Category Archives: In the News

“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

Move with me to “Daily Testify” – A Christian Alternative to Facebook Indoctrination

Dear Heart of A Shepherd Followers,

I am writing to invite you to join me on a new social media platform named Daily Testify.” (Daily Testify has an App for both Apple and Android Phones.)

Most of you are aware Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are dominated by liberals who hold a worldview that is secular and atheistic. Those social platforms make no effort to disguise their anti-God, anti-Christ, and anti-Bible militancy.

I challenge you to STOP supporting the giant social media corporations. They are riddled with secularist’s who are the antithesis of what Bible believers value and embrace. Join “Daily Testify,” a social platform dedicated to the values of sincere, God-fearing, Bible believers.

On a personal note: My wife and I recently met with the owners and founders of “Daily Testify,” and found them to be sincere Bible believers who share the faith and philosophy of http://www.HeartofAShepherd.com. They had become burdened for the need of a Christian, conservative alternative to the liberal social platforms that have saturated and are destroying Christian homes and families.

Founded near the beginning of the COVID hysteria, “Daily Testify” is growing, and its founders have dedicated their personal resources to not only its development, but also to insuring it is a haven of safety for youth, and women.

I began posting to “Daily Testify” less than a month ago, and have established my personal wall, Heart of A Shepherd, Inc, and Hillsdale Baptist Ministries pages on that site (Hillsdale Baptist Church, Hillsdale Christian Academy, and Hillsdale Fine Arts Academy).

Look me up on “Daily Testify,” join and “Friend” me!

With the heart of a Shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. Smith
http://www.HeartofAShepherd.com
HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com

Alcohol: “To Drink, or Not to Drink?” Is that the Question? (Proverbs 20)

Scripture reading – Proverbs 20

You will find that Proverbs 20 is a chapter rich in spiritual truths that seem to challenge nearly every aspect of life. From the admonition concerning wine and “strong drink” in verse 1, to the affirmation of biblical chastening described as “the blueness of a wound” in verse 30, spiritual principles abound. A daily devotional gives little opportunity to address the whole chapter, and so I have determined to tackle one that is being overlooked, if not rejected by some believers. Consider the first verse:

Proverbs 20:1 – “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: And whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.”

Should you be willing to embrace this proverb as simply as it is stated, its truth and application are both simple and undeniable. Consider a restatement of that proverb with this author’s amplification of word meanings:

Proverbs 20:1 “Wine [fermented wine] is a mocker [scorner; holds in derision], strong drink [intoxicating drink] is raging [roar; troubled; clamorous]: and whosoever is deceived [stray; mislead] thereby is not wise [almost always condemned].”

There are many in the 21st century Church who argue for tolerance in the matter of alcohol, and have embraced the imbibing of “strong drink” as a matter of liberty. Such an argument is a grave departure from the historical stance of Bible believers. Sadly, the silence of the pulpit in the matter has only perpetuated the acceptance of wine and alcohol. So, we ask the question, “To drink, or not to drink?” What do the Scriptures teach?

Paul challenged pastors to be sober [lit. temperate], “not given to wine” (1 Timothy 3:3). In the Epistle of Titus, Paul called on pastors (i.e., “bishops”) to be “blameless…not given to wine” (Titus 1:7). He also cautioned older women to be “not given to much wine” (Titus 2:3).

Modern societies enjoy the blessing of fresh, pure water; however, that was not the case in ancient times. There was a risk of unsanitary, unpurified water in Solomon’s day, and that of the apostles. To kill germs and bacteria in drinking water, wine would be mixed with the water making it safe to drink (the mix was 8 parts water, and 1 part wine).

Lacking modern refrigeration we enjoy, juices would ferment in the heat, making it necessary to water down the wine to slow down the fermenting process and sterilize the water. Today’s strong wine and alcohol go through a distilling process that was unknown in Bible times, with the purpose of elevating alcohol content. Unlike the wine in the Bible that was watered down, today’s strong drink is imbibed for its intoxicating properties.

What spiritual applications might we take from Proverbs 20:1 – “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: And whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.”

Concerning pastors: Because the Scriptures admonish pastors to be “not given to wine,” and understanding the wine of Bible times was not nearly as intoxicating as it is today, we can state unapologetically: A man who indulges in wine or alcohol is unfit for the pastorate. Old Testament priests were not to “drink wine nor strong drink” (Leviticus 10:9), and certainly God’s standard would be no less for his preachers.

Concerning believers: Solomon admonished his son to not drink wine or strong drink (20:1), nor keep company with drunkards. Solomon wrote, “20Be not among winebibbers; Among riotous eaters of flesh: 21For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: And drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags” (Proverbs 23:20–21). The virtuous wife and mother of Proverbs 31 (believed to have been Bathsheba), warned her son who was heir to the throne: “4It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; Nor for princes strong drink: 5Lest they drink, and forget the law, And pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted” (Proverbs 31:4–5).

Paul admonished believers to not risk causing another believer to stumble and fall, therefore, “It is good neither to eat flesh [i.e., meat offered to idols], nor to drink wine” (Romans 14:21).

Some might quote 1 Timothy 5:23 as grounds for taking liberty with wine and alcohol. We read, “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities” (1 Timothy 5:23). Timothy had some stomach ailments, and proving the young preacher was not in the habit of drinking wine, Paul urged him to take some wine for medicinal purposes (in the absence of medicines at our disposal today).

Closing thoughts – There are many verses, principles, and illustrations that support an absolute intolerance of wine and alcohol in the life of a believer (Hosea 4:11; Daniel 1:8, 10; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10). In addition, our society abounds with examples of damages caused by alcohol use: Physical (cancer of the esophagus, mouth, pharynx, and larynx), gross immorality caused by the effect of lowering inhibitions, and spiritual failures.

1 Corinthians 6:9–109Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

You matter, and there is hope to escape the ravages of alcohol! You can reach this author at HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com.

With the heart of a shepherd,

Travis D. Smith

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Surviving, and Thriving in a World Gone Mad (Psalm 37)

Scripture reading – Psalm 37; Psalm 71

Today’s Scripture reading consists of two lengthy psalms: Psalm 37, “A Psalm of David,” and Psalm 71, a psalm whose author is not known (although it may have been penned by David in his old age). Today’s devotional is taken from a portion of Psalm 37.

Psalm 37

Don’t Worry; Be Happy in the LORD! (37:1-11)

Every day we are inundated by reports of wickedness that can only be explained as evidence of abject depravity. We cannot go a day without violence and wickedness blazed across news headlines; yet, when I was a child, parents allowed their children to play outside, unmolested, for hours on end, with ne’er a worry. What happened?

How should Bible-believers respond to a culture that is the antithesis of godliness and morality? Where do we focus our thoughts and emotions when we witness injustices that grieve the soul, and stir us to anger and indignation? Psalm 37 tackles those questions.

“Fret not” (37:1-2)

David wrote, Fret [angry; angered] not thyself because of evildoers [wicked], neither be thou envious [jealous; provoked to jealousy] against the workers [makers] of iniquity [wickedness; unrighteousness] (37:1).

Don’t allow the sins of the wicked to stir you to anger. Don’t be jealous when the wicked appear to prosper in their sins. Remember, there is pleasure in sin, but only for a season (Hebrews 11:25), and the wicked shall soon [speedily; quickly] be cut down [cut off] like the grass, and wither [fade away; sink down] as the green herb [tender grass](37:2). 

Like grass that withers under the summer heat, God’s wrath will inevitably consume the wicked in their sin.

“Trust in the LORD” (37:3)

Rather than fret and worry (37:1-2), we are to, “Trust in the Lord, and do good (37:3).

Psalm 37:3 – “Trust [be confident; bold] in the LORD, and do good [pleasing; pleasant]; so shalt thou dwell [abide; remain; continue] in the land, and verily [truth; faithfully; believe] thou shalt be fed [shepherd; lit. graze or pastured].”

Not only must we not fret, and trust in the LORD; we must also “delight…in the LORD.” (37:4)

Psalm 37:4 – “Delight [be content] thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give [deliver; put; make] thee the desires [request; petitions] of thine heart [mind; feelings; understanding].”

To “delight” is to be content and satisfied. We delight in the LORD when we are content to enjoy His presence, study His Word, and accept that His will and purpose is always good (Romans 8:28-29). Consider what the LORD promises those who delight in the Lord: “He shall give [deliver; put; make] thee the desires [request; petitions]of thine heart [mind; feelings; understanding](37:4b). Of course, when your delight is in the Lord, His will is your heart’s desire!

To thrive in a “sin mad world,” believers must “roll over on the LORD” their burdens, troubles, and anxieties. (37:5-6)

Psalm 37:5-6 – “Commit [roll over; trust] thy way [journey; manner; road; course] unto the LORD; trust [secure; confident; bold] also in him; and he shall bring it to pass [make; wrought; commit; create]6 And he shall bring forth [bring out; finish; i.e. make to appear] thy righteousness [justice; prosperity; justice] as the light [illuminate; i.e. light of day], and thy judgment [manner; right; cause] as the noonday.”

To “commit thy way” is to “roll over” one’s burdens onto the LORD.  The “way” is one’s life path, road, and future.  When we give our life to the LORD (Romans 12:1), we must learn to “trust also in Him” (37:5). David invites believers to be bold, and confident the LORD will accomplish His will in us.  He will defend us from slander, and vindicate us [“thy righteousness”] in the light of day (37:6).

Surrounded by wickedness, and facing unjustified attacks of an enemy, we must seek that special place of finding “rest in the Lord.” (37:7-11)

Psalm 37:7 – “Rest [be still; silent] in the LORD, and wait patiently [lit. endure anguish; tremble] for him: fret not [don’t be soon angry] thyself because of him who prospereth [to succeed; to have success] in his way [journey; road; course], because of the man who bringeth [create; wrought; make] wicked devices [lewd; mischievous] to pass [creates wicked plots].”

The discipline of silence is nearly lost in today’s society. We are surrounded by noise and activity everywhere we go. Even worship services are filled with noise and activity! Yet, we are exhorted to “rest in the Lord,” be still, silent, and quiet. Sadly, many are unwilling to be quiet long enough to pray, and allow the LORD an opportunity to speak deep within their hearts.

Returning to the admonition he used in the first verse, David again urged, “fret [angry; angered] not thyself because of him who prospereth  [succeeds; to have success] in his way [journey], because of the man who bringeth [create; wrought; make] wicked devices [lewd; mischievous] to pass [create; wrought; make]. 8 Cease from [forsake; abandon] anger [wrath], and forsake [relinquish; abandon] wrath [fury; anger; rage]: fret [angry; angered] not thyself in any wise [altogether] to do evil [hurt; afflict; break](37:7-8).

Don’t allow the sins of others to provoke you to sin! Don’t be overcome with anxiety, when the wicked flaunt their sin, and appear to prosper.

Psalm 37:9-10 – “For evildoers [the wicked] shall be cut off [destroyed; consumed]: but those that wait upon [look for; expect; tarry] the LORD, they shall inherit [occupy; take possession of] the earth [land]. 10  For yet a little while [a brief time], and the wicked [ungodly; guilty] shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider [understand; perceive; regard] his place [home; country], and it shall not be.”

The lives of the ungodly are short-lived, but the LORD rewards those who wait on, and look to Him (37:9-10). David assured believers, “the meek [humble] shall inherit [possess; be heir; take possession] the earth [land; country]; and shall delight [refresh; delicate] themselves in the abundance [great] of peace [Shalom; completeness; happy] (37:11).

Closing thoughts – Jesus Christ quoted Psalm 37:11 in His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:5). While the world portrays the “meek” as weak, the biblical definition is of one who exercises spiritual discipline and self-control. The meek are, by God’s grace, and the work of His Holy Spirit, strong and tender. Of such a man, God promises, He will give him an inheritance, and lasting peace.

How should you respond to the evil and wickedness in the world? Don’t worry (37:2), trust the Lord (37:3), delight in Him (37:4), roll all your anxieties onto Him (37:5-6), and seek that perfect place of rest (37:7).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Ministering to a “Woke” Culture (A Biblical Perspective)

* The following article, though addressing a “hot topic,” is not written to make a political statement. I am a spiritual shepherd, and it is my desire to guide people through a maze of moral dilemmas, and to spiritual truths. “Let God be true, but every man a liar” (Romans 3:4).

Shaming has become a perpetual practice of the political left in the 21st century. With little regard for historical fact or context, militant agitators have been fomenting unrest in our society, and trumpeting a narrative of cultural and generational guilt. Politicians, educators, news organizations, religious leaders, corporations, and social media moguls are in lockstep pushing a “Woke” agenda. Driven by a socialist political agenda, they are demanding “justice,” and reparations for the poor and disenfranchised.

What is the “Woke” doctrine?

Risking being accused of over simplification, the adherents of “Woke” doctrine place on one generation or people (i.e., countries of origin, race, religion, et al), the burden of bearing responsibility for the sins and failures of earlier generations.

“Woke” doctrine is being taught in schools, adopted by corporations, and demanded by human rights movements. “Woke” is the ideology of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, and its demand for reparations. “Woke idealists” condemn the United States as an imperialist nation, and accuse the USA of egregious crimes against humanity, and of oppressing the less fortunate people and nations of the world. [An elementary knowledge of United States history, particularly that of the 20th century, reveals the USA is the lone super power that, though not perfect, has been a rebuilder, not an occupier of the conquered and the downtrodden.]

Militant “Woke” liberals are demanding that the United States and its citizens must right our wrongs, even if that means punishing this generation for the alleged sins of past generations.

Must a nation and people pay for the sins and failures of previous generations?  Must “We the people” be impoverish to amend for what others contend are our national sins? Does a massive transfer of wealth to impoverished nations and people “fix” the failures of the past?

What does the Bible say?

Is there a spiritual principle to answer a “Woke” culture? Can one generation bear the guilt for the sins of past generations? Do sons and daughters have a moral obligation to compensate for the failures of their fathers who went before them?

The Word of God does have an answer to this controversy, and it is stated simply:

Ezekiel 18:20 – 20The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.

What is the spiritual response to the “Woke” doctrine of “love and reparations?”

It is that every generation bears responsibility for its choices, whether they are lawful or lawless, righteous or wicked (Ezekiel 18:20). When a generation chooses righteousness, they enjoy God’s favor. When sons and daughters choose wickedness, they bear God’s judgment, and will suffer the punishment of the wicked (Ezekiel 18:20d).

Are the sins of past generations the burden of sons and daughters?

Absolutely. We read in Lamentations 5:7, “7Our fathers have sinned, and are not; And we have borne their iniquities.”

While sons and daughter bear the burden and influence of the sins of their fathers, they cannot be lawfully punished for the failures of a former generation. Such a demand is not only unjust, but violates the Scriptures and God’s righteous judgment (Deuteronomy 24:16).

Should the Church and its members look upon human history, and acknowledge “human rights” violations? Do we concede the failures of generations that have gone before us? Absolutely!

However, it is God, not man that is judge. He does not condemn one generation for the failures of another.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith
* All rights reserved. May not be republished without acknowledgement, and the permission of the author.