Category Archives: Church

A Dedication and a Celebration (1 Kings 8; 2 Chronicles 5)

Scripture Reading – 1 Kings 8; 2 Chronicles 5

My apology for a late post of today’s devotional commentary. My computer began failing on Wednesday. Regrettably, I purchased a new laptop to replace my old one that was nearly six years old. To quote an old Persian adage, “this too shall pass!”

Today’s Scripture reading is 1 Kings 8 and 2 Chronicles 5.

1 Kings 8 – Dedication of the Temple

We have followed the building of the Temple from its inception in the heart of King David, to its construction fulfilled during the reign of his son, Solomon. The Temple having been completed, and all the necessary implements and utensils readied, the day for dedicating the Temple came.

After the furnishings were placed in the Temple, the Ark of the Covenant was carried up by the priests from David’s palace complex (8:1-4). With sacrifices so great they could not be numbered, the Ark was placed in the oracle, meaning the inner sanctuary of the Temple we identify as the “Holy of Holies” (8:5-6) and sat beneath the wings of the great cherubims that resided in the holy place (8:7-8). With the passing of centuries, all that remained in the Ark was the treasured tablets upon which God had written His Commandments (8:9).

We read that the glory of God so “filled the house of the LORD” that the “priests could not stand to minister” (8:10-11).  Why?  Why were the priests unable to minister in the Temple after the LORD’s glory filled the house?

Because the God of Heaven is a Holy, glorious God with whom mortal man dare not trifle.  His glory is “like devouring fire” (Exodus 24:17). He is “a consuming fire” (Deuteronomy 4:24). God’s presence was so powerful and convicting that the priests “could not stand to minister” (8:11a).

The dedication of the Temple continued with Solomon rehearsing how his father had longed to build the Temple, but was forbidden by God, and how that privilege passed to David’s son (8:12-21).  In the sight of all the people, Solomon offered a prayer of thanksgiving, remembering God’s faithfulness to His covenant promises and praying for the nation (8:22-30).

Knowing the justice of God, Solomon confessed the bent of man’s sinful heart to depart from the Law and Commandments (8:31-32). Solomon prayed that when Israel sinned as a nation, that the LORD would not forsake His people, but would hear their confession, and upon their repentance, would forgive their sin (8:33-36).

Knowing troubles would befall the nation (example, famine arising from physical disasters and blights), Solomon prayed that the LORD would hear the prayers of every man (8:37-43).  Should the people go to war and fall captive, the king prayed the LORD would hear the prayers of His people and restore them to their homeland (8:44-50). Remember the mercies of God in the past, Solomon concluded his prayer by reminding the LORD how He had chosen Israel and brought the people out of Egypt under Moses (8:51-53).

The dedication of the Temple being ended, Solomon blessed the people and led a celebration with sacrifices and offerings that continued fourteen days (8:54-66).

2 Chronicles 5 adds an additional element to the celebration that demonstrates the prominence of music in the worship of the LORD (5:12-13).

While we will not see the visible presence of the LORD’S glory in a cloud in today’s sanctuaries, it is my prayer that we would be so conscious of the LORD in our worship that we cannot but reverence and glorify Him.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The LORD Deserves Nothing Less Than Our Best (1 Kings 7; 2 Chronicles 4)

Scripture Reading – 1 Kings 7; 2 Chronicles 4

Because his reign was one of peace, Solomon was able to dedicate himself to many construction projects.

While the Temple required seven years to build (6:38), Solomon’s palace was under construction for thirteen years, the details of which are given in 1 Kings 7:1-12. Some scholars refer to the “the house of the forest of Lebanon” as a summer house or lodge for the king; however, I have come to believe it was a great house that was part of the palace complex (7:2-8). I believe it was so named because of the great amount of cedar pillars that supported its roof.

We read that Solomon also built a house for his queen who was “Pharaoh’s daughter” (7:8). Again, I believe that the queen’s house was attached to the palace complex.

The attention turns from Solomon’s palace grounds and returns to the preparations for the Temple. A craftsman named Hiram, not the same Hiram who was king of Tyre, was enlisted to make intricate, elaborate pieces of brass, silver and gold for the Temple (7:13-51). Skilled as a metal artisan, he “was filled with wisdom, and understanding, and cunning to work all works in brass” (1 Kings 7:14).

The attention to detail and beauty is worth noting, even down to the utensils used in Temple sacrifices. Tables of gold, golden lampstands, basins of gold, and golden lavers engraved with lilies (2 Chronicles 4:5). Doors of brass and pillars engraved with wreaths and pomegranates (4:9, 12-13) all added to the beauty of the Temple.

Why such attention to detail? Because Solomon was building a house for the LORD, and it was an outward testimony of the greatness of His God (2 Chronicles 2:5-6).

I close with a similar challenge for today’s believer. Why should we expect the worship of the LORD in our churches to be the best that we can offer? Why should we strive to give him music of our praise that aspires to the highest offerings? Why should we give attention to the beauty of our places of worship?

Because the LORD deserves no less than our absolute best. Paul challenged the believers in Corinth:

1 Corinthians 10:31 – “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Temple: A Great House for a Great God (1 Kings 5-6; 2 Chronicles 2-3)

Scripture Reading – 1 Kings 5-6; 2 Chronicles 2-3

1 Kings 5

Fulfilling his father’s dream and honoring his legacy (5:2-4), Solomon set about acquiring the building materials necessary for constructing the Temple in Jerusalem (1 Kings 5).

Requesting the assistance of his father’s friend, Hiram king of Tyre, Solomon ordered cedars from Lebanon and requested skilled laborers “to hew timber” (5:6).  Hiram agreed to supply cedar and fir timbers for the Temple, floating them on the Mediterranean Sea to Joppa, a port designated by Solomon (5:7-10; 2 Chronicles 2:16).

In turn, Solomon contracted with Hiram to provide sustenance consisting of wheat and pure oil (5:11-12).  The size and scope of the Temple project is revealed in the tens of thousands of alien laborers that were employed in acquiring construction materials (5:13-18).

1 Kings 6

The date Solomon began construction on the Temple was revealed as 480 years after Israel’s exodus from Egypt (6:1).

Details of the exterior dimensions and size of the interior chambers are recorded (6:2-10). Assuming a cubit was 21 inches, the outside of the Temple was 90 feet high, 30 feet wide, and 45 feet high (6:2). On the front of the Temple was a porch described as 30 feet wide and 15 feet deep (6:3). The Temple had window openings allowing natural light to penetrate the interior of the Temple (6:4). There were also interior chambers or vestries for Temple utensils and the robes and dress rooms for the priests (6:5-6). The beams of the Temple rested on the walls of the building (6:6).

The skill of the laborers is revealed in that the large stones of the Temple were pre-cut away from the building site and no tool was to be used in the building that would disturb the peace and quiet of the place that would be a house of worship (6:7-10).

In the midst of the construction, the LORD renewed the covenant he had first established with David. God assured the young king that, if he would walk in His statutes and keep His commandments, He would fulfill all He had promised (6:11-12) and would dwell in the midst of Israel (6:13).

The “oracle” (6:19), the innermost sanctuary where the Ark of the Covenant was located (also known as the “Holy of Holies” or the “holy place”) was a perfect cube with dimensions that were 30 feet wide, 30 feet long, and 30 feet high (6:20). Concealed by a beautifully embroidered curtain, the oracle was a place of exquisite beauty with ceiling, floor, and walls paneled in cedar that was engraved and overlaid with a veneer of pure gold (6:15-30).

2 Chronicles 2-3 – A Record of the Temple for Babylonian Exiles

As a reminder, the Chronicles were written for those Jews who were exiled from Israel and living in Babylon. There are some additional details regarding the Temple that are offered here, but I particularly want to invite you to consider 2 Chronicles 2:4-6 where Solomon addressed the purpose of the Temple (2:4) and the greatness of the LORD (2:5-6).

For Israel, the Temple was the place of worship (2 Chronicles 2:5-6). The inner sanctuary where the Ark of the Covenant was located, was representative of the throne of God in the midst of His people.

How great is our God? Can a building made by men contain Him? Of course not!

2 Chronicles 2:5-6a5  And the house which I build is great: for great is our God above all gods. 6  But who is able to build him an house, seeing the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain him?”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Proverbs: An Introduction (Proverbs 1-3)

Scripture Reading – Proverbs 1-3

Continuing our study of the life and wisdom of King Solomon, our chronological reading of the Scriptures brings us to “The Proverbs of Solomon,” chapters 1-3.

To author a brief devotional commentary on three chapters of Proverbs is not just a daunting task, it is impossible. In fact, you will find six hundred individual devotional commentaries on my HeartofAShepherd.com website that I have written and hope to one day publish in an electronic book format for personal and group Bible studies.

Rather than attempt the impossible, allow me to share a few introductory thoughts that I hope will prove useful as you read and apply the Proverbs of Solomon to your life.

An Introduction

Solomon, the son of David, reigned as King of Israel in the 10th century B.C.   According to 1 Kings 4:32, the king authored “three thousand proverbs” and his wisdom was so widely hailed “there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all kings of the earth, which had heard of his wisdom” (1 Kings 4:34).  Cherished for their godly wisdom and divine inspiration, many of Solomon’s proverbs were collected and included in the canon of Old Testament Scriptures.

The book of Proverbs is King Solomon’s instructions to his son, a prince of Israel, who would one day be that nation’s king.  Inherent in its pages are teachings, admonitions, exhortations, and general guidelines for conducting one’s life in a wise, God-fearing manner.

What is a proverb?

Boyd’s Bible Dictionary defines a proverb as a “wise utterance.”  Brown-Driver-Biggs Hebrew-English Lexicon describes a proverb as a “brief terse sentence of popular sagacity.”  Webster’s 1913 Unabridged English Dictionary states a proverb is “an old common saying; a phrase which is often repeated; especially, a sentence which briefly and forcibly expresses some practical truth.”

Proverbs are, in essence, trite sayings, rules, and common truths.  Some make the mistake of selectively choosing and applying individual proverbs as though they are universal promises when they are, in fact, simply stated principles that are general statements of truth (one such proverb oft quoted, but misapplied as an unassailable promise is Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it”).

Solomon’s proverbs often draw upon the agrarian culture of his day and are sometimes simple enough a child might grasp its meaning with little or no explanation.  Some proverbs are provocative in nature, the musings of a king all too aware of the temptations of the palace and the godless character of miscreants who haunted its courts in pursuit of lusts and carnal pleasures.

Like a loving father, twenty-three times the king arrests the attention of the young prince addressing him as “my son”.  With the fervor of a passionate preacher, Solomon’s proverbs “reprove, rebuke, and exhort” (2 Timothy 4:2), sparing no words when describing the way of a fool and admonishing the tragic end of all who follow his path.

With pen in hand, I encourage you to take up your Bible and read Proverbs 1-3, underlining and noting in the margins the practical truths and their application to your life.

With the heart of a shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

I’ve Got Happiness! How ‘bout You? (Psalms 111-118)

Scripture Reading – Psalms 111-118

Today’s Scripture reading entails eight glorious chapters in the Book of Psalms; however, I will limit this devotional commentary to Psalm 111 and Psalm 112.

Psalm 111 – Getting Wisdom

Three of today’s psalms begin with the same theme and call to worship: “Praise ye the LORD”(Psalms 111:1; 112:1; 113:1).

In essence, “Praise ye the LORD” is an expression of thanksgiving that boasts in the LORD Who is the Eternal, Self-existent God of creation. The psalmist asserts he will “Praise the LORD” with his “whole heart” – his mind, thoughts, and understanding undivided and focused on Him (111:1).

His praise and thanksgiving will be declared not only in the midst of those who are numbered among the “upright” (meaning those who obey the LORD’S Law and Commandments), but also in the midst of all the people (“the congregation” – 111:1).

In what will the psalmist praise the LORD? His meditations are on His works, the wonder and expanse of His creation (111:2) and “His righteousness”— for He is just, and “is gracious and full of compassion” (111:4b).

Believer, do you want to be numbered among the wise? Do you desire to be a man or woman of discernment and understanding? Remember this principle:

Psalm 111:10 – The fear [reverence; awe that begets righteous behavior] of the LORD is the beginning [is fundamental; foundational; most important thing] of wisdom: a good understanding [discretion; ] have all they that do [make; perform] his commandments: his praise [giving thanks] endureth [stands; is established] for ever [eternity].

Psalm 112 – Four Qualities of a “Blessed” Man

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).

Notice there are four essential characteristics 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).

A man is happy and blessed because he recognizes he is the object of God’s grace (i.e. unmerited favor). 

Why is he the object of God’s grace?  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 that righteous man’s life magnifies his influence (112:2) and blessed state (should his children follow his righteous path).

Secondly, a man is happy and “blessed” when he is “upright,” meaning just, righteous, a man who fears and reveres the LORD (112:4). 

God’s people are not spared from dark days, for they too suffer sickness, death of loved ones, disappointments, betrayals and broken promises. The righteous, however, have an assurance: “there ariseth light in the darkness” (112:4a).  David observed the same, writing, “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Psalm 30:5).

Believers are not spared dark days; however, they are assured the light of the LORD will pierce the darkness. What a precious promise! When we find we are “in the darkness,” the LORD promises He is “gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous” (112:4b).

Another quality of a “Happy” man is that he is a “good man” (112:5). 

We notice four traits evidenced in a “good” man’s character (112:5-6).

He is gracious in his demeanor (pleasant and pleasing – 112:5a). He is generous (he lendeth to those in need – 112:5b). He exercises “good sense,” guiding “his affairs with discretion” (112:5). He is well “grounded,” for a good man “shall not be moved for ever” (112:6a).

Lastly, a “Happy” man is “righteous” (112:7-9). 

We find three qualities of this righteous man in verses 7-9. He is fearless, “he shall not be afraid of evil tidings” (112:7a), for he has a settled confidence in the LORD.  His heart is firm, “fixed, trusting in the LORD” (112:7b), and “shall not be afraid” (112:8b). He is freehearted, generous and giving to the poor (112:9). A righteous man is not a hoarder of riches, but a steward of God’s blessings and a conduit for ministering to those in need.

I conclude today’s devotional inviting you to take note of the wicked man’s response to the Happy man who is Blessed, Upright, Good and Righteous:

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

Envy! The joy and happiness of the righteous is a grief, a sorrow to the wicked who grind their teeth like rabid dogs and “melt away,” defeated and consumed by their envy (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 2020 – Travis D. Smith

God Broke the Mold When He Made You! (Psalms 131, 138-139, 143-145)

YOU ARE UNIQUE ! message on the card shown by a man hand, vintage tone

Scripture Reading – Psalms 131, 138-139, 143-145

Today’s Scripture reading consists of six Psalms; however, this devotional commentary will limit its focus to Psalm 139.

Charles Darwin, the 19th century English naturalist, was a geologist and biologist by training. Called by many, the Father of Evolution, Darwin attained world-wide fame when he published his book, Origin of the Species (1859).

Though many (if not the majority) of his suppositions on the Theory of Evolution have been disproven and rejected by credible scientists, nevertheless evolution has continued to be taught in secular education as the explanation for life and the physical universe. The delusion of evolution has wreaked havoc in our world and has infected not only our outlook on life, but also the value we place on life itself.

Consider this statement: What you believe concerning the origin of life will dictate the answers to fundamental questions on life itself: “Who am I? Where did I come from? Why am I here? How should I live? Where am I going?”

Psalm 139 is not only David’s declaration of his belief in His Creator, but also his revelation concerning God’s attributes.

God is Omniscient and knows all that is in your heart (Psalm 139:1-6).

He knows your fears, longing, thoughts, and desires (139:1a).  There is nothing you can hide from God.  He knows all about you (139:2).  He knows everything you think in secret and everything you say in public (139:2b).  He savors the noble and excellent qualities of your life (139:3-6).

God is Omnipresent (Psalm 139:7-12).  He abides in every part and place of His creation and there is no place where God is not present (139:7-8).

Psalm 139:7-8 “Whither shall I go [walk; come; ] from thy spirit [God’s Spirit]? or whither shall I flee [i.e. be put to flight] from thy presence [face; countenance]? 8  If I ascend up [go up] into heaven [i.e. Heavens..the sky above; stars and planets], thou art there: if I make my bed in hell [Sheol; grave; pit; place of the souls of the dead], behold, thou art there.”

Knowing the LORD is omnipresent, you can be confident you are never beyond His protection, love, and compassion (139:9-10).  You can take flight, but you are never beyond His grasp.

Psalm 139:9-10  – “If I take [depart; carried away] the wings of the morning [dawn; first beams of morning light], and dwell [abide; remain; inhabit] in the uttermost parts [end; last] of the sea; 10  Even there [flight as fast as light or the depths of the sea] shall thy hand [power] lead [guide; bring] me, and thy right hand [i.e. considered to be the stronger side] shall hold [take hold; possess; handle; grasp] me.”

When the darkest hour of life is upon you, the light of the Lord is with you (139:11-12).

Psalm 139:11-12 – “If I say [speak], Surely the darkness [i.e. misery] shall cover [bruise; break; overwhelm] me; even the night shall be light [day; light] about me. 12  Yea, the darkness [i.e. misery] hideth [obscures] not from thee; but the night shineth [shines; enlightens; gives light]  as the day: the darkness [i.e. misery] and the light [luminous light] are both alike to thee.”

God is your Originator… your Creator, Designer and Architect (Psalm 139:13-16). He has Sovereignly determined your uniqueness. (139:13)

Psalm 139:13  For thou hast possessed [get; acquire] my reins [lit. kidneys; figuratively the mind; soul, seat of my desire and affections]: thou hast covered [knit; weave] me in my mother’s womb [belly; bosom; body].

He has impressed on man’s soul a consciousness of his Creator’s hand and design. (139:14)

Psalm 139:14-15 – “I will praise [give thanks; confess God in public] thee; for I am fearfully [amazingly; stand in awe or reverence] and wonderfully made [distinguish; uniquely; set apart]: marvellous [wonderful; extraordinary; surpassing] are thy works [labor; i.e. needlework; deeds]; and that my soul [life; person; being] knoweth [perceives; observes] right well [exceedingly; greatly]. 15  My substance [strength; physical frame; bones and being] was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret [mother’s womb], and curiously wrought[woven as a tapestry] in the lowest parts of the earth [out of human sight].

From the moment of your conception, your person and days were determined (139:16).

Psalm 139:16Thine eyes did see [perceive; look; behold] my substance [body; frame; bones], yet beingunperfect [embryo; unformed mass in mother’s womb]; and in thy book [letter; scroll] all my members were written [described; lit. – all the days of my life were ordained], which in continuance [day; time; continually] were fashioned [formed, as a potter; to mold], when as yet there was none [i.e. not the first] of them [before one day of my life was past].”

My friend, you are special, unique, and one of a kind; there is no one like you. Modern science has proven just how unique you are.  Your ears are geometrically unique as is your body odor (secreting a combination of 44 compounds).  Your fingerprints and fingernails are unique with loops and swirls forming patterns unique to you.  Even the pores of your nose form a pattern like no other.

He created you as a free will agent. You are not a robot and every person has the privilege and responsibility of choice, individual actions, thought and will.

Romans 1:20 – “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Those Who Minister Before the LORD in Music (1 Chronicles 23-25)

Scripture Reading – 1 Chronicles 23-25

The opening verses of 1 Chronicles 23 remind us that David is an old man and is setting both his house and kingdom in order. David has reigned 40 years (1 Chronicles 26:31) and has “made Solomon his son king over Israel” (23:1).

Today’s Scripture reading registers the king’s charge to organize the Levite families who will lead the worship of the LORD.  I invite you to especially notice the prominence of music, musicians, and song in today’s Scripture reading.

1 Chronicles 23 – A Census of the Tribe of Levi

The census of Levi found there were 38,000 heads of house who were thirty years and older (23:3). The organization of the men of Levite is stated by their employment: 24,000 men to assist the priests; 6,000 to serve as “officers and judges,” 4,000 who were porters or keepers of the doors, and another 4,000 men who were musicians and called to praise the LORD with “the instruments” (which David had apparently supplied – 23:4).

1 Chronicles 24 – The Aaronic Priesthood

Twenty-four classes of priests are identified in chapter 24.

1 Chronicles 25 – Twenty-four Orders of Levite Musicians

David was intimately involved in the music of the Tabernacle and the organization for the music ministry in the Temple. As both a poet and musician, the king realized the important role music would have in worshipping the LORD.

David appointed the sons of Asaph to serve in the ministry of music (25:1). Of Asaph’s sons, one named Heman stands out not only as a chief musician, but the father of eleven sons (25:4) who were powerful in song and instruments (25:5-6).

In addition to musicians who were skilled in their instruments, we find another two hundred eighty-eight men described as “cunning,” skilled singers who were trained and instructed “in the songs of the LORD” (25:7).

Godly character and musicianship are essential traits for those who minister in music before the LORD and His people.

Heman, the father of eleven sons who were gifted musicians (25:4-6), had one quality we dare not overlook: He was “the king’s seer in the words of God to lift up the horn” [the “horn” being a symbol of power and authority] ().

Heman was a man of God and served the king as the voice and prophet of the LORD (25:5).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Hillsdale’s Sunday Memorial Day Weekend Service: “The Guidance, Protection, and Loving Care of My Shepherd”

You are invited to Hillsdale’s Sunday Memorial Day Weekend Service, this Sunday, May 24, 2020.

9:45 AM Service – Youth Pastor Justin Jarrett will speak in the Teen\Family Bible Study as he continues his series in the Book of James. This week’s study is titled, Taming Our Twisted Tongues from James 3:1-12. (Please note the entrance doors to the building will open at 9:40 AM and will be closed at 9:50 AM. Per guidelines, please go directly to the auditorium.)
10:30 AM Service – Our Memorial Day worship service will begin promptly and doors to our building will reopen at 10:15 AM and be closed at 10:45 AM. The service will open with a video tribute to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation and be followed by the pastoral staff singing the Navy Hymn, “Eternal Father, Strong to Save.”
Pastor Smith will be continuing his “Coronavirus Series” from Psalm 23. The focus this week is Psalm 23:4, “The Guidance, Protection, and Loving Care of My Shepherd.”
The following is an excerpt from this Sunday’s bulletin: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)

Anglo/Irish author, statesman and orator, Edmund Burke, is credited with many of my favorite political and philosophical quotes. Burke’s observation regarding the “triumph of evil” when “good men do nothing” is cited with various wordings; however, the essence of his quote is that:

When good men are silent and do nothing; evil men will triumph in the moral, spiritual and political arenas.

I fear that day has come upon us, our nation, and our world. The wicked champion egregious sins and depravity marches in the streets under banners that assert freedom at the sacrifice of lives, individual liberty and happiness.

British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain is credited with a “do nothing” peace agreement that he signed with Adolf Hitler in 1938. Chamberlain returned to England and announced that he had negotiated with Hitler an agreement that would give all Europe, “Peace with honour…Peace for our time.” One year later, Germany’s army invaded Poland and plunged Europe, and eventually the world into World War II and a conflict that would take the lives of 85 million people, including 6 million Jews.

This Memorial weekend we take time to honor those men and women who did not stand by in silence when our nation went to war. Soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines refused to be numbered among the “do nothing” crowd that was so quick to dismiss their honor, and criticize those who made a difference, often at the sacrifice of their youth and their lives.

Warning: While “We the People” choose to “do nothing,” America continues to decline morally, spiritually, and politically. When evil is emboldened, freedom erodes. In the words of the 19th century French philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville:

America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” 

With love and the heart of a shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

Senior Pastor

www.HeartofAShepherd.com

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Memorial Day Sunday Service, May 24, 2020, 10:30 AM

You are invited to join us for Hillsdale’s Memorial Day Sunday services, this Sunday, May 24.

Hillsdale will be holding our third public service since the Coronavirus Crisis began. We are also broadcasting live online at www.HillsdaleBaptist.org and on Hillsdale’s Facebook Page.

Teen\Family Bible Study: Youth Pastor Justin Jarrett will be continuing his Bible Study Series in the Book of James at 9:45 AM. The doors to our building will open briefly at 9:40 for those who will be joining us for the Bible Study.

The Memorial Day Sunday 10:30 AM service will open with a brief video tribute dedicated to our nation’s heroes who paid the ultimate sacrifice to secure our freedoms.

The pastoral staff is dedicating this week’s special number to all who served and are serving our nation. We will be singing the haunting, but beautiful Navy Hymn, Eternal Father, Strong to Save.”

Pastor Smith will be continuing his “Coronavirus Series” from Psalm 23. This week’s message is taken from Psalm 23:4 and is titled, “The Guidance, Protection, and Loving Care of My Shepherd.” 

Guidelines for Those Attending Hillsdale’s Public Worship Services: Guests and members are welcome and we ask you to understand the extraordinary precautions we are taking.

The doors to our building will open at 10:15 AM for those attending the 10:30 AM Worship service. For the comfort and safety of all in attendance, you are to proceed immediately to the auditorium, sit with your family, and put a safe distance between you and others. You will find every second pew roped off to ensure a safe space between yourself and others in attendance. Physical contact (handshaking, etc.) is discouraged. Avoiding passing offering plates, tithes and offerings can be given as you enter and exit the auditorium.

With the heart of a shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“You Call that Worship Music?” (Psalms 95, 97-99)

Scripture Reading – Psalms 95, 97-99

Our Scripture reading for today is four psalms of praise. Though the author of the psalms is not identified, most scholars assign them to David because of their style and content. We know David authored Psalm 95 because the writer of Hebrews quoted the psalm and identified the king as its author (Hebrews 4:7).

Today’s psalms are too rich for one devotional commentary to adequately address them all; therefore. I will limit this devotion to Psalm 98.

Psalm 98 – “Sing Unto the LORD a New Song”

Like Psalm 97, I believe the theme of Psalm 98 is the Second Coming of Christ. Hymnwriter and preacher Isaac Watts, cited Psalm 98 as the inspiration of his hymn, “Joy to the World.” Although most often sung as a celebration of Christ’s birth, “Joy to the World” is in fact a celebration of Christ’s Second Coming.

Psalm 98 is an invitation to worship the LORD in song, rejoicing in His salvation and righteousness (98:2). Let us consider the instructions in worship music we find in this psalm as a basis for judging the music style your church has implemented in its worship services.

We find that Psalm 98 consists of three stanzas, each three verses in length. The first is a call for Israel to worship and rejoice in the LORD (98:1-3). The psalmist writes,

Psalm 98:1 – O sing unto the LORD a new song; for he hath done marvellous things: his right hand, and his holy arm, hath gotten him the victory.

What is this “new song?” (98:1-3)

It is a victory song, for the LORD through His strength and power had given His chosen people salvation (98:1-2a). It is a song of redemption and praise for God’s grace (98:2b). It is a song praising the LORD for His faithfulness for He had not forgotten Israel.

Do you realize of all ancient people, the Jews are the only identifiable people from ancient times? The smallest, most insignificant people in all the earth have been preserved by the LORD.

The second stanza calls upon all nations of the earth to worship the LORD (98:4-6).

As one who loves music, and in particular congregational singing and choral anthems, notice with me that singing and playing on instruments was an essential part of worshipping the LORD.

The musicians who ministered in the Temple were trained, skilled, and dedicated musicians. The sound of their voices and instruments was not noise, but an energetic expression in music and song. The literal meaning of “noise” in vss. 4 and 6 is a “shout” or cry or triumph.

The music of the Tabernacle and Temple was never meant to entertain the masses or the congregation. The focus of worship music was the LORD, and His holiness was reflected in both words and music. The singers and musicians did not perform for the applause of the people. Singers were accompanied by string instruments (the harp, vs. 5) and wind instruments (trumpets and coronet, vs. 6). The focus of worship was “the LORD, the King” (98:6).

The final stanza in Psalm 98 calls on all Creation to worship the LORD (98:7-9).

All creation will rejoice (95:7-8) and be freed from the curse of sin when the LORD comes to set up His millennial kingdom. Romans 8:18-25 reveals the devastating effect of man’s sin on creation. Creation awaits its deliverance from the curse of sin (Romans 8:19), but will be delivered “from the bondage of corruption” (Romans 8:21) when the LORD comes again.

Hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and yes, pandemics remind us that “creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together” (Romans 8:22) until the LORD comes to set up His earthly kingdom. He will right the wrongs for He is “to judge the earth” and will judge the earth in His righteousness (98:9).

An Observation

The Book of Psalms is a compilation of songs of praise and worship that was employed in daily worship in the Temple. While nothing took the primacy of reading and teaching God’s Word, the centrality of instrumental music and song is obvious throughout the Psalms and in other passages of Scripture in the Bible (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16-17).

Sadly, I fear today’s church has taken the command, “Make a joyful noise unto the LORD…make a loud noise” literally and not figuratively. While the priests and Levites were dedicated and consecrated to serve the LORD and lead God’s people in earnest worship, today’s “hip-worship leaders” evidence a greater affinity for the world than the holiness of God. Employing every music genre of the 21st century world, the church’s attempt to satisfy the palate of carnal Christians and a secular culture’s demand for entertainment has come at the sacrifice of sincere worship.

Challenge: – Make Colossians 3:16-17 the standard for your worship music.

Colossians 3:16-1716  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17  And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith