Category Archives: Devotional

Update on Hillsdale’s Hurricane Relief Team: Destination Marathon, FL

Hillsdale family, friends and followers of Heart of a Shepherd:

On behalf of Hillsdale Baptist Church, I owe a word of gratitude and acknowledgement to two Tampa-based companies who joined Hillsdale in getting household appliances to families whose appliances were ruined by the winds and flood waters of Hurricane Irma in Marathon, FL.  The donations are on trucks headed south for the Florida Keys where they will be given to families who lack insurance to replace their lost appliances.

Thank you to Famous Tate Appliance & Bedding Centers, a family owned company in FL, for donating 13 refrigerators, 6 stoves, 2 dryers and 1 washer.

Thank you to ABC Appliances and Services of 8704 N Nebraska Ave, Tampa, FL 33604 for donating and selling at severe discounts 9 washers, 6 dryers, 2 stoves and 1 refrigerator.

Thank you to Pastor Barber for working with two Hillsdale men, John Rezabala and David Herlocker, who volunteered to drive to Marathon, FL today to deliver the appliances to Marathon Baptist Church who will distribute them to needy families.

Finally, thank you to those who have given to Hillsdale’s Hurricane Relief Fund and making this ministry possible!

With the heart of a shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

Scripture Reading and Hurricane Relief Teams

Dear Hillsdale family and followers of Heart of a Shepherd,

My preparation for Sunday services prevent me from posting a devotional commentary today; however, I encourage you to continue in the discipline of reading and studying God’s Word.  If you are continuing our “Read-thru the Bible” in a year format, the following are the scripture reading assignments for Saturday and Sunday, September 23-24, 2017.

Saturday, September 23, 2017 – Gospel of John 19-21

Sunday, September 24, 2017 – Book of Hebrews 1-4

Follow Up On Hurricane Irma

Truckloads of Appliances: Because of the sacrificial giving of our church family and some gifts from friends of our ministry, Hillsdale is sending two truckloads of 30 or more household appliances to Marathon, FL today.  In addition to what Hillsdale has purchased locally, Famous Tate Appliances is graciously donating refrigerators, washers and dryers from their warehouse for families in the Florida Keys.

Relief Team: Many of our members lost a week of work following Hurricane Irma, making it impossible for them to take off from work another week to assist in relief efforts.  In spite of that, we hope to send a relief team to Marathon that will leave this Sunday and return Friday night.

Volunteers: If interested in joining our relief team going to Marathon, FL, please email your contact information to: Pastor Jarrrett at jjarrett@hillsdalebaptist.org or Pastor Barber at bbarber@hillsdalebaptist.org.

Continue to pray for the Houston, TX vicinity, the Florida Keys, Port Charlotte and Naples, FL and the devastated islands in the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico.  Remember to pray for believers ministering to families in Mexico impacted by this past week’s earthquake.

With the heart of a shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Israel, Behold Your King Cometh!

September 22, 2017

Scripture Reading – Amos 5-9

Remembering the distinction between Israel, the northern kingdom made up of ten tribes, and Judah, the southern kingdom consisting of two tribes, Judah and Benjamin, Amos takes up the prophecy of the LORD against Israel in Amos 5.

God’s condemnation and exposure of Israel’s hypocrisy gives way to His lamentation over the judgment and sorrows that will soon come upon the people (5:1-3).   Though the heart of the nation was to do evil, nevertheless the LORD appealed to Israel to hear, heed and repent (5:4, 6, 8, 14-15)!

Amos names the sins of the nation…unjust and rejecting righteousness (5:7), hating bearers of truth (5:10), abusing the poor (5:11), afflicting the righteous and taking bribes (5:12).   Pronouncements of “Woe!” bring the chapter to a close (5:18-27).  The people had continued to make a pretense of outward conformity (5:21-22), but God knew their hearts and the prophet condemns their hypocrisy [note verse 23 – Even their songs had the character of noise].

Amos 6 continues the prophet’s declarations of “woes”, against Israel, identified as Samaria, and Judah, identified as Zion (6:1).  Identifying Philistine and Syrian cities that had fallen to the Assyrian army, Amos questioned if Israel and Judah were foolish enough to believe the same would not soon befall them? (5:2)

In spite of the clouds of doom on the horizon, the people continued to indulge themselves, resting on “beds of ivory”, eating “the lambs out of the flock”; entertaining themselves with music, drunkenness and reveling in pleasures till they were carried into captivity bearing the chains of slavery (6:4-7).

In Amos 7-8, the prophet states six prophetic visions; five of judgment and the 6th of the day God will establish His heavenly kingdom. 

The first judgment is of grasshoppers (Amos 7:1-3) – God planned to bring locusts to devour the people’s second harvest; however, God heard Amos’ plea for the people and the “LORD repented” [that does not mean God planned to do evil or changed His attitude toward the evil of His people; it means He is longsuffering and changed His mind after hearing the plea of His servant].

The second judgment is one of fire (Amos 7:4-6) – Fire drying up water is a picture of the drought God planned to bring against His people.  Once again, God heard the intercession of His prophet and “repented” (7:6).

The third judgment is the plumb line (Amos 7:7-9) – The plumb line is a tool used by a builder to make sure a wall is straight.  God’s plumb line of judgment is His Law.  Seeing the plumb line of God’s Law and Commandments and the failure of the people measured by the Law of God, Amos did not intercede for the nation.

Amos 7 reminds us faithful preachers who declare the Word of God often find themselves in conflict with government and religious authorities.

Jeroboam, the wicked king of Israel (the northern 10 tribes), appointed Amaziah to serve as “the priest of Bethel” and to offer sacrifices.  Hearing the words of Amos and his bold declaration of the prophecies of the LORD against Israel and the king, Amaziah counseled there was no place for Amos in Israel (7:10-11).   Rather than hearing and heeding the message God had given His prophet, both Amaziah and the king wanted the prophet silenced (7:12-13).   Rehearsing God’s call upon his life, Amos set his heart he would not be silent and boldly declared God’s judgment (7:14-17).

The fourth judgment is a picture of fruit harvested at the end of summer, expressing the imminent judgment of God (8:1-14).

The fifth and final judgment prophesied by Amos is a vision of a temple destroyed (most likely not the one in Jerusalem, but the idolatrous one established in Samaria) and worshippers slain in the destruction (Amos 9:1-10).

The words of Amos would come to pass.  Israel, the northern kingdom consisting of ten tribes, was the first taken captive, scattered “among all nations” and never to return to Canaan (9:9).   Judah, the southern kingdom consisting of Judah and Benjamin, is promised, “I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob” (9:8).  Seventy years after Judah was taken captive, the people were allowed to return to their land, rebuild the temple and Jerusalem (9:11-15).

Amos 9 concludes with God’s promise to one day restore God’s people to their land and place upon the throne of David a legitimate heir. 

An observation as I close: A legitimate heir of David has not sat upon the throne of Israel since the time of the captivity to our day.  The Jews have returned to their homeland, but no king reigns in Israel.  When a legitimate heir of Israel sits on the throne of David He will be none other than Jesus Christ, Son of David, the Only begotten Son of God, the King of kings and Lord of lords.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Update on Hurricane Relief Trip to Marathon, FL

Hillsdale family, friends and Followers of Heart of a Shepherd,

Hillsdale is putting together a team to assist Marathon Baptist Church and her neighbors damaged and flooded by Hurricane Irma.

The team will be assisting with cutting away dry wall, removing carpet, appliances and furniture damaged in the storm.

Departure from Tampa is Monday morning, September 25 and return is Saturday, September 30.

The team will be staying in an airplane hangar the church has secured for unloading and distributing supplies.  Electricity is at the site.

Hillsdale is desiring to take a truck or trailer load of small office refrigerators or smaller used household refrigerators, stoves, washers and dryers.  If interested in donating or assisting, please call Pastor Barber at 813-884-8250, ext. 233 or Pastor Jarrett at 813-884-8250, ext. 232.

To donate financially, go to Hillsdale’s website, http://www.HillsdaleBaptist.org, look for the Donations button, type in your information and on the line “Other” type in Hurricane Relief.

With the heart of a shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

“Hawking One’s Self and Gawking at Others has become A National Pastime”

September 21, 2017

Scripture Reading – Proverbs 25

Some of my favorite proverbs are found in Proverbs 25 and as stated in verse 1, these are the proverbs of Solomon preserved by scribes of king Hezekiah’s court nearly a century after Solomon reigned as king of Israel.

The depth of wisdom and the practical nature of today’s proverbs are such it is nearly impossible for me to settle on the one’s I would have you to not only read, but also consider in your meditations.   Nevertheless, for the sake of brevity, I must limit my focus.

Consider Proverbs 25:6-7 and a devotion I first posted March 25, 2014 on http://www.HeartOfaShepherd.com.

The Internet has opened up a world of fame and infamy for those who want to leave their mark or make a name.   Social media has given us an opportunity to put our world and face on display for all to see.

Hawking one’s self and gawking at others has become an all-consuming pastime.   I am astonished at the post and pictures people put on Facebook and similar sites.   The infatuation with self reminds me of a comment my guide in Israel made 20 years ago when he observed the national pastime of Israeli youth was “to see and to be seen”.   It is estimated that 18-34-year-olds spend 3.8 hours a day social networking!

Proverbs 25:6-7 cuts against the grain of our self-promoting society.   Solomon urged his son to exercise discretion and humility, especially in the presence of great men.  Solomon writes,

Proverbs 25:6-7  “Put not forth thyself [don’t be a self-promoter; overtly ambitious; seeking vainglory] in the presence of the king, and stand not in the place of great men: 7 For better it is that it be said unto thee, Come up [ascend; go up] hither; than that thou shouldest be put lower [humbled; humiliated] in the presence of the prince whom thine eyes have seen.”  

Jesus taught a similar lesson regarding humility in Luke 14:8-10.

Luke 14:8-11  “When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; 9  And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room10  But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee. 11  For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”

Friend, my purpose is not to offend; however, as some say—“If the shoe fits, wear it!” 

Take a few minutes and look at your Facebook page and the pictures you have posted.  Be honest about the things you have written and pictures you have posted.   Forget how many “Likes” or “Comments” you have received and ask, “How much of what I write and post glorifies God?”

In a day of shameless self-promotion, HUMILITY is still the quality God cherishes in His people.

Matthew 5:3, 5 3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven… 5  Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Demolition Team Needed for Marathon, FL

Hillsdale family and friends,

We need a demolition team that can leave for Marathon, FL to assist Marathon Baptist Church and its members with removing damaged dry wall, furniture and appliances from homes.

The team could leave as early as Friday; however, a Monday departure is most likely and return on Saturday. The team will need to bring air mattresses and plan to spend nights in an airplane hangar provided by the church.

All appliances have been lost in homes following the flood.  While electricity is being restored, there is now a need for small refrigerators, stoves, washers and dryers.   Unless someone has a truck and large trailer, Hillsdale will probably rent a U-Haul to drive donations to the Keys.

If interested, please call the office and leave a message with Pastor Barber at 813-884-8250 ext 233 or Pastor Jarrett at ext. 232.

With the heart of a shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

Hillsdale’s Assistance with Hurricane Relief in South Florida

The following is an update on Hillsdale’s assistance with Hurricane Victims:

Because of the faithful giving of our church families and friends of our ministry, Hillsdale has been able to fund the shipment of a 53 ft. trailer full of cases of water from Ohio to Port Charlotte, FL where a church will distribute them their neighbors who are without water.

In addition, Hillsdale is paying for 2 semi-truckloads of goods to be shipped from Jacksonville, FL to Marathon, FL where a church in Marathon will be receiving the shipments, unloading them in an airplane hangar and setting up a distribution point to their church families, neighbors and other churches in need.

We anticipate an opportunity of our first teams leaving for Marathon Key in the next one to two weeks.  I will share more details when I get them from Dr. Jan Milton of Operation Renewed Hope.

Please continue to remember in prayer those who are hurting in South Florida and Texas.

With a shepherd’s heart,

Pastor Travis D. Smith