Tag Archives: Friendship

Is it Time to Put Honey Back into Your Honeymoon?

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Song of Solomon 1-2

Our “Read-Thru the Bible” in a year is drawing to a close (hard to imagine we are 25 days from the start of a New Year)!  If you are among those who followed faithfully the daily reading schedule this year, congratulations!  I hope you are feeling a sense of accomplishment.

Today’s scripture reading introduces the Song of Solomon, our final book of poetry in the Old Testament scriptures.  As its name suggests, the author is Solomon, the son of King David and Bathsheba, and God’s chosen successor to his father’s throne.

God blessed Solomon with wisdom that exceeded all men. As a young Oriental king, he enjoyed wealth beyond imagination and there was no pleasure he was not afforded.  Following the custom of his day, Solomon formed alliances with heathen kings and took unto himself their daughters who brought with them their idols into his palaces (1 Kings 11:1-2).  With a harem of 700 wives and 300 concubines, we read of the king, “when Solomon was old… his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father” (1 Kings 11:4).

The Song of Solomon is a book of romance written when Solomon was a young king.  Because it is so descriptive of courtship and the intimacy of marriage, the book is seldom taught or preached in church (at least in mixed company).

There are various views on how to interpret the Song of Solomon.  Some suggest an Allegorical interpretation, stating the Song of Solomon describes God’s relationship with His people.  Some Jewish rabbis believed the Song of Solomon was an allegory [story or parable] describing God’s relationship with Israel.  Early church fathers took the approach the Song of Solomon describes Christ’s love for His church.

Others suggest a Typical interpretation and believe the Song of Solomon is a love poem written by the king to a young woman he loved.  A “typical” interpretation would suggest the book describes Christ’s love and relationship with the Church.

For the sake of our study, I suggest a Literal interpretation.  In other words, I believe the Song of Solomon is a story of romance, a love story; a celebration of love between the young king and the wife whom he loved and who loved him.  Chapters 1-2 record the beginning of the courtship.

Solomon, disguised as a Shepherd, passes a vineyard [perhaps one he had leased out to a family] and notices a beautiful young peasant woman (a Shulamite – 6:13).  She did not recognize her king and, embarrassed at the attention of the stranger and the darkness of her skin from laboring in the sun, she ran away (Song 1:5-6).

Like many a young woman dreaming of love, she dreams of meeting the stranger who showed an interest in her, not realizing she had fallen in love with her king (Song 1:7-9, 15).

The couple begin to romance one another with poetry in Song of Solomon 2.  In the following dialog, notice how the couple in love focus on the positives.

Young Maiden“I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.”  (Song 2:1)

Solomon“As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters.” (Song 2:2)

Young Maiden(Song 2:4, 8-9) – “4 He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love…8 The voice of my beloved! behold, he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills. 9My beloved is like a roe or a young hart: behold, he standeth behind our wall, he looketh forth at the windows, shewing himself through the lattice.   (Song 2:4, 8-9)

Solomon(Song of Solomon 2:10-14) 10  My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.
11  For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone;
12  The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;
13  The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.
14  O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely.”

Young Maiden“My beloved is mine, and I am his: he feedeth among the lilies.”  (Song 2:16)

I close with a principle from today’s scripture reading that can “affair proof” your marriage: “Be Positive!”

Young couples fall in love, not because they have found a perfect partner, but because they choose to focus on the positives and disregard the negatives.

No one is perfect and spend enough time with someone their negatives will become obvious. When that happens, you have a choice:

Dwell on the negatives or choose to look past them.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

You Need to Be Needed!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Ecclesiastes 3-4

Our reading in the Book of Ecclesiastes continues today with Ecclesiastes 3-4.   Rather than a book of happy reflections, Solomon bares his heart in Ecclesiastes and gives us an opportunity to ponder the empty soul of an elderly man whose lusts have taken him far from the LORD.  In a statement of the obvious, Solomon writes, To every thing there is a season [a time appointed], and a time to every purpose [matter; purpose; pleasure] under the heaven [sky] (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

I did not appreciate the passing of time and the seasons when I was young; however, I sometimes catch myself reflecting on the past as I grow older.  Whether physically or in my thoughts, I go home and visit places that hold meaning from my youth.  Familiar places; unmarked landmarks hold precious, childhood memories.  When I visit cemeteries and see familiar names inscribed on tombstones, voices long silenced by death resonate in my thoughts…Ricky Flynn, Mazzie Plyler, Leola Sapp, Parnell Threatt, Roland and Sadie Whitley, Dena Plyler remind me… “A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted” (3:2).

Consider with me some truths we can glean from Solomon’s ponderings.  The first, apart from God man’s life is aimless, purposeless.  Solomon asks, “What profit [gain; advantage] hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?” (3:9).  In other words, what does a man have to show for his toil in this earthly life?

Another truth, God has placed in the heart of man the reality of eternity and a longing He alone can satisfy.  Solomon writes,

Eccles. 3:11 – He hath made every thing beautiful in his time [season]: also he hath set [put] the world [lit. eternity] in their heart [mind; thoughts], so that no man can find out [suffice or satisfy] the work [deeds; activity] that God maketh from the beginning to the end.”

Men and women turn to drugs, alcohol and amusements attempting to fill the void in their souls only God can satisfy.  The successful, beautiful and powerful of the world learn too late that wealth, material possessions, fame and popularity are fleeting and temporal.

Eccles. 3:19-20 – “For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. 20 All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.

We can take many lessons from today’s scripture; however, I will focus on only one: You Need to Be Needed!  Consider three principles of truth from Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.

The first, working with others is satisfying and more rewarding than working alone (4:9-10). Solomon writes,

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 – “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. 10  For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.

Like oxen who are stronger and more productive when they share the same yoke, people working together are more satisfied in their work (4:9).  Working together discourages selfishness and self-centeredness (4:10) and provides an opportunity of encouraging others.

A second truth concerning the Need to Be Needed is, working with others encourages perseverance and protects (4:11-12).

Ecclesiastes 4:11-12 – “Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone12  And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken”

Investing your life and time in others gives you the privilege and comfort of the “huddle” in hard times.  Like a husband and wife who find warmth together on a cold night, we encourage and are encouraged when we “huddle”… laughing together, crying together, working together makes us stronger!  When an enemy threatens and difficult times come, a sincere friend will do all they can to huddle with you and keep you from falling or failing (4:12).

A third truth, God made us individuals; however, He never meant for us to be alone.

 Everything God created in the beginning was perfect and good (Genesis 1-2).  However, after creating Adam, “the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone…” (Genesis 2:19).

We are happiest when needed!  We are more effective in our work and less likely to give up when we work with others striving for the same goals.  Someone has said, A friend is someone who comes in when the rest of the world has walked out.”

While breaking baseball’s “color barrier,” Baseball legend and Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson, faced jeering crowds in every stadium.  While playing in his home stadium in Brooklyn, Robinson committed an error and his own fans began to ridicule him.

Standing at second base, alone and humiliated, shortstop “Pee Wee” Reese came over and stood next to Robinson.   Putting his arm around Robinson, “Pee Wee” faced the crowd until the fans grew silent.  Robinson later said that arm around his shoulder saved his career.

Investing your time and life in loving and helping others can help you overcome bouts of loneliness, discouragement and depression!

Friend, you Need to be Needed!

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Don’t enable your children’s sins!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Proverbs 29-30

Today’s devotional commentary focuses on one verse, Proverbs 29:3 and was first posted on this blog April 29, 2014.

As I was considering today’s devotional it occurred to me how little has changed in the world since Solomon’s writings nearly 3,000 years ago.  We share the same concerns in our day as those addressed by Solomon in his.  Granted, we are more sophisticated and enjoy the conveniences of modern technology; however, the problems of humanity are the same.  Poverty, rebellion, wickedness, oppression, heartache, sorrows and immorality are ever-present.  How can this be, you ask?

Times have changed, but the sinful nature of man is the same from generation to generation.  All humanity shares the bloodline of Adam and bear his nature and the curse of sin (“For since by man came death…For as in Adam all die” – 1 Corinthians 15:21-22).

Today’s proverb is timeless, as is all wisdom.

Proverbs 29:3  “Whoso loveth wisdom rejoiceth his father: but he that keepeth company with harlots spendeth his substance.”

Solomon returns to contrasting a wise son with a foolish son.  Someone might mistake Solomon’s observation of a son who loves wisdom with the more recent phenomenon of what I will describe as “perpetual students”—young adults who make going to school and pursuing degrees a career rather than the means to a career.  No, this son who is a delight to his father is more than a learner—he loves and adheres to godly wisdom and counsel.   A wise son who “loveth wisdom” rejoices the heart of his father!

The contrast to a son who walks according to wisdom is the son who is a heartache to his father and walks an ungodly path where he wastes his inheritance [“his substance”] in the company of the immoral.   I believe this son was a child of privilege and grew up in a home of affluence.  Like the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), he has no appetite for wisdom and, once free of his parent’s constraints, follows sinful pleasures until all is spent.

Sound familiar?  I have observed this pattern far too often over the years.  It has become commonplace for well-meaning parents longing for their child’s affections and desiring to keep peace in the family, to become enablers of an adult child’s waste and wantonness.

There may be parents and grandparents reading today’s proverb who feel as though you are looking at the reflection of your home and family in a mirror.   I know the pain of disappointments hurt, but you must accept that no amount of “substance” will earn your rebellious son or daughter’s affection.   At the same time, you must weigh your stewardship of the material possessions God has entrusted to you as a sacred trust.

Don’t enable your children’s sins!  Love them, care for their basic needs, but don’t become an enabler of sin.

I challenge sons and daughters reading this devotional to love godly wisdom, obey your parents and heed godly counsel.

Ephesians 6:1-3 – “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2  Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) 3  That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.”

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

A Salute and Challenge to Gray-headed Saints

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Psalms 69-71

Note from the author of “From the Heart of a Shepherd”:  Today’s post is the 900th blog post by this simple shepherd.  I pray the thoughts and spiritual ponderings of this pastor continue to be a blessing.  

Our scripture reading for today is a gold mine of truths and spiritual principles found in Psalms 69, 70 and 71; however, for the sake of brevity my focus will be two golden nuggets of truths taken from Psalm 71:9, 17 and 18.

Some believe king David is the author of Psalm 71 and I am inclined to lean that way; however, others make an argument its author is the prophet Jeremiah.  I will leave the debate of its authorship to others and am content it was written by a man of faith; a man who by God’s grace was young in spirit, but chronologically old in years.  The psalmist, confident in God’s providential care, had faith God’s hand had been upon him from his mother’s womb (71:6), through his youth (71:5) and was with him in the frailty of his old age (71:18).

Of the many fears that potentially haunt the elderly, surely the fear of being forgotten and forsaken is foremost.  The dynamics between youth and the aged presents a challenge; however, the technological revolution of the past 30 years with computers, iPads, cell phones and social media has made the generational divide a precipice.  The fast pace mobility of our 21st century society and an attitude of narcissism that dominates this generation has strained family ties and sadly, left as its victims millions of elderly who feel forgotten and forsaken.

Complicating the interaction of familial generations and contrary to what some aged might think, one is never too old to sin!   Many elderly fall into a sinful pattern and become cantankerous and difficult.  Because a negative, critical spirit only exasperates our loved ones and caregivers, let us who are grey-headed consider the prayer of the ancient psalmist to the LORD.

Psalm 71:9 – Cast me not off [down] in the time [season] of old age; forsake me not when my strength [power; vigor] faileth [consumed; finished].

The aged psalmist petitions the LORD for two things in verse 9. The first, “cast me not off in the time of old age” (71:9a).  Strength of youth inclines one to pursue independence…independent of family, friends and sadly, independent of God.  However, when the vigor of youth fails and the frailty of old age advances, we are reminded how much we need the LORD’s grace.

The second petition expressed by the psalmist is, “forsake me not when my strength faileth” (71:9b).  Visiting the elderly in nursing homes has been a pattern of my life from childhood.  I remember fondly accompanying my maternal grandparents, Roland and Sadie Whitley, in their Saturday visits to family and friends in nursing homes.  It comes as no surprise that, when they found themselves in those same beds, the Whitley’s were never lacking in visits from family and friends.

As a pastor\shepherd, my calling has me making frequent visits to hospitals, nursing homes and homes of shut-ins.  Sadly, there are many in those places that not only feel forsaken, they are all but forgotten.  At a time when their strength is gone, their eyesight is dim and hearing has failed…they are alone.  What a tragedy that our society looks upon its elderly as a burden rather than a blessing!

The elderly psalmist continues his prayer:

Psalm 71:17-18 – O God [Elohim; Mighty God], thou hast taught [instructed; goad or disciplined] me from my youth: and hitherto have I declared [tell as a messenger] thy wondrous works [miracles; acts that surpass human skill or works]. 18  Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed [declared; informed] thy strength [power] unto this generation, and thy power [might] to every one that is to come.

The psalmist declares in his old age, LORD, the things you taught me in my youth I continue to declare in my old age!  My elderly friend, when life affords you an opportunity to praise the LORD, whether in private or public, be among the first to declare God’s love, salvation, mercy and grace.

The psalmist’s prayer moves from affirmation and adoration in verse 17 to petition and purpose in verse 18.  Unlike the old sassy commercial that declared, “I’m going to wash the gray right out of my hair”, the psalmist acknowledges, “I am old and grayheaded” and petitions the LORD for His power and presence in his life (“forsake me not”).

Finally, the psalmist declares his purpose for living: “until I have shewed [declared; informed] thy strength [power] unto this generation, and thy power [might] to every one that is to come” (71:18b).  The old psalmist’s thoughts turned to his spiritual legacy.  Thirty-eight years of ministry has brought home to me the sad realization that few give any thought to the spiritual legacy they are leaving for the next generation.  They have their wills written, their possessions planned for parceling, but the urgency of declaring a lifetime testimony concerning God’s faithfulness and blessings seems forgotten.

Elderly believer, I know you and I share the sentiment of the psalmist…Oh Lord, don’t forsake me when I am old and frail; however, will you also purpose to declare to all who will listen God’s faithfulness? I close with an appropriate quote and challenge:

“How many people in our churches, at an age when they ought to be tearing the world apart, are instead sliding home?” – Dr. Howard Hendricks

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

A Wise Man Knows and Remembers the Character of His Enemies

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Daily reading assignment – 1 Kings 1-4

Our scripture reading today brings us to the end of an era in Israel and the beginning of a new book in our “Read-Thru the Bible In A Year” plan.  The opening verse of 1 Kings sets the stage for a transition of leadership in Israel and the waning days of David: “Now king David was old and stricken in years” (1 Kings 1:1).

The mighty king whose youthful exploits were celebrated in song is old, frail, and lying on his deathbed.  David’s body was cold and he succumbed to the counsel of his attendants to accept a young woman to his bed to provide him warmth and comfort (although the scriptures make a point of noting he did not violate her purity and “knew her not” – 1 Kings 1:1-4).

Remembering the prophet Nathan’s warning that the consequences of David’s adultery with Bathsheba was the sword never departing from his house (2 Samuel 12:7-10), we find Adonijah, David’s son, usurping the king and aspiring to the throne before David died (1 Kings 1:5-10).  A weakness seen throughout David’s life has been his unwillingness to confront the sins of his household and such is the case once again with Adonijah when we read, “his father had not displeased him [Adonijah] at any time in saying, Why hast thou done so?” (1 Kings 1:6).  David’s failure to address his son’s usurpation gave others cause to follow Adonijah, setting the stage for a civil war not only in the king’s household, but also in the land.

On a personal note, I have learned by experience that rebels have an ability to sense the spirit of rebellion in others who, though not sharing the rebel’s impudence, nevertheless have a weakness in character that is easily led astray.   It is no surprise there were some in David’s inner circle who, knowing the king is old and frail, were ready to seize the opportunity to be confederate with Adonijah and commandeer the throne of Israel. Among the traitors that followed Adonijah was Joab (1 Kings 1:7), one of David’s “mighty men” who had disparaged the king’s will in the past and slain two of his generals (2 Samuel 3:27; 20:10).

Rebels also have a sense of those who are loyal to leadership and avoid their company.  Adonijah called several to join him and anoint him as his father’s successor to the throne; however, “Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah, and the mighty men, and Solomon his brother, he called not” (1 Kings 1:10).  Adonijah knew his actions were contrary to the will of the LORD announced by the prophet Nathan and he therefore did not invite the Nathan, the priest Benaiah or his brother Solomon to his feast and coronation.

Knowing Adonijah was setting in motion a plan to seize the throne from his father, Nathan wisely counseled Bathsheba to intercede with the king for her son Solomon and have him declared king (1 Kings 1:11-31).  David heeded the counsel of his wife and the prophet Nathan and directed that Solomon be anointed king and declared his successor (1:32-40).  When news reached Adonijah that Solomon was king, he and all who had followed him in the rebellion feared for their lives and fled (1:41-53).

We find evidence of another truth in 1 Kings 2: A man’s character tends to be constant. In other words, the strengths and weaknesses of a man’s character are predictable and shadow his life.  Consider the counsel David gives Solomon regarding his adversaries (2:1-9).

Accepting the certainty of his death, David prepared Solomon to reign in his stead, challenging his son to be “strong” and conduct himself according to God’s law, assuring him the LORD’s blessing will rest upon his lineage (2:1-4).

David cautioned Solomon, reminding him of the flaws and failures of certain men in positions of power and influence that had proved untrustworthy and wronged him as king (2:5-9).   Joab’s disloyalty concerned David who urged Solomon to “let not his hoar head (white hairs) go down to the grave in peace” (2:5-6).   There was also Shimei, the man who had cursed David when he fled from his son Absalom.  Shimei had begged for his life and was spared after Absalom’s rebellion, but David urged his son to execute Shimei and not risk him becoming a threat to the throne (2:8-9).

After David dies (2:10-11), Solomon moved to secure his kingdom and the first threat Solomon faced was his own brother Adonijah (2:12-25).  Adonijah, playing on the pity Bathsheba might have for his state, petitioned Solomon’s mother to intercede for him (2:13-18). Solomon discerned Adonijah’s plot and had the failed usurper put to death (2:19-25).

Following his father’s advise, Solomon dealt with each of his enemies.  Abiathar, the priest who had supported Adonijah’s illegitimate claim to the throne was warned his traitorous actions were worthy of death, but he would be spared (2:26-27).  Hearing Solomon was pursuing threats to his reign, Joab fled to the altar hoping to find grace, but was slain (2:28-35).  Solomon also remembered the curses of Shimei against his father and warned him the day he departed Jerusalem he would be slain. (2:36-38). Three years past and Shimei made the foolish decision to leave Jerusalem in haste and was slain (2:39-46).

My commentary on the balance of today’s devotional reading, 1 Kings 3-4, and the great spiritual lessons and truths found in those chapters will continue in another year, Lord willing.

I encourage you to reflect on the character of rebels, the threat they represent to you, your family and church.  Remember, apart from repentance and humility, the strengths and weaknesses of a man’s character tend to be consistent.   In other words, a liar is a liar; a thief is a thief; a traitor is a traitor; and an honest, faithful man is predictably just that…honest, faithful and trustworthy!

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

God restores failures and uses imperfect people.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Daily reading assignment: Mark 1-2

I have heard it often said, “Bible believers are the only ones who shoot their wounded!”

Why is it, we who have been forgiven much, are often unwilling to forgive and restore others?  Why do we set ourselves up as the perfect standard and condemn others who fall short of our expectations?

I fear many who have known the LORD for years or grew up in church and were spared the mire of sin, forget the sinful muck out of which God saves us.  We forget God’s exhortation for us to forgive to the extent we have experienced forgiveness (Ephesians 4:32).

Today’s Bible reading takes us to the Gospel of Mark and the ministry of John the Baptist; however, before we plunge into that study, let us take some lessons from the life of its human author, John Mark.

Who was John Mark?   Unlike the authors of the Gospels of Matthew, Luke and John, Mark was not one of the twelve disciples. We learn from Acts 12:12 he was a citizen of Jerusalem.  Some believe he is the young man mentioned in Mark 14:50-52 who fled into the night naked when Jesus was arrested in the Garden.  It is widely accepted he was a traveling companion of the Apostle Peter from whom he gained intimate knowledge of the Lord.  In Acts 12:25 he departs from Jerusalem with Paul and Barnabas to Antioch and is their helper as they set out on their first missionary journey (Acts 13:1-5).

Fortunately for us, but unfortunately for John Mark, his journey with Paul and Barnabas became a spiritual crisis and came to an abrupt end when we read, “Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John departing [going away; deserting] from them returned [turning his back] to Jerusalem” (Acts 13:13).

The cause for John Mark’s sudden departure is not revealed (I speculate the hardships of travel, but more so the danger and ever-present threat of persecution); however, John Mark reappears in Acts 15 and becomes a source of conflict and division between two of the churches greatest missionaries – Paul and Barnabas (Acts 15:36-39). The dynamic missionary duo, Paul and Barnabas, were preparing to go on a second missions trip when we read “Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark” (Acts 15:37). Unlike Barnabas, Paul “thought it not good [desirable] to take [John Mark], who departed from [quit; deserted] them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work (15:38). The dispute over John Mark’s company became so great between Barnabas and Paul the great co-laborers went their separate ways (Acts 15:39-41).

That fact brings us to the question: “How did John Mark go from being a man with whom Paul was unwilling to travel to the author of the Gospel of Mark?   We do not know what transpired in John Mark’s life after he departed with Barnabas on a mission’s journey apart from Paul. We do know he went on to distinguish himself as one of God’s faithful servants.

Many believe Mark penned his Gospel to the believers in Rome while he was in Rome, leaving me to ask, “What brought John Mark to Rome?”

 I believe the answer to that question is found in Paul’s second letter to Timothy, written while he was a prisoner in Rome awaiting his execution. Paul writes, “Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable [good; worthy] to me for the ministry” (2 Timothy 4:11). It was Paul’s desire, not only that Timothy would come to his aid, but that he would also bring Mark to minister with him.

As you read the Gospel of Mark, remember one of the great spiritual lessons we take from its author: God restores failures and uses imperfect people to do His work.

While Paul viewed John Mark as a disappointment, Barnabas looked through the eyes of a Mentor, and at the risk of a friend’s company, lovingly restored Mark to ministry. Perhaps it was this lesson that moved Paul’s heart when he penned:

Galatians 6:1-2 – “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. 2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

You Are Your Brother’s Keeper

genesis-4-4Monday, January 9, 2017

Daily reading assignment: Genesis 4-7

Today’s Bible reading covers a broad scope of historical fact from Eve giving birth to the first sons born of Adam’s seed, Cain, Abel, and Seth (Genesis 4:1-2, 26) to Noah and his families’ entrance into the Ark as the universal flood destroyed all life on the earth with the exception of Noah’s family and the animals that entered the Ark (Genesis 7).  Given the wealth of truth we find in today’s reading assignment (Genesis 4-7), I could spend months writing devotionals on these chapters, but alas, I must limit myself to a brief highlight of one thought I trust will be a blessing.

I invite you to ponder the conversation between God and Cain, Adam and Eve’s firstborn son, after he had slain his brother Abel (Genesis 4:8). We read:

cain-slew-abelGenesis 4:9 – And the LORD [Jehovah] said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper [watchman; guard; keeper]?

God’s question presented Cain an opportunity to confess his egregious sin; however, Cain was insolent and responded with defiance.

What an incredible insight we are given into not only the effect of sin, but also the callous heart of sinners.  Cain was the firstborn of Adam after the fall; however, in one generation the depth of wickedness seeded in his heart astounds us as we see the consequences of Adam and Eve’s sin in the sinful nature of their son.

Consider Cain’s audacious question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9).  His intent was to shirk accountability for his sin; however, are you and I any different?  Are we not also guilty of the same when it comes to our responsibility for our brethren?  I am afraid the majority of Christians have that same response when we observe fellow believers going astray from the Truth and the way of righteousness.  Yes, we are our “brother’s keeper”.  Paul taught the Thessalonica believers they had a shared responsibility for their brethren, especially those who were spiritually struggling.1-thess-5-14

1 Thessalonians 5:14 – Now we exhort you, brethren, warn [admonish] them that are unruly [disorderly; rebels], comfort [encourage] the feebleminded [fainthearted; easily discouraged; quitters], support [i.e. take by the hand; hold them up; stand beside] the weak [weak in character], be patient [longsuffering; don’t give up] toward all men.

Do you know someone struggling?  Love them; pray for them; and as God gives you opportunity, be their “Keeper”, guardian, and friend.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith