Tag Archives: Grace

Count Your Blessings! (Psalm 16)

Today’s Bible Reading is Genesis 45-46, Psalm 16, and Matthew 16. Our devotional is from Psalm 16:6.

Psalm 16 is known as the “Golden Psalm”.  Quoted by Peter in his sermon on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:25-28), its closing verses give a prophetic picture of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection (Psalm 16:8-11).

For today, our focus is Psalm 16:1-7, a portrait of a believer’s walk of faith in the LORD. For your mediation, I invite you to consider this simple outline: Faith’s Security (16:1), Faith’s Passion (16:2-3), Faith’s Influence (16:4), Faith’s Inheritance (16:5-6), and Faith’s Instructor (16:7).

Psalm 16:10 seems to indicate David wrote this psalm at a time he was in peril.  Perhaps fearing for his life, he cries out to the LORD, Preserve [guard; protect] me, O God: for in thee do I put my trust [confidence; seek my refuge]” (16:1).  Knowing the LORD hears and answers prayer, David took refuge and comfort believing God would preserve and protect him.

Psalm 16:6 gives us a picture of a surveyor marking the boundary lines of a man’s property, perhaps the portion of his inheritance.

Psalm 16:6 – “The lines [measure; inheritance; portion] are fallen [allotted] unto me in pleasant [delightful; sweet; lovely] places; yea, I have a goodly [fair; pleasing] heritage [inheritance].”

In spite of perils and troubles he was facing, David did not allow them to drive him to despair.  With his focus on the LORD and recalling His blessings and promises, he writes, “I have a goodly heritage” (16:6b).

What a blessed truth! When your heart is burden and your thoughts tempted to despair, remember the LORD has laid out for you “pleasant places”.   He has apportioned His grace, mercies, and favor to His children.

Take a moment and count the LORD’s blessings.  Contemplate “the lines, the portion, the measure of His  grace”.  Remember the goodly heritage you have in the LORD…your salvation, His promises, your family, friends, and church family.  Cherish the moments and count the blessings!

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

 

Trust God, His Way is Perfect (Genesis 43-44)

Today’s Bible Reading is Genesis 43-44, Psalm 16, and Matthew 16. Our Devotional is from Genesis 43-44.

Now the famine continued in Jacob’s country and he reluctantly gave his sons liberty to return to Egypt with Benjamin his youngest son (43:1-14).  Arriving in Egypt, Joseph’s brothers once again appeared before Joseph whose identity was still unknown to them (43:15-16).

Joseph ordered his servant to prepare lunch and commanded his brothers be his guests (43:16-17).  Fearing the worse, Joseph’s brothers cowered at the thought of entering the home of Egypt’s second most powerful ruler, especially when they remembered the money from their previous purchase had found its way into their grain sacks (43:18).  Unable to contain their fear, the brothers began confessing their anxieties to Joseph’s servant and learned he was responsible for returning their money to their sacks (43:19-23a).  To their amazement, Simeon, the brother who had been left in Egypt, was restored to them (43:23b).

Still speaking through an interpreter, Joseph greeted his guests and questioned them regarding their father’s welfare (43:26-27).  Answering Joseph, the brothers bowed before him and fulfilled a vision God gave him in his youth (43:28; 37:9-10).  Suddenly overcome with emotion, Joseph fled to the privacy of his room and wept (43:30-31).

The meal being concluded, Joseph directed his steward to covertly place his brothers’ money in their grain sacks and ordered his silver cup placed in Benjamin’s sack (44:1-3).  Sending his brothers on their journey, Joseph soon ordered his servants to pursue and overtake them as they exited the city gate (44:4-12).

Searching through sacks of grain beginning with the eldest to the youngest brother, the servants uncovered  Joseph’s silver cup in Benjamin’s sack and charged him with theft.  Taken with grief, the brother’s pled for Benjamin.  Finally Judah, the fourth son of Jacob and the brother proved to be most honorable, confessed his fear the trials that befell them was God’s judgment for the grievous sin they had committed against Joseph (43:13-17).

Judah pled for Joseph to spare Benjamin, lest his loss be a sorrow unto death for their father (44:18-32).  Finally, in an act of humility, Judah offered himself as Joseph’s slave in Benjamin’s place (44:33-34).

Joseph’s life has taken a path he did not choose; however, his faithfulness and faith in the LORD has borne him from the humiliation of a household slave and prisoner to the pinnacle of power and earthly success.  Friend, I do not know the circumstances in which you find yourself, but I challenge you to Do Right, trust God, His way is perfect (Psalm 18:30)!

To Be Continued…

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

Is “The Gospel” All That Matters?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Travis D. Smith

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

“Too Late!” (Genesis 17-18)

* Today’s Bible reading assignment is Genesis 17-18, Psalm 7, and Matthew 7. Our devotional is from Genesis 17-18.

God renewed His covenant with Abraham in Genesis 17 and ten years later when Abraham was nearly 100 years old, God announced the impossible: 90-year-old Sarah “shall be a mother of nations” (17:15-17).  Abraham laughed, saying in his heart, “Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?” (17:17)

Betraying his lack of faith and willing to content himself with less than God’s best, Abraham suggested Ishmael be his heir (17:18).   God, however, renewed His covenant with Abraham stating Sarah would bear him a son and his name would be Isaac (17:19). While God refused Ishmael as Abraham’s heir, He comforted him promising Ishmael would be father to a “great nation” (17:20).

A “theophany”, the LORD appearing in the form of man, occurs in Genesis 18 when He and two angels appeared as men before Abraham’s tent bringing news within Sarah’s hearing that she would bear a son.  We read how Sarah “laughed within herself” at the thought that she, a woman “waxed old” would bear Abraham’s son (Genesis 18:12).  The LORD questioned Abraham, “Wherefore did Sarah laugh?” (Genesis 18:13).

Sarah, was surprise Abraham’s visitor not only knew she scoffed at the promise she would bear a son, but laughed at the thought of it!  The LORD asked Abraham, “Is any thing too hard for the LORD?” (Genesis 18:15) The LORD asserted He would return when the promise son was born (Genesis 18:14).  Sarah, perhaps fearing the visitor who knew her thoughts, denied she laughed at the birth announcement, and the LORD rebuked her lie (Genesis 18:15).

The closing verses of Genesis 18 contain the fateful message the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah would be judged and destroyed for their wickedness (18:20-22).  Knowing his nephew Lot and his family lived in Sodom; Abraham interceded that the LORD might spare the city (18:23-33).  The LORD mercifully agreed to Abraham’s request when he proposed if ten righteous people be found in Sodom the city would be spared God’s judgment.

Ten righteous souls; perhaps the size of Lot’s own family, would have spared a city of lost, hell-bound souls.  Of course, Lot’s presence in Sodom was not ordered of the LORD nor was Lot’s interest the lost souls of his neighbors. Abraham cared for the inhabitants and interceded for the city, but all was lost when Lot was unable to stir the hearts of his own children to flee before God’s judgment (Genesis 19).

Allow me to close by suggesting you and I have a sphere of influence, a providential presence, among lost souls.  While the fate of a city does not rest within our realm, I wonder how many might?

Comparing the two, Abraham and Lot, whom did you most resemble? Abraham who compassionately made intercession for the wicked of that city or Lot who lived in the midst, but waited too late to plead even for the souls of his children?

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

What is in Your Heart? (Genesis 7-8)

It is not too late to take up the challenge of reading through the Bible in a year.  You can download the Bible Reading Plan at www.HillsdaleBaptist.org. Today’s assignment is Genesis 7-8, Psalm 4, and Matthew 4.

The historical narrative of the universal flood begins in Genesis 6 where we read, “5the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually…7And the LORD said, I will destroy man…” (Genesis 6:5, 7).

Out of all the earth, one man “found grace [divine favor] in the eyes of the LORD”(Genesis 6:8).  “Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God” (Genesis 6:9).

The last four words of verse 9 answers the question, “Why did God spare Noah and his family?”  He was a man of faith “and walked with God”.  While wickedness and rebellion were universal, Noah believed God, called upon Him, and walked with Him.

A testimony of Noah’s faith and God’s grace is he and his family were saved from the greatest cataclysmic event to ever come upon the earth.  It rained 40 days and 40 nights (7:12,17) and when the rains stopped the waters covered the earth another 150 days.

The story of God’s universal judgment is interrupted with a phrase that is a joy to read; “God remembered Noah…”(Genesis 8:1).  Altogether, Noah and his family remained in the Ark 370 days until the waters receded (Genesis 8:14-16).  When God commanded him to leave the Ark, Noah’s first act as spiritual leader of his household was to build an altar and offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving to God (Genesis 8:20-21a).  The LORD accepted Noah’s sacrifice, promising He would never again destroy the earth.

We read an ominous statement regarding the heart of man after the flood;  “the imagination [thinking; inner thoughts] of man’s heart [mind; understanding; center of his thinking] is evil [sinful; wicked; ] from his youth”(Genesis 8:21b).

The pre-flood world had been laid waste and the face of the earth scarred as a lasting reminder of God’s wrath [example – the Grand Canyon]; however, one thing had not changed…the heart of man.

God’s observation before the flood was, “every imagination of the thoughts of his [man’s] heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).  The same malady was true of the heart of man after the flood (Genesis 8:21b).

Sadly, that reality will be too soon apparent in Genesis 9.

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

At the Risk of Being Misunderstood

John McCain’s death has drawn tributes from all quarters of the world…political and religious; however, I fear we too easily overlook the one lasting lesson we might take from his life … “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

Lest I be accused of callousness, I extend to John McCain’s family sincere condolences, being reminded the grief and sorrow of death is a universal certainty. Indeed, death is no respecter of persons and we all, great and small, live under the shadow of death, “For all have sinned” (Romans 3:23) and “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

I am not privy of John McCain’s spiritual relationship with God at his death.  Commended by many for his service to our country, the only commendation that has lasting, eternal value is whether or not God received him on the basis of his faith in the redemption found in Jesus Christ alone (Romans 10:9-10, 13).

Of all the acclamations expressed to a man for a life-time of service, the most important is not one he deserves, but one promised as an expression of God’s grace: “the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

United States Naval Academy graduate, naval aviator, tortured prisoner of war, and life-time politician…all earn the acclaim of an adoring public, but I wonder if God received John McCain as a believer saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9).  After all, “there is no respect of persons” before God’s judgment (Colossians 3:24-25).

With the heart of a shepherd,

Travis D. Smith

Senior Pastor

Worship With Hillsdale This Sunday!

Following a tragic week when our State witnessed the loss of 17 innocent lives, our church family will remember in prayer this Sunday the grieving families, students, faculty and administrators of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL.

When I began my new series, “Reflections on Compassion and Grace”, I had no idea how appropriate that theme would become for our church, State, and nation. This Sunday morning, my focus is on John 6 and my title is, “Feeding the 5,000: What Would You Do?”

I plan to address several questions in the morning service:

1) Why did Jesus retreat to the wilderness on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee?

2) Why is the Sea of Galilee referred to as the “Sea of Tiberias” in John 6:1?

3) Why did the multitude follow Jesus?

4) Why did Jesus ask Philip, “Whence shall we buy bread?” (John 6:6), if he knew what He was going to do? (John 6:7)

We will consider three responses to Jesus’ suggestion to feed the multitude (John 6:7; Matthew 14:15; John 6:8-9) and the spiritual principles we should take from this wonderful miracle.

“There She Is, Mrs. Persia”

We continue our verse-by-verse study of Esther 2 in Hillsdale’s 6:00 PM service this Sunday.  Remembering the overriding truth in the Book of Esther is the providence of God, I look forward to drawing your attention to God’s unseen hand as He providentially orchestrates the affairs of man to accomplish His eternal purpose and the good of His people.

Have a blessed Saturday, prepare your heart, and join us as we worship the LORD this Sunday!

With the heart of a shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

Copyright 2018 – Travis D. Smith