Category Archives: In the News

Spiritual Principles for Employees and Employers in an Entitlement Age (1 Timothy 6)

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Scripture reading – 1 Timothy 6

Our brief study of Paul’s 1st Epistle to Timothy concludes with today’s Scripture reading. Readers will notice Paul continues a broad sweep of issues that have confronted believers since the 1st century. Arguably, times have changed, but the prevailing sins and spiritual challenges of mankind are the same. Today’s devotional will consider 1 Timothy 6:1-6.

The Culture of the 1st Century Church (6:1-2)

Paul’s letter was addressed to a culture where slaves and masters were members of the church. In fact, the membership of the 1st century church had some slaves who found themselves serving “believing masters” (6:2). Paul did not tackle the moral or ethical nature of slavery, as slavery was a common way of life in the first century. Nor did he urge Timothy to lead an uprising against slavery. Instead, the apostle addressed the dynamics of believing slaves and their masters (whether unbelieving or believing).

Author’s note – Before I consider an exposition of 1 Timothy 6:1-2, I hope you might give me liberty for a personal observation.

Mirroring the attitude of the 21st century world, I have observed the growing presence and influence of a rebellious spirit of entitlement even among believers. Sadly, our families, churches, and Christian institutions have embraced entitlement as a right, of which few are willing to challenge. Entitlement arises from a self-focused heart, in essence, from those who would espouse employees’ rights and privileges above all else. I believe the pendulum has swung so far in favor of employees, that they now abuse their employers thus driving corporations to the edge of fiscal insanity, if not bankruptcy.

What is the Believer’s Duty to An Unbelieving Employer? (6:1)

Paul challenged Timothy to teach slaves and servants to be characterized by the same attitude of which he wrote, namely – Respect. Whether a slave served a master who was an unbeliever or a believer, the requirement was the same: Servants were to treat their masters with honor and respect, knowing their actions and attitudes reflected on their faith and profession in Christ. Paul wrote, “1Let as many servants as are under the yoke [the yoke of bondage or slavery] count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed” (6:1).

In his epistle to believers in Ephesus, Paul challenged servants and slaves to obey their masters, and fear and honor them out of a sincere heart, “as unto Christ” (Ephesians 6:5). Peter commanded, “18Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward” (1 Peter 2:18). The heart attitude of a believer is to serve, honor, and obey an employer to the end they will give them no cause to have an ill opinion of God and the Scriptures (6:1).

What is the Believer’s Duty to a Believing Employer? (6:2)

Today, many believers bring a spirit of entitlement when they are employed by believers or a ministry. Some believers become so offensive in their expectations, they become a sorrow to fellow believers that employ them.

There were some in the congregation Timothy pastored who were masters (6:2). Surely, salvation so transformed the lives of some that they evidenced love and Biblical virtues toward their slaves (2 Corinthians 5:17). Perhaps, some believing masters even divested themselves of slavery entirely.

Nevertheless, slavery was a component within the culture of the 1st century church. Therefore, Paul commanded Timothy teach and exhort believers regarding the relationship of the servants and their masters (6:2). What was Timothy to “teach and exhort” servants? (6:2) Paul wrote: “they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit” (6:2).

While the servants and some masters were believers, the believing servants were to remember their place and role, and treat their masters with respect (“not despise them,” 6:2b). A believing servant was to “do them service,” meaning serve them with a right heart attitude and spirit (6:c). Because the master was a believer, the believing slave was to value the privilege of serving a fellow believer, knowing both were “partakers of the benefit,” meaning the Gospel of the grace of God in Christ (6:2d).

Closing thoughts (6:3-6) – I close today’s devotion, exhorting you to not entertain any other spirit or attitude that arises and hinders your testimony in the world. There are believers who justify a belligerent, divisive spirit toward their employers. If believers were to exercise an honest self-examination, some would find a spirit of entitlement contrary to the Spirit of God, and the teachings of the Scripture.

If believing slaves were commanded to honor and obey their masters, surely no less can be expected of us.

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

The Calling and Passion of a Minister (1 Timothy 4; 1 Timothy 5)

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Scripture reading – 1 Timothy 4; 1 Timothy 5

The passage assigned for today’s Scripture reading is prophetic (4:1-5), convicting (4:6-16), and voluminous in practical instruction for the daily life of the church, its leadership, and members (5:1-25). Understanding Paul was writing to Timothy, who was not only his spiritual son in the faith, but a young pastor, we find instructions that are powerful and pointed. Unfortunately, I must limit today’s devotion to 1 Timothy 4.

1 Timothy 4

Warning Concerning False Teachers (4:1-5)

On numerous occasions our study of the New Testament has evidenced a concern regarding false teachers and their teachings. Timothy was no stranger to the enemies of the Gospel, and their presence without and within the church. Paul was aware of the challenges facing Timothy as a pastor, and he warned him concerning the presence and growing influence evil men would have “in the latter times” (4:1).

Apostasy has plagued believers from the fall of man, and the influence of evil men has shadowed God’s people throughout the ages. Moses contended with wicked men in the midst of Israel’s sojourn through the wilderness. Isaiah prophesied against the people of his day, saying, “this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men” (Isaiah 29:13).

Paul warned Timothy to be vigilant, for the Holy Spirit had revealed to him, the time would come when men would abandon the truth, and “depart from the faith” (4:1). Believers would follow deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons (4:1c). False teachers would perpetuate lies, and their consciences would be insensitive, as though “seared (and hardened) with a hot iron” (branding iron, 4:2). Reminiscent of the false doctrines of Roman Catholicism, false teachers would teach abstinence and forbid marriage (4:3a), and commend denying oneself food as though it merited God’s favor (4:3b).

After warning Timothy of the encroachment of false teachers and their doctrine (4:1-5), Paul gave him practical instructions concerning the character and godly virtues of those who aspire to preach and teach God’s Word.

Four Essential Traits of Spiritual Leaders (4:6-11)

1) The minister must seek his spiritual nourishment in the Scriptures (4:6). To “be a good minister of Jesus Christ” to his congregation, a pastor must feed himself daily in the Word of God (4:6; 2 Timothy 1:5; 3:15).

2) A pastor must not entertain false teachings, nor get entangled in foolish speculations (4:7a).

3) He will discipline and exercise himself in godliness and spiritual disciplines (4:7b). Perhaps having in mind, the physical disciplines of Olympic athletes, Paul reminded Timothy physical exercise profits a man only for a brief time (4:9a). However, spiritual disciplines in God’s Word, prayer, and in pursuit of godly virtues, profits a man in this life and eternally (4:8). Paul asserted, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation” (4:9). In other words—the preeminence of spiritual disciplines is without question.

4) A faithful minister must be committed to work hard, willing to “suffer reproach” and rejection, because his faith and hope is “in the living God” who would “have all men to be saved” (4:10-11; 1 Timothy 2:4).

With the challenge, “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers” (4:12a), Paul recorded six virtues that should be true of all in positions of spiritual leadership (4:12-16).

Six Godly Virtues of Spiritual Leadership (4:12)

1) Word (4:12b) – Ministers must be examples in speech and conversation. They are to guard their speech from sin, and speak that which edifies, and encourages others to Christlikeness (Ephesians 4:29).

2) “Conversation(4:12c)” The pastor’s manner of life and conduct is to serve as an example to others. He is to be a model of righteous living, and “holy in all manner of conversation” (1 Peter 1:15).

3) Love (4:12d) Sacrificial love motivates the minister’s work, as he dedicates and gives his life in serving the Lord and others (John 15:13).

4) Spirit (4:12e) A pastor’s spirit is passionate regarding the work of the ministry to which the Lord has called him.

5) “Faith” (4:12f) – A good minister must be mature in his faith, and unwavering in his obedience to the Word of God.

6) Purity (4:12g) – The sixth virtue speaks of the minister’s moral character, and is to be characterized by purity in heart, mind, and body.

Closing thoughts (4:13-16) – In conclusion, Paul exhorted Timothy: “13Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” (4:12). The old apostle challenged the young pastor to keep his passion and focus on ministering to believers. Timothy, as with all ministers, was to focus on three spiritual disciplines: “Reading”(4:13a) – the private and public readings of God’s Word. “Exhortation” (4:13b)Encouraging believers could take on the form of reproving, rebuking, or patient exhortation (2 Timothy 4:2). Lastly, Timothy was to teach and instruct believers in “Doctrine” (4:13c).

An observation – There was a time when a pastor’s ministry was measured in decades, as he faithfully poured his life into reading God’s Word, exhorting believers, and teaching doctrine. Tragically, the average stay of today’s pastor in between 3-5 years.

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

The Tyranny of the Majority – “Democracy is on the Ballot” – (Romans 13-14)

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Scripture reading – Romans 13; Romans 14

Today’s Scripture reading touches upon many important subjects that are both doctrinal and practical. For instance, Romans 13 introduced the question of the believer and his relationship with civil government and human authority (13:1-7). Paul then addressed debt (“owe no man anything,” 13:8a), and emphasized the overriding command to “love one another” (the sum of the commandments, 13:8-10).

Romans 14 continued the practical application of the Scriptures to one’s daily life and walk, and focused on the believer’s liberty, deportment and influence on other believers (14:1-2, 7-9, 16-23). In the matter of a critical, judgmental spirit (14:3-4, 10-15), Paul warned, “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God” (14:12).

The balance of today’s devotional may seem political, but it is taken from Romans 13:1-7 and addresses the believer’s citizenship and relationship with civil authority.

Democracy vs. Republic: Is there a difference?

If you live in the United States, you are aware we have an opportunity to exercise our civic duty in the next few days, and vote for those who represent us in government. “Democracy is on the ballot,” is the relentless theme of the Democratic party, and the implication is the candidates of the other party (Republican) are a threat to Democracy.

The government of the United States is a Republic, not a Democracy.

A republic is a form of government that represents “We the People.” The elected leaders rule by consent of the people, and function as representatives of the people for the common good. In a republic, there is no hierarchy or upper tier of leadership; the power of government rests with individual citizens, who delegate to leaders their authority.

The statement, “Democracy is on the ballot,” should be a grave concern to every American. Though the nature of a democracy is dependent upon the will of the people, it poses a frightening danger I will describe as “the tyranny of the majority.” An individual citizen has protected rights and a voice in a republican form of government. A democracy, on the other hand, has a tendency to evolve into the rule of the majority at the oppression and sacrifice of the individual.

When the virtuous character of a society deteriorates, so does its tolerance for the individual and individual rights. For instance, Adolf Hitler rose to power in the German Weimar Republic. In a void of leadership, Hitler and the Nazi party (representing Democratic Socialist policies) slowly gained a following of the majority of the German people. With the majority in power, a campaign of intimidation began to attack and silence political opponents. Concentration camps were opened and political opponents were arrested. Finally, when all opposition political parties were outlawed, a campaign to exterminate the Jewish people began, and the freedom of the press and speech were revoked.

As a Bible believer, whether you identify as a Democrat, Republican, or Independent…there is one thing that cannot be on the ballot—our submission to King Jesus. Paul’s letter to believers in Rome was addressed to citizens of that empire who knew all too well the tyranny of a dictator. No doubt the apostle, who was himself a Roman citizen (Acts 16:37), had been questioned concerning the relationship and obligation believers had to those in authority. Romans 13:1-6 addressed in very specific terms the moral obligation believers have to all human authorities.

In his first letter to the early church, Peter commanded believers to “Honour the king” (1 Peter 2:17c). While there was much about a king’s character that was not honorable, there was nevertheless a responsibility for believers to treat the ruler with dignity, regarding his office and authority. Yet, believers are not only to honor those in authority, but recognize human authority as delegated by God (13:1). While the governed are to submit to authority, government has a responsibility to protect and ensure the safety and security of the citizens (13:2-4).

Closing thoughts – Whether a republic, democracy, or monarchy, leaders are accountable to God, and are to rule understanding their role is that of a “minister (servant) of God” (13:4a). Believers are to revere leaders as the servants of God for good (13:4a), and the wicked should fear the judgment of the same (13:4b). The inherent sinfulness of man (Romans 3:10, 12, 23) requires a government that is ready “to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil” (13:4c).

Finally, believers have a moral obligation to be subject to the laws of man (Romans 13:1-2; 1 Peter 2:13-17)—with one exception: When the laws of the land violate God’s law. When the apostles faced authorities who forbade them to preach the Gospel (Acts 5:17-29), they answered, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were commanded by Nebuchadnezzar to worship his idol or die, they respectfully answered, “be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up” (Daniel 3:16-18). When king Darius commanded that no man was to pray to his God for thirty days, Daniel went home, “kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime” (Daniel 6:9-10). God, not government, is the believer’s highest authority.

When you cast your vote, consider: Which candidate aspires to be the “minister (servant) of God” for good?

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

Without Excuse (Romans 2; Romans 3)

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Scripture reading – Romans 2; Romans 3

Continuing our Scripture reading in the Book of Romans, today’s devotional is taken from Romans 2.

Romans 2

Understanding this was a letter to believers in Rome, and not divided by chapter breaks, we must consider the first verse of chapter 2 as a continuation of the preceding verses. Paul, having considered the sins and wickedness of men (1:26-31), and the imminent judgment of God, observed sinners not only continue in sin, but take “pleasure” in the sinful ways of others (1:32).

The apostle declared, “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things” (2:1). The Jews, who were chosen by God and entrusted with His Law and commandments, were guilty of judging others for the very sins they committed. They were “inexcusable,” for in judging others they condemned themselves (2:1).

Interrogated and Judged According to Truth (2:2-5)

The folly of sin is that sinners have knowledge of God’s truth, and yet, are blind to their own wickedness (2:2-3a). Tragically, some believe they might sin, but “escape the judgment of God” (2:3) They enjoy the goodness and longsuffering of God, but fail to accept His goodness and repent (turn from sin) (2:5).

There is a myriad of sinners in our day, who believe their own lies, and would have us not believe our eyes and ears. Politicians, news media personalities, and educators lie profusely, deny the undeniable (even the unthinkable), and profess things contrary to nature and call it “science.” They are proponents of the adage, “It’s not a lie if you believe it.” Others embrace the delusion of the infamous Joseph Goebbels of Nazi Germany, who said: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

The Inescapable Reality of a Just God (2:6-15)

The basis and promise of God’s judgment is to “render to every man according to his deeds” (2:6). Believers who have sincere faith in Christ, “seek for glory and honour and immortality, [and] eternal life” (2:7). Those who reject Christ, evidence their fallen nature and are “contentious [selfish ambitions], and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation [violent anger] and wrath [outbursts of vengeful anger], 9Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile” (2:8-9).  Why the Jew first? They are God’s chosen people, and were entrusted with His Law and Commandments.

Concerning God’s judgment, Paul declared, “there is no respect of persons with God” (2:11; Acts 10:34). The Lord is just, and His judgments are without partiality. He will judge all men by His Law (2:12-16). The Gentiles did not have the written Law and Commandments; nevertheless, God impressed upon the heart of man a moral law, and men therefore “do by nature the things contained in the law” (2:14). Sinners cannot plea ignorance, for God inscribed on the heart of man His law, and the conscience of men everywhere bear witness of their sinfulness (2:15).

Closing thoughts – The day of God’s judgment is determined (2:16a), and God will “judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to [Paul’s] gospel”, which is to say, according to the Word of Truth (2:16b). When God judges, men will be without excuses, and it will not matter whether a man is a Jew or Gentile (2:17-29). A believer is a child of God, not after the flesh, but after the circumcision of the heart (putting off and forsaking sin), and coming to God by faith in Jesus Christ (2:28-29).

Are you ready to stand before God’s judgment?

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625.

You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

“Who Is Teaching Johnny?” – The battle for your child’s soul.

* I am beginning a new Family-Parenting Series titled, “The Four Be’s of Parenting” for Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 8, 2022. This article is the introduction to the first sermon of the series, and is titled “Who is Teaching Johnny?” 

We are living in a world that has been taken over by a liberal ideology that is anti-family, anti-God, and anti-America. From the White House to the local School Board, there is an assault on natural rights (freedoms given by God to man), and an erosion of Constitutional, civil liberties that is unprecedented.

Consider the words of the founding fathers of these United States of America: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed” (Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776). Civil liberties are not granted by government to citizens, but are to restrain government from imposing its will on the governed. As Americans, we are not subjects of the government, but the government is subject to the will of “We the People.”

In 1980, pastor and author Tim LaHaye published The Battle For The Mind, and exposed the philosophy and goals of Humanism. LaHaye gave shocking examples of Humanism’s goals and encroachment into America’s public education system, and the goal of humanists to reshape American society. Forty years later, we are witnessing the effect of humanism as the United States has seen a cultural shift that is anti-God, anti-family, and anti-America.

Humanist have taken over government and judicial systems. Public education, entertainment, social media, and the flow of news are controlled by humanists. They are committed to reshaping the minds and values of our youth and undermining parental authority. Radicalized humanists have mobilized a coordinated assault on the unalienable rights of the human spirit. They are determined to enslave the world to a utopia ruled by an elite few.

Fortunately, this past year some parents were awakened by radicals usurping parental rights and using the public education system to drive a wedge between children and parents. Black Lives Matter, Antifa, anarchists, liberal educators and politicians (to name a few), were unmasked as they assaulted traditional family values. Under the guise of “Critical Race Theory” and WOKE (purportedly addressing societal injustices and racism), radicals are spurning common sense for their humanistic creed.

The erosive effect of humanism and its socialist philosophy is staggering. There has been a rejection of God and family values, and a desensitization to sin and moral depravity. Instead of utopia, the humanist’s ideology has eroded the traditional family, giving us a nation where, according to the 2022 United States Census Bureau, 23% of US children live in single parent households (more than 3 times the world’s rate), and over 40% of children born in the US are born to unmarried women (Centers for Disease Control – CDC – 2022).

The humanists’ utopia has given us modern day slavery, described as Human Trafficking and Sex Trafficking, with an estimated 20.1 million forced labor victims, and 4.8 million sex trafficking victims. The US State Departmentestimates there are 14,400 to 17,500 sex trafficking slaves in the US in 2022.

Contributing further to the erosion of our families and national future is the increased use of illicit drugs and alcohol among our youth. According to the National Center for Drug Abuse, in 2022 there are 2.08 million or 8.33% of 12- to 17-year-olds who have used drugs in the last month. Adding to the crisis is 60.2% of teens admit to binge drinking.

In spite of the demoralizing bad news, there is good news! Though the world has changed, the nature of man is constant from generation to generation. There is hope, for God’s Word has the answer to the crisis our homes, schools, churches, and nation are facing. If our nation and liberties are to be saved, it will begin in our homes as parents rise to the challenge.

Train up a child in the way he should go: And when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).

Parents of the 21st century must shoulder the privilege and responsibility for teaching their children, including two fundamental concerns: Who is teaching Johnny? What is he being taught?

The founding fathers of the United States of America often spoke of “Republican Virtue,” the belief that self-government demands self-discipline. Of course, self-discipline implies the existence of boundaries between the acceptable and unacceptable. It was the conviction of that generation that moral values must be transmitted through moral indoctrination. In other words, the battlefield in the past and in our day is not political, but spiritual.

A battle is being waged for the minds and souls of our children, and the enemy is imbedded in our government, schools, and culture. The adversaries of the home are unwavering in their dogma, and determined to indoctrinate our children with a world-view that is anti-God, anti-family, and anti-America.

Lose the war with humanism, and we lose the hearts, minds and souls of our children.

With the heart of a shepherd,

Travis D. Smith
Senior Pastor
www.HeartofAShepherd.com
HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com
Live broadcast @ www.HillsdaleBaptist.org

* The above is an introduction to the first message of my new family series titled, “The Four Be’s of Parenting.” This Sunday’s message, “Who is Teaching Johnny?” will be presented in the 10:30 AM worship service and broadcast live on www.HillsdaleBaptist.org.

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

The Judgment Day (Isaiah 23; Isaiah 24)

Scripture reading – Isaiah 23; Isaiah 24

The prophet Isaiah’s messages of judgment continue in today’s Scripture reading. The subject of Isaiah 23 was “the burden [judgment] of Tyre” (23:1), while Isaiah 24 is a statement of God’s final judgment of the earth (24:1).

Isaiah 23 – The Pronouncement of Judgment Against Trye

Several ancient seaport cities are named in the opening verses of Isaiah 23.  Isaiah observed that Tyre had been inhabited for centuries, and was an important seaport for trade.  Describing the desolation of Tyre, the prophet foretold it would be “laid waste, so that there is no house, no entering” (i.e., no inhabitants in what had been a bustling harbor city, 23:1).

Because Tyre was a center for trade and commerce, its fall impacted the entire region (23:2-3). The “ships of Tarshish” (modern Spain) would howl, or wail for Tyre. The news of Tyre’s fall would reach “the land of Chittim” (believed to be Cyprus, (23:1). Zidon (or Sidon, an ancient Phoenician seaport, located north of ancient Tyre, 23:2), and “Sihor” (today’s Egypt, 23:3-4) would be diminished. Egypt, the “bread basket” to the nations of the ancient world, was “sorely pained at the report of Tyre” (23:5). Pursued by the army of Babylon, refugees of Tyre fled to Tarshish (Spain, 23:6).

Why and Who Conquered Tyre? (23:7-14).

Why was Tyre appointed for judgment?

The answer is found in Isaiah 23:7, where we read: “Is this your joyous city, whose antiquity is of ancient days? Her own feet shall carry her afar off to sojourn” (23:7). Tyre’s wealth had turned the population into a wealthy, “joyous” (frivolous, narcissistic) city, and her sins and wickedness provoked the wrath of God.

Who devastated Tyre?

Though Tyre was destroyed by Babylon, we are left no doubt that it was the work of the LORD. We read, “The LORD of hosts hath purposed it…He stretched out his hand over the sea, He shook the kingdoms” (23:9, 11).

The effect of Tyre’s annihilation as a city and people affected other cities and stronghold on the Mediterranean (23:11-12). The demise of Assyria had given rise to Babylon, but Isaiah prophesied the Chaldeans (the nation, of which Babylon the capital city), would also be judged by the LORD (23:13). The sailors from Tarshish would wail and howl for the devastating, economic loss they would experience (23:14).

Seventy Years Later, Tyre Was Rebuilt (23:15-17)

Though all seemed lost for Tyre, Isaiah made an amazing prophecy (23:15). Seventy years would pass, and at the end of the 70 years, Tyre would “sing as an harlot” (23:15). How could that be? The Bible reveals, and history affirms, in 70 years the Chaldean nation ceased to exist when Babylon, its capital city, fell to the Medes and Persian armies (23:15; Daniel 5). Tyre, that wicked city, would be revived, only to return to her sinful ways. Once again, “the kingdoms of the world” would be enticed to her alluring, wicked ways (23:16-17).

Closing thoughts – The pronouncement of God’s judgment of Tyre ends with a prophecy that will not be fulfilled until the Millennial Kingdom when Christ is King (23:18). In that day, the trade of Tyre will be dedicated to the LORD (23:18a), and rather than hoard their merchandise, her goods will be a blessing to “them that dwell before the LORD” (23:18).

Isaiah 24 – God’s Judgment of the Earth

Isaiah 24 continues the theme of the LORD’s judgment, but in this chapter describes how the earth will experience God’s universal judgment (24:1). God’s judgment will be impartial, and no people, man, or woman will escape His justice (24:2).

The physical nature of the earth will bear the wrath of God’s judgment, and will dry up and whither as it is also prophesied in Revelation 6-9, 15-16. People, animals, and the plant life of the earth will not escape God’s judgment (24:3-4).

Five Provocations of God’s Judgment (24:5-6)

Isaiah identified five causes for God’s wrath: 1) Sin had defiled the earth (24:5a); 2) Man had disobeyed God’s law (24:5b); Mankind had instituted their own laws (24:5c); 4) God’s people had broken their covenant with Him (24:5d); and 5) The holiness and justice of God’s nature demanded He judge the earth and its inhabitants (24:6).

Evidences of God’s Final Judgment (24:7-13)

Jesus Christ foretold the state of the world when He comes again. We read, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken” (Matthew 24:29).

Isaiah prophesied of that day, how only a remnant would survive God’s judgment, and there will be none to tend the vineyards (24:7). Cities will fall empty and silent (for there will be no one to sing, play musical instruments, or be merry, 24:8-9). The cities will be wasted, the houses empty, and commerce and trade will fail (24:10-13). Men will be unable to flee God’s judgment (24:17; Revelation 6:15-17), and the earth will be rocked with natural disasters (i.e., earthquakes, 24:18-19a).

Closing thoughts – In that day, the world system of government and its economy will fail (24:20), and God will then cast the fallen angels, and leaders of the earth into the pit to be punished, and later suffer the final judgment of the LORD (24:21-22; Ephesians 6:11; Jude 6; Revelation 12:7-9; 20:1-3, 7-10).

When the Tribulation is ended, and Christ sits victoriously upon His throne, the brightness of His glory will be so great it will out shine the moon and the sun (24:23).

How do you see the signs in our day?

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Is This the End? (Isaiah 22)

Scripture reading – Isaiah 22

Our study in “The Book of the Prophet Isaiah” continues with a prophetic judgment directed to “the valley of vision” (22:1).

Because Judah is identified as the object of the prophecy (22:8), and the “city of David” is named as the subject of a siege (22:9), we know Isaiah 22 is a prophecy against Jerusalem.

Having witnessed the devastation suffered by Israel (the northern tribes), one would hope the people of Judah (the southern kingdom) would have repented and humbled themselves before God. Instead, we read concerning Jerusalem, “Thou that art full of stirs [noise; shouting], a tumultuous city, a joyous city [jubilant; full of revelers](22:2).

The citizens of Jerusalem mirrored the sinful, narcissistic spirit of the rich fool when he said, “eat, drink, and be merry” (Luke 12:19). They took pleasure in their sins, and rejected the warning that the judgment of God was imminent. Isaiah warned, the day of judgment was forthcoming and men would be slain in the streets (22:2) and the leaders of the people would flee before the enemy (22:3-7).

Isaiah prophesied Jerusalem’s defenses would fail (22:8-11a), and still the people refused to turn to the LORD (22:11b).  Instead of repenting of their sin, the people resolved to “eat and drink; for tomorrow we shall die”(22:12-14). The LORD declared of Judah, “Surely this iniquity shall not be purged from you till ye die, Saith the Lord God of hosts” (22:4).

A Denunciation of the Treasurer of Jerusalem (Isaiah 22:15-19)

The LORD then commanded his prophet to take a personal message of judgment to the treasurer of Jerusalem named “Shebna” (22:15). Like politicians of our day, Shebna had enriched himself with ill-gotten gain. Flaunting his wealth, he had carved out of rock an elaborate sepulchre that was worthy of a king (22:16). Isaiah prophesied, Shebna would be carried away, die in captivity (22:17-19), and his tomb would belong to another.

The LORD Raised Up Eliakim, A Godly Leader (22:20-25)

In Shebna’s place, the LORD promised to raise up Eliakim, a man whom the LORD described as “my servant” (22:20). Unlike Shebna who abused his position, Eliakim would conduct himself like “a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah” (22:20-21). He would prove to be an honorable man (22:22), and the LORD promised he would serve like a “nail in a sure place” (in other words, a well-placed leader, 22:23). He would bring “the glory of his father’s house” (22:24).

Yet, for Judah it was too late (22:25).

Though a godly man was at the forefront of the nation’s leadership, the judgment of God was inevitable (22:25). Though he was a great leader, and the hope of some hung on him, Eliakim would be like a nail removed from its place. He would be unable to prevent the inevitable judgment of the LORD.

Closing thoughts – It was too late for ancient Judah, and it may be too late for many nations in our world to escape God’s judgment. Sadly, like the people of Judah, the church has assimilated the sins and pleasures of the world. I fear there are few who give any thought to God’s judgment.

You cannot know when the LORD has sealed your fate, but I urge you to not be like the rich man in Luke 12 who heard too late:

Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?” (Luke 12:20)

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

“The Sins and Signs of a Failing Nation and a Dying Culture” – part 2 (Isaiah 3)

Scripture reading – Isaiah 2; Isaiah 3

This is the second of two devotionals for today’s Scripture reading. The focus is Isaiah 3.

The Bible is filled with examples of godly men who did not have the luxury of ignoring the wickedness and perversity of their leaders or nation. Zechariah was stoned to death when he condemned the sins of Judah and her king (2 Chronicles 24). God commanded Jonah to go to Nineveh and warn that wicked nation, except they repent the city would be destroyed. John the Baptist lost his head when he dared confront the wickedness and adultery of King Herod. And so, we come to Isaiah, whom God called to assail the wickedness of Judah and her kings.

The Removal of “the Stay and the Staff” (3:1-4)

A study of history reveals the rise and fall of nations follows the pattern of sin and wickedness we find in Isaiah 3.  We read, “1For, behold, the Lord, the Lord of hosts, Doth take away from Jerusalem and from Judah the stay and the staff” (3:1).

Interpreting this verse in context, you find God was removing from Judah that nation’s leaders. The “stay” (masculine form, meaning support or protector) represented that nation’s loss of “manly men,” who had been strong leaders in Judah. The removal of the “staff” (feminine form, meaning a support), meant the nation would have a void of godly, influential women (3:1).

Judah’s rebellion against God invited His judgment, and the losses are enumerated in Isaiah 3.

There would be a shortage of bread and water (“the whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water” (3:1). The nation would want for male leaders, men of integrity described as, “the mighty man, and the man of war, the judge, and the prophet, and the prudent, and the ancient” (3:2).

A second tier of leadership, the backbone of a nation, would be lost. There would be no “captain of fifty [lower military officers], and the honourable man [men of integrity], and the counseller [wise men], and the cunning artificer [skilled workers; i.e., carpenters, mechanics], and the eloquent orator [persuasive speakers]” (3:4)

Judah Turned to Weak, Incompetent Men for Leaders (3:4-6)

With a void of spiritual, “manly men” leaders (3:7-9), the people turned to foolish, inexperienced leaders, dominated by brazen women (3:12, 16-23). The people chose “children [weak] to be their princes, and babes [immature] shall rule [have dominion or power] over them (3:4). With weak, inexperienced, unprincipled leaders, Judah became a lawless, oppressed society (3:5). Those weak leaders were proud and emboldened “against the ancient [elderly]” (3:5), and “base [without a moral compass] against the honourable [men of rank]” (3:5).

How did those weak, spineless, effeminate leaders come to be in authority? They were not chosen because of their character, but because of their influence (having acquired wealth by inheritance, 3:6).

Judah Turned to Domineering Women for Leaders (3:12, 16-23)

Instead of nurturing and protecting the youth of the nation, women diminished their femininity, and became worse brutes than men (3:12 – “women rule over them…they which lead thee cause thee to err, And destroy the way of thy paths”). The women of the nation, identified as “the daughters of Zion,” were proud and immodest (3:16), haughty, and flirtatious with “wanton [painted] eyes” (3:16).

Closing thoughtsLike most nations that fail, Judah was destroyed, not from an enemy without, but from an enemy within.

What becomes of a nation that chooses weak men, and proud women to lead? The strong women would be afflicted with disease (3:17). They would be reduced to the poverty of a household slave (3:18-24). Their fine jewelry (3:18-21), and costly apparel would be taken (3:22-23), and their well-groomed hair would be replaced by baldness (3:24).

Yet, there was still hope. Though the majority of Judah had turned to wickedness, not all were faithless. God promised He would not forget the righteous, and would avenge His people (3:10-24, 25-26).

Do the signs of a dying nation sound familiar?

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

The Prophecies of Isaiah – part 1 (Isaiah 2; Isaiah 3)

Scripture reading – Isaiah 2; Isaiah 3

As you read today’s Scripture, take time to not only reflect on its prophetic application to the house of Judah, but the lessons we might take from the study that are applicable to our day.

Remembering the prophetic ministry of Isaiah spanned the reigns of four kings of Judah (1:1), scholars place Isaiah 2 during the reign of Uzziah who reigned 52 years. He enjoyed a brilliant and prosperous rule (2 Chronicles 26:5-15) until his heart was lifted up with pride, and he sinned against the LORD (2 Chronicles 26:16).

As Goes the Leaders, So Goes the Nation (Isaiah 2:1-5)

Stricken with leprosy, the humiliated king had been thrust out of the Temple, and forced to live in a separate house outside the palace complex (2 Chronicles 26:20; 2 Kings 15:5a). Uzziah entrusted the day-to-day governing of Judah to his son (2 Chronicles 26:21; 27:1-2), meaning the duties of government were in the hands of a younger man who lacked his skills and experience.

As with many prophecies, the prophecies of Isaiah carry both an imminent, and far-reaching application. Some of what we read in Isaiah 2 was a foretelling of events that occurred in the prophet’s lifetime (for instance Isaiah described the exaltation of Judah and Jerusalem, and 2 Chronicles 26:6-8 verified there were nations that admired, and paid tribute to Judah during Uzziah’s reign).

However, much of Isaiah’s prophecy is yet to be fulfilled.

For instance, not “all nations” have made their way to Jerusalem, nor said among themselves, “let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, To the house of the God of Jacob” (2:3). With the constant warring of nations against nations in our day, we have not seen fulfilled a time of universal peace (2:4).

The Great Tribulation (2:6-9)

Briefly, I suggest you consider the prophecy recorded in Isaiah 2:6-9 to be that which will not be fulfilled until the Great Tribulation. The desperate times of Isaiah’s day, are true of our day. The circumstances of that time, are parallel to our time.

The LORD had forsaken His people, because they had turned away from Him, His Law, and Commandments.

To what had the people turned? “Soothsayers” from the east (eastern mysticism, 2:6; 1 Timothy 4:1), and embraced the ways of “strangers” (foreigners, people outside God’s covenant relationship with Israel, 2:6). Rather than trusting the LORD, Judah had placed its faith in riches, and its confidence in its military might (“full of horses…chariots,” 2:7). The nation worshipped gods of their own making, fashioned by their hands (2:8), and proud men were brought low (2:9).

The Second Coming of Christ (2:10-22)

Supposing my interpretation of this passage is fulfilled at the close of the Great Tribulation, the events described in Isaiah 2:10-22 are yet to be fulfilled.

When Christ returns in His heavenly glory, and His coming is heralded as the Judge and Conquering King, the people of the earth will flee His presence (2:10, 19, 21; Revelation 6:15-16), and the proud will be humbled (2:11, 17-18). The people and nations of the earth will be brought to their knees (2:12-22), and the LORD alone will be exalted (2:17).

Closing thoughts – The Millennium Kingdom of Jesus Christ will restore Israel to her prominence among the nations of the earth, and Jesus Christ will reign as King of kings, and LORD of lords upon the throne of David (2:2-5; 4:2-6).

Christ’s reign will usher in a time of universal peace, for He will “judge among the nations, And shall rebuke many people: And they shall beat their swords into plowshares, And their spears into pruninghooks: Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, Neither shall they learn war any more” (Isaiah 2:4).

This concludes part 1 of today’s devotional study. Part 2 will follow, and focus on Isaiah 3.

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Where is the Christian “West Point” of this generation?

christian-ed

** The following article was first published February 2016, and republished October 2016. As a writer in 2016, I was still using “training wheels,” and there are no doubt grammatical errors I might avoid today. Yet, I believe this article states the cancer that is consuming our fundamental churches, colleges, and universities. The following is that six year old post.

* On Wednesday, October 26, 2016, Hillsdale Baptist Church closed one of our greatest missions conferences.  With a dozen or more of our teens responding at the invitation to surrender to go and serve the LORD where He calls them and, with their parents and grandparents standing beside them, I am left this Thursday morning wrestling with the burden…Where do I send our youth to be trained for full-time Christian service that will be a complement to our heart and passion for serving the LORD and preaching the whole counsel of God?   Where are the Bible colleges that have dedicated themselves to “keeping the chapel platform hot” with the unapologetic preaching of God’s Word?

With those questions weighing on my heart, I republish an article I first published February 17, 2016.

billy-sundayA sense of desperation has taken hold in my spirit as I witness the failings of our nation, the erosion of morality and civility, and the spiritual void in our society that threatens the future of our nation, homes, churches and Christian institutions.   My heart trembles and my soul is dismayed by the silence of Christian leaders who are custodians of church pulpits and academic platforms that were once dedicated to the bold, unapologetic declaration of God’s Word!   I am afraid our biblically fundamental churches and schools bear the prophetic likeness of the church of the Laodiceans, “neither cold nor hot…rich, and increased with good…and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:14-17).

A pattern of spiritual lethargy has become the state of our fundamental churches and institutions [incidentally, my use of the word fundamental is not meant to convey an attitude, but a practical-doctrinal theology committed to the literal exposition of the fundamental doctrines and precepts of God’s Word].  colossians-3-23I believe a generation of well-meaning pastors and administrators is faltering in their spiritual leadership, influenced and persuaded by men who lack deep-rooted precepts and core convictions that once served as guiding principles for fundamental ministries.  I am of the opinion preachers and teachers have endeavored to appease youth and, either by design or neglect, soft-pedaled core spiritual virtues and personal disciplines that were at the heart of institutional distinctives.

Our churches and schools are evidencing the consequences of a philosophy of education that has, in its purported zeal for the Gospel and discipleship, invaded our institutions and eradicated fundamental precepts that are essential to personal holiness and sanctification.  In an attempt to appease, rather than admonish and exhort a carnal generation (2 Timothy 4:2), spiritual leaders have weakened institutional disciplines, disparaged spiritual standards, and eroded the distinctives of Christian education.

West PointThere was a time we could look to our Christian colleges and universities to inspire our youth and integrate into their education the leadership disciplines of West Point; the refined sophistication of a finishing school; the academic excellence of an Ivy League university; and the spiritual fervor and zeal of a “hellfire and brimstone” evangelist.  Although there are exceptions, I am afraid that is no longer the case.

Too many college professors and pastors have, in a misguided effort to be “relevant”, departed from the very disciplines that made Christian education superior and unique.  Instead of the discipline of West Point, many Christian college students evidence a bearing that is casual at best.  Rather than a “finishing school” product, Christian students lack both the polish and demeanor of their forebears.   Instead of the disciplines required for academic excellence, a laissez-faire attitude has taken hold in our schools and universities.  SpurgeonFinally, the emphasis to “keep the platform hot” and “preach the whole counsel of God” has been displaced by an inordinate emphasis on “the Gospel” to the exclusion of truths that are fundamental to preparing students to be soldiers of Christ in the world (Ephesians 6:10-18). [I realize that observation will invite personal attacks and criticisms; however, I believe I am in good company since Charles Spurgeon is credited with quoting and affirming: “there are times when the exclusive advocacy of certain important truths has the effect of error…So at the present time some of the most precious gospel truths are preached in the interest of some of the most pernicious errors. In other words, the unseasonable or disproportionate presentation of certain truths makes for error.”]

Having expressed my alarm concerning the direction of the spiritual leadership in our fundamental churches, schools and universities, I close with two questions and an observation.

Where are the preachers, teachers, and administrators in our churches and institutions who will step forward and assert the spiritual values, principles and distinctive biblical philosophy that once characterized historic, biblically fundamental Christianity?

What Christian colleges and universities will dare rise above cultural irrelevance and challenge our youth to portray in word and deed the distinctive saltiness and illumination of a separatist, Christ-centered philosophy of life and ministry (Matthew 5:13-16)?

sugar-coated preachingThe apostle Paul warned the day would come when there would be an intolerance of “sound doctrine” and men would turn to teachers who would tickle their ears and pander to their desires (1 Timothy 4:3-4).  I am afraid that hour has finally come to biblically fundamental churches, schools and colleges.  In the very hour a certain, unequivocal, unapologetic declaration of the Word of God is needed; many have dipped the banner of the cross and shied from Paul’s challenge to Timothy:

2 Timothy 4:1-5
1  I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;
2  Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
3  For the time will come when they 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.
5  But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

Copyright 2016 – Travis D. Smith