Category Archives: Fundamentalism

Woe to the Nation That Celebrates Perversity and Attacks Morality!

September 15, 2017

Scripture Reading – Amos 1-4

Borrowing the modern vernacular of politics, the prophet Amos was an outsider when God called him to deliver a word of prophecy against Judah and Israel (Amos 1:1).  He lived and worked in obscurity as a common herdsman with no political ties or religious lineage.   When God called him to prophecy, Israel and Judah were enjoying a season of peace and prosperity and the thought of God’s displeasure and judgment was far from them.

“Uzziah king of Judah” (1:1) presided over the southern kingdom and the nation maintained an outward form of worshipping the LORD (5:21-22); however, the hearts of the king and people were far from Him.  “Jeroboam the son of Joash” was king of Israel (1:1), the northern kingdom; making no pretense of worshipping the LORD, that nation built an altar in Bethel and offered sacrifices to a golden calf.

Amos, a layperson “who was among the herdmen of Tekoa” (1:1), was a courageous prophet.  With the word of the LORD upon his lips, he delivered a series of prophecies against six Gentile nations: Syria, identified as Damascus (1:3-5)… Philistia, identified by its principal cities, Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gath, and Ekron (1:6-8)… Tyre (1:9-10)… Edom (1:11-12)… Ammon (1:13-15)… and Moab (2:1-3) all were warned the judgment of God was imminent.

Turning his focus from the six Gentile nations, Amos warned Judah the nation would be judged “because they have despised the law of the LORD, and have not kept his commandments” (2:4).

Amos then declared the sins and wickedness of the kingdom of Israel and warned the nation would suffer God’s judgment (2:6-16).  Lest any doubt the grace and longsuffering of God, the prophet reminded the nation how the LORD had brought them out of Egypt (2:9) and given them the land of the Amorites (2:9-10).  God sent prophets, but the people said, “Prophesy not” (2:12).

In chapter 3 Amos prophesied reminding the people the LORD had chosen the “children of Israel” (meaning both the kingdoms of Israel and Judah) as His people and made Himself known to them (3:1-2).  Israel, however, rejected the LORD and He set Himself against them saying, “I will punish you for all your iniquities” (Amos 3:1).

Adding to the Israel’s humiliation, God commanded Amos to summon two Gentile nations, Ashdod, a Philistine city, and Egypt to witness God’s judgment against Israel (whose capital was Samaria).  A sad commentary on the deception of sin is the condemnation: For they know not to do right, saith the LORD” (3:10).

How did the nation to whom the LORD had revealed Himself, His Law and Commandments come to this?  How could they be so blind they lost sense and discernment of right and wrong?

Warning: Here is the beguiling way of sin and wickedness.  When a people make light of God’s Truth, trivialize and rationalize sin, eventually their hearts becomes desensitized to wickedness, they no longer know how to do right.  Perhaps an oversimplification, but I believe an accurate one:  Israel had strayed so far from God’s law the people no longer had “common sense”—they had no sense of right (3:10).

My friend, the same condemnation is true of our beloved United States!

The lunacy of atheism coupled with the perversity of humanism is so entrenched in government, education, religion and media it has crippled our judgment as a society.   Having rejected God and His Laws, our moral judgment as a nation is twisted and perverted and we “know not to do right” (3:10).

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Spiritual Bullies and Silent Saints

September 2, 2017

Scripture Reading – John 10-12

Today’s Bible reading sets the final stage for Christ’s appointment with the Cross.   I am always struck by the wickedness of the religious leaders in Christ’s day.   While there were some who were sincere in their practice and a few who believed Jesus was the Christ (Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea), the majority of the leaders of Judaism were wicked men who would argue ad infinitum matters of the Law, but in secret plot the murder and death of Jesus.

John 10:31 – “…the Jews took up stones again to stone Him.”

John 10:39 – “Therefore they sought again to take Him …”

John 11:8 – “His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again?”
John 11:47-53 – “Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles…53 they took counsel together for to put him to death…”

After the miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead, the Jewish leaders not only sought to kill Jesus, but also Lazarus.

John 12:10-11 – “But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; 11  Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus.”

While many believed Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah, there were many others that “believed not on him” (John 12:37).

I close today, not pondering why religious leaders would reject and plot to murder Jesus, but why there were some among them who believed and failed to openly confess their faith in Him.  The apostle John writes:

John 12:42-43 – Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue:  43  For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”

Some believed Jesus was the Christ; however, they remained silent when their peers plotted to murder Him fearing their confession of faith would be detrimental to their place and positions of power and influence in the synagogue and community.

I find that same dynamic in the 21st century church.  There are “spiritual bullies” in the pulpits and pews who confess a piety of faith in Christ, but deny Him with their lives loving sin and the pleasures of the world (1 John 2:15-17).

Question the conflict between their profession and the command we are to be “obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts… 15  But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation” and they attack, slander and libel their critic (1 Peter 1:14-16).

Sadly, like the religious leaders who believed Jesus was the Christ and remained silent, there are many saints who, fearing criticism, loss of favor or position, sit silent in churches, Bible colleges and parachurch institutions as sin and carnality take hold.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Millennials and their “Temper Tantrums” Are Threatening to Destroy the United States!

I once again have the privilege of preaching and teaching God’s Word in Hillsdale’s 10:30 AM and 6:00 PM services this Sunday.   I am continuing my series in Genesis titled “Lessons on Faith from the Life of Abraham” in the evening service.

I am in the midst of a Sunday morning series titled “The Commandments of the LORD” and my focus this Sunday is on the 5th Command:

“Honour [glorify; boast] thy father and thy mother: that thy days [time; years] may be long [lengthened; prolonged; draw out; endure] upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee” (Exodus 20:12).

Never one to shy away from difficult and controversial subjects, I plan to make some relevant observations regarding this Millennial generations’ penchant for throwing what one dear saint observed is nothing more than “Temper Tantrums”.

For nearly 50 years, America has made idols of her children and we are beginning to reap the consequences.  Parents of my generation failed to teach their children to “Honor thy father and thy mother” and now they are creating chaos and threatening anarchy!

This is the generation that was kicking and screaming in WalMart’s toy aisle, except now they are screaming in the public square.

This is the generation that was not taught to respect authority, to be quiet and listen…now they are shouting down every voice they don’t want to hear and willing to shed blood and destroy the lives of any who get in their way.

I have a prophetic warning for this nation and our politicians: 

Continue to capitulate to the demands and temper tantrums of this generation and they will not stop with demanding the removal of monuments they dislike… They will eventually silence and eliminate the voices and people who stand in the way of their demands.

I invite you to join me at Hillsdale this Sunday as I exhort parents to teach their children and challenge children to “Honor thy father and thy mother”.

For those who follow this years’ scripture reading schedule and my daily devotional commentary, the following are readings scheduled for today and Sunday:

Saturday – Scripture Reading – Gospel of John 7-9

Sunday – Scripture Reading – 2 Timothy 1-2

With the heart of a shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

Copyright 2-17 – Travis D. Smith

Ignorance Is Not Bliss!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Hosea 1-7

Today’s scripture reading is the first seven chapters of the Book of Hosea, written by Hosea, the first of the “minor prophets”.  There is general agreement among scholars that Hosea’s public ministry spanned 58 years beginning in 748 B.C. and continuing to 690 B.C., concluding just prior to Assyria conquering Israel and leading the people away into captivity.

As God’s prophet, Hosea was tasked with the responsibility of preaching to the northern ten tribes known as Israel.  Having rejected God’s commandments, the rebellious nation had turned to worshipping and sacrificing to idols.  The Book of Hosea records the ministry of one faithful man who courageously warned his nation of God’s imminent judgment should they continue in their wickedness and rebellion.

Hosea 1 opens with a disconcerting command; comparing the spiritual condition of Israel to whoredom, the LORD illustrated His unfailing love for Israel and commanded Hosea to take a prostitute named Gomer as his wife (Hosea 1:2).  Gomer would bear three children of Hosea; a son named Jezreel (meaning “God scatters” – 1:4), a daughter named Loruhamah (meaning “love withdrawn” – 1:6), and another son named Loammi (meaning “not my people” – 1:9).  The names of Hosea’s children conveyed the spiritual condition of the nation and their estranged relationship with the LORD.

Hosea 3 uses the prophet’s scandalous marriage to Gomer, a prostitute, as a parallel portrait of Israel’s unfaithfulness to God.  In spite of Hosea’s tender love for his wife, she left him and returned to prostitution (Hosea 3:1), in the same manner Israel left the LORD and committed spiritual whoredom with the gods of her pagan neighbors.

Illustrating the LORD’s longsuffering and compassion for Israel in spite of her spiritual harlotry, the LORD commanded Hosea to take Gomer back as his wife (Hosea 3:2 states he purchased her out of prostitution for “fifteen pieces of silver, and for an homer of barley, and an half homer of barley” (3:2).  Taking back his adulterous wife and promising to restore their marriage covenant (3:3), Hosea demonstrated God’s unconditional love and compassion for wayward Israel.

Hosea 4 paints a picture of a nation that is in the midst of a precipitous moral decline.  Preaching the “word of the LORD”, Hosea declared “there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. 2  By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood” (4:1-2).

Hosea confronted priests who had failed the people as spiritual leaders warning, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children” (Hosea 4:6).

God turned the nation’s “glory into shame” and warned, “I will punish them for their ways, and reward them their doings” (4:9);  “they shall eat, and not have enough: they shall commit whoredom, and shall not increase: because they have left off to take heed to the LORD” (4:10).

What a tragic time!  In the hour the nation was desperate for a clarion call to repent and turn back to God, the spiritual leaders were themselves engrossed in wickedness (4:6-11).  They had failed the people and doomed the nation!

Hosea warned Israel the opportunity to repent and turn back to the LORD was fleeting and the nation would soon fall victim to an enemy described as a “thief” (7:1).  “Strangers have devoured his strength…yet he knoweth not” (Hosea 7:9) describes the decline of the nation.  As the clouds of judgment approached, rather than return to the LORD, the nation appealed to Egypt to save her from Assyria (7:11-16).

On a practical and personal note, the annual readership of this devotional blog is read by citizens of some 170 nations, many of who are following the spiritual and moral decline of America in the news and from their own vantage point.  President Trump’s call to “Make America Great Again” resonated with the populist of America when he was elected November 2016; however, I know of no politician who has addressed the core issue of this nation’s decline…SIN!

The spiritual harlotry of Israel and the failure of her spiritual leaders to confess and confront the sins of the nation should serve as a warning to America’s spiritual leaders.  Sadly, a generation of preachers fill the pulpits of America’s churches and Christian schools who are failing to, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:2-4).   Fulfilling the apostle Paul’s dire warning, the 21st century church has become a people who “will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4  And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

The founding fathers of these United States were well aware the greatest danger to America’s future as a nation would be her own internal struggles.  Sounding more like a prophet than a politician, Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States, warned:  “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever.”

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

The Devolution of Church Music and Worship

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Psalms 96-98

The psalms in today’s scripture reading are beautiful in their message and majestic in their tone.  Psalm 96 and Psalm 98 begin with the exhortation of singing a “new song” to the LORD (96:1; 98:1) and conclude with the LORD coming to reign and “judge the earth” (96:13; 98:9).

What is this “new song”?  I believe the “new song” is the song of salvation, the song of redemption.  We read in Psalm 96:2 that the song to the LORD is to “shew forth His salvation”.   Psalm 98 states the same, “The LORD hath made known His salvation” (98:2); “all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God” (98:3).

Psalm 96 is an evangelistic psalm of praise not limited to Israel.  The psalmist writes, “Declare His glory among the heathen” (96:3); “O ye kindreds of the people, give unto the LORD glory and strength” (96:7); “fear before Him, all the earth. 10 Say among the heathen that the LORD reigneth” (6:9-10a); “let the earth be glad” (96:11); “He shall judge the world with righteousness” (96:13).

Psalm 97 continues the theme of the LORD’s Second Coming when He will reign and judge the earth in righteousness.

Psalm 98 returns to worshipping the LORD in music and song for His salvation and righteousness (98:2).

As is often my practice, I close today’s devotional commentary on a personal note (after all, these daily commentaries are my own meditations which I share with those who follow www.HeartofAShepherd.com).

The Book of Psalms is as its name implies, a compilation of songs of praise and worship employed in daily worship in the Temple.

Nothing took the primacy of reading and teaching God’s Word; however, the centrality of instrumental music and song is obvious throughout the Psalms and in other passages of scripture in the Bible.   Apart from the custody and stewardship of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the preaching and teaching of the scriptures, the churches influence on music and song is preeminent.   No other religion or institution has so profoundly inspired or left an indelible impression on the art of music.

Sadly, the music of the 21st century church has succumb to a secular culture’s demand for entertainment, betraying its purpose to lead the congregation of the saints in worshipping the LORD in music and song.  Every genre of 21st century “music”, regardless of how detestable, is employed in “worship” at the sacrifice of the highest ideals of musicianship and musical excellence.

As one who loves the LORD and loves music that moves the heart and soul, I mourn the devolution of worship and music in our churches.

Psalm 98:4-6 – Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.
5  Sing unto the LORD with the harp; with the harp, and the voice of a psalm.
6  With trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the LORD, the King.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Who Are You Following?

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Daily reading assignment – John 3-4

In the midst of our scripture reading for today are some of the most beloved verses in the Bible.

The answer to the inquiry of Nicodemus, a ruler and elder of the Pharisees, who came seeking Jesus and was told, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).  Undeterred by the truths he did not understand, he asked, “How can these things be?” (John 3:9); to which Jesus spoke the words that have brought multitudes to saving faith and eternal life:

John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

 John 4 gives us the story of the Samaritan woman who, to avoid the mocking of those who knew her life was a scandal of sin and immorality, came to the public well in the heat of the day where she met Jesus (John 4:1-42).

For today’s brief devotional, I invite you to consider a portrait of humility embodied in the example of Christ’s forerunner, John the Baptist (John 3:22-36).  While the name and ministry of Jesus was increasing in Israel, it was inevitable that His ministry and that of John the Baptist would intersect.  Humanly speaking, one would anticipate a rivalry to rise between these two titans of faith and miracles.

Hearing Jesus had come into Judaea and was baptizing, John’s disciples came to him and said, “He that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him” (John 3:26).

John’s response is one every preacher, teacher and their followers should mirror when the temptation to compete arises between churches and ministries.  We read, “John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven” (John 3:27).

John went on to express a truth ministers and teachers should follow; he was not “the Christ” and was not seeking his own followers (John 3:28-29).  John’s task was not to build a spiritual entourage; his task was to prepare the way and point men to Jesus Christ!   John continued, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:39).

One of the great failings of Christianity in the late 20th and now 21st century is too many Christians identify with “big name” preachers, teachers, and institutions rather than find their identity in Jesus Christ alone.   Book publishers, radio stations, Christian magazines and now the internet has perpetuated the bent and contentious nature of being followers of men!

The apostle Paul addressed the same sinful propensity in 1 Corinthians 3 when he writes, “For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? 5  Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? 6  I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase” (1 Corinthians 3:4-6).  Sadly, some Christians are so enamored with their favorite preacher or evangelist; they abandon all discernment and follow them into their errors and sin!

Friend, I hope you are not numbered among those who stoop to be followers of men and institutions rather than followers of Jesus Christ!

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith