Tag Archives: Ministry

A Failure to Thrive: A Tragic Case of Spiritual Undernourishment (Hebrews 5; Hebrews 6)

Click on this link for translations of today’s devotion.

Scripture reading – Hebrews 5; Hebrews 6

Our study of the Epistle to the Hebrews continues with Hebrews 5 and 6. After a review, our devotional will be taken from Hebrews 5.

The writer of Hebrews had challenged believers regarding the preeminence of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1). Understanding the majesty of Christ gave cause for 1st century saints to be stirred in their spirit, knowing all He suffered for their sins. Jesus is the Son of God, yet, He set aside the outward manifestation of His heavenly glory, and “was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death” (2:9). By His death on the Cross, He tasted “death for every man” (2:9b), and by His resurrection from the dead, He became the “captain [and author] of salvation” (2:10).

Hebrews 3 warned the Hebrews to realize the danger of unbelief, and hardening their hearts (3:7-19). With the challenge, “exhort one another daily” (3:13), sinners were urged to believe, or they would never find rest for their souls (3:18). We were reminded there are three requisites for peace and rest: The first was to fear and revere God (4:1). Secondly, hear the Gospel (4:2), believe, and come to the Lord by faith (4:2-11). Finally, to find rest for the soul, a believer must fight, literally labor diligently in the Scriptures: “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (4:12).

Because Christ is the believer’s “high priest” (4:15), the writer of Hebrews urged, “Let us come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (4:16). On what grounds might we enter into God’s presence with our petitions? Not on the basis of our works (for “our righteousness are as filthy rags,” Isaiah 64:6), but on the grounds of Christ’s righteousness being credited to our account, and paying our sin debt in full! Hallelujah, what a great Savior and high priest.

Hebrews 5

Hebrews 5 offered a contrast between the high priest “ordained for men” and the Great High Priest, Jesus Christ (5:1). Even the most dedicated, conscientious high priests dared not approach God without offering a sacrifice for his sins (5:2-3). While the high priest was chosen among men, God declared of Christ, “Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee…Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec” (Melchisedec had been a king and priest of ancient Jerusalem, and a type or example of Christ, 5:5-6).

If you remember Jesus’ agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, before He was betrayed and arrested, you will understand Hebrews 5:7-10. In the Garden, Jesus prayed, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me” (meaning the cup of suffering He would soon face, Matthew 26:39). He prayed a second time, “O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done” (Matthew 26:42). It is that agony we find portrayed in Hebrews 5, when we read: “he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; 8Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered” (5:7-8).

Christ obeyed His Father’s will, and suffered the penalty of our sins (5:8), and being the perfect sinless sacrifice. “He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (obedience implying one’s faith, proven by works, 5:9).

Closing thoughts (5:11-14) – Our study of Hebrews 5 concludes with a case of spiritual undernourishment. In a mournful, regrettable tone, the writer observed in the 1st century congregation a spiritual tragedy that is mirrored in the 21st century church: A failure to thrive spiritually. As today, there were some who professed salvation, but whose lives were spiritually anemic. They evidenced little to no spiritual appetite, and the diagnosis was summed up in this: “ye are dull of hearing” (5:11).

Rather than be teachers of the word, they were content with elementary doctrines, and “first principles of the oracles of God” (5:12). They had failed the Lord, and His people, for they remained in the spiritual nursery (5:13), and unable to delight in the advanced doctrines and studies of the Word (5:14). Their spiritual immaturity had left them vulnerable and unable to “discern both good and evil” (5:14).

Tragically, is that not the sad portrait of many 21st century believers and churches?

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization.

Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625.

You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

Looking for Peace? (Hebrews 3; Hebrews 4)

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Scripture reading – Hebrews 3; Hebrews 4

We continue our journey through the Epistle to the Hebrews, and find many of the great doctrines of our faith recorded in chapters 3 and 4. We noticed in Hebrews 1 the preeminence of Christ (1:1-3), His superiority over the angels (1:4-6), and His divine nature (1:7-14). In Hebrews 2, we considered God’s call for men to hear and heed the truths of God’s Word (2:1-5). Hebrews 2 also declares the majesty of Christ, whose death and resurrection made possible our salvation and sanctification (2:6-13).

Finally, Christ descended from heaven, and became “flesh and blood… that through [His] death He [Christ] might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil” (2:14). Though never less than God, Christ “took on him the seed of Abraham,” and became man (2:16). Through His death, and resurrection, believers are delivered from the “fear of death [and] their lifetime subject to bondage” (being slaves to sin; 2:15a). Jesus Christ became “a merciful and faithful high priest” (2:17), Who is compassionate and merciful, because He was also tempted and tested (2:18), yet without sin.

Hebrews 3

The Superiority of Christ Compared to Moses (3:1-6)

Understanding Christ’s sinless character, the author declared Christ to be the superior “Apostle and High Priest” (3:1). Now, the Hebrew readers of the 1st century would have wondered, superior to whom? The answer–superior to Moses, the great law giver, in every way (3:2-6).

Moses was esteemed for his faithfulness to the LORD (Numbers 12:7-8); however, even he was not without fault or sin. Jesus Christ, however, was faithful in everything (John 8:29; 17:4-5). While Moses was honored by His brethren, Christ was more glorious as the Divine Apostle and High Priest (3:3). Likening the universe to a house, Christ was identified as the Builder\Creator of the house, while Moses was a resident of that which He built (3:3b-4). Though Moses was “faithful in all his house, as servant;” Christ was more, for He is “a Son over His own house” (the congregation of God’s people, 3:5-6).

Longing for Rest, But Finding None (3:7-19)

Notice “rest” becomes the subject of the balance of chapter 3, and is the primary theme of chapter 4. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (3:7), the writer of Hebrews warned men of the danger of hardening their hearts (refusing to believe God’s revelation, and rejecting Christ). Those who reject the LORD, were warned they would not find rest for their souls (3:7-12).

A point of explanation: Some might suppose “rest” is a cessation of physical activity, but that “rest” is not the subject of this passage. For instance: A man’s body might be at rest, while his heart is ensnared by racing thoughts, emotions, and sorrows. Sinners long for rest, but find none apart from God. They seek to quiet the restlessness of their souls with psychology, and psychotherapy. They turn to recreation, amusements, drugs, alcohol, and gross immorality to dull their restless spirit. Tragically, their hearts are hardened “through the deceitfulness of sin” (3:13), and they find no rest. No wonder the writer of Hebrews exhorted his readers, “exhort one another daily” (3:13a).

Hebrews 4 – An Invitation and Promise of Rest

Briefly, “rest” is the primary theme of chapter 4 (vss. 1, 3-5, 8-11). Notice the rest promised to those who feared(revered) the Lord (4:1), were people of faith (having heard and believed the Gospel, 4:2-10), and fought(“laboured…to enter into that rest,” 4:11).

Closing thoughts – I hesitate to conclude today’s devotional, but with your blessing, I will take liberty to draw your attention to Hebrews 4:11.

An English proverb states, “Good things come to those who wait.” While that adage might be a useful theory for some, it does not apply in the spiritual realm of a man’s soul. Men tend to go to extremes in pursuing rest. Some have the mistaken notion that rest is inactivity, even passivity. Others work themselves into a frenzy, and call it ministry. Let’s close and consider what we have learned: Three things are required to find the rest God promises His children: We are to fear God (4:1), have faith in Him and His promises (4:2-10), and fight (labor) that we might enter into His rest (4:11).

The life of the believer requires diligence, and is often exhausting. No wonder Paul exhorted Timothy, “2Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season” (2 Timothy 4:2a).

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

The Greater the Light, the Greater the Judgment! (Hebrews 1; Hebrews 2)

Click on this link for translations of today’s devotion.

Scripture reading – Hebrews 1; Hebrews 2

Continuing our countdown to the conclusion of our two-year chronological Scriptures’ reading schedule, today’s devotional introduces the Epistle to the Hebrews.

The Author of Hebrews

Many have supposed the Epistle to the Hebrews was written by the apostle Paul; however, I feel that is conjecture at best. If Paul was the author, he neglected to identify himself in the opening salutation as was his manner in his other epistles (Romans 1:1; 1 Corinthians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Galatians 1:1; and so on). Rather than speculate on the human author, let us content ourselves in accepting the Epistle to the Hebrews, like all Scripture: divinely inspired and its author the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:15; 2 Peter 1:20-21).

The Date of the Epistle to the Hebrews

The date for the writing of Hebrews is uncertain; however, it seems most scholars agree it was composed for Hebrew believers before A.D. 70, when the Roman general Titus besieged Jerusalem, and the city and Temple were destroyed. Before that date, persecution and imprisonment were widespread in the Roman empire, and Hebrews 13:23 indicates that Timothy, Paul’s “son in the faith” (2 Timothy 1:2), had himself been imprisoned, and was expected to soon be “set at liberty” (Hebrews 13:23).

The Recipients of the Epistle to the Hebrews

As stated in its title, Hebrews was addressed to those from a Hebrew background, and no doubt gave many of Judaism pause to consider Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of Old Testament messianic prophecies.  For others, sufferings and persecution of the 1st century might have caused some to doubt their faith in Christ, and return to the Temple and sacrificial offerings (Hebrews 10:1-11). To them, the Holy Spirit, through a human author, declared the supremacy of Jesus Christ in all things (Hebrews 1:1-4; 10:12-13).

Setting the date of Hebrews to the mid to late 60’s A.D., many readers were probably second-generation believers of Hebrew ancestry. Tragically, the author takes them to task for their spiritual immaturity, and described them as “dull of hearing” (5:11), and in need of teachers when they should have been teaching (5:12).

A brief outline of Hebrews 1 and 2 will need to suffice for our study.

Hebrews 1 – The Supremacy of Jesus Christ

Down through the centuries, God sent His prophets to Israel to reveal His person and declare His Word (1:1). Yet, the purpose in the coming of the prophets was to prepare the way for the coming of the ultimate revelation of God…His Son (1:2). The prophets and writers of Scripture not only pointed to creation as a demonstration of the handiwork of God (Psalm 19:1; 97:6), but they declared His revelation in word and writing as His Spirit moved them (2 Timothy 3:15; 2 Peter 1:20-21). Yet, the work of the prophets was partial.

The coming of Jesus Christ fulfilled not only the promises of a coming Messiah-Redeemer (Isaiah 53; Luke 19:10), but He revealed in His incarnation (human flesh) the glory of God the Father (1:2-3). Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is revealed as “heir of all things,” and the Creator (1:2b). He was the “brightness” of God’s glory (1:3a), the image of God veiled in human flesh (1:3b; Colossians 1:15; Philippians 2:6, 9), and the Sustainer (the upholder of “all things,” 1:3c). By the shedding of His blood and death on the cross, Jesus “purged our sins,” as Redeemer (1:3d), and then “sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high [God the Father]” (1:3e). Christ is exalted as Lord and Mediator of sinners (1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 10:12).

The balance of Hebrews 1 declared Christ’s preeminence over angels (1:4-7), and His person as Eternal God, and Sovereign of Creation (1:7-14).

Hebrews 2 – The Danger of Neglecting One’s Salvation

Hebrews 2 warned, God holds men accountable for the truths they have been taught (2:1-3). Christ taught, “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more” (Luke 12:48). Stating the same truth in another way: The greater the light, the greater the judgment!

The Hebrews had the privilege of the Old Testament Scriptures, and the word of prophets. God then sent His Son, Jesus to Israel, to declare God’s love and the Gospel of His grace. The author reasoned: “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord?” (2:3).

Closing thoughts – So much more could be considered, but I conclude our study inviting you to consider Hebrews 2:1, where we read: “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip” (2:1).

Understanding those words were penned to Hebrews who had extensive knowledge of the Old Testament Scriptures, we understand the urgency to not only hear the Word of God, but heed its Truth. Surely that same warning might be declared to 21st century believers. Warning: There is a grave danger for those who have been privileged to grow up hearing the Word of God preached and the Gospel declared. It is the danger of hearing, and not heeding Truth. The writer warned, “lest at any time we should let them slip” (2:1). Some who professed to be followers of Christ, had slipped, failed to heed the Truth, and were drifting away (backsliding) from their spiritual moorings (doctrine).

What about you? Are you anchored to God’s Word, or have you slipped away and are spiritually adrift? Have you allowed popularity, pleasures, lusts, busyness, sinful pride, or laziness cause you to slip? Won’t you turn from your sin, and return to the Lord?

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

El pastor: su papel, responsabilidad y recompensa (1 Pedro 5; Hebreos 1) (Spanish Translation)

 

The following is an example of the Spanish translation of today’s devotional using “Konvert” software. I have been told the translation is about 97% accurate.

Lectura bíblica – 1 Pedro 5; Hebreos 1

Recordatorio – 1 de enero de 2023 marcará el comienzo de una nueva serie de estudios cronológicos de 2 años en la Palabra de Dios. Dios mediante, Heart of a Shepherd Inc. se alojará en un nuevo sitio web, y los suscriptores recibirán devocionales diarios en su casilla de correo electrónico. Además, el sitio web contará con video devocionales y un “enlace para niños” a historias bíblicas. Suscríbase hoy enviando su solicitud a HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com.

 ¡Hoy marca el primer día del último mes de nuestro viaje cronológico de dos años a través de las Escrituras! Aplaudo a quienes han participado en este “maratón espiritual” de estudio de la Palabra de Dios. Confío en que compartas conmigo una sensación de logro y regocijo. El autor del Salmo 119 escribió: “¡Cuán dulces son a mi paladar tus palabras! ¡Sí, más dulce que la miel para mi boca!” (119:103); ¡de hecho ellos son!

 La lectura de las Escrituras de hoy concluye la Primera Epístola de Pedro y presenta el Libro de Hebreos (que muchos sugieren que fue escrito por Pablo; sin embargo, eso es mera especulación). Este devocional será tomado de 1 Pedro 5:1-4.

Una revisión de 1 Pedro 1-4

 Les señalé en un devocional anterior de 1 Pedro, la naturaleza práctica de la carta del apóstol a los “extranjeros esparcidos” (1 Pedro 1:1), creyentes que habían sido alejados de su familia, amigos y país por la persecución. Pedro, ahora un anciano, tenía la carga de que los creyentes no solo conocieran las Escrituras, sino que las vivieran. Después de recordarles quiénes eran en Cristo (elegidos, escogidos y santificados, 1 Pedro 1:2), los desafió a dejar de lado los pecados que los asediaban (1 Pedro 2:1) y a “desear la leche sincera de la palabra”. , para que [ellos] crezcan de ese modo” (1 Pedro 2:2). Haciéndose eco de las palabras del salmista, Pedro afirmó: “Si es que habéis gustado la misericordia del Señor” (1 Pedro 2:3).

En el capítulo 3, Pedro encargó a los creyentes con respecto a las relaciones maritales (1 Pedro 3:1-7) y las interrelaciones con creyentes y no creyentes en el mundo (1 Pedro 3:8-22). Comprender que los santos dispersos enfrentarían sufrimientos, persecuciones e incluso la muerte… Pedro exhortó a los creyentes a soportar las injusticias (1 Pedro 4:1-6), amarse unos a otros fervientemente (1 Pedro 4:8-11) y esperar hasta el final. ! (4:12-19)

1 Pedro 5

Aunque solo tiene 14 versículos, el capítulo 5 rebosa de cargos, exhortaciones, estímulos y un desafío para que los sufrimientos de Cristo nos animen (5:10-11). Sin embargo, debo limitar mi enfoque a los primeros cuatro versículos, y lo que considero que es el desafío de Pedro a los pastores (“ancianos”) de las iglesias (5:1-4). Comprender que el papel principal del pastor es el de un pastor espiritual (por conduce, alimenta, guía y protege a las ovejas), era fundamental que los hombres maduros, llamados por el Señor, fueran ordenados en las iglesias. Escribiendo a los creyentes, Pedro abordó el papel, la responsabilidad y la recompensa del pastor.

El papel del pastor (1 Pedro 5:1)

 El pastor fue descrito como un “anciano”, ya que ningún novicio debía ser ordenado (1 Timoteo 3:6). En la cultura judía y griega, un “anciano” era un hombre mayor, alguien que era respetado y honrado en su hogar, congregación y sociedad.

 El papel del “anciano” se definía mediante tres títulos: “obispo”, que significa supervisor (1 Pedro 2:25; 1 Timoteo 3:2; Tito 1:7); “Pastor”, la palabra para pastor (Efesios 4:11); y “Ancianos”, enfatizando la madurez espiritual necesaria para el ministerio (1 Pedro 5:1; 1 Timoteo 5:19; 2 Juan 1; 3 Juan 1). Con la humildad característica de los apóstoles, el apóstol Pedro se identificó como “anciano” (1 Pedro 5:1b). Sus credenciales y autoridad se resumieron en esto: “testigo de los padecimientos de Cristo, y también participante de la gloria que ha de ser revelada” (1 Pedro 5:1c). Había sido testigo ocular de la vida, el ministerio, los milagros, la muerte, la resurrección y la gloriosa ascensión de Cristo al cielo.

La Responsabilidad del Pastor (1 Pedro 5:2-3)

 Pedro encargó a los pastores espirituales que “apacientan la grey de Dios que está entre vosotros” (1 Pedro 5:2a). El trabajo del pastor es alimentar a un rebaño que abarca la responsabilidad de guiar, proteger y proveer alimento (Salmo 23). El mismo es el llamamiento del pastor, pues ha de guiar, proteger y nutrir espiritualmente a los creyentes a su cargo.

 El apóstol luego se refirió a la actitud del pastor, escribiendo, “no por fuerza, sino de buena gana; no por ganancias deshonestas, sino de ánimo dispuesto” (1 Pedro 5:2b). El corazón de un buen pastor no necesita ser forzado a la obra del ministerio, sino que está dispuesto, motivado y, como desafió Pablo, “en el momento oportuno, fuera de tiempo” (2 Timoteo 4:2). Sirve a su llamado con afán, y no para enriquecerse (1 Pedro 5:2b).

 El pastor/pastor debe ser un modelo, un ejemplo de siervo (1 Pedro 5:3). Los pastores deben predicar con el ejemplo, no como “señores” (1 Pedro 5:3a). No son amos que ejercen autoridad absoluta, sino pastores “sobre la heredad de Dios…ejemplos para el rebaño” (1 Pedro 5:3b). Los creyentes son la “herencia”, es decir, la herencia de Dios (1 Pedro 5:3b), y los pastores deben ser modelos, “ejemplos para el rebaño” (1 Pedro 5:3c). ¿Qué son para modelar? La semejanza de Cristo, fruto del Espíritu (Gálatas 5:22-23), y el carácter y las acciones de amor (1 Corintios 13:4-8a).

La recompensa del pastor (1 Pedro 5:4)

 La suma del desafío de Pedro a los “ancianos” fue recordarles que su labor en la Palabra, las dificultades, los desafíos y las penas serían recompensados cuando Jesucristo, el “Principe de los pastores, apareciera” (1 Pedro 5:4a). En la segunda venida de Cristo, los pastores fieles “recibirán una corona de gloria inmarcesible” (1 Pedro 5:4b). ¡Una corona terrenal es temporal, pero la recompensa que Pedro prometió a los pastores fieles era eterna!

 ¡Qué maravilloso incentivo para los pastores fieles y dedicados! No solo hemos recibido un gran llamado, sino que se nos promete “¡una corona de gloria!”

 * Puede convertirse en un suscriptor regular de los devocionales diarios del Corazón de un Pastor y recibirlos directamente en su dirección de correo electrónico. Ingrese su dirección de correo electrónico en el cuadro a la derecha (si usa una computadora) o en la parte inferior (si usa un teléfono celular).

 Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

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The Pastor: His Role, Responsibility, and Reward (1 Peter 5; Hebrews 1)

Click on this link for translations of today’s devotional.

Scripture reading – 1 Peter 5; Hebrews 1

Reminder – January 1, 2023 will mark the beginning of a new 2-year chronological study series in God’s Word. Lord willing, Heart of a Shepherd Inc. will be hosted on a new website, and subscribers will have daily devotions sent to their email box. In addition, the website will feature video devotionals, and a “kid’s link” to Bible stories. Subscribe today by sending your request to HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com.

Today marks the first day of the final month of our two-year chronological journey through the Scriptures! I applaud those who have participated in this “spiritual marathon” study of God’s Word. I trust you share with me a sense of accomplishment and rejoicing. The author of Psalm 119 wrote, “How sweet are thy words unto my taste! Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (119:103); indeed, they are!

Today’s Scripture reading concludes the 1st Epistle of Peter, and introduces the Book of Hebrews (which many suggest was authored by Paul; however, that is mere speculation). This devotional will be taken from 1 Peter 5:1-4.

A Review of 1 Peter 1-4

I pointed out to you in an earlier devotional from 1 Peter, the practical nature of the apostle’s letter to the “strangers scattered” (1:1), believers who had been driven far from family, friends, and country by persecution. Peter, now an old man, was burdened that believers not only know the Scriptures, but live them. After he reminded them who they were in Christ (elect, chosen, and sanctified, 1:2), he challenged them to lay aside besetting sins (2:1), and to “desire the sincere milk of the word, that [they] may grow thereby” (2:2). Echoing the words of the psalmist, Peter affirmed, “If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious” (2:3).

In chapter 3, Peter charged believers regarding marital relationships (3:1-7), and interrelations with believers and unbelievers in the world (3:8-22). Understanding the scattered saints would face sufferings, persecutions, and even death…Peter called upon believers to bear injustices (4:1-6), love one another fervently (4:8-11), and hope to the end! (4:12-19)

1 Peter 5

Though only 14 verses in length, chapter 5 overflows with Charges, Exhortations, Encouragements, and a Challenge to be emboldened by Christ’s sufferings (5:10-11). Nevertheless, I must limit my focus to the first four verses, and what I consider to be Peter’s challenge to the pastors (“elders”) of the churches (5:1-4). Understanding the primary role of the pastor is that of a spiritual shepherd (for he leads, feeds, guides, and protects the sheep), it was critical for mature men, called by the Lord be ordained in the churches. Writing to believers, Peter addressed the role, responsibility, and reward of the pastor.

The Pastor’s Role (5:1)

The pastor was described as an “elder,” for no novice was to be ordained (1 Timothy 3:6). In Jewish and Greek culture, an “elder” was an older man, and one who was respected and given honor in his home, congregation, and society.

The role of the “elder” was defined by three titles: “Bishop,” meaning an overseer (1 Peter 2:25; 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:7); “Pastor,” the word for shepherd (Ephesians 4:11); and “Elders,” emphasizing the spiritual maturity necessary for ministry (5:1; 1 Timothy 5:19; 2 John 1; 3 John 1). With humility characteristic of the apostles, the apostle Peter identified himself as “an elder” (5:1b). His credentials and authority were summed up in this: “a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed” (5:1c). He had been an eyewitness of Christ’s life, ministry, miracles, death, resurrection, and glorious ascension to heaven.

The Pastor’s Responsibility (5:2-3)

Peter charged the spiritual shepherds to, “feed the flock of God which is among you” (5:2a). The work of the shepherd in feeding a flock encompassed the responsibility of guiding, protecting, and providing nourishment (Psalm 23). The same is the calling for the pastor, for he is to guide, protect, and spiritually nourish believers in his charge.

The apostle then addressed the attitude of the shepherd, writing, “not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind” (5:2b). The heart of a good shepherd need not be forced to the work of ministry, but is willing, self-motivated, and as Paul challenged, “instant in season, out of season” (2 Timothy 4:2). He serves his calling with eagerness, and not to enrich himself (5:2b).

The pastor\shepherd is to be a model, an example of a servant (5:3). Pastors are to lead by example, not as “as being lords” (5:3a). They are not masters exercising absolute authority, but shepherds “over God’s heritage” (5:3b). Believers are the “heritage,” meaning the inheritance of God (5:3b), and pastors are to be models, “ensamples to the flock” (5:3c). What are they to model? The likeness of Christ, fruit of the Sprit (Galatians 5:22-23), and the character and actions of love (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a).

The Pastor’s Reward (5:4)

The sum of Peter’s challenge to the “elders” was to remind them their labor in the Word, hardships, challenges, and sorrows would be rewarded when Jesus Christ, the “Chief Shepherd shall appear” (5:4a). At Christ’s Second Coming, faithful pastors will “receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away” (5:4b). An earthly crown is temporal, but the reward Peter promised faithful pastors was eternal!

What a wonderful incentive to faithful, dedicated pastors! Not only have we received a great calling, but we are promised “a crown of glory!”

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

A Righteous Response When Mistreated (1 Peter 3; 1 Peter 4)

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Scripture reading – 1 Peter 3; 1 Peter 4

The apostle Peter’s letter “to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia” (1:1) continues with today’s Scripture reading. As you will see, 1 Peter 3 and 4 are practical and insightful, presenting us with numerous principles that are spiritual guides to the believer’s daily life and relationships. Before we consider the subject of today’s devotional, consider the following outlines of 1 Peter 3-4.

An Outline of 1 Peter 3

  1. Peter charged wives and husbands with marital obligations that parallel those recorded by Paul in his epistles (3:1-7; Ephesians 5:22-33; Colossians 318-19; Titus 2:2-7).
  2. Five precepts for “getting along” with others (3:8)
  3. A righteous response when you are mistreated (3:9)
  4. Three essential disciplines for loving life, and seeing good days (3:10-11)
  5. Spiritual responses to trials, troubles, and persecutions (3:13-17)
  6. Keys to a living, eternal hope (3:18-22)

An Outline of 1 Peter 4

  1. Four characteristics of believers who bear injustices without bitterness (4:1-6)
  2. Four characteristics of authentic faith (4:8-11)
  3. Enduring hope in the midst of fiery trials (4:12-19)

A Righteous Response to Injustice (3:9)

To put today’s devotional in context, we should remember Peter was writing to believers who were “strangers” (1:1). They had suffered rejections, persecutions, and been driven from their homes, businesses, and country. Peter, like a pastor who knows the sorrows and sufferings of his congregation, was guided by the Holy Spirit to exhort believers regarding their attitude and response to injustice and mistreatment.

Peter had already encouraged servants to respond to harsh masters in a “good and gentle” manner (2:18); and encouraged them to do so was “acceptable to God (2:20). Yet, not only were servants expected to respond to cruel masters with humility, but the same was expected of believers when they were treated unjustly and provoked. Peter exhorted, “Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing” (3:9).

The practical application of 1 Peter 3:9 is, believers are to be longsuffering, ready to forgive, and not retaliate (“not rendering evil for evil,” 3:9a). Retaliation and revenge are the natural response when we are wounded, and treated unfairly. Our fleshly impulse is to hurt others to the same degree we have been wronged. Yet, Peter taught the persecuted saints not only to shun retaliation, but to refuse to render “railing for railing” (3:9b).

Verbal assaults, threats, and slander will find their target, and a wounded heart is inevitable. Verbal jabs and counter jabs are the way of the world, for the wicked know nothing of grace and forgiveness. We often feel mocking, demeaning, name calling, and slander are too much to bear.

Nevertheless, Peter urged believers to go counter to their instincts, and bless those who leave you wounded, promising, “knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing” (3:9b). Instead of giving an offender a “piece of your mind,” we are to extend grace (“contrariwise blessing’), knowing God has a purpose, and He will reward His child with unconditional love and favor (3:9c).

Bite Your Tongue (3:10)

If you want to “love life, and see good days” (3:10a), bite your tongue, and speak neither “evil” nor “guile” (lies or deceit, 3:10). When everything within you cries unfair, keep silent, and trust God.

Closing thoughts – Why should believers suffer wrong, and not seek revenge? Why should we be silent, though an enemy would sow lies and seek our ruin?

Because the way of the wicked is to verbally attack, insult, and lie. Yet, our faith is in the Lord, and we trust Him to bestow His favor on us. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught the multitude, “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:11).

In his letter to believers in Rome, Paul wrote: “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath [make room for God’s wrath]: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” (Romans 12:19).

Truth – A believer’s silence and refusal to retaliate makes room for God to work and exercise justice.

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

The Character and Nature of a Believer (1 Peter 1; 1 Peter 2)

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Scripture reading – 1 Peter 1; 1 Peter 2

Today’s Scripture reading is 1 Peter 2, but I will take the liberty of introducing you to The First Epistle of PeterPenned by Peter, who identified himself as “an apostle of Jesus Christ,” the letter before us was not addressed to believers of a specific city, nor individuals (as with Paul’s epistles). Instead, Peter addressed his letter “to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia” (1:1). To understand that statement, consider the historical setting of this epistle.

Historical Background

Peter was writing at a time the Roman Empire was near its peak. Reaching as far west as Britain, and south into the African continent to Egypt, Rome’s territories covered nearly two million square miles. The emperor of Peter’s day was the infamous Nero. By the time Peter penned his epistle, the dark clouds of persecution were already shadowing the world. Believers soon experienced the first wave of persecution, and tens of thousands were eventually martyred, among them the apostles Paul and Peter.

The Author – A Story of Amazing Grace (1:1a)

Peter the fisherman (Mark 1:16-20), along with his brother Andrew, had been a disciple of Jesus Christ, and an apostle. He was a natural leader, and with James and John, had been privileged to be numbered in Christ’s inner circle (Matthew 17:1-2; Mark 5:37, 9:2, 14:23). We remember him as the disciple who boasted he would never deny Christ (Matthew 26:29-35); yet, he denied Him three times the night He was betrayed (Matthew 26:69-74). Humiliated, broken, and repentant; Peter was restored (Mark 16:7), and became a testimony of faith, courage, and faithfulness to the Lord.

The Recipients of the First Epistle of Peter (1 Peter 1:1b-2)

Who were “the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia” (1:1). They were not “strangers” to Peter, but aliens, foreigners to this world (1:1). They were numbered among the tribes who believed Jesus was the Messiah, and were rejected by their families, driven from their homes by religious zealots, and left a people without home or country.

They were not only “strangers,” they were the saved “elect,” and chosen “according to the foreknowledge of God” (1:2a). To be elect is a term of endearment. When a sinner becomes a part of God’s kingdom, he becomes part of His family, and is endeared to the Father. In His foresight, God the Father knows those sinners who come to Him by faith, and are sanctified by His Spirit. Their salvation is a covenant relationship, and they are sealed by the “sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ” (1:2).

On a personal note: I believe the “elect” are chosen by God, according to His foreknowledge, and are the objects of His saving grace, through faith in the sacrificial offering of Christ for our sin [His suffering, death, burial, and resurrection]. Paul described “election” in Ephesians 1:4 in these words: “According as He hath chosen us in Him [i.e., for Himself] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame [above reproach]before him in love.”

Who are the chosen? Who are the elect? Who can be saved?

My answer is, “whosoever will.”  The elect are “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord” (John 3:16; Romans 10:13). My heart rejoices to conclude our brief introduction to 1 Peter 1 with this eternal promise: “And [Jesus] is the propitiation [atoning sacrifice] for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).

1 Peter 2 – Progressive Sanctification

A brief introduction of chapter 2 will suffice, but I invite you to consider a doctrine that is all but forgotten by the 21st century church: Progressive Sanctification.

In essence, “progressive sanctification” is the sanctifying work of God in the heart of a believer (John 17:17, Ephesians 5:25–27; Colossians 1:22; 1 Thessalonica 5:23; Hebrew 13:12). While it is the work of God, sanctification also requires spiritual discipline on the part of the believer. Paul described progressive sanctification as a “putting off” the sinful ways of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 4:22, 25-31), and “putting on”spiritual virtues and the fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-24; Ephesians 4:23-24, 32).

Peter taught progressive sanctification in 1 Peter 2:1-2, when he exhorted believers: “Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,  2As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (2:1-2).

Five Besetting Sins (2:1)

Understanding “laying aside” describes how one might remove and exchange a garment for another, Peter challenged believers to be “laying aside” five besetting sins that hinder spiritual growth. The first, “all malice,” a desire that embraces evil, and is acted out in a pattern of hurting and injuring others (2:1a). The second sin to be laid aside is “all guile” (2:1b), implying deception, or as some might say, “two-faced.” Peter exhorted believers to lay aside “hypocrisies” (2:1c), which implies hiding behind a mask (perhaps a mask of spiritual piety that conceals one’s true heart and motive. “Envies” (2:1d) is also identified as a hindrance to spiritual growth, and is a jealousy and longing for what others possess (money, friends, popularity). Finally, “all evil speakings” (2:1e) were to be set aside, knowing slander, gossip, and disparaging words have no place in the congregation.

Closing thoughts (2:1-2) – Having set aside sins that hinder spiritual growth (2:1), Peter urged believers to be as “newborn babes” and “desire the sincere milk of the word” (2:2). In the same way a healthy, growing newborn craves its mother’s milk, believers will earnestly desire the sincere, unadulterated, truths of God’s Word.

A sincere, spiritually growing believer will evidence the signs of progressive sanctification, and “desire the sincere milk of the Word.” (2:2)

How’s your spiritual appetite?

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

Living in the Midst of a World Gone Mad (Titus 3; 1 Peter 1)

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Scripture reading – Titus 3; 1 Peter 1

Today’s Scripture reading is Titus 3 and 1 Peter 1. The focus of our devotional is Titus 3.

After challenging Titus regarding the character and virtues of men he would ordain to minister to the churches (1:5-8), Paul warned him concerning those who would oppose the Gospel (describing them as “liars, evil beasts, [and] slow bellies” (in essence, lazy gluttons, 1:12).

In chapter 2, the apostle charged Titus concerning the spiritual character he was to expect of the membership of the church. Addressed were “aged men” (2:2), “aged women” (2:3), “young women” (2:4-5), and “young men” (2:6) of the congregation. Knowing believers of the church would be a reflection of their spiritual leaders, Paul challenged Titus concerning his demeanor before the churches (2:7), and the character and tone of his speech (2:8). He was urged to conduct himself in such a way, that those who opposed him would have “no evil thing to say” of him (2:8b).

Titus 3

The focus of Titus 3 was the life and testimony of believers in that day. The 1st century world was not much different from our own. Like the politicians and bureaucrats of the 21st century, the Roman empire was plagued with government corruption, gross injustices, and high taxes (to support Rome’s vast armies). The Caesars, and governors of Rome’s territories, were infamously immoral, and the bloody spectacle of gladiator fights was employed to feed the demand of the masses for entertainment.

The Believer’s Response to Secular Authority (3:1)

In spite of the wickedness and persecution, Paul commanded Titus to instruct believers, and “put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work” (3:1). A believer was to obey human authority (the one exception is when those in authority demand we violate the commands and word of God; Acts 4:18-20; 5:25-29). Believers were not only to be obedient, they were to be ready and eager “to every good work” (3:1d; Galatians 6:10).

The Believer’s Testimony Before His Fellow Man (3:2)

I conclude our study of Titus, and invite you to consider four practical commands (two negative, and two positive). Instructing believers concerning their relationship with others, Titus was to urge God’s people “to speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men” (3:2)

Regardless the ill treatment we might receive from others, believers are not to defame, slander, or malign the character of their fellow man (3:2a). Nor are God’s people to be “brawlers,” and find themselves caught up in the midst of needless quarrels and arguments.

Finally, the saints of God are to conduct themselves in a “gentle” manner, “shewing meekness unto all men” (3:2b). To be gentle and compassionate toward those we love is a small matter; but to do the same toward those who are inconsiderate, and mean-spirited is another. Yet, such is the burden of believers; we are to be ready to forgive, and harbor no bitterness in our hearts (Ephesians 4:32). Though the wicked are brazen, and offensive, believers are commanded to respond in “meekness,” accepting slights with gentleness.

Are those spiritual qualities true of you?

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

The Character and Qualifications of Christ’s Ministers (Titus 1; Titus 2)

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Scripture reading – Titus 1; Titus 2

Continuing our chronological reading of the Scriptures, we come to The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to Titus.Before us is one of four letters written by Paul to individual believers (the others being to Philemon, and the first and second letters to Timothy). The book of Titus was probably written following Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome, and his visit to the churches on the island of Crete. Paul was freed from prison sometime after his epistle to the believers in Philippi. (The cause for Paul being set at liberty was not revealed, although some speculate his accusers failed to come to Rome and appear before Caesar to bring a witness against the apostle.)

Characteristic of his style, Paul introduced himself as the author in the first verse, and identified his calling and authority, writing: “Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness” (1:1). As with Timothy, the apostle had a loving bond with Titus and addressed him as “mine own son after the common faith” (1:4). Titus was a Greek convert, and uncircumcised (Galatians 2:3). He was also a member of Paul’s inner-circle, whom the apostle identified as a “partner and fellow helper” (2 Corinthians 8:23). While the letter was addressed to Titus, it was likely read to the churches in Crete where he ministered (1:5).

Paul’s Charge to Titus (1:5)

Paul left no doubt that Titus was empowered to act upon his authority. The young preacher was charged with the responsibility of setting “in order the things that are wanting [needing attention], and ordain elders in every city,” as Paul had directed him (1:5). The office of the pastor is defined in two terms in chapter 1: The title “elder” (1:5)  defines the dignity of the pastoral office as “pastor and teacher,” as opposed to a novice (Ephesians 4:11; 1 Timothy 3:6). The title, “bishop” (1:7), defined the duties and authority of the pastoral office as an overseer. In my opinion, the titles are interchangeable for the office of pastor (Acts 20:17, 28; Titus 1:5, 7).

The Pastor’s Character and Household (1:6)

Bearing the sacred responsibility of ordaining “elders [pastors] in every city” (1:5), Paul defined for Titus the spiritual qualifications of men who would serve the congregations.

The principal, and indispensable requirement of the pastor is he “must be blameless, as the steward of God” (1:6, 7a; 1 Timothy 3:2). “Blameless” does not mean he must achieve sinless perfection, but that his life is free of scandals (for instance, the qualifications that follow in verses 6-8 define the character of his personal life). In Paul’s letter to Timothy, he mandated the pastor “must have a good report” (1 Timothy 3:7). He must be “blameless,” because he is the steward of God,” meaning the overseer of God’s household (1:7; 1 Corinthians 4:1-2).

When choosing a pastor, a church must also consider his family life (1:6). He is to be morally chaste, “the husband of one wife” (1:6b). The minister cannot be divorced, nor have more than one wife. Should he have children, they are to be “faithful not accused of riot or unruly” (1:6c). A pastor cannot have children living at home in opposition to the Gospel. Though not perfect, the pastor’s children are not to be riotous (implying drunkenness or moral debauchery), or “unruly” (rebellious or insubordinate).

Five Disqualifications from the Pastorate (1:7)

In addition to being “blameless,” Paul listed five things that disqualify a man from the pastorate. He must not be self-willed, meaning dogmatic, arrogant, and self-seeking (1:7b). He must not be easily provoked to anger (1:7c). A pastor must not be “given to wine” (1:7d), nor a “striker” (contentious, 1:7e). Lastly, a minister of the Gospel is “not given to filthy lucre” (not a lover of money or possessions; 1:7e; 1 Timothy 3:3).

Six Positive Qualifications for the Pastoral Office (1:8)

Having listed five disqualifying traits, Paul followed with six qualifications required of those who serve the congregations. A minister is to be “a lover of hospitality” (1:8a; hospitable to saints and strangers; Galatians 6:10). A pastor is to be a “lover of good men” (1:8b; literally, a lover of all that is good; Philippians 4:8). He is to be “sober” (1:8c); sensible, exercising good judgment, and not given to silliness or ruled by urges (1 Timothy 3:2).

The shepherd of God’s people is to be “just” (1:8d), morally upright, and a man of integrity. He is an example to the church, and “holy” in conduct (1:8e; devout, pious, and dedicated to God, Romans 12:1-2). Finally, the man ordained to the pastorate must be “temperate” (1:8f), spiritually disciplined in his affections and desires (1 Corinthians 9:24-25).

Closing thoughts (1:9) – So much more could be written regarding the qualities that must be true of men called to pastor the churches, including their duty and devotion to God’s Word (1:9). I close with a word of warning:

Failure to hold ministers to God’s standard invite His judgment, and the eventual ruin of churches, Bible schools, and institutions. Tragically, one need not look far to see the evidences of that failure.

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

Spiritual Principles for Employees and Employers in an Entitlement Age (1 Timothy 6)

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Scripture reading – 1 Timothy 6

Our brief study of Paul’s 1st Epistle to Timothy concludes with today’s Scripture reading. Readers will notice Paul continues a broad sweep of issues that have confronted believers since the 1st century. Arguably, times have changed, but the prevailing sins and spiritual challenges of mankind are the same. Today’s devotional will consider 1 Timothy 6:1-6.

The Culture of the 1st Century Church (6:1-2)

Paul’s letter was addressed to a culture where slaves and masters were members of the church. In fact, the membership of the 1st century church had some slaves who found themselves serving “believing masters” (6:2). Paul did not tackle the moral or ethical nature of slavery, as slavery was a common way of life in the first century. Nor did he urge Timothy to lead an uprising against slavery. Instead, the apostle addressed the dynamics of believing slaves and their masters (whether unbelieving or believing).

Author’s note – Before I consider an exposition of 1 Timothy 6:1-2, I hope you might give me liberty for a personal observation.

Mirroring the attitude of the 21st century world, I have observed the growing presence and influence of a rebellious spirit of entitlement even among believers. Sadly, our families, churches, and Christian institutions have embraced entitlement as a right, of which few are willing to challenge. Entitlement arises from a self-focused heart, in essence, from those who would espouse employees’ rights and privileges above all else. I believe the pendulum has swung so far in favor of employees, that they now abuse their employers thus driving corporations to the edge of fiscal insanity, if not bankruptcy.

What is the Believer’s Duty to An Unbelieving Employer? (6:1)

Paul challenged Timothy to teach slaves and servants to be characterized by the same attitude of which he wrote, namely – Respect. Whether a slave served a master who was an unbeliever or a believer, the requirement was the same: Servants were to treat their masters with honor and respect, knowing their actions and attitudes reflected on their faith and profession in Christ. Paul wrote, “1Let as many servants as are under the yoke [the yoke of bondage or slavery] count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed” (6:1).

In his epistle to believers in Ephesus, Paul challenged servants and slaves to obey their masters, and fear and honor them out of a sincere heart, “as unto Christ” (Ephesians 6:5). Peter commanded, “18Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward” (1 Peter 2:18). The heart attitude of a believer is to serve, honor, and obey an employer to the end they will give them no cause to have an ill opinion of God and the Scriptures (6:1).

What is the Believer’s Duty to a Believing Employer? (6:2)

Today, many believers bring a spirit of entitlement when they are employed by believers or a ministry. Some believers become so offensive in their expectations, they become a sorrow to fellow believers that employ them.

There were some in the congregation Timothy pastored who were masters (6:2). Surely, salvation so transformed the lives of some that they evidenced love and Biblical virtues toward their slaves (2 Corinthians 5:17). Perhaps, some believing masters even divested themselves of slavery entirely.

Nevertheless, slavery was a component within the culture of the 1st century church. Therefore, Paul commanded Timothy teach and exhort believers regarding the relationship of the servants and their masters (6:2). What was Timothy to “teach and exhort” servants? (6:2) Paul wrote: “they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit” (6:2).

While the servants and some masters were believers, the believing servants were to remember their place and role, and treat their masters with respect (“not despise them,” 6:2b). A believing servant was to “do them service,” meaning serve them with a right heart attitude and spirit (6:c). Because the master was a believer, the believing slave was to value the privilege of serving a fellow believer, knowing both were “partakers of the benefit,” meaning the Gospel of the grace of God in Christ (6:2d).

Closing thoughts (6:3-6) – I close today’s devotion, exhorting you to not entertain any other spirit or attitude that arises and hinders your testimony in the world. There are believers who justify a belligerent, divisive spirit toward their employers. If believers were to exercise an honest self-examination, some would find a spirit of entitlement contrary to the Spirit of God, and the teachings of the Scripture.

If believing slaves were commanded to honor and obey their masters, surely no less can be expected of us.

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.