Timothy 3 – The Bishop\Pastor

The Person and Office of the Pastor (3:1)

Accepting the Scripture’s authority in both faith and practice, the Bible is clear: The office of bishop, meaning overseer, is to be occupied by a man. Of those who aspire to the calling of pastor, it is “a good work” (3:1). The word “desire” indicates a strong urgency to pastor and oversee the work of the ministry. Such a calling is a “good,” and honorable work. Yet, desiring the office and work of the bishop is not enough; for a man must also be qualified to hold such a high calling.

The Qualifications of the Pastor (3:2-7)

I might suggest various outlines for the qualifications of the pastor, but I will limit myself to four categories. The first is a personal qualification: “2A bishop then must be blameless (3:2a). That is not implying perfection (for I can ascertain no man would qualify). “Blameless” indicates the necessity of the pastor’s personal life passing scrutiny. The pastor’s moral character must be above reproach, and must not be chargeable with a moral offense (adultery, fornication, or any other reprehensible conduct disqualifies a man from the pastorate).

The second qualification of the pastor concerns his marriage and relationship with his wife (if married). He is to be “the husband of one wife” (3:2b), in thought and deed (or as many have observed, he must be “a one-woman kind of man”). Other than death, which ends the covenant of marriage in the sight of God and man, a pastor is to be devoted to one-woman. A moral failure or divorce disqualifies a man from the pastorate.

Thirdly, notice the pastor’s character is an essential qualification, and he is to be “vigilant (watchful), sober (disciplined), of good behaviour (honest; well-behaved), given to hospitality, apt (qualified) to teach; 3Not given to wine (not a drinker), no striker (violent or combative), not greedy of filthy lucre (lover of money); but patient (gracious), not a brawler (contentious), not covetous (lover of possessions) (3:2-3).

The fourth essential for the pastor is he is to demonstrate godly leadership in his home (3:4-5). He is to be “one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity” (3:4). Notice the essential nature of a pastor’s household leadership is stressed as the background for the following proposition: “5For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?” (3:5)

To be spiritually qualified for overseeing the body of Christ, a pastor must not be a “novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil” (3:6). Regarding his public testimony, “he must have a good report of them which are without [secular society]; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil” (3:7).

Closing thoughts – With the Scriptures as my authority, I state unequivocally: Women are not to usurp men in teaching or preaching the Scriptures. Women have their place and role in teaching women (Titus 2:3-5); however, they should never exercise authority over men and aspire to teach or preach the Scriptures. To do so is a violates the clear teachings of Scripture.

A Personal Observation: Tragically, many spiritual leaders have accommodated the sins of their children and violated Paul’s instructions (3:5). From my vantage, it seems every failed ministry (Bible-preaching church, Bible college, and Christian institution) has one thing in common:

Spiritual leaders have compromised the spiritual precepts of their institutions, and invited God’s judgment upon those ministries.

* 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.

“An America Worth Fighting For” – Democracy or Republic: Is there a difference? 

Heart of A Shepherd Readers and Followers:

You are invited to join me for a “politically incorrect,” but Biblically sound message I preached Veteran’s Day Sunday, November 13, 2022, titled, “An America Worth Fighting For.” My Scripture was Romans 13, 1 Timothy 2:1-4, and Genesis 47:13-26.

Democracy or Republic: Is there a difference? 

The word “Democracy” does not occur in our Declaration of Independence, or in the Constitution of the United States. The United States is a Republic, not a Democracy.

In a Republic, individuals have a voice, and their rights and liberties are protected. In a Democracy, the majority rules, and dissenting voices are suppressed.

Warning – When the virtuous character of a nation declines, so does its tolerance for individual rights and freedoms.

This message will draw a parallel with ancient Egypt (Genesis 47:13-26), and how current USA policy is taking us down the road to being a socialist nation.

Warning – Government dependence invariably leads to government bondage.

ConclusionOnly men of great moral character are able to govern a great nation.

With the heart of a shepherd,

Travis D. Smith
Senior Pastor

* 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.

“An America Worth Fighting For” – this Veteran’s Day Sunday, November 13, 2022

This is your invitation to join Hillsdale Baptist Church for our worship services this Sunday (Bible Study @ 9:15 AM).

We will honor our Veterans in the 10:30 AM worship service, and the message of the hour is titled, “An America Worth Fighting For!”

With the heart of a shepherd,

Travis D. Smith
Senior Pastor

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

The Tyranny of the Majority – “Democracy is on the Ballot” – (Romans 13-14)

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Scripture reading – Romans 13; Romans 14

Today’s Scripture reading touches upon many important subjects that are both doctrinal and practical. For instance, Romans 13 introduced the question of the believer and his relationship with civil government and human authority (13:1-7). Paul then addressed debt (“owe no man anything,” 13:8a), and emphasized the overriding command to “love one another” (the sum of the commandments, 13:8-10).

Romans 14 continued the practical application of the Scriptures to one’s daily life and walk, and focused on the believer’s liberty, deportment and influence on other believers (14:1-2, 7-9, 16-23). In the matter of a critical, judgmental spirit (14:3-4, 10-15), Paul warned, “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God” (14:12).

The balance of today’s devotional may seem political, but it is taken from Romans 13:1-7 and addresses the believer’s citizenship and relationship with civil authority.

Democracy vs. Republic: Is there a difference?

If you live in the United States, you are aware we have an opportunity to exercise our civic duty in the next few days, and vote for those who represent us in government. “Democracy is on the ballot,” is the relentless theme of the Democratic party, and the implication is the candidates of the other party (Republican) are a threat to Democracy.

The government of the United States is a Republic, not a Democracy.

A republic is a form of government that represents “We the People.” The elected leaders rule by consent of the people, and function as representatives of the people for the common good. In a republic, there is no hierarchy or upper tier of leadership; the power of government rests with individual citizens, who delegate to leaders their authority.

The statement, “Democracy is on the ballot,” should be a grave concern to every American. Though the nature of a democracy is dependent upon the will of the people, it poses a frightening danger I will describe as “the tyranny of the majority.” An individual citizen has protected rights and a voice in a republican form of government. A democracy, on the other hand, has a tendency to evolve into the rule of the majority at the oppression and sacrifice of the individual.

When the virtuous character of a society deteriorates, so does its tolerance for the individual and individual rights. For instance, Adolf Hitler rose to power in the German Weimar Republic. In a void of leadership, Hitler and the Nazi party (representing Democratic Socialist policies) slowly gained a following of the majority of the German people. With the majority in power, a campaign of intimidation began to attack and silence political opponents. Concentration camps were opened and political opponents were arrested. Finally, when all opposition political parties were outlawed, a campaign to exterminate the Jewish people began, and the freedom of the press and speech were revoked.

As a Bible believer, whether you identify as a Democrat, Republican, or Independent…there is one thing that cannot be on the ballot—our submission to King Jesus. Paul’s letter to believers in Rome was addressed to citizens of that empire who knew all too well the tyranny of a dictator. No doubt the apostle, who was himself a Roman citizen (Acts 16:37), had been questioned concerning the relationship and obligation believers had to those in authority. Romans 13:1-6 addressed in very specific terms the moral obligation believers have to all human authorities.

In his first letter to the early church, Peter commanded believers to “Honour the king” (1 Peter 2:17c). While there was much about a king’s character that was not honorable, there was nevertheless a responsibility for believers to treat the ruler with dignity, regarding his office and authority. Yet, believers are not only to honor those in authority, but recognize human authority as delegated by God (13:1). While the governed are to submit to authority, government has a responsibility to protect and ensure the safety and security of the citizens (13:2-4).

Closing thoughts – Whether a republic, democracy, or monarchy, leaders are accountable to God, and are to rule understanding their role is that of a “minister (servant) of God” (13:4a). Believers are to revere leaders as the servants of God for good (13:4a), and the wicked should fear the judgment of the same (13:4b). The inherent sinfulness of man (Romans 3:10, 12, 23) requires a government that is ready “to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil” (13:4c).

Finally, believers have a moral obligation to be subject to the laws of man (Romans 13:1-2; 1 Peter 2:13-17)—with one exception: When the laws of the land violate God’s law. When the apostles faced authorities who forbade them to preach the Gospel (Acts 5:17-29), they answered, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were commanded by Nebuchadnezzar to worship his idol or die, they respectfully answered, “be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up” (Daniel 3:16-18). When king Darius commanded that no man was to pray to his God for thirty days, Daniel went home, “kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime” (Daniel 6:9-10). God, not government, is the believer’s highest authority.

When you cast your vote, consider: Which candidate aspires to be the “minister (servant) of God” for good?

* 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.

Without Excuse (Romans 2; Romans 3)

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Scripture reading – Romans 2; Romans 3

Continuing our Scripture reading in the Book of Romans, today’s devotional is taken from Romans 2.

Romans 2

Understanding this was a letter to believers in Rome, and not divided by chapter breaks, we must consider the first verse of chapter 2 as a continuation of the preceding verses. Paul, having considered the sins and wickedness of men (1:26-31), and the imminent judgment of God, observed sinners not only continue in sin, but take “pleasure” in the sinful ways of others (1:32).

The apostle declared, “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things” (2:1). The Jews, who were chosen by God and entrusted with His Law and commandments, were guilty of judging others for the very sins they committed. They were “inexcusable,” for in judging others they condemned themselves (2:1).

Interrogated and Judged According to Truth (2:2-5)

The folly of sin is that sinners have knowledge of God’s truth, and yet, are blind to their own wickedness (2:2-3a). Tragically, some believe they might sin, but “escape the judgment of God” (2:3) They enjoy the goodness and longsuffering of God, but fail to accept His goodness and repent (turn from sin) (2:5).

There is a myriad of sinners in our day, who believe their own lies, and would have us not believe our eyes and ears. Politicians, news media personalities, and educators lie profusely, deny the undeniable (even the unthinkable), and profess things contrary to nature and call it “science.” They are proponents of the adage, “It’s not a lie if you believe it.” Others embrace the delusion of the infamous Joseph Goebbels of Nazi Germany, who said: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

The Inescapable Reality of a Just God (2:6-15)

The basis and promise of God’s judgment is to “render to every man according to his deeds” (2:6). Believers who have sincere faith in Christ, “seek for glory and honour and immortality, [and] eternal life” (2:7). Those who reject Christ, evidence their fallen nature and are “contentious [selfish ambitions], and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation [violent anger] and wrath [outbursts of vengeful anger], 9Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile” (2:8-9).  Why the Jew first? They are God’s chosen people, and were entrusted with His Law and Commandments.

Concerning God’s judgment, Paul declared, “there is no respect of persons with God” (2:11; Acts 10:34). The Lord is just, and His judgments are without partiality. He will judge all men by His Law (2:12-16). The Gentiles did not have the written Law and Commandments; nevertheless, God impressed upon the heart of man a moral law, and men therefore “do by nature the things contained in the law” (2:14). Sinners cannot plea ignorance, for God inscribed on the heart of man His law, and the conscience of men everywhere bear witness of their sinfulness (2:15).

Closing thoughts – The day of God’s judgment is determined (2:16a), and God will “judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to [Paul’s] gospel”, which is to say, according to the Word of Truth (2:16b). When God judges, men will be without excuses, and it will not matter whether a man is a Jew or Gentile (2:17-29). A believer is a child of God, not after the flesh, but after the circumcision of the heart (putting off and forsaking sin), and coming to God by faith in Jesus Christ (2:28-29).

Are you ready to stand before God’s judgment?

* 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.