Friday, December 31, 2010

we shall be like Him and see Him

1 John 3:2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

We shall be like Him.  Won't that be wonderful.  We will actually see Him.  We will be directly with Him and we will be like Him.  There will be this wonderful unity..harmony...glory and peace interwoven.  We will still have personal identity and we will be so close to Him that we will see Him and we will feel His steady gaze...and there will be no more fear or doubt or separation.  We may still have questions but they may be different than our questions now.  Imagine having a direct conversation with Jesus.  One day you will.  As we carry this sure hope of being like...and being with... Jesus our hearts are made lighter.  What cares we have melt like the snow under today's warm sun.  For we shall see Him as He is.
Rob Smith 

Thursday, December 30, 2010

a good confession

1 John 4:15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 

Seventeen words.  That's all the Apostle John needed in the verse just quoted.  Most of the words are simple and short.  The great message of the Bible is not complex, but we are full of complexes that cause us to stumble over, ignore, push away and avoid the seventeen words.  If we really grasped the truth that God wants to live within us, I think we would embrace it (and feel His embrace).  But we like to keep control...even those of us who have placed our trust in the Lord...we like to hold onto the reins...the remote control...the calendar...the idea that we are "masters of our own fate".  Perhaps it would help keep us centered to start each day simply applying this verse.  We might find a quiet corner and say (why not out loud?):
"Jesus, you are the Son of God and you left Heaven to find me".     Then we might say it a different way:

"Jesus, you are the Son of God and yet you died for me."              And how about one more time: 

"Jesus, you are the Son of God and I will live forever with you."  

I don't think Jesus tires of hearing us lift Him up because He was lifted up just for that purpose.

What a wonderful promise we have.  If we confess that Jesus is God's Son, God lives in us and we live in God.
Rob Smith

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

"lift off"

1 John 2:17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

There are a few themes that run through the book of First John, like golden strands woven to make a royal rope.   Here are three of those strands:
    Abiding in Christ as He abides in us.
    Loving one another to show the reality of the Lord.
    Grasping the promise of living forever.

Perhaps one overall theme is to invest our lives in the most lasting way.  The passage from 1 John 2:15-17 exhorts us to "not love" certain things so that wewill love the best way.  We are told not to "love the world or the things in the world".  This is fascinating because we pretty much are surrounded by the world.  He goes on to clarify what he means by "the world".  It has to do with improper and unholy desires or lusts..base desires driven by our dark side...the aspect of our nature that is self centered and sin centered.  We just have to be honest and admit that one of the themes that runs through our lives is our inherent nature to satisfy these desires to please our flesh, our eyes and our pride.  We see in the verse quoted at the top (1 John 2:17) that all of these desires can only satisfy for a brief season because they are associated with our brief time remaining on planet earth.  "The world is passing away"...but the good news is that we can live eternally now, even while alive in the flesh.  There is a "forever life" that is ignited here like a huge Saturn V rocket (like those used to take astronauts to the moon).  Initially that rocket seemed to protest with massive noise and vibration the idea of being launched...and it moved only reluctantly up and off the launchpad.  But just as the huge rocket gathered momentum and ultimately propelled its precious payload into space, so our trust in God is a sure hope that our lumbering start on earth will surely lead to the vastness of eternity.  We can 'lift off' now...even while we walk the earth...when we set our minds on the Lord and overcome the base desires of sin and self with the greater thrust provided by our love for Him.
Rob Smith

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

switch to love

Most of us probably know a fairly large group of people by name.  Of course we have those in our family who are close, like an inner ring of relationships, and then we have friends, neighbors, church acquaintances, work associates and folks we have known well in the past, who now may be farther away.  Considering the words of First John, most of these people may not be too difficult to "love" as he exhorts in chapter 2: 10 He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. 11 But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.  Of course, some people are easier to love than others.  There may be a few people in our universe of contacts that we really don't get along with well...just something about their personality...or maybe some unresolved conflict that has festered over time.  But what struck me the hardest this morning is that there is no middle ground merely "like" someone...or to "tolerate" or be apathetic about others.  It seems that there is some kind of switch, where love is "on" and hate is "off".  And then it occurred to me that our attitude toward others isn't primarily driven by them...their personalities or how we know them.  Our attitude is our attitude and we either care for others with love as our baseline or we have a baseline of disinterest toward others.  That disinterest amounts to hate because we are charged with reaching out to our world just as Jesus reached out to us.  He didn't extend Himself to us because we'd earned His love.  He did it when we were completely apart from Him because He knew the potential that existed for a close relationship and He knew we could never find Him without His outreach to us.   Our love for others parallels His love for us.  The world doesn't expect others to care for them, just as they don't think God could know and care for them.  When our switch is turned "on" and we have a baseline of love to others we are showing that there is love without condition...the kind of love God extends to us all.

1 John 3: 23 And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.

Rob Smith

Monday, December 27, 2010

courtroom of love

Imagine having an attorney who not only defended you...he also endured the punishment for your crimes.  Now imagine that this defense attorney was also the son of the judge and the judge permitted his son to accept your punishment.  That seems to be the setting of First John, chapter 2:  1 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.  

We learned in chapter 1 that, just like in our courtrooms, we are asked to plead guilty or not-guilty.  In this fascinating courtroom from Heaven we are encouraged to plead guilty, because then our heavenly attorney will act on our behalf and our sentence will be satisfied. (Verse 9)  9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

The judge already knows that we are guilty, and has all the evidence He needs.  He's looking to see if we will be honest enough to admit our guilt and if we will trust Him for a solution.  We are in the difficult position of needing to be judged and needing to be forgiven.  Our wonderful Lord is the only one who can perfectly judge and absolutely forgive us.  And it wouldn't be possible without our defense attorney, Jesus, who represents us despite our guilt and accepts our punishment.  It is the perfect situation for imperfect you and me!
Rob Smith

Saturday, December 25, 2010

the other side of eternity

You may have heard of time travel.  Today (Christmas) I took a trip to the far side of eternity and looked back.  I saw that all my life on earth I had thought about two things: (a) what lies ahead while I am still alive in the body and (b) what will it be like after I died and reached Heaven's open door.  But I hadn't thought about what eternity would be like...or the nature of existence in that place where time has no claim.  I had been focused so much on "destinations" that I hadn't thought about the trip, either through time or through eternity.  And then I remembered that the Lord is all about growth...the process of becoming more than the result of arriving.  Living in eternity would be pretty dull if we "fully arrived" just by reaching Heaven.  Imagine spending forever in a place of constant wonder, glory and growth...of being in the presence of the greatest Creative force ever and beholding the results of His imagination.  Of course we can only imagine what the experience will be like of life in eternity...but when we are set free from the chains of our physical limits and our spiritual stumbling we will have the potential to soar.  It was exciting to travel to the other side of eternity...the side where we will actually live and move and have identity.  I saw that eternity will be a continuation of life, growth, fulfillment and wonder.  It's really not about arriving so much as it is about the trip (no matter how short or long).

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. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 

blessings to all the eternal travelers,
Rob Smith

Friday, December 24, 2010

unwrapping the gift

Psalm 118:19 Open to me the gates of righteousness;
         I will go through them, 
         And I will praise the LORD.

Job 35: Look to the heavens and see;
      And behold the clouds— 
      They are higher than you.

Psalm 34:4 I sought the LORD, and He heard me,
         And delivered me from all my fears.
 5 They looked to Him and were radiant,
         And their faces were not ashamed.

I was thinking about the packages we unwrap on Christmas morning.  There is generally a mix of anticipation and eagerness as the paper is pulled off the box to reveal the gift.  I remember, as a boy, the surge of excitement as I recognized a particular toy that I'd set my heart on.  For a moment there was the clear sensation of what a dream come true feels like.  And I remember the day that Jesus unwrapped my heart and found me.  I don't know if I was a dream come true to Him, but I finally felt like a gift that had come to the right home.  There was always the sense that I'd been made for a purpose...something bigger than just "self"...because, frankly, self didn't know what life was all about.   Self tended to be confused and wondering and wandering.  But when the Lord took the paper off and lifted me out of the box I finally knew what I'd been made for...for Him and forever.  So this morning I looked for a few verses that consider how we can also unwrap the package of life that God has fashioned for us.  We can open the gates of righteousness.  We can look to the heavens and be humbled by the azure canvas God has made from the black void of space.  And, best of all, we can find His presence whenever we need Him and His light becomes our light.  I think we were made to be a gift to God.  But His gift to us is life, and forever.

blessings to the other packages under God's tree,
Rob Smith

Thursday, December 23, 2010

something old, something new

1 John 2:7-8 (The Message Version)My dear friends, I'm not writing anything new here. This is the oldest commandment in the book, and you've known it from day one. It's always been implicit in the Message you've heard. On the other hand, perhaps it is new, freshly minted as it is in both Christ and you—the darkness on its way out and the True Light already blazing!

1 John 2:7(NASB) Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard.

 8On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining.

When does the old become the new?  Usually the new becomes the old... In the Bible we have the Old Testament and we have the New Testament.  The Old Testament tells the story of God and Man through a family history (the Jewish people).  The New Testament proclaims the love of God for all men through His Son.  Both testaments call for a personal response to the Almighty.  When does the Old Testament become the New Testament for us...perhaps when knowing about God changes to actually knowing God.  I think the old becomes new when it has become part of our personal lives.  John seems to be telling us that we have had the commandments and the word of God for a long time.  But those commandments, and that word, becomes new to us on a personal level when we apply it to our own lives.  What if you actually met George Washington one day (maybe you will in Heaven)?  The old familiar knowledge of the father of our country would become the new personal knowledge based on interaction and conversation.  The old knowledge would become new.  John teaches that we will do best when we abide in the Lord.  This may be something we know that we should do...But it becomes new and fresh in our lives when we practice actually abiding.  I think many of the great truths have become dulled to us by their familiarity.  When we do what we know then we live and we grow.



Rob Smith

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

thinking ahead about looking back

I am spending some time with the Apostle John...reading his first letter (First John...toward the end of the Bible).  He says a lot about abiding in the Lord and showing our love for Him through our love for others.  One verse that stood out this morning was from chapter 2, verse 28, "Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming."  I thought about that time, coming up in the future, when I will be face to face with Jesus.  I realized that there will be an instant reaction the first time I am directly in His presence.  That reaction will either be one of unqualified joy or I may find myself shrinking away in shame.   It seems that the quality of the reaction I have in that moment will be the direct result of how I've lived out my life, after having trusted in Jesus for salvation.   Ever since I asked for His forgiveness and opened my heart's door, He has lived within.  Yet, I have had freedom to choose whether I will also abide in Him and live for Him.   I decided to picture that moment of "first encounter" when I am face to face with Jesus like a runner views his coach waiting just past the finish line of a great race.  I am in the middle of the race now and I can choose how I run, where I run, and why I run.  When I am with Him, the running will be over and I will instantly be aware of the quality of the race I've run.  I need to think ahead about looking back at the race.  Now is the time when I can enjoy His company in preference to the company of "other things".  Now is the time when I can live for others more than I live for myself.  The race is I need to be on the track.  I want to experience unqualified joy when I see Jesus.

blessings (see you on the track...Jesus is watching...Jesus is also abiding within!),
Rob Smith

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

rare lunar event

Early this morning we were treated to a rare lunar event...a total eclipse of the moon.  The shadow of earth fell across the moon (although it happened while I was sleeping!) and apparently created a stunning view for over an hour.  This happened on the first day of winter, the first time such an eclipse has occurred on that day for over three centuries.  But I actually had a lunar event that was even more special and personal this morning.  I drove down to the edge of my favorite local pond while the full moon was just above the trees on the far shore.  There was no hint of dawn yet...the sky was still dark.  As I pulled up to the pond, the front of my car faced directly toward the moon.  We've had temperatures that have consistently lingered below freezing and the surface of the pond was ice all the way across.  I could tell this from a narrow path made of light from the moon reflecting off the pond's surface.  Due to the position of the moon and my car and the iced surface of the pond, there appeared to be a path that led from where I was sitting, across the pond and to the moon.  I was immediately struck by the thought that God has provided a path that is just as clear to follow Him and find life, despite the "night-like" darkness of living in this world.  It was a great view to prepare my heart before reading through the faith chapter of Hebrews 11, which I'll be discussing later today with friends.  He has provided a path through the darkness and it starts in Heaven and leads directly to you, wherever you are.  You can find the path when you pick up the map, otherwise known as the Bible.  The map is not the destination but it will clearly lead us to Him.  This lunar path prepared my heart to face the world as the greater light of the sun washed over it.

Psalm 119: 105 Your word is a lamp to my feet   
                   And a light to my path.
Rob Smith

Monday, December 20, 2010

needles and leaves

I was thinking about the difference between hardwood trees that lose their leaves before winter and pine trees, that keep their needles.  Apparently, the broad surface and thin construction of a leaf doesn't lend itself to winter survival as well as the skinny and hard surfaced pine needle.  They both have the same function of creating food for the tree through the mixture of sun and air but the pine needle is designed to weather the severest winter.   Pine needles are also covered with a hard, waxy, skin to protect the food manufacturing cells within and their design allows them to hold lots of snow without breaking off.  In fact, a pine needle may live for about ten years before falling to the forest floor and being replaced.  A typical pine tree might have seven million pine needles!  The pine tree sacrifices the glory of fall color to remain fully clothed through winter.   I suppose people can be something like hardwood trees and pine trees.  Some are more dramatic and openly display the issues of life, as the hardwood tree shows its leaves moving from buds of early spring through the vitality of summer and then transforming brilliantly before dying as winter approaches.  Others are quieter and less prone to change, as the evergreen tree with the same needles and the same color throughout the year.   The designs of hardwood tree and pine are two different ways of coping with similar life challenges.

We have different ways of surviving the winters of life.  There is one approach, marked by great visible change and there is another approach, marked by little outward change.  Pine and hardwood can coexist in the same forest.  It helps for us to appreciate the different designs of others around us as we move through the challenges of winter.

1 Corinthians 12:12 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.14 For in fact the body is not one member but many.  

Rob Smith

Saturday, December 18, 2010

honest about dishonesty

1 John 1:6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. 
8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

One of the ultimate paradoxes of Christianity is the necessity of the dishonest to be honest about their dishonesty.  It is not comfortable facing our faults, especially when we don't seem capable of eliminating, preventing, or avoiding them.  We need to have a relationship with one who is purer and stronger and yet still understanding and loving.  We need to know one who can accept us, despite our proclivity for mendacity (our tendency to be untruthful).  We need to know one who, not only will accept us, but is committed to our maturity despite our flaws.  We need to know one who is truly honorable and right...whose presence in our lives makes all the difference.  Jesus came to provide a way for us to find this One, who understands our weaknesses and yet is committed to our greatest fulfillment.  Jesus came to reunite us with our Father, who loves us just as we have unconditionally loved our children (through all the stumbles of their childhood).  But there is a hurdle...we must be willing to be honest about our dishonesty.  Honestly!
Rob Smith

Friday, December 17, 2010

Evidence of a different kind

1 John1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— 2 the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ4 And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.

Physical evidence is a critical component of crime enforcement.  There are experts in "forensic investigation" who look for proof that a crime can be connected to a person.  In recent years DNA has provided that unique association of crime and criminal.  But the Apostle John leads his first epistle with a review of physical evidence, not of a crime, but of a commitment between a real God and we, His people.  John began his gospel account with a profound reference to Jesus as the Word that had been made into human form: John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in thebeginning with God3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made....14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. 
John wants us to know that he actually heard, saw, and touched Jesus.  Words can be powerful.  Jesus' words are the most powerful of all.  But John combined a knowledge of Jesus' words with direct physical knowledge of Him as a person.  Rather than a crime, the purpose of this evidence is to prove the greatest love man can know.  John wants us to realize that there is a closer relationship than ear, eye or hand can sense.  He calls it "fellowship with the Father and His Son".  We may not yet know Jesus physically, like John did, but we can share the closeness John knew as He walked with the Lord.  The Word became flesh so that our flesh would be joined to the Word.  This is evidence of love.
Rob Smith

Thursday, December 16, 2010

He came for you

When you boil it all down, Jesus came for you!  Sure He came to earth a long time ago...a long time before you showed up.  But He came for you, personally, just as surely as He came to teach the Disciples, feed thousands on a hillside and go through physical death and resurrection.  We know that He came for you because He made sure that His story was preserved (by more than one writer) so that you would read it.  We know that He came for you because He trained a small group of men to tell His story and establish churches so that His story would be passed down for you to hear.  We know that He came for you because He came for the sick and the imperfect...those who wrestle and struggle and need help (and that is you!).  We know that He came for you because He has plans to come back for you and take you home to Heaven, at just the perfect time, to be with Him forever.  We don't know when He'll come or when you will go, but He is ready to meet you, when you let Him know that you are ready to meet Him.   We know that Jesus came for you because you are the reason for His name...Jesus...means savior...or the one who saves...or the one who rescues.  He came to rescue you.  He didn't come to pass out awards for holy living and He didn't come to condemn you for your faults and failures.  It is because you have faults and you have failures that you need a Holy Rescue.  He is not waiting for you to live right and fix your life before you come to Him.  It is because you can't live right and you can't fix your life that you need this Heavenly Rescue.  We know that Jesus came for you and we hope, with all our hearts, that now you also know that He came, personally, for you.  Won't you let Him take your hand?  Won't you grab the life preserver that Jesus is throwing to you?  Won't you feel the tender love He holds for you.  Of course you aren't good enough...none of us is good enough.  That's why Jesus came for you...and for me.   He came, personally, for you.  Now you should go to Him.

Matthew 11:25 At that time Jesus answered and said, "I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. 26 Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. 27 All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. 28Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
blessings (remember, He came for you!),
Rob Smith

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

the long view

Earlier this week I took a ride through the country to explore some of the pretty locations on the Rappahannock River where it meets the Chesapeake Bay.  My truck followed country roads that sliced through large open fields with thick forests in the background.  I noticed that the edges of the fields that were closest to my truck raced by at the same speed I was traveling, while the trees behind the fields appeared to be passing much slower.  Of course the sense of speed was greatest next to the truck because that's where the vehicle and the road and the field were close together.  While the closer view provided a more accurate sense of speed, the longer view to the treeline and across the fields was more pleasant, as it seemed to linger longer.  I thought about the "short view" and the "long view" of life.  The short view might be life as it rushes past close to our personal experience.  The problems of work, the friction of relationship issues with family, friends and coworkers, worries about health and everything else that touches us in a close, or direct, way might be something like the edge of the field next to the truck.  It races by quickly and we don't have time to appreciate or focus on the view so close.  We may need to look to the longer view, back at the edge of the treeline, to see the beauty of the land we are traveling across.  Of course we need to keep our eyes on the road...but the trip is more satisfying as we also take in the background and the lay of the land.  It's what makes the trip more satisfying than just "getting there".

Proverbs 25: 3 Like the horizons for breadth and the ocean for depth,the understanding of a good leader is broad and deep.

Rob Smith

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What is permanent?

2 Peter 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. 11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?

We live in the context of routine.  In the midst of routine we view much of life as unchanging, fixed, permanent.  The passage above reminds us that very little that we consider permanent really is.  Certainly we see change in our lives and in the lives of every person we have known for any significant length of time.  The world around us may seem the most unchanging.  The possibility that weather patterns might gradually change is somewhat disturbing as it disturbs the comfort of our familiar world.  But, just as in the days of Noah, there is a promise of startling change looming ahead.  It will be a cataclysmic event that seems as hard to fathom as Creation, where God brought all that we see into being with a word.  I think that this passage is so difficult because it seems so final and so complete.  But then, we are also grateful for a salvation that is also final and complete and for an eternal destiny that lies beyond the familiar and beyond the limits of destruction.  We are grateful for the "rest of the promise" 13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

Our lives are not permanent on earth...Earth itself is not permanent.  But there is a home with the Permanent One and the quality of our lives may help others to come to this realization.
Rob Smith

Monday, December 13, 2010

by way of reminder...

2 Peter 1:12 For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth. 13 Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you, 14 knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me. 15 Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease.

Most of us know the power of "reminders".  Sometimes we stick "post-it" notes on our bathroom mirrors, or we leave library books to be returned next to our car keys, or we have alarms go off ahead of appointments on our electronic calendars.  My Mom used to say that if my head weren't sewn on, I'd lose it.  Peter knew that the believers of his time, as well as ours, would need reminding of the powerful truths of God.  So, in his second letter, he reminded them that.....

He actually heard the voice of God on the Mount of Transfiguration saying,  "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

The prophecies of Christ's coming were fulfilled, just as the prophets had spoken and written for hundreds of years.

All scripture was written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and that same Spirit will help us understand the meaning.

Just as there are true prophets and inspired truth, there are false prophets and teachers (even today) who are capable of deceiving us.

Unfortunately, some of these false teachers come from a background in the truth..but have abandoned it for the pleasures of controlling others through deception.

Scoffers will say that the world just "happened" and will always be here.  But we know that God made the world, preserves the world and will, one day, destroy this world and fashion a new Heaven and Earth (where righteousness will live). (scoffers also said it couldn't flood in the days of Noah!)

The best way to avoid deception is to spend time experiencing the Lord's presence and filling our minds with His truth.

The middle of "reminder" is the word "mind".  I think the key is to set our mind on the Lord (Peter would approve).
Rob Smith

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Lifelike Taxidermy

I was coming back from some time with the Lord at the Diascund Reservoir this morning.  Large flocks of geese bobbed on the reservoir surface contentedly or honked overhead as the gray of the new morning harmonized with the silvery surface of the water.  After spending some time in the book of 2nd Peter and contemplating the New Heaven and New Earth that one day will follow the fiery end of our current world, I headed home around the curves of familiar country roads.  I noticed a sign out of the corner of my eye "........'s Lifelike Taxidermy".  I thought about how interesting it is that people go to a lot of trouble and time to hunt beautiful animals so that, after they are dead, they can be made to look alive.  Wild game can be strikingly beautiful: deer, large birds and hawks, swordfish...They are so elusive and quick that we rarely can appreciate their beauty in life.  The taxidermist freezes and preserves the beauty, at the cost of the life.  People are also beautiful.  Inside and out they are the craft of the Creator.  We did not make ourselves and, in our rush, we may fail to appreciate the stunning beauty that God has imbued in our makeup.  Without being stuffed or mounted, many people are like walking products of a Taxidermist.  They are beautiful but they are without "real life".   Unlike the deer preserved by the owner of Lifelike Taxidermy, we human specimens have the opportunity of coming down off the wall and taking on life.  Peter describes this beautifully in 2nd Peter, chapter 1:19 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts;
Until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts we are like mounted deer...beautiful, but without life.  This is why Jesus take us off the wall and set our beauty into motion.

blessings to all the beautiful specimens out there,
Rob Smith

Friday, December 10, 2010

it starts and ends with love

2 Peter 1:7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.

Why is love last in the list?  Virtue, knowledge,self-control, perseverance, godliness, and brotherly kindness have preceded Peter's mention of that great quality: Love.  Perhaps it is because love is an attitude that underscores all of the traits and behavior that Peter has mentioned.  Love is more than an is the driving motivation that brought the Savior to earth and that brought us to the Savior.  Love should also motivate us toward the highest quality of relationship with our God and all others who walk the earth (and drive the interstate) with us.  So what is love?  Love is caring for someone else, when it is your nature to care only for yourself.  Love is putting others first.  Love is giving freely without expectation of return.  Love expands our world and, at the same time, draws it closer.  Love is a four letter word that is better demonstrated than spoken.  Love is the weave of life that pulls the threads of individuals into the fabric of eternity on the loom of our Lord.  

1 Corinthians 16:14 Let all that you do be done with love. 
Rob Smith

Thursday, December 9, 2010


2 Peter 1: 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.

We've been looking at the seven qualities and characteristics Peter exhorts us to diligently "add to our faith" from 2 Peter, chapter 1.  Virtue means to "do right".  Knowledge means to grow in "being right".  Self control is yielding to "God's control".  Perseverance means getting up when life knocks us down.  Godliness means to aspire to be like Him.  

Kindness has the same root as "kin" and captures the warmth that family members feel for each other.  So brotherly kindness means to treat others like family, even if they are brothers outside of family.  It may help to remember that Jesus wants us to be His brother as we obey the Father.
Matthew 12:50 "For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother."

Jesus' parable of the Good Samaritan may help us remember who our brothers (and neighbors) are.

Luke 10:9 But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" ........
36 So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?" 
37 And he said, "He who showed mercy on him." Then Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."

Regardless of the family size we come from, we have an opportunity to be family for many.  Jesus has made us brothers that we might also be brothers to others.
Rob Smith

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

to be like Him

2 Peter 1:6to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness,


–adjective, -li·er, -li·est.
conforming to the laws and wishes of God; devout; pious.
coming from God; divine

I remember when Michael Jordan was at his peak in basketball dominance.  His uncommon combination of skill and tenacious will to win was infectious.  Kids everywhere wanted to "be like Mike".  We want to be associated with a winner...We want to identify with a winner.  We want to be special and we want to be the best.  I think Godliness is something like this.  Having come into God's family through faith we have tasted His forgiveness and experienced a sense of transformation.  We've seen our God at work in the lives of others and we have read of His great works in His wonderful Book.  Now that have tasted His greatness we want to be as closely associated with Him as possible.  Wouldn't it be great if we felt as strongly about "being like Him" as many felt about "being like Mike"?  "What Would Jesus Do?" was a popular slogan a few years ago...It captured this identification with God.  If we want to know how to live, how to be, what to do and how to maximize and optimize our lives it just makes sense to get near our great God and allow Him to shape, direct and fill us so that we might be "like Him".

Romans 8:29 for whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.

blessings to the other brothers (and sisters too!),
Rob Smith