Tag Archives: Integrity

Whatever the task, when God calls, Do It! (Exodus 1-4)

Today’s Bible Reading and devotional study is Exodus 3-4.

A period of change, especially in leadership, is a perilous time for churches, institutions, corporations, and nations.  Inexperienced leadership combined with a failed appreciation for legacy and history invariably leads to decisions and changes that often prove detrimental.

Such is the case in the opening verses of Exodus 1 when we read, 6Joseph died, and all his brethren, and all that generation…8  Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph” (Exodus 1:6, 8).

The new Pharaoh did not know Joseph or his service to Egypt; however, he recognized the population growth of the Israelites in the midst posed a threat to his nation (1:9-22).

Some might ask, “Why would God allow His people to suffer such calamity?”   My answer: The sorrows and suffering Israel faced was God’s plan to move the Hebrews from the comfort and riches of Egypt to the land He covenanted to give the descendants of Abraham.

The children of Israel were slaves when Moses was born under the threat of infanticide (1:15-22; 2:1-4).  Risking her life, Moses’ mother “hid him three months” (2:2), eventually making a small vessel of reeds and setting her son adrift on the Nile River, entrusting him to God’s care (2:3-4).  Providentially, infant Moses found favor in the heart of Pharaoh’s daughter and she, having compassion on him, employed his mother Jochebed as his nurse (2:5-10).

Moses spent the first 40 years of his life as an Egyptian prince and favored with the finest education and training of the age (Exodus 2:10; Acts 7:21-22).  In spite of his Egyptian facade, the heart of Moses was knit with the suffering of the Hebrew people (Exodus 2:11-15a; Acts 7:23-29a) and in an act of vengeance, he took the life of an Egyptian (2:11-13).  Fearing Pharaoh would soon know his crime (2:14-15), Moses fled into the wilderness, spending his next 40 years as a shepherd (2:16-22; Hebrews 11:24-27).  Moses, the prince of Egypt, accepted the humble life of a hireling shepherd and married Zipporah, the daughter of a Midianite shepherd, who bore him two sons (Gershom– 2:22 and Eliezer– 18:4).

Now the children of Israel began crying out to God and He “heard their groaning, and… remembered His covenant” (Exodus 2:23-24).  In spite of his solitude in the wilderness, God had not forgotten Moses and when the time came, He summoned His servant (3:4-6).

Exodus 3:5-6 – “5 And [The LORD] said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. 6  Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.”

Forty years in the wilderness had changed Moses.  The once proud prince of Egypt was content to live as a shepherd and wondered aloud, “Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh…?” (Exodus 3:11).

Alone, Moses knew he could not deliver Israel from slavery and his question was sincere.  How can one man challenge the most powerful man leading the most powerful nation in the world?  God gave Moses the assurance he needed… “I will be with thee”(3:12a).  The God of Israel was his commissioning officer (3:16-22)!

God answered Moses’ fears of inadequacy with three signs… a rod turned to a serpent (4:2-5), a leprous hand restored (4:6-8), and the promise of turning the water of the Nile to blood (4:9).  When Moses protested his inadequacy to speak, God commissioned his brother Aaron to speak for him (4:10-16).

“Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the children of Israel…[and] spake all the words which the LORD had spoken unto Moses, and did the signs in the sight of the people…. And the people believed…and worshipped” the LORD (Exodus 4:29-31).

I close encouraging you, whatever the task, if God has called you, you can do it with His help and strength!   The apostle Paul, living out the same principle, would write, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).

In the words of the NIKE athletic shoe commercial, when God calls, “Do It!”

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

To Know God’s Will You Must First Be Doing His Will! (Genesis 23-24)

Genesis 22 puts the faith of Abraham to the test as God proves his faith by commanding him to sacrifice Isaac, the son of God’s covenant promise.  Isaac questioned his father, “Where is the Lamb?” (22:7); John the Baptist answered that question 2,000 years later when he said concerning Jesus, “Behold the Lamb” (John 1:29, 36).

Reminding us God’s people are sojourners in this world, we read, “Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old: these were the years of the life of Sarah. 2  And Sarah died in Kirjatharba; the same isHebron in the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her” (Genesis 23:1-2).

A theme for Genesis 24 is simply stated,“Here Comes the Bride”.   Following Sarah’s death, Abraham was burden to find a fitting wife for Isaac, his heir of God’s covenant promises. Fearing Isaac might be tempted to take a wife of the heathen tribes in Canaan, Abraham sent his “eldest servant”  (24:2-4) to his kindred residing in “Ur of the Chaldees” (11:27-31).

Reflecting the faith of his master, Abraham’s servant prayed for the LORD to make His will clear in choosing a young woman who would become Isaac’s wife  (24:12-14).  God heard and answered the servant’s prayer even as he was praying (24:15-26).

In a prayer of praise and a lesson to all who desire the will of the LORD, the servant prayed, being in the way, the LORD led me to the house of my master’s brethren” (24:27).  Perhaps someone is reading this devotional and find themselves sincerely seeking the will of God in a matter or His direction for their lives.

Take a lesson from Abraham’s eldest servant: To know the will of the LORD you must be “in the way” of the LORD. You cannot pray sincerely for the LORD to reveal His will if you are not “in the way” of the LORD…obedient to His Word, walking the path of His choosing, and submitting to the authorities He has providentially placed in your life.

Do Right, my friend and you will not only do the will of the LORD, you will also be confident in it!

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

A History Lesson for Bible Fundamental Churches, Colleges, and Their Leaders

Monday, October 16, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Deuteronomy 1-3

To those who faithfully follow this pastor’s daily meanderings through the scriptures, thank you for your patience.  Ministry demands, sermon preparation and travels often interrupt my capacity to write daily commentary.  I am sure many find the demands of life crowding out your readings of the same.  If my count is accurate, we are beginning our forty-first week of devotions with eleven weeks to go before the end of this year.  Let us persevere and complete this expedition through the scriptures!

Our journey through the Bible in one-year continues today with the book of Deuteronomy, the fifth book of the first five books of the Bible known as the Pentateuch.  Whereas Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers chronicled Israel’s journey in the wilderness giving us a record of God’s Law, the book of Deuteronomy begins at the journey’s end at the threshold of the Promise Land.  With the exception of Moses, Joshua and Caleb, the generation that was twenty years old and older and followed Moses out of Egypt was dead.

Deuteronomy is a record of Moses’ final words and exhortations to the people he had shepherd for forty years.  We read:

Deuteronomy 1:3 – And it came to pass in the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first day of the month, that Moses spake unto the children of Israel, according unto all that the LORD had given him in commandment unto them;”

It was important for Moses to rehearse with that generation who they were, from whence they came, and God’s plan for the nation (Deuteronomy 1:8).  Much like you might search your ancestral family tree to know your physical lineage, Moses recognized his days were numbered among the people and he wanted them to know not only their physical lineage, but more importantly, their spiritual lineage as God’s chosen people.

The people who were 19 years old and younger when Israel refused to cross into the Promise Land, were now in their late fifties and Moses feared their children and grandchildren would be tempted to turn back from the challenges of the new land.   Knowing many were either too young to remember or not yet born when the people rebelled against God, Moses rehearsed the failure of their forefathers to trust God and cross the Jordan River into the Promise Land (Deuteronomy 1-2).  Concerned they lacked an understanding of what faithlessness cost their parents and grandparents, Moses made certain the people appreciated the tragic consequences of disobedience and understood the challenges before them (Deuteronomy 2).

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

I am old enough to remember well the reminisces and exhortations of Dr. Gilbert Stenholm, Dr. Richard Rupp and Dr. Bob Jones Jr. in “Preacher Boys” during my Bible college years at Bob Jones University.   Those men had fought spiritual ecumenical battles, sometimes open warfare, against the progressives of their day who compromised their ministries fellowshipping with men and institutions that denied the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith.

Thirty, forty, even fifty years passed since those men waged war for the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith; however, their passion had not abated, nor their determination to pass on to the men of my generation not only knowledge of the past, but a warning and exhortation.   I graduated Bob Jones University knowing compromise with those who trifle with the doctrine of sanctification and personal holiness or reject the fundamentals of the Christian faith would eventually be a cancer destroying ministries, churches, Bible colleges, and mission boards.

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

The result of ignorance or leadership contemptuous of the past is the same; those institutions either close their doors or become a shadow of what they were in their golden years.

Warning: When the leadership of a Bible fundamental church, Bible college, or ministry distances itself from its heritage, it will invariably sacrifice its identity and forget God’s providences.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

“The Wise Man and His Relationships”

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Proverbs 11-12

Today’s devotional reading is Proverbs 11 and Proverbs 12.  My focus today will be Proverbs 11:1; however, I invite you to refer to my devotional commentaries in the Book of Proverbs on my “Heart of a Shepherd” website to amplify individual verses in today’s scripture reading.

Like many chapters in the Book of Proverbs, chapter 11 reads like a shotgun scatters pellets…a plethora of truths that stand individually on their own without the necessity of being one coherent progression of thought.  Our focus will be one proverb, Proverbs 11:1 which addresses the manner of people God would have us to be.

Proverbs 11:1- A false balance [deceit or crookedness] is abomination [shameful] to the LORD: but a just [right and honest] weight [having and exercising integrity] is his delight.

The subject of verse 1 is Integrity [adhering to a moral code or absolute standard]. In our day, government agencies certify weights and volume in goods and services. One agency certifies when you purchase a gallon of gas you get a gallon of gas.  Another agency certifies when you purchase food items at the grocery store you are getting the weight and volume stated on the packaging.

For the sake of illustration, let’s put the setting of verse 1 in a butcher shop where meat is cut, weighed, wrapped and stamped with a description that certifies the cut and price of the meat based upon weight.

The use of unjust or inaccurate weights by dishonest shop owners has been the pattern of many down through the centuries. In our butcher shop analogy, a butcher, using a “false balance”, misleads a customer by presenting a cut of meat as weighing more than it really does…an act that is “abomination to the Lord”.  Solomon reminds his son that God delights in men of integrity…men who commit to being honest; men whose word is as binding as a signed contract.

The application of verse 1 goes beyond the matter of weights and balances —at issue is the character of the whole man [after all, the literal meaning of “integrity” is completeness or wholeness].

Lesson – Dishonesty in word and action is an abomination to the Lord. He accepts nothing less than truth and sincerity.

Are you honest, sincere and forthright in business? Are you a person of your word?

God is delighted when His people walk with honesty and integrity.  I challenge you—be that man! 

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Riches to Rags…The Life of Job

jobThursday, January 5, 2017

Daily reading assignment: Job 1-2

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 one’s imagination.  A father of seven sons and three daughters whose possessions are enumerated 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, 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).

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

Having introduced Job, verse 6 begins the narrative of a heavenly drama witnessed by the angels of heaven [i.e. sons of God] between Satan and the LORD [Jehovah; Eternal, Self-existent God].

Job is the subject of the LORD’s discourse with Satan and He sets forth the man as an example of godliness and virtue above 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 assailed Job’s virtue, suggesting he was a man who worshiped God because he had been uniquely blessed with wealth and possessions (1:10).  Satan challenged God to take away Job’s wealth, possessions, and health and he would curse God (1:11; 2:4-6).friends

Knowing the heart of His servant, God allowed a series of trials and troubles to fall upon Job that would ultimately take from him his children (1:18-21), possessions (1:13-17), and his health (2:7).  Remarkably we read of Job, “In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly” (1:22).  Even when his wife, who had like Job lost everything, turned against him, 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 came to comfort and sympathize with Job.  Suffering and sorrows had so physically altered Job’s appearance that his friends did not recognize him (2:12a).  Stunned by the losses suffered by Job and his appearance, the men wept and then sat in silence (2:12-13).

Job’s friends will soon question “why”, the reason, for the losses and sorrows that had befallen him.  They will eventually suggest Job had sinned and God had exercised His judgment upon him.destitute

I close with this thought: What manner a man or woman would you be should you suffer the loss of family, friends, and possessions?   For me, that is a frightening thought.  Is my faith and trust in God only as strong as my physical comforts?

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

“I have enough enemies; I don’t need to pay my enemies to be my friends.”

integrityRealizing there is “no new thing under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9), the theme of today’s post is in quotes although I have no idea to whom to attribute it and it may be a lesson I have learned the hard way or from others who have voiced sentiments of a similar bent.

I doubt there is one pastor reading this post that has not experienced the distress of having on your payroll employees who not only did not share your heart, vision, or philosophy of ministry, but also were subtly opposing and undermining your leadership and vision.  I believe it was Dr. Bob Jones, Jr., the late Chancellor of Bob Jones University, who made a statement in chapel in my era along the line character is consistent. Dr. Bob  “Dr. Bob”, as students affectionately knew him, went on to say whatever a man’s character was before he was saved, he would battle with the same character flaws and weaknesses after he was a believer.  I was uncertain I agreed with his sentiment at the time, but 40 years later I confess to having observed the same in others and myself.

There are no perfect men and we are flawed at best; however, even believers must face the reality we have weaknesses and a man’s character will generally evidence itself under pressure.  For example, a man who had a bent for dishonesty before he was saved, will battle with lying as a believer.  A sinner with a penchant for stealing, may battle the temptation to embezzle as a Christian.  Having attempted to rehabilitate my share of Judas characters in my ministry, I have learned that character, both good and bad, is consistent.

ancient landmarksIt is my observation that Bible fundamental churches and institutions are facing a character integrity crisis in pulpits, boardrooms and institutional administrations.  Too many of our churches and schools have come under the leadership of men who either lack the maturity to be grounded in immutable principles or lack the integrity to be honest about the precepts that serve them as a guide for their personal lives and ministries.  As I have written in earlier posts, our families and churches have sent college students to institutions we believed were faithful to the precepts and spiritual principles of our ministries only to find too late the leaders of those institutions were more interested in “catering to carnality” than they were in challenging and instructing our youth to be men and women of conviction.untrustworthy

We continue to lose our fundamental churches, colleges and universities to leaders that are “biding their time” to shift the institutions and organizations under their leadership from their fundamentalist moorings to a philosophy of ministry that is pragmatic and betrays the principles of their founders and the trust of their supporters.  I have observed theological shifting sands and a pragmatic, unprincipled philosophy of ministry taking hold.  Carnal seeds of discontentment, like tares sown among wheat, have been allowed to sprout into a rebellion that has become a spiritual cancer to our homes, churches and schools.

jonesMartyn Lloyd Jones, the great 20th century Welsh minister who served as minister of Westminster Chapel for almost 30 years, warned the church of his day it was “living on the capital of the past.

I believe the same is true of many of our churches, colleges and universities that have abandoned the Bible principles and fundamental heritage of their founders and alumni and are cannibalizing their assets in a futile attempt to survive.

It is too late for some churches and institutions; the loss of trust and damage of compromise is irreversible.  For others, nothing less than a radical amputation of leadership and spiritual revival will restore the integrity of their ministry and the trust of their supporters.

By the way, $20,000 or more in annual tuition is too high a price to pay if the professors and administrators of our historically Bible fundamental colleges, universities and seminaries fail to reflect and reinforce the Bible principles and precepts our families and churches have strived to instill in our youth.  We face enough enemies without paying an institution to turn their hearts from home.

With the heart of a shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

Copyright 2016 – Travis D. Smith

Proverbs 3:29-30 – A call for integrity and love

integrity1

I stated in an earlier devotion that my theme for Proverbs 3:27-30 is one of the great commands of the Bible, “Love thy neighbor” (Matthew 19:19, 22:39).   Proverbs 3:27-28 challenged us to rise above the mediocrity of self-love and self-centeredness and extend grace and love to our neighbor in their hour of need.

Proverbs 3:27-28 Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it. 28  Say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and to morrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee.”Love thy neighbor

A second practical challenge for choosing to “love thy neighbor” is to live at peace with our family, friends and acquaintances and endeavor to avoid contention (Proverbs 3:29-30).

Proverbs 3:29-30 Devise not evil against thy neighbour, seeing he dwelleth securely by thee. 30  Strive not with a man without cause, if he have done thee no harm.”

We take two admonitions from Proverbs 3:29-30 that are instructive in interrelationships. The first is Solomon’s challenge for his son to be a man of integrity.  

Proverbs 3:29 “Devise [lit. to cut up a field with a plow; engrave on metal; be silent; hold your tongue] not evil [wickedness; mischief; sin] against thy neighbor [family member; companion; friend], seeing he dwelleth [inhabits; abides] securely [in safety; trust; confidence] by thee.”

plowingTo state this proverb in a practical sense—Don’t frustrate or take advantage of another man’s trust and confidence. Don’t reward an employer’s faith with an act of malice. Don’t plow through another man’s field [i.e. his reputation, testimony, life’s work] by betraying his trust with an act of treachery.

The second admonition serves as a challenge for Solomon’s son to be a peacemaker.

Proverbs 3:30 “Strive [contend; chide; debate; make a charge] not with a man without cause [for nothing; for no reason], if he have done [requite; recompense] thee no harm [wickedness; mischief; sin].”

We live in a contentious day and too many live with a short fuse…ready to quarrel, argue and pick a fight with little provocation. Fragmented families, frayed friendships and destroyed ministries lie in the wake of men and women too proud to rein in their ego. Unlike the self-sacrificing love evidenced by Christ for sinners on the Cross (Romans 5:8), too often the church, Christian families and friendships are plagued with a spirit that is proud, unloving and insincere.He first loved us

I close with Paul’s challenge to Christians to be patient, kind, humble, slow to anger, believing the best and forgiving (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a).

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 – “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5  Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6  Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7  Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. 8  Charity never faileth…”

Copyright 2014 – Travis D. Smith