“You are only as happy as your least happy child.” (Proverbs 23:22, 24-25)

Today’s devotional returns to a familiar theme of Solomon’s urging his son to fulfill in word and deed the fifth commandment which states: “Honour [treat with respect; obey] thy father and thy moth…

Source: Proverbs 23:22, 24-25 – “You are only as happy as your least happy child.”

“JUST IMAGINE” – One pastor’s brief commentary on race and hope

unshackledI hope to see America’s Blacks unshackled from the oppression of liberal Democrats in my lifetime.  
High unemployment, derelict fathers leaving single moms raising their children in poverty, and decaying inner cities paint a bitter picture of our nation’s future if someone does not rise up and give hope.  I believe this is one reason Donald Trump’s message, “Give me a chance! What do you have to lose?” has resonated with so many in America.
 

I was a child in the raucous 1960’s and witnessed the integration of public schools in the South as an early elementary age child.  I followed the race riots on television; however, living in rural SC I can honestly say I never noticed the hatred and anger that was portrayed in the media, most of it originating in urban city areas and inflamed by white and black leaders who made themselves not only famous, but incredibly wealthy off the federal government establishment.Men and women interlocking hands, close-up, overhead view

My childhood community in rural SC had a balance of blacks and whites, many who had lived on their farms side by side for generations. Were there some who were genuinely poor? Absolutely…black and white.   However, I remember hardworking neighbors…black and white,  who taught their children by example an ethic of handwork I embrace to this day.  Some of the finest men and women I knew were black, God-fearing people.  I cannot remember my parents ever casting racial slurs at any blacks in our community.  We were taught to respect and honor our elders and were colorblind in our outlook.  

I do not dismiss the sad reality that there were undoubtedly racial prejudices in my town and community; however, those would have been the exceptions driven by old Southern Democratic prejudices as represented by the KKK.  

I am blessed to pastor a colorblind church that is a portrait of the demographics of Tampa, FL.  In Christ, our church is not divided by races or societal identities; we are one body made up of many members (1 Corinthians 12:12-20).  

I am convinced the grace and forgiveness found in Christ and preached by Biblical Christianity is the only answer to the racial divide in our nation and world.  Can you imagine a church, community, city and nation dominated by the principle, “love thy neighbor as thyself”?  (Matthew 22:39)
love-thy-neighbor
Just imagine: An America driven, not by racial prejudices and a false narrative demanding restitution, but a nation that embraces personal responsibility for individual choices. Imagine an America unshackled from the Democratic plantation that has enslaved a whole race with empty promises and government dependence.  Imagine an America that repents of her sins and turns back to God…an America free from racial hatred. Just imagine…

Copyright 2016 – Travis D. Smith
 

Three Proverbs to Start Your Day: Buyer Beware!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our third proverb is an acknowledgement of God our Creator.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2016 – Travis D. Smith

Road Rage: Beware the Bear behind the wheel!

Angry bearProverbs 17:12 “Let a bear robbed [bereaved] of her whelps [cubs] meet [come in contact with] a man, rather than a fool [stupid; silly] in [in the midst of] his folly [silliness].”

Anger has been the malady of sinful man since Cain rose up and slew his brother Abel in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 4:5-8).  Anger, however, is a natural emotion that is not always sinful.  For instance, the Bible describes the wrath of God and His fury against sin in over 500 instances [Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary].  Anger can also describe the “righteous indignation” of the saints towards sin.  Paul commands believers in Antioch to, “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath” (Ephesians 4:26).  In other words, righteous anger is slow to wrath and seeks resolution as soon as possible (Proverbs 14:29; James 1:19).  The apostle challenged Angry couplethose same Christians in Ephesus to, “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice” (Ephesians 4:31).

Let’s be honest; explosive, self-centered anger has become an emotion that characterizes the fabric of our marriages, homes, churches, communities and nation.  Anger is the sin behind senseless acts of abuse, slander, outbursts of violence, and a newer phenomenon known as “Road Rage”—an outburst of anger and violence against a total stranger who may have inadvertently “cut you off”…but who becomes the victim of your pent-up anger, bitterness and lack of restraint.

In today’s proverb (17:12), Solomon warns it is better to cross paths with an angry she-bear seeking her cubs than be a companion or friend of a fool in the midst of his folly.roadrage  Such is the case when you cross paths with an habitually angry man or woman.  He is a danger to himself, his family, friends and acquaintances.

Beware the fool!

Copyright 2016 – Travis D. Smith

Remembering 09.11.2001

9-11

  • The following is an excerpt from my letter to Hillsdale Baptist Church in preparation for this Sunday’s 9\11 memorial services.

fdrI recall only a few times in my youth when the adults in my life mentioned the fateful day we know as December 7, 1941; a day Franklin Delano Roosevelt immortalized in his declaration of war as a “day that will live on in infamy”.  That generation was blessed with a character deeply rooted in the conviction that these United States were providentially blessed of God and the liberty and prosperity we enjoyed as a nation was a trust from our Creator.  The toll of war and the sacrifices of the World War II generation are incomprehensible to my generation and the generations that have followed.  America was blessed with political and military leaders who accepted nothing less than victory and, when the sacrifices of war ceased, we began to aid our vanquished enemies.

On Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001, Twenty-first century Americans were awakened to a reality we were facing a new enemy, driven not by patriotic ardor or nationalistic pride, but by a political ideology masquerading as a religion.   Reminiscent of the patriotic zeal of the 1940’s generation, fervor of national pride took hold in America accompanied by calls for national prayer and the enlistment of hundreds of thousands of young men and women into our military forces. obama Fifteen years and two presidencies later, it is the opinion of this pastor that we have been betrayed; not by our youth who were ready and willing to go to war, but by politicians who lacked the will and character to set aside political ideologies and defeat an enemy determined to destroy our Constitutional liberties and enslave our citizenry.

For fifteen years we have witnessed the carnage of Islamic barbarity on a scale that is nigh unfathomable.  While an estimated 6,852 U.S. military men and women have died in America’s War on Terrorism, our politicians have evidenced little concern for the hundreds of thousands who have been slain by the Muslim hordes who have recorded their atrocities against humanity. Beheadings, rapes, mutilations, crucifixions, boiling, burnings, and stoning are but a few of their legacies.remember

September 11, 2016, Hillsdale Baptist Church and this pastor will stop…and remember.  We will remember nearly 3,000 who died on 9\11\2001; remember nearly 7,000 men and women who have died serving our nation; remember the men and women who have served, fought and many who bear the scars of war.  Remember and pray…God of grace, forgive our sins and heal our land.

With a shepherd’s heart,

Travis D. Smith, Senior Pastor

P.S. A few may realize I have been absent from blogging and social media for nearly two weeks. After a battle with kidney stones, it is a joy to be sharing with you once again. God bless!

Copyright 2016 – Travis D.Smith

“Sustaining Hope When All Seems Lost”

The Last PassoverThe theme of today’s blog is the title of the sermon I am looking forward to preaching this Sunday morning from Matthew 26:30-35 and Luke 22:24-34.  I am nearing the end of a verse-by-verse expositional study of the Gospel of Matthew  and excited to savor some of the great, dramatic moments in the life and ministry of Christ in the hours before His sacrificial death on the Cross.

Matthew 26:30-35 follows the LORD’s last Passover meal. Earlier in the evening, the disciples became embroiled in a heated dispute (Luke 22:24-27) over which of them would be the greatest in Christ’s earthly kingdom (in spite of His teachings, the disciples had not accepted the LORD’s destiny was a cross, not a throne).   Jesus, rising from the table, modeled the manner of leadership He commanded of His disciples when He washed their feet (John 13:3-15).

sift as wheatSitting down, the LORD stated the first of two declarations that His disciples would deny Him that night (Luke 22:31-34).  Warning the disciples that Satan desired to sift them as wheat, the LORD promised He had prayed specifically for Peter that his faith would not fail and, when He faltered and returned to the LORD, his ministry would strengthen his brethren (Luke 22:32). Peter protested He would never deny the LORD (Luke 22:33), but the LORD rebuked him saying he would deny Him three times before the crowing of the rooster would break the silence of the night (Luke 22:34).sift

Enroute to the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus declared a second time that the disciples would be scattered into the night, fulfilling the 500-year-old prophecy of Zechariah, “Awake, O sword [instrument of death], against my shepherd [i.e. the LORD’s shepherd], and against the man that is my fellow [neighbor; friend], saith the LORD [Jehovah; Yahweh] of hosts: smite [slay; kill] the shepherd, and the sheep [flock] shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones”  (Zechariah 13:7).  Peter protested a second time He would never deny the LORD (Matthew 26:33) and all the disciples joined him with the same assertion (Matthew 26:35).

In a few hours, Peter and the disciples faced their worse fears when the LORD was arrested and led away.  As Zechariah had prophesied 500 years earlier,  they fled into the darkness of the night (Matthew 26:56).

Peter followed the Lord and three times was asked if he was not one of the LORD’s disciples; each time Peter denied the LORD, the third time with cursing (Matthew 26:57-58, 69-75).  Hearing the crowing of a rooster in the distance, Peter’s heart was pierced with sorrow and we read, “he went out, and wept bitterly” (Matthew 26:75).

We know all was not lost!  Peter and the other disciples, though they faltered in their walk, did not lose their faith.  They lacked the courage and fortitude to face their adversaries before the cross (indeed, they stood a great way off); however, after the resurrection of Christ and the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2), they could not be silenced!risen

My friend, I am afraid the days ahead for Bible-believing Christians will evidence a growing intolerance of the Gospel and an intensifying hostility for God’s Word.   If we are anchored in our confidence of a crucified, buried, and risen Savior, and filled with the Holy Spirit, we might falter at times; however, our faith will never fail!

Copyright 2016 – Travis D. Smith

The potential of contending with a fool or behaving like a fool is a daily possibility.

road rageWe live in a sin cursed world of unhappy, emotionally unstable people.  Many in society live with a short fuse and, with little provocation, are ready to explode.  It seems we hear everyday how a driver allows an inadvertent disagreement with another driver escalate into an outburst that ends in an act of deadly road-rage.  In urban America, police sirens break the silence of the night rushing to households where petty differences have turned violent.

It is impossible to live in a fallen world and not be confronted by individuals determined to have their say and “pound of flesh”.  The potential of contending with a fool or behaving like a fool is a daily possibility.  Today’s proverbs, Proverbs 26:4-5, have been useful principles in my spiritual and mental arsenal down through my years in ministry.   I recommend you adopt them as part of your spiritual disciplines.crime in urban America

Proverbs 26:4-5 – Answer [speak; respond; reply] not a fool according to his folly [foolishness; stupidity], lest thou also be like [equal to; resemble] unto him. 5  Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise [shrewd] in his own conceit [eye; confidence; disdain].”

On first reading, Solomon appears to contradict himself in verses 4 and 5.  In verse 4 he taught his son to “Answer not a fool according to his folly” and in verse 5 “Answer a fool according to his folly”.  Those two phrases alone are at odds; however, the parables in their entirety make perfect sense when we consider the outcome.

Solomon warns his son in verse 4 that responding to a fool in the midst of his folly has the potential of drawing you into his foolishness—and you become like him—a fool!   Stated in a different way—You cannot reason with a fool!   It is a waste of time and effort to reason with a man who has rejected Truth and refuses to heed the clear exposition of God’s Word.

Verse 5 urges us to not be silent when a fool speaks.  Why answer this fool?  Because a loving rebuke and exposure to God’s Truth may potentially spare a fool from a path of self-delusion and limit his influence on others.

conflict resolutionWe live in a world in which fools abound and we can ill afford to be like them; however, we dare not be silent and embolden them to spew foolish notions unchecked by the Eternal, Living Word of Truth.

Psalm 119:11-16 – “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. 12  Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes. 13  With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth. 14  I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches. 15  I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways. 16  I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.”

Copyright 2015 – Travis D. Smith