Tag Archives: Government

“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

“Idle Hands Are The Devil’s Workshop”

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Proverbs 10

The following study is taken in part from my devotional commentary post on the Book of Proverbs dated December 10, 2014.

Today’s study in proverbs features what I will call three “stand alone proverbs” – three proverbial statements of “Uncommon Common Sense” communicating three distinct observations.

Proverbs 10:15  “The rich man’s wealth [property; possessions; savings] is his strong city [a fortified city]: the destruction [ruin; dismay; terror] of the poor [needy; helpless] is their poverty.”

“You didn’t build that!”, was an adage employed by liberal politicians in the 2012 election cycle in the United States.   Hoping to stir up class envy, the statement taunted the successful while dismissing the sacrifices and risks taken by employers and business owners.  I accept the statement if the intent is to acknowledge divine providence; however, an ideology that taunts hardworking entrepreneurs, spawns an expansive welfare state, inevitably makes citizens debtors and slaves of big government.   How tragic!   While excoriating the successful, the poor are left weak, dependent and one crisis from destitution!

Proverbs 10:15 is a statement of fact—a rich man finds comfort and security in his wealth.   In the same way citizens of a medieval city found refuge behind the walls of a city, a rich man finds security in riches providentially provided to him by God.   By contrast, the working poor are often a crisis away from desperation (an incentive to be a “saver” and not a “spender” or “debtor”).

Proverbs 10:16 – “The labour  [wages; reward] of the righteous [just; law-abiding] tendeth to life [strength; satisfaction]: the fruit [result; reaping] of the wicked [ungodly; guilty] to sin [punishment; i.e. leads to greater sin].”

Though the curse of sin left man laboring for food by the sweat of his brow (Genesis 3:19),  the reward of an honest day’s labor brings its own satisfaction.   I am not sure who to credit with the quote, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop”; however, there is a lot of truth in that statement.   The prevalence of depression in our society is, I believe, directly related to the gross amount of leisure time we enjoy as a society.  Too few of us come to the end of a day and enjoy the reward of having accomplished anything that is lasting!

Proverbs 10:17 – “He is in the way [path] of life that keepeth [heeds] instruction: but he that refuseth reproof [refuses to hear and heed correction] erreth.”

Solomon continues a common theme in verse 17—God blesses a man who heeds correction and rebuke; however, a rebel will inevitably follow a path to his own destruction.

As Solomon challenged his son to take the path of righteousness, it is the duty and responsibility of parents and spiritual leaders to challenge men and women with the same enduring truths from God’s Word (2 Timothy 4:2)!

Two questions to ponder: What path are you taking?  Is your heart open to correction? 

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Saying “I’m sorry” Is Often Not Enough!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Daily reading assignment: Exodus 21-24

Having given Israel His Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17), the LORD continued instructing the people through His servants Moses beginning with Exodus 20:22 and continuing through Exodus 23:33.  I will briefly consider the LORD’s instructions to Israel in today’s devotional commentary knowing we will derive principles and insights from them that are applicable to the 21st century church.

Exodus 20:22-26 instructs the people regarding worship and the LORD’s intolerance of idols among His people (20:22-23).   We also note the construction and sanctity of altars for sacrifices (Exodus 20:24-25) and a principle for modesty: “Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon” (Exodus 20:26).

In a day when “anything goes” and the church calls it worship, it might surprise some the extent to which God regarded not only the construction of places of worship (i.e. altars), but also the dress of those who led the people (i.e. priests). Contrary to the casual “come as you are” brashness of the majority of 21st century American churches, those who led Israel in worshipping the LORD were to conduct themselves in a manner befitting the holiness of God and never allow for any “nakedness” that would be a distraction for those who worship the LORD (Exodus 20:26).

[On a personal note: I have considered the use of robes for choir and musicians on stage as a practice in keeping with this principle, although many might criticize them as too formal].

I encourage my readers to note the fundamental basis for democratic law and order are found in Exodus 21:1-23:19.  We find God’s Laws for masters (employers) and indentured servants (employees) stated in Exodus 21:1-11.  Exodus 21:12-17 states God’s Law addressing the taking of human life, a violation of the sixth commandment, “Thou shalt not kill” (Exodus 20:13), drawing a difference between murder and manslaughter (taking a life without intent).

For those who treat lightly the lack of respect sons and daughters often manifest toward parents, a violation of the fifth commandment (20:12), cursing a parent was a capital crime and death mandated (21:17).  The case for accidental injuries and proper compensation is also stated (21:18-32).

Knowing a man’s livelihood and a family’s well being in an agricultural society were dependent on the care of one’s livestock, the theft of ox and sheep was a serious crime (22:1-4) as was damage to a man’s crops (22:5-6).

Personal responsibility and liability were important issues among God’s people and fair compensation for losses, whether by theft or neglect, mandated (22:7-15).  I draw your attention particularly to verses 14-15 that state an obligation a borrower assumes when borrowing another man’s property.  The subject is a farmer who borrows another man’s goods and, for the sake of our illustration an ox whereby he plows his field, but the ox is injured or dies while in his care.  Under that circumstance the borrower is debtor to the lender and under obligation to “make it good” (22:14); in other words, repay or replace.  The exception is when the owner of the ox is plowing a man’s field “for his hire” (22:15).

For a practical application, honesty and integrity demand when you borrow or rent another’s property or goods, you are under obligation to make right any damages or loss that occur to the lender.  In other words, “I’m sorry” does not make whole or restore another’s loss.  Our families and society need to restore this principle to its application.  If you want your children to have integrity, teach them by your example to make whole any goods and property they have damaged or destroyed.

Various laws address other moral and societal issues (22:16-23:19), including rape (22:16-17), witchcraft (22:18), bestiality (22:19), and idolatry (22:20).   Excessive interest that imposes unnecessary hardship on the poor is also outlawed (22:25-27).

Recognizing God is Just, it follows He demands His people be just in matters of law and make no occasion for lies and distortions of the truth (23:1-8).  Our scripture reading concludes with God’s promise to protect Israel as they journey through the wilderness and bless them (23:20-33).

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith