Tag Archives: Bible Christianity

A Virtual Invitation to Hillsdale’s Sunday Services and Today’s Devotional

You are invited to join Hillsdale’s Virtual Sunday Services at www.HillsdaleBaptist.org.
Youth Pastor Justin Jarrett will present a Bible study for teens titled “Finding the Cure for Cabin Fever” at 9:45 AM.

At 10:30 AM, Pastor Smith will be sharing Three Principles for Overcoming Fear and Anxiety in a message titled, “The Sanctuary and Security of the Saints” at 10:30 AM.

Please click on this link to view a video invitation and recording of today’s Devotional Commentary (feel free to share).

With the heart of a shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The frailty of old age is not an excuse for tolerating sin. (Deuteronomy 30-31)

Daily reading assignment – Deuteronomy 30-31

True to the nature of God, having promised in His justice He would punish Israel for breaking covenant with Him (Deuteronomy 29:24-29), He promises in Deuteronomy 31 to be merciful should the people repent and restore them to their land (30:1-14).

Deuteronomy 30 concludes with a strong challenge to Israel to know the Word of the LORD is sure and He will bless the people when they keep His covenant.  However, should they disobey His Laws and Commandments, He will surely bring judgment upon the nation (30:15-20).

Mindful of his own mortality and knowing the days of his earthly sojourn were ending, Moses reminded the nation he is “an hundred and twenty years old” and the LORD had said, “Thou shalt not go over this Jordan” (31:1-2).

In the tone of a loving, aged father who knows his days with his children are concluding, Moses encouraged the people, “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not” (31:6).  The same God who delivered Israel out of Egypt and preserved them in the wilderness will “not fail thee, nor forsake thee” (31:6).

Moses publicly affirmed Joshua’s ordination “in the sight of all Israel” (31:7-8) and challenged the spiritual leaders of the nation to be the custodians and teachers of the LORD’s Law and keep the Law and Commandments before the people (31:9-13).

Reminded God is Omniscient, the LORD revealed to Moses that after his death, the people would break their covenant with Him and “go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land” (31:14-18).  The power and influence of worship music is shown when the LORD commanded Moses to write a song to remind the people of their covenant with the LORD (31:19-22).

Deuteronomy 31 concludes with Moses giving a final charge to Joshua as he assumes the leadership of the nation (31:23).  Gathering the people, Moses challenged the Levites to take the record of the LORD’s Law and “put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD” (31:24-26).

There are many lessons we might take from today’s scripture reading; however, the one that strikes a chord with me is:

The frailty of old age is not an excuse for tolerating sin.

At one hundred and twenty years old, Moses was “feeling his age” and was conscious of the inevitableness of his death.  The pressures of leading a rebellious people “forty years in the wilderness” and old age had taken its toll on the man (29:5).

Moses confessed, “I am an hundred and twenty years old this day; I can no more go out and come in” (31:2).  “And the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thy days approach that thou must die” (31:14).   We read again, “And the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers” (31:16).

Moses was old and frail; however, the fire of his convictions and dedication to the LORD had not abated. 

I am afraid the same cannot be said of my generation.  There is a growing tolerance of sin and carnality in Christian homes, Bible preaching churches, Christian schools, Bible colleges and universities.  In an effort to appease rebellious children in their own households, leaders of my generation are compromising spiritual disciplines and precepts of the ministries they are leading.

The fears Moses expressed in Deuteronomy 31:29 are, I believe, a foreshadow of what will become of many fundamental churches, schools, and institutions.

Deuteronomy 31:29 – “For I know that after my death ye will utterly corrupt yourselves, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days; because ye will do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger through the work of your hands.”

How about you, my friend? Does the fire of godly convictions still burn in your spirit and soul?

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Choices Always Have Consequences (Deuteronomy 24-27)

Daily reading assignment – Deuteronomy 24-27

Moses continues his final challenge to Israel in today’s scripture reading, and his speech covers nearly every aspect of life in the new land.

Deuteronomy 24

Marriage and divorce are the subject of the opening verses of Deuteronomy 24, and we are reminded that divorce was never God’s will. God’s plan from creation was that man would be the husband of one wife (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:8). The principles on divorce stated in this passage were given to stress the solemnness of marriage and the sobriety of divorce (24:1-5).

Various life principles follow (24:6-22)

1) Never take a pledge of indebtedness against a man’s “millstone,” meaning his means to grind wheat and provide bread for his family (24:6). Stated in a different manner: Don’t take from a man his livelihood and means to provide for his family.

2) Don’t engage in “man stealing” (the 21st century describes this as “human trafficking” and its victims are often children). The penalty of such is death (24:7).

3) Never oppress the poor by taking advantage of their impoverished state (24:10-15). In ancient times, the sole possession of a poor man might have been nothing more than the robes he wore. Explanation: While a poor man might offer his outer robe to secure a loan and the lender take possession of it during the day, the debtor was not to be denied the warmth and comfort of his robe at night.  That principle is timeless!  While people should not assume debts, they cannot pay; neither should lenders be harsh in charging usury, seeking justice, and restitution.

4) Employers are to pay employees their due (24:16).

5) Everyone was to bear the punishment for their own sin and not another in their stead (24:16).

6) Compassion for the poverty of the orphan, widow, and foreigner was a burden shared by Hebrew society (24:19-22).

Deuteronomy 25

Because justice is essential for the peace and well-being of a society, corporal punishment that fit the crime was to be administered, but within reason and without excessive harshness (Deut. 25:1-4).

Even the ox that labored in the field was to be an object of compassion and allowed the reward of eating some of the grain as it labored (25:4; 1 Timothy 5:18).

Hebrews were expected to be men of integrity in business, and weights and measurements used in commerce were to be “perfect and just” (Deut. 25:13-16).

Though commanded to have compassion on a foreigner in other passages, Israel was not to appear weak or trivialize offenses an enemy’s (25:17-19).

Deuteronomy 26

Because the LORD had chosen Israel and blessed the people, Moses reminded them they were to demonstrate their gratitude by bringing the first fruits of the harvest to the sanctuary (26:1-15).

A special tithe was given every third year accompanying the tither’s confession he had honored the LORD’s commandments and obeyed them. The third-year tithe was used to meet immediate needs in one’s community and to support “the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat within thy gates, and be filled” (26:12-15).

Reminded of their covenant with the LORD, Israel was to promise to “walk in his ways, and to keep His statutes, and His commandments” (26:16-17). In response, the LORD promised to promote Israel above all the nations of the earth (26:19).

Deuteronomy 27

Lest the people forget, a memorial pillar of stones was to be inscribed with the law and raised up on the west side of the Jordan River as a reminder of the LORD’s promises and commandments (Dt. 27:1-2).  An altar was to be built to sanctify the place and the LORD’s covenant with Israel (27:2-10).

Admonishing the people “Choices have Consequences”, the elders of the twelve tribes were charged to remind them obedience to the Law brought the LORD’s blessing, and disobedience His curse and judgments (27:14-26).

A series of twelve curses were pronounced, and the tribes affirmed they accepted the LORD’s covenant (Dt. 27:15-26).

1) Idolatry, a violation of the first and second commandments is cursed (27:15).

2) Dishonoring one’s parents is cursed (27:16), a violation of the fifth commandment (Ex. 20:12).

3) Stealing the property and possessions of another is cursed, a violation of the eighth commandment (27:17; Ex. 20:15).

4) Taking advantage of the infirmed or disabled is cursed (27:18).

5) Unjust treatment of “the stranger, fatherless, and widow” is cursed (27:19; Ex. 22:21-24).

The sixth through ninth curses address sexual impurity, a violation of the seventh commandment (27:20-23; Ex. 20:14).

6) Incest with one’s stepmother is cursed (27:20; Lev. 18:8-9, 17; 20:11).

7) Bestiality is cursed (27:21; Lev. 18:23).

8) Incest between siblings and parents is cursed (27:22).

9) Incest with one’s mother-in-law is cursed (27:23).

The sixth commandment, “Thou shalt not kill” (Ex. 20:13), is the subject of the tenth and eleventh curses (Dt. 27:24-25).

10) Intentional murder of one’s neighbor is cursed (Dt. 27:24).

11) Hiring an assassin to kill another is cursed (Dt. 27:25).

The twelfth and final curse is addressed to any child of Israel who failed to affirm God’s Law and Commandments (Dt .27:26).

When the people were asked to affirm they accepted the LORD’s covenant, they answered, “Amen” (27:26).

In case you are tempted to believe the law and commandments have no application to you, I remind you:

1 Peter 1:15-16 – “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 2020 – Travis D. Smith

God’s Amazing Grace: “The Lord Loved Them” (Deuteronomy 5-7)

Daily reading assignment – Deuteronomy 5-7

Moses summoned the people, and he began to rehearse the covenant the LORD had established with the nation and their corporate obligation to “hear…learn…keep, and do” all He had commanded them (5:1).

After reviewing the Ten Commandments (5:6-21), Moses reminded the people that the LORD Himself “wrote them in two tables of stone, and delivered them unto me” (5:22).  He promised He would bless the nation; however, His promises were conditioned on their fearing Him and keeping His commandments (5:29).

Knowing the future of the nation was dependent on the people’s fearing and revering the LORD (6:3),each generation was to communicate the statutes and laws of the LORD to their sons and daughters (Deuteronomy 6:1-2).

When Jesus was asked which of the commandments was the greatest (Matthew 22:36-37), He quoted Deuteronomy 6:5 as the sum of the Law: “And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.”

After rehearsing the past providences and promises of the LORD (6:20-25), Moses challenged the people to be confident in Him.  The God who delivered them out of Egypt would drive the heathen nations out of their land (Deuteronomy 7:1). They were to be intolerant of the heathen: “smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them” (7:2).

Antagonists of Christianity take the commands given to Israel in Deuteronomy 7 out of historical context and foolishly equate them to our day.  Some deride the Bible as a violent book and intimate Christianity is as evil as militant Islam.  Those who assert such are either disingenuous or ignorant.

It is true the LORD commanded Israel to not covenant with other nations or tolerate intermarriage of their children with heathens (7:3-4), as was the custom of enemies who sought peace through marrying and giving in marriage their sons and daughters.  However, the LORD is jealous of His people, and He knew well the influence idol worshippers would have on their hearts (7:4).

We find the New Testament equivalent of amazing grace in Deuteronomy 7:6-8. The LORD had chosen Israel and commanded them to be a “holy people” (7:6); however, it was not because they were deserving of His favor. Israel was chosen because “the LORD loved” them (7:8), and because He loved them, He promised to bless them “above all people” (7:7-14)!

God’s love for Israel was unconditional; however, His promise of blessings was conditioned on Israel’s trusting Him and purging the land of its idols and those who worshipped them (7:15-26).

I close with two spiritual lessons from today’s study.

1) Moses challenged Israel to remember the LORD’S promises and providences, and we should do the same. We need to remember and never forget how the LORD saved us from the curse and bondage of sin through Christ’s sacrificial death, burial, and resurrection (Romans 3:23-28).

2) The second lesson is, obedience bears the promise of God’s blessing.  Moses challenged Israel to obey the LORD’s instructions, assuring the people their God was intimately invested in the “good [of Israel] always” and their preservation as His chosen people (6:24).  It is that same assurance Paul gives believers when he writes,

Romans 8:28 – “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Coronavirus of Ecumenical Compromise: Are You Infected?

Proverbs 22:28“Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.”

Twentieth century philosopher George Santayana observed, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  I fear that truth has befallen many churches, Bible colleges, and institutions in recent years.

Beloved leader and mentor of BJU “Preacher Boys”

I am old enough to remember the reminisces and exhortations of Dr. Gilbert Stenholm, Dr. Richard Rupp, and Dr. Bob Jones Jr.  Those men and many others of their generation (Drs. Bob Jones Sr., Monroe Parker, Wayne Van Gelderen, Sr., Ed Nelson…) had fought ecumenical battles against progressives of their day and warned Bob Jones University “Preacher Boys Classes” in the 1970’s that the day would come when faithful Bible-believing pastors of my generation would have to take our stand.

I have never forgotten the passion of those men when they warned us that a failure to identify men who denied the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith and separate from those who fellowshipped with them would inevitably prove disastrous to our ministries (Romans 16:17).

In those days an oft-cited example of the tragedy of compromise was Evangelist Dr. Billy Graham who practiced, if not spearheaded, evangelical pragmatism by openly embracing various stripes of “Christianity,” including Roman Catholicism and Russian Orthodoxy. Graham’s compromises and the effects of pursuing a lifetime of theological inclusivism were undeniable when he stated in an interview with his friend Robert Schuller,

“I think that everybody that loves or knows Christ, whether they are conscious of it or not, they are members of the body of Christ … [God] is calling people out of the world for his name, whether they come from the Muslim world, or the Buddhist world or the non-believing world, they are members of the Body of Christ because they have been called by God. They may not know the name of Jesus but they know in their hearts that they need something they do not have, and they turn to the only light they have, and I think that they are saved and they are going to be with us in heaven.” (Cited in Iain MurrayEvangelicalism Divided (2000), pp. 73–74)

A half-century has passed since those men waged war for the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith.  Although in the latter years of their ministries when I sat under them, their passion had not abated. They were determined to pass on to the next generation not only a knowledge of the past, but a warning against compromise and cooperation with evangelicals.

I graduated Bob Jones University knowing collaboration with those who reject the fundamentals of the Christian faith or trifle with the doctrine of sanctification and personal holiness would eventually introduce a cancer that would destroy ministries, churches, Bible colleges, and mission boards.

Sadly, I have lived to witness the failures of venerable Bible-preaching churches, closures of Bible colleges, and compromises of Christian institutions led by men either ignorant of the lessons of the past or dismissive of the spiritual heritage of the fundamental institutions.

The result of leadership that either lacks spiritual discernment or is contemptuous of the past is the same: those fundamental Bible institutions either close their doors or become a shadow of what they were in their golden years.

Dr. Bob Jones, Sr., Evangelist and founder of Bob Jones University.

Whether in word or practice, when spiritual leaders compromise, distance themselves from, or deny the spiritual legacy of the institutions they lead, they inevitably forget God’s providences past, and, in the words of Dr. Bob Jones, Sr.,

“Sacrifice the permanent on the altar of the immediate.”

With the heart of a shepherd,

Travis D. Smith

Senior Pastor

www.HeartofAShepherd.com

* The majority of readers who follow “Heart of A Shepherd” do so for the daily devotionals. It is my joy to have hundreds across the globe who are part of my faith journey. In addition to devotionals, I periodically post articles that I pray will move my peers “on the frontlines” of fundamental Bible ministries to sincerely evaluate their course and convictions. Today’s article is such an appeal.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Stopping Short of God’s Best (Numbers 31-32)

Scripture Reading – Numbers 31-32

Moses: The Final Battle (Numbers 31)

Knowing the men of Israel would soon cross the Jordan River and begin the conquest of the Promised Land, it was important that her enemies on the east side of the Jordan be eliminated as a threat to the people in their absence.  Thus, the LORD ordered Moses to wage war against the Midianites, slaying the men of Midian, their kings and the old nemesis of Israel, the prophet Balaam (31:1-10, 16).

Having gloriously conquered their enemies without the loss of a single man (31:49), the spoils of war were to be divided among those who went to war and those who did not. The Midianite men were all slain (31:7-8); however, their women and children, flocks and herds were spared (31:9-12).

Being reminded it was important for Israel to be holy and consecrated to the Lord, Moses and Eleazar, the high priest, went outside the encampment to meet the soldiers as they returned from the battle with the spoils of war (31:13).  Lest the people be tempted to fall into sexual immorality, Moses ordered the deaths of every adult woman who had “known man by lying with him” (31:13-18).

Those men who had gone to war were commanded to purify themselves seven days before entering the camp (31:19-24).  We are once again reminded that God is just, and a fairhandedness is expressed when the spoils of war are divided.  Those 12,000 men who had warred were rewarded with half of the booty; the other half was divided among those who had not hazarded their lives in battle (31:25-54).

A Crisis of Perspective (Numbers 32)

Two and a half tribes of Israel, Reuben, Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh, made an unexpected request (32:1-5). Reasoning the land on the east side of Jordan was fertile, and could support their livestock, they entreated for Moses to assign them their portion before crossing the Jordan River.

Moses’ response to their request was swift and direct, fearing those tribes were deserting the nation and would refuse to join the conquest of the land the LORD had promised Israel (32:6-15).

Reuben, Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh answered Moses’ concern with assurances. They would go to war beside their brethren and then return to the grassy pastures on the east side of the Jordan after the battles in the Promised Land were ended (32:16-42).

Stopping Short of God’s Best, Proved Disastrous (Numbers 32; 1 Chronicles 5:26)

Reuben, Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh fulfilled their obligation to go to war (Joshua 22:1-4); however, their decision to return to the east side of Jordan made their families vulnerable when enemies made war against Israel.

They were convinced the land shy of the Promised Land was good enough; however, that decision would become a great sorrow for their children.   Reuben, Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh were the first to turn from the LORD and be taken captive by Assyria (1 Chronicles 5:26).

Lesson – Half-way, half-hearted service for the LORD is unacceptable. 

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

A Changing of the Guard (Numbers 26-27)

Scripture Reading – Numbers 26-27 

Numbers 26 records a census of males in Israel, twenty years and older.  The census count will be the basis of assigning each tribe their geographical territory in the Promised Land (Numbers 26:52-56).

The Twelve Tribes of Israel are named, and the number of the young men age twenty years and older was 601,730 (note – 26:51). Not counted in the general census was Levi, the thirteenth tribe that was to serve the LORD and Israel as priests (26:52-62).

The closing verses of Numbers 26 remind us only two men of all those who were twenty years and older when they left Egypt would enter the Promised Land, Caleb and Joshua (26:63-65).

A changing of the guard and the end of an era is recorded in Numbers 27.

The LORD commands Moses, “Get thee up into this mount Abarim, and see the land which I have given unto the children of Israel. 13 And when thou hast seen it, thou also shalt be gathered unto thy people, as Aaron thy brother was gathered” (27:12-13).

Moses accepted the LORD’S command and the consequences of his sin with humility.  Thinking not of himself but of the people he loved, Moses requested of the Lord, “set a man over the congregation” (27:16).

Moses wanted a man of God’s choosing, a man with a shepherd’s heart, “that the congregation of the Lord be not as sheep which have no shepherd” (27:17). God chose “Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit” (27:18).   Leaving no uncertainty that Joshua was God’s man (27:18), Moses confirmed him before “all the congregation” (27:19) and challenged the people to honor him and “be obedient” (27:20).

Convincing “Eleazar the priest and all the congregation” that God had chosen Joshua, Moses “laid his hands upon him, and gave him a charge, as the LORD commanded” (27:23).

I close, with this reminder: “The greatest of men, are men at best.”

Moses would not be allowed to lead God’s people into their inheritance (27:13). His death shy of the Promised Land was a consequence of his sin, and the LORD reminded him, “Ye rebelled against my commandment” (27:14).

Lesson: Death is inevitable, and wise men and women plan for it.

James writes of life, “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (James 4:14).

The author of Hebrews warns, “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

Are you ready?

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith