Category Archives: Depression

An Antidote for Enslaving Fear (Psalm 27)

Today’s Bible reading is Exodus 23-24, Psalm 27, and Matthew 27. Our daily devotional is from Psalm 27.

Some things warrant a good healthy dose of fear.  For instance, it is good to fear and revere authority empowered to guard us against and even punish foolish, unlawful choices.  We should also fear the deadly potential of a lightning strike, the fast approach of a train at a railroad crossing, and the penalty for failing to study for an exam.

Some fears are enslaving and harmful to the soul.  The fear of failure can paralyze and hinder prudent decisions.   Fear rejection and you will retreat from friendship and relationships.  Fear criticism and you might be tempted to quit!  In the words of king Solomon, “The fear of man bringeth a snare…”(Proverbs 29:25).

Can we overcome negative, enslaving fears?  Absolutely! Let’s take some spiritual lessons from king David’s life experiences (Psalm 27:1-3).

 Psalm 27:1– “The LORD is my light and my salvation [Deliverer]; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength [fortress; refuge] of my life; of whom shall I be afraid [fear; tremble]?”

Notice three assertions concerning David’s courage and faith in contrast with fear in verse 1.  The first, “The Lord is my Light:  David’s confidence was not in human thought or philosophy; his courage arose from his conviction that the LORD Who is Jehovah, Eternal God, was the source of light to his soul (John 1:4-5, 9; 1 John 1:5).

David’s second assertion is, “The LORD…is my Salvation”; not only his guiding light, but also the One Who is able to save his soul from the curse of sin. Having declared the LORD is his light and salvation, David asks, Whom shall I fear?” 

Is anyone too big for God?  Is anyone stronger than the LORD?  Is any circumstance greater than the LORD?

David’s third assertion is, The LORD is the Strength of my life; his Rock, Fortress and Refuge! Why be afraid of mortal man if the Lord is your Protector?

Having stated the LORD is the object of his faith; David pondered God’s providences and protection in the past (27:2).

Psalm 27:2 – “When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes [hostile], came upon me to eat up [devour; consume] my flesh [body], they stumbled and fell.”

Remembering God’s faithfulness in the past, David confidently declared he would not be overcome with fear!

Psalm 27:3 – “Though an host [great company] should encamp [lay siege] against me, my heart [mind] shall not fear [tremble]: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident [trust; secure].”

Take heart believer!  The LORD is your Light, Salvation, and Refuge; cast aside your fears and affirm with David:

I will not allow fear to overcome me or the threat of the unknown rob me of my joy; have faith and confidence in God!  

In the apostle Paul’s words, “If God be for us, who can be against us?”(Romans 8:31)

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

God Uses Broken Vessels (Exodus 5-6)

Today’s Bible reading and devotional is Exodus 5-6.

Picking up the story of Moses’ return to Egypt, we read in chapter 4, “30And Aaron spake all the words which the LORD had spoken unto Moses, and did the signs in the sight of the people. 31And the people believed…” (Exodus 4:30-31).

We are not told how Moses gained an audience with Pharaoh; however, Exodus 5 records the first clash of wills between them when Moses and Aaron delivered the demand of “the LORD God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness” (Exodus 5:1).

Proud and unbroken, Pharaoh declared, “I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go” (5:2).

Rejected, Moses and Aaron depart from Pharaoh’s court and soon realize their demand for freedom has increased the hardships of the people (5:6-20).  The leaders of Israel confronted Moses and Aaron, accusing them of multiplying the suffering and sorrows of the people (Exodus 5:21).

Distraught, Moses cried to the LORD, “Lord, wherefore hast thou so evil entreated this people? why is it that thou hast sent me? 23 For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in thy name, he hath done evil to this people; neither hast thou delivered thy people at all” (Exodus 5:22-23).

Hearing Moses’ plea, the LORD renewed His promise to deliver His people out of bondage, reminding Moses, “I am the LORD” (Exodus 6:2-8).

When Moses rehearsed with the people all the LORD had told him and reminded them of God’s covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the people dismissed his words (6:9).

The LORD commanded Moses to go before Pharaoh a second time and demand freedom for the Hebrews (6:10-11); however, shaken by the failure of his first meeting, Moses rightly observed the rejection of his people and asked, “how then shall Pharaoh hear me” (6:12)?

Refusing to rescind His plan and covenant with Israel, the LORD commanded Moses and Aaron to give “a charge unto the children of Israel, and unto Pharaoh king of Egypt, to bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt” (6:13).

I conclude today’s devotional noting the brief record of three genealogies found in the closing verses of our study (Exodus 6:14-25).  We read the genealogies of three sons of Jacob whose sins shadowed their lineages: Reuben, committed incest with his father’s concubine (6:14; Genesis 35:22; 49:3-4); and Simeon and Levi (6:15-25) murdered the Shechemites to avenge their sister’s shame (Genesis 34:25-29; 49:5-7).

Of course, the most important genealogy is that of Levi from whom Moses and Aaron descended.  Levi’s genealogical record not only establishes Moses and Aaron’s rightful birthright as children of Israel, it also serves as a testimony of God’s grace.

God chose Moses as Israel’s deliverer, not because of his lineage, but as a testimony of God’s grace. Yes, Moses was a talented, well-educated leader; however, it was his faith, the fact he believed the LORD, that God used him to deliver His people from bondage.

Don’t forget God took forty years to break Moses’ will in the wilderness; however, when the LORD called him to serve he was ready and willing to obey.

How about you?  Are you ready to humble yourself to God’s will and obey?  After all, God can turn broken pieces into masterpieces.

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

Providence: God is in Control!

Today’s Bible Reading is Genesis 49-50, Psalm 19, and Matthew 19. Our devotional is from Genesis 49-50.

Today’s scripture reading brings us to the close of our study in Genesis.  Genesis 49 records Jacob’s final instructions to his sons and his prophetic insight into the future of their lineages (49:3-27).

Lest there be any doubt what his wishes were, Jacob rehearses with all his sons the request he expressed to Joseph in Genesis 48…that he be buried with his grandfather Abraham, his father Isaac, mother Rebekah, and his wife Leah (49:29-32).  Jacob dies in the closing verses of Genesis 49.

Genesis 50 opens with a dramatic, emotional scene as we read, “And Joseph fell upon his father’s face, and wept upon him, and kissed him” (50:1).

Overseeing the mummification of his father’s body, Joseph’s desire was to give Jacob a burial fitting of a king (50:2-3).  When the days of mourning were past, Pharaoh granted Joseph his blessing to carry Jacob’s body to Canaan and bury him in his ancestral tomb (50:4-7).

The funeral processional out of Egypt was like none ever seen in Canaan (Genesis 50:8-9).  Jacob’s twelve sons, their families, and some senior leaders of Egypt driving chariots and riding horses, escorted Jacob’s body home (50:10-13).  With their father buried, Joseph and his family returned to Egypt (50:14).

Remembering the evil they committed when they sold him as a slave, Joseph’s brothers feared the death of their father would give him opportunity to exact revenge (50:15-17).  Instead of revenge; however, “Joseph wept” (50:17b) as his brothers bowed before him, fulfilling the vision the LORD gave him in his youth (50:18; Genesis 37:3-11).

Far from vengeance, Joseph assured his brothers God was judge (50:19).  Though he remembered their sin, he was confident the wrongs he suffered were providentially used by God to prepare the way for him to preserve his family (50:19-20).

Genesis 50:20 records one of the great statements of faith in God’s sovereignty and providence found in the Bible.

“But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive” (50:20).

Joseph’s life is a testimony of what it means to suffer wrong and continue to walk in faith and humility.  He did not focus on the grievous evil committed by his brothers, nor give rein to bitter, vengeful thoughts.  Instead, Joseph was confident whatever wrongs he suffered, God was faithful and would bring good to pass!

Friend, allow me to close and invite you to take time for a spiritual checkup.  Are you bitter?  Are you nursing hurts and embittered by disappointments?

I do not know your circumstances or the wrongs you have suffered; however, I know God is sovereign and He will bring to pass that which is good.  Will you trust Him?

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

Got Trouble? God’s Got a Plan! (Psalm 18:30)

Dear Heart of a Shepherd Follower,

We have seen many reminders of God’s providential care throughout Joseph’s life and admired his faith and fortitude through the sorrows and injustices he suffered.  Hated by brothers whose jealousy drove them to sell him as a slave.  Falsely accused by his master’s wife, unfairly sentenced to prison, and forgotten.  Consider another example of faith in the providence of God recorded by David in Psalm 18:30.

Psalm 18:30 – “As for God [“El”; “Almighty God”], his way [path; actions] is perfect [without blemish]: the word [commandment] of the LORD [Jehovah] is tried [refined; purged by fire]: he is a buckler [small shield] to all those that trust in him [make Him their refuge].”

It is easy to say, “the way of God is perfect” when we are free from trials and troubles; however, are we willing to trust the LORD when trials shadow our days?  Will we trust Him when we are like gold passing through a smelter’s fire?

When enemies malign us and friends betray us, will we, like David turn to God’s promises and hope in the LORD?  Will we trust Him as our “buckler” (a small shield for hand-to-hand combat), when an enemy means to harm us?

Reflecting on the character of God (18:31), when David asserts, Jehovah is my Refuge (i.e. “rock”), his strength was renewed (18:32), his courage restored, and his steps made sure (18:33, 36).

Friend, are you facing trials?  Don’t lose hope!  Be confident “His way is perfect” and the fiery trials you are facing have the potential of purifying your heart like silver and strengthening your character like steel!

Give thanks to the LORD even before the trial is past knowing His mercies fail not (18:46-50)!

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

The LORD Hears the Cry of a Broken Heart (Psalm 3)

You will notice in your Bible an editor’s note identifying Psalm 3 as a psalm of David composed when his son Absalom rose up against him forcing the king to flee his throne and the capital city of Jerusalem.  Recorded in 2 Samuel 15, this event is the culmination of years of rebellion on the part of Absalom against his father.  Absalom conspired against his father and stole the affection of the people by implying his father the king cared little for them (2 Samuel 15:3-6).  Psalm 3:1-4 records David’s cry to the LORD.

David, once the champion of Israel, finds himself surrounded by enemies who had once shouted his praises. The loneliness of the king and his desperate cry to God rouses the heart of any who have been in leadership and felt the blow of betrayal and the burden of humiliation.  The king’s flight emboldened his enemies to deride, “not even God will deliver him!” (Psalm 3:2)

Betrayed by his son and rejected by his people, David took solace in the character and promises of God (Psalm 3:3).   He remembered the LORD was his “shield”, Defender, and Sovereign.  Though driven from the throne by his enemies, the king was confident God would exact vengeance and justice would prevail.  Humiliated and discouraged, but not defeated; David was confident God saw his plight and heard his cry (Psalm 3:4).

My friend, I am afraid the delusional, wicked spirit of David’s son, Absalom is characteristic of our generation.  As Absalom was devoid of a son’s natural affection and respect for his father (Romans 1:30-31), this generation mirrors the same disregard of its elders in its lusts for rights and privileges it has neither earned nor deserves.  Like Absalom, too many of this day are a grief to their parents.

No doubt there are parents reading this devotional who, in their own circumstance, identify with David’s sorrow.  To face an enemy is sorrow enough, but when that enemy is your own son or daughter, mere words fail to express the grief and anguish of a parent’s broken heart.

I close with a word of encouragement—God hears and answers the cry of His people in the night.  The LORD is for you, Who he was for David, your Shield and Defender.

Psalm 3:8 – 8  Salvation belongeth unto the LORD: thy blessing is upon thy people. Selah.

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

Resolutions for 2018

Happy New Year!

An old adage suggests, “Aim at nothing and you’re bound to hit it!”  

I am afraid that statement is, for many, a reality.  An aimless, pointless existence is no doubt a great contributor to the depression and anxiety that plagues 21st century society.  Sadly, that same malady is found in the lives of many professing Christians.

On Sunday I shared Ten New Year’s Resolutions with my church family I hope you might consider adopting as your own.  The first five are Spiritual Resolutions; the latter five are Personal Resolutions.

Five Spiritual Resolutions for 2018…I resolve to:

Read God’s Word daily (Psalm 1:2; 119:11, 15-16; 2 Timothy 2:15)

Psalm 1:2 – But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

2 Timothy 2:15 – Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Live a holy, consecrated life (Romans 12:1-2; Hebrews 10:19-22)

Romans 12:1-2 – I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
2  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Be unwavering in my faith and walk with the LORD (Hebrews 10:23)

Hebrews 10:23 – Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for He is faithful that promised😉

Love, serve, and encourage others (Hebrews 10:24)

Hebrews 10:24 – And let us consider one another [give continuous care] to provoke [to incite; prod; stimulate] unto love [agape’] and to good works [honest labor]:

Make congregational worship a priority for my family (Hebrews 10:25)

Hebrews 10:25  – Not forsaking [leaving or neglecting] the assembling [gathering] of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day [Second Coming of Christ]  approaching.

Five Personal Resolutions for 2018…I resolve to:

To be a better steward of my life, body, and health – To lose weight; Eat healthier (i.e. eat less; eat nutritional foods)Exercise regularly

Read more and watch less TV (Romans 12:2)

To be less involved on social media and more involved in people’s lives

To “love my neighbor” and show compassion for lost souls (Luke 10:27; Galatians 5:14)

In summary, to be more Christlike (Matthew 5:3-16; Romans 13:14; 1 Peter 1:15-16).

With the heart of a shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

Copyright 2018 – Travis D. Smith

 

PRAYER: God’s Prescription for Troubles

Wednesday, December 12, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Psalms 143-145

King David is the author of the three psalms assigned for today’s scripture reading, Psalms 143, 144, and 145.  Psalm 143 is a penitential, sorrowful psalm; Psalm 144 and Psalm 145 are psalms of worship and praise.  Although not the last of the psalms, Psalm 145 is the last of the psalms attributed to King David.

For the sake of brevity, my focus for this devotional commentary is Psalm 143.

We have seen a pattern and practice of prayer throughout David’s life.  When assailed by enemies, he prayed (Psalm 13:2; 61:3).  When trials came and troubles threatened to overwhelm him, he prayed (Psalm 120:1).  When faced with the scourge of his own sinfulness, David called upon the Lord, confident God would hear and answer his penitent prayer (Psalm 51).

Psalm 143 continues David’s habit of prayer.  Psalm 143:1-6, he prays for God’s grace in judgment (143:2) and, remembering the LORD’s works in the past (143:5), he asks Him to quench the thirst in his soul for the LORD’s presence (143:6).

Notice the personal, intimate petition of David’s prayer.  The king prayed to the LORD, “Hear me (143:7)…Deliver me (143:9)…Teach me…Lead me (143:10)…Quicken me (143:11)”.

I am not sure what “trouble” David was in when he prayed, “bring my soul out of trouble” (143:11); however, he knew the only place he could go to have his soul delivered from sorrows was to the LORD (143:11b).

Perhaps you are where David was spiritually and emotionally when he prayed, “Quicken me” (143:11).  Too many believers fail to follow David’s example when they are troubled.  The word “Quicken” was an entreaty for the LORD to encourage, revive and restore his joy.

Friend, don’t allow your troubles to mount up and you become so overwhelm you resort to counselors, doctors, psychologists, prescription drugs, vices, and amusements… turn to the LORD, claim His promises, and pray, “Hear me (143:7)…Deliver me (143:9)…Teach me…Lead me (143:10)…Quicken me (143:11)”; after all, the LORD is jealous for His servants (143:12).

I close with promises that were David’s meditations in his final psalm (Psalm 145:18-21).

Psalm 145:18-20 –18  The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth.
19  He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them.
20  The LORD preserveth all them that love him: but all the wicked will he destroy.”

What a great God we serve!

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith