Tag Archives: Grace

Face to Face (Exodus 33-34)

Today’s Bible reading and devotional is Exodus 33-34.

God called Moses to go up to the Mount and gave him the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20), His governing Laws (Exodus 22:22-24:8), and His assurance He would be with His chosen people when they went up to the land He had promised them for an inheritance (Exodus 23:20-33).

God also gave instructions for the construction of the Tabernacle, the Ark and the altar for sacrifices (Exodus 25-27).  The Aaronic priesthood was established (Exodus 28:6-30), the robes and ornaments of the priests defined, and Aaron and his sons consecrated for the priesthood in Exodus 29:1-37; 30:22-33.

While Moses was in the mount with the LORD for forty days, in his absence the people rebelled and returned to the idolatrous ways of Egypt (Exodus 32). Angered by the sin of the people, God vowed to judge them in His wrath (Exodus 32:7-8), but Moses interceded for them (Exodus 32:9-14).   God answered Moses’ prayer and, while there would be consequences, nevertheless, the Lord did not destroy the people altogether (Exodus 32:12-34:28).

We see several principles regarding the character of God and His divine attributes in today’s reading. The LORD’s holiness and unwillingness to tolerate sin.  While the LORD kept His promise, He also contended “I will not go up in the midst of thee” (Exodus 33:3).

Moses dreaded the thought of proceeding in Israel’s journey without the LORD.  Moses pled with the LORD, “If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence” (Exodus 13:15). Oh that all God’s leaders were so sensitive and dependent on the LORD.

To know the manner of man Moses was, he was not satisfied only with the LORD’s presence; he prayed to the LORD, “shew me thy glory”(Exodus 33:18). God graciously replied to Moses, “Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live” (Exodus 33:20).

So we learn no man can see God in all His unveiled, heavenly glory; however, the LORD blessed Moses with a glimpse of His glory while He sheltered him in the cleft of the rock (33:21-22).

Exodus 34 records Moses’ second ascent to the mount and into God’s presence. Once again, he abode in the presence of the LORD for forty days where he received God’s instructions in His Law and Commandments (34:1-28).

When Moses descended the mount all Israel gathered at Sinai and the people looked upon his face realizing it shone with the brightness of God’s glory (34:28-30).  So bright was the reflection of God’s glory upon Moses’ face, he wore a vail (34:31-35) among the people; however, when he entered into God’s presence he removed the vail reminding us no matter of the heart is hidden from the LORD.

Friend, while I have never seen the brightness of God’s glory reflected in the face of a believer, I have seen the radiance of godliness reflected on the face of saints who spent their lives in the presence of God.  In the words of Fanny Crosby, someday the saints will “see Him face to face, And tell the story—Saved by grace.”

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

God restores failures and uses imperfect people. (Mark 1-2)

Today’s Bible reading is Exodus 29-30, Psalm 30, and Mark 2. Our devotional is from Mark 1-2.

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

If true, that is a tragic statement!   We should be compelled to forgive and restore others by the reality we have been forgiven much by God (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 5:8).

I fear many who grew up in church or have known the LORD for years forget the sinful muck out of which God saved us.  We forget the command to forgive others 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.  He was a citizen of Jerusalem (Acts 12:12) and some believe he was the young man who fled into the night when Jesus was arrested in the Garden (Mark 14:50-52).  He was also a traveling companion of Paul and Barnabas when they set out on their first missionary journey to Antioch (Acts 13:1-5).

Mark’s journey with Paul and Barnabas 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 and threat of persecution was the cause).

John Mark reemerges in Acts 15 and his desire to travel once again with Paul and Barnabas becomes a source of conflict and division between the two (Acts 15:36-39).  We read “Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark” (Acts 15:37); however, Paul “thought it not good [desirable] to take [John Mark]…” (15:38).  The dispute became so great Barnabas and Paul went their separate ways (Acts 15:39-41).

That 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; however, we know he went on to distinguish himself as one of God’s faithful servants.

It is believed Mark penned his Gospel while in Rome, leading me to ask,“What brought John Mark to Rome?”   The answer to that question is found in Paul’s second letter to Timothy.  Paul writes, “…Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable [good; worthy] to me for the ministry” (2 Timothy 4:11).

When Paul viewed John Mark as a disappointment; Barnabas looked through the eyes of a Mentor and, at the risk of his friendship, 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.”

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.

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

An Antidote for Enslaving Fear (Psalm 27)

Today’s Bible reading is Exodus 23-24, Psalm 27, and Matthew 27. Our daily devotional is from Psalm 27.

Some things warrant a good healthy dose of fear.  For instance, it is good to fear and revere authority empowered to guard us against and even punish foolish, unlawful choices.  We should also fear the deadly potential of a lightning strike, the fast approach of a train at a railroad crossing, and the penalty for failing to study for an exam.

Some fears are enslaving and harmful to the soul.  The fear of failure can paralyze and hinder prudent decisions.   Fear rejection and you will retreat from friendship and relationships.  Fear criticism and you might be tempted to quit!  In the words of king Solomon, “The fear of man bringeth a snare…”(Proverbs 29:25).

Can we overcome negative, enslaving fears?  Absolutely! Let’s take some spiritual lessons from king David’s life experiences (Psalm 27:1-3).

 Psalm 27:1– “The LORD is my light and my salvation [Deliverer]; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength [fortress; refuge] of my life; of whom shall I be afraid [fear; tremble]?”

Notice three assertions concerning David’s courage and faith in contrast with fear in verse 1.  The first, “The Lord is my Light:  David’s confidence was not in human thought or philosophy; his courage arose from his conviction that the LORD Who is Jehovah, Eternal God, was the source of light to his soul (John 1:4-5, 9; 1 John 1:5).

David’s second assertion is, “The LORD…is my Salvation”; not only his guiding light, but also the One Who is able to save his soul from the curse of sin. Having declared the LORD is his light and salvation, David asks, Whom shall I fear?” 

Is anyone too big for God?  Is anyone stronger than the LORD?  Is any circumstance greater than the LORD?

David’s third assertion is, The LORD is the Strength of my life; his Rock, Fortress and Refuge! Why be afraid of mortal man if the Lord is your Protector?

Having stated the LORD is the object of his faith; David pondered God’s providences and protection in the past (27:2).

Psalm 27:2 – “When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes [hostile], came upon me to eat up [devour; consume] my flesh [body], they stumbled and fell.”

Remembering God’s faithfulness in the past, David confidently declared he would not be overcome with fear!

Psalm 27:3 – “Though an host [great company] should encamp [lay siege] against me, my heart [mind] shall not fear [tremble]: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident [trust; secure].”

Take heart believer!  The LORD is your Light, Salvation, and Refuge; cast aside your fears and affirm with David:

I will not allow fear to overcome me or the threat of the unknown rob me of my joy; have faith and confidence in God!  

In the apostle Paul’s words, “If God be for us, who can be against us?”(Romans 8:31)

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

Timeless Commandments (Exodus 19-20)

Today’s Bible reading and devotional is Exodus 19-20.

Three months from their exodus out of Egypt, Moses and the children of Israel arrive at Mount Sinai (Exodus 19) where the LORD directs His servant to instruct the people to hear His Word and keep His covenant.  Confirming His covenant with the people, the LORD promised Israel would be “a peculiar treasure…above all people” (19:5-6).

Calling “for the elders of the people”, Moses rehearsed all the LORD had commanded him (19:7) and the people affirmed they would keep the LORD’s covenant (19:8).  In preparation for establishing His covenant with Israel, the LORD directed Moses to “sanctify” the people and command they wash their clothes (19:9-15).

On the third day, the LORD made Himself known to the people by “thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud” (19:16) and the LORD “descended upon it [the mount]in fire: and the smoke ascended” (19:18) and the “trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder” (19:19).  Witnessing the power and majesty of the LORD, “all the people that was in the camp trembled” (19:16b).

Out of the thunder, lighting, sound of the trumpet, and the fire and smoke the LORD introduced Himself saying, “I am the LORD [Jehovah; Eternal, Self-Existent God] thy God [Elohim], which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage”(Exodus 20:2).

As part of His covenant, the LORD set forth Ten Commandments that Israel was to hear, heed and obey (20:1-17).  For the sake of brevity, I will list the Commandments of God’s covenant with Israel.

Exodus 20:3-17 – “3  Thou shalt have no other gods before me. 4  Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image…7  Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain…8  Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy… 12  Honour thy father and thy mother…13  Thou shalt not kill. 14  Thou shalt not commit adultery. 15  Thou shalt not steal. 16  Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. 17  Thou shalt not covet…”

Exodus 20:22-26 instructs the people regarding worship (20:22-23), the construction and sanctity of altars (Exodus 20:24-25), and states a principle of modesty that dictated low altars as opposed to the “high altars”:  “Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon”  (Exodus 20:26).

Contrary to the casual “come as you are” brashness of the majority of 21stcentury churches, it may come as a surprise to some believers that the LORD not only instructed His people regarding sincere and holy worship, but also went to lengths in dictating their “nakedness” not become a distraction for those who worship the LORD (Exodus 20:26).

1 Peter 3:3-4 – “3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorningof plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; 4 But let it bethe hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornamentof a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.”

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

Our God is Creator and Sovereign of the Nations (Exodus 9-10)

Today’s Bible reading is Exodus 9-10, Psalm 22, and Matthew 22. Our devotional is from Exodus 9-10.

We continue our study of Exodus and Moses’ petition that Pharaoh set God’s people free to go into the wilderness and offer sacrifices to the LORD (Exodus 9:1).  Having suffered four plagues (Exodus 7:19-8:24), Pharaoh continues to harden his heart.

The fifth plague fell on the livestock of Egypt (Exodus 9:3); however, as a testimony of God’s sovereignty and love for Israel, none of Israel’s livestock perished (9:4-7).  Yet, Pharaoh continued to harden his heart against the LORD.

The sixth plague was the misery and suffering that comes with boils and blisters and fell upon man and beast in Egypt (9:8-11).  Once again, Pharaoh did not repent and  “the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh” (9:12).

The seventh plague brought hail raining down and destroying the crops in the fields of Egypt (9:13-35).  Some of Pharaoh’s servants believed Moses’ warnings and sheltered their servants and livestock in houses (9:20).  When Pharaoh saw the plague of hail had ceased, “he sinned yet more, and hardened his heart” as he had in the past (9:34-35).

Egypt suffered enough loss at the end of the seventh plague that hunger and famine became the lot of the people.  Nevertheless, Pharaoh refused to repent of his sin and the LORD commanded Moses, “Go in unto Pharaoh: for I have hardened his heart, and the heart of his servants” (10:1). [On a personal note: don’t underestimate the influence of a nation’s leaders on its citizens; as Pharaoh’s hardened his heart, the same was true of the people].

The eight plague to come upon Egypt was locusts and they devoured what was left of the nation’s crops (10:3-20).   Darkness was the ninth plague (10:21-29).  While Israel enjoyed the comfort of light in their dwellings, a darkness oppressed the Egyptians that was heavy and frightening.  Still, Pharaoh refused to allow Israel to go.

Why did the LORD not simply deliver Israel from bondage by the force of His will and power?

Exodus 10:2 – “And that thou mayest tell in the ears of thy son, and of thy son’s son, what things I have wrought in Egypt, and my signs which I have done among them; that ye may know how that I am the LORD.”

The LORD wanted Israel to know and remember through successive generations all He had done in Egypt.  His dealings with Pharaoh and the Egyptians was to serve as a lasting testimony of the LORD’s person, His power, and His presence among His chosen people.

Though a nation of slaves, Israel’s God was the Creator and Sovereign of nature and He would bring the greatest ruler and most powerful nation in the world to her knees.

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

Call to Our God, He is The LORD of Creation! (Exodus 7-8)

Today’s Bible reading is Exodus 7-8, Psalm 21, and Matthew 21. Our Bible devotional is from Exodus 7-8.

Exodus 6:28-7:13 records the second confrontation between Moses and Pharaoh.  Of Pharaoh we read, “But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened and stubborn and he would not listen to them, just as the Lord had said” (Exodus 7:13).  The stage is set for ten judgments identified as ten plagues that will gradually bring Pharaoh to yield his will to the will of the LORD God of Israel (7:14-12:36).

Realizing today’s scripture reading is limited to Exodus 7-8, I will list briefly four of the ten plagues that troubled Egyptian households, but from which the Hebrews living in Goshen were spared (8:22-23).

1) The Nile and waters turn to blood and fish die. (7:19-25)

2) Frogs die and the stench of their dead carcasses fill Egyptian households. (8:1-15)

3) Lice, most likely gnats or other biting insects, afflict the Egyptians. (8:16-19)

4) Flies distress the people (8:20-24). Today’s Egypt has biting “dog flies” (probably similar to “deer flies” that inhabit southeastern United States).

Here’s a question to ponder: Why did the Lord bring plagues upon Egypt?  Why did God not simply defeat Egypt and deliver His people out of slavery?  I believe the answer to those questions is twofold.

The first, God’s desire was to break Pharaoh’s will so he would allow the Hebrews to depart out of Egypt.  The second, the plaques demonstrated to the Hebrews that their God was Lord of creation Whom they could trust.  It is that knowledge, the personal, demonstrative knowledge of the LORD that will strengthen and carry them through the Red Sea and the Wilderness to the Promise Land.

Pharaoh offered to compromise with Moses and permit the people to sacrifice to the LORD in Egypt (Exodus 8:25).  Moses wisely refused to yield God’s will to please the king, stating the sacrifices would offend the Egyptians (8:26-27).

Pharaoh offered a second compromise, begged Moses to pray for the LORD to remove the flies out of the land, and he would allow the Israelites to depart and offer sacrifices (8:28-31).  Moses prayed and God removed the flies; however, “Pharaoh hardened his heart” and would not “let the people go” (8:32).

The LORD’s answer to Moses’ prayer reminds us He hears and answers the prayers of His people.  Pharaoh’s response is typical of many who, cry to the LORD in times of trouble, but when the distress passes they turn from Him and return to their sinful ways putting their souls in peril.

2 Chronicles 15:2a– “…The LORD is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you.”

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith