Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Reflected light

It's hard not to have thoughts about the moon when it is full and hanging large and low in the sky.  That's how it was this morning.  By the way, after staring for some time at the shadows of the moon I have decided that there isn't a "man in the moon".  Instead I distinctly saw a jumbo shrimp curled up.  I guess "Shrimp in the moon" never had much marketing appeal.  But the thought I have has to do with the moon as a source of "reflected light" from the sun.  It's similar to the way we reflect the Lord to others.  It hit me that just as we really can't look for any time directly at the full intensity of the sun, we aren't prepared in this life to see God directly.  But we can see His reflection in the lives of those who know and love Him.  The full moon shines in bright contrast to the black night sky and we, too, can shine in stark (but attractive) contrast to a world that doesn't embrace the Lord.  When the sun rises, it fills, the sky with light and chases darkness to the next night.  Even so, as people are drawn to the Lord and find HIm, the darkness is chased from their lives. 
Shine on you who love the Lord!!
Psalm 139:12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
                     the night will shine like the day,
                     for darkness is as light to you.
Rob Smith

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Answers and questions

Why is it that we feel like we need to have all the answers?  Ever since grade school we've measured ourselves with how much we know.  We look at successful people and admire their expertise and we look at accomplished professionals in medicine, music and business and are impressed with all they know and do.  Sometimes we look inward and have a profound sense of insecurity as we realize how little we really understand of life.  But you know, that's o.k.  I don't think we were created to have all the answers, or to be on top of it all.  I believe we were created to have all the questions, to wonder at it all.  Most of us have realized, as we have gotten older, that we really understand very little.  I'm always thrilled when I'm in a Bible study or Sunday School class that has older (even elderly) folks who still hunger for truth and still have questions.  The Lord must love it when we come to HIm with our "Why's", our "How comes" or when we just sit before Him and go "Wow"!
Psalm 27:4
           One thing I have desired of the LORD,
         That will I seek:
         That I may dwell in the house of the LORD
         All the days of my life,
         To behold the beauty of the LORD,
         And to inquire in His temple.
Rob Smith

Monday, January 29, 2007

The best fireworks

They've improved fireworks over the years.  Typically a 4th of July display will have some that shoot way up, like a comet, and some that are lower and fan out in twinkling sparkles of light.  Some are multicolored and look like rain or parachutes spiralling down and some just have a bright flash and a big boom.  My favorite fireworks start off like a single explosion of color and then, after the first colors fade, another explosion opens up, followed by more surprise bursts.  They remind me of the way I think life is meant to be.  As we get older the quality of life doesn't have to diminish, rather, it can open a new bloom of color and surprise us, again and again.  Too often I think we settle for the "one big boom" idea...the comet that traces high into the sky only to have a brief flash of light and a sudden end.  We need to keep looking for the next surprise explosion of color as the Lord ignites the next stage of life.
2 Corinthians 3:17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
Rob Smith

Thine is the Kingdom

We hear a lot about the separation of church and state.  That's all about putting the "state" in the center of the picture.  This morning, as I walked before dawn through the icy air and gazed up to the stars I was glad that there wasn't a "separation of God and me".   I was reminded that, as it says in the Lord's Prayer, "Thine is the Kingdom".  We tend to think that we're in control of or lives, our governments and our world.  But there is a King over all kings.  His purposes run across generations and the kingdoms of men are squarely under His domain.
1 Timothy 6:13b-16  I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.
Revelation 19:13-14,16  He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
I'm glad that we can't vote Him out of office!
Rob Smith

Sunday, January 28, 2007

to prefer Him

The Lord could have made His presence as obvious to us on earth as it is in Heaven.  Jesus could have commanded a following when He walked the earth and who would not have bowed.  Ever since the Garden of Eden failures of Adam and Eve, our awareness of the Lord has been wrapped in a mist and shrouded with a curtain.  Although the Lord made all that we see, gave each of us life, and meets our every still takes the wonder of faith to be reconnected with Him.  I think the Lord wanted it this way all along.  He'd rather have us "prefer Him" when He's not the only choice for our affection.  He offers truth, wisdom, joy and many other deep satisfactions of the heart if we will choose Him over every other competitor for our heart.  Day by day we face the choice:  "Will I prefer HIm?"
1 Corinthians 4:20 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. 21 What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a whip, or in love and with a gentle spirit?
Rob Smith

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Hanging out with Jesus

We like to use the phrase "hanging out" to describe what we do when we spend relaxed, unstructured time with comfortable friends.  There's just something about being with these people that makes "hanging out" more important than what we do when we're together.  This morning it occurred to me that I'm going to spend all of eternity with the Lord.  I'm probably going to spend, at most, a few decades attached to this planet.  I was encouraged to spend more time now "hanging out" with Jesus.  Maybe He won't always say a lot and maybe I won't always say a lot, but I'm comfortable just being with Him.  I think if we become friends here, we'll enjoy eternity all the more.
John 15:15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
Rob Smith

Friday, January 26, 2007

Signs of End Times

Last night I became aware of an unusual sign that the end times are coming. 
I was in a shoe store having my feet measured.  The sales person was challenged to find a good fit because of a bunion on one foot and the fact that my feet have become pretty "flat" over the years.  You know, I don't have a clue when Jesus is going to return, specifically, and I really don't know if the four horsemen of the apocalypse are about to ride over the horizon...but as my feet go flat, my hair turns gray, my children are having children, and I have to think twice about whether to order a hamburger because of the health impact...I'm starting to get a clue that I'm approaching my own "end time".  I think there's a good chance that I'll go to Jesus before He comes to us.  That's o.k.  In fact it's kind of exciting to think that, one way or another Jesus lies just around the bend....face to face.
Psalm 39:4 Show me, O LORD, my life's end
                  and the number of my days; 
                  let me know how fleeting is my life.
Psalm 90:12  Teach us to number our days aright,
                     that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Rob Smith

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The nature of fire

I was thinking about the nature of fire the other day.  It's an amazing process of converting something we can see and hold into something we can feel.  A fire needs lots of air.  If you've ever been near a wood-burning stove you have probably felt the draft needed for combustion being drawn into the firebox.  The fire is useful when you combine a cold day with a tight stove and a chimney that is clean and open.  Once the fire starts it just keeps going as long as you keep the supply of wood coming.  When we come to Christ, a fire is lit in our life.  That flame tends to thrive in a cold world and a draft of the Holy Spirit will draw in and through us and out to the world outside.  A very warm spot is formed through our lives that naturally attracts those near who are a distance from the fire.  As the "smoke" of the spirit winds through your neighborhood others know of the presence of the fire.  Our job is keep the chimney clear and keep the firebox fueled with seasoned wood.
Leviticus 6:12 The fire on the altar must be kept burning; it must not go out. Every morning the priest is to add firewood and arrange the burnt offering on the fire and burn the fat of the fellowship offerings on it. 
Rob Smith

The smiling moon

Last night I discovered a new phase of the moon.  I had been familiar with the full moon, the half moon and the new moon.  But last night the clear sky displayed the "smiling moon".  The crescent shape was round on the bottom and the outline formed a perfect and full smile.  I was reminded that the Lord really does love us.  We wrestle with many issues and we deal with  a sense of failure at times.  We don't always please HIm and we don't always walk in victory.  But I was reminded last night that just as the moon was smiling, so is He. 
Psalm 136: 7-9 To Him who made the great lights,
         For His lovingkindness is everlasting: 
        The sun to rule by day,
         For His lovingkindness is everlasting, 
        The moon and stars to rule by night,
         For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
Rob Smith

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The ultimate competition

Last night I watched Serena Williams battle a young Israeli girl, Shahar Peer, in the Australian Open tennis tournament.  Serena is battling her way back into shape after only playing 4 matches last year.  She is a former No. 1 player in the world and has enormous tennis skills and talent.  In years past she would have made quick work of players like Shahar, but she is not yet playing to her former top level.  Serena lost the opening set and became visibly agitated with herself.  She'd slap her thigh and utter expressions like: "Let's get going!"  As it turned out she was able to battle back and win the match, through determination probably more than ability.  Serena was quoted afterward: "I am the ultimate competitor".  It occurred to me that her real competition last night was not a young girl from Israel.  She was her own toughest competition as she urged her 'out-of'shape' body to do more than it wanted. 
We must also overcome ourselves to enjoy the sweetest walk with the Lord. 
1 Corinthians 9:25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27 No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
Rob Smith

Monday, January 22, 2007

The big screen

I spend much of my day looking at a screen.  My work largely centers around the use of a computer and I enjoy T.V. and an occasional movie in the theater.  Much of my knowledge of news comes online and I communicate with friends, family and clients by email.  We hear a lot about high definition T.V., big screens and flat screens.  We now can choose from hundreds of television channels and an infinite source of websites.  We were cautioned in church, yesterday, not to let television dominant our minds.  It's easy to see how these screens we watch can do that because they are so much a part of our lives.  This past Friday I was reminded of what high definition on the big screen really is.  My wife and I drove out to the country to borrow a friend's pickup truck for weekend errands.  When we stepped out of the car we were first struck by the darkness that engulfed us and then our eyes were drawn up to a crystal clear night sky, where countless stars and familiar constellations sparkled as diamonds.  The beauty was stunning.  I was reminded that the biggest screen with the highest definition is still very accessible.
Matt 24:30 "At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.
Don't miss the big show.  Keep looking up!
Rob Smith

Sunday, January 21, 2007

A knot that holds

Today I was learning about indoor rock climbing from my daughter, Courtney. She and my youngest daughter, Bethany, went to a place Saturday that simulates vertical cliffs, with numerous hand and footholds built in. Before they could scale the wall they went through "basic training" to learn how to do it safely. One key lesson was how to tie the knot that connects the climbing rope to your harness. This rope is a safety line that holds you in case you slip. The instructor ran through the knot tying lesson a little too quickly for Courtney. She realized that her complete trust was going to be placed on that knot, so she asked for a careful review of the procedure before moving on. It made me think that many of us don't have a secure "knot" to trust in when it comes to life. We may want to review the steps to ensure we're tied snugly to Jesus. We're bound to fall from time to time.

Jude 1:24 To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—


Rob Smith

Saturday, January 20, 2007

A Winter Field

At the front of my development is a farmer's field.  Over the years I have seen pumpkins, beans, and corn grow there.  Sometimes it will lay dormant even during growing seasons.  This morning, as I passed the bare and cold ground, I noticed the pleasing contour of the ground itself and wondered what crop I might see come up in the spring.  It occurred to me that a winter field is all about potential.  From the same soil many different types of food or useful plants can come.  As we live our lives, we can produce varied kinds of growth and products as well.  I think sometimes we define ourselves too narrowly.  We might think,"I could never share my faith" or "I can't see myself on the mission field" or "There's nothing special about what I can do for the Lord".  I think we need to remember that we are soil, full of potential.  With the right seed from the Lord, enough sun, water (and weed killer) we can yield interesting and useful crops.  And sometimes we need to be dormant and replenish our potential, as well.
Genesis 2:7 Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

 8 The LORD God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed.

 9 Out of the ground the LORD God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food;

You know, we and soil have a long history together!



Rob Smith

Friday, January 19, 2007

He spoke with authority

When I was young I enjoyed helping my Dad with workshop projects.  He seemed to know everything about planning, designing and building things made of wood.  he'd start with a piece of paper and make a sketch of the design.  Then he'd make a list of materials we'd need.  It would be fun to go with him to the hardware and lumber stores to buy the things on the list.  Then we'd follow a logical, step-by-step process to take all the pieces and see something useful come together.  I marvelled at his knowledge and skill.  Just being with him I felt safe and confident that, even though I didn't know how to do any of those things, he did.  My Dad worked with authority.  I think Jesus conveyed the same feeling to those He was with, as the designer and builder of all we see.  He conveys a sense of security and authority, just being near and listening to Him.
Matt 7:28 When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; 29 for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.
Rob Smith

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Prophesy for today

We are excited to consider how the prophets of the Old Testament predicted events that were fulfilled later.  It is thrilling to think that some of the events and characters they spoke of thousands of years ago might walk across the stage during our lifetimes.  Isaiah is one of the most famous of these and we thrilled to hear the familiar words of Isaiah 53 over the holidays (example: verse 3 "He was despised and rejected by men,  a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.  Like one from whom men hide their faces  he was despised, and we esteemed him not.").  But there are other words from Isaiah that seem timeless, applicable across generations.  Here is one that seems as if it were written for today, in America: 
Isaiah 1:17  "learn to do right!  Seek justice,  encourage the oppressed.  Defend the cause of the fatherless,  plead the case of the widow."
This may not be a specific prophesy for us but it seems to identify three classes of people that we have all around: those who are weighed down, those without one or more parents, and those who have lost their life partner.   And how about those first four words: "learn to do right!"  This really challenges me.
Rob Smith

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Forgetting the past

Last night I went to the William and Mary basketball game.  The Tribe was playing George Mason, one of the top teams in their conference.  The teams started evenly and the early score was 5 - 5.  George Mason went on a run and scored the next 15 points to make the difference 20 to 5.  They only had played about one fourth of the game at that point.  I was thinking about what might be going through the minds of the Tribe players.  There was lots of time left to catch up but how do you overcome the sagging weight of that huge point deficit?  It hit me that you would have to play as if you were starting fresh, as if the score was still 0 - 0 and not worry about what had happened to that point.  There was nothing they could do to unravel or undo the scoring burst by their opponent.
Well, William and Mary battled hard and closed the score to a handful of points a few times.  They showed great spirit.  Ultimately they didn't win this particular game.  But the parallel to putting our past behind us and moving forward seemed clear to me.  I'm so glad the Lord instituted a plan for forgiveness and the freshness of each new day.  We have a way of living that is marked by hope and we need not be burdened or preoccupied by our past failures.
Philippians 3:13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I  press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Rob Smith

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Secrets are revealed

Last spring my wife and I were in Atlanta to attend the wedding of a friend.  During some free time we toured the Coca Cola museum there.  It was fascinating to hear the story of how the popular soft drink began and spread successfully around the globe.  One of the keys to their success has been the careful protection of the "secret formula" used to make Coke.  They have successfully shielded the recipe from their competition and, in so doing, have held onto a large share of the cola business.  In yesterday's news I saw that a woman who worked in the Coca Cola headquarters had been arrested and charged with trying to sell one of the secret Coke formulas (to a new drink) to Pepsi Cola.  Fortunately, the folks at Pepsi would have none of that (I'm sure they don't want to get into an war of espionage with their biggest competitor).  It's interesting to contrast the Coca Cola strategy with the Lord's approach.  While Coke has won the world over by keeping a secret, the Lord is redeeming the world by revealing His special plan for man.  It seems the Lord is interested in men and women who will eagerly seek Him out, to know, to learn, to hear, to follow, to reflect Him. 
Early in Psalm 25 David entreats the Lord:
 4 Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths.  5 Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.
We see the Lord's answer later in the same Psalm:
14 The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant.
Rob Smith

Monday, January 15, 2007

Our battlefield

A young family man I know just finished 8 months on the front lines in Afghanistan.  His family is rejoicing because he's come home.  He's just here for a brief visit, however, and then he must go back for several more months.  It's hard to fathom the range of emotions as they are reunited and then separated again.  He must return to that dangerous place, where his life is on the line continually.  It may not seem like it, but we live in a dangerous place, too.  We have an enemy who is on the prowl continually.  His weapons are discouragement, temptation, distraction, and accusation.  His intent is to keep us away from our source of hope in Jesus.  We won't return from this battleground until we go home to heaven.  But just as that young man is never alone on his battleground in Afghanistan, so we are not alone and we are not defenseless, either.  Psalm 119:150,151 tell us "Those who devise wicked schemes are near, but they are far from your law.  Yet you are near, O Lord, and all your commands are true."
We shouldn't be surprised when life seems to get us down.  We need to return to our sure hope because the strength we need comes from Him.
Rob Smith
my apologies for sending this twice, but I forgot to put a subject on the first one

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Two kinds of joy

I picked up a pizza tonight for my wife and I to share.  Just as I was walking up to our door I began thinking about that pizza with great anticipation.  I could almost taste the cheese, the sausage and the onions before I even opened the box.  It occurred to me that anticipating the pleasure of the pizza was something to enjoy...almost as much as actually eating the pizza.  Our relationship with the Lord has these two kinds of joy, the joy of anticipation and the joy of fulfillment.  We sometimes experience the blessing of answered prayers, the very real presence of the Holy Spirit to encourage, comfort and reveal truth.  We can sometimes see how the Lord is reaching and helping friends and family.  The other kind of joy lies in our faith, which provides hope for that which is to come.  We can almost taste the time when nothing stands between us and the Lord.  Hebrews 11:1 says: "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."    In that same chapter we are given many examples of people who lived in anticipation of the Lord.  Verse 13 tells us:  "All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance."
We can enjoy the Lord now and savor the completion of our relationship, as well.
Rob Smith

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Great and small

Last night I was looking at a website our county has.  It allows you to view the entire county from an aerial photograph.  You can move across the map on the screen and then zoom in.  I found our end of the county and saw forests and reservoirs and a few large buildings.  Then I zoomed in progressively on our neighborhood, street and home.  I kept moving in until I could make out our rooftop and driveway.  I could actually see windows and doors.  This morning the thought occurred to me that our Lord functions on these different levels all the time.  He is the God of planets and stars, Lord of tides and seasons, sovereign over nations and tribes and He even knows my name.  I know that He can "zoom in" on the smallest cell in my body and touch it, if He wants to. 
He sees it all, great and small, and He knows and cares for each one of us, personally.
Acts 17:24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;  25 Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;  26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; 27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:
Rob Smith

Friday, January 12, 2007

The adventure of Now

Past and future sometimes seem to compete to control us.  We can be controlled by regrets for the things we shouldn't have done or the things we wish we'd done.  We also can be held by wishes or fears about what may lie ahead.   I think the adventure of life lies in the millions of "Nows" that we have.  Through forgivness we can be liberated from past sin.  Through faith the future has been secured for us.  That means that right now we can set our minds and hearts on the Lord and enjoy His company.  This is perhaps the greatest adventure of life.
2 Corinthians 6:2
For he says,    "In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you." I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation.
Rob Smith

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Walk in victory

This time of year many of us get excited about sports championships.  The college football championship was just determined this week and the Super Bowl is coming up in a few weeks.  It makes me think about being a fan and what that's all about.  As fans we feel like "we personally win" when our team wins.  When our team wins a Super Bowl that means that, not only did we win, but we are the best!  (at least for a short time)  Somewhere inside us we really want to win and to be the best.  I think that the Lord wants us to walk in victory.  The battle over death has been won and believers will walk in heaven.  The battle over "having enough" has been won.  The Lord has promised to feed and clothe us.  The battle over fear has been won.  The Lord has invited us to cast every care on Him.  The battle over uncertainty has been won.  Our Lord knows every hair on our head and has a plan to guide us.  We can have an attitude of continual victory, because we truly are on the best Jesus, when we have come to know and embrace Him as savior.
1 Corinthians 15
 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law;
 57 but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
 58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.
Rob Smith

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Recipe for a day

This morning I was thinking about what it takes to make a brand new day.  Around the globe we all share the same sun and we all experience sunrise and sunset.  In my normal mind I almost forget that it's not the sun that is moving across the sky each's us on the earth that are moving.  The beauty and freshness of the dawn come from the ground beneath my feet moving rapidly.  Night and day the earth under us is moving at something like 1,000 miles an hour to allow everyone on the planet to experience the sun.  Amazingly, we don't feel this motion.  The Lord has created the earth's surface in such a way that trees, sky, animals, people and earthworms are all moving together.  We don't even feel a breeze.  Wow!  
We live in a place that is extremely dynamic and yet full of peace...just like our Lord!
Dert 4:19"And beware not to lift up your eyes to heaven and see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, and be drawn away and worship them and serve them, those which the LORD your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven.
Rob Smith

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

He restores my soul

This morning I was walking down a beautiful country road near where I live. There are rolling fields and lots of sky all around and above. Suddenly I came upon a large amount of trash that must have fallen or blown off a truck. It littered the roadside and spoiled the scenery on that pleasant road. "Who's going to clean this up", I thought? Then I thought of the trash that "blows off the truck" in our lives...actions and thoughts that spoil the scenery as the Lord looks on. I was reminded that Jesus has picked up all of my trash and restored my soul. I'm grateful that He has patiently promised to pick up my trash and clean me up when I come to Him and admit I need Him to.

1 Jn 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Ps 23:3 he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.


Rob Smith

Monday, January 8, 2007

A flag needs wind

Walking past the public school near my home I spotted the flagpole the other day.  The U.S. flag was there but because there was no breeze, it hung limply.  If I had not known from experience that the U.S. flag always flew there, I would not have been able to tell what country was represented by the flag.  The thought occurred to me that we are like flags for the Lord.  As we allow Him to blow over and through us, by the Holy wind or Holy Spirit our flag stands out crisply and our heavenly identity is displayed.  I think Daniel of the Old Testament was a person like this.  Here is a verse:
Daniel 5:11 "There is a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods in him."
Because Daniel lived whole heartedly for the Lord, the Lord shown through him and the king knew where to turn when he needed serious help.
Rob Smith

Sunday, January 7, 2007

I will display my splendor

Night before last I spent quite a bit of time polishing the brass kick plate from our front door.  When I began, the rectangular piece of metal was dark with tarnish.  After an hour of  rubbing and power buffing with brasso it shined brilliantly.  I could see my face as in a mirror.  It reminded me that through trials and growth experiences the Lord is polishing us, so that ultimately He can see His own image in us.
  Isaiah 49
The Servant of the LORD
 1 Listen to me, you islands; 
       hear this, you distant nations:
       Before I was born the LORD called me;
       from my birth he has made mention of my name.
 2 He made my mouth like a sharpened sword,
       in the shadow of his hand he hid me;
       he made me into a polished arrow
       and concealed me in his quiver.
 3 He said to me, "You are my servant,
       Israel, in whom I will display my splendor."
Rob Smith

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Draw near

How close do you feel to the Lord?  Do you have the idea in the back of your mind that "someday I'm really going to get close to the Lord"?  Like many desires, hopes and wishes, I think we often imagine having a closer walk with Him somewhere down the road, when we 'have time', when we're 'free of some of the responsibilities', when 'life is simpler'.  But, I suspect, someday doesn't always come.  So why wait any longer to draw near to the Lord?  Why let even a distance the thickness of a piece of paper come between you and the one who made you and then rescued you?  He has done His it's up to us to draw near.
Hebrews 10:22
"let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from
 an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water."
Rob Smith

Friday, January 5, 2007

Be still

Have you ever consciously tried to be absolutely still? Once in a while I will try when out on a walk to stop, let all my thoughts and concerns settle and just open my mind to the Lord. I have to admit that it is a very hard thing to completely cease any kind of activity. I tend to forget that He is constantly active and present within and around me. This morning as I was thinking about this I remembered standing in the edge of the ocean surf and allowing the ebb and flow of broken waves to caress my feet. I realized that the Lord wants to caress my thoughts and cares in a similar way as I am still.

Psalm 46:10

"Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth."
Rob Smith

Active Ingredients

Have you noticed that over-the-counter medicines list two kinds of ingredients: active and inactive. If you want to find the real medicine that you hope will counteract your ailment you find the active ingredients list. I suppose the inactive ingredients are there to carry the active ones into your system and to provide some color and some bulk to the product. As children of God, we also have active and inactive ingredients. When it comes to making a difference for the Kingdom, our active ingredient is the Lord, Himself and He lives within us. At times I feel like a medicine pill that is all inactive ingredients. But it is good to be reminded that He lives within! 1 Corinthians 3:16 tells us: "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?"

The Cost of Living

In our day-to-day life we take notice of increases in the cost of everyday needs. Gasoline gets a lot of attention as it moves up and down in price and impacts our car driving and buying habits. We have coined the phrase "cost of living" to quantify these routine expenses and quite a bit of concern and media attention goes to worries about inflation and how it can compromise our quality of life. As believers, it is healthy to remind ourselves of the real "cost of living".

There are many beautiful verses that describe this high price. Colossians 1:22 is one: "But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— "

Yes, the cost of living is high. But fortunately it isn't subject to inflation and the Lord made sure it was within reach for every person.

Bread of Life

John 6:40 says: "For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."

This morning, as I walked in the brisk air and was refreshed, I thought about the wonder of eternal life. It is so liberating to be set free from the constraints of this brief time on earth...just to know that in Christ the quality of life and the nature of life has changed. Instead of seeing a beginning and an end to my life, I see a connection to the one who has been here from before time and will be here when time has no more meaning. There is really nothing I must do to prove myself to others and nothing to fear. As Jesus said in John 6:29 "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent."

This is a good day to believe in Him!

Right and Wrong

As I was reading in Hebrews this morning I was struck by Chapter 1:9 "You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy."

Many qualities of Jesus are identified in Hebrews (Heir of all things, through Whom He created the worlds, the sole expression of the Glory of God), but for some reason I was especially attracted to the lover of righteousness and hater of wickedness. I think there is some part of us that longs to be in alignment with all that is right and true. We seem to live in a world of "gray" where right and wrong are defined by the opinions of men. This morning I was reminded that we live in the midst of a battleground of eternal truth vs. deception. I am glad that when we look on Jesus we are "realigned" to truth and we can be equipped to disarm deception.

A Vision of Heaven

It is encouraging to realize that one day we will be a part of a glorious place called heaven. When Jesus was first getting acquainted with the disciples he said to Nathanael (John 1:51) "I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man." In our day to day life we can lose sight of the wonderful, eternal dimension of life that we have just begun to sample here. Nathanael had just come to Jesus and realized He was the Lord and Jesus immediately lifted his signts to heaven. It is good for all of us who have believed in Christ to be reminded that the glories of heaven lie just ahead!
Have a blessed New Year (one day at a time)!