Tag Archives: Spiritual disciplines

Trust God, His Way is Perfect (Genesis 43-44)

Today’s Bible Reading is Genesis 43-44, Psalm 16, and Matthew 16. Our Devotional is from Genesis 43-44.

Now the famine continued in Jacob’s country and he reluctantly gave his sons liberty to return to Egypt with Benjamin his youngest son (43:1-14).  Arriving in Egypt, Joseph’s brothers once again appeared before Joseph whose identity was still unknown to them (43:15-16).

Joseph ordered his servant to prepare lunch and commanded his brothers be his guests (43:16-17).  Fearing the worse, Joseph’s brothers cowered at the thought of entering the home of Egypt’s second most powerful ruler, especially when they remembered the money from their previous purchase had found its way into their grain sacks (43:18).  Unable to contain their fear, the brothers began confessing their anxieties to Jospeh’s servant and learned he was responsible for returning their money to their sacks (43:19-23a).  To their amazement, Simeon, the brother who had been left in Egypt, was restored to them (43:23b).

Still speaking through an interpreter, Joseph greeted his guests and questioned them regarding their father’s welfare (43:26-27).  Answering Joseph, the brothers bowed before him and fulfilled a vision God gave him in his youth (43:28; 37:9-10).  Suddenly overcome with emotion, Joseph fled to the privacy of his room and wept (43:30-31).

The meal being concluded, Joseph directed his steward to covertly place his brothers’ money in their grain sacks and ordered his silver cup placed in Benjamin’s sack (44:1-3).  Sending his brothers on their journey, Joseph soon ordered his servants to pursue and overtake them as they exited the city gate (44:4-12).

Searching through sacks of grain beginning with the eldest to the youngest brother, the servants uncovered  Joseph’s silver cup in Benjamin’s sack and charged him with theft.  Taken with grief, the brother’s pled for Benjamin.  Finally Judah, the fourth son of Jacob and the brother proved to be most honorable, confessed his fear the trials that befell them was God’s judgment for the grievous sin they had committed against Joseph (43:13-17).

Judah pled for Joseph to spare Benjamin, lest his loss be a sorrow unto death for their father (44:18-32).  Finally, in an act of humility, Judah offered himself as Joseph’s slave in Benjamin’s place (44:33-34).

Joseph’s life has taken a path he did not choose; however, his faithfulness and faith in the LORD has borne him from the humiliation of a household slave and prisoner to the pinnacle of power and earthly success.  Friend, I do not know the circumstances in which you find yourself, but I challenge you to Do Right, trust God, His way is perfect (Psalm 18:30)!

To Be Continued…

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

Tie a Knot and Hang On…God is Working! (Genesis 41-42)

Today’s Bible Reading and Devotional is Genesis 41-42.

The LORD continued to prosper Joseph as he served faithfully in Pharaoh’s prison. Two years passed before the butler remembered Joseph, the man who brought him comfort and interpreted his dream in prison (41:1a).

In God’s providence, dreams disturbed Pharaoh’s sleep which he feared were omens of bad things that would befall him and his kingdom (41:1-8).  Setting the stage, the butler remembered Joseph and Pharaoh commanded he be brought from prison before him (41:9-32).

Joseph credited his skill to interpret dreams to His God  (41:16) and his faithfulness was rewarded as Pharaoh appointed him to serve Egypt, second only to himself (41:33-44).  Promoted when he was only thirty years old (41:46), Pharaoh entrusted Joseph with the granaries of Egypt as the nation prepared for seven years of famine followed by seven years of plenty (41:45-57).  Genesis 41 closes with the revelation; “all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn; because that the famine was so sore in all lands” (41:57).

God sovereignly and providentially set the stage for Joseph’s brothers to come to Egypt seeking food for their households.  No doubt believing the brother they betrayed was either dead or toiling away as a slave, they did not know their fate would rest in the hands of the brother they sold as a slave (42:1-20).

Joseph recognized his brothers, but wisely concealed his identity.  Through an interpreter he questioned them to learn not only know the fate of his father Jacob, but also his brother Benjamin.  Joseph no doubt wondered if his brothers regretted their sins committed against him (42:21-23).  Speaking in Hebrew among themselves, his brothers did not know the man they presumed was a powerful Egyptian was their brother and understood their remorseful confessions (42:23). Rather than bitterness and vengeance, Joseph “turned himself about from them, and wept” (42:24).

Genesis 42 closes with a dramatic scene as Joseph set in motion a plan to force his brothers to return to Egypt with his brother Benjamin.

Joseph ordered Simeon, the second oldest brother (Reuben being the eldest), be bound, led away, and demanded they not return to Egypt without their youngest brother.  Unable to intervene, they began their journey home and were overcome with grief when they found the money they used to purchase grain in their grain sacks.  Sharing all that befell them in Egypt, their father Jacob was overcome with grief (42:29-38).

We conclude today’s devotional with Joseph beginning to understand not only that God rewards faithfulness, but He also orchestrates events in our lives for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28-29).  Joseph faithfully served the LORD…as a slave, a steward, a prisoner, and as a powerful man of wealth and position.  He was providentially in the place of God’s choosing where he would save and shelter his father, brethren and their families from famine.

I close wondering if someone reading this devotional might find themselves like Joseph, far from the place you might have chosen and wondering what God is doing.  Remember, God is faithful and protection and promotion come from Him.

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

The Secret to a Prosperous Life (Genesis 39-40)

Today’s Bible Reading and Devotional is Genesis 39-40.

The life of Joseph is a reminder, regardless our circumstance, the LORD is with us! 

Joseph was a child when he was left without the love and nurturing care of his mother who died giving birth to Benjamin, Jacob’s twelfth son and Joseph’s only full brother (Genesis 35:16-19).  The favorite son of his father (Genesis 37:3), Joseph’s childhood was scarred by the rejection of his brothers (37:4) who plotted his murder (37:19-24), eventually selling him as a slave to nomadic Midianites traveling to Egypt (37:25-28).

Rather than despair and bitterness, Joseph’s faith in the LORD was unshaken and in Egypt he rose from slave to steward of his master’s household (37:36).  Refusing the advances of his master’s wife who falsely accused him (39:1-18), Joseph was sentenced to prison (39:19-23).

In spite of a series of heartbreaking events, we never find Joseph bearing a bitter spirit.  Indeed, as a testimony of his humility, we read, “the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man” (39:2).  In Genesis 39:21, “the LORD was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison.” What a difference a God-centered, faith-dependent attitude makes!

Time nor space permits an exhaustive study of the dreams of the butler and baker or Joseph’s interpretation of their dreams (40:5-23); however, Joseph’s request for Pharaoh’s butler to remember him appeared to end in disappointment.  Restored to Pharaoh’s service, we read, “Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him” (Genesis 40:23).  Two years would pass before the butler remembered Joseph (Genesis 41)!

Far from home and family, Joseph’s love and passion for the LORD was not diminished.  In spite of trials and injustices, he was faithful, the LORD was with him, and “he was a prosperous man” (Genesis 39:2).

What a testimony Joseph is to all and I trust, especially to Christian teens and young adults.

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

“Are You a Child of the King?” (Psalm 15)

* Today’s devotional reading is Genesis 37-38, Psalm 15, and Matthew 15. Our devotional reading is from Psalm 15.

Psalm 15 opens with David pondering and meditating on two questions that have eternal significance:

Psalm 15:1 – LORD, who shall abide [sojourn; dwell temporarily] in thy tabernacle [tent; home]? who shall dwell [lodge; remain] in thy holy [sanctuary; sacred place; sanctified] hill?

Stated another way, LORD, what is the character of people who have citizenship in your holy place?  What manner of people do you favor to lodge in your presence?

Psalm 15:2-5 depicts the character and manner of God’s spiritual children.

The saints of God are people of integrity (Psalm 15:2). They are honest and trustworthy in their conduct and sincere in their words.

Psalm 15:2 2  He that walketh [travels; behave] uprightly [blameless; with integrity], and worketh [do; commit; act] righteousness [just; morally upright], and speaketh [say; talk; promise; declare] the truth [right; faithful] in his heart [mind; understanding].

The citizens of heaven are not slanderers in word, mean-spirited in actions, or vengeful in spirit (Psalm 15:3).

Psalm 15:3 He that backbiteth [talebearer; slanders] not with his tongue, nor doeth [wrought; commit] evil [sin; wickedness]to his neighbour [friend; companion], nor taketh up [bear; carry] a reproach [shame; disgrace; rebuke; contempt]against his neighbour [lit. near; nearest kinsman].

The children of God find the sins of the wicked loathsome (15:4a).  They love the company of the righteous (15:4b) and are faithful to their vows and promises even at personal sacrifice (Psalm 15:4c).

Psalm 15:4 – In whose eyes [sight] a vile person [loathsome; reprobate] is contemned [despised; scorn; disdained]; but he honoureth [glorify] them that fear [revere]the LORD. He that sweareth [charge; take an oath; curse] to his own hurt [evil; affliction; bad], and changeth not [i.e. does not vacillate].

The citizens of heaven do not take advantage of the less fortunate by charging excessive interest or adding to their debt more than they can afford (15:5a).  They are known for their honesty and are not swayed from justice by bribes and enticements (15:5b).

Psalm 15:5–  He that putteth not out [give; deliver; give] his money [silver] to usury [interest; i.e. indebtedness], nor taketh [accept; seize; take away] reward [bribe; gift] against the innocent [guiltless]. He that doeth [make; perform; do] these things shall never be moved [waver; fall; slide; slip].

David concludes the exposition of the character and manner of people who will dwell with the LORD, promising “he that doeth these things shall never be moved” (15:5c).

What about you, my friend?  Are you a citizen of heaven? Are the spiritual characteristics and good, honest works of a child of God evident in your life?

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

Is “The Gospel” All That Matters?

Author’s Note: The following is a brief reply to articles recently published by Lou Martuneac on his website, In Defense of the Gospel. Lou is a faithful friend and encourager to this pastor.

I have heard for a decade or more a renewed emphasis on “The Gospel” that had to my ears and understanding a different “ring”, an uncertain, albeit “new” sound.  The proponents of “The Gospel” were younger and in subtle ways, implied at least tacitly, the older generation had lost its way and drifted from preaching the simple, sincere message of the Gospel.

I discerned something was different.  Of course, fundamental pastors do not want their passion for the Gospel questioned no more than we want to diminish a younger pastor or evangelist’s passion for preaching and sharing the Gospel.

Enough time has passed for my fears and concerns about “The Gospel” to come to fruition. “The Gospel is all that matters” is publicly stated by the new generation of “fundamentalists”, many of whom are branding as “progressives”, but their philosophy is unquestionably that of the Neo-Evangelicals of my generation.

“The New Gospel” is, in my estimation, a message I describe as “Lawless Grace”.  The preachers of “The New Gospel” shy from preaching the Law and Commandments (a pattern Andy Stanley is following in the Southern Baptist denomination), emphasizing a Liberty less the call to holiness, sanctification, and a life that is a “living sacrifice”.

Preaching “The Gospel”, but failing to teach the whole counsel of God, has desensitized the souls of a generation who profess Christ as Savior, believe salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone, but are insensitive to their own sins, “for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20).

Travis D. Smith

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

Like a Father, the LORD Loves the Righteous (Psalm 11)

Today’s Bible reading is Genesis 29-30, Psalm 11, and Matthew 11. Today’s devotional is from Psalm 11.

We are uncertain of the historical context of Psalm 11; however, we know king David was facing the threats of an enemy and weighing the counsel of advisers who urged him to flee.

There are times retreat from confrontation is a wise choice.  David fled from the presence of Saul when the king attacked him. David fled Jerusalem after his son Absalom stole the people’s affections and led an insurrection against the king.  However, as we learn in our study of Psalm 11, there are times we face adversaries and the LORD would have us stand fast and trust Him.

We do not know if the foe David faced was within or without his kingdom; however, the threat was significant and the king’s counselors advised him to flee (11:1b-2).  David answered his frightened counselors,

Psalm 11:1 – “In the LORD put I my trust [confide; flee for protection; make refuge]: how say [speak; command] ye to my soul [life; person; mind], Flee [disappear; remove] as a bird to your mountain?

The counselors answered their king, reminding him the plot of the wicked was to destroy the just and upright (11:2) and as king, he was the moral pillar, the foundation of the nation (11:3).

Psalm 11:2-3 – “For, lo, the wicked  [ungodly; immoral; guilty] bend their bow, they make ready [prepare; set up; fix] their arrow upon the string, that they may privily [secretly] shoot at the upright [right; just; righteous] in heart [mind].  3 If the foundations [purpose; support; moral pillars] be destroyed [thrown down; broken in pieces], what can the righteous [just] do?”

David’s counselors reasoned, not only was his life at risk, but so also were the lives of the people and the future of the nation (11:3b).  In other words, what will become of the righteous should the king fall?

We find David’s response in Psalm 11:4-7.

Psalm 11:4-5 – “The LORD is in his holy [sacred; hallowed] temple, the LORD’S throne [seat] is in heaven: his eyes behold [perceive; look; gaze], his eyelids try [examine; prove], the children of men. 5 The LORD trieth [proves; examines] the righteous [just; law-abiding]: but the wicked [ungodly; immoral; guilty] and him that loveth violence [injustice] his soul hateth [as a foe].”

What a great reminder…regardless the threats of an enemy or his demands we compromise our integrity, the LORD has not abdicated the throne of heaven and He is Just!  The ways of the righteous will not go unrewarded and the ways of the wicked will surely be punished!

Our devotion ends with the assurance, “the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright.”(Psalm 11:7)

What a great thought!  The righteous are the objects of the LORD’s love!  Like a father looks adoringly at his children, the LORD looks upon the righteous.

My friend, perhaps there is an enemy that haunts your life with threats, maligning gossip, or with disapproving gazes.  Take confidence in this…the LORD loves the righteous and He is just. Trust the LORD!

Isaiah 40:31 – “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith