Category Archives: Church

“Are You a Child of the King?” (Psalm 15)

* Today’s devotional reading is Genesis 37-38, Psalm 15, and Matthew 15. Our devotional reading is from Psalm 15.

Psalm 15 opens with David pondering and meditating on two questions that have eternal significance:

Psalm 15:1 – LORD, who shall abide [sojourn; dwell temporarily] in thy tabernacle [tent; home]? who shall dwell [lodge; remain] in thy holy [sanctuary; sacred place; sanctified] hill?

Stated another way, LORD, what is the character of people who have citizenship in your holy place?  What manner of people do you favor to lodge in your presence?

Psalm 15:2-5 depicts the character and manner of God’s spiritual children.

The saints of God are people of integrity (Psalm 15:2). They are honest and trustworthy in their conduct and sincere in their words.

Psalm 15:2 2  He that walketh [travels; behave] uprightly [blameless; with integrity], and worketh [do; commit; act] righteousness [just; morally upright], and speaketh [say; talk; promise; declare] the truth [right; faithful] in his heart [mind; understanding].

The citizens of heaven are not slanderers in word, mean-spirited in actions, or vengeful in spirit (Psalm 15:3).

Psalm 15:3 He that backbiteth [talebearer; slanders] not with his tongue, nor doeth [wrought; commit] evil [sin; wickedness]to his neighbour [friend; companion], nor taketh up [bear; carry] a reproach [shame; disgrace; rebuke; contempt]against his neighbour [lit. near; nearest kinsman].

The children of God find the sins of the wicked loathsome (15:4a).  They love the company of the righteous (15:4b) and are faithful to their vows and promises even at personal sacrifice (Psalm 15:4c).

Psalm 15:4 – In whose eyes [sight] a vile person [loathsome; reprobate] is contemned [despised; scorn; disdained]; but he honoureth [glorify] them that fear [revere]the LORD. He that sweareth [charge; take an oath; curse] to his own hurt [evil; affliction; bad], and changeth not [i.e. does not vacillate].

The citizens of heaven do not take advantage of the less fortunate by charging excessive interest or adding to their debt more than they can afford (15:5a).  They are known for their honesty and are not swayed from justice by bribes and enticements (15:5b).

Psalm 15:5–  He that putteth not out [give; deliver; give] his money [silver] to usury [interest; i.e. indebtedness], nor taketh [accept; seize; take away] reward [bribe; gift] against the innocent [guiltless]. He that doeth [make; perform; do] these things shall never be moved [waver; fall; slide; slip].

David concludes the exposition of the character and manner of people who will dwell with the LORD, promising “he that doeth these things shall never be moved” (15:5c).

What about you, my friend?  Are you a citizen of heaven? Are the spiritual characteristics and good, honest works of a child of God evident in your life?

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

Is “The Gospel” All That Matters?

Author’s Note: The following is a brief reply to articles recently published by Lou Martuneac on his website, In Defense of the Gospel. Lou is a faithful friend and encourager to this pastor.

I have heard for a decade or more a renewed emphasis on “The Gospel” that had to my ears and understanding a different “ring”, an uncertain, albeit “new” sound.  The proponents of “The Gospel” were younger and in subtle ways, implied at least tacitly, the older generation had lost its way and drifted from preaching the simple, sincere message of the Gospel.

I discerned something was different.  Of course, fundamental pastors do not want their passion for the Gospel questioned no more than we want to diminish a younger pastor or evangelist’s passion for preaching and sharing the Gospel.

Enough time has passed for my fears and concerns about “The Gospel” to come to fruition. “The Gospel is all that matters” is publicly stated by the new generation of “fundamentalists”, many of whom are branding as “progressives”, but their philosophy is unquestionably that of the Neo-Evangelicals of my generation.

“The New Gospel” is, in my estimation, a message I describe as “Lawless Grace”.  The preachers of “The New Gospel” shy from preaching the Law and Commandments (a pattern Andy Stanley is following in the Southern Baptist denomination), emphasizing a Liberty less the call to holiness, sanctification, and a life that is a “living sacrifice”.

Preaching “The Gospel”, but failing to teach the whole counsel of God, has desensitized the souls of a generation who profess Christ as Savior, believe salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone, but are insensitive to their own sins, “for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20).

Travis D. Smith

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

Like a Father, the LORD Loves the Righteous (Psalm 11)

Today’s Bible reading is Genesis 29-30, Psalm 11, and Matthew 11. Today’s devotional is from Psalm 11.

We are uncertain of the historical context of Psalm 11; however, we know king David was facing the threats of an enemy and weighing the counsel of advisers who urged him to flee.

There are times retreat from confrontation is a wise choice.  David fled from the presence of Saul when the king attacked him. David fled Jerusalem after his son Absalom stole the people’s affections and led an insurrection against the king.  However, as we learn in our study of Psalm 11, there are times we face adversaries and the LORD would have us stand fast and trust Him.

We do not know if the foe David faced was within or without his kingdom; however, the threat was significant and the king’s counselors advised him to flee (11:1b-2).  David answered his frightened counselors,

Psalm 11:1 – “In the LORD put I my trust [confide; flee for protection; make refuge]: how say [speak; command] ye to my soul [life; person; mind], Flee [disappear; remove] as a bird to your mountain?

The counselors answered their king, reminding him the plot of the wicked was to destroy the just and upright (11:2) and as king, he was the moral pillar, the foundation of the nation (11:3).

Psalm 11:2-3 – “For, lo, the wicked  [ungodly; immoral; guilty] bend their bow, they make ready [prepare; set up; fix] their arrow upon the string, that they may privily [secretly] shoot at the upright [right; just; righteous] in heart [mind].  3 If the foundations [purpose; support; moral pillars] be destroyed [thrown down; broken in pieces], what can the righteous [just] do?”

David’s counselors reasoned, not only was his life at risk, but so also were the lives of the people and the future of the nation (11:3b).  In other words, what will become of the righteous should the king fall?

We find David’s response in Psalm 11:4-7.

Psalm 11:4-5 – “The LORD is in his holy [sacred; hallowed] temple, the LORD’S throne [seat] is in heaven: his eyes behold [perceive; look; gaze], his eyelids try [examine; prove], the children of men. 5 The LORD trieth [proves; examines] the righteous [just; law-abiding]: but the wicked [ungodly; immoral; guilty] and him that loveth violence [injustice] his soul hateth [as a foe].”

What a great reminder…regardless the threats of an enemy or his demands we compromise our integrity, the LORD has not abdicated the throne of heaven and He is Just!  The ways of the righteous will not go unrewarded and the ways of the wicked will surely be punished!

Our devotion ends with the assurance, “the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright.”(Psalm 11:7)

What a great thought!  The righteous are the objects of the LORD’s love!  Like a father looks adoringly at his children, the LORD looks upon the righteous.

My friend, perhaps there is an enemy that haunts your life with threats, maligning gossip, or with disapproving gazes.  Take confidence in this…the LORD loves the righteous and He is just. Trust the LORD!

Isaiah 40:31 – “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

To God Be the Glory!

* The following letter is from Hillsdale’s bulletin this Sunday, January 13, 2019.

Welcome to Hillsdale!

I anticipate with JOY our church family being together this Sunday after a month of interruptions and holiday travels!  December is a month of celebration and holds loving memories of childhood for most; however, how blessed we are to celebrate a New Year and the possibilities of a new beginning!  The past is behind us and the slate for 2019 is open before us.

Dr. Michael and Sheri Privett

I continue my new series in the Epistle to the Philippians this Sunday morning and look forward to challenging you with Paul’s contagious JOY and example of “Abounding Love: One Spirit, One Mind, and One Passion”(Philippians 1).   Dr. Michael Privett and his wife Sheri will minister to us in our 6:00pm service.  Dr. Privett was formerly the Director of Church Planting with Gospel Fellowship Missions and is dedicated to training national pastors around the world. [Note – Children’s Choir will meet this evening and throughout the year with few interruptions].

Hillsdale’s Winter\Spring Semester Classes

New Bible study classes begin this Wednesday and I urge you to make a fresh start this New Year. Join us for Dinner (served each Wednesday, 5:00-6:00pm) and choose from a wide variety of new classes. Dr. Ted Martens is teaching a new Bible Institute class that is a study of the Church in the Book of Acts.  Pastor Barber and Linda are teaching and leading a practical class series on Evangelism and Encouragement (a “How to” course).  Mrs. Pat Youstra is leading a Ladies’ Class and a study of Bible Characters through their prayers. Travis and Tanya Henry begin a new parenting class titled “Character Matters”.  Classes begin at 6:30pm.

Pastoral Staff, circa 1983 (Youth Pastor Travis Smith, Senior Pastor Blaine Farley, School Principal Jim Webster)

To God Be the Glory!

Sheilah and I celebrate 40 years in ministry this Sunday.  January 1979, fresh out of Bible College, we arrived at the First Baptist Church of Sterling Heights, MI where we labored under the founding pastor of that ministry, Dr. Blaine Farley. For nearly seven years, God blessed our work as Youth and Music Pastor.  We saw the youth ministry grow from 20 to over 50 teens and at one time had twenty enrolled in Bible colleges.

Dr. Alan Bradshaw

Through circumstances and a providential phone call from Dr. Alan Bradshaw, we came to come to Hillsdale October 1, 1985 and spent the next ten years as the Youth Pastor before Pastor Bradshaw’s sudden home going on June 21, 1995.  As some might say, “the rest is history”.  As Sheilah and I celebrate God’s faithfulness, we are indebted to your love and patience with us through the years.

With the heart of a shepherd,

Travis D. Smith

Senior Pastor

pastorsmith@hillsdalebaptist.org

www.HeartofAShepherd.com

“He saw the multitudes [and] was moved with compassion on them” (Matthew 9:36-38)

Today’s Bible reading assignment is Genesis 21-22, Psalm 9, and Matthew 9.  Today’s devotion is taking from the Gospel of Matthew 9.

Matthew 9 gives us a beautiful portrait of Christ’s compassion for the physical suffering and hurting of His day.  Among the objects of His compassion was a paralyzed man “sick of the palsy” (9:2-7), a leader’s daughter raised from the dead (9:18-19, 23-25), a woman healed from “an issue of blood” (9:20-22), two blind men given sight (9:27-30), a man delivered from a demon (9:32-33), and the healing of “every sickness and every disease among the people” (9:35).

What an extraordinary record of compassion and miracles!  To almost overstate the obvious, we read, “But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them” (9:36a).

What a compassionate Savior!  Men’s afflictions moved Jesus; however, His compassion also plunged to the depths of men’s souls who “fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd” (Matthew 9:36b).  What lessons might a believer take from Jesus’ extraordinary example of compassion?

Christlike compassion is deeper and broader than empathy.  Cultural icons and American institutions frequently make hit and run “feel good” gestures in the name of charity.  Stars and athletes drop a few coins in a kettle, establish a “Go Fund Me” account, pledge money to a good cause, and hold a Money-thon for an emergency; however, when the popularity of the cause has waned, the hurting are forgotten.

Christlike compassion is deeply invested in the well-being of men’s souls. Author William Barclay observes the compassion Jesus expressed was “no ordinary pity or compassion, but an emotion which moves a man to the very depths of his being.”  (N.T. Words; Philadelphia: The Westminister Press, 1964), p. 276.

What moved Jesus with compassion in Matthew 9:36?  The spiritual condition of the people moved Him.  He observed they “fainted”, tired of pursuits that left them spiritually and emotionally wanting. They were like sheep, “scattered abroad…having no shepherd”.

Knowing, “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few” (Matthew 9:37), moved Jesus with compassion.  Harvest speaks of judgment when the sickle is employed to cut grain (Isaiah 17:11; Joel 3:9, 13; Revelation 14:14).   When the harvest comes, good grain is separated and stored, but bad grain is gathered and burned (Matthew 13:24-30).

We should be moved to compassion knowing the harvest and judgment of men’s souls.  Lost sinners are dying everyday without the  Shepherd.

What would Jesus have us do?

Matthew 9:38– “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.”

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

One Hundred Eighty Six (186) Nations and Counting…

“From the Heart of a Shepherd” began 6 years ago as this pastor’s desire to encourage his church family to read and study God’s Word.  In spite of my nominal presence in 2018, 186 nations are represented in http://www.HeartofAShepherd readership.

After a one-year respite in 2018, I have renewed my commitment to write daily devotions for my Hillsdale church family and others I count as friends.

That God would take a self-described Country Parson and give him the privilege of an international opportunity to touch lives is humbling.  Thank you for joining me on this journey through God’s Word.

With the heart of a shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

Warning: None are Too Great to Fail (Genesis 9-10)

Today’s scripture reading is Genesis 9-10, Psalm 5, and Matthew 5.  Genesis 9 is the focus of today’s devotional.

Accepting Noah’s sacrifice, God set a rainbow in the sky, a symbol of His covenant with man to never again destroy the earth with universal floodwaters (Genesis 9:11-13).

Noah became a farmer after the flood and planted a vineyard (Genesis 9:20), contenting himself with the fruit of his labor.  Sadly, we are soon reminded the best of men are sinners.  The juice made from the grapes of Noah’s vineyard fermented and he became drunk.  Unconscious of his drunken condition, Noah exposed himself and Ham “saw [i.e. a mocking, scornful gaze] the nakedness of his father” (Genesis 9:22).

Awakening from his drunken stupor, Ham’s scorn enraged Noah who cursed his son with a prophecy that has shadowed his lineage… “a servant of servants shall he [Ham and his lineage] be unto his brethren [the descendants of Shen and Japheth] (Genesis 9:26-27).

Many have observed a man’s flaws are oft exposed in the wake of his greatest victory.  In Noah’s case, that observation proves true.  Before the flood, he was a man who “walked with God”; a faithful preacher and servant of God.  After the flood, he let down his guard and became drunk with wine.

We might conjecture Noah’s physical strength was failing, for he was an elderly man.  Perhaps his wife had died and his sons, occupied with tending their lands and raising their families, left Noah a lonely man.  Whatever the reason, Noah marked his last days with a moral failure and the sorrow of a son who held him in contempt.

We find a lesson and a warning here for all, but especially those who have guarded their testimonies and served the LORD faithfully.

  • Noah lived an unblemished life, but one moral lapse in judgment forever affected his testimony.
  • The greatest of men are not above temptation (Genesis 9:21). Noah’s drunkenness was a spiritual and moral failure that damaged his relationship with his sons.
  • A man’s moral vulnerability is often exposed at the pinnacle of his achievements. Samson withstood the assault of thousands of Philistines, only to fall morally under the spell of one woman, Delilah.  King David was at the height of his power and popularity, when he spied Bathsheba bathing and committed adultery.  Noah, his name and reputation synonymous with God’s grace and judgment, goes to his grave remembered for his drunkenness.

1 Corinthians 10:12– Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. 

 Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith