Category Archives: Education

“You Cannot Afford to Wear ‘Rose-Colored Glasses’ in a Sinful, Black and White World!”

September 7, 2017

Scripture Reading – Proverbs 22

Our scripture reading today is Proverbs 22 and is, like all chapters in Proverbs, a treasure trove of wisdom that southern folk of my youth applauded as “good old common sense”.  Unfortunate for our society, we have strayed far from God and His Word and the bits of wisdom that were guiding posts for generations of youth are unfamiliar to most in our day.

For today’s devotional commentary, I am selecting one verse especially applicable to Floridians preparing for the possibility of Hurricane Irma making landfall this weekend.   Having watched from afar the devastation left in the wake of Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas, Floridians are being prudent and exercising an abundance of caution.  Of prudence, Solomon writes:

Proverbs 22:3 – “A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.”

We live in a dangerous world far from the “Mayberry” world portrayed in the old Andy Griffith Shows of the early 1960’s. You and I do not have the joy or luxury of raising our families with the naiveté’ of Barney Fife and Goober.   Of necessity, believers need to be prudent, wise and cunning in a world that is no friend of the Christian or his family.

Proverbs 22:3 draws a contrast between two men who are polar opposites when it comes to discernment—the Prudent and the Simple.

Proverbs 22:3  “A prudent [cunning; sensible] man foreseeth [perceive; understands] the evil [sin; wickedness; adversity], and hideth [conceal; hide; shelter] himself: but the simple [foolish; silly] pass on, and are punished [condemn; inflict a penalty].”

The Prudent man is a learner.   He is a student of the Scriptures [the Wisdom of God] and human nature.   His senses are exercised by a lifetime of experiences and he is wary of the wiles and ways of the world.  Prudence dictates he foresee the ways of the wicked and withdraw himself from the consequences of their sinful ways.

The Simple are not learners.   They are stubborn, ignoring the admonitions of their parents and godly counselors.  They pursue the pleasures of sin and the company of the foolish giving no thought to their tragic end.  The Simple rush past moral restraints and headlong down the path of self-destruction.

This same proverb is repeated in Proverbs 27:12, thus magnifying the need to read and heed its truth.

Proverbs 27:12 – “A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished.”

Be wise. Seek and heed godly counsel; after all, you cannot afford to wear “rose-colored glasses” in a sinful, black and white world!

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

“The end never justifies the means.”

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Daily reading assignment – 1 Chronicles 10-14

I stated in an earlier commentary that the first nine chapters of 1 Chronicles was largely devoted to the genealogical record of Israel and Judah.  1 Chronicles 9 concluded with a brief summary of the lineage of king Saul and his sons (9:35-44).

We noted the reign and death of Saul, Israel’s first king in an earlier commentary in 1 Samuel 31:1-10.  1 Chronicles 10 gives us another perspective of Israel’s defeat at the hands of the Philistines and the tragic deaths of Saul and his sons on the battlefield (10:1-6) and their humiliation that followed (10:7-10).

1 Chronicles 11 gives us a record of the coronation and reign of Israel’s beloved king, David.  Although a brilliant strategist in war and surrounded by mighty men (11:10-47) and loyal servants (12:1-40), the secret to David’s success was found in neither.  David was a great king for only one reason… “the LORD of hosts was with him” (11:9).

Unlike leaders of our day who strive to unite a people around the strength of their personality and ideas, David sought the unity of Israel, not around himself, but around the LORD.   Heralding a call for revival, David commanded the “Ark of God” [also known as the Ark of the Covenant] be brought to Jerusalem, noting the nation had “enquired not at it in the days of Saul” (13:2-3).   The celebration of the Ark’s journey to Jerusalem was cut short when a man named Uzza “put forth his hand to hold (or steady) the ark” that was being carried on a cart pulled by oxen (13:7-10).

“WHY?” becomes a question we should address.  Why would God punish Uzza whose actions were not only instinctive, but arguably innocent?   After all, was it not a good thing that the desire of David and the elders of Israel was to have the Ark, the symbol of God’s presence in Jerusalem the capital city?

An insightful quote of the late evangelist Dr. Bob Jones Sr. comes to mind when addressing the tragic death of Uzza:  “It is never right to do wrong to get a chance to do right.”   Uzza was not struck down because he was insincere or impassionate in his desire to see the Ark moved to Jerusalem.   Uzza died because the manner in which the Ark was transported was a violation of God’s instructions to the Levites (Numbers 4) and touching the sacred Ark to steady it defiled that which God had declared holy and sanctified for Himself (Numbers 1:51; 4:15, 20).

I close this devotional with a personal observation:  

I am observing a steady, progressive departure from institutional convictions and principles that were the foundation of vibrant churches, schools, Bible colleges and Christian universities in the 20th century.

Well-meaning, zealous men are stepping into the pulpits of fundamental churches and Bible colleges who, driven by a passion to see their institutions successful, adopt a pragmatic approach to ministry that is a departure from their institution’s guiding principles and core convictions.   Suggesting “times have changed” and believing their sincerity is enough, good men are leading our churches and schools down a path that inevitably sacrifices Christian disciplines and Bible convictions that are at the core of spiritual distinctives.

Like Uzza, our dying churches and Bible colleges are a sad testimony that, “The end never justifies the means.”

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Hillsdale Christian Academy and Preschool

Twelve years ago, August 2005, Hillsdale Baptist Church, founded in 1962, opened her heart to a new community and began an exciting new ministry…Hillsdale Preschool.   Over the years, Hillsdale Preschool grew and matured into a ministry we know today as Hillsdale Christian Academy and Preschool (HCA).

HCA has become a full-fledged academic institution offering superior classroom instruction to K2-5th Grades and an exclusive Virtual School for 6th-12th grades directed and moderated by our secondary education teacher, Mrs. Rebecca Peterman.

Under the guidance of our principal, Mrs. Tanya Henry and our Family Pastor, Pastor Eric Peterman, Hillsdale Preschool is one of the finest Preschools in Central Florida (annual testing of our K4 students matriculating to K5 has HCA in the top percentile in Florida).

With an exceptional, dedicated Christian faculty, HCA is earning its own reputation as an academic institution and is a Step UP and McKay scholarship approved institution.  Committed to being a loving, nurturing institution offering academic disciplines with a Christian worldview, HCA promotes civic responsibility and is unapologetically patriotic.

Rejoice with me as Hillsdale Christian Academy and Preschool begins her 2017-2018 school year!

With the heart of a shepherd,

Travis D. Smith

Senior Pastor

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

God’s Call to Holiness

Monday, July 17, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Leviticus 16-18

After addressing the issue of leprosy (Leviticus 13-14), the opening verse of Leviticus 16 reminds us of a tragedy that occurred in the priesthood when two sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, “offered strange [foreign] fire before the LORD, which He commanded [charged] them not” (Leviticus 10:1) and were slain for their sin against the LORD (Leviticus 10:2).

Reminding us the office of high priest was a holy office and Aaron’s ministry before the LORD on behalf of the people was a sacred duty; the LORD instructs Moses the high priest was only to enter the holy place, the “holy of holies”, once a year (16:2) on “the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month” (16:29).   The Day of Atonement, known as “Yom Kippur” and the “Sabbath of Sabbaths”, is the most holy day on the Jewish calendar and was the day the high priest offered sacrifices for nation’s sins against God.

The pattern of blood sacrifices was necessary to remind all sinners the penalty of sin is death and there is no forgiveness of sins apart from the shedding of blood, for “without shedding of blood is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22).

Once a year and every year, the high priest offered sacrifices for the sins of the people.  Under the new covenant, this annual ritual is no longer needed following Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross for sin, His burial and resurrection from the dead. We read in the Book of Hebrews,

Hebrews 9:24-28 – “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:
25  Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others;
26  For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
27  And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
28  So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”

Leviticus 17 continues the LORD’s instructions to Moses concerning sacrifices the priests were to offer for the people before the door of the tabernacle.   Thirteen times in chapter 17 the centrality of blood sacrifices for sin is mentioned and explicit instructions are given regarding the offerings to the LORD, including the prohibition regarding the consumption of blood (17:10-14).   For those curious regarding the meaning of “Kosher” meats; they are meats derived from animals slaughtered and the blood drained according to Biblical guidelines.

Morality and the sanctity of marriage is the subject of Leviticus 18:1-30 and one that should be a subject of teaching in the 21st century church.   Several moral issues are addressed including the prohibition of incest (18:6-19), adultery (18:20; Exodus 20:14), homosexuality (18:22), and bestiality (18:23).

The wicked immoral practices the people might remember from Egypt and the immorality that might observe in the new land were prohibited.  In other words, the world was not to be the standard of God’s people in conduct and lifestyle.  Israel was to not follow in the ways of Egypt and Canaan (Leviticus 18:3; 24-29).  The LORD commanded His people, “Ye shall do my judgments, and keep mine ordinances, to walk therein: I am the LORD your God” (18:4).  Excommunication from fellowship and living among the people was the judgment against any who chose to walk contrary to the law and commandments (18:29).

Friend, there was a time the church and God’s people set the moral standard for these United States and defined a godly lifestyle according God’s Word, law and commandments.   It troubles me to observe the average Christian home in America has an appetite for the world and looks to society, politicians, judges, and liberal media for their moral judgments.  Our homes, churches and schools will not be blessed until we allow our consciences to be disciplined by God’s Word, law and commandments (18:30).

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

“Idle Hands Are The Devil’s Workshop”

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Proverbs 10

The following study is taken in part from my devotional commentary post on the Book of Proverbs dated December 10, 2014.

Today’s study in proverbs features what I will call three “stand alone proverbs” – three proverbial statements of “Uncommon Common Sense” communicating three distinct observations.

Proverbs 10:15  “The rich man’s wealth [property; possessions; savings] is his strong city [a fortified city]: the destruction [ruin; dismay; terror] of the poor [needy; helpless] is their poverty.”

“You didn’t build that!”, was an adage employed by liberal politicians in the 2012 election cycle in the United States.   Hoping to stir up class envy, the statement taunted the successful while dismissing the sacrifices and risks taken by employers and business owners.  I accept the statement if the intent is to acknowledge divine providence; however, an ideology that taunts hardworking entrepreneurs, spawns an expansive welfare state, inevitably makes citizens debtors and slaves of big government.   How tragic!   While excoriating the successful, the poor are left weak, dependent and one crisis from destitution!

Proverbs 10:15 is a statement of fact—a rich man finds comfort and security in his wealth.   In the same way citizens of a medieval city found refuge behind the walls of a city, a rich man finds security in riches providentially provided to him by God.   By contrast, the working poor are often a crisis away from desperation (an incentive to be a “saver” and not a “spender” or “debtor”).

Proverbs 10:16 – “The labour  [wages; reward] of the righteous [just; law-abiding] tendeth to life [strength; satisfaction]: the fruit [result; reaping] of the wicked [ungodly; guilty] to sin [punishment; i.e. leads to greater sin].”

Though the curse of sin left man laboring for food by the sweat of his brow (Genesis 3:19),  the reward of an honest day’s labor brings its own satisfaction.   I am not sure who to credit with the quote, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop”; however, there is a lot of truth in that statement.   The prevalence of depression in our society is, I believe, directly related to the gross amount of leisure time we enjoy as a society.  Too few of us come to the end of a day and enjoy the reward of having accomplished anything that is lasting!

Proverbs 10:17 – “He is in the way [path] of life that keepeth [heeds] instruction: but he that refuseth reproof [refuses to hear and heed correction] erreth.”

Solomon continues a common theme in verse 17—God blesses a man who heeds correction and rebuke; however, a rebel will inevitably follow a path to his own destruction.

As Solomon challenged his son to take the path of righteousness, it is the duty and responsibility of parents and spiritual leaders to challenge men and women with the same enduring truths from God’s Word (2 Timothy 4:2)!

Two questions to ponder: What path are you taking?  Is your heart open to correction? 

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

“Four Proverbs That Can Change Your Life”

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Proverbs 4

We live in a day when it seems everyone is a victim and few are willing to grow up, take responsibility for their actions, and accept the consequences of their choices.   Perhaps I am in the minority, but when people riot, pillage and destroy the possessions and lives of others—justice demands the consequences be swift and deliberate!  This may come as a revelation for some, but if you choose the path o f violence you will more than likely die in a pool of your own blood [for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword – Matthew 26:52].

In the closing verses of Proverbs 4, Solomon challenges his son to grow up, exercise maturity and take responsibility for decisions in life.   Notice four areas Solomon urged his son to assume responsibility and protect himself: His Heart (4:23), Mouth (4:24), Eyes (4:25) and Path (4:26-27).

Proverbs 4:23 – “Keep [guard; set a watch] thy heart [mind and thoughts] with all diligence [vigilance]; for out of it [heart] are the issues [streams; the headwaters] of life.”

Proverbs 4:23 is one of the great challenges found in the Book of Proverbs…Guard your heart for it is the source, the headwaters from which your life will flow.  Pollute the headwaters of a stream or river and the whole is eventually contaminated.  So it is with the heart, as goes the heart, so goes one’s life.  Pollute your heart with secret sins and they will inevitably tarnish your testimony and destroy your life.

Proverbs 4:24  “Put away [remove; eschew; turn aside] from thee a froward [perverse; twisted] mouth [speech], and perverse [crooked; deviant] lips put far [remove; distance] from thee.”

At the risk of being blunt, Proverbs 4:24 is an exhortation to bite the tongue and shut the mouth.  That might offend some; however, I am not the first to observe God gave us one tongue, but two ears!  We would be wise to listen twice as much as we talk!

Proverbs 4:25 – “Let thine eyes [countenance; sight; longing] look [behold; consider;] right on [forward; straight], and let thine eyelids look straight [be right; upright] before thee.”

The eyes are a third area of concern in today’s devotional.  In a day when media dominates our lives and provoking images surround us, Solomon’s exhortation to his son to guard his eyes is one we should heed.  The psalmist challenged believers with the same principle: “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me” (Psalm 101:3).

The fourth and final exhortation in today’s devotion is a summary (4:26-27).

Proverbs 4:26-27  “Ponder [consider; weigh] the path [the way; going] of thy feet [steps; journey], and let all thy ways [course; journey in life] be established [fixed; firm; right]. 27 Turn [incline; morally turn; pervert; turn aside] not to the right hand nor to the left: remove [eschew; turn aside; depart] thy foot [step; journey] from evil [wickedness].”

I urge you to accept Solomon’s challenge, consider the consequences of life’s choices and set your heart, eyes and affections upon the eternal.

Matthew 6:33  “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

“A Reason To Be Wary Of Liberties Some Leaders Champion”

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Proverbs 2-3

Today’s scripture reading is Proverbs 2-3; however, the focus for this devotional commentary is limited to Proverbs 2:12-13.

In today’s devotional, Solomon advises his son that godly wisdom will induce him to be wary of two enemies of youthWicked men and their influence (Proverbs 2:12-15) and the Adulterous woman and her ways (Proverbs 2:16-19).  For the sake of brevity, I will focus on two of the four proverbs that serve as warnings concerning wicked men.

Proverbs 2:12-13 – “To deliver [rescue; save] thee from the way [path; course of life] of the evil man [wicked], from the man that speaketh [tell; say] froward things [lies and perverseness]; 13 Who leave [forsake; abandon; depart from; loosen] the paths [way; manner; race; troop] of uprightness, to walk in the ways [path; course of life] of darkness [i.e. ignorance; sorrow];”

Preparing his son who will one day serve the nation as king, Solomon exhorts him to embrace godly wisdom and allow righteous discernment to set the course of his life.  Godly wisdom, the wisdom God alone imparts from His Word, directs youth to not only recognize the character of the ungodly, but turn from their counsel [i.e. “froward things”].

Wicked counsel often comes from those who, to borrow an old expression, “should know better”.  Solomon exhorts his son, be cautious of those who once knew and appeared to follow the “paths of uprightness” but have departed (2:13).  The Apostle Paul challenged Timothy with a similar admonition when he wrote that the last days would be “perilous” because there would be some who have “a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (2 Timothy 3:5).

A personal observation: Our churches, Bible colleges and seminaries are heavily influenced by a host of men and women who hurl the “legalist” label at those who choose to take what I define as the “higher road”.

This generation of Christian leaders has focused on “Liberty” to indulge “grey areas” previous generations of Christians steered from out of concern for passions they might induce and the influence they carried.  In their pursuit of the more “enlightened life”, many Christian leaders have become advocates of driving near the cliff edge as opposed to steering far from danger.  They have become what Solomon cautioned—those who have forsaken the paths of the upright only to “walk in the way of darkness” (2:13).

Be careful my friend; the tantalizing “Liberties” you trifle with today can enslave and traumatize your children tomorrow.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith