Category Archives: Salvation

Take Time to Be Holy

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Ecclesiastes 5-6

When I was young and with a lifetime ahead of me, reading the Book of Ecclesiastes was a chore.   I confess; I read its verses, but did not relish its truths.  The ponderings of Solomon, his youth spent and his heart laden with the weight of sin, was depressing.

Solomon’s counsel in his old age stands out in sad contrast to the proverbs of wisdom he taught his sons when they were young.  Rather than exhortations of wisdom and cautions to walk in the way of the LORD, Ecclesiastes calls to mind the counsel of foolish parents who say, “Do as I say, not as I do.”  Such is the counsel of too many fathers and mothers in our day.

Ecclesiastes, the Book I found discouraging in my youth, has become a challenge for me to examine my walk with the LORD and walk in wisdom.  I hope you will find today’s reading, Ecclesiastes 5-6, will be the same for you.

Solomon stated his counsels in Ecclesiastes 5 so clearly there is little commentary you need from this country parson to grasp and apply them to your life.  Ecclesiastes 5:1-7 instructs us regarding the preparations of our heart and attitude when worshipping the LORD.

Permit me to suggest four ways we offend God when we worship Him.

The first, we offend the LORD when we open our checkbook before we open our heart to Him (5:1).  

Ecclesiastes 5:1 – “Keep [guard; watch] thy foot [i.e. be careful] when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear [listen; obey], than to give the sacrifice of fools [silliness]: for they [fools] consider not that they do [commit] evil [sin; wickedness].

The definition and practice of “worship” in American churches has changed dramatically in the past 30 years.  What was once a deliberate act of solemnity, conscious a holy God “looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7b) and knows our thoughts and motives (Jeremiah 17:10), has become raucous entertainment with “worshippers” dancing to the beat of drums and the blare of deafening music.  Oh how far we have strayed from the call to, Be still, and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10).

Secondly, we offend the LORD when we speak before we think (5:2).

Ecclesiastes 5:2 – “Be not rash [hasty; eager] with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty [swift; quick] to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.”

God may seem distant; however, He hears every word!  Too many of us are so busy making requests and “doing ministry” we fail to take time to be quiet and listen to the soft voice of God’s Spirit.

Saying one thing and doing another is a third offence committed by those who worship the LORD in haste with little thought of heart preparation (5:4-7a).

Ecclesiastes 5:4-7 – “When thou vowest [promise] a vow unto God, defer not [dont be slack] to pay [perform] it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay [render] that which thou hast vowed.
5  Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.
6  Suffer not [do not allow or permit] thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel [i.e. a messenger or servant of God], that it was an error [mistake]: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work [labor] of thine hands?   7  For in the multitude of dreams and many words there are also divers vanities [meaningless; no purpose]: but fear thou God.”

God remembers every prayer, every vow, and every thought.  Before you open your mouth and make a vow, remember, God will not forget the vows you make.  Jesus taught His disciples:

Matthew 12:36-37  – But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. 37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

Finally, we offend God when we fail to revere and worship Him in humility and sincerity.  We read, “but fear thou God” (5:7b).

When you come before the LORD to worship Him, whether in the quietness of your daily devotions or in the congregation of His saints on Sunday, slow down, take time to be quiet, weigh every word, and humble yourself before Him.

Psalm 46:10Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Called to Be Holy

Monday, November 6, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Deuteronomy 10-12

Moses’ final challenge to Israel before his departure continues in today’s scripture reading, Deuteronomy 10-12.

deut-10-12.jpgLest the people believe God chose Israel because they were more righteous than the heathen nations, Deuteronomy 9 concludes with Moses reminding the people how the previous generation sinned against the LORD while he was receiving the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai.  Provoked by the wickedness of the people, Moses had cast the LORD’s Commandments to the ground (Deuteronomy 9:17) and prayed for God to not utterly destroy the nation (9:18-29).

Moses continues in Deuteronomy 10 reminding the people how the LORD showed mercy to Israel following the people’s idolatry and directed him to prepare two tables of stone on which the Ten Commandments would be written a second time (10:1-5).  The first four of the Ten Commandments establishing man’s relationship with God (Exodus 20:1-11); the sixth through the tenth commandments man’s relationship with his fellow-man (Exodus 20:12-17).

Breaking the first tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments, Moses demonstrated that Israel broke the nation’s covenant with the LORD and, apart from His mercy and grace, deserved God’s judgment.  As a testimony of God’s grace and forgiveness, God commanded Moses, “Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first, and come up unto me into the mount, and make thee an ark of wood. 2  And I will write on the tables the words that were in the first tables which thou brakest, and thou shalt put them in the ark” (10:1-2).

The generation Moses addressed in Deuteronomy 10 were the children of those who disobeyed God, refused to enter the Promise Land, and died in the wilderness.  With the exception of Joshua and Caleb, Moses was the last of that generation and the LORD had determined he would not be allowed to enter the land with Israel.  With the urgency of a father who loves his children and knows his opportunity to teach and guide them is waning, Moses challenged the people to obey the LORD with five imperatives (10:12-13).

Deuteronomy 10:12-13 – “And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, 13  To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?”

Moses then rehearsed the character of Israel’s God  (10:14-22).

The God of Israel is Creator and “the heaven of heavens…and the earth also, with all that therein is” is the LORD’S (10:14).   He is “God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible [i.e. to be feared]”.  He is Just and “regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward: 18  He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow [those who are weak and unable to defend themselves].”

The exhortation for Israel to love the LORD and keep His commandments continues in Deuteronomy 11 as Moses reminds the people of God’s past mercies; how He delivered the nation out of Egypt and led them through the wilderness (11:1-7).

Exhorting the people to obey the LORD’S commandments and keep His statutes (11:8), Moses rehearsed God’s promise to “give unto them and to their seed, a land that floweth with milk and honey” (11:9).  Reminding them  the promise of God’s blessings was conditional (11:10-17), he challenged them to keep the commandments and the LORD will send rain (11:10-15); “serve other gods…And then the LORD’S wrath be kindled against you…that there be no rain” (11:16-17).  Moses warned, “27  A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day: 28  And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God” (11:27-28a).

Moses reminded Israel they were chosen by God and called to be a holy nation.  When they possessed the land they were to “observe to do all the statutes and judgments” which the LORD commanded them (11:31-32).

Is there a lesson for 21st century believers to take from God’s covenant with Israel and Moses’ challenge for the people to obey His commandments?

Absolutely!  To their credit, many Bible fundamental pulpits have a renewed compulsion to trumpet the “Gospel”, however, I am afraid the clarion warning of God’s judgment is falling silent.  Preachers and evangelists of this present generation herald God’s Grace and the believer’s Liberty in Christ, but neglect to remind the saints the same God Who is Loving and Merciful is also Holy and Just!

Believers are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9); however, that does not mean the LORD allows a believer to choose a middle ground between worldliness and holiness.  As Israel was to be a holy nation and obey the LORD’S commandments (Deuteronomy 12); believers are commanded to be “holy in all manner of conversation” (1 Peter 1:15).

1 Peter 1:14-16 – “As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:
15  But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;
16  Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Who are the “chosen”? Who are the “elect”? Who then can be “saved”?

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Daily reading assignment – 1 Peter 1-3

For those following our “Read-Thru the Bible” in a year schedule, today’s scripture reading brings us to the 1st Epistle of Peter, chapters 1-3.  The task before me is an impossible one…to sum up in one devotional commentary a passage of scripture that consumed twenty weeks of study when I preached a sermon series in this epistle in 2014.  For the sake of brevity, I will focus on the opening salutation of 1 Peter.

Peter’s first epistle is one of encouragement and exhortation to 1st century Christians experiencing the first wave of persecution.  Rome ruled the known world and the infamous Nero was emperor.  The Illustrated Bible Dictionary describes the reign of Nero as follows:

“[Nero] became emperor of Rome when he was about seventeen years of age (A.D. 54), and soon began to exhibit the character of a cruel tyrant… In May A.D. 64, a terrible [fire] broke out in Rome, which raged for six days and seven nights, and [destroying] a great part of the city. The guilt of this fire was attached to [Nero] at the time, and the general verdict of history accuses him of the crime.

Tacitus, a Roman Senator and historian writes (Annals, xv. 44)] “Hence, to suppress the rumour…[Nero] falsely charged with the guilt, and punished with the most exquisite tortures, the persons commonly called Christians…in their deaths they were also made the subjects of sport; for they were covered with the hides of wild beasts and worried to death by dogs, or nailed to crosses, or set fire to, and, when day declined, burned to serve for nocturnal lights. Nero offered his own gardens for that spectacle…”

Among those who died during Nero’s assault on the church were the apostles Paul and Peter.  Peter identifies himself as the author and greets the intended recipients of his letter In the opening verses (1:1-2).

1 Peter 1:1-2 – “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers [sojourners; exiles] scattered [dispersed] throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia [the regions of Asia Minor/ modern Turkey],
2  Elect [favored, chosen before the foundation of the world] according to the foreknowledge of God the Father [saved in accord with God’s foreknowledge, who by divine influence, embraced Christ as Savior], through sanctification [rendered holy, consecrated, separated] of the Spirit, unto obedience [incomplete submission] and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace [favor, acceptance, goodwill] unto you, and peace, be multiplied [increased, spread].”

Let us note first of all the author: Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ…” (1 Peter 1:1a).  What a testimony of saving grace and the LORD’s favor!  Peter, a fisherman (Mark 1:16-20), brother of Andrew, not only a disciple (student) of Jesus Christ, but an apostle!  Peter, the disciple who thrice denied Jesus the night He was betrayed.  Faithful Peter, his life a testimony of forgiveness and restoration; a natural leader privileged to be named in Christ’s inner circle (Mt. 17:1-2; Mk. 5:37, 9:2, 14:23).

Writing to “the strangers [sojourners; exiles] scattered [dispersed] throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia” (1:1).  Peter is an elderly man, a beloved apostle; a seasoned veteran of suffering and persecution.  The recipients of his letter were not strangers to Peter, but “strangers”, aliens, foreigners to this world (1:1).  Scattered by persecution, rejected by their family, friends, and neighbors; driven from their homes…they were sojourners…people without a home or country in this world.

The recipients of Peter’s letter were not only “strangers”, they were also “saved”… “Elect”, literally “chosen by God” (1:2a). 

The doctrine of “election” is one of the most hotly debated doctrines in churches and seminaries.  Borrowing a definition of Election from Augustus H. Strong’s Systematic Theology, we read:

“Election is that eternal act of God, by which in His sovereign pleasure, and on account of no foreseen merit in them, He chooses certain out of the number of sinful men to be the recipients of the special grace of His Spirit, and so to be made voluntary partakers of Christ’s salvation.” [Augustus H. Strong; Systematic Theology (Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press, 1907) p. 779.]

There is no doubt the Scriptures set forth the doctrine of Election; however, the debate centers around the extent of its application. 

God has chosen, according to His foreknowledge, those who would be the objects of His saving grace through faith in the sacrificial offering of Christ for sin.  The apostle Paul described “election” in Ephesians 1:4 in these words:

Ephesians 1:4 – “According as [Even as] He hath chosen us in Him [for Himself] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy [consecrated & set apart] and without blame [above reproach] before him in love:

The believer’s salvation was part of God’s divine plan in response to man’s sin: God chose us, we did not choose Him.  Jesus taught His disciples, Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained [appointed] you…” (John 15:16).

Who then are the “chosen”?  Who are the “elect”? Who then can be “saved”?

Some will no doubt take me to task on this point, but my answer is, “whosoever will”.  The elect are “whosoever will”.

John 3:16 – For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Romans 10:13 – For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

I close with a simple summary on this matter of Election by quoting the great American evangelist of the late 19th century, D. L. Moody.

When asked the question, “Who are the elect?”, Moody answered: “The whosoever wills are the elect and the whosoever won’ts are the non-elect.”

I cannot remember the source, but someone else addressed the debate over “Election” and “Free Will” in this manner:  On the door to heaven, from our side, it says, “Whosoever will may enter.  When you get on the other side of the door someday in heaven, you’re going to look back, and on that door you will find written, “Chosen in Him before the foundation of the world.”  (Eph. 1:4)

My heart rejoices to close this devotional commentary with this eternal truth:

 1 John 2:2 – And He [Jesus] is the propitiation [atoning sacrifice] for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Be Strong in the LORD and Your Witness for Him!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Acts 7-8

Our scripture reading this Saturday, October 21 is found in the Book of Acts, chapters 7-8.   Recorded in those chapters are two of the great pivotal points in the maturing of the early church; the death of Stephen the first martyr of the church (Acts 7) and the conversion of Saul the great persecutor of the church on the road to Damascus (Acts 8).

We first meet Stephen in Acts 6 named among the seven men the church chosen to assist the apostles in the rapidly growing church.  Some debate if those men were the first ordained as Deacons, one of only two Biblical offices in the New Testament church, the other being the Pastor\Elder; what we do know is their role was to “serve tables” (Acts 6:2) and their spiritual character is noteworthy: “men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom” (Acts 6:3).

Of the seven men chosen by the church and ordained by the apostles, Stephen, perhaps because he would become the first martyr of the church, is specifically notable as a man, “full of faith and power, [who] did great wonders and miracles among the people” (6:8).   Stephen’s testimony endeared him to the church and his courage in the faith, spiritual wisdom and power in the spirit made him a formidable witness in the synagogues (6:9-10).

As it was with Jesus Christ, so it was for Stephen, that the enemies of the Gospel determined to silence him.  Having arrested Stephen, evil men were employed to bring false accusations of blasphemy against him (6:11-13).   Hurling lies against his character, Stephen amazed those who sat in judgment against him, for his countenance was “as it had been the face of an angel” (6:15).

Having heard the charges of the false witnesses, Stephen answered the enquiry of the high priest, “Are these things so?” (7:1) with one of the great sermons of the New Testament (Acts 7:2-53).

On a personal note, one of the charges against the 21st century church is its neglect of teaching the Old Testament scriptures; sadly, I am afraid the majority of churches are guilty.  In fact, some are so foolish to suggest the New Testament church only need be focused on the Gospels while others suggest the epistles should be the focus of the pastor\teacher.  Not only are those views hurtful, shortsighted, and foolish; they are also contrary to the weight of the scriptures as a whole.  The Apostle Paul argues,

2 Timothy 3:16-17 – “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17  That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

Stephen’s defense reflected a breadth and depth of knowledge of the Old Testament scriptures.  His argument before the Sanhedrin was powerful because his knowledge of the scriptures was commanding.  Stephen systematically set forth a historical case for Christ beginning with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, and Solomon (Acts 7:2-50).   Concluding his defense, Stephen fearlessly rebuked the Sanhedrin, exposing their hypocrisy and charging them and their fathers with the deaths of the prophets (Acts 7:51-53).

Rather than answer the damning indictment, the lawless members of the Sanhedrin broke their own laws and, without an answer or judgment, stoned Stephen to death (Acts 7:54-58).   They were guilty; guilty of the blood of the prophets and, having already rejected Jesus Christ they now added to their condemnation the blood of Stephen.  There is little doubt the majority died and their sins condemned them to hell for eternity; however, there was one exception in their midst… “the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul” (7:58).

Saul of Tarsus, the great persecutor of the church, would come face to face with the reality of the crucified, buried, and risen Savior, Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-9).

Friend, I trust Stephen’s knowledge of the scriptures and his courageous example will stir your heart to study the Old and New Testament scriptures and, embolden in your faith, be a faithful witness for Jesus Christ.

Have a blessed day!

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

My LORD Never Slumbers or Sleeps!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Psalms 120-121

Our scripture reading today is from a section of fifteen psalms, Psalms 120-134, titled “A Song of Degrees”.  The designation “degrees” might refer to one’s elevation or ascent to higher ground and the psalms in this section are believed by some to have been sung by pilgrims journeying up to Jerusalem for a feast day.  Others suggest the “degrees” might be a reference to our modern concept of musical keys or scales.  Today’s scripture reading is the first two of the psalms in this section, Psalms 120-121.

The author of Psalm 120 is David and it was apparently written as a reflection on a time of trouble and affliction.  The title of Psalm 120 in my Bible is, “David prays against Doeg and reproves his tongue”.  Who was Doeg and why did he cause David such distress?

When David fled from king Saul and was hungry, he requested “hallowed bread” of Ahimelech, the high priest, bread dedicated to the LORD, for himself and his men (21:1-6).  Doeg, identified as “a certain man of the servants of Saul” (1 Samuel 21:7), overheard the request and took notice it was David.

King Saul, hearing how the high priest gave aid to David and his men, commanded his servants to slay the priest and his household; however, the servants of Saul refused to harm the LORD’s priests (1 Samuel 22:16-17).  Doeg, however, had no conscience and rose up and slew eight-five priests (22:18).

With that background, we understand David writing, “In my distress I cried unto the LORD, and he heard me” (Psalm 120:1).  There is no doubt David was downcast when he learned men who aided him had died for his sake.  Doeg perpetuated the lie David was Saul’s enemy and the king made war against David (Psalm 120:2-7).

Some refer to Psalm 121 as the “Pilgrim’s Psalm”, one the saints of God sang on their pilgrimage to Jerusalem to worship and offer sacrifices to the LORD.

I suggest four major points for Psalm 121.  The first is the psalmist’s Pledge to seek the LORD: “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help [aid]” (121:1).

I am not certain the dangers the psalmist faced; however, I know where he looked for help… “the hills” (121:1).  He did not look to himself and live by his wits or to others hoping they might come and save him.  His confidence was in the LORD.

The second point is the Promise; the psalmist was confident in the LORD’s care (121:2).

Psalm 121:2  – “My help cometh from the LORD [Yahweh; Jehovah; Eternal, Self-Existent God], which made [created; fashioned] heaven [sky; sun, stars, moon] and earth [land].”

The psalmist was confident the LORD Who created heaven and earth was more than a spectator or bystander of His creation.    He affirmed the LORD would come to his aid in a time of trouble.

The psalmist was confident in the LORD’s Protection (121:3-7).  He looked to the LORD as his Deliverer in times of trouble and Keeper Who never slumbers or sleeps (121:3-4).

Psalm 121:3 – “He [the LORD] will not suffer thy foot [walk] to be moved [waver; shake]: he that keepeth [guard; watch; preserve] thee will not slumber [sleep].”

Psalm 121:4 – “Behold, He [the LORD] that keepeth [guard; watch; preserve] Israel [posterity of Jacob] shall neither slumber [sleep; i.e. be drowsy] nor sleep [slack; i.e. grow old].”

The psalmist was confident the LORD was his Protector (121:5).  Like a shepherd keeps his sheep from danger, the LORD keeps watch over His people.  The LORD is “thy shade”, a place of retreat, refreshing and where one’s strength is revived.

The LORD is also Guardian of His people (121:7) and protects them from “all evil” (121:7).

Psalm 121:7  – “The LORD [Yahweh; Jehovah; Eternal, Self-Existent God] shall preserve [guard; watch] thee from all evil [wickedness; bad; calamity]: He shall preserve [guard; watch] thy soul [life; person].”

That does not mean “bad things” do not happen to God’s people; however, it does mean God is able to turn “bad things” into good for those who love Him and place their trust in Him (Romans 8:28-29).  David writes the same when he assures us:

Psalm 91:9-10 – “Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; 10  There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.”

Finally, we note the LORD is a Perpetual Shepherd (Psalm 121:8).

Psalm 121:8 – “The LORD [Yahweh; Jehovah; Eternal, Self-Existent God] shall preserve [guard; watch] thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore [perpetually].”

Like a shepherd keeps watch over his sheep, the psalmist assures us “the LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in” (121:8a)

What a comforting truth!  There is no place beyond the LORD’s watch. 

The LORD keeps us when we rise in the morning until we lay our head on the pillow in the evening.  The LORD keeps us when we are young and strong and when we grow old and frail.  The LORD is with us in health and sickness!  When we travel afar and when our steps lead home, the LORD is with us.   He is with us in our down sittings and our uprisings.

My friend, if you are believer you are a child of the King, forever secure in the LORD.  You can be assured, Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever” (Psalm 23:6).

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

“He Touched Me!”

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Acts 3-4

Attitudes toward the physically handicapped have evolved over the years, as has our vocabulary to define them.  The words crippled, lame and physically challenged evoke mental pictures of men and women who overcome extraordinary obstacles to live productive lives.  Fortunately, 21st century society has accommodated the infirmed and given them opportunities of independence never dreamed of only a century ago.

Such was not the case in Bible times when first century Jews looked upon a physical handicap as a judgment from God for some great sin in a person’s life or family.  Making that assumption, when the disciples spied a man “blind from his birth” they asked Jesus, “who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? 3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him” (John 9:1-3).

The subject of our reading in Acts 3-4 had no doubt experienced the self-righteous judgment of many who passed through the gates of the Temple.  Some pitied him, but many gave little notice and considered him little more than a daily nuisance when they made their way to the Temple for worship and prayer.

Consider what we know about the man who’s miraculously healing caused a great stir among the Jews and their religious leaders.

He was forty years old and “lame from his mother’s womb” (Acts 3:2; 4:23).  He had never known the joy of walking, running or playing with his peers.  He was a burden to his family, who carried him to the gate of the Temple where he begged for coins to feed himself and his family (Acts 3:2).  He was well-known in Jerusalem, begging daily at the gate of the Temple (Acts 3:9-10), he was an object of charity for some and scorn for others who wondered out loud if his malady was not caused by sin.

There is much we might consider in this man’s healing and the events that followed it; however, let us ponder one question and some principles we can derive from it.  Why was he born a cripple and what good did his life serve?

God allows afflictions in our lives as opportunities for His power and glory to be displayed.  Job said of his afflictions, “[the LORD] knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10).  For some, the will and glory of God are accomplished through healing; for others, sickness, suffering and even death.

The miraculous healing of the man who was a paralytic from birth gave undeniable proof of God’s power and anointing on Peter and John’s lives and ministry (Acts 3:6-7; 4:14-16).  Seeing a man whose paralysis had made him an object of pity or scorn for forty years suddenly walking, leaping and praising God filled the people “with wonder and amazement” (Acts 3:10).   They were dumbfounded, stupefied, astonished and “all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon’s, greatly wondering.” (3:11).

Consider a few observations:  The first, the powerful testimony of loving compassion.  Peter and John lacked “silver and gold”; however, they gave what they could and declared, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk” (Acts 3:6).  Secondly, notice the powerful testimony of sincere gratitude… “And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John…” (Acts 3:11).  The man who was healed “held” to Peter and John…he clung to them, held fast with all his might.  Peter and John might have slipped away unnoticed; however, the man would not release them from his grip!

Finally, the backdrop of loving compassion and sincere gratitude opened an opportunity for Peter and John to deflect attention from themselves and put the focus where it belonged…Jesus Christ (Acts 3:12).

Peter used the opportunity to glorify God and declare Jesus Christ Holy, Just, crucified and raised from the dead (Acts 3:13-15).  Enumerating their sins, Peter declared them guilty, calling them to faith and repentance in Jesus Christ (Acts 3:13, 19).

Friend, unlike Peter and John, God has not given us the power to heal the sick and afflicted and make them whole; however, He does give us means to make a difference in the lives we can touch.

“Silver and gold” is at the disposal of many and, if employed with wisdom and discernment, can make a great difference in those who are in need.  A healing touch, a word of compassion and encouragement, can open a sin-hardened heart to trusting Jesus Christ as Savior.  A testimony of gratitude and thanksgiving has the power to give glory to God for His mercy, grace and salvation.

Like the man healed in today’s study, when a sinner’s life has been touched by God’s power and genuinely transformed…He cannot be silent!

“He touched me, Oh He touched me;

And with His touch, what joy filled my soul.

Something, happened, and now I know,

He touched me, and made me whole.”  (by William J. Gaither)

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

“Performing Faith: The Life of Corrie ten Boom”

Hillsdale family, friends and Heart of a Shepherd followers,

If you are familiar with Hillsdale’s 55 year history, you know only on rare occasions do we depart from our traditional worship service; however, this Sunday morning, 10:30 AM, October 8,  will be the exception.  

To begin our monthlong emphasis on missions,  I have asked our own Dr. Melissa Cancel, a teacher in Hillsdale’s Fine Arts Academy and a veteran actor, to bring to our stage this Sunday morning a Chamber theater production titled, “Performing Faith: The Life of Corrie ten Boom”.

“Performing Faith” is the real-life story and testimony of Corrie ten Boom whose faith in Christ gave her strength to survive the hardships and deprivations of a German concentration camp, the death of a sister, and the love to forgive a Nazi officer who was her tormentor.

Dr. Cancel will direct and play the lead role of Corrie ten Boom, accompanied by four of Hillsdale’s teens who are students in her Speech and Drama studio.

Remembering the mission field of Hillsdale Baptist Church begins with our own Jerusalem (Acts 1:8), let us take a lesson from the past and recognize the greatest need of the United States is not economic stimulation and more laws, but bold witnesses and spiritual revival.

The morning service will conclude with a challenge and invitation from the Word of God.

With the heart of a shepherd,

Pastor Tavis D. Smith

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith