Wednesday, January 30, 2008

revealing light

Luke 8:16 "No one lights a lamp and hides it in a jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, he puts it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. 17For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open."
Jesus is the light of the world.  He brings truth and He illuminates the narrow path to eternity.  From the passage above we are also reminded that He reveals every secret of men.  There is no place to bury evil thoughts or actions.  During our lifetimes some dark secrets may remain unrevealed...but there will come a time when all will be turned out into the light.  He is the light that God has placed on a stand.  Have your eyes adjusted to the light?
Rob Smith

Monday, January 28, 2008

My winter coat

Revelation 3:18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.
This morning I was out for a walk before dawn broke.  I wanted to feel Jesus close and to start the day with a sense of His presence.  I paused briefly in a thick woods and spoke with Him.  On the way home it occurred to me that the warmth I felt from the morning chill was due to my winter coat, and the warmth I know in my heart is from my Jesus coat, who covers me.
Rob Smith

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Love your enemies

Luke 6: 27 "But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
When we are in Jesus, we really have no enemies.  After all, what can anyone do to us that will diminish our eternal inheritance or detract from the divine quality of life we enjoy.  On the other hand, we can expect others to despise "Jesus in us" because they are reminded of God's reality and they do not want to face Him.  If our response to attitudes of condescension, rudeness or meanness is to love, it may well serve to break down the resolve to resist the one who longs for them to also come Home. (and our love is really His, coming through us).
In a sense then, it is not us they hate and it is not we who love.  But we who may be mistreated and they who may be the cause must both yield to Jesus for love to do its work!
Rob Smith
Please note that my email address has changed to:  Thanks!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Gates and gardens

Luke 13:24 “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able."
Today, on a business trip to another part of the state, we drove down a winding, wooded road lined with lovely homes, many of which would probably be considered estates because they displayed such elaborate and gorgeous landscaping (with grand homes approaching mansion size).   As we passed one particularly striking property my eyes drank in a dramatically upward sloping front yard that was well over an acre in size.  At the front of the property, just beyond the road, was a lovely pond.  The beauty, even in winter, was captivating as water, trees and land combined not only to impress but to cause me to appreciate the work and care invested.  My thoughts of reverie were interrupted however as we passed the home's driveway and I spied heavy black iron gates closed to ensure no unwanted visitors would actually intrude.  My immediate thought was that, on the one hand, the owners seemed to want appreciation for the lovely pond and spectacular home that lay beyond, but on the other hand, they didn't want folks to get too close and actually set foot there. 
I'm glad that our opportunity for heaven is different.  When the Lord gives us a clear view of His kingdom, the gates roll back and we see Him standing there just beyond beckoning us to follow Him in to enjoy the property and to dine with Him.
Rob Smith

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Doing the impossible

Luke 5:23-24 Which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'?  But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins...." He said to the paralyzed man, "I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home."
We tend to be very conscious of health-related issues.  We're generally very aware when our bodies aren't running in top form and our bodies are probably our best friends in this world...we've been very attached to them since birth.  Less obvious...more subtle...yet more prevalent are our spiritual sicknesses.  Maybe that's because we're also familiar with a sinful nature we've carried since birth.  But, our consciences are keenly aware of our innate tendency to lie, cheat and put ourselves in the center of our ambition and to treat others differently that we'd like to be treated.  And there is no way for us to heal ourselves.  We have no immune system for sin.  We have no coagulation properties, like our natural blood, to stop our spiritual wounds.  When we break the heart of others or stab our own integrity the break doesn't mend like a broken bone, stabilized with a splint.
But we have Jesus.  And He demonstrated impossible authority over the human body to show He could also do the impossible and heal the part of us that can't be healed on our own.  He is our only resource for spiritual wholeness and His healing is available to the heart turned to Him in confidence (called faith).
Rob Smith

A baptism of tears

Much is made of the different "modes" of baptism.  Some sprinkle and some immerse.  We know that there are "baptisms of fire" as trials can cover us and drive us to the Lord for help.  Last night I read of a different kind of baptism that Jesus experienced at the hands of one of his followers.  The passage is in the Gospel of Luke (found in verse 38): "and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them."  Jesus had been dining in the home of a Pharisee and as he sat there a woman came in.  She had a bad reputation for sinful behavior but had sensed the need to repent and be forgiven and she courageously sought Jesus in this Pharisee's house.  Without a word, apparently, she stood behind Jesus and began to weep with sorrow for her sin and the brokenness that comes from sincere repentance.  She had brought perfume to anoint Jesus, but first she had to wipe the tears from Jesus' feet with her hair.  Then she applied the perfume.  She also kissed Jesus' feet and He tenderly forgave her.  It was eye-opening for me to realize that I, too, can baptize Jesus when I come in brokenness and tears and anoint Him with the perfume of prayer and praise and allow his cleansing love to wash me.
Rob Smith

Monday, January 21, 2008

"Extreme" Jesus

There's a trend in sports toward ever-increasing risk.  From mountain climbing to snow boarding to skating down half-pipes...not to mention jumping out of planes, surfing massive waves and participating in triathlons.  A lot of people extract meaning from life as they balance on precarious edges.  They seem to want to feel like their life hangs in the balance to feel the adventure of living and to get a bigger rush out of life.  Two programs I saw on TV tonight brought home the idea of risk outside of sports.  I watched a photographer practically hanging out of an airplane to get the best pictures possible of a vintage plane flying over Alaskan mountains....and I watched a show that tracked the Navy Blue Angels flying team as they prepared for and then flew in their classic tight formations. 
It occurred to me that Jesus lived on the edge when He walked here.  Early in his ministry Jesus was speaking in his home town of Nazareth.  At first people liked what they heard.  We hear the crowd quoted in Luke chapter 4, verse 22 All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. "Isn't this Joseph's son?" they asked.  Jesus had the crowd right where you'd think He wanted them...eating out of his hand..but then He spoke a bold truth in verse 24  "I tell you the truth," he continued, "no prophet is accepted in his hometown.  They turned on the local boy in a flash and an amazing thing happens (verses 29-30) They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.
Unlike "Extreme Athletes" Jesus understood that there was no risk as long as He walked in the center of His Father's direction.  He'd been to the edge when Satan had tempted Him in the wilderness and He had demonstrated a clear grasp of the solid support that comes from absolute obedience to the Father and the Father's Word.  I suppose I am challenged to become more of an "Extreme Follower" make the adventure of life all about the persistent pursuit of our personal Lord. (to do otherwise is too great a risk!)
Rob Smith

Sunday, January 20, 2008

priming the pump

Here's a quote I read recently: "Anyone who has a well, knows you have to 'Prime the Pump' before
you get any water. In order to prime the pump, you have to give it a little water so you can then pump out a lot."
Somehow, adding water to the pump helps force air out of the machinery and assists the water to be drawn out.  You have to "add water to get more water".  Our small group was reading through the very short Bible book of Philemon this week.  There are many excellent points to be drawn from this one-chapter story, but one verse reminded me of pump-priming: Philemon 1: 6 "I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ".  Exercising our faith walk is like priming our faith to grow.  It's as if we encourage our spiritual pipeline to be filled with spiritual truth when we begin to look for opportunities to share, to encourage, to minister, and to be a "vessel" for the Lord to pour through.  Once a pump is primed, it tends to remain effective as long it is not allowed to sit too long and allow air to reenter the mechanism. 
Rob Smith

Live reckoning

John 6:21 Then they willingly received Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going.
I was a navigator for a while on one ship I was on.  It was a tender, a repair ship and we didn't go out for long cruises. But we did go to places like Ft. Lauderdale and Nova Scotia.  We would find our position by using a sextant and shooting angles to various stars.  Sometimes a few days would go by with heavy cloud cover and we couldn't use the stars.  During those times, we'd estimate where we were based on our course and speed.  This was called Dead Reckoning.  Eventually, when the night sky cleared we could reestablish our position.  Generally we'd be off by several miles due to the effects of wind and currents.  The thought I had this morning is that, for many of us, it has been too long since we got a fresh navigational "fix" on the Lord.  We've been "dead reckoning" and we may not be close to where we think we are.  The good news is that the sky is always clear between us and the Lord.  We can establish our position by taking a little time and looking up at Him, reflecting on His word and being honest with Him.  I think that you will not only establish your position, but you'll reach your destination, just like the disciples in the verse above.
Rob Smith

Friday, January 18, 2008

Preparing for a landing

There is a term in economics called the "soft landing".  Here's how an investment dictionary defines it: "When the economy is growing at strong rate, the Fed will try to engineer a soft landing by raising interest rates enough to slow the economy down without putting it into recession."  (we're kind of going the opposite way economically at the moment!)
It occurred to me that as we move deeper into adulthood the Lord is preparing us for our own soft landing.  I think the blessing of getting older, seeing evidence of wear on our bodies and realizing that we are progressively more limited is that the Lord lets us know that we are one day going to shed this wrinkled garment and take on a new form of body.  Years ago, as a young person, it was very difficult to imagine the end of life...actually dying.  But now I see that God graciously prepares us for the next stage by making us aware to a greater and greater extent of our weakness.  In that sense, our weakness becomes a strength and opens the door for the Lord to lead us.
John 14:2 In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
Rob Smith

Thursday, January 17, 2008

A foreign representative

Luke 6:20-23
  Looking at his disciples, he said:
   "Blessed are you who are poor,
      for yours is the kingdom of God. 
 Blessed are you who hunger now,
      for you will be satisfied.
   Blessed are you who weep now,
      for you will laugh. 
 Blessed are you when men hate you,
      when they exclude you and insult you
I was reading through Luke tonight and was struck by the freshness of Jesus' message as he preached.  It was as if he were coming at life from a totally new angle...and I guess he was.  His perspective seemed to be so different and then I realized that Jesus spoke with the benefit of a clear view of the heavenly kingdom in mind.  He was a foreigner to our world, in a sense.  His mindset was forged by absolute oneness with the Father and when he moved among the villages and walked through the synagogues and interacted with Pharisees, fishermen and folks of every type he spoke and he acted with the certain knowledge of another, superior, king and kingdom than any found among men.  You might say that he was like a representative from a foreign land, who eagerly sought to communicate the wonder of his home and to offer the unique and satisfying fruits of that place.  Imagine what it was like when the early world travelers on the seas brought back coconuts and pineapples from Pacific paradise islands.  Europeans with tastes dulled by sameness of meals would have been amazed by the newness, sweetness and awareness of a place very different, yet very appealing...very far, yet reachable to those willing to travel a bit.
I think Jesus was a foreign representative of heaven who longed for us to discover that it really was home, not only for him, but for us!
blessings to all who realize they are hungry, they are poor, they carry sadnesses and they are not considered "cool"... The ones who have learned that men don't make the rules that really count and that we can rest in the One who does.
Rob Smith

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The thought reader

Luke 5:22 But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, He answered and said to them, “Why are you reasoning in your hearts? 23 Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise up and walk’?
Jesus doesn't just watch us, or even listen to us.  He knows our thoughts.  And our thoughts tend to run in one of two directions...we either reason in an isolated way, limiting our logic to the corners of our minds and hearts...or we take our thoughts and hold them up to the Lord.  When we allow His light into our thoughts, the shadows, crooked logic and shallowness of our limited perspective are broadened.  At that point He isn't just the thought reader...He's the thought communicator (and His perspective is eternal truth).
2 Corinthians 10:4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ
Rob Smith

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

His voice

John 5:25 Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live.
John 10:3-4 To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.
Acts 22:14 Then he said, ‘The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth.
Revelation 1:12 Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. 14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; 15 His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; 16 He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. 17 And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. 18 I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.

The other night I was watching TV and I heard a familiar voice from an actor doing a commercial  I immediately knew the voice but the appearance of the actor wasn't familiar.  It was Robert Wagner, an actor who I'd seen in many TV shows when I was growing up.  His voice was just the same but he'd aged so much that I really didn't recognize him.  Somehow our voice doesn't change in adulthood nearly as much as most of our characteristics.  You probably can instantly identify a number of people within a few words even when you can't see them, as across a phone line.  There is also an unchangeable uniqueness about the voice of Jesus and somehow His children recognize His voice, identify the speaker correctly as their Lord and turn to listen and follow.  His voice calls us to follow Him, to listen to Him and to take comfort from His voice.  I can recall the great security I felt as a child when I heard my father talking with my mother, even if they were in conversation downstairs and I was in bed.  His voice was strong and clear and he spoke with confidence and understanding.  To hear his voice was to feel his nearness and to sense his protective covering.  I think our experience with Jesus is very similar.

Rob Smith
Rev 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The you that is yet to be

2 Corinthians 3:18 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.
There was recently a movie out called "The Transformers" about robots at war with each other.  When our kids were small you could  buy Transformer toys that changed from rocket ships into robots...totally swapping identities in a clever design.  Tonight it occurred to me that one of the great qualities of our Lord is the way He is transforming us.  The verse above suggests that as we behold the Lord's glory, He is transforming us into an image that looks just like Himself!  So the thought I have is that the people we are now, in the Lord, don't totally resemble the people we used to be and, by the transforming power of God, the people we are now will continue to be changed to resemble the Lord more closely in the future.  In other words, if you are in the Lord and walking with Him there is a new version of yourself that you have yet to meet.  Sometimes it shocks me to see a picture of myself that is 30 years old.  My adult years have flown and I can't believe I ever looked that young.  We're also changing spiritually...but we're not just aging in the "wearing out" sense, we're also aging in the "as a fine wine...or a fine cheese" sense. 
We should not allow ourselves to believe that we can never grow, never change, never improve.  The great Transformer is at work as we behold Him and the work that began when we were just an idea in His mind is still in progress.  He is completing the construction process on us as we move through life and our best days lie ahead!  Stick around to meet the you that is yet to be.
Rob Smith

Sunday, January 13, 2008

His touch

Matthew 8:15 So He touched her hand, and the fever left her. And she arose and served them.
Matthew 9:29 Then He touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith let it be to you.”
Mathew 17: 6-7 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid.  But Jesus came and touched them and said, “Arise, and do not be afraid.”
Luke 7:14 Then He came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.”
Luke 6:19 And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all.
Jesus could just say the word and power from heaven would go forth but generally He would touch to heal.  When He was here in human form His hand was the pathway for His love and energy.  Crowds would throng and close around Him seeking to touch Him...even to brush His clothing.   He still is the one who touches us to heal.  But beyond touching, He comes to stay when He comes into our lives.  Sometimes we wish we could have lived then, when we could have received His touch...but, in many ways we have it better now...Rather than being touched, we are held!
Philippians 3: 12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.
Rob Smith

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Make me meek

Matthew 11: 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
Matthew 5:5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Meekness doesn't get a lot of press.  I don't think meekness is popularly considered one of the ultimate ambitions, but Jesus told us to get close enough to learn from Him and we'd find the deepest kind of soul rest possible.  Somehow it is possible to be as close to Jesus as two oxen are in a yoke and, instead of being overwhelmed with either fear or awe, which would paralyze us we can be very comfortable because Jesus carries Himself in a meek and lowly manner.  I think the rest He describes comes partly from just being near Him in comfort and partly from what we learn from Him.  The word meek seems to come from words that describe three characteristics rolled into one: gentleness, courteousness, and kindness.  When you put those together you have a winning manner that welcomes close relationship and motivates openness to share and to receive.  As powerful and all knowing as Jesus is, He is most interested in developing the highest quality of relationship with us.  We will learn best from Him if we know we are in the presence of one who is gentle, courteous and kind.  And as we walk yoked with Jesus we become something like Him...and others can learn of Jesus through His presence.
Rob Smith

Friday, January 11, 2008

gate and shepherd

John 10: 9 "I  am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture."
John 10:2 2 "The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep."  
John 10:11 "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
Some people have a problem understanding the trinity and how God could be Father, Son and Holy Ghost and still be one.  Well, if you think that's tough, Jesus told us that He was the gate the shepherd uses to tend the sheep and He was also the shepherd at the same time.  But that's ok because in Jesus we have the one who also said:  "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)  He is the means and the end, the journey and the destination, our bread of life and our spring of water.  I suppose these kinds of all-encompassing descriptions remind us that Jesus is our all in all.  He's the ticket and the train ride (better and longer lasting than a season pass at Busch Gardens).
Rob Smith

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Who wrote the book of love?

For some reason this morning the old 50's song "Who wrote the book of love" jumped into my head.  It was written by the "Monotones" and made it all the way to #5 on the pop charts in 1958.  The author was inspired by the word "wonder" in the old toothpaste commercial "You'll wonder where the yellow went, when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent".  It's amazing to here these stories of success.  Anyhow, there is greatness in the lyrics:  Here's how it starts:
"I wonder wonder who, oouu who
Who wrote the book of love

Tell me, tell me, tell me
Oh who wrote the book of love

I've got to know the answer
Was it someone from above"

One of the great questions of all time...who did write the book of love...we all sure enjoy love...we all sure long for love...we all sure need love.  It's a good thing to go in search of the author of love.

I, I love you darlin'
Baby you know I do
But I've got to see this book of love
Find out why it's true

It all starts with a strong desire to go beyond the experience of life to meet the maker of it all!


Chapter one says the lover
You lover her with all your heart

Chapter two you tell her
You never, never, never, never, ever wanna part

In chapter three remember
The meaning of romance

In chapter four you break up
But you give her just one more chance

I guess that just about sums up the gospel according to the Monotones.  The one who wrote the "book of love" loves in a great way:  He loves with all his heart.   He is just never going to depart.  His faithfulness and mysterious ways define real romance.  Even though we fall away from's in the nature of His love to keep giving us one more chance.
Baby, baby, baby
I love you yes I do
Well it says so in this book of love
Are’s is the one that's true

Yeah, I guess the wonder is over.  It just has to be the one and only one whose love is really true.  We find Him in the Book of Love and He'll sing to you too!

I, wonder who, (Yeah) who wrote the book of love
Hebrews 5:9 "And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him"
blessings (aren't you glad we have the book of love?)
Rob Smith

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

He sees you under that tree

John 1:48 Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?”
Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”
Just like Nathanael, you may think that no one really knows who you are, where you are, or what you are thinking.  You may wonder if anyone really knows you (including God).  When Jesus met Nathanael He confirmed His divine identity by revealing that He knew exactly where Nathanael had been before they had ever seen each other with their eyes.  Nathanael was so shocked that Jesus (already) knew him that he experienced the birth of faith and expressed it: John 1:49  "Nathanael answered and said to Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”
I think one of our greatest needs is to know that we are known by the one who is all-knowing.  We're looking for that personal link to the Almighty because we know that we are lost on our own.  I hope you are reassured that Jesus sees you under that tree...or in that recliner...or driving that car...or crying those tears.
Rob Smith

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

He is kind

Proverbs 19:22 What is desired in a man is kindness,
      And a poor man is better than a liar.
Isaiah 54:8 With a little wrath I hid My face from you for a moment;
      But with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you,”
      Says the LORD, your Redeemer.
Titus 3:4-5 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,
I think one of the most wonderful qualities of Jesus is his kindness.  I'm sure you can picture some special people who epitomize kindness.  There's just something gracious and warm about their manner.  You feel welcomed and loved unconditionally.  The word "kind" seems to mean treating folks just like they were relatives (kin), with family acceptance that welcomes you just because you're part of the clan..part of the family.  The Lord is kind to us because He wants to be family with us and he draws us with tenderness, compassion and endless patience.  When we have felt the warmth of His kindness, we want to draw others into that circle of love as well.  Truly, He is kind.
Rob Smith

Behold the Lamb!

Genesis 22:8 And Abraham said, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” So the two of them went together.
Revelation 7:9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands
John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
It's not likely that you or I would create the image of a lamb for the greatest hero the world has ever seen....the greatest power, the greatest truth, the greatest rescuer, the most courageous and unselfishness.  Jesus was, is, and always will be the Lamb of God.  Could you image a meeker, gentler creature?  Rather than a picture of dominance the Lord has given us a picture of obedience so that His almighty power would be properly displayed and we are given an eternal picture of what submission to the Father looks like.  Behold the Lamb!
Rob Smith

Monday, January 7, 2008

The bright and morning star

Revelation 22:16 “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.”
This morning, on my walk, I couldn't help but notice a very bright star in the eastern sky.  It stood out in stark contrast to the night sky, like a jewel, and I thought of Jesus as the "Bright and Morning Star" as referenced in Revelation 22.  I wondered about the significance of that phrase and poked around the internet.  There are many beautiful thoughts and observations that others have made about this special star.  But this morning I was reminded that, just as Jesus shines brightly against a contrast of darkness spiritually, so He also reaches out to us in brilliance and in a personal way.  My eyes were drawn to that bright spot in the sky and so, too, our lives are drawn to His matter how vast and dark our surroundings and the circumstances of our lives may seem.  He is the bright star of the morning and He is announcing the coming of the full day!
Rob Smith

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Anticipating Jesus

Luke 2:25-35 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.  It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ.  Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required,  Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: 
 "Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
      you now dismiss your servant in peace. 
  For my eyes have seen your salvation, 
     which you have prepared in the sight of all people, 
  a light for revelation to the Gentiles
      and for glory to your people Israel."
  The child's father and mother marveled at what was said about him.  Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too."
Joseph and Mary brought baby Jesus, just eight days old, to be circumcised in Jerusalem.  They certainly had been a young couple on the go...leaving Galilee to make the 90 mile trek to Bethlehem to be registered and then going through the drama of the birth of Jesus.  A short week later they moved on to Jerusalem.  They must have been in great awe at all the events surrounding the arrival of their child.  I think the story of Simeon is especially touching.  Here was a man who followed the Holy Spirit before the Spirit was commonly available.  Simeon was anticipating the arrival of the Messiah and had been shown that he'd personally see the Christ in his lifetime.  So, he was prepared when Jesus came to the temple and recognized the baby as the promised savior.  Can you picture him holding the tiny newborn and grasping the reality and the fulfillment of promise to himself and to all mankind!  Simeon's prophetic words describing the ministry of Jesus to bring "revelation to the Gentiles" and "glory to your people Israel" are still being fulfilled today.  Before we can recognize Jesus we are prepared for His arrival.  When we reach out to Him, as Simeon did, we find that He can still be held (though we know He really holds us).  Isn't it fascinating that Simeon foretold Mary's own personal salvation ("a sword will pierce your own soul too").  Imagine her hearing this, and then later experiencing her own spiritual awakening (precipitated by her son).
The Lord prepares us and the Lord meets us and the Lord transforms us!
Rob Smith

Saturday, January 5, 2008

in Jesus' name

Mark 9:41 For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.
Mark 11:9 Then those who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “ Hosanna! ‘ Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’
Mark 13:13 And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.
John 14:13 And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
We often end our prayers,  "in Jesus' name" or "in the name of the Lord".  I think the precedent comes from John 14:13 where we claim the promise that Jesus makes to glorify the Father by answering us and meeting our needs.  But we also have the chance to live "in His name".  From many references in the gospels, we see that we have the privilege of living our lives in the strength, and for the purpose, of Jesus' name.  We know his name means "the savior (or rescuer) of the Lord" and we can each play a role in the rescue operation.  It's wonderful that each of us have names and each of us have character and personality and it is even more wonderful that our individual personalities can be wrapped up in the greater name of our wonderful Lord.
blessings in Jesus' name!
Rob Smith

Friday, January 4, 2008

Born winner

Matthew 1:21 "She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
1 Thessalonians 1:10 "and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath."
Parents go through books and do a lot of brainstorming to come up with names for anticipated children.  I remember how we wanted to find interesting names that would dress up the common last name of "Smith".  Of course we really know nothing of the personality or nature that our children will eventually almost seems like the child should come with a nametag because the Lord knows what that new life will be all about.  That certainly was the case with Jesus.  As we learned in the Matthew verse above, "Jesus" was the name the Lord declared through the angel Gabriel because the magnificent central truth of his life would be to save or "rescue" us (and Jesus is the Greek form of Joshua, which means "the Lord saves").  It is good to sharpen our focus on the mission of Jesus, as He walked among us 2000 years ago and as He works in our midst today.  He is the one who rescues us, who saves us from our sins.  He was a "born winner".
Rob Smith

Thursday, January 3, 2008

The spitting image

Hebrews 1:3 The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.
"Spitting image"; This is not a very pleasant cliche...but widely known as an "exact copy" and often used to compare a child with a parent.  Sons are generally flattered to be considered the "spitting image" of their Dads.  They're not sure where this expression came from, but it sure beats the Norwegian cliche: "som snytt ut av nesen paa" ("as blown out of the nose of").  Please pardon the analogy but the thought this morning is that Jesus is the "spitting image" of His Father.  I think the Lord knew that we all needed to see "God with skin on" to have a clear picture of the nature and character of God.  As we consider the life, ministry, words and actions of Jesus we are also getting acquainted with His Father.  As we continue to reflect on and walk with Jesus, we begin to "absorb and reflect" His nature and the world around also begins to glimpse the Father, as well as the Son.
Rob Smith

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Good news for now and forever

Matthew 4:23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24 News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them. 25 Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.
From the early days of His earthly ministry, people and crowds were attracted to Jesus.  He came with news of an eternal kingdom that they could enter and He came with healing power for all manner of spiritual and physical sickness.  He went boldly into their midst and they came eagerly to Him...because they found that His message and His touch brought health and peace.  Today He still moves among us with the good news of the kingdom and He still touches and heals.  But since He is not here as a physical person we must meet Him in a non-physical way.  But when we come in faith we meet Him through faith and find the peace and healing of His message, touch and presence are as real and effective as the crowds from Galilee long ago.
Rob Smith

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Behold Him

2 Timothy 1:10 "but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel."
Before you are motivated to take the medicine you must grasp the nature and gravity of your illness.  The verse above identifies the physician and the cure for the most common and most severe illness (eternal death resulting from sin's separation).  Many of us, at one time, thought we were alive when we were really dead and pretended this life would go on forever as we denied the reality of physical death and ignored the question of what lay beyond.  Because of Jesus we can face death's reality because He has loosed its grip on us.  He has exposed death as a limited enemy and has triumphed over it revealing the wonder of eternal life and the hope of a brilliant future that goes through death as a Christmas shopper moves through a revolving door and passes from the cold of winter to the warmth and light of holiday displays.
In 2008 my goal will be to "Behold Him" and attempt to look at Jesus from many angles and see what can learn and apply.  Joy, peace and His presence be yours each day.
Rob Smith