Don’t Give Up Hope!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Ezekiel 37-42

Not only is today’s reading a lengthy one, it also has details with numbers and measurements that are sure to leave the average reader wondering what possible application could this have to a 21st century student of God’s Word.   For the sake of brevity, I suggest a simple outline of chapters 37 through 42.

Ezekiel 37 is a prophetic illustration of Israel’s resurrection as a nation (remember, the prophet is ministering to the Jews in Babylon after the destruction of the temple and city of Jerusalem).   My younger readers might enjoy watching a video\audio clip of “Dry Bones” (I avoid referring to it as a “gospel song” since there is hardly a gospel lesson in the recording; however, the classy style of the “Delta Rhythm Boys” compared with today’s “recording artists” is worth the watch).   Ezekiel 37 is not only a prophetic picture of Israel’s resurrection as a nation, but also the unification of the people divided into two nations since Solomon’s reign.

Ezekiel 38 prophesies events that are yet to occur on an international scale against Israel.  There is neither time or space to enter into the debate of the nations portrayed in this chapter; however, it is my opinion this is a prophecy there is a day when the ruler of the north (38:14) which I believe is Russia (38:2 – “the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal”) will lead an invasion of Middle Eastern nations (identified as “Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya” – 38:5) against Israel.   Ezekiel 38:14-39:18 details the invasion of the armies and their defeat.  The LORD intervenes and Israel’s victory will be so overwhelming that the burial of the dead will take seven months (39:14).

Israel’s captivity in Babylon was 70 years less one and the time of the writing of Ezekiel 40 was in “the five and twentieth year” of the Jewish captivity (40:1).   Ezekiel 40-42 gives us a prophetic time not yet fulfilled when Israel, safely restored in her land will set her heart as a nation to build a new temple (the last destroyed in 70 AD) and worship the LORD.  The plans, dimensions, physical attributes and future construction of the future temple are given in Ezekiel 40-42.

Our scripture reading today concludes with Ezekiel 42; however, chapter 43 continues the narrative concerning the future temple with the promise the heavenly glory of the LORD Himself will fill the temple (Ezekiel 43:2-4).

As I close, consider this: The LORD wanted His people to never give up hope!

Remember Ezekiel’s immediate audience was His own people who were captives in Babylon.  Many had witnessed the devastating destruction of the temple and the city of Jerusalem.  Humanly speaking, all was lost and apart from divine intervention, the Jews would be numbered among those nations that had come and gone; their cities covered by the sands of the desert and the people assimilated into the populations of the earth and forgotten.

However, such was not the case with God’s chosen people with whom He covenanted to be their God.  God promised Abraham he and his descendants would be a blessing to all the earth (Genesis 12:1-3), a promise not fulfilled until the coming of Jesus Christ.  The Jews rejected Christ at His first coming as a suffering Messiah (Isaiah 53); however, at the end of the Tribulation they will see Him come as a conquering King and He will rule from Jerusalem and the people will worship Him during the Millennial in a new temple.

In the midst of reading the numbers and dimensions of a future temple, consider the revival of joy and hope among God’s people when they were reminded God had not forgotten them and all was not lost!  The day was coming when a new temple would be built and God’s glory would once again fill the temple and the world would know the LORD is in the midst of His people!

Friend, don’t give up hope…remember, this same LORD promised His disciples He was going away to “prepare a place” for them and “will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-4).

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Attitudes are an External Indicator of the Bent or Direction of One’s Heart and Thoughts

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Proverbs 13

Our society defines attitudes from an emotional perspective and deflects personal responsibility.  If someone exhibits a bad attitude, psychologists deem them victims—victims of poverty, neglect, rejection or abuse. Rather than taking responsibility and self-correcting one’s bad attitude, people find it easier to cast dispersion upon a peer or an authority figure they feel has failed them.  In the process of deflecting responsibility for one’s attitudes, they dig a deeper emotional and spiritual rut!

Today’s devotional will challenge you to look into your own heart for the cause of attitudes that beset you.  More than emotions, attitudes are an external indicator of the bent or direction of one’s heart and thoughts.

Proverbs 13:1  “A wise son heareth his father’s instruction [correction]: but a scorner [scoffer] heareth not rebuke [firm reproof].”

Notice the heart attitude of the “wise son”—he hears and heeds his father’s correction, reproof and rebuke.  His attitude toward his father’s discipline is that of a learner, unlike the scorner. The scorner “heareth not rebuke”—he mocks the authorities in his life and holds them in derision. He blames others for his attitudes and justifies his rebellion by focusing on what he perceives as their failures. He is a slave to “stinking thinking”, a pattern rooted within the bent of his heart and thoughts. Allow me to illustrate this truth with a childhood memory.

I remember NASA illustrating the entry of space capsules into earth’s atmosphere in the 1960’s and emphasizing the attitude of the nose of the capsule.  Attitude was the word NASA used to define the direction of the top or nose of the capsule as contrasted with the heat shield at its base. If the attitude of the nose were right, the heat shield at the base of the capsule would deflect the fiery heat of earth’s atmosphere. If the attitude of the capsule were wrong, the capsule and its occupants would burn up upon re-entry. Life and death were directly related to the attitude of the capsule’s nose.

That same principle is true concerning our attitudes. A pattern of bad attitudes will drive one emotionally and spiritually down a path of self-destruction.  However, the answer to a life of bad attitudes [anger, rebellion, resentment, jealousy, etc.] is not to merely confess and correct negative attitudes or emotions…it is to get to the heart of the problem, which is the problem of a sinful heart! In other words, as goes the heart so goes the attitude!

A Right Heart/Mind/Pattern of Thoughts = A Right Attitude

A Wrong Heart/Mind/Pattern of Thoughts = A Wrong Attitude

My friend, if you are waging war with sinful attitudes, the solution is not for others to change, but for you to change. Too many look outside themselves for a solution to enslaving attitudes…a different spouse, different school, different job, different church…foolishly thinking different will make a difference! Not so!

If you are weary of battling with enslaving attitudes, look to the bent and direction of your own heart and “stinking thoughts”.  Take a few minutes and do an honest, spiritual heart check-up and take responsibility for your attitudes! Get control of your thoughts and you will overcome your attitudes (Philippians 4:8; Proverbs 23:7).

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

A Fresh Start “From the Heart of A Shepherd”

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Scripture Reading – Proverbs 13

Good morning from the GA mountains!

After nearly a week getaway for my 40th Anniversary “honeymoon” with my honey of a lifetime, Sheilah and I settled in yesterday for a week of rest and study.  I plan to send out today’s devotional commentary on Proverbs 13 later today; however, I invite you to continue your daily reading of the scriptures.

For those who missed a reading reminder for Wednesday and are following a year-long reading of God’s Word, the schedule for this week has been so far:

Monday – Leviticus 19-21

Tuesday – 2 Kings 16-20

Wednesday – Psalms 87-89

Thursday, Proverbs 13

With the heart of a shepherd,

Travis D. Smith

A Notice and Greeting from the “Heart of a Shepherd”

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Scripture reading – Psalms 87-89

Dear followers of “Heart of a Shepherd”,

My wife and I are celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary this July 24 and looking forward to a special time away in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and north Georgia.

Because of our travels, my devotional commentaries will be inconsistent for the next week; however, if you are reading through the Bible with me this year, I plan to send reminders of the assigned scripture readings.

With the heart of a shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

A Notice and Greeting from the “Heart of a Shepherd”

Monday, July 24, 2017

Scripture reading – Leviticus 19-21

Dear followers of “Heart of a Shepherd”,

My wife and I are celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary this July 24 and looking forward to a special time away in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and north Georgia.

Because of our travels, my devotional commentaries will be inconsistent for the next week; however, if you are reading through the Bible with me this year, I plan to send reminders of the assigned scripture readings.

With the heart of a shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

A Notice and Greeting from the “Heart of a Shepherd”

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Scripture reading – 1 Thessalonians 1-3

Dear followers of “Heart of a Shepherd”,

My wife and I are celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary this July 24 and looking forward to a special time away in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and north Georgia.

Because of our travels, my devotional commentaries will be inconsistent for the next week; however, if you are reading through the Bible with me this year, I plan to send reminders of the assigned scripture readings.

With the heart of a shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

A Notice and Greeting from the “Heart of a Shepherd”

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Scripture reading – Luke 21-22

Dear followers of “Heart of a Shepherd”,

My wife and I are celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary this July 24 and looking forward to a special time away in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and north Georgia.

Because of our travels, my devotional commentaries will be inconsistent for the next week; however, if you are reading through the Bible with me this year, I plan to send reminders of the assigned scripture readings.

With the heart of a shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. Smith