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Four Traits of a Happy Man

September 20, 2017

Scripture Reading – Psalms 111-113

The psalms in today’s scripture reading begin with the same opening theme and call to worship— “Praise ye the LORD” (Psalms 111:1; 112:1; 113:1).  In essence, to “Praise ye the LORD” is to boast of Him; glory in Him; celebrate the LORD for He is Yahweh, Jehovah, God Eternal!

Psalm 111 begins with a vow to “…praise [give thanks] the LORD with my whole heart…” (111:1b).  Sincere praise of the LORD arises from a trusting, undivided heart.  The psalmist’s meditations on the LORD reflected on His works…the wonder and expanse of His creation (111:2), “His righteousness”— He is just, and “is gracious and full of compassion” (111:4b).

Psalm 112, like Psalm 111, begins with a word of praise to the LORD and an affirmation that the man who “feareth” [trembles; reveres] the LORD is “Blessed” [happy] because he “delighteth [desires; takes pleasure] greatly in his commandments [Law; ordinances; precepts]” (112:1).

We find four traits of a “Happy” man in Psalm 112.   A “Happy” man is Blessed (112:1), Upright (112:4), Good (112:5-6a) and Righteous (112:7-9).

He is Blessed because he is the object of God’s grace (i.e. unmerited favor).

Because he “feareth the LORD” (lit. reveres the name and rejoices in the character of the LORD) and “delighteth greatly in His commandments” (112:1c), such a man finds the Law and Commandments of the LORD a delight (Psalm 1:1-2) and the overflow of God’s grace in His life affects his family (112:2).

Secondly, a “Happy” man is “Upright”, meaning just, righteous, a man who fears and reveres the LORD (112:4).  The “upright” are not exempt from dark days: they suffer sickness, deaths of loved ones, disappointments, betrayal of friends and broken promises; however, they have the assurance: “there ariseth light in the darkness” (112:4a).   David wrote from his experience, “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Psalm 30:5).

Believers go through dark times; however, they have assurance the light of the LORD will pierce the darkness.  Having experienced darkness and God’s grace, believers are “gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous” (112:4b).   Why are the upright inclined to be “gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous”?  Because they reflect the character of the God they love and serve!

Psalm 111:4 – “He [the LORD] hath made His wonderful works to be remembered: the LORD is gracious and full of compassion.”

Because they have known God’s light in the midst of darkness, the upright are gracious….kind to the needy and forgiving; full of compassion…merciful and tender.

Thirdly, a “Happy” man is a “good man” (112:5).

We notice four things about a “good” man’s character:  1) He is gracious in demeanor (pleasant and pleasing);  2) He is generous (“lendeth” to those in need);  3) He exercises “good sense”, guiding “his affairs with discretion” (112:5);  4) He is well “grounded” for “he [good man] shall not be moved for ever” (112:6).

The fourth and final trait of a “Happy” man is he is “righteous” (112:7-9).  Consider three qualities of this righteous man:

1) He is fearless… “he shall not be afraid of evil tidings” (112:7a) for he has a settled confidence in the LORD.

2) His heart is firm… “fixed, trusting in the LORD’ (112:7b) and “he shall not be afraid” (112:8b).

3) He is freehearted, generous, giving to the poor (112:9); he is not a hoarder of riches, but a steward of God’s blessings and a conduit ministering to those in need.

What is the response of the wicked to a man who is Blessed, Upright, Good and RighteousEnvy!

Psalm 112:10 – The wicked shall see [look; behold; regard] it, and be grieved [troubled; angry]; he shall gnash [i.e. grate or grind] with his teeth, and melt away [faint; be discouraged]: the desire [longing; greed] of the wicked [immoral; ungodly] shall perish [be destroyed].”

What do the wicked see in the “Blessed” man that provokes anger and grieves them?  Their joy! The joy and happiness of the godly is a grief to the wicked who grind their teeth like rabid dogs and “melt away”… consumed by their anger (112:10c).

In the words of King David, “For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish” (Psalm 1:6).

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

“You Cannot Afford to Wear ‘Rose-Colored Glasses’ in a Sinful, Black and White World!”

September 7, 2017

Scripture Reading – Proverbs 22

Our scripture reading today is Proverbs 22 and is, like all chapters in Proverbs, a treasure trove of wisdom that southern folk of my youth applauded as “good old common sense”.  Unfortunate for our society, we have strayed far from God and His Word and the bits of wisdom that were guiding posts for generations of youth are unfamiliar to most in our day.

For today’s devotional commentary, I am selecting one verse especially applicable to Floridians preparing for the possibility of Hurricane Irma making landfall this weekend.   Having watched from afar the devastation left in the wake of Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas, Floridians are being prudent and exercising an abundance of caution.  Of prudence, Solomon writes:

Proverbs 22:3 – “A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.”

We live in a dangerous world far from the “Mayberry” world portrayed in the old Andy Griffith Shows of the early 1960’s. You and I do not have the joy or luxury of raising our families with the naiveté’ of Barney Fife and Goober.   Of necessity, believers need to be prudent, wise and cunning in a world that is no friend of the Christian or his family.

Proverbs 22:3 draws a contrast between two men who are polar opposites when it comes to discernment—the Prudent and the Simple.

Proverbs 22:3  “A prudent [cunning; sensible] man foreseeth [perceive; understands] the evil [sin; wickedness; adversity], and hideth [conceal; hide; shelter] himself: but the simple [foolish; silly] pass on, and are punished [condemn; inflict a penalty].”

The Prudent man is a learner.   He is a student of the Scriptures [the Wisdom of God] and human nature.   His senses are exercised by a lifetime of experiences and he is wary of the wiles and ways of the world.  Prudence dictates he foresee the ways of the wicked and withdraw himself from the consequences of their sinful ways.

The Simple are not learners.   They are stubborn, ignoring the admonitions of their parents and godly counselors.  They pursue the pleasures of sin and the company of the foolish giving no thought to their tragic end.  The Simple rush past moral restraints and headlong down the path of self-destruction.

This same proverb is repeated in Proverbs 27:12, thus magnifying the need to read and heed its truth.

Proverbs 27:12 – “A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished.”

Be wise. Seek and heed godly counsel; after all, you cannot afford to wear “rose-colored glasses” in a sinful, black and white world!

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

The Wise Pour Themselves Into Those Who Will Succeed Them!

September 5, 2017

Scripture Reading – 1 Chronicles 20-24

With the Ark of God safe in Gibeon and his recent victory over the Ammonites and Syrians, David settled into a time of spiritual and physical complacency.   We read, “at the time that kings go out to battle” (1 Chronicles 20:1), “David tarried at Jerusalem” (20:1).

The LORD continued to bless Israel’s army under General Joab and David relished the spoils of war that came from conquests (20:2-8); however, it was in this same time David committed an egregious sin against the LORD.   2 Samuel 11 reveals David committed adultery with Bathsheba, wife of Uriah and, to conceal his sin he sent Uriah into the heat of the battle where he perished.  The prophet Nathan warned David his life would forever be shadowed by the consequences of his sins (2 Samuel 12:10-14) and his family would be the source of his sorrows.

David’s reign began evidencing a series of missteps apart from the LORD’s will and in pride he dismissed the counsel of his most trusted advisor.  We read, “Satan stood up [withstood as an adversary] against Israel, and provoked [persuaded; enticed] David to number [i.e. a census] Israel” (1 Chronicles 21:1).   Of this same event, 2 Samuel 24:1 states the LORD was angry with Israel and moved David to number the people.  Taking both passages, we understand Satan initiated the numbering of the people within David’s proud heart (1 Chronicles 21:1) while the LORD permitted the census to His own end and purpose (2 Samuel 24:1).

General Joab, David’s most trusted advisor, bravely withstood David (21:2-3); however, “the king’s word prevailed against Joab” (21:4) and the census was made (21:5).  Too late, David confessed his sin against the LORD for numbering the people (21:7-8); however, the displeasure of the LORD was set upon Him.  David was mercifully given the opportunity to choose which of three consequences would befall him and Israel (21:10-12).

Rather than perish at the hand of his enemy, David entrusted himself and Israel to the LORD’s chastisement and 70,000 in Israel perished (21:13-17).  The plague and the loss of lives stopped when David purchased the threshing floor of Ornan, made an altar in that place and sacrificed to the LORD (21:18-28).

The significance of the place the plague stopped and where David erected an altar and sacrificed cannot be overstated for it was the same place Abraham offered his son Isaac and Solomon would build the Temple (Genesis 22; 1 Chronicles 22:1; 2 Chronicles 3:1).

Knowing the years of his life were drawing to a close, David devoted his life to preparing the workmen and materials that would be required for Solomon to build the Temple (1 Chronicles 22:1-19).  David instructed Solomon and imparted to his son his duty to embrace God’s promises and build the Temple in Jerusalem (22:6-16).

Leaving no doubt who should be his successor, David “made Solomon his son king over Israel” (23:1) and set forward an organization of the priests and Levites who were to serve in the Temple (23:2-32; 24:1-31)).

There are many lessons we could take from today’s study; however, I will leave you with one…

David wisely accepted the temporalness of his earthly life and prepared his son to not only be king, but also charged him with the privilege for which God had chosen him… “build an house for the LORD God of Israel” (1 Chronicles 22:6-11).

Friend, you would be wise to follow David’s example and heed a caution concerning this earthly life found in Psalm 90.

Psalm 90:10 – “The days of our years are threescore years and ten [70 years]; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years [80 years], yet is their strength [i.e. pride] labour [toil; grief; misery] and sorrow [mourning]; for it is soon [i.e. hurry; too soon] cut off [passed], and we fly away [i.e. our years take flight].”

Wise men and women “number” [prepare; count] the days of their lives and, like David, “apply [lit. pass on] [their] hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

The wise pour their lives into those who will eventually succeed them!

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Joy Thief!

August 29, 2017

Scripture Reading – 1 Chronicles 15-19

I discussed in an earlier commentary the well-meaning desire of David to move the Ark of God to Jerusalem.   The employment of an ox drawn cart for that purpose; however, was a violation of God’s command and ended in tragedy when Uzza touched the Ark to steady it (Numbers 13:9-10).  David’s first response to God striking down Uzza is insightful– “David was displeased [angry; grieved], because the LORD had made a breach upon Uzza” (13:11).  David’s anger was soon followed by a righteous response, “David was afraid [reverential fear; in awe] of God that day” (13:12).

Our scripture reading begins with David’s second attempt to move the Ark of God to Jerusalem; however, this time he was wiser and made sure the Ark would be transported as God directed (1 Chronicles 15).

1 Chronicles 15:2 – Then David said, None ought to carry the ark of God but the Levites: for them hath the LORD chosen to carry the ark of God, and to minister unto him for ever.

Knowing the Ark represented the presence of the LORD in Israel, David commanded the elders of the tribe of Levi to “sanctify yourselves…that ye may bring up the Ark of the LORD God of Israel” (15:12).   Skilled singers and musicians led the celebration as the Ark was carried to Jerusalem (15:16-24).

With the Ark of God in the place David had prepared, the shepherd king and poet delivered to “Asaph and his brethren” a psalm of praise and thanksgiving (1 Chronicles 16:7-36).  When the celebration ended, David entrusted the daily ministry of worship and sacrifices to “Asaph and his brethren” (16:37-42).  With his heart filled with joy, “David returned to bless his house” (16:43).

1 Chronicles 17 introduces us to the prophet Nathan who will have a major role in David’s life and reign in the years ahead.   No doubt in a reflective mood in the comfort of his palace, David’s thoughts turned to building a temple for Israel to come to Jerusalem and worship the LORD (1 Chronicles 17:1-9).  Nathan gave his blessing to David’s desire (17:2); however, that same night the LORD revealed to the prophet that the king would not be permitted to build a temple; however, his son and successor would build a temple (17:3-12).

We find two covenant promises expressed to David in 1 Chronicles 17.  The first, that God would bless David, subduing his enemies and establishing his lineage on Israel’s throne forever (17:7-11).   The second promise, that David’s son and successor would not only build a house of worship to the LORD, but his throne “shall be established for evermore” (17:14); a promise fulfilled in the Messiah Jesus Christ.  The balance of 1 Chronicles 17 is a record of David’s praise and thanksgiving for God’s covenant promises (17:16-27).

1 Chronicles 18 memorializes David’s battles and the spoils of victory.

Acting as a statesman on behalf of Israel, David sent ambassadors from Israel to the Ammonites to express his sympathy to Hanun who succeeded to the throne of Ammon after his father’s death (19:1-2).   Younger counselors (“princes of the children of Ammon”) convinced the new king David’s ambassadors had come as spies (19:3).   In an act of provacation, Hanun shamed David’s servants shaving their beards and cutting off their robes to humiliate them, David and Israel (19:4).

Realizing their ill-treatment of David’s delegation was an offense, Hanun hired Syrian mercenaries to wage war with Ammon against Israel (19:6-7).  David sent Joab, his veteran general, to battle against the Ammonites and the Syrian mercenaries fled from Israel’s army (19:8-14).   When the Ammonites realized the Syrians had abandoned the battle they also fled from Israel’s army (19:15-17).   Receiving news from the battlefront, David personally led the armies against Syria (19:18-19).

In closing, permit me to draw your attention to 1 Chronicles 15 and an incident recorded at the close of the day of rejoicing when the Ark of the God arrived in Jerusalem.  While David and all Israel celebrated the arrival of the Ark, there was one contrary spirit…David’s wife (1 Chronicles 15:19; 2 Samuel 6:15-16, 20-23).  We read:

1 Chronicles 15:29 – “And it came to pass, as the ark of the covenant of the LORD came to the city of David, that Michal the daughter of Saul looking out at a window saw king David dancing [leaping for joy] and playing [rejoicing]: and she despised [had contempt; distain] him in her heart [mind and thoughts].”

David returned to the palace rejoicing, desiring to bless his home; however, he was greeted by a bitter wife who mocked and reproved him (2 Samuel 6:20).  The catalyst for Michal’s resentment in the hour of David’s joy is not stated; however, she may have resented David criticizing her father’s neglect of the Ark (1 Chronicles 13:3).

Friend, after 38 years of ministry I have learned some in the midst of the saints will not share my times of joy, rejoicing or vision irrespective of the evidences of God’s providences, blessings and leading.  Some will harbor a root of bitterness and poison others with their venom (Hebrews 12:15).  Some are proud and hold on to offenses, refusing to allow love to cover the sins of others (1 Peter 4:8).

Be forewarned friend, carnal saints and sinners are joy thieves who, at the height of your joy, will strike a blow to your soul!

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Don’t Quit…God is With You!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Numbers 9-12

We pick up our reading in the Book of Numbers by reading Numbers 9-12 today.  I stated in two earlier commentaries that the early chapters in Numbers are dedicated to Moses taking a people who served as slaves of Pharaoh for 400 years and instructing and organizing them into a nation.

Numbers 1-4 records a census of the tribes of Israel.  Numbers 5-6 state the specifics for addressing disease and sin among the people.  Because worshipping, serving and offering sacrifices were central to Israel’s individual and corporate life, the Tabernacle of the LORD was located in the heart of the encampment (Numbers 7).   Numbers 8 established the character and bloodline of the Aaronic priesthood.  A perpetual observance of the Passover is commanded in Numbers 9, serving as a memorial to the LORD for delivering Israel out of Egypt (Numbers 9:1-14).

When Israel journeyed in the wilderness, the people found security in the LORD’s presence by a cloud that was present in the day and a fire that was present at night (9:15-23).  Making it clear the LORD alone dictates the “starts and stops” of His people, the people followed the movements of the cloud and fire in their journey (9:21-23).

Friend, there is much to learn in today’s scripture reading; however, I would be remiss to not remind you the LORD, though He no longer leads His people with a cloud or fire, nevertheless leads, directs and guides His children by His Word and the wooing of His Spirit.   Should Numbers 9 appear irrelevant or inapplicable to 21st century Christians, I remind you we have this history for a reason…that you and I might be reminded of the abiding, perpetual presence of the LORD!

Writing to the church in Corinth, Paul challenged believers there are spiritual lessons we should derive from our study of the saints of the Old Testament.  Paul writes:

1 Corinthians:1-2 – “Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2And were all baptized unto Moses [united under Moses in the same way believers are united in Christ by baptism] in the cloud and in the sea;”

Symbolizing the expressions of God’s grace in types or symbols, we read:

1 Corinthians 10:3-4 – “And did all eat the same spiritual meat [manna miraculously provided by God]; 4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink [water that came from the rock]: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.

Illustrating God’s judgment against those who lacked faith and those who sinned:

1 Corinthians 10:5-10 – “5 But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. 6 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust  [set our heart upon sin] after evil things, as they also lusted. 7 Neither be ye idolaters [setting their affection and priorities on things before God], as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. 8 Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. 9 Neither let us tempt Christ [refusing to trust God], as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. 10 Neither murmur [grumbling and complaining] ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.”

And why is it important to know the ways and manner the LORD dealt with Israel?   Paul explains:

1 Corinthians 10:11-1211 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples [setting an example; a pattern]: and they are written for our admonition [warning; rebuke], upon whom the ends of the world are come [a special warning to those living in the last days]. 12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”

Reading and understanding the way the LORD guided and protected Israel’s journey in the wilderness gives us confidence in this promise:

1 Corinthians 10:13 – “There hath no temptation [trial; test] taken you but such as is common to man [i.e. many others have faced the same]: but God is faithful [trustworthy; true], who will not suffer [permit; allow] you to be tempted [tried or tested] above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape [i.e. pass through], that ye may be able [possible] to bear it [endure].”

What a blessed promise!   Whatever test or trial you may face, be assured God is faithful!  You will face times of testing (for these are “common to man”); however, the LORD is with you and will tenderly care for you, protect, strengthen and be with you through your trials.

Don’t quit…God is with you night and day as He was with Israel!

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

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

“Daniel: A Model of Godly Character, Integrity and Courage”

Friday, August 11, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Daniel 1-6

Today’s scripture reading challenges me to an impossible task—to write a brief devotional commentary for one of the great prophetic books in the Bible and cover in one reading a passage of scripture (Daniel 1-6) that consumed me for 14 weeks when I preached through the Book of Daniel in 2014.

The Book of Daniel is a prophetic panorama of human history, beginning with the days of Nebuchadnezzar and ancient Babylon and encompassing a prophetic vision of world empires that would follow…Medo-Persians, Greece and Rome.  Daniel’s writing include prophecies that are for the 21st century reader a footnote in history past and a foretelling of future events that conclude with the Second Coming of Christ.

Daniel 1 opens with a straightforward, historical fact…the children of Judah are in bondage in Babylon and the beloved city of Jerusalem and the temple will soon be laid waste.  The prophet Jeremiah warned Judah’s kings if the people did not repent of their sin and turn to the LORD, His wrath would rise “against His people, till there was no remedy” (2 Chronicles 36:16).  Jeremiah prophesied the captivity in Babylon would last for 70 years (Jeremiah 25:12) and when those years were “accomplished at Babylon [God] will visit you… causing you to return to this place [the promise land] (Jeremiah 29:10).

The prophet Daniel has been a favorite of children for millenniums.  Only a youth, perhaps no more than 13-14 years old when chosen, taken from his home and family and transported to Babylon with its strange language and idolatrous culture, Daniel proved he was a child of faith from the beginning of his training in Babylon.   Numbered with three other Jewish youth who proved they were children of conviction, we read of Daniel:

Daniel 1:8 – “But Daniel purposed [pledged; determined; made a decree] in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.”

“Daniel purposed”, he pledged his heart and resolved in his character, “he would not defile himself” (Daniel 1:8).   What courage!   What conviction!   What passion!  God blessed Daniel and providentially gave him “favour and tender love with the prince [chief] of the eunuchs [the servants of the king]” (Daniel 1:9).   As you will see in your reading of Daniel 1-6, the testing of Daniel’s faith in his youth prepared his heart for the opportunities, challenges and trials he would face in his service to the kings of Babylon and Persia.

Daniel 5 gives us a historical record of Babylon’s fall in 536 B.C. to Darius, king of the Medo-Persian Empire (5:30-31).   Daniel 6 gives us insight into the civil government of ancient Persia (6:1-3).   Once again God honored Daniel and, though in his 80’s, king Darius made him second only to himself in power and position (6:2-3).

I close with an observation of three qualities found in Daniel’s life that every Christian should emulate.   The first, Daniel had “an excellent spirit” (Daniel 6:3). Rather than a grumpy old man, his spirit and character was exemplary.

The second, Daniel was a “faithful”, trustworthy servant (6:4).  When his enemies plotted to destroy him, the only accusation they could bring against him was his devotion to God (6:5-9).    Finally, Daniel’s love and devotion for God was so great he was willing to die rather than sacrifice his times of prayer with the LORD (6:10).

Dare To Be A Daniel (by Philip P. Bliss)

Standing by a purpose true,
Heeding God’s command,
Honor them, the faithful few!
All hail to Daniel’s band!

Dare to be a Daniel,
Dare to stand alone!
Dare to have a purpose firm!
Dare to make it known.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith