Tag Archives: Parents

“Real Men Don’t Read Instructions; or Do They?” – Sunday at Hillsdale, May 22, 2022

Topic: A Biblical View of Parenting (part 3)

Text – Deuteronomy 6:1-9

Series – The Four “Be’s” of Parenting

Children do not come with an instruction’s manual; however, God has given us His Word and clear principles and precepts for the role and responsibility of parents in teaching and training their sons and daughters.

Four universal principles for Life and Family. Today’s message considers the first of the four: Be Consistent.

 

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, 4230 Harbor Lake Dr, Lutz, FL 33558. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

“The Soul That Sinneth, It Shall Die” (Ezekiel 18)

Scripture reading – Ezekiel 17; Ezekiel 18

Ezekiel 18 – A Parable of “Sour Grapes”

The LORD left no doubt that the sins of the people had brought sorrows and judgments upon Israel, Judah, and Jerusalem. Yet, there was a question that arose in Babylon: Who was responsible for the calamities?

Speaking in a parable, some said, “The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge?” (18:2) In other words, there were some who blamed Israel’s troubles and miseries on the sins of their fathers and forefathers. God rebuked that generation, and declared an enduring, universal truth: 4Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die”(18:4)

A Hypothetical Study of Three Generations (18:4-20)

One’s personal responsibility for sin and its consequences was the subject, and this passage answers some important questions regarding the justice and fairness of God’s judgment. 1) Are sons punished for the sins of their fathers, or fathers punished for the sins of their sons? 2) If a father chooses a godless lifestyle, is it inevitable a son will follow in his steps? Because “blame shifting” is epidemic in our day, Ezekiel 18 should interest both believer and unbeliever.

A Righteous Father (18:5-9)

God blesses a man who chooses righteousness, and obeys His statues and judgments (18:5-9). Such a man obeys the Commandments of the LORD. He will not commit adultery, nor oppress those who are weaker (18:6b-7a). The righteous restores the surety to a debtor, does not plunder and rob others by violence, and is charitable to those who are hungry and in need (18:7b). The righteous do not crush a debtor with exorbitant interest, and conducts himself in a lawful manner (18:8). Because he walks in accord with the statutes (ordinances and decrees) and judgments (laws) of the LORD, and deals honestly with others, he is declared just before God, and will live and prosper (18:9).

A Wicked Son (18:10-13)

What if an adult son of a righteous man refuses to follow his father’s godly example, and instead turns to a path of wickedness? Should the father be punished for the sins of a son that is a robber and murderer? (18:10) Should a father be punished because his son offers sacrifices to idols, commits adultery, abuses the poor, robs others, and is immoral (18:11-12)? When a son charges excessive interest, and oppresses debtors, should his father go unpunished? Though his father was righteous, such a son will bear the guilt of his own sins, and “shall not live…he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon him” and not his father (18:13).

A Righteous Grandson (18:14-18)

Each generation bears responsibility for its sins, and God will not punish a father for the sins of his son (18:10-13). Should a son see the sins of his father, but chooses the way of righteousness, that son will not bear his father’s guilt (18:14-17). A wicked father, as a wicked son, will not go unpunished for his sins (18:18-20).

Who you gonna’ blame for your troubles and sorrows? (18:20-24)

Ezekiel repeated the principle of personal, individual responsibility, writing, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him” (18:20). The LORD is longsuffering, and ready and willing to forgive the sinner who repents and turns from his sins (18:21-22). After all, God does not delight in seeing the wicked die in their sins (18:23).

What if a righteous man turns and follows a path of sin? (18:24a) His past righteousness will not deliver him from the consequences of his present sins (18:24b).

Closing thoughts (18:25-32) – Sinners cannot accuse the LORD of being unjust (18:25). The believer who sins will be punished (18:26), and the wicked who repents of his sins will be forgiven and live (18:27-28). Tragically, family members suffer the consequences of their loved one’s sinful choices. Yet, God is just and He will not judge and condemn the innocent for the sins of the guilty (18:29-30). God will judge every sinner “according to his ways” (18:30).

Our study concludes with a wonderful invitation: When a sinner repents, the LORD promises to give “a new heart and a new spirit” (18:31). While the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23a), the LORD invites all who sin, saying, “turn yourselves, and live” (18:32).

Don’t wallow in a mire of self-pity, or blame others for your sinful choices!  Repent, and live!

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, 4230 Harbor Lake Dr, Lutz, FL 33558. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

“Who Is Teaching Johnny?” – The battle for your child’s soul.

* I am beginning a new Family-Parenting Series titled, “The Four Be’s of Parenting” for Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 8, 2022. This article is the introduction to the first sermon of the series, and is titled “Who is Teaching Johnny?” 

We are living in a world that has been taken over by a liberal ideology that is anti-family, anti-God, and anti-America. From the White House to the local School Board, there is an assault on natural rights (freedoms given by God to man), and an erosion of Constitutional, civil liberties that is unprecedented.

Consider the words of the founding fathers of these United States of America: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed” (Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776). Civil liberties are not granted by government to citizens, but are to restrain government from imposing its will on the governed. As Americans, we are not subjects of the government, but the government is subject to the will of “We the People.”

In 1980, pastor and author Tim LaHaye published The Battle For The Mind, and exposed the philosophy and goals of Humanism. LaHaye gave shocking examples of Humanism’s goals and encroachment into America’s public education system, and the goal of humanists to reshape American society. Forty years later, we are witnessing the effect of humanism as the United States has seen a cultural shift that is anti-God, anti-family, and anti-America.

Humanist have taken over government and judicial systems. Public education, entertainment, social media, and the flow of news are controlled by humanists. They are committed to reshaping the minds and values of our youth and undermining parental authority. Radicalized humanists have mobilized a coordinated assault on the unalienable rights of the human spirit. They are determined to enslave the world to a utopia ruled by an elite few.

Fortunately, this past year some parents were awakened by radicals usurping parental rights and using the public education system to drive a wedge between children and parents. Black Lives Matter, Antifa, anarchists, liberal educators and politicians (to name a few), were unmasked as they assaulted traditional family values. Under the guise of “Critical Race Theory” and WOKE (purportedly addressing societal injustices and racism), radicals are spurning common sense for their humanistic creed.

The erosive effect of humanism and its socialist philosophy is staggering. There has been a rejection of God and family values, and a desensitization to sin and moral depravity. Instead of utopia, the humanist’s ideology has eroded the traditional family, giving us a nation where, according to the 2022 United States Census Bureau, 23% of US children live in single parent households (more than 3 times the world’s rate), and over 40% of children born in the US are born to unmarried women (Centers for Disease Control – CDC – 2022).

The humanists’ utopia has given us modern day slavery, described as Human Trafficking and Sex Trafficking, with an estimated 20.1 million forced labor victims, and 4.8 million sex trafficking victims. The US State Departmentestimates there are 14,400 to 17,500 sex trafficking slaves in the US in 2022.

Contributing further to the erosion of our families and national future is the increased use of illicit drugs and alcohol among our youth. According to the National Center for Drug Abuse, in 2022 there are 2.08 million or 8.33% of 12- to 17-year-olds who have used drugs in the last month. Adding to the crisis is 60.2% of teens admit to binge drinking.

In spite of the demoralizing bad news, there is good news! Though the world has changed, the nature of man is constant from generation to generation. There is hope, for God’s Word has the answer to the crisis our homes, schools, churches, and nation are facing. If our nation and liberties are to be saved, it will begin in our homes as parents rise to the challenge.

Train up a child in the way he should go: And when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).

Parents of the 21st century must shoulder the privilege and responsibility for teaching their children, including two fundamental concerns: Who is teaching Johnny? What is he being taught?

The founding fathers of the United States of America often spoke of “Republican Virtue,” the belief that self-government demands self-discipline. Of course, self-discipline implies the existence of boundaries between the acceptable and unacceptable. It was the conviction of that generation that moral values must be transmitted through moral indoctrination. In other words, the battlefield in the past and in our day is not political, but spiritual.

A battle is being waged for the minds and souls of our children, and the enemy is imbedded in our government, schools, and culture. The adversaries of the home are unwavering in their dogma, and determined to indoctrinate our children with a world-view that is anti-God, anti-family, and anti-America.

Lose the war with humanism, and we lose the hearts, minds and souls of our children.

With the heart of a shepherd,

Travis D. Smith
Senior Pastor
www.HeartofAShepherd.com
HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com
Live broadcast @ www.HillsdaleBaptist.org

* The above is an introduction to the first message of my new family series titled, “The Four Be’s of Parenting.” This Sunday’s message, “Who is Teaching Johnny?” will be presented in the 10:30 AM worship service and broadcast live on www.HillsdaleBaptist.org.

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

“Even a Fool Can Father a Child, but a Wise Man Builds a Home” (Proverbs 24; 1 Kings 5)

Scripture reading – Proverbs 24; 1 Kings 5

In addition to our Scripture reading in the Book of Proverbs (Proverbs 24), our chronological study of God’s Word returns to 1 Kings 5. This devotional will consider Proverbs 24:3-4.

“A Wise Man Builds a Home” (Proverbs 24:3-4)

Solomon, a master builder whom God trusted with the responsibility of building His Temple in Jerusalem, employed the analogy of building a house to emphasize the necessity of exercising godly wisdom when building one’s life and family (24:3-4). The king wrote:

Proverbs 24:3–43Through wisdom is an house builded; And by understanding it is established: 4And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.

I have had opportunity to tear down a few old buildings in my lifetime. I have fond childhood memories of assisting my Dad when he tore down a couple of old weathered, clapboard-sided farmhouses and barns, and then recycled the wood to build barns on our property in the country.  Unlike a contractor who follows meticulously drawn blueprints when building a house, my Dad’s de-construction required little more than hammers, crowbars, ladders and raw physical strength!

Unfortunately, I fear many believers fail to follow God’s blueprint when building their family. In fact, the manner of some is as destructive as a man who tears down, rather than builds his home. Consider Solomon’s counsel to his son in the matter of building a house (i.e., a life or home), with my amplification of word meanings in brackets.

Proverbs 24:33Through [By] wisdom [godly wisdom and insight] is an house [life; family] builded [established]; and by understanding [insight; discernment] it is established [fixed; made ready]:

Forgive my frank, honest observation in the challenge of building a life and family. It is my opinion: Any fool can father a child and start a family; however, a man of godly wisdom knows to build a family requires commitment, wisdom, discernment, and understanding.

Sadly, the state of our society evidences that few have any concept of the personal discipline and sacrifice required to make a house a home!  There are few who turn to the LORD, the source of all wisdom, and ask Him for discernment (James 1:5).

For the sake of application, let’s consider the house in verse 3 as an allegory of one’s personal life and family, and ask: “How would wisdom and understanding have us to furnish this house?”  Proverbs 24:4 answers that question.

Proverbs 24:4 – “And by knowledge [i.e. wisdom and understanding, plus knowledge derived from life experiences] shall the chambers [rooms] be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.”

I confess, I lack my wife’s vision and motivation when it comes to decorating. Four walls, a roof that does not leak, and a comfortable chair, and I am content.  My wife, however, has an eye for style, furnishings, and placement. She is able to take a house [chambers], add a few furnishings, and make a house a comfortable, attractive home!

The house and chambers Solomon portrayed represented a life or family built by godly wisdom (24:3).  Spiritual understanding was the foundation of the home (24:3), and the knowledge of walking in the light of God’s Law was its furnishings (24:4). Where can a man attain such furnishings for himself and his family? The Word of God.

Paul urged Timothy, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

Why should a father be a disciplined student of God’s Word? The Scriptures are inspired by God, and are His manual for life. The Bible “is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

A disciplined study, and application of the nuggets of wisdom found in Proverbs is a great beginning!  Remember, however:

Any man can start a family, but a wise man follows God’s blueprint [the Scriptures] to build a home.

Copyright @ 2021 – Travis D. Smith

“Spiritual Benefits of Biblical Discipline” (Proverbs 23)

Scripture reading – Proverbs 23

Proverbs 23 is today’s Scripture reading, and as you will see, it is rich in metaphors that illustrate spiritual principles for life and daily living. Solomon is training his son, the future king of Israel, and instilling in him life lessons. He cautions his son concerning the enticements of the rich and powerful (23:1-3), and the enslaving sin of covetousness (23:4-5). He admonished him to not fall into the company of “big bellies and booze” (23:19-21), and urged him to treasure truth, wisdom, instruction and understanding (23:23).

Today’s devotional will consider Proverbs 23:12-16 , and the subject is the spiritual benefits of Biblical discipline.

Remembering the Book of Proverbs is a compilation of a father’s loving instructions to his son, we feel Solomon’s passion for his son to respond to loving discipline with a humble, teachable spirit.

Proverbs 23:12 “Apply [take; set] thine heart [mind, thoughts; emotions] unto instruction [warning; discipline; reproof], and thine ears to the words [speech; sayings] of knowledge [i.e., knowledge of good and evil].”  

Proverbs 23:12 places the responsibility of a right response to correction and discipline upon the child. We live in a permissive society that absolves its youth of personal responsibility, and condemns parents who determine to balance loving instruction with authoritative discipline. It is that misguided, unbiblical approach to parenting that has encouraged an undisciplined, lawless spirit in the youth of this generation.

Solomon challenged his son to harmonize his heart, thoughts, and emotions with what he had been taught from a child. Because we sin by nature, it follows that the bent of every son and daughter is to sin. Temperaments differ, and the degree or choice of sin are not the same; however, the spiritual reality is: “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him” (Proverbs 22:15).

Proverbs 23:13  “Withhold [keep back; deny; refrain] not correction [instruction; chastisement; discipline] from the child: for if thou beatest [strike; punish; smite] him with the rod [staff; stick; family scepter], he shall not die.” 

Solomon is not encouraging physical abuse, nor commending a parent who vents their anger and frustration on a child. Still, contrary to societal norms of the 21st century, the Word of God exhorts loving parents to recognize the bent of a child’s heart, and administer loving discipline.

Proverbs 23:14  “Thou shalt beat [strike; punish; smite] him with the rod, and shalt deliver [rescue; save; preserve] his soul [life; being; spirit] from hell.” 

To avoid confusion: Solomon was not calling for, or suggesting physical abuse. He was stating a principle that is the desire of every parent who longs to see their child turn from sin and follow righteousness.

Truth–The temporal pain of physical discipline is not comparable to an unbridled, undisciplined spirit that may drive a child to an early grave, and send his soul to the punishment of eternal hell.

Proverbs 23:15-16  “My son, if thine heart [thoughts; feelings; emotions] be wise [sound; restrained from acting in an evil manner], my heart shall rejoice [be joyful; extremely happy; glad], even mine.    
16 Yea, my reins [figurative of the mind] shall rejoice [jump for joy; exult; shout], when thy lips [language; speech] speak [say; declare] right things [upright; honest].”

A wise son or daughter is a delight to a parent’s heart! When a child chooses good over evil, and speaks words that are true, honest and sincere, the heart of the father swells with joy and pride.

I close with a promise for every son and daughter that will embrace wisdom, and follow the path of a godly parent’s loving instructions:

Ephesians 6:1-3  – “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2  Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) 3  That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.

Copyright© 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Sovereign God, and A Lesson in Parenting (Proverbs 21-22)

Scripture reading – Proverbs 21; Proverbs 22

Proverbs 21

The Lord is Sovereign of His Creation (Proverbs 21:1-3)

We are once again reminded that God is Sovereign! He is the Ruler of His creation, and has all power and authority. He is involved in the affairs of man, and is working all things together according to His purpose, and for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28-29). He does not approve of the sinful actions and decisions of men; however, He is sovereign and is able to direct choices contrary to His will, to the end of accomplishing His eternal purpose (notice Joseph’s affirmation of that truth in Genesis 50:20).

Proverbs 21:1-3 is an exposition of the Sovereignty of God, and the authority of man.

Proverbs 21:1 “The king’s heart [mind; thoughts; will] is in the hand [under the authority and dominion] of the LORD, as the rivers [channels; canals; streams] of water: he turneth [bends; turns aside] it whithersoever he will [pleasure; desire; favor].”

All human authority is subservient to the authority of God. Men are not robots; however, they cannot act independent of God. God can, and does guide men’s choices to accomplish His plan and purpose. The LORD is sovereign, and like a farmer directs water through irrigation channels to his crops, He directs and channels the heart of a king where He wills (21:1b).  [Example of Pharoah in Exodus 10:1-2.]

Proverbs 21:2 – “Every way [road; journey; course of life] of a man is right in his own eyes [opinion]: but the LORD pondereth [weighs; measures] the hearts [mind; understanding].”

Proverbs 21:2 reminds us that God knows the heart, motives, and purpose in man. It is the bent of the human heart to perceive ourselves better than we are; however, God weighs and knows what lies within the hearts of men.

Finally, we are reminded that God’s focus is on the heart of man, and not his outward form or ritual (21:3).

Proverbs 21:3 – “To do [accomplish] justice and judgment [righteousness; conform to an ethical or moral standard] is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice [offerings].

Outward ritual, without inward devotion is hypocrisy. Though hypocrites offer sacrifices of money, service and outward conformity (1 Samuel 16:7), it is the heart of the righteous to obey the Lord.

Closing thoughts – God’s hand rests upon every human authority in your life. Look past the personalities, flaws, and failures of those in authority, and be confident: God is able to turn the hearts of men to accomplish His best for your life. Trust the Lord, and pray for those in authority! (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

Proverbs 22

Parenting: A Lesson for the Fainthearted (Proverbs 22:6)

Proverbs 22:66Train up a child in the way he should go: And when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Thousands of books and articles have been written on child rearing. Psychologists, psychiatrists, educators, counselors, pastors, neighbors, friends, and family, all have their opinions on how you should train and discipline your child. Yet, it has been my observation that most everyone is an expert on child training, until they have children of their own!

Proverbs 22:6 is one of the best known, and most quoted verses in Proverbs.  It has been the inspiration of godly parents, and a club of discouragement for parents wrestling with the will and path of a rebel. Allow me to amplify Solomon’s proverb with my own clarification in brackets.

Proverbs 22:6  “Train up [initiate; inaugurate; dedicate; consecrate] a child in the way [road; path; journey] he should go: and when he is old [aged; “hair on the chin”], he will not depart [turn aside; withdraw] from it.”

Many parents languish in the throes of discouragement when a child rebels, and turns from his parents. They might have embraced Proverbs 22:6, and believed it afforded them an absolute guarantee of a “happily ever-after ending.” Yet, when a son rejects his parents’ counsel, and goes his own way, godly parents often wrestle with guilt until they are driven to despair (too often heaped upon them by the judgments of others). Even the rebel might throw the responsibility of his wicked choices onto his parents, and other authorities in his life.

The problem: A proverb is a proverbial expression, a wise saying and a general truth. It is not a guarantee. In other words, Proverbs 22:6 is not a “parenting guarantee,” because it is subject to a child’s individual free will. Every child will choose to embrace, or reject parental instructions and commands. “Train up” carried in its original meaning, the practice of a mother chewing food for a suckling child, and then placing the chewed food on her child’s palate. Why? She was encouraging her child to develop a taste for solid food as he or she matures.

It is the prayer of godly parents that their children will have a taste, and desire for righteousness. Nevertheless, I remind you that Adam and Eve had a perfect Creator/Father, and He placed them in a perfect environment (the Garden of Eden). Yet, the first man and woman rebelled and chose to sin (Genesis 3:6-7).

Closing thought – The wicked influences of this sinful world, and its philosophies, are fighting for the heart of every child. There are no perfect parents; and every child has a will of their own. Nonetheless, I urge you to do all you can to set a godly example, teach your children the truths of God’s Word, expose them to godly influences, and insulate them from the ways and wiles of sin. Then, pray earnestly!

You may email the author at: HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith

A Lesson in Child Psychology and Corporal Discipline (Proverbs 13; Proverbs 14)

Scripture reading – Proverbs 13; Proverbs 14

We began a two-year chronological study of the Scriptures last January 1, 2021, and today’s devotional is the 319threading of the year! I would count it a pleasure to hear from any who have followed me in this daily spiritual discipline. You are invited to email me at HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com. Today’s Scripture reading is Proverbs 13 and 14, and our devotional commentary will focus on Proverbs 13:24. [Words and phrases in brackets are those of the author.]

Proverbs 13

Proverbs 13:24 –“He that spareth[refuse; restrain] his rod [branch; staff; rod of discipline] hateth [detest; hate as a foe] his son [child]: but he that loveth[have affection; shows love] him chasteneth [instructs; reproves; disciplines] him betimes [diligent, early discipline].”

Does the Bible teach corporal punishment? Yes, and Proverbs 13:24 is a lesson in loving, biblical discipline. In fact, it teaches it is unloving to fail in chastening a child for wrongdoing. Remember, a shepherd would employ his staff in guiding his sheep, and a rod to protect his flock from danger (Psalm 23:4). Parents are to guide their children, and employ physical punishment as the last resort in their methods of instruction.

Nevertheless, I fear some parents might react negatively to this proverb; however, it is teaching a practice in discipline that is a reflection of God’s loving discipline of His people. Consider the following proof texts on the subject of loving discipline.

Deuteronomy 8:5 – “Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the LORD thy God chasteneth thee.”

Job 5:17 – “Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty:”

Proverbs 3:11-12 – “My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: 12  For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.”

Hebrews 12:5-8 – “And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:  For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?  But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.”

Loving discipline and instruction are not only advised, but the Scriptures mandate corporal instruction as a tool for education and character development. 

Proverbs 22:15 – “Foolishness [silliness; arrogance; stupidity] is bound [knit together; leagued together; conspired] in the heart [mind; desire; understanding] of a child; but the rod of correction [instruction; chastisement; warning] shall drive it far [remove; distant] from him.”

Proverbs 23:13-14 – “Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest [strike; punish; smite] him with the rod [staff; stick; family sceptre], he shall not die. 14  Thou shalt beat [strike; punish; smite] him with the rod, and shalt deliver [rescue; pluck; save; preserve] his soul from hell.”

Consider today’s proverb in relation to the matter of parental training, and corporal discipline.

Proverbs 13:24  “He that spareth [refuse; restrain] his rod [branch; staff; rod of discipline] hateth [detest; hate as a foe] his son [child]: but he that loveth [have affection; shows love] him chasteneth [instructs; reproves; disciplines] him betimes [diligent, early discipline].”

Closing thoughts – Knowing the dangers of sin, and the penchant of an undisciplined soul for destruction, a loving parent will faithfully discipline his child. In fact, a parent that is unwilling to inflict temporary pain and sorrow for sin and wrongdoing, in effect abandons that child’s soul to a lifetime of pain and sorrow.

Without boundaries and parental instruction, a child will grow up to become an undisciplined adult. Such a child will be a heartache to parents, and will inevitably bring them “to shame” (Proverbs 29:15).

A closing admonition, especially for fathers: Biblical discipline is loving, and instructive, but never abusive. Paul warned:

“Ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture [disciplines] and admonition [warnings] of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4).

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith

“A Cancer Called Adultery” (Proverbs 7)

Scripture reading – Proverbs 7

Proverbs 7 continues Solomon’s warnings concerning the devastating consequences of immorality (a theme you find throughout the book of Proverbs). I encourage you to read all of today’s assignment, but for the sake of brevity, my focus will be Proverbs 7:1-7. [Words and phrases in brackets are the amplifications and applications of the author.]

A Preamble (7:1-3)

Proverbs 7:1-3 – “My son, keep [preserve; observe] my words [sayings; speeches], and lay up [treasure] my commandments [i.e., do’s and don’ts] with thee.
Keep my commandments, and live; and my law [instructions; teaching] as the apple [pupil] of thine eye.
3 Bind [tie] them upon thy fingers [note – Deuteronomy 6], write [record; engrave] them upon the table of thine heart.”

Solomon was concerned that his son not be led astray by sexual lusts. He had witnessed the sorrow and tragedy caused by his mother and father’s adultery. Unfortunately, he walked the same kind of path, and it was one that neither his parents, nor his God would condone! The king fell into a practice often shared by 21st century fathers; he modeled the parenting philosophy: “Do as I say, Not as I do.” We read, “For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father” (1 Kings 11:4).

Embracing the wisdom embodied in Proverbs 7:1-3, consider the following two-pronged application: 1) Parents must call their sons and daughters to moral purity, and address the moral character of their children by their words and example. 2) Wise sons and daughters are under obligation to cherish their parent’s instructions, and recall them to heart when temptations arise.

The Subtlety of Flattering Lips (7:4-5)

Proverbs 7:4-5 – “Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call understanding thy kinswoman [friend]:
5 That they [wisdom and understanding] may keep [preserve; be a hedge] thee from the strange [immoral] woman, from the stranger which flattereth [smooth; i.e., she leads him away] with her words.”

Concerned with the enticements of a “strange woman” [an immoral woman], Solomon urged his son to love wisdom as a sister, and understanding [discernment; insight] as an intimate friend (7:4). Tragically, it was not what Solomon taught, but what he practiced that became his son’s moral guide.

A Father’s Haunting Failure (Genesis 13:10-1319:1)

No parent can afford the luxury of failing to address the sexual perils of a deviant society. Yet, some fathers and mothers follow the reckless path of Lot (Genesis 13:10-1319:1), who moved his family from the company and influence of uncle Abraham (Genesis 13:11), into Sodom, an ancient city known for its perversity and unrestrained wickedness (Genesis 14:12; 19:1).

Lot failed to teach and admonish his children to fear the LORD, and when he learned God’s judgment was imminent, he made a futile attempt to cause them to flee the city. Tragically, his sons-in-law refused his warning, for he appeared to them as “one that mocked” (Genesis 19:14).

Closing thoughts – Solomon urged his son to hear, and remember his words, and to engrave his instructions upon his heart to serve as a moral compass (7:5). Instead, it was what he modeled, not what he taught that influenced his son’s life.

Are you vigilant regarding the dangers posed by an immoral culture? Are you modeling and guiding your children to take the high road in moral choices? Are you leading your family to seek the company and friendship of the godly?

Remember: Sexual immorality is a moral cancer to life, career, marriage, and family!

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith

“Get Wisdom!” (Proverbs 4)

Scripture reading – Proverbs 3; Proverbs 4

Proverbs 4“Wisdom Is the Principal Thing” (Proverbs 4:7)

The book of Proverbs magnifies WISDOM as its central theme, and challenges us to make the pursuit of WISDOM a daily priority. The first ten verses of Proverbs 4 chronicles the legacy of godly wisdom Solomon had received from his father, King David (Proverbs 4:1-10).  Solomon wrote concerning his father’s instructions:

Proverbs 4:3-4 – “For I was my father’s son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother. He taught me also [perhaps “laid down the law”], and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live [prosper].”

Isn’t that the desire of godly parents? To see their children, grow up, make wise decisions, and enjoy God’s blessing. Of course, the acquisition of wisdom is essential as the basis for making wise decisions. Solomon, quoting his father, writes:

Proverbs 4:7 – “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get [acquire] understanding [discernment].”

When Solomon wrote of WISDOM, he was referring to the wisdom of God, not the wisdom of man. Biblical wisdom begins with being in a right relationship with God; after all, “The fear [reverence] of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7a).

Knowledge of God’s Word, and an obedient walk are fundamental to the acquisition of godly wisdom. While “a fool is right in his own eyes,” and can be taught nothing, “he that hearkeneth [listens and heeds] unto counsel is wise” (Proverbs 12:15). No wonder David challenged Solomon, “Wisdom is the principal thing!” 

Closing thoughts – Good parents are concerned their children will grow up and make right decisions; but how many make the effort to teach them to love, fear, and obey the Lord?

Many well-meaning parents dedicate their lives to giving their children every opportunity to succeed. I fear, however, there are some who will learn too late there is something more to success and happiness than an education, possessions, and an inheritance—Wisdom.

Get wisdom!

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Be Strong; Be A Man! – A Study in Human Character (1 Kings 2)

Scripture Reading – 1 Kings 2

Our chronological study of the Scriptures continues in 1 Kings, and gives us a glimpse of history long past (some 3,000 years ago). For those who query, why the Old Testament Scriptures are filled with historical details, allow me to explain from my perspective.

History is an amazing teacher, if one is willing to be its student. History affords us lessons in life, and human character that men ignore or despise at their peril. Tragically, we are living in a time when monuments are being destroyed, historic facts distorted, and history rewritten.

Let all be forewarned: A biased, dishonest view of history is both dangerous and destructive. In the words of philosopher George Santayana, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

A History Lesson in Human Character (2:1-9)

I have learned the strengths and weaknesses evidenced in a man’s character tend to be constant throughout his life. For example, consider the counsel David gave Solomon regarding his adversaries (2:1-9).

Because he was old and frail (1:1), David made it his mission to prepare Solomon to reign after his death, and challenged him, “I go the way of all the earth [i.e., the inevitability of death]: be thou strong therefore, and shew thyself a man” (2:2).

To put David’s charge in a 21st century vernacular, he challenged Solomon to “BE A MAN!”

Perhaps in his early 20’s, Solomon would have to be stronger than his tender youth, for he would have to contend with mature, more experienced men than himself. Not only would he be confronted by an older brother who arguably had some claim to the throne, but he would also be forced to contend with his father’s enemies. David urged his son to walk in the ways of the LORD, and “to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses” (2:3). He assured Solomon, God would prosper and bless him and his children if they would walk before the LORD “in truth with all their heart and with all their soul” (2:4).

David’s Political Enemies (2:5-9)

David cautioned Solomon regarding the flaws and failures of untrustworthy men who had wronged him in the past (2:5-9). He had failed to punish Joab for his treachery, and urged Solomon, “let not his hoar head (white hairs) go down to the grave in peace” (2:5-6). There was also Shimei, who had cursed David when he fled from his son Absalom.  Shimei had begged for his life, and was spared after Absalom’s rebellion, but David urged his son to execute him, and not risk him becoming a threat to the throne (2:8-9).

Following David’s death (2:10-11), Solomon moved swiftly to secure his kingdom (2:12). The first threat to his reign arose from his own family, his eldest brother, Adonijah (2:12-25). Playing upon Bathsheba’s compassion, Adonijah petitioned Solomon’s mother to intercede for him that he might take Abishag (1:3-4), David’s young virgin concubine, for his wife (2:13-18). Bathsheba, possibly out of pity for Adonijah, approached Solomon voicing his brother’s request (2:18-21). Solomon, possessing insight and wisdom far beyond his years, discerned his brother’s request to marry his father’s concubine was a ploy to legitimize Adonijah’s claim to the throne (2:19-24). Following his late father’s counsel, Solomon moved quickly to put down his brother’s threat to the throne, and commanded “Benaiah the son of Jehoiada” to slay Adonijah that same day (2:24-25).

Abiathar, the priest who had supported Adonijah’s illegitimate claim to the throne, was warned his traitorous actions were worthy of death, but he was spared because he had served with his father, the king (2:26-27).

When Joab heard Solomon was pursuing threats to his reign, and Adonijah was dead, he fled to the altar hoping to find grace (2:28). Solomon commanded Benaiah to slay Joab, but he hesitated when he refused to leave the altar. Knowing the law would not afford a murderer mercy, Solomon demanded Joab be slain for him having murdered two faithful servants of David: Abner (2 Samuel 3:27-39) and Amasa (2 Samuel 20:4-10).

David advised Solomon concerning one final enemy, Shimei, of whom he strongly warned: “hold him not guiltless: for thou art a wise man, and knowest what thou oughtest to do unto him; but his hoar head bring thou down to the grave with blood” (2:9). Solomon remembered the curses of Shimei against his father and three years later had him slain (2:39-46).

Closing thoughts – I close encouraging you to reflect on your own character, and the character of people of influence in your life.

True to form, Adonijah, Joab, and Shimei lacked integrity throughout their lives, and their violent deaths were justified. With few exceptions, apart from sincere repentance and genuine humility, most men will go to their graves exhibiting the strengths and weaknesses of character they have demonstrated throughout their lives. In other words, a liar is a liar; a thief is a thief; a traitor is a traitor; and an honest, faithful man is predictably just that…honest, faithful and trustworthy!

A wise man knows, and does not forget the character of his friends and enemies.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith