Tag Archives: Stewardship

“The Wise Man and His Relationships”

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Proverbs 11-12

Today’s devotional reading is Proverbs 11 and Proverbs 12.  My focus today will be Proverbs 11:1; however, I invite you to refer to my devotional commentaries in the Book of Proverbs on my “Heart of a Shepherd” website to amplify individual verses in today’s scripture reading.

Like many chapters in the Book of Proverbs, chapter 11 reads like a shotgun scatters pellets…a plethora of truths that stand individually on their own without the necessity of being one coherent progression of thought.  Our focus will be one proverb, Proverbs 11:1 which addresses the manner of people God would have us to be.

Proverbs 11:1- A false balance [deceit or crookedness] is abomination [shameful] to the LORD: but a just [right and honest] weight [having and exercising integrity] is his delight.

The subject of verse 1 is Integrity [adhering to a moral code or absolute standard]. In our day, government agencies certify weights and volume in goods and services. One agency certifies when you purchase a gallon of gas you get a gallon of gas.  Another agency certifies when you purchase food items at the grocery store you are getting the weight and volume stated on the packaging.

For the sake of illustration, let’s put the setting of verse 1 in a butcher shop where meat is cut, weighed, wrapped and stamped with a description that certifies the cut and price of the meat based upon weight.

The use of unjust or inaccurate weights by dishonest shop owners has been the pattern of many down through the centuries. In our butcher shop analogy, a butcher, using a “false balance”, misleads a customer by presenting a cut of meat as weighing more than it really does…an act that is “abomination to the Lord”.  Solomon reminds his son that God delights in men of integrity…men who commit to being honest; men whose word is as binding as a signed contract.

The application of verse 1 goes beyond the matter of weights and balances —at issue is the character of the whole man [after all, the literal meaning of “integrity” is completeness or wholeness].

Lesson – Dishonesty in word and action is an abomination to the Lord. He accepts nothing less than truth and sincerity.

Are you honest, sincere and forthright in business? Are you a person of your word?

God is delighted when His people walk with honesty and integrity.  I challenge you—be that man! 

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Beware Wolves in the Midst of Sheep

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Luke 19-20

Today’s devotional reading brings us to Jesus’ last days before Judas’ betrayal, the abandonment of His disciples and His crucifixion.

Luke 19 is rich in much that characterized our LORD’s earthly ministry.  His love for sinners, seen in the story of His meal in the home of Zacchaeus, a despised tax collector of Jericho (19:1-10); His challenge to be faithful and vigilant in His parable of the pounds (19:11027); and His love and sorrow for the citizens of Jerusalem knowing God’s judgment would come on the people and city after they rejected Him (19:28-44).

We find Jesus teaching in the Temple in the opening verses of Luke 20.  His antagonists, the religious leaders of Judaism, confronted Him in the Temple demanding by whose authority He performed miracles and taught the people (20:1-2).  Our beloved LORD, evidencing divine wisdom and insight into the heart of sinners answered their question with a question: “I will also ask you one thing; and answer me: 4  The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men?” (Luke 20:3b-4). When the Jewish leaders refused to answer, Jesus responded, “Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things” (Luke 20:8).

Turning from hypocrites masquerading as devout religious men, Jesus taught the people the Parable of the Vineyard (20:9-19) and told the story of servants laboring in their master’s vineyard while he was away on a prolonged journey.  When the master sent trusted servants to collect the profit he was due from the vineyard, those laboring in the vineyard refused them and sent them away.  Finally, the owner of the vineyard sent his son (20:13); however, the laborers in the vineyard rose up and slew him (20:14-16).

Quoting Psalm 118:22, Jesus made it clear the application of that parable was those who rejected the son would themselves be rejected (20:17-18).   The chief priests and scribes realized the parable described their own wicked designs against Jesus and renewed their plot to kill Him (20:19-26).

I have had some ask over the years about the relationship of husband and wife and if they are bound in heaven.  This is an important concern to those who have, whether by death or divorce, had more than one husband or wife.   I believe the saints of God will know one another in heaven and am also convinced there will be no marriage in heaven.  We read in Luke 20:35, “But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world [heaven], and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage” (Luke 20:35).

Having silenced the scribes by His answers and questions (20:39-40), Jesus warned His disciples, 46 Beware of the scribes, which desire to walk in long robes, and love greetings in the markets, and the highest seats in the synagogues, and the chief rooms at feasts; 47  Which devour widows’ houses, and for a shew make long prayers: the same shall receive greater damnation” (Luke 20:46-47).

As it was then, so it is today–religious leaders, rather than serve the people as shepherds and servants, often burden their churches with an expectation they should be favored while they ravage the poorest and weakest to enrich themselves and make a pretense of religious piety.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

“Idle Hands Are The Devil’s Workshop”

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Proverbs 10

The following study is taken in part from my devotional commentary post on the Book of Proverbs dated December 10, 2014.

Today’s study in proverbs features what I will call three “stand alone proverbs” – three proverbial statements of “Uncommon Common Sense” communicating three distinct observations.

Proverbs 10:15  “The rich man’s wealth [property; possessions; savings] is his strong city [a fortified city]: the destruction [ruin; dismay; terror] of the poor [needy; helpless] is their poverty.”

“You didn’t build that!”, was an adage employed by liberal politicians in the 2012 election cycle in the United States.   Hoping to stir up class envy, the statement taunted the successful while dismissing the sacrifices and risks taken by employers and business owners.  I accept the statement if the intent is to acknowledge divine providence; however, an ideology that taunts hardworking entrepreneurs, spawns an expansive welfare state, inevitably makes citizens debtors and slaves of big government.   How tragic!   While excoriating the successful, the poor are left weak, dependent and one crisis from destitution!

Proverbs 10:15 is a statement of fact—a rich man finds comfort and security in his wealth.   In the same way citizens of a medieval city found refuge behind the walls of a city, a rich man finds security in riches providentially provided to him by God.   By contrast, the working poor are often a crisis away from desperation (an incentive to be a “saver” and not a “spender” or “debtor”).

Proverbs 10:16 – “The labour  [wages; reward] of the righteous [just; law-abiding] tendeth to life [strength; satisfaction]: the fruit [result; reaping] of the wicked [ungodly; guilty] to sin [punishment; i.e. leads to greater sin].”

Though the curse of sin left man laboring for food by the sweat of his brow (Genesis 3:19),  the reward of an honest day’s labor brings its own satisfaction.   I am not sure who to credit with the quote, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop”; however, there is a lot of truth in that statement.   The prevalence of depression in our society is, I believe, directly related to the gross amount of leisure time we enjoy as a society.  Too few of us come to the end of a day and enjoy the reward of having accomplished anything that is lasting!

Proverbs 10:17 – “He is in the way [path] of life that keepeth [heeds] instruction: but he that refuseth reproof [refuses to hear and heed correction] erreth.”

Solomon continues a common theme in verse 17—God blesses a man who heeds correction and rebuke; however, a rebel will inevitably follow a path to his own destruction.

As Solomon challenged his son to take the path of righteousness, it is the duty and responsibility of parents and spiritual leaders to challenge men and women with the same enduring truths from God’s Word (2 Timothy 4:2)!

Two questions to ponder: What path are you taking?  Is your heart open to correction? 

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Keys to Success

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Psalms 75-77

Our scripture reading today is three psalms, Psalms 75, 76 and 77 all ascribed to Asaph as the author (as are Psalms 73-83), a priest and musician in the court of king David (1 Chronicles 6:39; 15:19; 16:7).  Psalm 75 will be my focus for today’s devotional commentary.

Although we know the author was Asaph, we are not told the occasion that inspired the writing of this psalm of praise.  Given the content of the psalm, it is my speculation it was written following a battle or time of conflict.

We take several spiritual lessons away from Psalm 75.  The first, God is the object of our praise and thanksgiving (75:1). The second, God promises He is a righteous judge (75:2).

The third lesson, when you find yourself living in uncertain, shaky times, rest assure God is not alarmed and will “bear up the pillars” (i.e. the supports) of the earth beneath you (75:3).

We find a warning to boastful fools tempted to “blow their own horn” (75:4b-5a) and to sing their own praises in Psalm 75:4-7.   Such fools are proud, celebrating and promoting themselves, their interests and agenda apart from God’s blessings.  The LORD warns, don’t play the fool and stiffen your neck against the LORD (75:5)

Psalms 75:6 stresses a spiritual principle God’s people, especially their leaders, should heed: “For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south.”

Men crave promotion and positions of authority where they are lauded with praise; however, a wise man remembers whatever promotion might come his way is an act of God’s grace.

After all, “God is the judge [governor; the final dispenser of justice]: He putteth down [humbles; abases; humiliates] one, and setteth up [exalts; raises up] another” (Psalms 75:7).

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Imagine A Pastor Saying: “Stop Giving…You’ve Given Too Much!”

Monday, May 29, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Exodus 33-36

God called Moses to go up to the Mount and gave him His Ten Commandments in Exodus 20, His governing Laws in Exodus 22:22-24:8 and His assurance He would be with His chosen people when they went up to the land He had promised them for an inheritance (Exodus 23:20-33).  God also gave instructions for the construction of the Tabernacle, the Ark and the altar for sacrifices (Exodus 25-27).   God established the Aaronic priesthood (Exodus 28:6-30), consecrated Aaron and his sons as priests (Exodus 29:1-37; 30:22-33) and defined the robes and ornaments the priests were to wear. 

While Moses was in the mount with the LORD and away from the tribes of Israel, the people rebelled, returning to the ways of Egypt, they demanded for Aaron to make a golden calf for them to worship in Moses’ absence (Exodus 32).  Angered by the sin of the people, God vowed to judge them in His wrath (Exodus 32:7-8), but Moses interceded for them (Exodus 32:9-14).   There were consequences for the sin of the people and God did judge them; however, in answer to Moses’ prayer, the Lord did not destroy them altogether (Exodus 32:12-34:28).

With God’s judgment past, Moses directed the construction of the Tabernacle, the temporal dwelling that symbolized God’s presence in the midst of His people, according to all the plans God had given him (Exodus 35:4-36:38).

I close this brief devotional commentary with an observation concerning the manner of people enlisted to construct the Tabernacle, the Ark and its implements and the spirit with which the people gave and served.

The condition and attitude of the hearts of the people was important to the Lord.  Those who gave of their possessions and those who labored in the construction of the Tabernacle were “wise hearted…stirred…willing…willing hearted” (Exodus 35:10-29).

Exodus 35:10 – 10  And every wise hearted among you shall come, and make all that the LORD hath commanded;

Exodus 35:20-22 – 21  And they came, every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing, and they brought the LORD’S offering to the work of the tabernacle of the congregation, and for all his service, and for the holy garments.
22  And they came, both men and women, as many as were willing hearted, and brought bracelets, and earrings, and rings, and tablets, all jewels of gold: and every man that offered offered an offering of gold unto the LORD.

Exodus 35:25-26 – 25  And all the women that were wise hearted did spin with their hands, and brought that which they had spun, both of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and of fine linen.
26  And all the women whose heart stirred them up in wisdom spun goats’ hair.

Exodus 35:29 – 29  The children of Israel brought a willing offering unto the LORD, every man and woman, whose heart made them willing to bring for all manner of work, which the LORD had commanded to be made by the hand of Moses.

God called, inspired and employed the most skilled workers in Israel to build the place He would meet with His people (Exodus 35:30-36:2).

Exodus 35:30-35 – 30  And Moses said unto the children of Israel, See, the LORD hath called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah;
31  And he hath filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship;
32  And to devise curious works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass,
33  And in the cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of wood, to make any manner of cunning work.
34  And he hath put in his heart that he may teach, both he, and Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan.
35  Them hath he filled with wisdom of heart, to work all manner of work, of the engraver, and of the cunning workman, and of the embroiderer, in blue, and in purple, in scarlet, and in fine linen, and of the weaver, even of them that do any work, and of those that devise cunning work.

Exodus 36:1-2 – 1  Then wrought Bezaleel and Aholiab, and every wise hearted man, in whom the LORD put wisdom and understanding to know how to work all manner of work for the service of the sanctuary, according to all that the LORD had commanded.
2  And Moses called Bezaleel and Aholiab, and every wise hearted man, in whose heart the LORD had put wisdom, even every one whose heart stirred him up to come unto the work to do it:

The offerings the people gave so exceeded the need that Moses “restrained” them from bringing any more (36:5-6).  We read; the people gave “too much” (36:7).

Imagine being a part of a congregation where the hearts of the people is so stirred to give and serve the LORD that the pastor tells the people, “Please, stop giving! You have given too much already!”  Such is the manner of a people when they are “wise hearted…stirred…willing…and willing hearted” (Exodus 35:10-29).

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

“Seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek Them Not!”

May 26, 2017

Scripture reading – Jeremiah 42-46

Today’s reading assignment in our “Read-Through-the Bible” is possibly the longest so far and it is my desire to spare you from an equally long devotional commentary.  I will highlight several prophecies found in Jeremiah 42-46 and make a few observations.

As you may remember, Jeremiah’s ministry has been to warn Judah and her kings that the time for repentance had past and the destruction of the city of Jerusalem by the army of Nebuchadnezzar was certain.  Rather than heed the prophets warning, the people abused, persecuted and imprisoned the old prophet.  God, in an exercise of His grace, did not leave the people hopeless and Jeremiah assured the people the nation would one day be restored to the land and Jerusalem rebuilt.

The fate of the nation was sealed; however, the LORD assured the people, “Be not afraid of the king of Babylon, of whom ye are afraid; be not afraid of him, saith the LORD: for I am with you to save you, and to deliver you from his hand. 12  And I will shew mercies unto you, that he may have mercy upon you, and cause you to return to your own land.” (Jeremiah 42:11-12)

Because some of the people would be tempted to flee south into Egypt, the LORD warned the nation, “hear the word of the LORD, ye remnant of Judah; Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; If ye wholly set your faces to enter into Egypt, and go to sojourn there; 16  Then it shall come to pass, that the sword, which ye feared, shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt, and the famine, whereof ye were afraid, shall follow close after you there in Egypt; and there ye shall die.” (Jeremiah 42:15-16)

Knowing some of the people would not heed the LORD’s admonition, Jeremiah warned them, “Behold, I will send and take Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, my servant11  And when he cometh, he shall smite the land of Egypt…and he shall array himself with the land of Egypt” (Jeremiah 43:10-12). Jeremiah’s warning to the remnant that retreated into Egypt continues in Jeremiah 44.

Jeremiah 44:11-14, 23 – “11 Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will set my face against you for evil, and to cut off all Judah. 12  And I will take the remnant of Judah, that have set their faces to go into the land of Egypt to sojourn there, and they shall all be consumed, and fall in the land of Egypt; they shall even be consumed by the sword and by the famine: they shall die, from the least even unto the greatest, by the sword and by the famine: and they shall be an execration, and an astonishment, and a curse, and a reproach. 13  For I will punish them that dwell in the land of Egypt, as I have punished Jerusalem, by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence: 14  So that none of the remnant of Judah, which are gone into the land of Egypt to sojourn there, shall escape or remain, that they should return into the land of Judah, to the which they have a desire to return to dwell there: for none shall return but such as shall escape…23  Because ye have burned incense, and because ye have sinned against the LORD, and have not obeyed the voice of the LORD, nor walked in his law, nor in his statutes, nor in his testimonies; therefore this evil is happened unto you, as at this day.”

Rather than the safety they sought, the remnant of Judah that fled from Nebuchadnezzar’s army to Egypt perished in that land (Jeremiah 44:26-30).  In His grace, God promised a “small number” would “escape the sword” and return to Judah (44:28).  The prophecy against Egypt continues in Jeremiah 46.

I invite you to consider Jeremiah 45 as I conclude my highlights of chapters 42-46.  Jeremiah 45 is a brief, but fascinating passage.  Consisting of only five verses and addressed specifically to Jeremiah’s scribe, Baruch (45:1), the LORD lovingly and directly addressed the man who stood by the prophet Jeremiah as he faithfully declared God’s Word to the people.  The prophecies of God’s judgment deeply affected Baruch (45:2-3) as he faced the same hardships, persecutions and imprisonment as the old prophet.

Jeremiah admonished Baruch, his faithful friend and scribe,  warning him: “seekest [require; beg; strive after] thou great things [high; greater; proud thing] for thyself? seek [require; beg; strive after] them not: for, behold, I will bring [come in; enter; give; advance] evil [bad; adversity; affliction; distress] upon all flesh [person; mankind; bodies], saith the LORD: but thy life [soul; person; heart] will I give [deliver; commit; give up; abandon] unto thee for a prey [spoil; possessions; booty; plunder] in all places whither thou goest [walk; depart; follow].”

Friend, I close today’s devotional commentary with the same questions and challenge for you:  Why are you never satisfied?  Why is your heart and affections set upon temporal riches, possessions and titles, knowing all those things will perish?  Why do you sacrifice the spiritual walk of your family for the carnal?  Seek Them Not! 

Matthew 6:19-21 19  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 2017 – 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