Category Archives: Depression

You Need to Be Needed!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Ecclesiastes 3-4

Our reading in the Book of Ecclesiastes continues today with Ecclesiastes 3-4.   Rather than a book of happy reflections, Solomon bares his heart in Ecclesiastes and gives us an opportunity to ponder the empty soul of an elderly man whose lusts have taken him far from the LORD.  In a statement of the obvious, Solomon writes, To every thing there is a season [a time appointed], and a time to every purpose [matter; purpose; pleasure] under the heaven [sky] (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

I did not appreciate the passing of time and the seasons when I was young; however, I sometimes catch myself reflecting on the past as I grow older.  Whether physically or in my thoughts, I go home and visit places that hold meaning from my youth.  Familiar places; unmarked landmarks hold precious, childhood memories.  When I visit cemeteries and see familiar names inscribed on tombstones, voices long silenced by death resonate in my thoughts…Ricky Flynn, Mazzie Plyler, Leola Sapp, Parnell Threatt, Roland and Sadie Whitley, Dena Plyler remind me… “A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted” (3:2).

Consider with me some truths we can glean from Solomon’s ponderings.  The first, apart from God man’s life is aimless, purposeless.  Solomon asks, “What profit [gain; advantage] hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?” (3:9).  In other words, what does a man have to show for his toil in this earthly life?

Another truth, God has placed in the heart of man the reality of eternity and a longing He alone can satisfy.  Solomon writes,

Eccles. 3:11 – He hath made every thing beautiful in his time [season]: also he hath set [put] the world [lit. eternity] in their heart [mind; thoughts], so that no man can find out [suffice or satisfy] the work [deeds; activity] that God maketh from the beginning to the end.”

Men and women turn to drugs, alcohol and amusements attempting to fill the void in their souls only God can satisfy.  The successful, beautiful and powerful of the world learn too late that wealth, material possessions, fame and popularity are fleeting and temporal.

Eccles. 3:19-20 – “For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. 20 All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.

We can take many lessons from today’s scripture; however, I will focus on only one: You Need to Be Needed!  Consider three principles of truth from Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.

The first, working with others is satisfying and more rewarding than working alone (4:9-10). Solomon writes,

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 – “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. 10  For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.

Like oxen who are stronger and more productive when they share the same yoke, people working together are more satisfied in their work (4:9).  Working together discourages selfishness and self-centeredness (4:10) and provides an opportunity of encouraging others.

A second truth concerning the Need to Be Needed is, working with others encourages perseverance and protects (4:11-12).

Ecclesiastes 4:11-12 – “Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone12  And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken”

Investing your life and time in others gives you the privilege and comfort of the “huddle” in hard times.  Like a husband and wife who find warmth together on a cold night, we encourage and are encouraged when we “huddle”… laughing together, crying together, working together makes us stronger!  When an enemy threatens and difficult times come, a sincere friend will do all they can to huddle with you and keep you from falling or failing (4:12).

A third truth, God made us individuals; however, He never meant for us to be alone.

 Everything God created in the beginning was perfect and good (Genesis 1-2).  However, after creating Adam, “the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone…” (Genesis 2:19).

We are happiest when needed!  We are more effective in our work and less likely to give up when we work with others striving for the same goals.  Someone has said, A friend is someone who comes in when the rest of the world has walked out.”

While breaking baseball’s “color barrier,” Baseball legend and Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson, faced jeering crowds in every stadium.  While playing in his home stadium in Brooklyn, Robinson committed an error and his own fans began to ridicule him.

Standing at second base, alone and humiliated, shortstop “Pee Wee” Reese came over and stood next to Robinson.   Putting his arm around Robinson, “Pee Wee” faced the crowd until the fans grew silent.  Robinson later said that arm around his shoulder saved his career.

Investing your time and life in loving and helping others can help you overcome bouts of loneliness, discouragement and depression!

Friend, you Need to be Needed!

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Living a Purposeful Life

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Ecclesiastes 1-2

Reading the Book of Ecclesiastes might raise in some a spirit of hopelessness; however, such should not be the case for children of faith whose focus and trust is in the LORD.

Ecclesiastes chronicles the pondering of elderly King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived (the one exception is Jesus, the Only Begotten Son of God).  The king’s subject is the challenges and difficulties of this earthly life and, apart from the LORD, its vanity (emptiness).  Solomon writes,

Ecclesiastes 1:2-3 – “Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. 3  What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?”

Penned in the latter years of his life, his youth far spent and the frailty of old age his daily haunt, Solomon’s outlook was hardly an attitude of rejoicing.  Solomon wondered, what is a man’s life apart from God?  To what ends should a man live?  What profit, what gain, what value is there for a man who spends his life in labor?  One generation dies and another takes its place (Eccl. 1:4); the sun rises and the sun sets (Eccl. 1:5); the wind blows and the waters run (Eccl. 1:6-7) and, in Solomon’s observation, a man’s heart is never satisfied (1:8).

Eccles. 1:8 – “All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.”

What a sad commentary on the life of a king whom God promised to give wealth unimaginable and wisdom incomprehensible (1 Kings 3:7-14)!  He gave his heart searching for purpose apart from God and, near the end of life summed up his search saying, “I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit” (1:14).

What happened to this man who had everything, but whose life was empty?  We find the answer to that question in 1 Kings 11:4.

1 Kings 11:3-4 – “And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. 4 For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father.”

His soul spiritually cold, his life viewed from a horizontal, human perspective, his heart turned from God; no wonder Solomon writes thirty-four times in Ecclesiastes, “Vanity, all is vanity!”

What a tragic end for a man whose youth was a testimony of God’s blessings!  When he was young, he loved the LORD and chose wisdom over wealth and worldly pleasures (1 Kings 3:9).  God honored his request, imparting to him not only wisdom, but also riches and power.  Tragically, in his old age, Solomon turned from the LORD and His Word.  Ecclesiastes is the philosophical discourse of an old man out of fellowship with God.

Eccles. 2:11 – “Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.”

I believe it is author and preacher Chuck Swindoll who tells the story of a deeply disturbed, troubled individual who went to a psychiatrist seeking help with his anxieties.   Every morning the man awoke melancholy and in the evening, went to bed deeply depressed.  Desperate and unable to find relief, he decided to seek the counsel of a medical doctor.

The psychiatrist listened to the man share his thoughts, fears and anxieties and finally leaned towards his patient and said, “I understand an Italian clown has come to our local theatre and the crowds are [rolling] in the aisles in laughter… Why don’t you go see the clown and laugh your troubles away?”

With a sad, forlorn expression, the patient muttered, “Doctor, I am that clown.”

Friend, a life lived apart from God and in contradiction to His Law will never be satisfying!  No pleasures can mask the sadness, nor riches satisfy the void of a sinner’s heart apart from the LORD.  Solomon writes,

Eccles. 2:26 – “For God giveth to a man that is good in His sight wisdom, and knowledge, and joy: but to the sinner He giveth travail, to gather and to heap up, that He may give to him that is good before God. This also is vanity and vexation of spirit.”

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

My LORD Never Slumbers or Sleeps!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Psalms 120-121

Our scripture reading today is from a section of fifteen psalms, Psalms 120-134, titled “A Song of Degrees”.  The designation “degrees” might refer to one’s elevation or ascent to higher ground and the psalms in this section are believed by some to have been sung by pilgrims journeying up to Jerusalem for a feast day.  Others suggest the “degrees” might be a reference to our modern concept of musical keys or scales.  Today’s scripture reading is the first two of the psalms in this section, Psalms 120-121.

The author of Psalm 120 is David and it was apparently written as a reflection on a time of trouble and affliction.  The title of Psalm 120 in my Bible is, “David prays against Doeg and reproves his tongue”.  Who was Doeg and why did he cause David such distress?

When David fled from king Saul and was hungry, he requested “hallowed bread” of Ahimelech, the high priest, bread dedicated to the LORD, for himself and his men (21:1-6).  Doeg, identified as “a certain man of the servants of Saul” (1 Samuel 21:7), overheard the request and took notice it was David.

King Saul, hearing how the high priest gave aid to David and his men, commanded his servants to slay the priest and his household; however, the servants of Saul refused to harm the LORD’s priests (1 Samuel 22:16-17).  Doeg, however, had no conscience and rose up and slew eight-five priests (22:18).

With that background, we understand David writing, “In my distress I cried unto the LORD, and he heard me” (Psalm 120:1).  There is no doubt David was downcast when he learned men who aided him had died for his sake.  Doeg perpetuated the lie David was Saul’s enemy and the king made war against David (Psalm 120:2-7).

Some refer to Psalm 121 as the “Pilgrim’s Psalm”, one the saints of God sang on their pilgrimage to Jerusalem to worship and offer sacrifices to the LORD.

I suggest four major points for Psalm 121.  The first is the psalmist’s Pledge to seek the LORD: “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help [aid]” (121:1).

I am not certain the dangers the psalmist faced; however, I know where he looked for help… “the hills” (121:1).  He did not look to himself and live by his wits or to others hoping they might come and save him.  His confidence was in the LORD.

The second point is the Promise; the psalmist was confident in the LORD’s care (121:2).

Psalm 121:2  – “My help cometh from the LORD [Yahweh; Jehovah; Eternal, Self-Existent God], which made [created; fashioned] heaven [sky; sun, stars, moon] and earth [land].”

The psalmist was confident the LORD Who created heaven and earth was more than a spectator or bystander of His creation.    He affirmed the LORD would come to his aid in a time of trouble.

The psalmist was confident in the LORD’s Protection (121:3-7).  He looked to the LORD as his Deliverer in times of trouble and Keeper Who never slumbers or sleeps (121:3-4).

Psalm 121:3 – “He [the LORD] will not suffer thy foot [walk] to be moved [waver; shake]: he that keepeth [guard; watch; preserve] thee will not slumber [sleep].”

Psalm 121:4 – “Behold, He [the LORD] that keepeth [guard; watch; preserve] Israel [posterity of Jacob] shall neither slumber [sleep; i.e. be drowsy] nor sleep [slack; i.e. grow old].”

The psalmist was confident the LORD was his Protector (121:5).  Like a shepherd keeps his sheep from danger, the LORD keeps watch over His people.  The LORD is “thy shade”, a place of retreat, refreshing and where one’s strength is revived.

The LORD is also Guardian of His people (121:7) and protects them from “all evil” (121:7).

Psalm 121:7  – “The LORD [Yahweh; Jehovah; Eternal, Self-Existent God] shall preserve [guard; watch] thee from all evil [wickedness; bad; calamity]: He shall preserve [guard; watch] thy soul [life; person].”

That does not mean “bad things” do not happen to God’s people; however, it does mean God is able to turn “bad things” into good for those who love Him and place their trust in Him (Romans 8:28-29).  David writes the same when he assures us:

Psalm 91:9-10 – “Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; 10  There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.”

Finally, we note the LORD is a Perpetual Shepherd (Psalm 121:8).

Psalm 121:8 – “The LORD [Yahweh; Jehovah; Eternal, Self-Existent God] shall preserve [guard; watch] thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore [perpetually].”

Like a shepherd keeps watch over his sheep, the psalmist assures us “the LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in” (121:8a)

What a comforting truth!  There is no place beyond the LORD’s watch. 

The LORD keeps us when we rise in the morning until we lay our head on the pillow in the evening.  The LORD keeps us when we are young and strong and when we grow old and frail.  The LORD is with us in health and sickness!  When we travel afar and when our steps lead home, the LORD is with us.   He is with us in our down sittings and our uprisings.

My friend, if you are believer you are a child of the King, forever secure in the LORD.  You can be assured, Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever” (Psalm 23:6).

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

“Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord”

September 4, 2017

Scripture Reading – Numbers 13-16

Continuing in our study of the Book of Numbers, we find Israel encamped at the threshold of the land God had promised Abraham, Isaac and Jacob would be the inheritance of their seed.  The events in today’s scripture reading, Numbers 13-16, are among the most dynamic in Israel’s 40 years of wanderings in the wilderness; unfortunately, this devotional commentary must be brief and highlight only a few observations of the many that could be made.

The LORD directed Moses to send men, one from each tribe, to “see the land…the people…what the land is…what the cities they be” (13:1-19).   Moses challenged the men, “be ye of good courage, and bring of the fruit of the land” (13:20).  The spies were gone for 40 days and returned with “a branch with one cluster of grapes” that was so full of fruit the men “bare it between two upon a staff” (13:23-25).

The spies confirmed the land was all the LORD had promised saying, “surely it floweth with milk and honey” (13:27); however, they also reported the people of the land were strong, lived in walled cities and “the children of Anak”, along with the Amalekites, Hittites, Jebusites, Amorites and Canaanites dwelled there (13:29).

Hearing the challenges the nation must face to claim the land God had promised, unsettled the people and Caleb, one of the spies spoke up and said, “Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it” (13:30).   However, ten of the spies sowed doubt among the people saying, “We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we…we saw giants…and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight” (13:31-33).

Caleb urged the people “go up…we are well able” (13:30); however, ten of the spies urged, “we be not able to go up” (13:31).

What made the difference in those observations?   What set Joshua and Caleb apart from the other spies?   After all, the twelve spies had seen the same things, but came to conclusions that were vastly opposite.  The report Caleb and Joshua gave was different from the others in two ways: Focus and Faith.

  • Focus: Caleb and Joshua focused, not on the size of the obstacles, but on the size of their God.
  • Faith: Caleb and Joshua’s faith was not in their abilities, but in the person and promises of God.

Are you facing giants?  Has fear, faithlessness and complacency crept into your heart and thoughts?

You see, Israel’s enemy was not giants or the nations living in the land.   Israel’s enemy was her lack of faith in God.  The LORD admonished the prophet Jeremiah, “Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord” (Jeremiah 17:5).

The man God blesses places his faith in the LORD Who has the solution to every problem and the resources to achieve every goal in His will!

Jeremiah 17:7-8 – “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. [8] For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.”

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Strong drink beguiles men and only fools deny the obvious!

August 31, 2017

Scripture Reading – Proverbs 20-21

The Book of Proverbs is a gold mine of spiritual truths able to confront the foolish, correct the misguided and enrich the soul of any willing to mine its chapters.   As a teenager, I made it a practice to include in my Bible readings a chapter of Proverbs a day.  Looking back, I regret I did not slowdown, meditate and search out the meaning and application of the proverbs.

The majority of today’s devotional commentary was first written for this blog, January 20, 2014.   The scripture reading assigned today is Proverbs 20 and Proverbs 21; however, my focus will be one verse, Proverbs 20:1.

Proverbs 20:1 – “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.”

The proliferation of alcohol use in our society, now accompanied by a demand to legalize the use of marijuana is disconcerting.   The pursuit of pleasure without self-discipline or moral restraint has given rise to a desire to dull the conscience and many are turning to alcohol, wine and drugs to fill their empty souls.

Consider the following statistics from the website of Mothers Against Drunk Driving [MADD].

1) Almost half of drivers killed in crashes who tested positive for drugs also had alcohol in their system.

2) In 2011, 226 children were killed in drunk driving crashes.  Of those, 122 (54% percent) were riding with the drunk driver.

3) Drunk driving costs the United States $132 billion a year.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention gives the following statistic concerning Alcohol use:  In 2010 there were 25,692 alcohol-induced deaths (this number excludes accidents and homicide deaths related to alcohol use).

The statistics I cited may not come as a surprise to many reading this blog.   Given the personal, family and societal ills associated with alcohol, I am shocked there is a growing acceptance of social drinking among Christians.  Adding to the tragedy is not only the silence of the pulpit, but also the affirmation of some preachers for the use of alcohol.

Solomon addressed the nature of wine and alcohol in Proverbs 20:1, writing:

Proverbs 20:1 – “Wine [fermented wine] is a mocker [scorner; holds in derision], strong drink [intoxicating; alcohol] is raging [roar; troubled; clamorous]: and whosoever is deceived [stray; mislead] thereby is not wise [almost always condemned].”

The wine referenced by Solomon was naturally fermented and often diluted with water.  Echoing his mother’s instructions (Proverbs 31:3-7), Solomon warned his son, undiluted wine and “strong drink” expose a king to ridicule and shame (“strong drink” was usually made from fruits and vegetables – 31:6).

There are many professing Christians in the 21st century who cite references in the Bible to support their use of wine and alcohol; however, an honest study of the history of alcohol reveals today’s “strong drink” is a far cry from the wine and “strong drink” of the Scriptures.   Distilling beer and other strong drinks is a relatively modern process not perfected until the 12th and early 13th centuries.   In other words, the alcohol content of today’s beverages is far greater than any mentioned in the Bible.

The first nine verses of Proverbs 31 record what I believe are the words of Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother, and her instructions to her son who would one day reign as king of Israel.  Knowing the temptations for excess that would pass before her son as an eastern monarch, Bathsheba admonished Solomon:

Proverbs 31:4-5 – “It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine [fermented drink; that which intoxicates]; nor for princes [rulers; judges; those who weigh matters of law] strong drink [intoxicants; alcoholic liquor]:5 Lest they drink, and forget [fail; cease to care] the law, and pervert the judgment [cause; plea] of any of the afflicted [troubled; depressed; poor; lowly; humble].”

The terrible toll imbibing in wine and alcohol has had on humanity is legion.  Slick television advertisements hide, deny and disguise the reality there are multitudes of families scarred by the emotional, physical and spiritual cost of alcohol.   Only a fool would deny the reality of alcohol’s destruction on marriage, home and career.

Consider the following evidences:

Statistics from The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism [Focus on the Family – 2002]

– Nearly half of all violent crimes happen under the influence of alcohol

– People under the influence of alcohol commit 86% of all murders

– People under the influence of alcohol commit 60% of sexual offenses

– 30% of deaths in auto accidents, nearly 15,000 deaths annually, are alcohol related

Mother’s Against Drunk Driving  (MADD) study found that 95% of all college campus crimes (including date rape and sexual promiscuity) are alcohol related.

The devastating effects on health [http://alcoholism.about.com/cs/abuse/a/aa000728a.htm]

– 75% of esophageal cancers in the U.S. occur in heavy drinkers

– 50% of cancers in the mouth, pharynx and larynx are alcohol related

Bathsheba was fearful, should her son be given to the use of wine and alcohol, the nation would suffer the consequences of a king with distorted judgment.

21st century Christians would be wise to heed Bathsheba’s admonitions and Solomon’s counsel:  Strong drink beguiles men and only a fool denies the obvious!

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Lonely? The LORD is Waiting

August 30, 2017

Scripture Reading – Psalms 102-104

Our scripture reading today is three psalms, Psalm 102, Psalm 103 and Psalm 104.

Psalm 102 is a psalm of confession and repentance.  Although the author is not known, sincere believers will readily identify with his cry of repentance and the blessed promise the LORD hears our confession, forgives sin and restores His child to fellowship (Psalm 102:1-4).

In a series of vignettes (portraits), the psalmist paints for us the sorrows and afflictions he felt when he looked honestly at the spiritual, physical and emotional toll sin had taken on his life.   His days were like a puff of smoke, empty and void (102:3).   Like grass withering in the midday sun, his heart was dried up (102:4).   His flesh was gaunt and wasted, like a dead man walking (102:5).   “Like a pelican of the wilderness… an owl of the desert… a sparrow alone upon the house top”, he felt alone in his misery (102:6-7).   Summing up his miserable state, the psalmist declared his life was “like a shadow that declineth…[and] withered like grass” (102:11).

Notice the psalmist’s despair turned to hope when his focus moved from his sin to the LORD (Psalm 102:12-28). 

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 when the LORD promised Israel would be restored to her land as a nation (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.  The writer of Hebrews quotes Psalm 102:25-28 and identifies Jesus Christ as the subject (Hebrews 1:10-12) revealing the Lord is Creator (102:25), Enduring (102:26), Immutable (102:27a), Eternal (102:27b) and Faithful (102:28).

I have no way of knowing the challenges we may face today; however, be confident of this…we are secure in the LORD (Psalm 102:28).

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith