Category Archives: Pride

Attitudes are an External Indicator of the Bent or Direction of One’s Heart and Thoughts

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Proverbs 13

Our society defines attitudes from an emotional perspective and deflects personal responsibility.  If someone exhibits a bad attitude, psychologists deem them victims—victims of poverty, neglect, rejection or abuse. Rather than taking responsibility and self-correcting one’s bad attitude, people find it easier to cast dispersion upon a peer or an authority figure they feel has failed them.  In the process of deflecting responsibility for one’s attitudes, they dig a deeper emotional and spiritual rut!

Today’s devotional will challenge you to look into your own heart for the cause of attitudes that beset you.  More than emotions, attitudes are an external indicator of the bent or direction of one’s heart and thoughts.

Proverbs 13:1  “A wise son heareth his father’s instruction [correction]: but a scorner [scoffer] heareth not rebuke [firm reproof].”

Notice the heart attitude of the “wise son”—he hears and heeds his father’s correction, reproof and rebuke.  His attitude toward his father’s discipline is that of a learner, unlike the scorner. The scorner “heareth not rebuke”—he mocks the authorities in his life and holds them in derision. He blames others for his attitudes and justifies his rebellion by focusing on what he perceives as their failures. He is a slave to “stinking thinking”, a pattern rooted within the bent of his heart and thoughts. Allow me to illustrate this truth with a childhood memory.

I remember NASA illustrating the entry of space capsules into earth’s atmosphere in the 1960’s and emphasizing the attitude of the nose of the capsule.  Attitude was the word NASA used to define the direction of the top or nose of the capsule as contrasted with the heat shield at its base. If the attitude of the nose were right, the heat shield at the base of the capsule would deflect the fiery heat of earth’s atmosphere. If the attitude of the capsule were wrong, the capsule and its occupants would burn up upon re-entry. Life and death were directly related to the attitude of the capsule’s nose.

That same principle is true concerning our attitudes. A pattern of bad attitudes will drive one emotionally and spiritually down a path of self-destruction.  However, the answer to a life of bad attitudes [anger, rebellion, resentment, jealousy, etc.] is not to merely confess and correct negative attitudes or emotions…it is to get to the heart of the problem, which is the problem of a sinful heart! In other words, as goes the heart so goes the attitude!

A Right Heart/Mind/Pattern of Thoughts = A Right Attitude

A Wrong Heart/Mind/Pattern of Thoughts = A Wrong Attitude

My friend, if you are waging war with sinful attitudes, the solution is not for others to change, but for you to change. Too many look outside themselves for a solution to enslaving attitudes…a different spouse, different school, different job, different church…foolishly thinking different will make a difference! Not so!

If you are weary of battling with enslaving attitudes, look to the bent and direction of your own heart and “stinking thoughts”.  Take a few minutes and do an honest, spiritual heart check-up and take responsibility for your attitudes! Get control of your thoughts and you will overcome your attitudes (Philippians 4:8; Proverbs 23:7).

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Don’t Be a Fool: Character Does Matter!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Daily reading assignment – 2 Kings 11-15

My first memory of a public debate over the importance of a man’s character in public office dates to 1992 when President Bill Clinton was first running for President of the United States.  Twenty-five years later, I am still stunned the obvious would be a matter of debate.

The moral values rooted in the heart of a man define his character and drive his disciplines in thought and deed.  Character is the compass that charts a man’s course in conduct and life and a leader’s character profoundly affects his sphere of influence. A man’s character will either bless or curse his home, marriage, ministry, business and public office.

The opening verses of 2 Kings 11 are illustrative of the matter of character and indicative of the depths of depravity a soul will descend when driven by a covetous heart set upon power, position and possessions.   Athaliah, a murderous wench and the mother of Ahaziah king of Judah, seeing her son was dead, (2 Kings 8:25-26; 9:27), directed the murder of her grandchildren so she might succeed her son to the throne of Judah (2 Kings 11:1).

In spite of his grandmother’s murderous rampage, Joash, the infant son of king Ahaziah was spared when his aunt hid he and his nurse in her house for six years (2 Kings 11:2-3).   In the seventh year of queen Athaliah’s reign, Jehoiada, a commander of Judah’s army revealed a son of the late king Ahaziah had survived the slaughter of the king’s sons (11:4-11).   Swearing allegiance to Joash, the military leaders crowned him king of Judah (11:12) and executed queen Athaliah  (11:13-16; 2 Chronicles 23:12-15).

Following the death of Athaliah, the nation of Judah enjoyed a season of spiritual revival (2 Kings 11:17-21).   Jehoiada, the high priest, renewed the nation’s covenant with the LORD “that they should be the LORD’S people” (11:17) and directed the destruction of the altars of Baal (11:18).   Although only seven years old (11:21); Jehoash (i.e. Joash), was profoundly influenced by the high priest and “all the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was in quiet” (11:20).

The revival in Judah was far reaching and “Jehoash did that which was right in the sight of the LORD all his days wherein Jehoiada the priest instructed him” (2 Kings 12:2).   The king directed renovation of the Temple that had fallen into disrepair; however, when Jehoiada died, the king neglected the Temple and apostasy once again took root in Judah (2 Chronicles 24:15-22).

Sadly, the life of Jehoash ends tragically in 2 Kings 12:17-21.   Without his godly mentor, Jehoash evidenced shallowness in both his faith and character.   When the king of Syria threatened Judah, rather than look to the LORD, Jehoash bribed the heathen king of Syria by giving him the tithes and offerings in the Temple treasuries.   Soon after, two servants assassinated Jehoash.

Does a man (or woman’s) character matter? I will allow the Word of God to answer that question.

Proverbs 29:2 – When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Beware Wolves in the Midst of Sheep

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Luke 19-20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

“If it ain’t holy, don’t do it!”

Monday, July 03, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Leviticus 10-12

In our last reading in Leviticus, Aaron and his sons were ceremoniously consecrated to the priesthood (Leviticus 8-9).  What a glorious day it was for all Israel when Aaron blessed the people, offered sacrifices and “the glory of the LORD appeared unto all the people” (Leviticus 9:23)!  The LORD displayed His presence and approval when “there came a fire out from before the LORD, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat” (Leviticus 9:24) and “all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces” (9:24b).

One would hope that blessed display of God’s favor might continue with all Israel maintaining a perpetual spirit of humility and obedience before the LORD; however, such was not the case.  Tragedy soon fell upon the tribes of Israel when “Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange [foreign] fire before the LORD, which He commanded [charged] them not” (Leviticus 10:1).

What great sorrow that priests would sin against the LORD.  We are not told the motive or reason the eldest sons of Aaron offered “strange fire”; however, we read it was not “commanded” by the LORD.  My own speculation is, given the infancy of the priestly office and the privilege of the priesthood; pride moved the sons of Aaron to exalt themselves before the people.  Whatever the motive, the LORD was swift to judge these earthly representatives of His heavenly throne and “there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD” (10:2).

Aaron, the father of Nadab and Abihu, was no doubt devastated by the sinful actions of his sons and their deaths.  Moses reminded Aaron the LORD sanctified the priesthood and demanded He alone be glorified before the people.  Of Aaron we read, he “held his peace” (10:3), meaning he was silent.

The LORD commanded the bodies of Nadab and Abihu be taken outside the camp for burial (10:4-5); and, lest the people be tempted to sorrow and grieve over the deaths of those who sinned against the LORD, God warned Aaron, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s surviving sons, to not make a public display of their sorrow before the people (10:6-7) and to remain at the “door of the tabernacle” (10:7).

Priests were not to drink wine or strong drink when they ministered before the LORD (10:8-10).  Of the sacrifices offered before the LORD, a portion was to serve as meat for Aaron and his sons (10:12-15).

God instructed Moses and Aaron regarding meat the children of Israel could eat and the meat they were forbidden to eat (Leviticus 11).   Large beasts that are “clovenfooted, and cheweth the cud” (11:3) were acceptable; however, beasts that are not were forbidden.  Examples of forbidden beasts are the camel (11:4), “the coney…the hare” (11:5-6) and “the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you” (11:7).

Leviticus 11:9-23 lists other meats acceptable and forbidden, including fish (11:9-12), birds (11:13-20) and insects (11:21-23). Leviticus 12 instructs women regarding ceremonial purification following childbirth (12:1-8).

I close today’s devotional commentary pondering what “strange fire” (10:1-7) is present in American churches today under the pretense of worship.  When the goal of worship services is excitement and entertainment as opposed to hallowed and holy, I suggest what many call worship is nothing less than “strange fire”.

If pride motivated Aaron’s sons to offer incense without the LORD’s command (and I believe it was); then what must the LORD see when “worship” leaders and music groups lead an audience with music that has an overriding rock beat moving the audience to cavort about under the guise of worship?

Friend, God commands His people to be holy, because He is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16) and we are to be imitators of Christ and not imitators of the world (1 Peter 1:14; Romans 12:2).  If what we call worship looks like the world and acts like the world, it is not holy!

In other words, “If it ain’t holy, don’t do it!”

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

“Four Proverbs That Can Change Your Life”

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Proverbs 4

We live in a day when it seems everyone is a victim and few are willing to grow up, take responsibility for their actions, and accept the consequences of their choices.   Perhaps I am in the minority, but when people riot, pillage and destroy the possessions and lives of others—justice demands the consequences be swift and deliberate!  This may come as a revelation for some, but if you choose the path o f violence you will more than likely die in a pool of your own blood [for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword – Matthew 26:52].

In the closing verses of Proverbs 4, Solomon challenges his son to grow up, exercise maturity and take responsibility for decisions in life.   Notice four areas Solomon urged his son to assume responsibility and protect himself: His Heart (4:23), Mouth (4:24), Eyes (4:25) and Path (4:26-27).

Proverbs 4:23 – “Keep [guard; set a watch] thy heart [mind and thoughts] with all diligence [vigilance]; for out of it [heart] are the issues [streams; the headwaters] of life.”

Proverbs 4:23 is one of the great challenges found in the Book of Proverbs…Guard your heart for it is the source, the headwaters from which your life will flow.  Pollute the headwaters of a stream or river and the whole is eventually contaminated.  So it is with the heart, as goes the heart, so goes one’s life.  Pollute your heart with secret sins and they will inevitably tarnish your testimony and destroy your life.

Proverbs 4:24  “Put away [remove; eschew; turn aside] from thee a froward [perverse; twisted] mouth [speech], and perverse [crooked; deviant] lips put far [remove; distance] from thee.”

At the risk of being blunt, Proverbs 4:24 is an exhortation to bite the tongue and shut the mouth.  That might offend some; however, I am not the first to observe God gave us one tongue, but two ears!  We would be wise to listen twice as much as we talk!

Proverbs 4:25 – “Let thine eyes [countenance; sight; longing] look [behold; consider;] right on [forward; straight], and let thine eyelids look straight [be right; upright] before thee.”

The eyes are a third area of concern in today’s devotional.  In a day when media dominates our lives and provoking images surround us, Solomon’s exhortation to his son to guard his eyes is one we should heed.  The psalmist challenged believers with the same principle: “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me” (Psalm 101:3).

The fourth and final exhortation in today’s devotion is a summary (4:26-27).

Proverbs 4:26-27  “Ponder [consider; weigh] the path [the way; going] of thy feet [steps; journey], and let all thy ways [course; journey in life] be established [fixed; firm; right]. 27 Turn [incline; morally turn; pervert; turn aside] not to the right hand nor to the left: remove [eschew; turn aside; depart] thy foot [step; journey] from evil [wickedness].”

I urge you to accept Solomon’s challenge, consider the consequences of life’s choices and set your heart, eyes and affections upon the eternal.

Matthew 6:33  “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Having a midlife crisis?

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Daily reading assignment – 1 Kings 10-13

With the Temple built and his palace and homes finished, Solomon became an international sensation in 1 Kings 10 when we read, “the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the LORD, she came to prove him with hard questions” (10:1).  Solomon’s wisdom, the wealth and splendor of his kingdom, and God’s blessings became known far and wide.

There are many fables and legends that surround the visit of the Queen of Sheba; however, this is a devotional commentary and we will consider the only reputable source we have…the Word of God (1 Kings 10:1; 2 Chronicles 9:1; Matthew 12:42; Luke 11:31).

The kingdom of Sheba is believed to have been in the southern end of the Arabian peninsula known today as Yemen.  The Queen had received news of the remarkable wisdom of Solomon and the wonders of his kingdom and set upon a journey from her kingdom in the south to Jerusalem, the capital city of Israel in the north.  Rather than travel via ship on the Red Sea, the scriptures indicate she came with a “very great train, with camels that bare spices, and very much gold, and precious stones” (10:2a).

The purpose of the queen’s visit is summed up in this, “she communed with him of all that was in her heart” (10:2b).  Whatever questions she proposed to Solomon, he was able to answer (10:3).  She was amazed at the beauty of all he had built (10:4), the splendor of the meals served in his palace, his boundless wisdom, the rich raiment worn by his servants (10:5) and their privilege to serve a king of such wisdom (10:6-8).   1 Kings 10:10-13 records the wealth the queen bestowed on Solomon as well as the gifts he bequeathed to her out of his royal treasury.

The lavish wealth of the king’s palace, the tributes paid to him by other nations, his shields of gold, his throne made of ivory and overlaid with gold (10:18-20), gold vessels and exotic animals, chariots and champion horses are all detailed (10:21-29).

The grandeur of Solomon’s kingdom is tarnished when we read in 1 Kings 11, “Solomon loved many strange women” (11:1).  Disregarding the LORD’s admonition concerning the danger of wives who worship “after their gods” (11:2), Solomon’s “wives turned away his heart” (11:3).

The king’s sins provoked God’s wrath (11:9) and his family and nation suffered for his apostasy (11:10-13).  Israel became a troubled nation with enemies without (i.e. Pharaoh and Egypt – 11:14-25) and enemies within (i.e. Jeroboam, a “mighty man of valour” who Solomon recognized too late as a threat to his kingdom – 11:26-40).   Jeroboam fled Israel into Egypt where he stayed until Solomon died and “Rehoboam his son reigned in his stead” (11:40-43).

Learning that Solomon was dead (12:1-2), Jeroboam returned to Israel and petitioned king Rehoboam on behalf of the tribes of Israel that the heavy burden of taxation and servitude placed upon the people by Solomon’s ambitious construction projects be lightened (12:3-4).  Rehoboam, though having the advantage of his father Solomon’s wise men as his counselors (12:6-7), foolishly dismissed them and heeded the advice of his peers who stoked his pride and ambition (12:8-11) setting in motion a rebellion that divided the kingdom (12:12-33).

1 Kings 13 gives the history of a divided Israel, the ten tribes of the north rebelling against Rehoboam and ceding from his reign as king.  The rebellious tribes followed Jeroboam into idolatry and all manner of sin and wickedness (13:1-34).

I invite you to consider in closing the great and tragic end of Solomon’s reign.  The wisest man who ever lived, when he was old, disobeyed the LORD.   “His heart was not perfect with the LORD his God” (11:4) and he “did evil in the sight of the LORD” (11:6).  Notice the statement concerning Solomon in 1 Kings 11:4, “it came to pass, when Solomon was old.

Old enough to know better!  Old enough to not play a fool!  Old enough to understand the consequences of sin, wicked choices on himself and his family.

Sadly, there is a great possibility someone reading this devotional commentary is doing the same.  Some might call it a “mid-life crisis”.  Call it what you will; however, if you fail to abide in God’s Word, saturate your heart with spiritual principles, and sit under the faithful preaching of God’s Word; it may one day be said of you, “when he was old…his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God” (11:4).

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Forgiveness: What a blessed promise!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Psalms 66-68

Of the three psalms assigned for our scripture reading today, the best known is probably the first, Psalm 66; a psalm of praise and adoration inviting the nations of the earth to “Make a joyful noise unto God” (Psalm 66:1).

Lest someone is tempted to draw a parallel between today’s style of worship music and singing with the phrase “joyful noise” (66:1), I hasten to educate you that the “noise” is the sound of trumpets and shouts of victory and triumph.   David exhorts all people to praise the God of heaven in songs that honor His name (66:2) and invites “All the earth” to worship and sing praises to the LORD (66:4).

The focus of Psalm 66 moves from an invitation to all people to worship the LORD to God’s chosen people, Israel, praising Him (66:8-12).   David’s praise recalls how the LORD had preserved His people and brought them through times of trial and trouble (66:9-12).

Beginning with Psalm 66:13, David’s focus becomes personal: “I will go into thy house with burnt offerings: I will pay thee my vows” (Psalm 66:13).

The psalm concludes with David inviting the people to hear his adoration of the LORD and “what He hath done for my soul” (66:16).  David writes of the LORD’s mercies, grace and willingness to hear his prayers and forgive his sin.

Psalm 66:17-20 17  I cried unto Him [the LORD] with my mouth, and he was extolled [exalted] with my tongue.
18  If I regard [see; perceive; observe] iniquity [sin; wickedness] in my heart, the Lord will not hear [hearken; listen] me:
19  But verily [surely] God hath heard [hearken; listen] me; he hath attended [hear] to the voice [sound] of my prayer.
20  Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy [loving-kindness; love; grace] from me.

David’s life and testimony remind us the LORD is longsuffering, patient and willing to forgive our sins if we will confess and forsake them.  The king had experienced the silence of heaven and the fate of men who “regard iniquity” and continued in sin (66:18).   With praise and confidence, David rejoiced in God hearing his prayer and extending to him His grace (66:19-20).

Some reading this brief devotional might find they are where David was–bearing a weight of sin that has left your soul listless and your heart despondent.  You are too aware of the sorrows and consequences that accompany sin.  Friend, please don’t stay there and risk a seared conscience and a calloused heart.

The apostle John promises, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith