Category Archives: Church

The Joy of Brotherly Love (Psalm 133)

Scripture Reading – Psalm 133

I am unsure why today’s scripture reading assignment consists of only one brief Psalm; however, it is poetic, beautiful, and inspiring.

Psalm 133 is ascribed to David as “A Song of Degrees” (the same inscription found in Psalms 120-134). Scholars suggest the “degrees” referred to the ascension of pilgrims coming up to Jerusalem for one of the Hebrew festivals. The same scholars surmise the psalms were sung by believers making their pilgrimage to the Tabernacle in David’s time, and later to the Temple after its construction during Solomon’s reign.

I am of a different opinion. Understanding the psalms were songs of worship led by the priests and Levites in the Temple, I believe the psalms inscribed as “A Song of Degrees” were sung by the priests as they ascended the steps of the Temple Mount to offer sacrifices and entered the Temple to worship the LORD.

Without any more adorning on my part, consider the beauty of this psalm as a celebration of the joy of brotherly love and unity among God’s people.

Psalm 133:1 – Behold, how good [precious; pleasing] and how pleasant [sweet; charming; delightful] it is for brethren [of kindred spirit] to dwell together [alike; altogether] in unity [togetherness]!

We are by nature beings who long for fellowship, and when that fellowship is sweetened with the joy of unity and mutual love for the LORD, there is nothing sweeter.

What is the nature of this love that bonds and unites the hearts of believers?

Psalm 133:22  It is like the precious [pleasing] ointment [oil; i.e. olive oil often perfumed] upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments [the robes worn by the high priest];

Brotherly love is an abundant love, an overflowing love like the anointing oil that ran from Aaron’s head, down his beard, and over his garments. Like the sweet scent the high priest carried on his beard and robes, so is the lingering sweet fragrance of brotherly love and fellowship.

Psalm 133:33  As the dew of Hermon [a mountain north of Israel], and as the dew that descended [come down] upon the mountains of Zion [upon which the city of Jerusalem was built]: for there the LORD commanded[put in order; charged] the blessing, even life [living] for evermore [everlasting].

Like the perpetual dew that shrouded Mt. Hermon (its moisture was carried down by the winds to the arid mountains of Zion), brotherly love and unity is the blessing the LORD sends down upon His people. Brotherly love is an enduring, constant, self-sacrificing love.

The mark of a sincere believer is expressed in not only his love for God, but also his love for the brethren: “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another”(John 13:35).

What sorrow when brotherly love and unity is lost.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Lonely? Despairing? The LORD is Waiting! (Psalms 102-104)

Scripture Reading – Psalms 102-104

Our scripture reading today consists of three psalms: Psalm 102, Psalm 103, and Psalm 104. Each psalm is in its own right an incredibly beautiful song of praise and worship of the LORD as Sovereign, Creator, Sustainer, and universal Ruler. Knowing the trying and troubling times we are in, today’s devotional commentary will focus on Psalm 102.

Psalm 102 – The Prayer of the Afflicted

Psalm 102 is a song of lamentation not only on a personal scale, but also as a nation. The psalmist cried out to the LORD to hear his prayer, and receive it with sympathy and compassion (102:1). Though the author is anonymous, believers can readily identify with his cry, “I am in trouble,” and with urgency, “answer me speedily” (102:2).

In a series of vignettes (portraits), the psalmist painted for us the sorrows and afflictions of a man who had experienced the spiritual, physical, and emotional toll sin had taken on his life and nation.  He observed, his days were like a puff of smoke and his body like cold ashes in a hearth (102:3).  Like grass withering in the midday sun, his heart was dried up, and he had no appetite (102:4).  His flesh was gaunt and wasted, and his appearance like a dead man walking (102:5).

A series of miniature portraits reveal his solemn anguish, as he compares his sorrows to that of birds in their habitat. “Like a pelican of the wilderness” (known for its solitude), an “owl of the desert” (a haunting picture of gloom), and a sparrow alone upon a house top, the psalmist felt alone and isolated (102:6-7).

Summing up his miserable state, the psalmist declared his life had become no more than “a shadow…[and] withered like grass” under the heat of the sun (102:11).

Psalm 102:12-28 – A Patriot’s Prayer

The psalmist’s despair turned to hope when his focus moved from his affliction to the LORD.

Psalm 102:12 – “But thou, O LORD [Jehovah; Eternal, Self-Existent God]], shalt endure [dwell; abide; sit enthroned] for ever [eternity]; and thy remembrance [memorial] unto all generations [evermore].”

The psalmist’s emphasis on “Zion” (the mount upon which Jerusalem is built) most likely places this psalm toward the end of the Babylonian captivity. Israel remembered the LORD’S promises to not forsake His people, and they lived in anticipation of the LORD’S restoring them to their land (102:13-21).

With eyes of faith, the psalmist takes comfort knowing the LORD reigned in heaven and had not forgotten His people (102:17-20).   Longing to see Israel restored before his death, the psalmist prayed that his life would not be cut short (102:23-24).

Psalm 102 concludes with the focus upon the character of the LORD (102:25-28).

The writer of Hebrews quotes Psalm 102:25-28 and identifies Jesus Christ as the subject (Hebrews 1:10-12), revealing He is Creator (102:25), Enduring (102:26), Immutable (102:27a), Eternal(102:27b), and Faithful (102:28).

You do not know the challenges before you, but you can take solace in this: The LORD is “the same,” His years “shall have no end” (102:27), and His promises endure (102:28).

Hebrews 13:8 – “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Your Invitation to Hillsdale’s Virtual Services… Traditional Worship with the Great Hymns of our Faith

You are invited to join Hillsdale Baptist Church for our Virtual Worship Services this Sunday morning at 9:45 AM and 10:30 AM.

I encourage you to have your Bibles ready and if possible, print out today’s sermon notes for your family. Trust No One; Question Everything – Psalm 10 – April 26, 2020 AM student blank 

Traditional Worship: While the majority of American churches have followed the contemporary trend of the world’s music, Hillsdale has remained a church dedicated to worshipping the God of the Scriptures who has revealed Himself as Holy and Almighty. Believing God would have us worship Him in a manner that reflects His majestic character, our music and worship is devoted to Him.

Our congregational hymns this morning are “Holy, Holy, Holy” and “Praise to the LORD, the Almighty.” You are encouraged to either print out today’s hymns or click on the attachment to follow with us as the pastoral staff leads in worship. song_sheets_for_4_26_2020

This morning the staff will be singing, “Everlasting God,” a beautiful arrangement by Mac Lynch, and Music Pastor Steve Armstrong will be singing a majestic song titled, “The LORD is My Light” before the message of the hour.

The message for this Sunday is taken from Psalm 10 and titled, “Trust No One; Question Everything; The LORD is KING Forever!”  We will consider two portraits from Psalm 10: The Portrait of the Wicked and The Appeal of the Righteous to the LORD. 

With the heart of a shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. Smith


Trust No One; Question Everything – Psalm 10 – April 26, 2020 AM student blank 

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Passing the Torch: Lessons in Leadership Succession (2 Samuel 1-4)

Daily reading assignment: 2 Samuel 1-4

As we open our Bibles to 2 Samuel, we find David and Israel entering a new era.  King Saul and his son Jonathan have been slain in battle against the Philistines (1 Samuel 31).

An Amalekite soldier fabricated a claim that he had slain Saul in an act of mercy to spare him the indignity of falling into the hands of the Philistines (2 Samuel 1:1-10).  The truth was, Saul had fallen upon his own sword (1 Samuel 31:4).

Rather than rejoicing in the death of Saul, David mourned his death and ordered the man who claimed to have slain him put to death (1:11-16). Three times David lamented the deaths of King Saul and his sons (1:19, 25, 27).

The closing verses of 2 Samuel 1 express in poetic tones the grievous loss of Jonathan, David’s confidant and friend (1:25-27). 

Some have tried to paint David’s lament for the death of his friend as a twisted validation of sodomy…it is not!  Not only is sodomy condemned in God’s Law (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Deuteronomy 23:17; Romans 1:26-27); it would never be rendered in a song for the people to sing.  David’s love for Jonathan was one of mutual trust; such a friend is rare indeed!

2 Samuel 2

David has waited more than a decade to be king.  With Saul dead, David turned to the LORD for wisdom, asking, “Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah?”  (2:1).  With the LORD’s blessing, David went up to Hebron and was crowned king by the men of the tribe of Judah (2:2-4).

David immediately faced opposition from Abner, Saul’s nephew who moved to make Ishbosheth, a surviving son of Saul, king (2:9-10).  Abner’s opposition to David, coupled with Ishbosheth’s weak character, plunged the nation into a civil war (2:10-11) that would last over 7 years.

2 Samuel 3 – Three Principles for Leadership Succession

In spite of opposition, God blessed David and he “waxed stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul waxed weaker and weaker” (3:1). Three principles are evident in David’s patience in the midst of conflict.

The first: Time is always on the side of the righteous.  The prophet Isaiah assured God’s people:

Isaiah 54:17 – “No weapon that is formed [fashioned; made] against thee shall prosper [succeed]; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn [show to be in the wrong]. This [triumph of righteousness] is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness [vindication; victory; success] is of me, saith the LORD.”

The second: Truth will triumph!  Men like Abner and Ishbosheth play the fool and are doomed when they oppose the will of the LORD.

The third: The lust for power, position, and influence is self-destructive in politics, business, and ministry. 

It seems to me that three manner of men rise to power and position in our world: the weak who, like Ishbosheth have connections; the strong who, like Abner are driven by greed and manipulate others to promote themselves; the third, God’s anointed who, like David are called, equipped, and dependent on God for promotion.

I have found churches, Bible colleges, and other religious institutions tend to fall prey to the same fallacies for a succession of leadership.

Some believe bloodlines (family) and relationships (friendships, peers, colleagues) will somehow assure success.

Churches, pulpit committees, and boards of institutions look for flashy, well-spoken, charismatic leaders and learn too late they chose the proverbial “flash in the pan” and failed to choose God’s anointed.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Your Invitation to Hillsdale’s “Virtual Services” this Resurrection Sunday Morning

You are invited to join Hillsdale’s “Virtual Services” as we celebrate the Resurrection this Sunday morning. You can follow our live broadcast on Hillsdale’s Facebook Page or our website at

Pastor Justin Jarrett will be teaching the Teen Bible Study at 9:45 AM. An interlude of choral recordings featuring Hillsdale’s choir will follow from 10:15-10:25 AM.

Hillsdale’s morning worship hour will go LIVE at 10:25 AM and features favorite hymns on the resurrection song sheets 4 15 2020, special music by Hillsdale’s Pastoral Staff, and a duet by Pastor Armstrong and his daughter Jenna.

Pastor Smith will be preaching from Matthew 28 a message titled, “He is Risen, As He Said!” You are encouraged to print out copies of the student outline. He is Risen, as He Said – April 12, 2020 AM student blank

To remind you there is life beyond the 24\7 Coronavirus news coverage, catch up on Hillsdale’s news by clicking on this link: Announcements – 4-12-20


With the heart of a shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

You Are Invited to Hillsdale’s Virtual Worship Services

Good morning!

We are continuing our virtual ministry to our church family and friends this morning. At 9:45 AM, youth pastor Justin Jarrett will teach a teen Bible study for the family on

An interlude of recordings from Hillsdale’s choir and musicians will follow at 10:15-10:30 AM.

You are invited to join the pastoral staff for an hour of worship, music, prayer, and Bible study at 10:30 AM.  We will share updates on our ministry, have a time of prayer as a “virtual congregation,” and I will continue my series in Psalm 91.

I am attaching a link for a PDF copy of today’s student outline and invite you to print it out for use during the 10:30 AM service at

Don’t forget, in addition to my daily devotional commentaries (today’s will be posted this afternoon), Family Pastor Eric Peterman and ministry intern Thomas Simpson are posting brief video clips for children on Hillsdale’s Facebook page. You are invited to check them out!

02 – God’s Answer to Worry and Anxiety – Psalm 91.8-13 – (part 2) student blank

With the heart of a shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

An Explanation of the Continuing Ministries of “Heart of A Shepherd, Inc.”

Dear Heart of a Shepherd followers, and Hillsdale family and friends,
Greetings on this Monday morning, March 23, 2020. Please be assured of our continued prayers for both your good health and God’s blessings in these confusing times.
I plan to continue my daily devotional commentaries during this crisis and pray my effort will prove to deepen your love of the scriptures, spiritual understanding, and your faith walk with the Lord.
I will sometimes publish devotions dedicated to the current crisis; however, I want to insure that we together continue to grow deeper in our understanding of not only the Word of God, but also the God of the Word.
For that reason, I plan to continue the chronological scripture reading schedule HBC Reading Plan 2020 we began this year and I invite you to print out a copy and do the same. Since January 1, 2020, I have published nearly ninety devotional commentaries that cover Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, and the Book of Job. Yesterday marked the beginning of our study of the Book of Joshua and today’s reading was the second post in that incredible book of new beginnings!
I will continue to post an abbreviated video version of each day’s devotional, but I encourage you to read the full commentary as you read your Bible.

Finally, because I am concerned that the Truth of the Scriptures will invariably clash with the “political correctness” of social media, I urge you to subscribe to”  In the right column of website is a place where you can subscribe with your email address and insure the daily devotions are sent directly to you. I cannot subscribe for you.

I close encouraging you with the words of David from Psalm 31 where we read:

Psalm 31:1a,15a – “1 In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust… let me never be ashamed: deliver me in thy righteousness…15  My times are in thy hand…”

With the heart of a shepherd,

Travis D. Smith, Senior Pastor

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“The Sanctuary and Security of The Saints” (Part 1) – Student outline in PDF

Good morning from the Pastor’s office at Hillsdale Baptist Church!

This has been a “learning-curve” week for me as it has for many of you. In addition to my first video-podcasts, I have prepared to preach to an empty auditorium for this morning’s service, post numerous updates, and upload a PDF to my daily blog.

My life verse is Philippians 4:13, and I have embraced that for our ministry in the days ahead, believing in the LORD… “Together, We Can Do This!” The pastoral staff and Hillsdale’s IT team are committed to reach out to our community and the people we love in every way we can!

In addition to my daily devotional commentaries (today’s will be posted this afternoon), Family Pastor Eric Peterman and ministry intern Thomas Simpson are posting brief video clips for children on Hillsdale’s Facebook page and you are invited to check them out!

This morning at 9:45 AM, youth pastor Justin Jarrett will teach a teen Bible study for the family titled, “Coping with Cabin Fever,” on

The pastoral staff and I will follow at 10:30 AM with a regular Sunday morning worship service. Although abbreviated in your absence and missing our choir and musicians, we will give updates on our ministry, have a time of prayer as a “virtual congregation,” and teach the first of two messages from Psalm 91.

If you are unfamiliar with our ministry, you will find Hillsdale is a “traditional worship church” and I invite you to have your Bible in hand as we study God’s truths. Our philosophy of worship and ministry is foremost to glorify the LORD, preach His Word verse-by-verse with practical application of its truths, and invite sinners and saints to turn to the LORD.

I am attaching a link for a PDF copy of today’s student outline and invite you to print it out for use during the 10:30 AM service at

01 – The Sancturary and Security of the Saints – Psalm 91 – March 22, 2020 AM – student blank

With the heart of a shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“The Sanctuary and Security of The Saints” (Part 1) – Student outline

Dear Heart of a Shepherd Followers,

I hope many of you will be joining me at 10:30 AM this Sunday as Hillsdale takes our services live on a Virtual Platform format at

Realizing we are living in unprecedented times, I have taken a brief break from my study of the Book of Galatians and will be turning in the Word of God to the Book of Psalms, chapter 91 this Sunday morning. You are invited to have your Bible ready for a verse-by-verse study of the first eight verses.

I have a practice of providing student notes for my church family, and this Sunday I am continuing that habit with more in-depth notes than I typically provide. You are invited to print out the student notes in advance of the 10:30 morning service.

In closing, invite your family and friends to join you virtually as we have a traditional, but abbreviated service format.

With the heart of a shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

Copyright 2020- Travis D. Smith




A Virtual Invitation to Hillsdale’s Sunday Services and Today’s Devotional

You are invited to join Hillsdale’s Virtual Sunday Services at
Youth Pastor Justin Jarrett will present a Bible study for teens titled “Finding the Cure for Cabin Fever” at 9:45 AM.

At 10:30 AM, Pastor Smith will be sharing Three Principles for Overcoming Fear and Anxiety in a message titled, “The Sanctuary and Security of the Saints” at 10:30 AM.

Please click on this link to view a video invitation and recording of today’s Devotional Commentary (feel free to share).

With the heart of a shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith