Tag Archives: Government

“A Prophetic Portrait of a Rebellious Nation”

June 16, 2020

Dear Heart of a Shepherd Readers,

I am not one given to self-promotion; however, there are subjects I address in the pulpit at Hillsdale that I wish were preached in every pulpit across America. Unfortunately, just the opposite is true. I find few pastors willing to confront the sins of society and honestly address the spiritual issues of our day.

I fear the majority of churches in America will never hear anything more from their pastors than a spirit of compromise and appeasement when it comes to honestly confronting and addressing the social issues that are tearing at the soul and moral fiber of the United States.

I am writing to invite you to listen to this past Sunday’s introductory sermon in the Prophetic Book of Isaiah. https://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=615201554572035

You can also watch a video of the same sermon on Facebook that begins at the about the 37:00 minute mark in the service. https://www.facebook.com/hillsdalebaptistchurch/videos/642918159899564/

I encourage you to have your Bible in hand and follow me as I go systematically through Isaiah 1:1-10. I will address the moral failings of the United States, using the backdrop of the cyclical nature of the rise and fall of nations that is illustrated in God’s warning of judgment to Judah that was delivered by His prophet Isaiah.

I promise to end the sermon on an encouraging note.

With the heart of a shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

The King is Dead (1 Chronicles 26-29, Psalm 127)

Scripture Reading – 1 Chronicles 26-29, Psalm 127

In the fortieth year of his reign as king, David was conscious of the frailty of old age and the increasing shadow of his own death. In today’s Scripture reading we have record of David’s final preparations before his inevitable departure from this earthly life.

1 Chronicles 26 – The Gatekeepers

Continuing the organization of those who will minister in the Temple, the focus of 1 Chronicles 26are those men and their families who will be charged with guarding the entrances to the Temple. Altogether there will be twenty-four guard stations attended by porters or gatekeepers described as “mighty men of valour” (26:6) and “able men for strength for the service” (26:8), meaning able-body men.

Men of the tribe of Levi were also assigned to guard the Temples treasuries (26:20-28) that consisted not only of what was given by the people, but also “out of the spoils won in battles” (26:27).

1 Chronicles 27 – Israel’s Army and its Divisions

Having completed the affairs of the Temple and its organization, David’s focus then turned to the organization of Israel’s armies by twelve divisions, each division consisting of twenty-four thousand men (27:1-15).

The rulers of the Twelve Tribes of Israel are named (27:16-22), as well as those men who were charged with managing the king’s possessions (27:23-31).

The record of David’s trusted counsellors is also stated (27:32-34).

1 Chronicles 28 – David’s Final Preparations

Calling together all the leaders of his kingdom (28:1), David made certain there would be no ambiguity as to his desires and God’s plan for Israel when he died.

Seeming to indicate he had been lying on his bed until now, we read that “the king stood up upon his feet” and began to share the longing in his heart to build a Temple for God, as well as, the reason why he was denied that privilege: “But God said unto me, Thou shalt not build an house for my name, because thou hast been a man of war, and hast shed blood” (28:3).

David shared how God had chosen Solomon to be king (28:5) and had promised him a perpetual kingdom if he would keep the LORD’s “commandments” and judgments (28:7-8). In the audience of the leaders, David exhorted Solomon to know God and serve the LORD “with a perfect heart and with a willing mind” (28:9-10). David charged Solomon to take up architectural plans he had devised for the Temple and to “build an house for the sanctuary: be strong, and do it” (28:9-10).

1 Chronicles 29 – David’s Final Acts as King

We come to the end of this first chronicle of Israel’s history having followed God’s providential hand in His creation from Adam, the first man (1 Chronicles 1:1), through Noah (1:4-17) and his son Shem (1:17). Of Shem’s lineage was born Abraham (1:27) with whom God established His redemptive covenant that was to be fulfilled in Jesus Christ, “the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1).

David has reigned forty years as Israel’s king (29:27) and his final appeal to the leaders of the nation is recorded in 1 Chronicles 29. The king reminded all Israel that God had chosen Solomon to succeed him as king, but urged the people to remember he was “young and tender, and the work…great: for the palace is not for man, but for the LORD God” (29:1).

Modeling the manner of giving that honors the LORD, David gave liberally and enthusiastically for the building of the Temple (29:2-5). The leaders of the nation followed the king’s example and “offered willingly” (29:6-9). Witnessing the spirit of their king and leaders, the people also “offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the LORD: and David the king also rejoiced with great joy” (29:9).

A beautiful benediction of praise and worship is recorded when David rehearsed God’s blessings on Israel (29:10-13) and his inferiority in the light of God’s grace (29:14-15). Remembering his humble beginnings, David prayed with a sense of awe:

1 Chronicles 29:14-1514  But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort [remember, David was a son of a shepherd]? for all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee. 15  For we are strangers before thee, and sojourners, as were all our fathers: our days on the earth are as a shadow [shade; temporal; passing], and there is none abiding [no hope in this life].

David’s prayer turned to one of intercession as he contemplated the task of being king which Solomon was about to undertake (29:19). Sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving followed and the ceremony concluded with Solomon being anointed as king a second time and then taking his place on the throne (29:20-24).

God did answered David’s prayer, for “the LORD magnified Solomon exceedingly in the sight of all Israel, and bestowed upon him such royal majesty as had not been on any king before him in Israel” (29:25).

The reign of David, Israel’s great king, comes to an end with a simple obituary:

“And he died in a good old age, full of days, riches, and honour: and Solomon his son reigned in his stead” (29:28).

Notice the memorial to David’s character in that last sentence: David “died in a good old age, full of days, riches, and honour [glory; splendor]” (29:28).

All men and women will die, but I dare say, few will die having lived a full life that has been blessed, bequeathing honor as their life’s crowning trait.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Choices Always Have Consequences (Deuteronomy 24-27)

Daily reading assignment – Deuteronomy 24-27

Moses continues his final challenge to Israel in today’s scripture reading, and his speech covers nearly every aspect of life in the new land.

Deuteronomy 24

Marriage and divorce are the subject of the opening verses of Deuteronomy 24, and we are reminded that divorce was never God’s will. God’s plan from creation was that man would be the husband of one wife (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:8). The principles on divorce stated in this passage were given to stress the solemnness of marriage and the sobriety of divorce (24:1-5).

Various life principles follow (24:6-22)

1) Never take a pledge of indebtedness against a man’s “millstone,” meaning his means to grind wheat and provide bread for his family (24:6). Stated in a different manner: Don’t take from a man his livelihood and means to provide for his family.

2) Don’t engage in “man stealing” (the 21st century describes this as “human trafficking” and its victims are often children). The penalty of such is death (24:7).

3) Never oppress the poor by taking advantage of their impoverished state (24:10-15). In ancient times, the sole possession of a poor man might have been nothing more than the robes he wore. Explanation: While a poor man might offer his outer robe to secure a loan and the lender take possession of it during the day, the debtor was not to be denied the warmth and comfort of his robe at night.  That principle is timeless!  While people should not assume debts, they cannot pay; neither should lenders be harsh in charging usury, seeking justice, and restitution.

4) Employers are to pay employees their due (24:16).

5) Everyone was to bear the punishment for their own sin and not another in their stead (24:16).

6) Compassion for the poverty of the orphan, widow, and foreigner was a burden shared by Hebrew society (24:19-22).

Deuteronomy 25

Because justice is essential for the peace and well-being of a society, corporal punishment that fit the crime was to be administered, but within reason and without excessive harshness (Deut. 25:1-4).

Even the ox that labored in the field was to be an object of compassion and allowed the reward of eating some of the grain as it labored (25:4; 1 Timothy 5:18).

Hebrews were expected to be men of integrity in business, and weights and measurements used in commerce were to be “perfect and just” (Deut. 25:13-16).

Though commanded to have compassion on a foreigner in other passages, Israel was not to appear weak or trivialize offenses an enemy’s (25:17-19).

Deuteronomy 26

Because the LORD had chosen Israel and blessed the people, Moses reminded them they were to demonstrate their gratitude by bringing the first fruits of the harvest to the sanctuary (26:1-15).

A special tithe was given every third year accompanying the tither’s confession he had honored the LORD’s commandments and obeyed them. The third-year tithe was used to meet immediate needs in one’s community and to support “the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat within thy gates, and be filled” (26:12-15).

Reminded of their covenant with the LORD, Israel was to promise to “walk in his ways, and to keep His statutes, and His commandments” (26:16-17). In response, the LORD promised to promote Israel above all the nations of the earth (26:19).

Deuteronomy 27

Lest the people forget, a memorial pillar of stones was to be inscribed with the law and raised up on the west side of the Jordan River as a reminder of the LORD’s promises and commandments (Dt. 27:1-2).  An altar was to be built to sanctify the place and the LORD’s covenant with Israel (27:2-10).

Admonishing the people “Choices have Consequences”, the elders of the twelve tribes were charged to remind them obedience to the Law brought the LORD’s blessing, and disobedience His curse and judgments (27:14-26).

A series of twelve curses were pronounced, and the tribes affirmed they accepted the LORD’s covenant (Dt. 27:15-26).

1) Idolatry, a violation of the first and second commandments is cursed (27:15).

2) Dishonoring one’s parents is cursed (27:16), a violation of the fifth commandment (Ex. 20:12).

3) Stealing the property and possessions of another is cursed, a violation of the eighth commandment (27:17; Ex. 20:15).

4) Taking advantage of the infirmed or disabled is cursed (27:18).

5) Unjust treatment of “the stranger, fatherless, and widow” is cursed (27:19; Ex. 22:21-24).

The sixth through ninth curses address sexual impurity, a violation of the seventh commandment (27:20-23; Ex. 20:14).

6) Incest with one’s stepmother is cursed (27:20; Lev. 18:8-9, 17; 20:11).

7) Bestiality is cursed (27:21; Lev. 18:23).

8) Incest between siblings and parents is cursed (27:22).

9) Incest with one’s mother-in-law is cursed (27:23).

The sixth commandment, “Thou shalt not kill” (Ex. 20:13), is the subject of the tenth and eleventh curses (Dt. 27:24-25).

10) Intentional murder of one’s neighbor is cursed (Dt. 27:24).

11) Hiring an assassin to kill another is cursed (Dt. 27:25).

The twelfth and final curse is addressed to any child of Israel who failed to affirm God’s Law and Commandments (Dt .27:26).

When the people were asked to affirm they accepted the LORD’s covenant, they answered, “Amen” (27:26).

In case you are tempted to believe the law and commandments have no application to you, I remind you:

1 Peter 1:15-16 – “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16  Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Hype, Hysteria, and Hope (in the midst of uncertainty)

March 16, 2020

Dear Heart of A Shepherd readers,

I have been away from Tampa for only one week, however, the world and our nation have dramatically changed in that short span of time.

While I am not generally a conspiracy theorist, I believe there is a dark purpose behind what is happening in our nation. I think there are unseen, dark figures driving the present crisis and I wonder if this is a “dry run” for something diabolical and more malicious. Knowing the spiritual character of this generation is far different than the faith of our nation a century ago, I fear the potential of violent societal conflict.

The hype around the Coronavirus is a potential catalyst for an overreach of government that is, in my opinion, the perfect stage for a socialist agenda. The draconian measures that are being suggested and taken by federal and state governments (closing schools, churches, restaurants, and businesses; threatening curfews and outlawing gatherings of more than 50) threatens to ruin the economy and plunge our nation and world into an economic depression. Unless sanity prevails, businesses, ministries, and families will soon be forced into bankruptcy. (I do not write that sentence lightly).

No one could have foreseen the events of the past two weeks, nor can we predict the future ripple effect across our lives, families, and ministries. I have many concerns that I am sure are shared across our nation.

What impact will current events have on employers and employment?  What is the economic impact on businesses and families who survive paycheck to paycheck?  With hoarding on a scale never witnessed in my lifetime, how secure are our food supplies and staple goods?

In the immediate, I offer you counsel and encouragement:

Pray – Someone has said, “Courage is fear that has said its prayers.”

Mark 11:22-24 – “22 And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. 23 For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. 24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”

Plan – The distance between a panic attack and confidence is a plan.

Definition of “Plan” – “Since God knows exactly what would happen in every situation, He plans for the best thing to happen. God takes counsel, puts all things under advisement, and chooses the best way.” – Practical Word Studies in The New Testament.

Purpose – Put your trust in the LORD and hope in Him.

Isaiah 26:3-4 – “3  Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. 4  Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength:”

With the heart of a shepherd,

Travis D. Smith

Senior Pastor

http://www.HillsdaleBaptist.org

www.HeartofAShepherd.com

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” (part 1)

I am afraid America is no longer that nation.  We have become a people who put politics before patriotism.  We have defied a Holy God with our sins and are divided by racism, prejudice, partisan politics, corruption and gross depravity. Our liberties are under assault and justice has faltered.

It is with sorrow I confess the Church has failed God and our nation.  We are commanded to be the “Salt of the Earth”, but we have become “good for nothing…”(Mt. 5:13).  We are to be the “light of the world” (Mt. 5:14), but we have abdicated the moral high ground for sinful pleasures.

While the political left assaults Biblical convictions and moral values, our pulpits retreat refusing to engage an enemy greater than flesh and blood politics.  The apostle Paul warned the Church, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).  Peter describes the enemy “as your adversary…a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

Nothing has brought to the forefront the division we suffer as a nation more than the vitriol directed at a President who aspires to “Make America Great Again”. The unrelenting attacks of the media and the vicious assaults of the Left serve as a revelation that many of our leaders are enemies of the founding principles that made America great.

Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859), the great French statesman of the 19thcentury and author of Democracy in America, traveled these United States in search of the qualities that defined America’s greatness as a democracy. Tocqueville wrote:

“I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers – and it was not there . . . in her fertile fields and boundless forests and it was not there . . . in her rich mines and her vast world commerce – and it was not there . . . in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution – and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.” [emphasis added]  From Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Volume 1, Copyright 1945 and renewed 1973 by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., a division of Random House Inc.

It is that last statement I find prophetic.  Christian friend, if we have any hope of seeing “America Great Again”, we must take up our role as the “Salt of the Earth” and “Light of the World”!

In his first epistle to the church, Peter challenged Christians with four mandates that define Christian citizenship: “Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.”
 (1 Peter 2:17)

Let us focus only on the first mandate: “Honour all men(1 Peter 2:17a).

What a striking contrast this mandate of Christian citizenship is with 21stcentury American society.   A lack of civility, rudeness and crassness has become the way of our nation.  The President is cursed by a Congressional intern who receives a mere slap on the wrist and a brief suspension.  FBI agents write texts referencing the President in boorish terms while protestors march in the streets expressing all manner of vulgarities.  Civility, respect for authority, and humility are lost.

And yet, the church is commanded, “Honour all men…” (1 Peter 2:17a).  To honor is to ascribe worth to an individual by one’s words and actions. It is to treat another with dignity; to prize, value, regard, and respect.

Notice the command to “Honor all” is universal in scope.  There is no room for prejudices, knowing men and women are created in the likeness and image of God (Genesis 1:27).  “Honor” is blind to race and ethnicity. Honor does not discriminate based on skin color or physical characteristics.

“Honor” however, is not without discretion. For instance, though we are persuaded to “honor all”, we are not to lack discretion and honor the wicked in their sins.  Solomon urged his son, “…so honour is not seemly [fitting] for a fool [an immoral, insolent man]” (Proverbs 26:1). We have learned all too well, promoting the wicked to places and positions of influence will invariably “corrupt good manners (morals)” of a nation (1 Corinthians 15:33).

We also understand some are more deserving of honor than others. There are some who are like “vessels of gold and silver”; there are others like vessels “of wood and of earth (clay)” (2 Timothy 2:20).  In other words, we are for the most part common, ordinary men and women.  While “all men are created equal”, some are more talented, gifted, and honorable than others.

Finally, the nature of virtue calls for honor.  We might say of some, “He is a good man” or “She is a good woman.”  The implication is an individual possesses character qualities that are treasured and therefore honorable. Of such a one Paul writes, “Render therefore…honour to whom honour”is due (Romans 13:7).

My next post will invite you to consider: While all men are to be honored, some are to be purposely and specifically honored.

With a shepherd’s heart,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

Copyright 2018 – Travis D. Smith

The Biblical Foundation of America’s Laws and Precepts We Too Often Take for Granted

Monday, November 27, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Deuteronomy 20-22

Moses’ final challenge to Israel before his departure continues in today’s scripture reading, Deuteronomy 20-22.  Israel is encamped at the threshold of the land God promised Abraham and his lineage; however, the land will not be theirs’ without going to war to secure and to enlarge it.

Deuteronomy 20 is a continuation of Moses’ instruction to Israel in times of war.  Moses challenged the people to be confident when facing superior enemies, not trusting in their own strength, but placing their confidence in the LORD (Deuteronomy 20:1-4).  The men were expected to take up arms and go to war for the nation; however, some in Israel were given exemptions from military duty lest they be a distraction and endanger others.  Among those given exemptions from war were men building a house, planting a vineyard, newly married, and the fainthearted who lacked courage (Deuteronomy 20:5-8).  While women, children, and livestock might be spared as spoils of war, Israel was to put to death every man of war (20:10-20).

Deuteronomy 21 sets forth various laws Israel was to follow and underlines the sanctity of human life (21:1-9), the just treatment of an alien woman taken as a wife (21:10-14), the birthright of a firstborn son (Deuteronomy 21:15-17), and the punishment of a rebellious son (21:18-21).

Being reminded an Israelite was commanded to love his neighbor, Deuteronomy 22 states the duty of a man regarding his neighbor’s welfare and possessions (22:1-4).  There was also to be a distinction of the sexes in their dress and fashion (22:5).

Remembering God is the Creator and life is sacred, rather than wanton callousness for animal life, Israelites were to value and preserve the life of even the smallest bird (22:6-7).

Because man is created in the image of God, precautions were to be taken to protect human life, including the building of battlements or low walls about the roof of one’s home (22:8) to prevent accidental falls, injury and death.

Finally, practical laws and guidelines are given regarding the sanctity and purity of marriage (22:13-30).  Unlike their heathen neighbors, Israelite women were given protections and the right of due process should their purity and testimony be called into question.  Deuteronomy 22 closes with a reminder that incest was an abomination to God and prohibited (22:10).

As a closing observation, you should recognize there are many life principles we follow as a nation and take for granted in society that originate with many of the laws stated in today’s Scripture reading: The sanctity of human life (21:1-9), the equitable treatment of women (21:10-14), caring for a neighbor’s welfare (22:1-4), and the sacredness of all life (22:6).

America has systematically rejected God and the authority of His Word over the course of the last 50 years and we have become a society whose laws are divorced from unalterable sacred principles, leaving us as a nation given to the whims of wicked men.

Isaiah 5:20-21 – “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! 21  Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!”

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

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