Tag Archives: Government

God is Sovereign and The Most Powerful Monarch Bows to His Will.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Daily reading assignment – 2 Chronicles 33-36

Unlike his father Hezekiah, under whose reign Judah experienced revival (2 Chronicles 30:1-9) when he destroyed the places of idol worship (2 Chronicles 31), Manasseh began to reign as king of Judah when he was twelve years old, reigning fifty-five years, but he “did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD” (33:2).

There were no bounds to the depths of depravity to which Manasseh stooped.  He rebuilt the groves of prostitution where Baal was worshipped, desecrated the Temple, practiced human sacrifice, sacrificing his own children to idols, participated in witchcraft, and led Jerusalem to commit wickedness “worse than the heathen” (33:9).  What a horrible biography of depravity and wickedness, practiced by the young king and tolerated by his advisors and the masses!

I marvel how a godly king like Hezekiah who led Judah in spiritual revival; might have a son like Manasseh who succeeded his father as king and proceeded down a path of evil that exceeded the wickedness of the heathen (33:9).  If you will allow a personal observation (after all, this is a commentary); I am oft amazed how men in authority influence a people, spawn a movement of prejudice and hatred, and leave in their wake the destruction of families, communities, nations and the deaths of millions of men and women.

As a product of the 20th century and a student of its history, I reflect on the century past (the rise of Communism, Nazi-fascists, militant Islamists, and our present-day conflict with anarchists of all stripes…political and religious) and understand the tragic consequences that befall nations that choose wicked, unprincipled, godless leaders.  King Solomon taught his son the same, writing:

Proverbs 29:2 – “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.”

In spite of his evil ways, we read, “the LORD spake to Manasseh, and to his people: but they would not hearken” (33:10).  What a testimony of God’s patience and longing to forgive and restore His people!  Being reminded God’s ways are not our ways, the LORD sovereignly moved on the heart of “the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh with hooks and fetters and brought him to Babylon” (33:11).  Reminding us to not give up on wayward sinners, in the throes of his suffering and humiliation, Manasseh “besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, 13  And prayed unto him: and he was intreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD he was God” (33:12-13).

Having repented of his sins, God restored Manasseh to the throne in Jerusalem and he began a crusade to fortify the walls of the city, removing the traces of his own wickedness in tearing down places of idol worship,  repairing the Temple altar and commanding “Judah to serve the LORD God of Israel” (33:13-16).

Manasseh, by example and edict, led the nation to turn from their sins and return to the LORD; however, he was unable to reverse the effect of his sins on Amon, his son who did “evil in the sight of the LORD, as did Manasseh his father…And humbled not himself before the LORD” (33:21-23) until his servants assassinated him in the palace (33:24).

Being reminded of God’s grace, Josiah, the son of Amon and grandson of Hezekiah, turned from the sins of his father and followed his grandfather’s example and “did that which was right in the sight of the LORD” (2 Chronicles 34-35:1-19).  Josiah’s death on the battlefield (35:20-24) and how the prophet Jeremiah and the people mourned his death is recorded in 2 Chronicles 35:20-27.

2 Chronicles 36 records the final days of Judah as a nation before Babylonian captivity.  Long prophesied by the prophets, the burning of the Temple, ruin of the palaces, destruction of Jerusalem, and the people being led away captive to Babylon for seventy years were fulfilled (36:1-24).

Today’s scripture reading concludes with a reminder:  God is sovereign and the most powerful monarch bows to His will.

2 Chronicles 36:22-23 – “ 22  Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, 23  Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the LORD God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? The LORD his God be with him, and let him go up.”

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

“Performing Faith: The Life of Corrie ten Boom”

Hillsdale family, friends and Heart of a Shepherd followers,

If you are familiar with Hillsdale’s 55 year history, you know only on rare occasions do we depart from our traditional worship service; however, this Sunday morning, 10:30 AM, October 8,  will be the exception.  

To begin our monthlong emphasis on missions,  I have asked our own Dr. Melissa Cancel, a teacher in Hillsdale’s Fine Arts Academy and a veteran actor, to bring to our stage this Sunday morning a Chamber theater production titled, “Performing Faith: The Life of Corrie ten Boom”.

“Performing Faith” is the real-life story and testimony of Corrie ten Boom whose faith in Christ gave her strength to survive the hardships and deprivations of a German concentration camp, the death of a sister, and the love to forgive a Nazi officer who was her tormentor.

Dr. Cancel will direct and play the lead role of Corrie ten Boom, accompanied by four of Hillsdale’s teens who are students in her Speech and Drama studio.

Remembering the mission field of Hillsdale Baptist Church begins with our own Jerusalem (Acts 1:8), let us take a lesson from the past and recognize the greatest need of the United States is not economic stimulation and more laws, but bold witnesses and spiritual revival.

The morning service will conclude with a challenge and invitation from the Word of God.

With the heart of a shepherd,

Pastor Tavis D. Smith

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

“Things That Are and Ought Not To Be”

September 28, 2017

Scripture Reading – Proverbs 26-27

There are many wonderful, practical, common sense principles found in today’s scripture reading; however, I will focus on one that is timely in light of the ongoing dialog in our society and nation – Proverbs 26:1.  The following is a summary of a devotional commentary first penned by this author, January 26, 2014.

I observe many things in our society that are out-of-place, inappropriate and disconcerting.  In a manner of speaking– things that ought not to be!  That thought is the subject of Proverbs 26:1 – “As snow in summer, and as rain in harvest, so honour [glory; wealth] is not seemly [fitting; becoming] for a fool [silly; stupid; self-confident; having a knowledge of God, but rejected Him].

Solomon states the obvious: Snow has no place in summer, and rain is catastrophic during harvest time.  Cold and snow kill seedling plants, while rain hinders reaping the harvest.  The practical application of Solomon sums up his observations in these words: “…so honour is not seemly for a fool” (26:1c).

We live in a misguided culture that honors men and women who do not deserve the pedestal of a role model.  The foolishness and lack of character of today’s heroes has become legendary.   We laud young professional athletes for their achievements and then defrocked them for using performance-enhancing drugs, but only after amassing wealth and the following of a generation of young people.

The music industry shapes a singer’s brand, promoting and awarding a hollow image while enriching them, their sponsors and music labels.  “Justin Bieber-types” glorify and epitomize a lifestyle of debauchery and self-destructive hedonism, earning a following of foolish adolescents that idolize them.

Promoting the unseemly has become a common practice for the American public.  We elect men and women, honor them with our trust, and act amazed when their bankrupt character brings disgrace to the office.

Even the most prestigious awards are not exempt from heaping honor where it is unearned and undeserved.  Many were surprised when newly elected President Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize of 2009, not based upon an accomplishment, but upon His vision.  Even more unseemly, in my opinion, was the President accepting an award he had not earned.

When we honor and praise someone who is undeserving, we demean the honor and our praise is vain.  The apostle Paul encouraged Christians living in Rome, “Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour” (Romans 13:7).

Words of praise and honors are powerful incentives, but only as long as they have merit and tangible meaning. 

Proverbs 25:11 A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.”

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

A Prayer and Note of Appreciation to First Responders

September 10, 2017

Remembering tomorrow is September 11, I am writing this brief note of appreciation Sunday evening, not knowing what trials Hurricane Irma may leave in her wake for those who call Tampa Bay home.

As I seek shelter from the storm I know First Responders are ready and waiting to rush into Hurricane Irma’s winds and wade into her flood waters to save lives as their brothers and sisters did in New York City September 11, 2001.   May we never forget those who answered the call to duty and rushed into the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers as others fled to safety.

My prayer is for God to bless each of you, keep you safe through the night and restore you to the families anxiously waiting for you to come home.

With a shepherd’s heart,

Travis D. Smith, Senior Pastor

Hillsdale Baptist Church

Tampa, FL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday – Scripture Reading – Gospel of John 7-9

Sunday – Scripture Reading – 2 Timothy 1-2

With the heart of a shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

Copyright 2-17 – Travis D. Smith

“Justice Falters When The Ungodly Sit In Judgment”

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Proverbs 19

Today’s devotional commentary is from Proverbs 19 and focuses on one proverb from the chapter, Proverbs 19:28.

Proverbs 19:28  “An ungodly witness [i.e. false witness given in court] scorneth [mocks] judgment [justice; due process]: and the mouth [speech] of the wicked [ungodly; morally wrong; guilty] devoureth [swallows up; destroys] iniquity [sin; wickedness; trouble].

Once the envy of the world, America’s judicial system is compromised by lawmakers who have no moral compass, law enforcement who sometimes show a lack of restraint, lawyers who distort matters of law, judges who have no interest in justice and a citizenry that encumbered with a seared conscience and openly scorns moral absolutes!

Lies, deceit and distortions have become the modus operandi of American politics and the distinct lines of right and wrong erased by a nation that tolerates injustice and is intolerant of God’s Laws.   The innocent suffer when a judicial system tolerates lies, encourages compromise, exacts injustice and rewards criminal behavior.

Are you wondering what is happening to America?  Why is our nation decaying spiritually, morally and financially?  Why corruption and violence are tearing the fabric of our society?

You need look only at who is in authority:

Proverbs 29:2  “When the righteous [just; lawful] are in authority [lit. grow great; are many; increase], the people [nation] rejoice [joyful; cheers; happy]: but when the wicked [immoral; ungodly; lawbreakers] beareth rule [have dominion; govern; reign], the people mourn [sighs; groans; sorrows].”

 There is little hope for America until “We the people” elect leaders who are good, honest and upright. 

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

America Needs Leaders Whose Passion is “Truth, Justice and ‘the American Way’”

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Proverbs 16

Americans live in a democratic society and the laws of our nation are supposed to be as binding on the president and congress as on common citizenry.   Realistically, no leader is above the law and the scales of justice are in no man’s favor.  Such is not the case in a monarchy when the king is the embodiment of the law and the citizens of his realm can only hope their king is a righteous man who fears the wrath of God’s judgment should he be derelict in his duties as king and judge.

Proverbs 16:10-13 expresses four principles that should serve as a guide for those in authority and those they serve.

Proverbs 16:10 “A divine sentence [a decision reflecting God’s Law] is in [proceeds from] the lips of the king: his mouth transgresseth not [does not commit trespass] in judgment [sentence; verdict].

Kings, rulers, judges and all who are in authority are to exercise judgment mindful that God, not man, is the ultimate judge of right and wrong.  When godly men sit in places of judgment, their hearts will weigh matters with the discernment God alone can give.   How is that possible?  Notice Deuteronomy 17:18-20.

Deuteronomy 17:18-20 – “And it shall be, when he [king] sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he [king] shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites: 19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them: 20 That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren…

A king was to possess a copy of God’s Law written by his own hand, perhaps in his youth when his heart was young and tender (17:18).   The king’s copy of the Law of God was to serve as his daily meditation (17:19) and his guide in matters of judgment lest his heart be lifted up with pride and he abdicate his responsibility as judge and ruler (17:20).

Proverbs 16:11 – “A just weight [right verdict; scale] and balance [scales] are the LORD’S: all the weights [stones; measurements] of the bag are His work [labor; work of His hands].”

God’s Law and the immutable principles of His holiness, grace and mercy were to serve Israel’s king as the final word when he executed judgment.

Lady Justice continues to serve as America’s symbol of impartial, righteous justice.   Personified wearing a blindfold, holding in her left hand the scales of justice and in her right the double-edged sword of judgment, she serves as a modern symbol of what rulers and judges are to remember–God is the final judge and arbitrator in matters of judgment.

Proverbs 16:12 It is an abomination [abhorrence; loathsome; repulsive] to kings to commit [do; execute] wickedness [moral wrong]: for the throne [seat of authority and judgment] is established [fixed; firmly established; made strong] by righteousness [rightness; moral virtue].”

The responsibility and influence of kings and all in authority is the subject of Proverbs 16:12.   King Solomon instructed his son to remember it is an abomination to God and repulsive to man when those in authority practice and facilitate all manner of evil and immorality.

Sadly, that is the state in which we find our own nation.  America is in a quagmire of immorality and injustice because our leaders have forsaken the Law of God.  Our halls of justice have no moral compass for judging right and wrong, and the decay of our strength and security as a nation has paralleled the erosion of our confidence and respect for those in authority.

Proverbs 16:13 – “Righteous [true; just] lips are the delight [desire; pleasure] of kings; and they love [desire; like] him that speaketh right [just; upright].”

To know the moral character of those in authority one need look no further than those to whom he or she looks for counsel.   While a godly leader desires the counsel of righteous men, a godless leaders choses the counsel of those who serve their immoral ends.

Truth – Godly leaders have a passion for truth and love those whose words and counsel are honest and just.

Psalm 119:103-105 – “How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! 104  Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way. 105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith