Monday, May 21, 2018

Fw: power of the Word

1 Peter 1:
23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24 for

"All flesh is like grass
    and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
    and the flower falls,
25 but the word of the Lord remains forever."

And this word is the good news that was preached to you.
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There is supernatural power that lives in God's Word.  We know from the Word, itself that it is:
-sharper than a surgeon's scalpel and able to pierce to the place that separates soul and spirit...able to discern the very intentions of the heart
-food...as necessary as bread to feed the soul and awaken the spirit
-instructs us, corrects us, realigns and restores us, guides us in our work and walk
-is sent out by God to accomplish His purposes...and succeeds in that mission
-able to open our eyes to our need for salvation
-His word is characterized as "spirit and life"
-is the fountain of faith...hearing the Word brings faith in the listener
It was God's Word that spoke creation into existence...and each of us is part of that spoken creation.  Jesus is described, Himself, as the Word of God in John 1.  He is the Word that was with the Father in the beginning and was the agent of Creation.  That Word was made flesh and lived among us.  And that Word brings Heaven's power to our flesh.
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When we read the Bible, we are looking into the face of Jesus.  We are hearing His voice.  We are exposed to His penetrating touch.
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And that Word will live on forever!
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blessings,
Rob Smith

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Fw: two paths

James 3:17 "But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere."
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Two forks in the road we walk each day...Self or Savior...
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The epistle of James maps out both paths and how they differ.  In the third chapter he sets up the "But..." that starts the first quote above with the previous verse:
James 3: 16 "For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice."
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A former pastor of mine used to say that sometimes we need a "checkup from the neck up".  We need to take stock of the central motivation of our lives.  If it drives out of lifting self above others that will lead to jealousy as we jostle to move ahead and compare ourselves with those we judge to have more or who stand in the way of that ambition.  If it's all about self, it becomes a narrow life that pulls down others to move self ahead.
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The other fork...the one less chosen...is a motivation that starts outside of self, from somewhere above.  Like light, it gains entrance from without and illuminates within.  Rather than the juggernaut of ambition there is the peaceful and steady flow of life, as a vine that bears fruit in its time.
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This is the way of Jesus, when He gains entrance to mind and heart and is embraced by choice and will.
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Matthew 11:28 "Come to me, all 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."
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blessings,
Rob Smith

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"Death is inevitable.  Life is a choice!"

John 11:25
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live."


Friday, May 18, 2018

Fw: a taste of Heaven

Hebrews 6:5 "and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come"
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Sometimes just a phrase in scripture captivates you.  The larger context of this quote from the book of Hebrews is discussing the need to grow to maturity once we have been born again by faith.  But, thinking back to my experience of "faith awakening", this phrase captures exactly what I experienced.  As Bible verses were shared with me I realized I was being fed in a deeper place than my stomach...fed with sweet truths.  Even the 'bad news' that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God", from Romans 3:23 and "the wages of sin is death" from Romans 6:23 provided a foundation that I knew was true...and the second half of Romans 6:23 "but the free gift of God is eternal life" then brought a sweet taste.  And the power of Heaven shook me to the core when this verse was read: 1 Timothy 2:5 "For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all".
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I felt the powers of the age to come stirring me to respond to my personal sin...to run from the consequence of death and embrace the one who had taken my place on the Cross.  
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I realized that this was a ransom I had to personally claim for it to apply to my life.
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And then I was reassured by John 1:12 " But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God;"
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I hope that you, too, have tasted the goodness of the word of God the powers of the age to come!
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blessings,
Rob Smith

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"Death is inevitable.  Life is a choice!"

John 11:25
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live."


Thursday, May 17, 2018

Fw: God and history

Romans 11:

25 Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written,

"The Deliverer will come from Zion,
    he will banish ungodliness from Jacob";
27 "and this will be my covenant with them

    when I take away their sins."

It's interesting that when God was in His temple ten of the twelve tribes of Israel broke away to make their own nation, only to be swept into captivity and never to be heard from again.  The remaining two tribes continued to keep the feasts and festivals and sacrifices of the law for a while and then, even they drifted into idolatry and away from God's law.  They were carried into exile, as well, by the Babylonians for 70 years but allowed to return by the Persian king Cyrus.  The nation of Israel came that close to complete disintegration.  Few, if any, cultures have maintained continuity for as long as Israel.  Having returned from that exile about 500 years before Christ, Israel had a renewed determination to rebuild the Temple and return to to God's law....and there have been two major results: (1) Jesus came from the line of David and the family of Judah, just as had been foretold and (2) The nation Israel persists to this day and God still has plans yet to be fulfilled through that nation.  As written in the passage from Romans above, "a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in."  We are living in that time when the fullness of the Gentiles is being completed...the formation of the Church...those who have come to faith in the Lord by his grace.  Amazingly, though Israel has largely not come to faith yet they persist as a nation and a culture...they have not disappeared or dissolved though there are strong forces that seek their destruction.
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God has preserved Israel for His purposes, which include their ultimate deliverance.  And this is a model for all...He has preserved your life and mine that we would come to the place of faith where we accept His covenant and have our sins taken away.  God will preserve what He chooses that His plans will be fulfilled...and no man or nation will alter that.
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blessings,
Rob Smith
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"Death is inevitable.  Life is a choice!"

John 11:25
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live."



Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Fw: all from His love...

Zephaniah 3:
17 The Lord your God is in your midst,
    a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
    he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.
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Zephaniah was a prophet in Judah around 630 B.C.  He spoke of a coming "day of the Lord" when God would come for two purposes: to judge the nation that had turned away from Him and also to show His ultimate mercy and love for his people.  It turns out that even the judgment was out of his great love.
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I believe that we, as his people today, can relate to these words as well.  On the grand scale and on the personal level...in the 'here and now' and the ultimate 'Day of the Lord' when Jesus returns....these are true words of encouragement.
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The Lord is our God...He is right in the middle of our hearts and of our communities...He is very very powerful and his power is ultimately directed to save..to deliver..to rescue...He loves us and celebrates our lives with joy in His heart...when we are troubled He quiets the storms within us, because of that love...He sings!  Yes He sings loudly with a full heart as He considers the great love He holds for us.
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Perhaps the thunder we have heard in recent nights is really His voice and the rain His touch...for "The Lord your God is in your midst...he will exult over you with loud singing"!
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blessings,
Rob Smith

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"Death is inevitable.  Life is a choice!"

John 11:25
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live."


Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Fw: first touch from Heaven

Ecclesiastes 11:As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything.
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What distinguishes man from animals is the spirit placed in every person that allows them to be God's image bearers.  That spirit has a sense of right and wrong.  It gives uniqueness to personality and carries characteristics of our Heavenly Creator...to also be creators and to appreciate what He has created.  This verse from Ecclesiastes tells us that something of the miraculous takes place in the womb as God touches the forming child and brings spiritual life to physical life.  We know that human life is more than the summation of anatomy and biochemistry.  The essence of human life is the spirit that "comes to the bones" before birth.  And that spiritual life will persist beyond the end of the physical.
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Then the question remains...during the seasons of that life on earth...will that one who has been touched by God in the womb return to the spirit's source in awe, in humility and in thankfulness?  For, though we "do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb" we can know the One who places that spirit there.
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blessings,
Rob Smith

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"Death is inevitable.  Life is a choice!"

John 11:25
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live."


Monday, May 14, 2018

Fw: Knowing God

Psalm 139 Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O Lordyou know it altogether.
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We talk about the wonder of having a personal relationship with God.  We are so thankful for the price Christ paid to restore us to direct contact and intimacy with God.  This morning, as I read Psalm 139, I was reminded that God already knew and already knows absolutely everything there is to know about myself and every other human being.  I believe that what God is after is a more complete relationship....that the people He made in His image would turn and face the One who knows all about them.  Later in the same psalm we are reminded that God formed all of our inward parts and knit us together within our mothers.  He not only knows all there is to know...He made all there is to us...physically, spiritually, emotionally.  And to top it off, He knows all of our days...He knew how many days we would live before we lived our first day!
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It only makes sense to want to also get to know this One.  Who better to come to with the pains, questions, failures and mysteries of life?  The One who made it all...also made all that there is to each of us!
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blessings,
Rob Smith

-------------------------------------------
"Death is inevitable.  Life is a choice!"

John 11:25
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live."