Category Archives: Attitude

“Hawking One’s Self and Gawking at Others has become A National Pastime”

September 21, 2017

Scripture Reading – Proverbs 25

Some of my favorite proverbs are found in Proverbs 25 and as stated in verse 1, these are the proverbs of Solomon preserved by scribes of king Hezekiah’s court nearly a century after Solomon reigned as king of Israel.

The depth of wisdom and the practical nature of today’s proverbs are such it is nearly impossible for me to settle on the one’s I would have you to not only read, but also consider in your meditations.   Nevertheless, for the sake of brevity, I must limit my focus.

Consider Proverbs 25:6-7 and a devotion I first posted March 25, 2014 on http://www.HeartOfaShepherd.com.

The Internet has opened up a world of fame and infamy for those who want to leave their mark or make a name.   Social media has given us an opportunity to put our world and face on display for all to see.

Hawking one’s self and gawking at others has become an all-consuming pastime.   I am astonished at the post and pictures people put on Facebook and similar sites.   The infatuation with self reminds me of a comment my guide in Israel made 20 years ago when he observed the national pastime of Israeli youth was “to see and to be seen”.   It is estimated that 18-34-year-olds spend 3.8 hours a day social networking!

Proverbs 25:6-7 cuts against the grain of our self-promoting society.   Solomon urged his son to exercise discretion and humility, especially in the presence of great men.  Solomon writes,

Proverbs 25:6-7  “Put not forth thyself [don’t be a self-promoter; overtly ambitious; seeking vainglory] in the presence of the king, and stand not in the place of great men: 7 For better it is that it be said unto thee, Come up [ascend; go up] hither; than that thou shouldest be put lower [humbled; humiliated] in the presence of the prince whom thine eyes have seen.”  

Jesus taught a similar lesson regarding humility in Luke 14:8-10.

Luke 14:8-11  “When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; 9  And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room10  But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee. 11  For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”

Friend, my purpose is not to offend; however, as some say—“If the shoe fits, wear it!” 

Take a few minutes and look at your Facebook page and the pictures you have posted.  Be honest about the things you have written and pictures you have posted.   Forget how many “Likes” or “Comments” you have received and ask, “How much of what I write and post glorifies God?”

In a day of shameless self-promotion, HUMILITY is still the quality God cherishes in His people.

Matthew 5:3, 5 3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven… 5  Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Four Traits of a Happy Man

September 20, 2017

Scripture Reading – Psalms 111-113

The psalms in today’s scripture reading begin with the same opening theme and call to worship— “Praise ye the LORD” (Psalms 111:1; 112:1; 113:1).  In essence, to “Praise ye the LORD” is to boast of Him; glory in Him; celebrate the LORD for He is Yahweh, Jehovah, God Eternal!

Psalm 111 begins with a vow to “…praise [give thanks] the LORD with my whole heart…” (111:1b).  Sincere praise of the LORD arises from a trusting, undivided heart.  The psalmist’s meditations on the LORD reflected on His works…the wonder and expanse of His creation (111:2), “His righteousness”— He is just, and “is gracious and full of compassion” (111:4b).

Psalm 112, like Psalm 111, begins with a word of praise to the LORD and an affirmation that the man who “feareth” [trembles; reveres] the LORD is “Blessed” [happy] because he “delighteth [desires; takes pleasure] greatly in his commandments [Law; ordinances; precepts]” (112:1).

We find four traits of a “Happy” man in Psalm 112.   A “Happy” man is Blessed (112:1), Upright (112:4), Good (112:5-6a) and Righteous (112:7-9).

He is Blessed because he is the object of God’s grace (i.e. unmerited favor).

Because he “feareth the LORD” (lit. reveres the name and rejoices in the character of the LORD) and “delighteth greatly in His commandments” (112:1c), such a man finds the Law and Commandments of the LORD a delight (Psalm 1:1-2) and the overflow of God’s grace in His life affects his family (112:2).

Secondly, a “Happy” man is “Upright”, meaning just, righteous, a man who fears and reveres the LORD (112:4).  The “upright” are not exempt from dark days: they suffer sickness, deaths of loved ones, disappointments, betrayal of friends and broken promises; however, they have the assurance: “there ariseth light in the darkness” (112:4a).   David wrote from his experience, “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Psalm 30:5).

Believers go through dark times; however, they have assurance the light of the LORD will pierce the darkness.  Having experienced darkness and God’s grace, believers are “gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous” (112:4b).   Why are the upright inclined to be “gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous”?  Because they reflect the character of the God they love and serve!

Psalm 111:4 – “He [the LORD] hath made His wonderful works to be remembered: the LORD is gracious and full of compassion.”

Because they have known God’s light in the midst of darkness, the upright are gracious….kind to the needy and forgiving; full of compassion…merciful and tender.

Thirdly, a “Happy” man is a “good man” (112:5).

We notice four things about a “good” man’s character:  1) He is gracious in demeanor (pleasant and pleasing);  2) He is generous (“lendeth” to those in need);  3) He exercises “good sense”, guiding “his affairs with discretion” (112:5);  4) He is well “grounded” for “he [good man] shall not be moved for ever” (112:6).

The fourth and final trait of a “Happy” man is he is “righteous” (112:7-9).  Consider three qualities of this righteous man:

1) He is fearless… “he shall not be afraid of evil tidings” (112:7a) for he has a settled confidence in the LORD.

2) His heart is firm… “fixed, trusting in the LORD’ (112:7b) and “he shall not be afraid” (112:8b).

3) He is freehearted, generous, giving to the poor (112:9); he is not a hoarder of riches, but a steward of God’s blessings and a conduit ministering to those in need.

What is the response of the wicked to a man who is Blessed, Upright, Good and RighteousEnvy!

Psalm 112:10 – The wicked shall see [look; behold; regard] it, and be grieved [troubled; angry]; he shall gnash [i.e. grate or grind] with his teeth, and melt away [faint; be discouraged]: the desire [longing; greed] of the wicked [immoral; ungodly] shall perish [be destroyed].”

What do the wicked see in the “Blessed” man that provokes anger and grieves them?  Their joy! The joy and happiness of the godly is a grief to the wicked who grind their teeth like rabid dogs and “melt away”… consumed by their anger (112:10c).

In the words of King David, “For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish” (Psalm 1:6).

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Woe to the Nation That Celebrates Perversity and Attacks Morality!

September 15, 2017

Scripture Reading – Amos 1-4

Borrowing the modern vernacular of politics, the prophet Amos was an outsider when God called him to deliver a word of prophecy against Judah and Israel (Amos 1:1).  He lived and worked in obscurity as a common herdsman with no political ties or religious lineage.   When God called him to prophecy, Israel and Judah were enjoying a season of peace and prosperity and the thought of God’s displeasure and judgment was far from them.

“Uzziah king of Judah” (1:1) presided over the southern kingdom and the nation maintained an outward form of worshipping the LORD (5:21-22); however, the hearts of the king and people were far from Him.  “Jeroboam the son of Joash” was king of Israel (1:1), the northern kingdom; making no pretense of worshipping the LORD, that nation built an altar in Bethel and offered sacrifices to a golden calf.

Amos, a layperson “who was among the herdmen of Tekoa” (1:1), was a courageous prophet.  With the word of the LORD upon his lips, he delivered a series of prophecies against six Gentile nations: Syria, identified as Damascus (1:3-5)… Philistia, identified by its principal cities, Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gath, and Ekron (1:6-8)… Tyre (1:9-10)… Edom (1:11-12)… Ammon (1:13-15)… and Moab (2:1-3) all were warned the judgment of God was imminent.

Turning his focus from the six Gentile nations, Amos warned Judah the nation would be judged “because they have despised the law of the LORD, and have not kept his commandments” (2:4).

Amos then declared the sins and wickedness of the kingdom of Israel and warned the nation would suffer God’s judgment (2:6-16).  Lest any doubt the grace and longsuffering of God, the prophet reminded the nation how the LORD had brought them out of Egypt (2:9) and given them the land of the Amorites (2:9-10).  God sent prophets, but the people said, “Prophesy not” (2:12).

In chapter 3 Amos prophesied reminding the people the LORD had chosen the “children of Israel” (meaning both the kingdoms of Israel and Judah) as His people and made Himself known to them (3:1-2).  Israel, however, rejected the LORD and He set Himself against them saying, “I will punish you for all your iniquities” (Amos 3:1).

Adding to the Israel’s humiliation, God commanded Amos to summon two Gentile nations, Ashdod, a Philistine city, and Egypt to witness God’s judgment against Israel (whose capital was Samaria).  A sad commentary on the deception of sin is the condemnation: For they know not to do right, saith the LORD” (3:10).

How did the nation to whom the LORD had revealed Himself, His Law and Commandments come to this?  How could they be so blind they lost sense and discernment of right and wrong?

Warning: Here is the beguiling way of sin and wickedness.  When a people make light of God’s Truth, trivialize and rationalize sin, eventually their hearts becomes desensitized to wickedness, they no longer know how to do right.  Perhaps an oversimplification, but I believe an accurate one:  Israel had strayed so far from God’s law the people no longer had “common sense”—they had no sense of right (3:10).

My friend, the same condemnation is true of our beloved United States!

The lunacy of atheism coupled with the perversity of humanism is so entrenched in government, education, religion and media it has crippled our judgment as a society.   Having rejected God and His Laws, our moral judgment as a nation is twisted and perverted and we “know not to do right” (3:10).

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

“Slay the Three-headed Monster: Gluttony, Booze and Self-indulgence”

September 14, 2017

Scripture Reading – Proverbs 23-24

Proverbs 23-24 is our scripture reading for today as we continue to mine truths found in this book one author described as “Common Sense in Overalls” (source unknown).   The principles and precepts found in Proverbs leave no room for ambiguity if one believes Solomon wrote exactly what the Holy Spirit directed him to write (2 Peter 1:21).  Today’s devotional commentary focuses on Proverbs 23:20-21 and Proverbs 23:29-32.

Proverbs 23:20  “Be not among winebibbers [drunken; heavy drinkers]; among riotous eaters [gluttons; squanderers] of flesh:”

Solomon addressed a pattern of sin that has been the ruin of the greatest of men and women—drunkenness and gluttony.   American families are a tragic testimony of excess in each.   A 2009 survey found 63.1% of Americans are overweight [there are medical reasons for some; however, the majority cannot take refuge behind that defense].   Gluttony is not only sinful (Proverbs 23:2; Philippians 3:19); it is a leading cause for high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, cancers and arthritis.  As a nation, we are eating ourselves to death!

Believers are not only guilty of gluttony, there is a growing number of believers trivializing imbibing in wine and alcohol.   Championing Christian liberty, some pastors are leading their families and congregations to accept wine and alcohol proving the adage: Liberty for one becomes a license for another.

Wonder what those torchbearers of “liberty” will say to parents burying a child killed in an alcohol related accident?   What rationalizations will they offer when a vice they approved leads a family to the morass of abuse and addiction?

Proverbs 23:21  “For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty [driven to poverty]: and drowsiness [sleepiness; indolence; slumber] shall clothe [dress] a man with rags.”

Solomon observed that a man given to excesses of drunkenness and gluttony tends to laziness [i.e. “drowsiness”] and follows a path to want [“poverty” and “rags”].  Solomon warned his son alcohol may desensitize a soul, but it never solves problems.  A series of six questions describe the sad lot of those given to wine and drunkenness (23:29-30).

Proverbs 23:29-30 – “Who hath woe [grief; despair; cry of lamentations]? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions [strife; brawlings]? who hath babbling [complaints; disparaging talk]? who hath wounds [bruise] without cause [for naught; for no good reason]? who hath redness [dullness, implied from drinking wine] of eyes [sight]? 30 They that tarry long [delay; remain] at the wine [strong drink]; they that go to seek mixed wine [with herbs or honey].”

Those who indulge in strong drink have a penchant for “woe” and “sorrow” or what some today describe as “mental illness” and depression.  The excessive cost of alcohol consumption in the United States in 2006 was estimated to be $223.5 billion.

Of course, we cannot place a dollar amount on alcohol’s human toll.   Solomon described the suffering of alcoholism as “wounds without cause…redness of eyes”.   Failing health, physical and sexual abuses, failed marriages, splintered families, ruined careers, crime, murders and suicides can all be ascribed to drunkenness.   Solomon admonished his son:

Proverbs 23:31-32 – “Look [examine; choose] not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth [walk; behave] itself aright. 32 At the last [in the end] it biteth [sting; strike] like a serpent [viper], and stingeth [wound] like an adder [poisonous serpent].”

The phrase “moveth itself aright” describes the redness of the wine and its sparkle when it is strongest and most alcoholic in content.   Solomon warned his son…don’t look at it; don’t desire and imbibe in wine when it has fermented for it will be like the bite of a poisonous viper when it delivers its mortal wound.

Someone reading today’s devotional will take an exception to my commentary and dismiss Solomon and this simple author.  You indulge your liberty and take solace in others coming to your defense; however, I wonder where those “friends” will be when your son or daughter descends into the dark, dismal hole of sinful indulgence attempting to fill the void and emptiness of their soul with drugs and alcohol?

1 Corinthians 6:9-10  “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10  Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Mass Exodus Out of Florida Returning Home

I want to thank you for your prayers on behalf of Hillsdale Baptist Church, its members and staff who anticipated the arrival of Hurricane Irma.  As our lives are getting back to normal, with the exception of some roof leaks, our church and school buildings are in great shape.  We are praising the LORD our membership suffered little damage as Category 1 and Category 2 winds whipped through our region.  Other than the inconvenience of losing electricity, we are rejoicing in God’s protection.

On a personal note:  In my opinion, sensationalism has become the daily diet of our culture and the mass exodus from Florida before and during Hurricane Irma’s arrival driven in large part to a news media given to hype and ratings.

“Breaking News”, “This Just In”, “Epic” are clichés used ad nauseam by news networks desperately competing for viewership that translates into revenue from advertisers.

The coverage of Hurricane Irma was indeed “epic” and the storm was without a doubt powerful and destructive; however, the news media’s use of images (replayed over and over) along with the hyperbole of exaggeration, ramped up both fear and anxiety that went far beyond the actual threat of the storm.

Citizens of Florida were running from the east coast to the west coast, then back to the east coast in an attempt to flee Irma based on the forecasts of meteorological “experts” that hadn’t a clue where the storm was going to make landfall or the track she would take.  Hundreds of thousands of Floridians fled homes located far from coastal waters and the predicted “surge” only to be overtaken by Irma in their northward flight (apparently, she was not listening to weather prognosticators failing to accurately predict her track even an hour ahead of her eye).

Two days before Irma’s arrival, hoarders emptied grocery shelves of food stocks and water; Gas stations ran out of gas as a panicked population clogged highway arteries.

I am left wondering what happened to the common-sense adage saints use to follow, “Prepare for the worst and pray”.

I believe the inspiration of that saying is Proverbs 21:31.   Solomon advised his son, “The horse is prepared [ready] against the day of battle [war; warfare]: but safety [salvation; deliverance; victory] is of the LORD.”

Believers are to use wisdom and exercise prudence in preparing for trials, troubles and storms (i.e. prepare the horse for battle); however, people of faith, having done all to prepare, must put their faith in the LORD who is Omnipotent and Sovereign, after all, “safety is of the LORD”, is it not?

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Reminder before Hurricane Irma: “The World Always Has Room for One More Servant”

September 9, 2017

Scripture Reading – John 13-15

My heart is blessed to observe our “Divided United States” pulling together as neighbor helps and encourages neighbor throughout the State of Florida.   With the exception of a few fringe anarchists, when lives are at risk the majority of Americans set aside political differences, come together and serve others.

Foot washing was a cultural practice in Jesus’ day as households in the first century lacked plumbing and running water.  Wealthy citizens of towns and villages went to public baths to bathe and, after walking home on dusty streets, were met by a household servant who would wash their feet in a basin of water and dry them with a towel.

Carrying forward the theme of serving others, today’s scripture reading is John 13-15; however, I am limiting my focus to John 13:1-17 and the beautiful portrait of humility and love seen in our LORD washing the feet of His disciples.  The setting of John 13 is the night Judas betrayed Jesus and His disciples deserted Him fleeing into the night.

Pride and a lack of humility prevented the disciples from taking up the task of washing the feet of the LORD or their peers.  Rising from the Passover feast, Jesus took up a towel and began washing the feet of the disciples, among them Judas who had arranged to betray the LORD to His enemies that night (John 13:1-2).   What an act of grace!  It is one thing to stoop to wash the feet of another; however, to wash the feet of a traitor is grace (John 13:2, 11)!

Although an awkward moment, the disciples allowed Jesus to wash their feet.  Peter, however, piously protested Jesus’ act of servitude (John 13:6-11).

John 13:14-15If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.

Consider three spiritual lessons in this brief devotional.  The first is Salvation: Washing His disciples’ feet, Jesus Christ taught them He alone can forgive and spiritually cleanse sinners of sin.  The disciples believed Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God; however, not all believed.  Judas rejected Jesus Christ and his lack of faith forever damned his unbelieving soul (John 13:10-11).

Sanctification is the second spiritual lesson.  Jesus washing the feet of His disciples reminds us that a believer needs daily cleaning from sin.  The apostle John writes, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Our third spiritual lesson is that of Service—serving others (John 13:1, 5, 12-16).  To bear a servant’s towel requires three things in my estimation.  The first, “persevering love”.  We read of the LORD, “…having loved his own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end [continually; to the uttermost]” (John 13:1).

The second requirement for those who earn a servant’s towel is “unpretentious humility”–Jesus “began to wash the disciples’ feet” – (John 13:5).  Paul exhorted the believers in Philippi to follow Christ’s example of humility.

Philippians 2:5-7 – “Let this mind [attitude] be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God [possessing all the attributes of God], thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation [setting aside the glory and dignity that was His], and took upon him the form of a servant [slave], and was made in the likeness of men [became man]:”

Finally, to earn a servant’s towel requires “enduring commitment” to follow Jesus’ example.  Jesus commanded His followers:

John 13:14-15If I then, your Lord and Master [teacher], have washed your feet; ye also ought [duty, obligation] to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.

Hillsdale family and friends, I do not know what trials Hurricane Irma may bring us in the next 48 hours; however, I close with a challenge for you to consider three characteristics of a servant:

The first, a servant is proactive and seeks opportunities to serve others.

The second, a servant meets needs others disregard.

The third, a servant serves when others falter.

The world will always make room for one more servant.  Will you be that servant?

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

“You Cannot Afford to Wear ‘Rose-Colored Glasses’ in a Sinful, Black and White World!”

September 7, 2017

Scripture Reading – Proverbs 22

Our scripture reading today is Proverbs 22 and is, like all chapters in Proverbs, a treasure trove of wisdom that southern folk of my youth applauded as “good old common sense”.  Unfortunate for our society, we have strayed far from God and His Word and the bits of wisdom that were guiding posts for generations of youth are unfamiliar to most in our day.

For today’s devotional commentary, I am selecting one verse especially applicable to Floridians preparing for the possibility of Hurricane Irma making landfall this weekend.   Having watched from afar the devastation left in the wake of Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas, Floridians are being prudent and exercising an abundance of caution.  Of prudence, Solomon writes:

Proverbs 22:3 – “A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.”

We live in a dangerous world far from the “Mayberry” world portrayed in the old Andy Griffith Shows of the early 1960’s. You and I do not have the joy or luxury of raising our families with the naiveté’ of Barney Fife and Goober.   Of necessity, believers need to be prudent, wise and cunning in a world that is no friend of the Christian or his family.

Proverbs 22:3 draws a contrast between two men who are polar opposites when it comes to discernment—the Prudent and the Simple.

Proverbs 22:3  “A prudent [cunning; sensible] man foreseeth [perceive; understands] the evil [sin; wickedness; adversity], and hideth [conceal; hide; shelter] himself: but the simple [foolish; silly] pass on, and are punished [condemn; inflict a penalty].”

The Prudent man is a learner.   He is a student of the Scriptures [the Wisdom of God] and human nature.   His senses are exercised by a lifetime of experiences and he is wary of the wiles and ways of the world.  Prudence dictates he foresee the ways of the wicked and withdraw himself from the consequences of their sinful ways.

The Simple are not learners.   They are stubborn, ignoring the admonitions of their parents and godly counselors.  They pursue the pleasures of sin and the company of the foolish giving no thought to their tragic end.  The Simple rush past moral restraints and headlong down the path of self-destruction.

This same proverb is repeated in Proverbs 27:12, thus magnifying the need to read and heed its truth.

Proverbs 27:12 – “A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished.”

Be wise. Seek and heed godly counsel; after all, you cannot afford to wear “rose-colored glasses” in a sinful, black and white world!

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith