Tag Archives: In the News

Mass Exodus Out of Florida Returning Home

I want to thank you for your prayers on behalf of Hillsdale Baptist Church, its members and staff who anticipated the arrival of Hurricane Irma.  As our lives are getting back to normal, with the exception of some roof leaks, our church and school buildings are in great shape.  We are praising the LORD our membership suffered little damage as Category 1 and Category 2 winds whipped through our region.  Other than the inconvenience of losing electricity, we are rejoicing in God’s protection.

On a personal note:  In my opinion, sensationalism has become the daily diet of our culture and the mass exodus from Florida before and during Hurricane Irma’s arrival driven in large part to a news media given to hype and ratings.

“Breaking News”, “This Just In”, “Epic” are clichés used ad nauseam by news networks desperately competing for viewership that translates into revenue from advertisers.

The coverage of Hurricane Irma was indeed “epic” and the storm was without a doubt powerful and destructive; however, the news media’s use of images (replayed over and over) along with the hyperbole of exaggeration, ramped up both fear and anxiety that went far beyond the actual threat of the storm.

Citizens of Florida were running from the east coast to the west coast, then back to the east coast in an attempt to flee Irma based on the forecasts of meteorological “experts” that hadn’t a clue where the storm was going to make landfall or the track she would take.  Hundreds of thousands of Floridians fled homes located far from coastal waters and the predicted “surge” only to be overtaken by Irma in their northward flight (apparently, she was not listening to weather prognosticators failing to accurately predict her track even an hour ahead of her eye).

Two days before Irma’s arrival, hoarders emptied grocery shelves of food stocks and water; Gas stations ran out of gas as a panicked population clogged highway arteries.

I am left wondering what happened to the common-sense adage saints use to follow, “Prepare for the worst and pray”.

I believe the inspiration of that saying is Proverbs 21:31.   Solomon advised his son, “The horse is prepared [ready] against the day of battle [war; warfare]: but safety [salvation; deliverance; victory] is of the LORD.”

Believers are to use wisdom and exercise prudence in preparing for trials, troubles and storms (i.e. prepare the horse for battle); however, people of faith, having done all to prepare, must put their faith in the LORD who is Omnipotent and Sovereign, after all, “safety is of the LORD”, is it not?

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Please Pray: God sometimes calls a nation to repent through natural cataclysmic events.

September 8, 2017

Scripture Reading – Joel 1-3

I found today’s scripture reading especially graphic in light of the devastating blow suffered by Houston from Hurricane Harvey and the path of destruction Hurricane Irma is leaving as she makes her way across the Caribbean and towards South Florida today.  Adding to the calamity in our region of the world is the news of a major earthquake in southern Mexico this morning.

A novice reader of the Bible recognizes the prophet Joel is writing about a national disaster in terms that are symbolic, nevertheless powerful.  Joel is describing the “Day of the LORD” (Joel 1:15; 2:1, 11, 31; 3:14) and the impending judgment of God against Judah.

The Book of Joel describes three catastrophic invasions.  The enemy in Joel 1 is a natural enemy…a plague of locusts that destroys the crops leaving both men and beasts starving (1:7, 10-12, 16-20).

The enemy in Joel 2 is the impending invasion by the armies of Assyria (2:1-27) described in verse 20 as “the northern army” (or the army to the north).   Joel was to sound the alarm, “Blow ye the trumpet in Zion” (2:1)… warn Judah an enemy was coming.  Describing the swath of destruction, Joel warns, “the day of the LORD cometh…A day of darkness and of gloominess…a fire devoureth before them…before their face the people shall be much pained” (2:1-6).

Why? Why was the LORD bringing this upon Judah?  That the people might turn…to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: 13  And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil” (2:12-13).  Reminding the nation the LORD is “gracious and merciful” (2:13), Joel called upon Judah to repent of her sins and turn to the LORD.

Joel prayed for a national revival:  “Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children…17  Let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O LORD, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God?” (2:16-17).

Knowing the LORD is gracious and merciful, Joel promised if the people repented, God would restore the nation, bless the land and “restore to you the years that the locust have eaten…26 And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied” (2:18-26).

Joel 3 is a future event…the regathering of the Jews to Judah and Jerusalem (3:1) and the Gentile nations gathering against Israel (3:2) in what I believe is the final battle…Armageddon (Revelation 16:16).   Remembering the ill-treatment suffered by the Jews down through the centuries (3:3-8),  the LORD promises to make war against the Gentiles (3:9-17).   Two Gentile nations are specifically named for destruction… “Egypt shall be a desolation, and Edom shall be a desolate wilderness, for the violence against the children of Judah” (3:19).   Egypt representing that great nation south of Israel and Edom the Arab nations to the north and east of Israel.

I close today’s devotional commentary with a personal observation as one who lives in the path of a hurricane the mayor of Miami describes as “epic”.   In a few days, after the storms have passed and the toll on life and property is assessed, there will be a national debate bordering on hysteria about the cause of these massive storms.   Some of the discussion will be sensible and scientific; however, media bias and liberal politicians will beat their drums and bewail “Climate Change” and reproach humanity as the cause.

A mere handful might dare broach the Biblical and historical reality God often calls a people to repent of their sin through natural cataclysmic events.

I am not suggesting the devastation suffered by Houston, the Caribbean and the potential of suffering in Florida from Hurricane Irma is the judgment of God.   However, I will confess the United States has turned from God, His Laws and precepts.

America is guilty of gross sins…the negligence of justice; the celebration of gross immorality; and the deaths of 60 million infants.  Of such a people we read, “for blood it defileth [corrupts; pollutes] the land [earth; country]: and the land cannot be cleansed [purged; atoned; forgiven] of the blood that is shed therein” (Numbers 35:33).

Pray for Texas, Florida and our nation to turn back to the LORD.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

The LORD is Sovereign of Wind and Water

September 6, 2017

Scripture Reading – Psalms 105-107

We have three psalms before us for our scripture reading, Psalm 105, Psalm 106 and Psalm 107.

Psalm 105 is a psalm of praise and thanksgiving and rehearses the LORD’s providential care of Israel, His chosen people.  The contextual timeline of the psalm begins with Abraham, runs through Israel’s deliverance from Egyptian slavery and the nation’s wanderings in the wilderness for 40 years.

Psalm 105 is a testimony of God’s care of Israel in the wilderness by a cloud to cover their journey in the day and a fire to light their way at night (105:39).   When they were hungry the LORD gave them quail for meat and manna for bread.  When they were thirsty, water gushed out of the rock (105:40-42).   When the people murmured and tempted Him, the LORD was longsuffering and remembered His covenant promise to Abraham and brought his seed into the land He had promised where they might serve Him and “observe His statutes, and keep His laws” (105:45).

Like Psalm 105, Psalm 106 is a song of praise and thanksgiving to the LORD (106:1).  Psalm 106 reflects on God’s loving care and provision for Israel in spite of the unfaithfulness of the people.  The psalm becomes a penitential psalm (a psalm of confession and repentance) when the psalmist recalls the sins of his forefathers and identifies with them his own bent to sin (106:6).   The bulk of the psalm remembers the LORD’s providential care of Israel in the wilderness and His patience with His people in spite of their sin and rebellion (106:7-48).

Hebrew scribes divide the Book of Psalms into five books: Book 1 consists of Psalms 1-41; Book 2 consists of Psalms 42-72; Book 3 consists of Psalms 73-89; Book 4 consists of Psalms 90-106; and the fifth book is Psalms 107-150.  Psalm 107 is the first psalm in the fifth and last Book of the Psalms.

Psalm 107 begins with a call to give thanks to the LORD for redeeming Israel out of Babylon (107:2-7).   The psalmist remembers how the LORD preserved His people in exile and restored them to the land He had promised Abraham would be his inheritance.  The psalmist writes:

Psalm 107:8-9 – “Oh that men would praise [give thanks] the LORD for His goodness [grace; mercy; loving-kindness], and for His wonderful works to the children of men! 9  For He satisfieth [fills] the longing [seeking; hungry] soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness [good and pleasant things].”

Why should Israel praise the LORD and give thanks?

Because the LORD is good, merciful and a God of grace! 

When His people turned from Him, the LORD humbled them in prison and when they cried out He heard their cry and delivered them (107:10-16).  When they sinned and became sick, He healed them (107:17-22).   When rocked with trouble and turmoil, like seamen at sea caught in the fury of a storm who call out to the LORD, Israel called upon the LORD and He heard their cry and quieted their troubles (107:23-32).

Psalm 107:33-43 is especially pertinent for the United States after witnessing the flood waters of Hurricane Harvey ravaging the coast of Texas and the worrisome approach of Hurricane Irma for Florida.

Remembering God is Sovereign of nature, the psalmist reminds us the LORD, “turneth rivers into a wilderness, and the watersprings into dry ground; 34 A fruitful land into barrenness…35 the wilderness into a standing water, and dry ground into watersprings” (107:33-35).

Friend, God is just, and He blesses the land for the sake of the righteous and brings judgment upon the land because the wicked dwell therein (107:36-41).

Wise are they who understand the way of the LORD and walk in His commandments for “they shall understand [regard; be instructed in] the lovingkindness [mercy; goodness; grace] of the LORD” (107:43).

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

The Third World War

Friday, August 18, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Daniel 7-12

Reading through the Bible in one year is a wonderful challenge; however, I find myself doing little more than a “fly-over” when it comes to writing a devotional commentary on passages of scripture that captivate my heart and move my spirit. Having read the Book of Daniel scores of times over the years and preached a verse-by-verse study as recently as 2014, the prophetic scenes found herein continue to astound me as I reflect upon those things that have come to past and those which are yet before the world.  What a stunning testimony for the doctrine of the inspiration of scripture!

In our scripture reading today, Daniel 7-12, we are given a panorama of prophetic history beginning with the rule of “Belshazzar king of Babylon” (7:1) and continuing with the reign of “Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes” (9:1).   The longevity of Daniel’s service to the kings, from being taken captive as a teenager and continuing through the latter days of his life, is a testimony of Daniel‘s character, talents and integrity. While other rulers of the Chaldean kingdom were purged from office during transitions of kings and kingdoms, Daniel’s character earned him trust of numerous kings, both Chaldean and Persian.

Daniel 7-12 records a series of prophetic visions and reveals that Daniel had knowledge of the prophecies of Jeremiah.  Daniel writes, “I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem” (Daniel 9:2).

Bearing sorrow for the sufferings of Israel, Daniel identified himself with the sins of the nation and confessed, “We have sinned…we have done wickedly” (Daniel 9:5-15).  With a penitent heart, Daniel prayed, “O Lord…let Thine anger and Thy fury be turned away from Thy city Jerusalem…O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive” (9:16-19).  The LORD then sent His angel Gabriel to comfort and give the interpretation of Daniel’s vision, including the seventy weeks of desolation (9:20-27).

Daniel 10 marks another transition of leadership in Babylon with the rise of “Cyrus king of Persia” (10:1) under whom Daniel would serve.  Daniel’s prophetic visions continue as God sends “Michael, one of the chief princes” (10:13) to interpret the things God revealed to him in visions, including the fall of Persia to the “prince of Grecia” (10:20-21).

Darius the Mede was reigning over Babylon and the Persian Empire in Daniel 11 when the LORD revealed to Daniel the fall of Persia and the rise of a great king we recognize as Alexander the Great, king of Greece (11:2-3).   God revealed to Daniel the fourfold division of Greece following the reign of Alexander (11:3-4) and the international conflicts that would follow between nations with the collapse of Greece (11:5-20).

The balance of Daniel 11 is a panorama of prophetic scenes too numerous to study in this devotional commentary (Daniel 11:21-45) and take us from the offenses and desecrations committed by one we know historically to be Antiochus Epiphanes (11:25-35) to the rise of the Antichrist in the time of the Tribulation (Daniel 11:36-12:13) described as “a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time” (12:1), “even to the time of the end” (12:4).

Permit me an opportunity to close this reading of Daniel’s prophecies with some personal observations.

The news of “wars and rumours of wars” (Matthew 24:6) is an inescapable, undeniable reality of our times.  Headline stories of newspapers, radio broadcasts and cable news scream WAR and I believe the stage is set for the rise of the Antichrist (Daniel 11:36-45; 12:1-4).

Impassioned by a religious fervor that identifies itself as ISLAM, the ancient enemies of Israel are threatening to spark the Third World War.  The volatile rise of Islam in the Middle East, the military aggression of North Korea, China and Russia coupled with the anemic response of politicians to anarchist activities within the United States is setting the stage for the 70th week of Daniel and the Tribulation Period.

Friend, we live in volatile times, but God is no less sovereign today than He was in Daniel’s tumultuous times.  Let us join Daniel and rest in God’s assurance in the closing verses of Daniel 12: “Blessed is he that waiteth,…” (Daniel 12:12a).

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

He That is Mighty Watcheth Over Israel!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Ezekiel 43-48

With today’s assignment, we conclude our scripture reading in the Book of Ezekiel.  We have followed Ezekiel from his work as a 30-year old priest ministering in obscurity to the Jews “in the land of the Chaldeans” (Ezekiel 1:3) to God’s call for him to confront the sins of the people and prophesy the imminent judgment of God on the nation (2:3-5).

Israel rejected the Word of the LORD and the people refused to repent of their sins.  False prophets, feigning to be prophets of the LORD, rose among the people and led them into greater wickedness (13:1-23).  The “shepherds” of the nation, priests and leaders whose responsibility it was to lead the people, failed the nation and turned to idols and human sacrifice (16:15-34).

While the judgment and destruction of Jerusalem and Judah are assured, the LORD revealed to Ezekiel He would not altogether forsake Israel, promising to one day resurrect the nation (Ezekiel 37).  The LORD encouraged His prophet that the day would come when the Jews would not only be restored to their land, but described the dimensions of the Temple they would build (Ezekiel 40-42).

The temple Israel will build when she is restored to the land following the Babylonian captivity is described in detail.  The Book of Ezra describes the building of the same temple.

Ezekiel, however, describes in chapter 43 a temple that has yet to be built and is the temple of Christ’s millennial reign.  Ezekiel is given a vision of that temple and describes the glory of the LORD filling it (43:2-5).

Promising the Jews will return to their land, guidelines and the role of priests are described in Ezekiel 44, including the restoration of the Passover and worship in the Temple (Ezekiel 45-46).  The lands assigned to the tribes of Israel is also given (47:13-23; 48:1-35).

Admittedly, much of today’s reading (Ezekiel 43-48) is not only difficult to grasp, but has little immediate application; however, I close with a pertinent and simple observation:

While all the nations and people of the ancient past are either a footnote in history or altogether assimilated into the populations of the world; the Jewish people alone stand out as the exception.  The Jews have survived indescribable suffering, atrocities, purges and attempts at mass annihilation; and yet there exists today a small sliver of land in the Middle East known as Israel…a testimony of God’s faithfulness and sovereign care of His chosen people.

You question, “Is there a God?”

There is no human explanation for the existence of the Jewish people and Israel apart from Elohim for He that is Mighty watcheth over Israel!

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith