Tag Archives: Pray

Trust God, His Way is Perfect (Genesis 43-45)

Daily reading assignment: Genesis 43-45

The famine continued in Canaan and Israel (aka Jacob) was forced to permit his sons, including his youngest son Benjamin, to return to Egypt to purchase more grain for their households (43:1-14).

Joseph, his identity still unknown to his brothers, was overjoyed to see his brother Benjamin (43:15-16) and invited his brothers to his home to dine (43:16-34). Ordering the head servant of his house to prepare lunch, he commanded his brothers be his guests (43:16-17).

Fearing the worse, Joseph’s brothers cowered at the thought of entering the home of the second most powerful ruler in Egypt, especially when they remembered the money for their previous purchase of grain had found its way into their sacks (43:18).  Unable to contain their fear, the brothers began confessing to Joseph’s servant their anxieties and were surprised to learn he had placed the money in their bags (43:19-23a).  To their amazement, Simeon who had been left behind in Egypt, was restored to his brothers (43:23b).

Speaking through his interpreter, Joseph greeted his guests and began to question them regarding their father’s welfare (43:26-27).  Fulfilling a vision God gave him in his youth, Joseph’s brothers bowed before him (43:28; 37:9-10).  Joseph, overcome with emotion,  fled to the privacy of his room where he wept for joy (43:30-31).

Continuing to hide his identity, Joseph sat apart from his brothers during the meal (43:32) as a ruler of Egypt was want to do.  Joseph’s brothers were amazed that he seated them according to their birth order and gave Benjamin, the youngest, a portion five times greater than his brothers (43:33-34).

Genesis 44

Having enjoyed the company of his brothers, Joseph ordered his steward to make ready their departure; this time, not only hiding their money in the grain sacks, but also his silver cup in Benjamin’s sack (44:1-3).

Sending his brothers away, Joseph soon ordered his servants to pursue, overtake, and accuse them of theft (44:4-12).  When Joseph’s silver cup was found in Benjamin’s sack, the brothers realized the seriousness of the discovery and were overcome with grief (43:13).  Falling on the ground in an act of humiliation, Judah, the fourth son of Jacob, confessed his conviction that the trials that had befallen him and his brothers was a recompense of God’s judgment for their sins (43:14-17).  Pleading for Benjamin to be spared lest his loss be a sorrow unto death for their father (44:18-32),  Judah requested that he, not Benjamin, would become Joseph’s slave (44:33-34).

Genesis 45

Joseph, unable to conceal his identity any longer, ordered his servants out of his presence and with tears of joy declared, “I am Joseph, whom ye sold into Egypt” (Genesis 45:1-4).

Imagine the flood of emotions that passed over Joseph’s brothers!  Twenty-two years has passed, but the guilt and shame of their sin against their brother had not faded.  Stricken with guilt, fear, and disbelief; they wondered how this ruler of Egypt could be their brother?

Sensing their trepidation, Joseph assured his brothers their sin was sovereignly used by God to “send me before you to preserve life” (45:5-7).  Embracing his brothers with tears of joy, Joseph commanded them to return to Canaan and bring his father and their households to Egypt (45:8-15). When word reached Pharaoh’s palace (45:16), the king affirmed Joseph’s desire for his father and family to join him in Egypt (45:16-18).

Imagine old Israel’s (aka, Jacob’s) thoughts at the sight of a caravan coming out of Egypt.  Ponder the emotions that welled up in the patriarch when he was told, “Joseph is alive and rules second only to Pharaoh in Egypt!” (45:19-28)

Joseph’s life took a path he had not chosen; however, his faithfulness and faith in the LORD has carried him from the humiliation of a household slave and prisoner to the pinnacle of power and earthly success.  The LORD was with Joseph…and he is with you, if your walk is faith-based and Christ-centered.

Psalm 18:3030  As for God, His way [path] is perfect [complete; sound]: the word of the LORD is tried [tested; refined by fire]: he is a buckler [shield] to all those that trust [confide; take refuge] in him.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

What Do You Call A Divine Appointment? – “Providence” (Genesis 38-40)

Daily reading assignment: Genesis 38-40

The life of Joseph is a fascinating reading and a reminder that, regardless our circumstance, the LORD is with us!  Following the life of Joseph is akin to a spiritual rollercoaster…wonderful highs followed by events that would threaten to plunge most men into a slough of despair.

Joseph being sold into Slavery by His Brothers

Joseph was left without the nurturing love and care of his mother when she died giving birth to Benjamin, his youngest brother and the twelfth son of Jacob (Genesis 35:16-19).  Favored by his father (Genesis 37:3), Joseph’s brothers despised him and plotted his murder (37:19-24); eventually selling him to nomadic Midianites traveling to Egypt (37:25-28).

Rather than despair of life, Joseph’s faith in the LORD was unshaken and he rose from a common slave to steward over his master’s household (37:36).   When his master’s wife falsely accused him of an indiscretion (39:1-18) and he was sentenced to prison (39:19-23), Joseph did not entertain an embittered spirit.

What a difference a God-centered, faith-dependent attitude makes when a man faces trials!

In prison, the Lord did not forget or forsake Joseph. We read, “the LORD was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison” (Genesis 39:21).

I do not know what trial or opportunities you and I will face today; however, I do know Christ’s departing promise to His followers: “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20b).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

God Must Break You Before He Will Fully Bless You! (Genesis 32-34)

Daily reading assignment: Genesis 32-34

We continue our devotional commentary in Genesis 32 with Jacob anticipating the arrival of Esau, his elder brother whose birthright he had stolen twenty years prior.  Reminded of the proverb, “A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle”(Proverbs 18:19), Jacob’s sin haunts him (32:3-5).

Told his brother Esau is approaching with four hundred men (32:6), Jacob fears the worse. Desiring to spare his family and possessions from a total loss should Esau attack, Jacob divides his household (32:7-8).  Sending gifts before him and hoping to appease the wrath of his brother, Jacob prayed to the LORD rehearsing His promise to be with him (32:9-23).

In the solitude of that night, we read of Jacob, “there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day” (32:24).

Who was this man? The man who wrestled with Jacob was the LORD Himself; a “theophany” –  the pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ in the physical form of a man (32:24-32).

Even with his thigh out of joint, Jacob refused to allow the LORD to depart until he was assured of His blessing (32:25-28).  The LORD then blessed Jacob (whose name meant trickster or schemer) and changed his name to “Israel” (meaning one who has power with God).

As the sun rose, Jacob, now named Israel, was a changed man.  He had spent his life scheming; however, he was now a man transformed by the experience of seeing “God face to face” and living to tell it (32:30).  No longer a man relying upon his own wits, the painful limp in his stride will serve as a constant reminder of the night God broke his will (32:30-31).

In the words of A.W. Tozer, “The Lord cannot fully bless a man until He has first conquered him.” [The Divine Conquest (Harrisburg, PA: Christians Publications, 1950), p. 53].

Jacob had finally come to the end of himself and the God of his grandfather Abraham and his father Isaac was his God.  More than an intellectual assent to the person and promises of the LORD, Jacob’s life was so transformed he was a new man…no longer Jacob, he was Israel.  If you saw him, you would recognize him; he was a man with a limp whose faith was in the LORD.

Genesis 33-34

After an absence of 20 years, Jacob returned to Canaan (Genesis 33) and was met by his brother Esau who, in spite of his treachery, gave him a loving embrace.  Although received in peace, Jacob refused his brother’s invitation to dwell in Bethel (lit. the house of God), and instead traveled to Succoth where he lived among the heathen of the land (33:17).

Jacob’s failure to go to Bethel and dwell with his father Isaac and brother Esau turned tragic when his daughter Dinah was raped by Shechem, the son of Hamor who was ruler in Succoth (34:1-2). Pretending to save face and make peace, the decision was made for Dinah to become Shechem’s wife and the households of Jacob and Hamor become one on the condition that Hamor’s men accepted circumcision (34:8-16).

Hamor accepted the stipulation and convinced the men of his household to accept the rite of circumcision, reasoning they would inevitably be enriched by Jacob’s possessions (34:20-23).

The circumcision of Harmor’s household was a ruse by Jacob’s sons who were bent on revenge (34:25-29).  Knowing the men would be incapacitated, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s full brothers, attacked Hamor’s household, killing the men (34:25-26).  Jacob’s other sons, joined their brothers, claiming the wives and possessions of the city for spoil.

Take a lesson from Israel’s (Jacob) life: His failure to separate himself from the ungodly citizens of the land became a grief and sorrow Jacob and his sons carried to their graves. (2 Corinthians 6:14, 17)

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Consequences of Faithlessness (Genesis 16-18)

Daily reading assignment: Genesis 16-18

Today’s Bible reading brings us to not only a crisis of faith in the lives of Abram and Sarai, but also to a crossroads for humanity as we realize the failure of one man’s faith in God’s promises bears consequences that shadow the world in our day…twenty-three centuries after Abram’s sojourn on this earth.

Years passed and Abram’s longing for a son went unfulfilled.  Abram complained, “I go childless…to me thou hast given no seed” (15:2-3).  God patiently assured him his posterity would be in number as the stars of heaven (15:5).

Genesis 16 introduces a crisis of faith for Abram when we read, “Now Sarai Abram’s wife bare him no children” (16:1).  Eighty-five years old (16:16) and his wife seventy-five years old, Abraham’s faith waned and the complaints (the word “voice” in Genesis 16:2 indicates a constant complaining, like the bleating of sheep) and barrenness of his wife Sarai moved the man to make a faithless decision.  Contrary to God’s will, Abram turned his back on the LORD’s promises and yielded to Sarai’s proposal that he have a son by her Egyptian servant Hagar (16:1-3).

Hagar conceived Ishmael (16:4); however, instead of joy, the conception and birth of Ishmael brought division and sorrow into Abram’s household (16:4-10).  Ishmael, the son of Abram born of Hagar, would become the father of the people of Arabia, many of whom are followers of Mohammad and Islam.

The character of Ishmael and his lineage is described as “a wild man [lit. “wild donkey”]; his hand will be against every man [i.e. a man of hostility], and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren” (Genesis 16:12).  The fulfillment of that prophecy is evidenced in today’s world as we see the perpetual turmoil afflicted on Israel and the world by Ishmael’s lineage.

God renewed His covenant with Abraham in Genesis 17 and ten years later when he was nearly one hundred years old, God announced the impossible: His ninety year old Sarah “shall be a mother of nations” (17:15-17).  Abraham laughed, saying in his heart, “Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?” (17:17)

Willing to content himself with less than God’s best, Abraham suggested Ishmael should be his heir (17:18); however, God refused the son of Hagar.   Comforting Abraham with the promise that Ishmael would be father to a “great nation” (17:20), God renewed His covenant and assured Abraham that Sarah would bear him a son and his name would be Isaac (17:19).

Genesis 18 contains the fateful message from the LORD that the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were to be judged and destroyed for their wickedness (18:20-22).  Knowing Lot, his wife, and their sons and daughters lived in Sodom; Abraham made intercession to the LORD that Sodom be spared if ten righteous people would be found living in the city (18:23-33).

Of course, the rest of the story will be found in Genesis 19 and we will consider its lessons tomorrow.  I close with a reassuring quote concerning God’s promises.  Some has observed:

Faith sees the invisible, believes the incredible, and receives the impossible.”  (Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations: Signs of the Times)

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Troubles and Sorrows Got You Down? (Job 32-34)

Daily reading assignment – Job 32-34

Job 32 introduces us to Elihu, a fourth “friend” of Job and the youngest of the men.  Elihu has been deferentially silent to this point; however, he now joins the others by not only condemning Job, but also his “friends” who have failed to convince Job of his sin.

Job 32 marks the beginning of Elihu’s monologue and his judgment and condemnations will fill six chapters (Job 32-37).

Elihu’s introductory statements reflect the proud, zealous spirit of inexperienced youth (32:1-3, 5).  In his own words, he confesses, “I am full of matter…my belly is as wine which hath no vent; it is ready to burst” (32:18-19).

The young man boasts, though he is a man of clay like Job (33:6), he will nevertheless, offer insight that has so far not been introduced into the matter of Job’s suffering.  Rehearsing Job’s defense (33:8-11), Elihu accuses the poor man of striving against God (33:13).

Elihu contends that God not only stirs the conscience of sinners with dreams and visions (which He did in ancient times before the canon of scriptures was complete; ex. 1 Corinthians 13:10; Hebrews 1:1-2); He also employs sorrows and sufferings to awaken humility and conviction within the heart of man (33:19-22).

Before I rush pass this point, allow me to pause and take a moment to reflect on Elihu’s observation. While not all trials and troubles are indicative of sin and God’s chastening; believers should not dismiss them without honestly pondering…

Why is God allowing hurts and disappointments to assail my soul? (note – Hebrews 12:5-13)

We live in a sin-cursed world and trials and troubles are the lot of mankind and we can take heart knowing God is sovereign.  We are confident that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

However, let us not dismiss trials and fail to recognize they are often tools God employs to bring His child to humility and divert them from a path that could potentially bring them, their marriage, and family to ruin.

Elihu speaks truth when he reminds Job the LORD is gracious (33:24-25), merciful (33:28), and hears the prayer of repentant souls (33:26-27).  He invites Job to speak in his own defense (33:32); however, before he is able to do so, his young “friend” rushes on pressing his case against the old man (Job 34).

If you are shadowed by troubles and sorrows, search your heart and remember…

Psalm 34:17-19 – “The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. 18  The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. 19  Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“The Fear of the Lord, That is Wisdom” (Job 24-28)

Daily reading assignment: Job 24-28

Contrary to Eliphaz’s assertion that the trials Job has suffered are characteristic of the reward of the wicked, Job states the opposite has been his observation (Job 24:2-16).

Job 24:2-4 –  “2  Some [i.e. the Wicked] remove the landmarks [property boundaries]; they violently take away flocks, and feed thereof [upon what they have stolen]. 3  They drive away the ass [donkey] of the fatherless [orphan], they take the widow’s ox for a pledge [i.e. a surety; as an insurance guaranteeing repayment]. 4  They turn the needy out of the way: the poor of the earth hide themselves together [mistreat the poor and helpless].”  Indeed, sometimes the wicked seem to escape punishment!

“Bildad the Shuhite”, one of Job’s “friends”, pretends to speak words of wisdom concerning the person and nature of God in Job 25.  Only six verses in length, Bildad devotes the first three verses to God’s dominion and power (25:1-3), followed by verses 4-6 that focus on God’s justice and man’s natural, wretched state (25:4-6).

Job’s response to Bildad’s empty counsel begins in Job 26.   After answering his accuser (26:1-4), Job begins a discourse declaring not only the nature of God as Creator, but stating facts about creation that were not fully proved until the emergence of modern science.

Consider the following revelations found in Job 26: 1) The earth hangs on nothing (26:7); 2) God gives and withholds water in the clouds as it pleases Him (26:8-9); 3) God has determined the boundaries of the oceans (26:10, 12a; Proverbs 8:29).

Job’s defense to Bildad’s judgments continues through Job 28.

Professing he had searched his heart and found no sins that would invite God’s judgment, Job is at a loss to understand why God has allowed so great a sorrow to shadow his life.  Seeking answers, Job asks,

Job 28:12, 20 – “But where shall wisdom be found?… 20  Whence then cometh wisdom? and where is the place of understanding?”

Friend, knowledge might be obtained for the excessive price of an Ivy League education; however, wisdom is priceless and cannot be purchased (28:15-19)!   In the words of Charles Spurgeon, the 19th century English Baptist preacher, “Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. To know is not to be wise. Many men know a great deal, and are all the greater fools for it. There is no fool so great a fool as a knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom.”

What is the repository of wisdom and how might it be acquired?  The answer: “the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding” (Job 28:28).

I am witnessing a generation of pastors, teachers, and evangelists who preach “GRACE” and “LIBERTY” to the neglect of instructing sons and daughters in the precepts of God’s Law and Commandments. I fear…

The failure to teach the statutes and judgments (Law and Commandments) of God has created a void of knowledge and fostered a liberty that has become a license to sin. 

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“A Heart Tried in Trials is Precious as Gold” (Job 21-23)

Daily reading assignment: Job 21-23

Job has answered the slanderous judgments of “friends” who imply his trials must be attributable to some sin he has not confessed (Job 20:4-29).  Job answers Zophar’s false declarations in chapter 21, contradicting his “friend’s” assertions that the path of the wicked is marked by suffering, sorrows, and a life cut short.

Job contends the way of sinners appears to succeed in this sinful world.  The wicked seem to prosper, grow old and, in spite of their sins (21:7-21), their deaths differ little from that of other men (21:22-34).

I have observed the same as Job: Liars, cheats, and swindlers appear to prosper in this world, while their victims languish in the wake of their path of deceit and destruction.  I have witnessed single moms impoverished and naïve men deceived by wicked men who evidence no guilt of conscience or visible consequences for their sins.  In fact, the wicked often appear to prosper while the righteous are impoverished!

Caution: All is not what it seems and a day of judgment is appointed for sinners. 

God is “longsuffering…not willing that any should perish” (2 Peter 3:9) and His patience exceeds our own; however, He is just and sin demands its payday. Job observes,

Job 21:30-3230  That the wicked is reserved [spared] to the day of destruction? they shall be brought forth to the day of wrath [God’s wrath; fury]. 31  Who shall declare his way to his face [face of the wicked]? and who shall repay him what he hath done? 32  Yet shall he [the wicked] be brought to the grave, and shall remain in the tomb.

Eliphaz continues his assault on Job’s noble character in chapter 22. Refusing to accept his protest of innocence, Eliphaz suggests Job has committed some wickedness and God has judged him.  Eliphaz states a litany of sins Job might have committed to invite God’s wrath (22:6-20) and urges him to confess his sin and turn to God (22:21-30).

Weary of protesting his innocence, Job expresses his longing to seek God’s presence and plead his cause knowing He is just and never changes (Job 23).  Job declares with conviction,

“But he knoweth [perceives and understands] the way [path; journey] that I take: when he hath tried [test; proved; examined] me, I shall come forth as gold [i.e. pure and refined by the fire of testing] (Job 23:10).

What is true of gold is true of the heart…the more it is fired the purer, softer, and more valuable it is.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith