Category Archives: Salvation

Here Comes the Bride!

Today’s Bible reading is Numbers 3-4, Psalm 45, and Luke 1. Our devotional is from Psalm 45.

The heading of Psalm 45 identifies this psalm as “A Song of Loves” that was sent to the chief musician and set to a tune for worship. The tune is identified in the setting as “Shoshannim”, meaning “Lilies”.

Psalm 45 appears in the first reading as a love song composed by a king for his bride; however, the fact verse 6 states, “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre” (45:6) and the song was used in worship means its application rises above that of a love song composed for a bride.

Hebrews 1:8-9 quotes Psalm 45:6-7, identifying the “Son” as Jesus Christ; therefore the bride of Psalm 45 is the Church, the bride of Christ.  What a wonderful thought!  As a groom loves his bride, even so does Christ the King love His bride, the Church.

Notice the idyllic description of the Church and the manner of people her members ought to be: “Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness” (Psalm 45:7).

As a godly groom anticipates his bride to save herself, a virgin and morally innocent; so it is the duty of believers to be pure and holy in the sight of the King of kings and Lord of lords (Psalm 45:10-17).

Romans 12:1-2 –“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 
2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

Old Testament Sacrifices and What They Teach Us About God’s Character (Leviticus 1-3)

Today’s Bible reading is Leviticus 1-2, Psalm 34, and Mark 6. Our devotional is from Leviticus 1-3.

Leviticus 1-3 states what God required of Israel in sacrificial offerings and it serves as a lesson for the 21stcentury believer: God demands His people be a holy, sanctified people.

Preacher and author, Warren Wiersbe writes in his “Be Series” on the Book of Leviticus: “Leviticus tells New Testament Christians how to appreciate holiness and appropriate it into their everyday lives. The word holy is used 91 times in Leviticus, and words connected with cleansing are used 71 times. References to uncleanness number 128. There’s no question what this book is all about.”  [BE Series – Old Testament – The Bible Exposition Commentary – Pentateuch]

The sacrifices offered in the Old Testament were a pre-figure of which Jesus Christ was the perfect, complete, “once and for all” sacrifice for our sins (Hebrews 10:10).

The first offering required in Leviticus is the “burnt offering” (1:1-17).  The head of each household was to bring to the Tabernacle “a male without blemish”(1:3); placing “his hand upon the head” of the bull, sheep or goat, the worshipper identified with the animal’s death as the substitutionary sacrifice for his sin (1:4-5, 10, 14-15).   The sacrifice was then killed and the priest would take the blood and sprinkle it on the altar (1:5, 11).

The second sacrifice noted in Leviticus is the “meat offering” (a better translation would be “meal” or food offering) (Leviticus 2).  Also known as an oblation (meaning “gift” or present); it was a non-blood offering that consisted of grain (“fine flour”), oil and frankincense (2:1).  The priests were to take a portion of the “meal offering” for their families and the rest was to be offered as a burnt offering (2:2).

The third offering was a “sacrifice of peace offering” and was a blood offering (Leviticus 3).  Unlike the “burnt offering”, the “peace offering” could be male or female; however, the standard, “without blemish”, applied and the priests inspected the offerings to ensure they were acceptable sacrifices (3:1, 12).  As with the “burnt offering”, the worshipper would “lay his hand upon the head of his offering, kill it at the door of the tabernacle” (3:2), and the priests would sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice on the altar.  We will continue our examination of sacrifices in our next devotional commentary from Leviticus.

I close highlighting the “without blemish” standard the LORD required of sacrifices under the Law.  Sacrificial offerings were to be of the highest quality; however, I am sure the temptation for many was to give the LORD something, but not necessarily the best.

The apostle Paul had in mind the same “without blemish” standard for believers when he wrote:

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1-2).

The LORD required the best and He requires no less of His people today.  Our bodies and our lives are to be “holy, acceptable unto God” (Romans 12:1).   Holy, sanctified, set apart and dedicated to the LORD.  Acceptable, pleasing and conforming to the will of God.

Anything less than our best is unacceptable to a holy God!

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

Psychology Attempts to Reform What Salvation Promises to Transform (Mark 5)

A devotional bonus from Mark 5.

The Christian radio broadcast, Unshackled”, is the longest continually running radio program in history.   Produced by the Pacific Garden Mission of Chicago for over 69 years, “Unshackled” has conveyed the real life stories of thousands of sinner’s whose lives were transformed by trusting Jesus Christ as Savior!

The great validating testimony of the Christian faith above all the world’s religions is not reformation but transformation!   For more than a century doctors have practiced “psychology” attempting to address the ailments of man’s mind and soul. Medications, rehab centers, and mental institutions have all failed to “fix” troubled souls.  Today’s “bonus devotional thought” from Mark 5:1-20 tells the story of the terrible ravages sin takes on a man’s life.

Crossing the Sea of Galilee, Jesus and His disciples arrived on the eastern shore known as Gadara where they were met by a man with an “unclean spirit” (Mark 5:2).  We are not told when the man gave his soul over to demons; however, sin had taken every corner of his thoughts and affections, degrading and destroying his life.

Notice three visible details about the man.  The first, his pitiful physical appearance:  His body scarred by self-inflicted wounds; ropes hanging around his ankles and chains about his neck and wrists, all evidencing the desperate attempts of loved ones to control him (5:3-4).  The second characteristic of this troubled man is his social isolation: cut off from family, friends, and neighbors, he made his abode among the caves and tombs (5:5).  The third detail is his emotional condition exhibited by his tormented screams echoing off the hillsides “always, night and day” (5:5).

Seeing Jesus, in a fleeting moment of desperation, the man ran out of the hills and came to Him and worshipped Him (5:6).  Jesus, evidencing His authority over demons cast them out of the man and they entered swine that could not abide the indwelling of such wickedness (5:10-13).

Rather than the protracted steps and methods of “reformation” that is the methodology of psychologists and psychiatrists, the demon-possessed man’s life immediately gave evidence of his conversion and transformation (5:8, 15).   The change was so transformative that his family, friends, and neighbors observed he was “sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind” (5:15).  Sitting”… he was at peace, no longer needing to be bound with chains and ropes; clothed”… no longer a wild man crying and cutting himself;  in his right mind… repentant and rational.

How great was this transformation?  In Mark 5:7 he wanted nothing to do with Jesus; however, in Mark 5:18 his love and gratitude for Jesus moved him to want nothing more than to be with Jesus.

Everything about the maniac of Gadara changed: His attitudes— he was “in his right mind” (5:15); His actions— he was “sitting” with Jesus (5:15); His appearance— he was “clothed” (5:15); His affections— “prayed Him that he might be with Him [Jesus]” (5:15).

God’s power not only overcame his rebellious spirit, it transformed his thoughts, mind, and affections.  The power of the Gospel of Christ promises not only reformation; it promises total transformation!

2 Corinthians 5:17 – 17 Therefore if any man bein Christ, he isa new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

“There is Power in the Blood of the Lamb” (Exodus 11-12)

Today’s Bible reading is Exodus 11-12, Psalm 23, and Matthew 23. Our devotional is from Exodus 11-12.

The fears Moses entertained before returning to Egypt were overcome when the LORD gave His servant “favour in the sight of the Egyptians…and in the sight of the people” (11:3a).  Far from the proud prince of Egypt, we find Moses, the man who shepherd sheep in the wilderness forty years, humble enough for God to use mightily.

God warned Moses the tenth plague, would mean the death of all firstborn in Egypt, from the throne of Pharaoh to “all the firstborn of beasts” (11:5).

The LORD instituted the Passover in Exodus 12 and promised to spare Israel the tenth plague if the blood of a lamb, a lamb without blemish, a male of the first year” was applied to the doorposts of the house (12:7, 15).   The firstborn of the house was saved from death by the blood of a sacrificed lamb (12:12-13).  The difference between the households of Israel and those of Egypt was the blood of the lamb.

Prophetically, the Passover lambs were a type, a picture of God’s punishment of sin ultimately fulfilled in the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ.  The apostle Peter writes, “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 
19But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:18-19).

The author of Hebrews writes: “Christ was once offered [i.e. sacrificially] to bear the sins of many” (Hebrews 9:28).   Paul writes, “For He [God] hath made Him [Jesus Christ] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

In the same way God spared Jewish households the death of the firstborn by the shedding of the blood of the Passover lambs, believers are spared the penalty of our sins, not because of any good works we have done (Ephesians 2:8-9), but because our faith is in the redemption and forgiveness of sin we have in Christ’s sacrificial death on the Cross (Romans 3:23-25, 28; John 1:29, 36).

For Israel, the institution of the Passover marked the end of their slavery and sojourn in Egypt and a new beginning.  Delivered from slavery, God promised to guide His people to the land He had given Abraham and his lineage as an inheritance.

Christian friend, our faith in Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death for our sins, His burial, and resurrection from the dead marks a new beginning for all who repent of their sin and put their faith in Christ alone (2 Corinthians 5:17).  Salvation promises a new beginning, it is our responsibility to walk a new life in Christ.

Ephesians 4:22-24 – 22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

“Are You a Child of the King?” (Psalm 15)

* Today’s devotional reading is Genesis 37-38, Psalm 15, and Matthew 15. Our devotional reading is from Psalm 15.

Psalm 15 opens with David pondering and meditating on two questions that have eternal significance:

Psalm 15:1 – LORD, who shall abide [sojourn; dwell temporarily] in thy tabernacle [tent; home]? who shall dwell [lodge; remain] in thy holy [sanctuary; sacred place; sanctified] hill?

Stated another way, LORD, what is the character of people who have citizenship in your holy place?  What manner of people do you favor to lodge in your presence?

Psalm 15:2-5 depicts the character and manner of God’s spiritual children.

The saints of God are people of integrity (Psalm 15:2). They are honest and trustworthy in their conduct and sincere in their words.

Psalm 15:2 2  He that walketh [travels; behave] uprightly [blameless; with integrity], and worketh [do; commit; act] righteousness [just; morally upright], and speaketh [say; talk; promise; declare] the truth [right; faithful] in his heart [mind; understanding].

The citizens of heaven are not slanderers in word, mean-spirited in actions, or vengeful in spirit (Psalm 15:3).

Psalm 15:3 He that backbiteth [talebearer; slanders] not with his tongue, nor doeth [wrought; commit] evil [sin; wickedness]to his neighbour [friend; companion], nor taketh up [bear; carry] a reproach [shame; disgrace; rebuke; contempt]against his neighbour [lit. near; nearest kinsman].

The children of God find the sins of the wicked loathsome (15:4a).  They love the company of the righteous (15:4b) and are faithful to their vows and promises even at personal sacrifice (Psalm 15:4c).

Psalm 15:4 – In whose eyes [sight] a vile person [loathsome; reprobate] is contemned [despised; scorn; disdained]; but he honoureth [glorify] them that fear [revere]the LORD. He that sweareth [charge; take an oath; curse] to his own hurt [evil; affliction; bad], and changeth not [i.e. does not vacillate].

The citizens of heaven do not take advantage of the less fortunate by charging excessive interest or adding to their debt more than they can afford (15:5a).  They are known for their honesty and are not swayed from justice by bribes and enticements (15:5b).

Psalm 15:5–  He that putteth not out [give; deliver; give] his money [silver] to usury [interest; i.e. indebtedness], nor taketh [accept; seize; take away] reward [bribe; gift] against the innocent [guiltless]. He that doeth [make; perform; do] these things shall never be moved [waver; fall; slide; slip].

David concludes the exposition of the character and manner of people who will dwell with the LORD, promising “he that doeth these things shall never be moved” (15:5c).

What about you, my friend?  Are you a citizen of heaven? Are the spiritual characteristics and good, honest works of a child of God evident in your life?

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

Is “The Gospel” All That Matters?

Author’s Note: The following is a brief reply to articles recently published by Lou Martuneac on his website, In Defense of the Gospel. Lou is a faithful friend and encourager to this pastor.

I have heard for a decade or more a renewed emphasis on “The Gospel” that had to my ears and understanding a different “ring”, an uncertain, albeit “new” sound.  The proponents of “The Gospel” were younger and in subtle ways, implied at least tacitly, the older generation had lost its way and drifted from preaching the simple, sincere message of the Gospel.

I discerned something was different.  Of course, fundamental pastors do not want their passion for the Gospel questioned no more than we want to diminish a younger pastor or evangelist’s passion for preaching and sharing the Gospel.

Enough time has passed for my fears and concerns about “The Gospel” to come to fruition. “The Gospel is all that matters” is publicly stated by the new generation of “fundamentalists”, many of whom are branding as “progressives”, but their philosophy is unquestionably that of the Neo-Evangelicals of my generation.

“The New Gospel” is, in my estimation, a message I describe as “Lawless Grace”.  The preachers of “The New Gospel” shy from preaching the Law and Commandments (a pattern Andy Stanley is following in the Southern Baptist denomination), emphasizing a Liberty less the call to holiness, sanctification, and a life that is a “living sacrifice”.

Preaching “The Gospel”, but failing to teach the whole counsel of God, has desensitized the souls of a generation who profess Christ as Savior, believe salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone, but are insensitive to their own sins, “for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20).

Travis D. Smith

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

A Fool’s Decree: “No God!” (Psalm 14)

The tragic irony for fools is they are often, at least in their own estimation, men and women of superior intelligence and academic achievement.  Whether in practice or principle, it is the penchant of fools to decree, No God!  (Psalm 14:1)

Why this predilection for rejecting the Creator when His creation reveals His handiwork (Psalm 19:1)?  What manner of man rejects the undeniable evidences of a Creator that a child can see and understand by simple faith?

An examination of a fool’s wicked, depraved nature gives us the answer.

Psalm 14:1 – “The fool [wicked; morally corrupt] hath said in his heart [mind; thoughts], There is no God[Mighty; Supreme God] . They [fools] are corrupt [depraved], they have done abominable [morally detestable] works [deeds; acts], there is none that doeth [makes] good [i.e. morally good].”

It is a mistake to reason with a fool regarding the existence of God without diagnosing at the core of his rejection is a motivation to minimize and deny his sin and moral failings.

David identified 3 characteristics of a fool’s nature in Psalm 14:1. The first, the fool is corrupt, literally morally depraved.  Slaves to sin, fools are emboldened in their rejection of God.  Nevertheless, a fool’s denial of God does not make him less culpable for his sin.

The second characteristic of a fool is his “abominable works”.  Paul’s letter to believers in Rome describes the abominations of sin committed by those who reject God.

We read, “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools… their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27  And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another…28  And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;” (Romans 1:22-28).

The third characteristic of a fool is, none doeth good” (14:1).  Fools might boast of their good deeds and intentions, but apart from the grace of God they are like all sinners, without any merit of righteousness or favor before a holy God.

Psalm 14:3 declares the universality of man’s spiritual dilemma

1) All men are “gone aside(14:3a).  Having rejected God, His Law and precepts, sinners become apostates in principle and practice.

2) they are all together become filthy(14:3b) – Lacking a moral compass or standard, every man becomes a law unto himself. Solomon writes, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes…” (Proverbs 12:15).

3) there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (14:3c) – The apostle Paul echoed that same conclusion writing, “There is none righteous, no, not one…For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”  (Romans 3:10, 23).

Is there hope for a fool? Absolutely! God’s “grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24).

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith