Tag Archives: Grace

Ever Wonder Why God Allows His People to Suffer? (Job 10-13)

Daily reading assignment: Job 10-13

In Job 10 we find Job attempting to make sense out of all he has suffered.  While he declares his confidence that God is just; he is nevertheless left wondering why calamity has come upon him.

Some reading this devotional can identify with Job’s sorrows.  You find yourself wrestling with some of the same questions, trying to make sense out of the trials that have befallen you. While you are confident God is sovereign and good, you wonder, “Why [God] ‘contendest [strive] with me?’” (10:2).

Job wondered, why are destroying me? “Wherefore then hast thou brought me forth out of the womb?” (10:18).  In essence, “Why was I born?”

Had Job known all he was suffering was in response to Satan assailing his character, he might not have agonized so; however, that was not for Job to know.  God had purposed for him to pass through fiery trials to the end he would one day say, “But He [God] knoweth the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10).

With friends like these, who needs enemies? (Job 11)

Having heard the judgment and condemnation of two “friends”, Eliphaz and Bildad, Job finds himself suffering the observations and criticisms of yet another, the Naamathite named Zophar (11:1).

Rather than pity and compassion, Zophar “goes for the kill” with cutting words, accusing poor Job of being a mocker and scoffer (11:3).  Filled with pride, Zophar indicted Job suggesting he was spiritually shallow, ignorant of God (11:5-12), and too stubborn to repent (11:13-20).

Job’s response to his accusers, specifically Zophar’s judgments, is recorded in chapters 12-14.

Job 12:2 seems to imply that Job’s friends were older than he and therefore presumed themselves to be wiser by the course of years.  Job, however, reminded his friends that the source of wisdom is God (12:12-13), not man. In other words, youth does not have the market on foolishness.  Indeed, one might just as easily be an old fool as a young fool.

While not knowing why so much suffering had befallen him, Job nevertheless declared the sovereignty of God over nature and man (12:14-25).

Job’s defense continues in chapter 13 as he asserts his innocence and reproves his “friends” for their hypocrisy (13:1-12).  Job rebukes them for daring to speak for God apart from His revelations (13:7-11).

His sons and daughters are dead; his home, servants, possessions, and flocks lost; his body is afflicted with sores; his wife taunts him to “curse God”, and his “friends” condemn him…yet, Job declares an amazing statement of faith:

“Though He [the LORD] slay me [kill; put to death], yet will I trust [hope; wait] in Him” (13:15).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

A Word of Encouragement Can Go A Long Way! (Job 6-9)

Daily reading assignment: Job 6-9

His friend having suggested his sorrows had come upon him because of unconfessed sin, Job answers the insinuation in chapter 6.  While his friends sympathize with his losses, Job realized they did not feel the weight of the griefs that have befallen him. Rather than identify with his distresses, his friends sat in judgment of his despair only adding to his discouragements (Job 6:1-13).

Job courageously rebuked the despicable judgments of his friends (Job 6:14-30).  They had come, not to pity and commiserate with him in an act of love.  No; they had not taken time or opportunity to identify with his sorrows or minister to his heavy-soul.

Is that not the way we too often find ourselves when it comes to relating to others? We enter into the sanctuary of their sorrows with little time for prayer or understanding.  We rush out bearing neither the burden or sympathy that is required of those who bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2).

Job continues his soliloquy in chapter 7. So low is his spirit, he despairs of life and reasons that death alone might give him relief from his sorrows.

Comparing his life to laborers, Job reasons that workers bear the hardships of their labor with the promise they will receive their wages at the close of the day (7:1-2).  Job, however, finds no end or relief to his sorrows apart from the respite death might promise (7:3-5).  Pondering his days, Job grieves his life is filled with sorrow (7:6-10).

Turning his thoughts from himself, Job acknowledges God’s omniscience (7:12-19) and confesses the LORD has watched over him day and night (7:12-14).  Assuming all he has suffered is a consequence of sin (7:20), Job calls upon the LORD seeking His forgiveness before death should claim his life (7:21).

Job 8 opens with the rebuke of another of Job’s friends, Bildad the Shuhite (8:1). Bildad challenged Job’s plea of innocence (8:2-4), reasoning God is just and advising him if he was “pure and upright” God would deliver him out of trouble and bless him (8:5-7). Reflecting on the testimonies of generations that had gone before (8:8-10), Bildad encouraged Job to ponder the judgments of God upon the wicked.

Job asks, “how should man be just [righteous] with God?” (9:2)

Believing God is wise, mighty, able to remove mountains, cause the earth to tremble (9:4-6) and is the Sustainer of His creation (9:7-8); Job ponders, what man dares ask God, “What doest thou?” (Job 9:12).

Indeed, what is man that we should think we are capable of reasoning with God (9:14-35) or asserting our innocence (9:20-24)?

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 – 3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Riches to Rags…The Life of Job (Job 1-5)

Daily reading assignment: Job 1-5

The Book of Job is believed to be the oldest book in the Bible.  It is the ancient story of a man of God that was wealthy beyond our imagination.  A father of seven sons and three daughters whose possessions are tallied as 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 oxen, 500 donkeys, and a large household of servants (Job 1:3).

It is not Job’s wealth, but his godly character and walk with God that is the central focus of today’s devotional reading.  We read of Job that he was “perfect [blameless; a man of integrity] and upright [righteous; pleasing to God], and one that feared [revered] God, and eschewed evil [refused sin and wickedness] (Job 1:1, 8).

Although a godly man, it appears the same was not true of Job’s adult sons and daughters who are portrayed enjoying feasts, eating and drinking (Job 1:4).  Fearing his children had sinned, Job “offered burnt offerings” reasoning, “It may be that my sons have sinned” (Job 1:5).

Job 1:6 begins the narrative of a heavenly drama between Satan [the fallen angel Lucifer] and the LORD [Jehovah; Eternal, Self-existent God] that was witnessed by the angels of heaven [i.e. sons of God].

Job is the subject of the LORD’s discourse with Satan whom He sets forth as an example of godliness and virtue among the men of the earth (1:8).  Satan, the adversary of God and His people, questioned Job’s spiritual character asking, “Doth Job fear God for nought [lit. for nothing; without cause] ?  (1:9).

Satan proceeded to assail Job’s virtues and religious piety, suggesting the man only worshipped God because he was blessed with great wealth and possessions (1:10).  Satan asserted, take away his possessions, wealth and health and Job will curse God (1:11; 2:4-6).

Knowing the heart of His servant, the LORD permitted a series of trials and troubles to fall upon Job that ultimately took from him his children (1:18-21), possessions (1:13-17), and his health (2:7).  Remarkably, we read of the man, “In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly” (1:22).  When his wife turned against him (having likewise lost everything), we read of Job, “…In all this did not Job sin with his lips” (2:10).

Chapter 2 concludes with the arrival of “three friends” who, upon seeing Job, did not recognize the man due to the physical toll of his sufferings and sorrows (2:12a).  Stunned by the losses their friend had suffered, the men wept and then sat in silence commiserating with Job’s sorrows (2:11-13).

The silence is broken when Job begins to express the sentiment it would have been better had he never been born (Job 3:2-12).  Lamenting his misery (3:20-23), Job questioned why God gives “light” (i.e. life) to a soul that longs to be free from sorrows (Job 3:20-23).

Any who have suffered sorrows and disappointments can relate to the despondency that took hold on Job’s soul.  Such thoughts of death are not unique to young or old, rich or poor, famous or infamous. Pain, sorrows, sufferings, and disappointments can drive a soul to entertain dark and ominous thoughts.

“Eliphaz the Temanite” (4:1), one of Job’s friends, questioned if Job would accept his counsel (Job 4:2-6).  Rather than comfort, Eliphaz proposed a question that haunts any given the privilege of ministering to others:

Will you accept spiritual counsel in a time of sorrow and loss or falter in the throes of self-pity?  (4:5-6)

Continuing his argument in Job 5, Eliphaz suggested Job’s losses must be the result of some wickedness he has concealed (the word “foolish” in this chapter is indicative of wickedness). While his reason reflects some truth, Eliphaz’s argument that Job’s losses were God’s judgment was presumptuous.

Spiritual Truth: The wicked do suffer loss as a result of God’s punitive judgment; however, He also chastens the righteous with the love of a Father (Proverbs 3:11-12; Hebrews 12:6; Revelation 3:19).  God allows His children to suffer, not because of sin, but as a means of deepening a believer’s walk of grace and dependence on the Lord (1 Corinthians 11:32; Jeremiah 29:11; Matthew 5:11).

You and I cannot understand all that is in the mind of God; however, we must accept He is Sovereign.  Sickness and sorrows are temporal; however, the way of the LORD is perfect (Psalm 18:30).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Warning: None are Too Great to Fail (Genesis 8-11)

Daily reading assignment: Genesis 8-11

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

Credit:The Illustration Art Gallery

Noah and his family escaped God’s judgment for he “found grace [divine favor] in the eyes of the LORD” (Genesis 6:8) and “was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God” (Genesis 6:9).

Noah was a man of faith; just, righteous, walking according to God’s Law, not yet written, but passed down from generation to generation. Unlike any other of his day, Noah believed and “walked with God.”

Because he was a man of faith, God extended His grace and favor to Noah, sparing him and his family from the greatest cataclysmic event to ever come upon the earth.  For forty days and nights it rained upon the earth (7:12,17) and, when the rains were stopped, the waters covered the earth another 150 days.

“God remembered Noah…” (Genesis 8:1)

Noah’s family remained in the Ark a total of 370 days (Genesis 8:14-16).  Disembarking from the vessel, Noah’s first act as the father and priest of his household was to offer sacrifices (Genesis 8:20-21a), acknowledging God’s salvation, mercy and grace for sparing him and his household.  Accepting Noah’s sacrifice, God set a rainbow in the sky as a symbol of His covenant with man to never again destroy the earth with universal floodwaters (Genesis 9:11-13).

The best of men are sinners at best.

Noah planted a vineyard (Genesis 9:20), made juice, and contented himself with the fruit of his labor.  Inevitably, the juice fermented and Noah, failing to realize his drunken condition, left himself naked and exposed.  In such a state we read, Ham saw [i.e. with a mocking, scornful gaze] the nakedness of his father” (Genesis 9:22).  Awakening from his drunken stupor, Noah learned of Ham’s scorn and prophesied his lineage would be “a servant of servants…unto his brethren” [the descendants of Shen and Japheth] (Genesis 9:26-27).

Lesson: A man’s weakness is often exposed in the aftermath of his greatest success.

Before the flood, Noah had been a faithful preacher to a dying world and a godly testimony to his family.  After the flood, he allowed himself a liberty that proved tragic.

We might conjecture, in an effort to explain the failure of this noble man, that Noah’s physical strength was failing. He must have reflected on the world that was lost and, with no mention of his wife, perhaps the loneliness of his last days. Whatever the excuse, Noah’s life was marred by one failure and the sorrow of a son who held him in contempt.

Let us all be reminded that the greatest of men are not above temptation. (Genesis 9:21)

1 Corinthians 10:12 – Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. 

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“In the Beginning” (Genesis 1-3)

Genesis 1:1 – “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”

Chronological Bible Reading PlanThank you for joining me on what I pray will be an incredible journey of faith and spiritual enlightenment in 2020!  I invite you to embrace the challenge of reading through the Bible, following a chronological reading plan that will take you from the Beginning (Genesis 1:1) to Eternity (Revelation 22:21).

The Scriptures are often profound in their stately simplicity, while challenging us spiritually and intellectually to ponder the Creator’s revelation of Himself, His holy character, moral attributes, and redemptive plan for the highest being of His Creation…Man.

Caution: While we will explore timeless spiritual truths that are decidedly apolitical and immutable; be forewarned that this pastor\author will not shy from addressing both the sins of our churches and the societal lunacy of “political correctness” that has embroiled our world.

Scripture Reading for January 1, 2020 – Genesis 1-3

To understand the chaos and conflict in our 21st century world one must go back…back to the beginning.  Accepting the universe was created by God demands faith; however, no more faith than believing this world came about as a result of some cataclysmic event and evolved from some primordial swamp over eons and eons.  Rejecting the Scriptures account of Creation leaves man believing the order and delicate balance of life and undeniable evidences of organization somehow arose out of disorder…a scientific impossibility.

The Bible simply states, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).  While a consciousness of the Creator is written on the heart of every man and woman, the beauty and expanse of the heavens give undeniable evidence of His existence.  The psalmist writes,

Psalm 19:1 – “The heavens [sky; realm above the earth where the birds soar] declare [tell; shew forth; proclaim] the glory [splendor; majesty] of God [El – Almighty God; ]; and the firmament [expanse of the sky] sheweth [makes known] his handywork [i.e. the product of His hands].”

In his letter to believers in Rome, the apostle Paul states,

Romans 1:20 – “For the invisible things [which cannot be perceived with the physical senses] of Him [God] from the creation of the world are clearly seen [manifest perceived], being understood by the things that are made [Creation is a display of God’s power and majesty; the grandeur of the heavens give testimony of His power and person], even His eternal power and Godhead [deity; divine nature]; so that they are without excuse.”

God has written on the heart and conscience of mankind a moral law; a universal sense of right and wrong (Romans 2:14-15). In the words of Paul, men show or evidence “the work of the law written in their heart, their conscience also bearing witness” (Romans 2:15).

Genesis 1 states with simplicity the facts and wonders of God’s creation. Genesis 2 offers insight into man’s uniqueness in creation (Genesis 2:7).  While Adam and Eve’s physical bodies were shaped and formed by God; their souls and spirits were brought to life by the breath of God giving man a consciousness of self and his Creator (Genesis 2:7, 21-22).

Adam was created to serve God as the steward (Genesis 1:28) and servant (laborer) of His creation (Genesis 2:15).  God commanded Adam to “dress” and “keep” the Garden [“dress” = to till the ground; garden; “keep” = to guard; to keep it beautiful and in order].

“Why did God put a tree in the midst of the Garden and then forbid Adam and Eve to eat its fruit?”  (Genesis 2:16-17)

Adam and Eve were not robots.  God created them with “free wills” and gave them an ability to choose to obey or disobey Him.  Adam had both liberty and limitation. He had liberty to eat “…Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: “ (2:16).  He had one limitation“But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (2:17).

Think of it this way: The forbidden fruit was not a test of God’s love for Adam, but a test of Adam’s love and devotion for God.

Tragically, Adam and Eve chose to disobey God (Genesis 3).  Mercifully, the Lord extended salvation to them, sacrificing an innocent animal whose skin He used to hide the shame and nakedness of their sin (Genesis 3:21).

Revealing His plan of redemption, grace, and forgiveness, God promised the “enmity”, the hostility, between Lucifer (i.e. the serpent) and mankind would be settled when the devil bruised the “heel” of a man described as the woman’s “seed” and that same man would crush the head of the serpent.

Who was that man? Who was the “seed” of the woman? Jesus Christ!

1 Corinthians 15:21-22 – “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

A Sacred Trust: Standing Between the Dead and the Living (Numbers 16)

Today’s Bible reading is Numbers 15-16, Psalm 49, and Luke 5. Our devotional is from Numbers 16 .

The drama in Numbers 16 serves as a warning to any who sow discord and usurp the spiritual leadership of a congregation.

We are not told the reason for the rebellion, but given the assertions made against Moses and Aaron, we can venture pride leading to discontentment was the root issue.  Three men are named as leaders of the rebellion with the ringleader one named Korah, a Levite, but not a priest (Numbers 16:1). Incredibly, these three men were able to engage two hundred and fifty others, “princes…men of renown”, to join their band (16:2).

While the criticism of the rebels appeared sincere in motive and spiritual in nature, (“Ye take too much upon you”), their object was not for “they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron” (16:3).  Notice how the rebel’s veiled criticism of Moses and Aaron grew to open derision (16:3).  The object of the rebels was not to relieve Moses and Aaron; instead, they aspired to the dignity and duties of the priesthood (Numbers 16:10).

When Moses heard the criticism of the rebels and saw the crowd gathered against him, “he fell upon his face” (16:4); a visible sign of humility.  Rather than a hasty diatribe against his critics, Moses deferred to seek the LORD saying, “Even to morrow the LORD will shew who are his, and who is holy” (16:5).

On the next day, Moses called an assembly of the rebels and warned, “ye take too much upon you, ye sons of Levi” (16:7).  Two of the rebels refused to come before Moses (16:12) and sent an accusation that he had failed the nation in not leading them into “a land that floweth with milk and honey” (16:14).  The charge against Moses was a lie and stoked his anger (16:15) for it was the people, not Moses, who rebelled and turned away from the land the LORD had promised as an inheritance.

The LORD’s judgment against the rebels fell swiftly when “the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed [the rebels] and their houses…[who] went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them, and they perished from among the congregation” (16:31-33).  As the congregation fled from the LORD’s judgment, “there came out a fire from the LORD, and consumed the two hundred and fifty men that offered incense” (16:35). Unfortunately, the LORD’s judgment against the rebels did not quench their influence and on the next day another 14,700 were slain (16:41-50).

There are many lessons and cautions we might derive from Numbers 16.  One is, while this passage is instructive, it does not suggest the LORD must always swiftly judge the critics of His ministers.

I have known too many pastors who aspire to pedestals and presume to be above accountability.  The same might be said of some in the church who are all too eager to level veiled criticisms at spiritual leaders and not give them the respect due their office.

Pastors are far from perfect and some engaged in ministry lack the Biblical qualifications of the pastor\shepherd (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:6-9); however, those ministers who are qualified and faithful should be honored for their sacrifices and endeavors.  After all, as purveyors of the Gospel of Jesus Christ they stand “between the dead and the living” (16:48).

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

The Cry of a Wounded Soul (Psalm 41)

Today’s Bible reading is Leviticus 23-24, Psalm 41, and Mark 13. Our devotional is from Psalm 41.

Psalm 41 challenges believers to consider their relationship with others and how they respond to them who disappoint and betray.

King David was at a low point in his life, physically and emotionally, when he composed this psalm. Rehearsing the LORD’s promise to hear and heed the cries of His people in their hour of need (41:1), David remembered God keeps watch over His people and delivers them out of trouble in His time (41:2).  David writes,

Psalm 41:1-4 – “Blessed [Happy] is he that considereth [understands] the poor [weak; needy]: the LORD will deliver [save] him in time of trouble [sin; wickedness; evil]. 2  The LORD will preserve [keep; guard] him, and keep him alive [sustain]and he shall be blessed [prosperous] upon the earth: and thou wilt not deliver [abandon] him unto the will  [desire] of his enemies [adversary; foe]3 The LORD will strengthen [support; uphold] him upon the bed [couch; canopy] of languishing [sorrow]: thou wilt make [turn; overthrow] all his bed in his sickness [disease; malady].  4  I said, LORD, be merciful [gracious; show favor] unto me: heal [cure; purify] my soul [life]; for I have sinned [committed sin; guilty] against thee.”

David tossed and turned upon his bed; as sorrow and disappointment washed over his soul.  He spent sleepless nights praying and waiting on the LORD (41:3).  Searching his soul, David confessed his sin and believed God would show Him favor and restore him (41:4).

Psalm 41:5-6 – “Mine enemies speak [charge] evil [sin; wickedness] of me, When shall he die [be slain], and his name [fame; honor] perish [destroyed]6  And if he [enemy; adversary] come to see [look; behold] me, he speaketh [declare] vanity [deceit; lies]: his heart gathereth [collect; heap; take up] iniquity [sin; wickedness] to itself; when he goeth [go forth] abroad [in the streets], he telleth [speak; say; talk] it.”

Every saint who strives to serve the LORD and walk with integrity will inevitably face the bitter distress of betrayal.   When you feel the sorrow of duplicity, remember the LORD felt the caress of Judas’ kiss upon His own cheek.

Psalm 41:7-8 –  “All that hate me whisper [mumble] together [i.e. in chorus] against me: against me do they devise [imagine; fabricate] my hurt.8  An evil [wicked] disease, say they, cleaveth fast unto him: and now that he lieth [lays down] he shall rise up no more.”

It is a terrible way when embittered souls wait the day they can take satisfaction in the fall of a pastor or a fellow believer (41:8).

Psalm 41:9 gives us insight into the personal nature of the betrayal that befell David.

Psalm 41:9 –  “Yea, mine own familiar [close] friend, in whom I trusted [a confidant], which did eat [devour; consume] of my bread [food; meal], hath lifted up his heel [foot] against me [magnified himself].

David’s adversary wanted to grind the king under his heel and humiliate him.  His enemy waited for the satisfaction of the king’s demise.  Although not identified by name, I believe David’s enemy was either Absalom, the king’s own son (2 Samuel 15) or Ahithophel, the king’s trusted counselor (2 Samuel 16:23).

Let’s take a lesson from David’s life and remember betrayal and sorrow is the affliction of saints who walk with integrity and minister to others with abandon.

Be watchful you do not become embittered when you suffer injustices and betrayals; after all, the LORD suffered the same and He will never abandon you (Psalm 41:10-13).

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith