Category Archives: Second Coming of Christ

A New Heaven, A New Earth, and A New Jerusalem (Revelations 21-22)

Scripture reading – Revelations 21-22

Today we come to the end of a journey that began 366 days ago (2020 was a leap year, meaning we were blessed last February with an added day, a phenomenal that occurs every four years). Today’s devotional commentary is a monumental milestone for me, as I fulfill a personal goal of writing a daily devotional commentary following a chronological schedule through the Scriptures.

As we come to Revelation 21, let us take a moment and reflect on the events that will come to pass before that chapter.

The Marriage Supper of the Lamb will be observed (19:1-10), and will precede the triumphant Second Coming of Christ (19:11-18). The “beast” (antichrist), and the false prophet will be cast alive into the “lake of fire” (19:19-21). Satan will be chained, and cast into the “bottomless pit” (20:1) where he will be held a thousand years during the Millennial Reign of Christ on the earth (20:2-6). When a thousand years are ended, Satan will be loosed to wreak havoc on the earth until he is cast into “the lake of fire and brimstone” where he will be forever tormented (20:7-9).

A dreadful, eternal judgment will follow, as the dead who had rejected God’s gift of redemption made possible in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, will appear before The Great White Throne (20:11). Death, hell, and all unbelievers, “small and great [will] stand before God, and will face eternal judgment as they are condemned and “cast into the lake of fire” (20:10-15).

Revelation 21 – A New Heaven, A New Earth, and New Jerusalem

With sin no more, God reveals “a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea” (21:1). The apostle John witnessed “the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (21:2). Suddenly, there was a “great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God” (21:3).

Comforted by the presence of God in their midst, John writes, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (21:4). Imagine, no sin, no sorrows, no sufferings, no sickness, and no death!

Much more could be considered in today’s Scripture reading, especially the wonderful description of New Jerusalem (21:9-22:2); however, I will save that great study for another time, and Lord willing, another year.

We began the year with Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Today we conclude our year-long study being reminded of something we have seen throughout this year: The Grace of God. John writes,

Revelation 22:21 – “21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”

Grace: Marvelous, matchless, unmerited. Songwriter Julia Johnston penned the hymn, “Grace Greater Than Our Sin,” writing:

Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
freely bestowed on all who believe!
You that are longing to see his face,
will you this moment his grace receive?

Refrain:
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
grace, grace, God’s grace,
grace that is greater than all our sin!

P.S. You are invited to join me on January 1, 2021, and begin a Two-Year Chronological Bible Reading Schedule that will take you from Genesis to Revelation. 2_year_chronological_Bible_schedule_2021

I plan to continue writing, and publishing daily, devotional commentaries at www.HeartofAShepherd.com. It is a long journey, but it is well worth the effort, on both our parts.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelations 19-20)

Scripture reading – Revelations 19-20

Our Scripture reading brings us to future events that have captured the imagination of the saints of God for two millennia. The apostle John wrote in vivid detail the same prophetic scenes that the prophets Zephaniah and Zechariah had foretold would come to pass.

The events recorded in Revelation 19 follow the destruction of Babylon (Revelation 18:1-8), whom we have seen was the symbol of all false religions, and the enemy of God and believers. John observes that the kings of the earth, and all the people, will be stunned when Babylon falls, and will mourn her sudden destruction (Revelation 18:9-20). Several remarkable events follow the destruction of Babylon.

Revelation 19

A scene of praise and worship begins, as the people of heaven begin saying, “Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore [Babylon], which did corrupt the earth with her fornication [false religions], and hath avenged the blood of his servants [believers] at her hand” (19:1-2).

Imagine the voices of all the redeemed, the saints of both the Old and New Testaments, and the martyrs of the Tribulation, all lifting their voices and shouting, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth” (19:6).

The Marriage Supper of the Lamb (19:7-10)

A heavenly wedding feast will follow as the Lamb, Jesus Christ the Son of God, takes His spiritual bride, the Church (Ephesians 5:22-27), as His wife (19:7). The church, who are the true believers, is described as a wife who has “made herself ready” for her groom (19:7). Her clothing portrays her preparation, for she is “arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints” (19:8).

The Marriage Supper being ended, the stage is set for the next glorious event:

The Second Coming of Christ (19:11-16)

Christ is portrayed coming from heaven (19:11a), and riding upon a white horse (a symbol of victory, and spotless, sinless perfection). He rides under a war banner that bears His name: Faithful, for He is ever faithful to His promises (2 Corinthians 1:20); True, for He is true to His Word and will not lie (Titus 1:2). He is coming to judgethe earth in righteousness (19:11) and to make war against the antichrist and the nations that will assemble against Israel.

Christ will be accompanied by the armies of heaven (19:14), whom I imagine are the believers who were in attendance at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (notice they wear the same robes as those that were described at the feast, 19:8, 14). Christ is coming as a fierce warrior, and He will destroy the enemies of God and His saints (19:15-16).

The Battle of Armageddon (19:17-19)

I believe the host of heaven that accompany Christ, will not come to wage war themselves, but to witness the sudden destruction that will befall “the beast” (the antichrist), and “the kings of the earth and their armies” (19:19). Christ comes wearing the name written on His robes, “KING OF KING, AND LORD OF LORDS” (19:16).

The battle having been won, an angel summons carrion (flesh-eating birds) to the battleground to devour the carnage (the battlefield is described in Revelation 14:20 as “the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs,” or a spread of 200 miles). For more on the battle scene of Armageddon, go to Zephaniah 1:14-18 and Zechariah 14:1-13.

The Judgment of the Beast (Antichrist) and the False Prophet (19:19-21)

The battle having been won, the beast (antichrist), and his false prophet who had performed miracles to deceive the people, are both “cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone” (19:20). This is the dreadful place of judgment where all unbelievers, the demons, and the devil will eventually be judged for all eternity.  It is described as “a furnace of fire” (Matthew 13:42), “everlasting fire” (Matthew 18:8), and a place of “[torment] day and night for ever and ever” (20:10).

Lord willing, I will address the Millennial Reign of Christ (20:1-6), God’s final judgment of Satan (20:7-10), and the final judgment of unbelievers (20:11-15), in another year.

I close inviting you to search your heart, and make sure your salvation; trust Jesus Christ as your Savior before it is eternally too late (John 3:16; Romans 5:8; Acts 16:30-31).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“It is Done!” (Revelations 16-18)

Scripture reading – Revelations 16-18

Today’s Scripture reading continues our study of God’s judgments that will be poured out upon the earth in the latter-half of the tribulation, a period of three and a half years, known as “The Great Tribulation” (Matthew 24:21-22; Revelation 7:9, 14; 16:4-7; 22:14-15). Today’s devotional commentary will focus upon Revelation 16.

Revelation 16 – Seven Angels and Seven Bowls (vials) of Judgment

Revelation 16 opens the next phase of God’s judgment as He summons seven angels to go forth bearing seven “vials” or bowls of “the wrath of God.” The bowls are symbolic of individual judgments that will be poured out on the earth (16:1).

There are seven distinct judgments (i.e. bowls). The first bowl of judgment will result in open sores or ulcers, and will afflict all those who have taken “the mark of the beast,” and worshipped his image (16:2). The second judgment disturbs the sea (probably the Mediterranean Sea which is in the vicinity of Babylon), and its waters will become “as the blood of a dead man; and every living soul (i.e. the fish of the sea) [will die] in the sea” (16:3).

The third bowl of God’s wrath will poison the fresh waters, that are described as “the rivers and fountains of waters.” The waters will become as blood (16:4). The third angel states the justification for God’s judgments, declaring His righteousness (16:5) demanded man’s wickedness be condemned (16:6).

Revelation 16:6For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy. [In a literal sense, they are punished as they deserve, for their wickedness.]

A voice will arise from the altar in heaven and will state, “Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments” (16:7).

A fourth angel will then go forth, and will bear a bowl of judgment that will cause the sun to become unbearably hot, so that it will “scorch men with fire” (16:8). Rather than repent of their wickedness, men will revile and curse God’s name (16:9).

The fifth bowl of God’s wrath will be poured out upon the antichrist and his throne (16:10), and a heavy, frightening darkness will descend on the earth. Once again, though their bodies will bear the “pains and sores” of God’s judgments (16:11), men will not repent.

The sixth angel will bear a bowl that will dry up the Euphrates River (a principal waterway in the Middle East), enabling the armies of the nations to make their way toward Israel (16:12-15). Three evil spirits are described, who will be unleashed to stir the nations of the earth to go to war in “the battle of that great day of God Almighty” (16:14b).

The Lord will then warn the people of the earth, “15 Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, andkeepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame” (16:15), as He gathers all the armies of the earth to “Armageddon” for the final judgment (16:16).

The seventh angel will then be sent with the bowl of God’s wrath that will affect the air and atmosphere of the earth (16:17). Suddenly a voice will cry out from the throne of heaven, saying, “It is done” (16:17b).

God’s final judgment will be accompanied by terrifying natural events: “Voices, and thunders, and lightnings;” and a great earthquake like none that had ever been seen (16:18).

“The great city,” which I believe is Jerusalem, will be “divided into three parts;” however, not destroyed (16:19a). The other great cities of the earth will fall, and “great Babylon” will be utterly devastated by God’s wrath (16:19).

The continents of the earth will shift, and the mountains will fall (16:20). Great hail stones will fall to the earth (the weight of a “talent” may be estimated between 90 to 150 pounds). Still, men who survived will refuse to repent (16:21).

So much more could be written of that great and awful day of judgment; however, I will reserve that to another year.

I close reminding you that wise men and women are looking for, and anticipating Christ is coming (16:15). If you are not ready for His judgment, I urge you to repent of your sins, and turn to Christ before it is too late.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

 

P.S. You are invited to join me on January 1, 2021, and begin a Two-Year Chronological Bible Reading Schedule that will take you from Genesis to Revelation. 2_year_chronological_Bible_schedule_2021

I plan to continue writing, and publishing daily, devotional commentaries at www.HeartofAShepherd.com. It is a long journey, but it is well worth the effort, on both our parts.

The Expulsion and Defeat of Satan (Revelation 12-15)

Scripture reading – Revelations 12-15

The imagery of today’s Scripture reading (Revelation 12-15) is profound, and complicated. I will limit the devotional commentary to focusing on Revelation 12; however, I encourage you to read today’s full Scripture reading assignment.

A novice Bible student might be so stunned by the descriptions and characters in Revelation 12, that he forgets there is practical meaning and application behind the narrative. Remember, in Revelation, we are observing literal events that will come to pass in the Tribulation.

Three characters in Revelation 12: A Woman Great with Child (12:1-2); A Great Red Dragon (12:3-4); and the birth of a “Man Child” (12:5).

Israel – A Woman Great with Child (12:1-2)

Who was this woman who was “with child,” and is pictured as one “travailing in birth” (12:2)? I believe the woman “with child” is a description of Israel as a people.

She is described as, “a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars” (12:1). Israel’s glory, her prestige as God’s chosen people, her “crown of twelve stars,” symbolizing the Twelve Tribes of Israel, and her labor and travail with child was because the Christ child, God’s Redeemer would be born of and come out of Israel.

A Great Red Dragon (12:3-4)

The “great red dragon” is a symbol of Satan (12:3), and his being cast out of heaven is repeated here as it was described in the prophesies of Isaiah (14:12-15), and Ezekiel (28:12-17). Satan was the angel Lucifer, until his heart was lifted up with pride, and he led a rebellion against the God of heaven in which one-third of the angelic host followed him in an uprising against God.

Satan did all he could to prevent the birth of the promised Redeemer, seeking to destroy, to annihilate Israel, the people through whom God had promised the Christ child would be born (fulfilling God’s promise to Abraham that through his lineage all the earth would be blessed (Genesis 12). When Christ was born, the devil attempted to have Him killed, by King Herod’s assault on the children of Bethlehem. When Christ was crucified, and rose from the dead, sin and death were defeated, Satan turned his fierce wrath upon believers, and Israel.

The devil, the great dragon, knowing his time is short in the Great Tribulation (12:12), will make one last desperate attempt to destroy the true Israel (12:13-15), but he will fail when the earth opens up and swallows his forces (12:16).

A “Man Child” (12:5)

Who is the “man child” (12:5)? He is Jesus Christ. He was the son born of Israel (his mother being Mary), and of the lineage of Abraham (Matthew 1:1). He was born of the virgin, but was rejected by Israel. However, when He comes again, He will come and reign for a thousand years.

The woman who “fled into the wilderness” (12:6).

This is a prophesy that Israel as a nation and people will flee into the wilderness in the second half of the tribulation (lasting 3.5 years, or 1260 days, 12:6). Israel will seek refuge from the wrath of the devil and his forces.

A Heavenly Battle (12:7-9)

A heavenly war will be waged between “Michael (the archangel) and his angels” and the dragon and his angels (12:7-9). The devil’s defeat is assured, and he and his fallen angels will be “cast out into the earth” (12:9).

There is much in today’s Scripture reading that might baffle you, but you can be assured of this one thing:

Satan is a defeated foe, and God has assured believers the victory!

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

P.S. You are invited to join me on January 1, 2021, and begin a Two-Year Chronological Bible Reading Schedule that will take you from Genesis to Revelation. 2_year_chronological_Bible_schedule_2021

I plan to continue writing, and publishing daily, devotional commentaries at www.HeartofAShepherd.com. It is a long journey, but it is well worth the effort, on both our parts.

The Seven Seals and Seven Judgments of Revelation (Revelation 6-11)

Scripture reading – Revelation 6-11

The intensity and breadth of today’s Scripture reading (Revelation 6-11) is nearly overwhelming, for the veil of future things is drawn back and we are permitted to see those things that will surely come to pass in that time that is known as The Tribulation (Revelation 6:1-18:24).

The Seven Seals of God’s Judgment (Revelation 6:1-7:17)

We read that “the Lamb” (6:1), Jesus Christ being the Lamb of God, will open or break seven seals. A seal was an instrument that guaranteed the privacy and security of the contents of a letter or other means of communication. A king would use a seal to guarantee the privacy of a letter. A seal might be used by a judge to bind an agreement between two individuals.

Four Seals and Four Horses with Riders

When Jesus Christ, “the Lamb,” breaks the seven seals in Revelation, He does so as the One with authority to unleash God’s judgments and fulfill their purpose. The first four seals are immediately followed by a rider and horse that go forth to judge the earth in an escalation of sorrows.

When the first seal is broken, a rider on a white horse goes forth to conquer and subdue the earth (6:1-2). The second seal is broken, and a rider on a red horse goes forth with a “great sword,” and removes peace from the earth (6:3-4). A third seal is broken, and a black horse and rider are sent and famine follows (6:5-6).

When the fourth seal is broken, a pale horse departs, and its rider identified as “Death, and Hell” (6:7), brings the greatest judgment the earth has faced in the Tribulation. In the wake of the fourth rider’s judgment (6:8), one fourth of the earth’s population is killed (that number today would be one billion nine hundred million souls that would perish).

The Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Seals

The fifth seal marks a departure from the symbolism of riders and horses. When “the Lamb” (Jesus Christ) breaks the fifth seal, a heavenly veil is drawn back and the souls of those who have been martyred in the tribulation appear “under the altar” (6:9). We are told they are those who were slain because of their faithfulness to the “word of God, and for the testimony which they held” (6:9).

The sixth seal is broken, and a time of universal judgment begins (6:12-17) that is manifested in “a great earthquake,” the darkening of the sun, the moon appearing as blood (6:12b), and the light of the stars being extinguished (6:13). All men, great and small, will realize the wrath of God is being poured out, and will seek in vain to hide themselves (6:14-17).

Revelation 7 is an interlude between the sixth and seventh seals, and it is revealed that 144,000 of all the tribes of Israel, 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes, will be chosen to declare the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

When “the Lamb” breaks the seventh seal, heaven will fall silent “about the space of half an hour” (8:1). “The seven angels which stood before God” will be given seven trumpets (8:1-2), and the sounding of their trumpets will usher in a time of unimaginable destruction and judgment upon the earth and its inhabitants (8:1-11:19).

Unfortunately, an interpretation of the seven angels, and the seven trumpets that accompany the breaking of the seventh seal will have to wait to another year, and another devotional.

Copyright – 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Beginning of the Apocalypse (Revelation 1-5)

Scripture reading – Revelation 1-5

Today’s Scripture reading brings us to the “Revelation of Jesus Christ to John the Apostle,” and is both the closing book of the Bible and the final book in our yearlong study of the Scriptures.

The Book of Revelation is just that, a book of prophetic revelations of the future. It is the “Apocalypse,” literally the revelation, the unveiling of Jesus Christ (1:1). It is God’s disclosure to believers; a prophetic insight into not only the future, but also the beginning of the end of this world with its sin and corruption.

Revelation 1:1-3 – The Apostle John’s Prologue

The historical setting of the Revelation is near the end of the first century, and at a time of increasing persecution against the Church. Some sixty years had passed since Jesus ascended to heaven, and the apostle John was an elderly man, perhaps in his 90’s. He is the last of the apostles, the others having been martyred. It was at such an hour that God saw fit to encourage His faithful servant, and the saints of God with a message of HOPE (Revelation 6:10; 8:1-5).

Revelation opens and closes with a special blessing for all who read this book of prophecy. John commences the book of Revelation by exhorting the saints, “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand” (1:3). Revelation concludes with Christ assuring, “Behold, I come quickly” and John promising, “blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book” (22:7).

Consider four observations: The Object, The Purpose, The Method, and the Recipient of the Revelation (1:1-2).

The object of the revelation is Jesus Christ and it was given to Him by God the Father (1:1). The purpose of the revelation was to present our LORD in His present and future glory (1:1). The Gospels presented Jesus in His humility; however, in Revelation we see Him in His heavenly glory. In the Gospels, Jesus is the suffering Lamb that was slain, but in Revelation He is Sovereign God who reigns. In the Gospels, He is pierced; in Revelation He is praised. In the Gospels He is condemned; in Revelation He is King and Judge of the earth.

You will notice that the method of the revelation was by an angel (God’s messenger), who was sent to communicate to John all “which must shortly come to pass” (1:1). Finally, as the recipient of the revelation, it was John’s task to be a witness, to “bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony [witness] of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he [John] saw” (1:2).

The Seven Churches of the Revelation (1:4–3:22)

I do not have space to do an exhaustive study of the balance of today’s Scripture reading, however, permit me to briefly direct your attention to the seven churches of revelation that were located in Asia Minor, in what is today modern Turkey (1:4, 11).

Those seven churches are identified by their cities and their spiritual state: The church at Ephesus had departed from the love they once had for the LORD (2:1-7). The church at Smyrna, was enduring persecution (2:8-11). The church at Pergamos, whose doctrine had been corrupted, and its testimony tainted by immorality and worldliness (2:12-17). Thyatira, a church that had a testimony of loving service, faith, and endurance (2:18-19), but had spiritually backslidden and tolerated false teachers (2:18-29).Sardis, its spiritual state was described as living, but “dead” (3:1), and the Lord challenged its members to wake up, and to strengthen themselves before they died (3:2-6). The church at Philadelphia was identified as a faithful church (3:7-13).

Finally, the seventh church of the revelation was the church at Laodicea, infamously described as a proud, wealthy church, but that had become spiritually indifferent and compromised (3:14-22).

Sadly, perhaps of the seven churches, many 21st century churches might need to identify with Laodicea: “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” (3:17).

Lord, forgive us for our pride, and self-sufficiency. Amen!

* New 2_year_chronological_Bible_schedule_2021

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Parting Words (2 Peter; Jude 1)

Scripture reading – 2 Peter 1-3; Jude 1

Today’s chronological reading brings us to two epistles, written by two different authors. The letter known as “The Second Epistle of Peter” (titled in some Bibles, “The Second General Epistle of Peter,” (general meaning it was not addressed to a specific individual or congregation), was written by the apostle Peter who was one of Christ’s twelve disciples.

The second letter is titled, “The General Epistle of Jude,” and bears the name of its author in the title. Bible historians are nearly unanimous in their opinion that Jude was the half-brother of Jesus Christ, the son of Joseph and Mary, and was the “brother of James” (Jude 1:1). This James was most likely the pastor\elder of the congregation in Jerusalem (Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3; Acts 12:17; 21:18-25; Galatians 1:19).

2 Peter probably predates Jude; however, both were likely written in the latter half of the 1st century, and to believers who found themselves in the throes of persecution. I fear 2 Peter and Jude are not well known in today’s churches; however, they are worthy of your time and attention. The scope of this devotional is limited to “The Second Epistle of Peter.”

2 Peter 1 – An Introduction

One senses an urgency in the opening verses of Peter’s brief letter, as he called on believers to grow spiritually, pressing them to manifest the godly virtues that should be evident in the lives of all believers (1:3-7). Impelled by the imminency of his own death, Peter wrote, “14 Knowing that shortly I must put off [lay aside] this my tabernacle [physical body], even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed [modeled; given a pattern] me” (1:14).

Leaving no doubt that he expected Christ’s prophecy of his martyrdom would soon come to pass (John 21:18-19), Peter continued, “15 Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance” (1:15).

2 Peter 2 – False Teachers and Their Heresies

Knowing he would not have another opportunity to address believers, Peter exhorted, and warned them of the dangers they would soon be facing. He warned that enemies of the Gospel, “false teachers,” would enter the congregations, and bring with them their “damnable heresies, even denying the Lord [Christ] that bought them [i.e. redeemed them with His blood], and bring upon themselves swift destruction [judgment]” (2:1).

Tragically, Peter prophesied that many believers would accept the heresies, and so doing would turn from the truth, and give themselves to all manner of immorality and wickedness (2:2). Those wicked teachers would enrich themselves, and with their lies and insincere professions of faith, would take advantage of ignorant, foolish believers (2:3, 19-22).

2 Peter 3 – The Second Coming of Jesus Christ

Peter concluded his last epistle, urging believers to remember the promise of Christ’s Second Coming, and warning that scoffers would come into their midst, and would question and ridicule the promise of Christ’s return. Wicked men would suggest that believers were vainly looking for Christ’s coming, telling lies and making the observation that nothing had changed, and “all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (3:4). Such falsehoods would lead some to stray from the truth, and be turned to sinful ways.

What do you believe regarding the promise that Jesus Christ will return for believers? Some might argue, “Well, the Church has been waiting for two thousand years, and nothing has changed. If Jesus is coming back, where is He?”

Peter answered that query, encouraging believers to look at life and eternity from God’s perspective. 

Earthly life is fleeting (“a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away,” James 4:14); however, the Lord is the God of eternity and “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (3:8). Fortunately for sinners, God is slow to judge, and is patient. He is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (3:9).

If you have not accepted Jesus as your Savior, don’t presume upon His patience, or scoff and question, “Where is the promise of His coming?” (3:4).

He is coming, and we should always be ready and watching!

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Journey’s End (Acts 27-28)

Scripture reading – Acts 27-28

Today’s Scripture reading brings us to the close of our study in the book we identify as The Acts of the Apostles. Our study has taken us from the historic fact of Jesus’ bodily resurrection and public appearances (Acts 1:1-3), to Him commissioning the disciples to be His apostles (1:4-8), before He ascended to heaven (1:9). After receiving the promise that Jesus would return (1:10-11), the disciples returned to an “upper room” (1:12-13), and there waited for the coming of the Holy Spirit, who came on the Day of Pentecost (2:1), fifty days after the Passover and Christ’s death on the Cross.

There are many other events that are essential to the historical narrative of the early church that are found in the Book of Acts, including the death of Stephen, the first of many martyrs (7:55-8:1), the salvation and transformation of Saul, the great persecutor (8:1; 9:1-9), who became Paul, and the apostle to the Gentiles (9:10-16).

Our study of Acts has followed Paul’s three missionary journeys as the Gospel spread throughout Asia, Greece, and Europe (reaching at least as far west as Spain).

Taken prisoner in Jerusalem, Paul was held in the fortress of Caesarea, on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, where he was tried and falsely accused of sedition by enemies who would have killed him (24:1-6). Knowing by revelation that he was to be a witness in Rome, Paul had exercised his right as a Roman citizen, and appealed for a hearing before Caesar (25:10-11).

Acts 27 – Paul’s Shipwreck on the Mediterranean Sea

Arrangements having been made for Paul to sail to Rome, he was assigned a military escort with “one named Julius, a centurion of [Caesar] Augusts’ band [regiment]” (27:1).  The ship had stopped at several ports in its journey, including Sidon where Luke noted the centurion’s favor in allowing Paul to fellowship with other believers (27:3).

Departing from Sidon, the centurion transferred Paul and other prisoners to a “ship of Alexandria [i.e. Egypt]“ that was sailing to Italy (27:4-6).  The sailing was slow (27:9), and knowing storms would soon make sailing hazardous, “Paul admonished” the captain of the ship and his centurion guard to seek safe harbor (27:9-10). Those men, however, dismissed Paul’s concerns, and set sail until the vessel was caught up in a great storm so that, in Luke’s words, “all hope that we should be saved was then taken away” (27:11-20).

The balance of Acts 27 chronicles Paul’s shipwreck (27:21-44), while Acts 28 records his time and ministry on the isle of Melita, an island located south of Sicily, in the Mediterranean Sea (28:1).

Acts 28:11-31 – Paul’s Final Journey

Beginning with Acts 28:11, we follow Paul from his ministry on Melita, to his arrival in Rome. Although a prisoner of Caesar, he was a captive of God’s grace, and for the next two years preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Rome, the capital of the world in the first century (28:17-22).

A rented house, serving as his prison and sanctuary (28:30), Paul opened his door and heart to “all that came in unto him,” and faithfully preached “the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him” (28:31).

What happened during the years that Paul was a prisoner in Rome?

We will answer that question as our chronological study takes us next to the letters Paul wrote while a prisoner in Rome.

Copyright 2020– Travis D. Smith

The Shameful Failure of the Church to Address Sin (1 Corinthians 5-8)

Scripture reading – 1 Corinthians 5-8

We continue our reading of Paul’s first letter to believers in Corinth. Though our Scripture reading is 1 Corinthians 5-8, today’s devotional will be focused on the introductory verses of 1 Corinthians 5.

Paul had received news of troubles, trials, and sin issues that had arisen in the church of Corinth. He had heard how believers tolerated gross immorality, and he was writing to challenge, exhort, and command believers to condemn sin in their midst.

1 Corinthians 5:1-5

1 Corinthians 5:1 – “It is reported commonly that there is fornication [sexual immorality; adultery] among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife [referring to the sin of incest].”

The latter phrase, “his father’s wife” (5:1), would indicate that the sin was one of incest with the man’s stepmother, and not his mother. Nevertheless, although the heathen of Corinth practiced idol worship and tolerated all manner of sexual perversity in the name of religion, a son lying with his father’s wife was loathed even by Corinthian society.

Rather than shame, the believers in Corinth boasted of their tolerance, being “puffed up” (5:2). Though unable to be present and deal with the wickedness himself (5:3), Paul left no doubt what they were expected to do. With the authority of Christ (5:4), he commanded that the immoral son be “taken away” (5:2, 5), cast out of their midst, and delivered “unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (5:5).

The purpose of the discipline, and the removal of the man from their fellowship was that he would bear the weight of his sin (shame, physical sickness and disease, or death). The spiritual goal was to see the man repent of his sin, before he faced “the day of the Lord Jesus,” meaning the judgment of God (5:5).

The 21st century church is little different from the 1st century church of Corinth when it comes to addressing sexual immorality in its fellowship. Fornication (sexual immorality outside the covenant of marriage), adultery, and divorce are rampant. Pornography, which is the sin of adultery (Matthew 5:28) is epidemic. Sadly, the pulpits of America are themselves wrecked with sexual scandals.

I fear one of the major reasons the church has lost its power and influence (Matthew 5:13-16) in the world is because believers have failed to address sexual sins in the midst. Oh, that all believers would hear and heed Paul’s exhortation:

2 Timothy 2:22 22 Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Are you ready for Christ’s coming? It may be today! (Acts 1-3)

Scripture reading – Acts 1-3

Today’s Scripture reading brings our chronological study of the Bible to the “Acts of the Apostles.” Luke, whom Paul referred to as a physician (Colossians 4:14; Philemon 24), is credited as the author of the Gospel that bears his name and the Book of Acts, where he introduced himself, not by name, but as the writer of a “former treatise” to a believer named Theophilus (Luke 1:1-3; Acts 1:1).

The Gospel of Luke gives us a historical record of Christ’s birth, ministry, death, and resurrection. The Acts of the Apostles records the actions and activities of the Apostles, beginning with Christ commissioning His disciples to preach the Gospel: “be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8), and concluding with Paul’s powerful prison witness in Rome, the capital city of the world in the first century (Acts 28:16, 30-31).

There are several foundational truths we should notice in this introduction to the Book of Acts.

Because the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is the central hope of believers (Luke 24:39-40; 41-43; Acts 1:3), Jesus remained with His disciples forty days and emboldened them with “many infallible proofs,” an experience that imparted to them boldness and forever transformed their lives (Acts 1:3).

Assembling the disciples for His departure (1:4), Jesus exhorted them to wait for the promise of the Father…ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost” (1:4-5). After promising them “power” and authority, He commissioned them to be witnesses (1:8), and as they watched, He “was taken up; , and a cloud received Him out of their sight” (1:9). Two angels, appearing as men in “white apparel,” appeared and gave the disciples a promise that has been the hope of believers for 2,000 years: “This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (1:11).

The promise of the imminent return of Jesus Christ forever changed the disciples’ perspective on their lives and ministry. Often guilty of self-promotion and wondering which of them would be the greatest in Christ’s kingdom (Luke 9:46, 22:24), their focus became preaching the Gospel and calling sinners to repent of their sins and turn to Christ (2:22-24, 32, 36-38).

Knowing Jesus Christ promised to return, but not knowing the hour, James exhorted believers:

James 5:7-9 – Be patient [longsuffering; slow to anger] therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman [farmer] waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early [autumn] and latter [spring] rain. 8Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts [keep hope alive]: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. 9Grudge not [stop complaining & grumbling] one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door.

I do not know when the LORD will return (Acts 1:7), but I believe it is imminent, and will be sudden, and unexpected (1 Thessalonians 5:2; 2 Peter 3:10).

Are you ready for His coming?

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith