Tag Archives: Money

Show Me the Money!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Daily reading assignment: 2 Corinthians 9-10

The city of Corinth was the most important city of ancient Greece.  In the apostle Paul’s day it served as the capital city of the Roman province of Achaia.  Located on a major East to West trade route, Corinth was the 4th largest city of the Roman Empire. However, like most major cities, Corinth was known for its wealth and licentious lifestyle.

Paul established the church in Corinth on his second missionary journey and his first letter to the church was both pointed and direct.  The apostle rebuked a whole litany of shameful sins present in the church: Immorality; Covetousness; Idolatry; Drunkenness; Slander (1 Corinthians 5); Christians suing Christians in secular courts (1 Corinthians 6); and the sacrilegious treatment of the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11) were among the sins the church had tolerated in its midst.  Paul concluded his first letter to the Corinthian believers, exhorting them to take up an offering to minister to the needs of the suffering saints in Judaea.

In contrast to his first letter, the Book of 2 Corinthians is a letter of affirmation and exhortation to Christians in Corinth.  The Corinthian believers heeded Paul’s admonishment concerning sin in the church and dealt with sinners in the midst.  In addition to his affirmation, Paul exhorted the believers in Corinth to fulfill their promise to send a sacrificial offering to the suffering saints in Judea.

Paul used the churches of Macedonia [Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea] as a model to motivate the Corinthians to fulfill their obligation to send a generous offering.  Unlike the wealthier people of Corinth, the believers of Macedonia, had given out of their poverty (2 Cor. 8:2), giving generously beyond their ability (2 Cor. 8:3)

Sparingly” and “bountifully” are two adverbs Paul used to define attitudes towards giving.  Paul writes, “He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully” (2 Corinthians 9:6).

A believer who gives “sparingly” is stingy, miserly and tight-fisted.  Paul warns, sow sparingly and you will reap sparingly!  Be a miser when you give, don’t be surprised you reap the same when you are in need.  In contrast, give “bountifully” knowing generous givers are recipients of generous blessings!

The analogy Paul draws in 2 Corinthians 9:6 is from Solomon’s pictures of two farmers, one who scatters seed and another who hoards seed (Proverbs 11:24-26).

Proverbs 11:24-26 – “There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth [God rewards generosity]; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty [covetousnessness leads to poverty]. 
25 The liberal soul [gives, bestows blessings] shall be made fat [satisfied]: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself [Gal. 6:7 – You reap what you sow].26 He that withholdeth corn, the people shall curse him: but blessing shall be upon the head of him that selleth it.”

I close with three spiritual truths on giving:

1) God rewards generosity (Proverbs 11:24).

2) Covetousness leads to poverty (Proverbs 11:24).

3) A man reaps what he sows (Galatians 6:7; Prov. 11:25-26): A generous soul will be content (Proverbs 11:25), but a hoarder is despised (Proverbs 11:26.

I do not know about you, but sign me up for giving and its promised rewards!

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Money Will Not Buy You Happiness and You Can’t Take it With You

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Daily reading assignment: Psalms 48-50

After nearly 40 years in ministry, I have yet to see a U-Haul truck or trailer trailing a hearse to a cemetery (I have heard of a U-Haul truck employed to transport the deceased to a mortuary).  The psalmist states the same sentiment when he wrote of a rich dead man, “For when he dieth he shall carry nothing away: his glory shall not descend after him” (Psalm 49:17).

I once read a story of a conversation between two men following the death of John D. Rockefeller, perhaps the wealthiest man of his time.  One man asked of Rockefeller, “How much did he leave behind?”   The other man answered, “Everything; he left everything!”

The same is true of you, dear friend.   Rich or poor, famous or infamous, popular or hated…You own nothing that you will take with you!   When you die you will be no richer than you were  the day you were born…you came forth from your mother’s womb naked (Ecclesiastes 5:15) and you will go to your grave with nothing more than the clothes on your back!  Uncle Sam will pilfer all you have amassed with “death taxes” and the rest will be distributed as you directed; however, for you there will be nothing.

Psalm 49 reflects the pondering of a man who faced the reality many of us put off…his own mortality.   Regardless of what you have amassed or how rich or poor you are, every man and woman will “leave their wealth to others” (49:10).   Some, by acts of charity, and others by calling “their lands after their own names” (49:11), go to their graves hoping their legacy will live after they are gone; however, no man or woman can escape death (49:12, 14).

The apostle Paul reminded Timothy of these same truths when he wrote:

1 Timothy 6:6-10 – “But godliness with contentment is great gain.
7  For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
8  And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
9  But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
10  For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”

I close with Paul’s exhortation to Timothy: In light of the temporal nature of riches and the passing fancy of fame, “flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness” (1 Timothy 6:11).

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Does Your Pastor Deserve A Raise?

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Scripture reading – 1 Corinthians 9-10

I have studied and taught 1 Corinthians 10 and the subject of Christian Liberty in sermons and devotional posts; however, I confess the subject addressed by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 9 is one I have neglected.  Knowing this devotional commentary will be read Sunday, March 26, 2017, I cannot think of a better time to remind the church you have an obligation to the men who will minister before you this day of worship.

Paul had fallen victim to critics who not only questioned his credentials as an apostle, but also his authority over the church (1 Corinthians 9:1-2).   In answering his critics, Paul goes a step further and addressed not only his apostleship, but also the material obligations of churches to to their pastors (9:3-14).  Paul reasoned that God’s servants have the “power” (lit. the right and authority) of all who labor… “to eat and to drink” (9:4) and to support their families (“to lead about a sister, a wife”; meaning a companion – 9:5).

Continuing his argument on behalf of God’s servants receiving compensation for their labor, Paul reasoned we compensate soldiers when they go to war, farmers eat the fruit of their labor, and shepherds profit from shepherding (9:7).  Surely the pastor is worthy of the same!

Moving beyond human portraits of workers receiving just compensation for their labor, Paul challenged believers that the Law demands that servants of God receive a fair compensation for their labor (9:8-9; Deuteronomy 25:4).

1 Corinthians 9:9 – “For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?”

What is the application of 1 Corinthians 9:9?  Because God is concerned with the fair treatment of oxen, there is no doubt He is particularly concerned about the welfare of His servants (9:10).  Taking that truth to its conclusion, Paul admonished believers they are debtors to those who minister to them spiritually and under material obligation to minister to their physical needs (9:11).  1 Corinthians 9:12 indicate the believers in Corinth had given to meet the needs of others who ministered in the church; although Paul had not asked the same of the church.  In case the Corinthian church were tempted to practice the same lack of support toward other ministers, Paul reminded them how priests who ministered in the Temple received a portion of the sacrifices as compensation for their families (9:13; Leviticus 6:14-7:36; 27:6-33).

Principle – God has ordained in both the Old Testament and New Testament that His servants should be supported and fairly compensated for their labor (9:14).

Sadly, many church members give little thought to the personal sacrifices and needs of their ministers.  If you believe “the labourer is worthy of his hire” (Luke 10:7), you should see to it that your pastor(s) is fairly compensated and financially secure.

Paul takes that principle a step further when he writes, “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine” (1 Timothy 5:17).

How about it, does your pastor deserve a raise?

* Note from the author of “Heart of A Shepherd” – Please accept my apology for my devotional commentary posts being somewhat erratic this past week. I am back home and looking forward to being back in my daily routine.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Three Proverbs to Start Your Day: Buyer Beware!

“Buyer Beware!” is a lesson we have all had to learn, many of us having learned it the hard way! False and misleading advertisements in television, radio, magazines and sales flyers have made people and corporations rich; however, their victims are often the ones who can least afford the hook and line in deceptive advertisements!

Proverbs 20:10 pictures a business transaction from a bygone era when dry goods, meats, and precious metals were traded using certified weights and scales.

Proverbs 20:10“Divers weights [stones; weights used for measurements], and divers measures [measurement for grains], both of them are alike abomination [disgusting; abhorrence; loathsome] to the LORD.”

Nearly every aspect of business transactions in our day is electronic; however, not butcher shop scaletoo long ago a butcher or a feed store transacted business by mechanical scales much as they did in Solomon’s day. The opportunity of cheating unsuspecting customers was present and many men exploited the naïve with false weights and deceptive practices.

Regardless of the excuse “everybody does it”, God demands that His people be honest.  Allow me to cite several verses that emphasize the same principle.

Deuteronomy 25:13 Thou shalt not have in thy bag [money bag; purse] divers weights, a great [greater than its marked value] and a small [less than its marked value].”

Proverbs 11:1, 3 – “A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight. 3 The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them.”

God hates dishonesty and demands that His people are upright in business.

Psalm 25:21“Let integrity [innocence; complete; perfect] and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on thee.”

A second proverb states the actions of a child are a reflection of his character.

what-are-you-known-forProverbs 20:11“Even a child [youth; young servant] is known [acknowledged; revered; regarded] by his doings [works; actions; deeds], whether his work [acts; deeds] be pure [clean], and whether it be right [straight; just].”

It amazes me to hear parents insist their child could do no wrong.   Far too many parents are either blind or unwilling to acknowledge the fallen, sinful nature of their children as evidenced in their sinful actions.   You need only observe your child’s attitudes and actions to discern their spiritual bent.

A spiritually minded child will do right.   They will obey and honor their parents and other authority figures in their life.   However, a child who is disrespectful, habitually lies and deceives should be recognized for who he is—a young fool who desperately needs parents who will discipline and direct him on a path that is righteous and God-fearing (Proverbs 13:24; 29:15, 17).

Our third proverb is an acknowledgement of God our Creator.

Proverbs 20:12“The hearing [obedient; hearken; attentive; understanding] ear, and the seeing eye [discerning; perceptive; beholding], the LORD hath made [fashion; create; construct] even both of them.”

I have heard it said, “God has given us two ears to hear, two eyes to see and only one mouth to speak! We should do less talking and twice as much listening and seeing!”

There is a lot of truth in that simple adage. Sight and hearing are wonderful gifts God has bestowed to man. I recently saw a video where a toddler had been given a God created eyes and earshearing device and the smile that came across his face when he first heard his mother’s voice was priceless!

The psalmist challenged man to look at the heavens and see God’s glory displayed in His handiwork (Psalm 19:1).

Our ears give us the privilege to hear the Gospel declared and the saints of God lifting their voices in song and praise to our Savior and God. They enable us to hear the first cry of an infant and the words “I love you” from those we love.

We are in God’s debt for the wonderful gifts of sight and hearing.

Copyright 2016 – Travis D. Smith

A generous attitude commences in giving oneself.

defined-by-generosityProverbs 22:9“He that hath a bountiful [good; cheerful; gracious; pleasant] eye [attitude; character; inclination] shall be blessed [praised; thanked]; for he giveth [assign; appoint; deliver] of his bread [food; meat; fruit] to the poor [weak; needy; afflicted].”

The subject of Proverbs 22:9 is not necessarily a rich man, but a man who has a rich and generous spirit.  He sees those less fortunate than himself and is moved to give—not reluctantly or sparingly, but generously.  We should ask, “From whence does this spirit of generosity arise?”  The answer is deeply rooted in his heart and character. You see, a “bountiful eye” has nurtured a proclivity to generosity.  The reward for such generosity is the praise of God and one’s fellowman.

There is a deeper principle in this verse than the challenge to give out of one’s abundance.  A “bountiful eye” is in its essence gracious, pleasant and cheerful.  An attitude of generosity begins in giving something far more personal than material possessions—it commences in giving oneself.

You might reason if you had more to give you would be generous.  The reality is, a selfish, self-focused attitude is characteristic of the natural man.  Whether he is rich or poor, a narcissistic man will remain selfish and vain until he confesses his attitude as sin.Joy of giving

Someone reading today’s proverb has hurt and disappointed those closest to him because he is stingy with his life, time and resources.  Rather than praise, his ways have earned him the disdain of those who love and need him most.

If that is you, will you stop now and confess your sin?  Will you have the character to do the right thing and ask your loved ones to forgive you for being selfish and self-centered?

Go ahead…I dare you!

Copyright 2014 – Travis D. Smith

Proverbs 14:35 – The reward of a principled man

hardworkers' quoteProverbs 14:35 – The king’s favour is toward a wise servant: but his wrath is against him that causeth shame.”

The setting of Proverbs 14:35, as with the Book of Proverbs, is within a monarchial society when the king’s word was the law of the land.   A servant was ever conscious the whims of the king might suddenly turn against him should he disappoint his master.   So it was with the butler and baker who disappointed Pharaoh and were providentially imprisoned with Joseph awaiting a sentence of death or deliverance (Genesis 40:1-4).

talentsChrist illustrated the principle for today’s proverb in His Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30). In this parable Christ is the master who entrusted three servants with the oversight of his riches while he went abroad for an extended stay (Mt. 25:14-15).   The servants, each entrusted with “talents” [a monetary amount] based upon their abilities, were to invest their “talents” in their master’s absence, aware he would demand an accounting of all they had been given upon his return (Mt. 25:16-18).   Two of the three servants received commendations for their investments and their reward was an increase in their responsibilities on their master’s behalf (Mt. 25:19-23).   The third servant failed to invest the talent he had been given and was openly rebuked by the master. The unfaithful servant’s talent was taken from him and he was cast out of the master’s presence (Mt. 25:24-30).

For the sake of our application, let us set this proverb in the context of the 21st century and apply the principle to the relationship of the employer and employee.

Proverbs 14:35 – “The king’s favour [delight; pleasure; good will] is toward a wise [prudent; discreet] servant: but his wrath [anger; rage; fury] is against him that causeth shame [disappoints; deals shamefully].”

employer and employeesAn employee who fulfills his obligation has the satisfaction of pay and, should he exceed his employer’s expectations, a commendation and reward for his effort.  Such an employee is rare; however, it should be the case of those who bear Christ’s name—that our testimony at work earns both the trust and delight of our employer.

Sadly, the sorry state of America is that many employers search in vain for workers who are diligent in their work and give an honest day’s work for an honest wage.  Too many enter the work force demanding wages that exceed their skills while provoking resentment from their employer.  Such should never be said of God’s people.

May it be said of us which was said of Christ in His youth, “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man (Luke 2:52).

Now, get to work!

Copyright 2015 – Travis D. Smith

Proverbs 10:2-3 – The Treasuries of the Wicked and the Righteous

ProfitSolomon returns to an oft-repeated format in Proverbs 10.  Using the conjunction but, he draws a series of contrasts between two opposing thoughts throughout the chapter.  For this devotional, I will limit my examination to Proverbs 10:2-3 and contrast the wicked and the righteous.

Proverbs 10:2 – “Treasures [storehouses; depositories] of wickedness [ill-gotten gain] profit nothing [unprofitable; the wicked perish with their wealth]: but righteousness [righteous deeds; moral uprightness] delivereth [rescues] from death.”

The-Rich-Fool-1024x768Christ’s parable of the Rich Fool (Luke 12:16-21) illustrates the truth Solomon is teaching his son in Proverbs 10:2. The fool’s plot and passion for wealth and possessions is never satisfied; his dream of hoarding riches to perpetuate a life of drinking and debauchery cut short by his appointment with death and God’s judgment.  The righteous man, justified by his faith and trust in the Lord, sets his affections on the eternal and is delivered from the judgment of God (John 3:16).

Proverbs 10:3 – “The LORD [Jehovah; Eternal; Self-existent] will not suffer [lit. to be hungry; suffer famine] the soul of the righteous [just; lawful; innocent] to famish [to be hungry; suffer famine]: but he casteth away [expels; drives out] the substance [desire; greed] of the wicked [ungodly; evil].”

As a reminder, Proverbs are general truths, but not guaranteed promises.  In other words, generally speaking, the truths set forth by Solomon are true, but there are exceptions in the will and purpose of God.

For example, while Proverbs 10:3 states God providentially cares for His people, some of God’s most faithful servants have suffered physically for their faith and service to God.  The apostle Paul enumerated his sufferings as the minister of Christ in 2 Corinthians 11:23-27; however, his faith sustained him and he looked past his trials.  Paul was confident that God was glorified in the extremity of his need.

ill gotten treasuresThe wicked are driven by their passions and greed, but die frustrated, unhappy and hopeless.  To make that point, I will allow the psalmist to speak:

Psalm 37:16 – “A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked.”

Application – It is better to be poor and declared a righteous man by God, than to be wealthy and wicked in the sight of God who tries men’s hearts and rewards them according to their deeds (Galatians 6:7-9).

Psalm 49:6-7 – “They that trust [lean on] in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches; 7  None of them can by any means redeem his brother [and by implication, himself], nor give to God a ransom for him:”

Application – Riches and possessions might offer a man a fleeting sense of satisfaction and pleasure; however, they merit no favor with a holy God.

My friend, where is your treasure?

Matthew 6:19-21 – “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20  But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

Proverbs 1:19 – Riches might buy fleeting joy, but never lasting happiness

covetousnessWe pick up Solomon’s proverbs in chapter one as he concludes his discourse on the nature of wicked men.  The king has warned, exhorted and painted in vivid words the reality that the wicked look at the naïve as sport and warned his son they desire to see him come to ruin.

Solomon draws a parallel of the enticements of the wicked with the allure of riches in Proverbs 1:19.

Proverbs 1:19 –  “So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain [covetousness and materialism]; which [greed] taketh away [to seize and plunder] the life of the owners thereof  [greed will destroy those under its power].”

Covetousness is pervasive in our society and its tentacles invade and induce all manner of sin and wickedness in man. Like a cancer left unchecked in the body, lust and greed is the cancer of the soul and will invariably destroy life and soul if fed and allowed to grow and fester.

Warning: Greed is the cause of much sorrow in our day and Christians are not exempt from its curse.

1 Timothy 6:10 – “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”

Copyright 2015 – Travis D. Smith

Proverbs 18:11-12 – “You can’t take it with you!”

Pharaoh's tombThe Pharaohs of ancient Egypt were perhaps the most foolhardy of men when it came to defying the adage, “You can’t take it with you”.  The pyramids stand today as marvels of engineering and construction, intended to serve as shrines not only entombing Egypt’s kings, but also securing riches and possessions for life after death.  The futility of coveting riches has been borne out by the reality that, almost without exception, thieves have plundered those ancient treasuries of the dead.

In Proverbs 18:11, Solomon imparts to his son a principle concerning the rich and their wealth.

Proverbs 18:11 – “The rich man’s wealth [substance; possessions] is his strong [strength; refuge] city [i.e. walled city], and as an high [safe; strong; inaccessible] wall [fortification] in his own conceit [imagination; opinion].”King Tut

Wealth imparts to its owner a degree of temporal security; however, like all things that are earthly, riches are fleeting and the security they offer artificial.

The heart of Belshazzar was lifted up with pride behind the great walls of ancient Babylon (Daniel 5).   Boasting of his power and wealth,  the king defied the God of Heaven and treated the sacred vessels of the Temple with disdain.  The proud king realized too late that his faith in riches and the walls of Babylon would not spare him from God’s wrath and the vengeance of an enemy.

A second parable, Proverbs 18:12, sets forth a contrast between the fate of the proud and the reward of the humble.

humilityProverbs 18:12 – “Before [face; presence] destruction [breach; ruin; vexation] the heart [mind; thoughts; feelings] of man is haughty [proud; lifted up; exalted]and before honour [glory; reputation] is humility [meekness; gentleness; modesty].”

Sinful pride is part of man’s spiritual DNA and is the precursor to his destruction.  It is pride that moves a man’s spirit to defy an all-powerful God and rebel against authority.  It is pride that blinds, binds and inevitably demands God’s judgment (James 4:6).

While the proud follow a path of self-destruction, the humble and meek find favor with God and man.

I close with two verses I invite you to ponder.

Proverbs 16:18 – “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”

Proverbs 15:33 – “The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility.”

Copyright 2015 – Travis D. Smith

Proverbs 13:25 – How satisfied are you?

are you happyProverbs 13:25 “The righteous [Just; Lawful; Innocent] eateth [devours; consumes] to the satisfying [satisfaction; fullness; abundance] of his soul [life; being; heart]: but the belly [body; being] of the wicked [ungodly] shall want [lack; not be satisfied].”

Reading Proverbs 13:25 leaves me wondering how many of those who call upon the name of the Lord are genuinely satisfied and content in their souls.  How easy it is to see the wicked appear to prosper while the godly sacrifice and live in moderation.  The former indulges the flesh, while the latter comes to realize the temporalness of earthly pleasures.

Proverbs 13.25Solomon taught his son that the righteous, those who love the Lord and His Law, know contentment in their soul earthly treasures cannot afford.  The wicked, however, like the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-14), realize too late that the pleasures of this world are fleeting and the “belly of the wicked” is never satisfied.

My friend, if you struggle with contentment and your heart is anxious, take time and examine upon what you have set your eyes and affections.

Matthew 6:19-21 “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20  But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

Copyright 2015 – Travis D. Smith