Tuesday, April 30, 2013

needed for flight

Our family is enjoying a family reunion at the Outer Banks of North Carolina this week.  It so happens that the place we're renting is not far from the Wright Brothers first flight memorial and park.  This morning I went for a jog and found myself over in that park.  I spied a life size sculpture of the first plane that depicted that first flight.  I pondered the challenges that the Wright brothers faced to conquer the problem of manned flight.  (By the way, did you know that the first successful flight only lasted 12 seconds!)  As I looked at the first plane all of the important elements were clearly visible.  They needed a source of power to propel the craft.  Then they needed a means of gaining lift to climb above the ground.  Lastly, they needed a way to control the side to side and up and down motion.  Three things were needed: power, lift and control.  These are the three elements each of us needs as well for flying the skies of eternity.  We need the power that only God can supply by is active Spirit, motivated by His great love.  We need the work of redemption through Jesus Christ to provide lift off the ground level of our sin nature.  We then need the control that comes from our dependence on the indwelling Holy Spirit to guide us in flight.  The Wright brothers conquered these three challenges with their first flight in December of 1903.  Have you found the power, received the lift and learned to trust in the control that God provides today and every day as we fly the grace-filled skies of Heaven?
Rob Smith

Sunday, April 28, 2013

room at the bottom

Upward we strive, day after day...
Climb to the top...the view's better they say...

Only the best succeed in their field,
To be number one (that's a really big deal!)

When you're on top others look up,
You speak and they move...
You call the shots!

When you are up you probly have more...
More money, more power...more of what life's for...

Have you discovered there's room on the ground?
Easier to relate to others I've found.

Since so many struggle to climb up the steps,
It's not hard to find those who feel they have slipt.

You may not command from the low place, it's true...
But love will bind others to you...like God's glue.

Matthew 20:28 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Rob Smith

Friday, April 26, 2013

Spiritual Secrets

This week our teacher in the Mini Bible College will share four spiritual secrets that any of us need to understand if we are going to play a role in God's deliverance of others.  These are the lessons that are illustrated in Moses' life as God prepares to send him to confront Pharaoh and secure the release of the Israelites.  It's also the same story that is illustrated in the life of the apostle Peter, very early in his relationship with Jesus through a fishing experience (Luke chapter 5).  The four spiritual secrets of being used effectively by God are: "You're not (the deliverer) but I am, says the Lord"; "You can't deliver anyone...but I can"; "You don't even want to be involved in the delivery...but I do!"; (and after a divine rescue takes place) "You didn't do that...It was I who did that through you."  Moses and Peter both have to come to the realization that there is something, and there is someone, much bigger than they are who is defining the challenge, empowering the agent and giving the result or bearing the fruit.  It seems to me that we tend to be very self centered.  Even when it comes to knowing the Lord and walking with the Lord, so often it seems to be about what will make me happy, fulfilled, full of peace, etc.  We seem to forget that God isn't primarily here for us...we're primarily here for Him!

I think that the one spiritual secret that brings home the four spiritual secrets above for me is that God wants to do something in me so that God can do something through me.  Despite the greatness of God, He chooses to show HImself through people like you and me.  That is a secret that motivates me in a deep way!

Exodus 3:Then the Lord told him, "I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries of distress because of their harsh slave drivers. Yes, I am aware of their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the power of the Egyptians and lead them out of Egypt into their own fertile and spacious land......10 Now go, for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You must lead my people Israel out of Egypt."
11 But Moses protested to God, "Who am I to appear before Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?"
12 God answered, "I will be with you. 

Rob Smith

Thursday, April 25, 2013

the process of maturing

Exodus 23:27 "I will send my terror ahead of you and create panic among all the people whose lands you invade. I will make all your enemies turn and run. 28 I will send terror ahead of you to drive out the Hivites, Canaanites, and Hittites. 29 But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals would multiply and threaten you. 30 I will drive them out a little at a time until your population has increased enough to take possession of the land."

Once we come to the Lord through the miracle of faith we may wonder why life doesn't clear up like a brilliant blue sky, with no hint of difficulty.  After all, have we not become the children of the Lord?  Have we not realized our need for the Lord and our failure to live rightly on our own?  I think this passage from Exodus shines some light on the process of spiritual maturity.  God is the one who drives our enemies away but He doesn't drive them all away immediately.  There is apparently a need for growth, tempering, maturing.  We are not immediately able to fully occupy all the space that the Lord has ultimately for us.  There will be confrontations and battles at each step along the way as we grow to the point where we are able to occupy more of His promised land.  We can find encouragement in the process of maturing...of becoming...of growing...and of the confidence we have in knowing that He is leading us each day, with a plan for an ultimate possession of His land.

love and blessings,
Rob Smith

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

God's handle

When I was a young man, CB radios were very popular.  They seemed to have their origin with semi tractors and movies like "Smokey and the Bandit" popularized them.  People installed them in their cars to communicate before the days of cell phones.  Truckers were known individually by colorful names that were called their "handle".  This was how drivers would call each other...by their "handle".  We are learning some of the names of God in the books of Genesis and Exodus.  You might say that these are God's "Handle".  You might picture several handles next to the door of a high semi tractor cab.  The driver could be pictured as God.  You want to climb up into the cab to be next to God so you start grabbing those handles and stepping up.  As you open the cab door and see God, He reaches over to grab you and pull you in.  You might think of the handles that you grab to be the names of God.  Some of those names include: All Powerful, Provider, God of your fathers, God who is always present, Deliverer.  As we step up to God's cab by grasping His handles we find that we can depend on His name to demonstrate His character and His nature.  Ultimately, as we enter the cab of His truck we become the handle that he grabs.  You might say that one of our handles is "Held by God"!

Exodus 3:15 God also said to Moses, "Say this to the people of Israel: Yahweh, the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.
This is my eternal name,
    my name to remember for all generations.

Rob Smith

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

...not our ways...

I've been listening to the story of the actual deliverance of the people of Israel from Egypt (Exodus chapters 12-14) this morning.  I encourage you to listen to the story...not just read it.  You can do this with the Bible Application called YouVersion.com which you can use on a computer, smart phone or tablet.  There is something special about hearing the story wash over you...  This morning I was struck with a few aspects of the story that show that this was God's plan of deliverance and it wasn't the way man would have done it!  The first thing I noticed was that when Pharaoh finally let the people go they didn't take the shortest path to escape Egypt.  God was leading them directly and He knew (as the text tells us) that the people of Israel would face the Philistines in a battle if they took the shortest path to freedom.  God knew that if the people faced a battle at this early stage, before they were truly united or organized, they would flee back to Egypt in fear.  So God led them through a rugged wilderness and then had them camp by the Red Sea shore.  I'm sure the people were wondering, "Now what!"  This morning it occurred to me that God could have parted the Red Sea right away and led the people through...but He waited.  The text tells us that God wanted Pharaoh to hear that the people had camped by the sea so that he would become angry and decide to trap them.  God was using deliverance as an opportunity for judgement, so that the army of Pharaoh would be swallowed by the waters of the Red Sea after the people of Israel had escaped across.  Deliverance accompanied by judgement....sounds like a picture of things to come...and the story and the illustrations continue!

Exodus 14 Then the Lord gave these instructions to Moses: "Order the Israelites to turn back and camp by Pi-hahiroth between Migdol and the sea. Camp there along the shore, across from Baal-zephon. Then Pharaoh will think, 'The Israelites are confused. They are trapped in the wilderness!' And once again I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and he will chase after you. I have planned this in order to display my glory through Pharaoh and his whole army. After this the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord!" So the Israelites camped there as they were told.

blessings to all those looking for and finding a personal Exodus!
Rob Smith

Monday, April 22, 2013

the promises of God

Exodus 6:"Therefore, say to the people of Israel: 'I am the Lord. I will free you from your oppression and will rescue you from your slavery in Egypt. I will redeem you with a powerful arm and great acts of judgment. I will claim you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God who has freed you from your oppression in Egypt. I will bring you into the land I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I will give it to you as your very own possession. I am the Lord!'"  (underlining mine)

I was struck with the great promises of God to the people of Israel as Moses was about to confront Pharaoh and begin the process of deliverance.  These promises track closely with the promises He has for those who put their faith in the work of Jesus, as well.  I'm sure that this is no coincidence or accident.  It is thrilling to summarize these underlined promises.  God will free us, rescue us from sin, claim us as His people, faithfully remain with us as God.  We will come to have a personal relationship and know Him.  Ultimately He will not only deliver us from sin...He will deliver us into an eternal dwelling place.  This place will be ours as surely as we are His...forevermore!

Rob Smith

Sunday, April 21, 2013

a powerful picture

We were talking this morning in our MIni Bible College class about the grand pictures that God paints in the Old Testament.  Through the character sketches and historical events of the Hebrew people we learn many things about God, about man and about the God-man relationship.  As we are now studying Exodus, the book whose title means "the way out" (or "Exit") we have also learned that it means "deliverance" or "salvation".  We were amazed to consider that God would demonstrate His awesome power to save us individually by delivering two to three million people at one time from slavery in Egypt.  If God is able to show them the Exit from slavery, He is able to deliver us from bondage from sin.  And that's exactly what happens for that great mass of humanity.  The most profound aspect of this for me is that God would care as much about me individually as He would about millions of people.  He cares so much for me (and for you) that He gave us a painting...a living historical picture... of his power to save on that grand scale.  And I believe that the deliverance of each one of us individually is just as grand!

Hebrews 11:27 It was by faith that Moses left the land of Egypt, not fearing the king's anger. He kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible. 28 It was by faith that Moses commanded the people of Israel to keep the Passover and to sprinkle blood on the doorposts so that the angel of death would not kill their firstborn sons.
29 It was by faith that the people of Israel went right through the Red Sea as though they were on dry ground.

Blessings...and it is by faith that we put our trust in Jesus, our deliverer from the bondage of sin!
Rob Smith

Saturday, April 20, 2013

building a nation

Getting perspective from the Old Testament seems to depend upon the truth that the stories and characters and events portrayed are examples, illustrations, and warnings we can learn from and apply in our lives.  The Old Testament still testifies to the important truths about God and about us.  We are now in the book of Exodus, the story of a people who started as a family that grew into a nation.  It occurred to me this morning that one of the forces that formed the nation was oppression.  For four hundred years the people of Israel, descendants of Jacob, were foreigners in Egypt.  Pharaoh felt threatened by their rapid expansion and prosperity and so he enslaved them.  From his standpoint he eliminated a potential danger to his authority and he also secured manpower to build his cities...a win-win from his point of view.  But in a "back door" kind of way he preserved family purity for the most part among the people of Israel.  Who among the Egyptians would want to associate with a people who were so despised and so treated as slaves?  Consequently, over the course of 400 years as the people of Israel expanded there would have been little intermarriage or intercultural exchange.  Over the course of the same period of time if the people of Israel had remained in their homeland they might well have become dispersed and diluted and lacked a clear identity.  So in a strange way, living as strangers in a land as slaves preserved and established Israel with a cohesive identity with the strength of character that can only come through suffering.  In our day Christians are becoming despised and characterized as "dinosaurs" of civilization among developed nations of the world.  In other places they are overtly tortured and imprisoned for their convictions and faith.  There is persecution of these children of God and one result is that God is separating a people for himself...a nation of believers across time and distance.  We may wonder sometimes why Jesus hasn't returned yet.  The people of Israel may have wondered for 400 years why they were in slavery when they had been given the promise of freedom and prosperity in their own land.  I think the example we find in Exodus tells us that there is purpose in the passage of time and that God's plans will show that purpose and be fulfilled, just as they were as Exodus unrolled.

1 Corinthians 10:11 These things happened to them as examples for us. They were written down to warn us who live at the end of the age.

Revelation 15:They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying:
"Great and marvelous are Your works,
Lord God Almighty!
Just and true are Your ways,
O King of the saints!

Rob Smith

Friday, April 19, 2013

divine distraction

The past two Wednesday's I have been in the local urgent care...a place I do not like to go.  The first Wednesday I accompanied my dear wife to obtain some relief for her migraine headache.  That was a very successful visit and she is doing well.  This week I decided to drop in for myself.  Unusual and persistent abdominal pain was the cause and I thought the appendix might be acting up.  The doctor ruled that out but was concerned that there might be something more serious going on and so I stayed for a cat scan and blood work.  Needless to say I was much in prayer and in the word (Bible on my smart phone) during that three hour period.  It turned out to be a false alarm...some necessary bacteria seem to have gone on vacation in the digestive tract and things were acting up.  But I realized that when there is uncertainty and concern and unknowns about our health on a personal level the Lord really gets our attention.  He may allow distress and illness to come into our lives as a "divine distraction" to break us out of routines that aren't entirely focused on Him.  We realize that, ultimately, we really don't control our lives, or even understand what is happening to us at times.  When our body is affected and afflicted one lesson we may learn is that He not only knows what is happening, He is in control of what is happening and He is aware of our concerns, and.....best of all...He will be with us through the experience and greet us on the far side (whether here or in a better place) and we will never, ever be apart!

Romans 8:38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love.

Rob Smith

Thursday, April 18, 2013


I look within but find therein confusion more than peace.
I look around; no peace is found as others seek relief.
I look above and find your love, an anchor from on high.

Pure are the thoughts that start with You and fresh you answer back.
Clean is the heart with mind that dwells on truth from Heaven's track.
Still is the soul that gives control to Maker, Lord and King.
Free is the one surrenders all to bow and then to sing.

When trouble comes from any source I stop and face the sky
One thought on You, sincere and true, and I will be all right.

Psalm 85:10 
Unfailing love and truth have met together.
    Righteousness and peace have kissed!

Rob Smith

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Cues to character

Exodus 2:11 Many years later, when Moses had grown up, he went out to visit his own people, the Hebrews, and he saw how hard they were forced to work. During his visit, he saw an Egyptian beating one of his fellow Hebrews. 12 After looking in all directions to make sure no one was watching, Moses killed the Egyptian and hid the body in the sand.

Exodus 2:16 Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters who came as usual to draw water and fill the water troughs for their father's flocks. 17 But some other shepherds came and chased them away. So Moses jumped up and rescued the girls from the shepherds. Then he drew water for their flocks.

There may have been some early cues to the character of Moses.  From the two incidents above we see that Moses had some kind of inner sense of justice and a heart to deliver from harm.  The first incident, where he ends up killing an Egyptian, shows his passion for his people but it also shows a lack of restraint.  The second incident shows his concern even for strangers in a foreign land.  Perhaps we see cues to our own character and our own spiritual gifts from God.  Compassion, hospitality, service...there may be many heavenly jewels buried within the rough soil of our makeup.  But perhaps we, like Moses, need some tempering...some maturing...some direct guidance from the Lord to refine the ore that contains those gifts.  Perhaps we can begin by recognizing that the Lord desires to reach others through our lives.  The experiences we encounter and endure may often be part of God's process of refinement to ultimately find an effective place of life service for Him.  It will be interesting to see  how God shapes Moses life in the story of Exodus!

Rob Smith

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

saving faith

Exodus 1:22 Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: "Throw every newborn Hebrew boy into the Nile River. But you may let the girls live."

Exodus 2:The woman became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She saw that he was a special baby and kept him hidden for three months. But when she could no longer hide him, she got a basket made of papyrus reeds and waterproofed it with tar and pitch. She put the baby in the basket and laid it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile River.

Hebrews 11:23 It was by faith that Moses' parents hid him for three months when he was born. They saw that God had given them an unusual child, and they were not afraid to disobey the king's command.

The story of Exodus begins with an unusual early deliverance...not of a people, but of a baby.  Moses never would have grown up to become the leader and deliverer of Israel if his parents had not had faith...a special inner sense from God...that they should take extraordinary steps to first save their child.  Characteristically, their faith leads to an unusual plan that reflects the wisdom of God to turn evil around for good.  The very family of Pharaoh, who has ordered the deaths of all Hebrew boys, becomes the means of survival and of early life preparation for Moses.  I'm not sure how meaningful it is, but Moses had an older brother named Aaron (three years older) who also survived and later teamed up with Moses, but who had a very different early life as he apparently remained in the home of his parents.  It was the faith of his parents before him that created the opportunity for Moses to both survive and grow according to the plan of God to fulfill the purposes of God.  Who knows what may be the result downstream of our obedience to the inner call of faith and the response of obedience as we, day by day, seek to hear and follow the Lord!

Rob Smith

Monday, April 15, 2013

the silent times

We are reading through the Bible and looking for truths that we can absorb and apply in our lives.  We have just finished Genesis and are transitioning to Exodus.  In Genesis God establishes a special relationship with one man, Abraham, and his descendants.  He protects them, provides for them, and promises them a place that will be their own.  Along the way these people go through difficult times, which cause them to grow in their knowledge and trust in God.  By the end of Genesis the one man has multiplied into twelve households and they are now living in Egypt to survive a famine in their homeland.  There is a gap of 400 years from the end of Genesis to the start of Exodus.  During this time the twelve households have grown to a few million people, who all could trace their heritage to Abraham.  The people have become enslaved by Pharaoh, king of Egypt, because he feels threatened by their numbers and they are of a different culture.  There is no Bible book that speaks to this time period...this 400 year period which is about the same length of time since Jamestown was first settled to the present day in our own country.  What if we hadn't heard from God for such a long time?  Would we still believe His promises?  I think there are times in our own lives when we may think God has left us...there may be "silent times".  But God has purposes even in these silent times.  In fact, it is during the silent times that we especially need to cherish the promises of God.  Just as God had purpose in allowing the Hebrews to endure hardship and multiply for such a long time, so He always has purpose across time, even when He seems silent.  It is in the silence that the promises speak loudest.  And when God breaks the silence with action and intervention the promises are confirmed and the faith which has carried us is increased and forges character and commitment to Him.

Job 32:16 
Should I continue to wait, now that you are silent?
    Must I also remain silent?

Job 35:14 
You say you can't see him,
    but he will bring justice if you will only wait.

Rob Smith

Saturday, April 13, 2013

preparation for leadership

The Joseph of Genesis became the 2nd highest ruler of all Egypt...appointed by Pharaoh to rule the land as his governor.  This was quite a promotion for a Hebrew who had started his time in Egypt as a slave and then progressed to several years in prison with hard core criminals.  This wasn't exactly the kind of resume that typically leads to the highest of government positions.  So how are we to understand that Joseph reached the pinnacles of power?  Are there lessons for success that we can apply?  I think there are two lessons.  Firstly, Joseph never appeared to seek position or power.  It found him.  Secondly, Joseph experienced the personal power of God in his life and was humbled by that reality.  He was a humble man who knew that God was his source of strength, God was his protector and provider and God had a plan for his life.  This deep trust in God provided vision that Joseph clung to even when his closest family denied him and sold him into slavery.  Because of his personal bond with God, Joseph never felt abandoned or alone, even when he was a foreigner in Egypt, a slave in the house of Potiphar, or a prisoner who had been innocently condemned.  When he was given an opportunity to show God's truth and reveal the meaning of important dreams to Pharaoh he refused to take credit, when perhaps he could, because he was keenly aware that God had not only been real in his life...God was absolutely aware of everything he thought, said and did...and Joseph knew that his greatest strength came from completely leaning on God.  Joseph's ambition was a simple one...trust God, obey God, walk with God.

Perhaps we can benefit from this example as we walk through the circumstances of our lives as well.

Genesis 41:14 Pharaoh sent for Joseph at once, and he was quickly brought from the prison. After he shaved and changed his clothes, he went in and stood before Pharaoh. 15 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, "I had a dream last night, and no one here can tell me what it means. But I have heard that when you hear about a dream you can interpret it."
16 "It is beyond my power to do this," Joseph replied. "But God can tell you what it means and set you at ease."

Rob Smith

Friday, April 12, 2013

Group think

There are certainly a number of great lessons and examples and warnings to learn from as we listen and read through the story of Joseph in Genesis, chapters 37-50.  One illustration that stands out to me is the danger of "group think" vs "God think".  Joseph seems to be unique among the twelve sons of Jacob.  He has an independent and firm faith in God and takes guidance directly from God.  His trust is so complete that he seems unafraid of whatever others might do to him and he experiences God's presence and provision whether he is thrown into a well to die, sold into slavery, wrongly imprisoned, or placed in the highest levels of government.  He has learned that God is with him.  On the other hand, Joseph's 11 brothers seem to move as a mob through life.  Rather than looking up for guidance and trust, they seem to depend on each other.  This leads to schemes, rumors, sinful errors and a lack of peace.  Whether they are deciding together to dispose of Joseph and lie to their father, or earlier when they decided to wipe out all the men of a village for the sin of one man in that village, or even when their father Jacob dies at the end of the story and they still haven't learned to know and trust Joseph....they are characterized by "group think".  I think we are challenged to develop a personal relationship with the living God, as Joseph had.  The group thinks that its collective wisdom is where safety is found, but the group is like a herd of lost sheep that is bound to run together over a cliff.  Joseph knew that even if others threw him off a cliff, his God would never leave him.

Genesis 45:3 "I am Joseph!" he said to his brothers. "Is my father still alive?" But his brothers were speechless! They were stunned to realize that Joseph was standing there in front of them."Please, come closer," he said to them. So they came closer. And he said again, "I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into slavery in Egypt. But don't be upset, and don't be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives."

Rob Smith

Thursday, April 11, 2013


Clean, your name is fresh and light...
Clean, this heart can sing.

Clean, you put all fears to flight...
Clean, now fit for spring.

Clean, heart scrubbed with Heaven's soap...
Clean, now filled with Heaven's hope...

Clean, refreshed with water pure...
Clean, now walk with Him secure.

Clean, now fill with fruit of life...
Clean, we'll walk in step...in stride

Clean, You've made me new to see...
Clean, washed for eternity.

Ephesians 5:25 For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her 26 to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God's word. 27 He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault.

Rob Smith

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

faith and grace

There are three main character sketches in the book of Genesis that teach us important spiritual truths.  Abraham, Jacob and Joseph each take up about 1/4 of the book and their lives illustrate two important concepts that deal with the the God/man relationship.  Abraham's life illustrates what faith looks like and how a man can know God through the trust attitude that faith is.  Jacob's life illustrates what grace looks like and how it shows up even before a man has a faith relationship.  Jacob also shows what it looks like when a man learns that he isn't the "mover and shaker" that makes his life happen.  Joseph's life illustrates an ideal picture of what it looks like when faith and grace combine in the heart of a man who has established his faith-trust early and learned to allow the grace of God to rule his life.  The story of Joseph is the last story, I believe, because this is the picture that God would have us remember as the ideal.  The sooner we learn that God is the ultimate reality and God is the ultimate authority and the sooner we place total trust in Him, the sooner our lives will display and contain the peace and purpose that are intended and that we desire.

Rob Smith

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Lion of Judah

Genesis 43:Judah said to his father, "Send the boy with me, and we will be on our way. Otherwise we will all die of starvation—and not only we, but you and our little ones. I personally guarantee his safety. You may hold me responsible if I don't bring him back to you. Then let me bear the blame forever.

Genesis 44:32 My lord (speaking to Joseph), I guaranteed to my father that I would take care of the boy. I told him, 'If I don't bring him back to you, I will bear the blame forever.'
33 "So please, my lord, let me stay here as a slave instead of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers. 34 For how can I return to my father if the boy is not with me? I couldn't bear to see the anguish this would cause my father!"

Genesis 49:
"Judah, your brothers will praise you.
    You will grasp your enemies by the neck.
    All your relatives will bow before you.
Judah, my son, is a young lion
    that has finished eating its prey.
Like a lion he crouches and lies down;
    like a lioness—who dares to rouse him?
10 The scepter will not depart from Judah,
    nor the ruler's staff from his descendants,
until the coming of the one to whom it belongs,
    the one whom all nations will honor.

I used to wonder why Jesus could trace His human ancestry back to Judah.  It always seemed to me that it should have been Joseph.  Joseph seemed more Christ-like...more pure...more full of faith.  But why Judah.  Then, after hearing the story once again I began to realize that Judah reflects the purpose for Christ's coming and epitomizes His identify.  Judah was a man with a mix of good intentions while also falling into sin.  He is a good picture of "every man"...like you and like me.  But Judah has some kind of transformation of character.  When it comes time for one of the brothers to lay his life on the line for the survival of the entire family, it is Judah who steps forward and places his life as the guarantee...as the substitute to preserve the life of another.  I think this is why Jacob revealed in his blessing that it would be through the line of Judah that the lion of Judah would come one day.  Judah is a picture of what Christ does in the life of a man who is both sinner and saint, saved by grace!

Rob Smith

Monday, April 8, 2013

getting acquainted

It occurs to me that the primary use of time should be to get better acquainted with God.  This only makes sense because each of us will eventually live in the place where time no longer exists and then our experience will be filled with His presence.  It seems to me that if we develop a close friendship with God here and now then two things will develop: (1) Our desire to be with Him will only increase through the balance of our lives and (2) When we see Him, our hearts will be overwhelmed.
We've all seen the video footage of the homecoming of troops who have been deployed in dangerous places for extended periods.  We've seen how the families have run to their spouse and parent and how they have embraced, with grateful hearts as the separation is finally over.  That is how I would like for it to be when I am finally free of earthly bonds.  I hope that I run to the arms of Jesus and feel His embrace in a similar way. 
So now is the time to develop the kind of relationship with Father and Son, through their Holy Spirit.  We are not home yet and we are not fully restored to the immediate presence of our eternal family....but we will be!

Now is the time to make the knowing of God our number one priority!

Romans Therefore, since we have been made right in God's sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God's glory.

Rob Smith

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Heaven here

Genesis 28:12 As he slept, he dreamed of a stairway that reached from the earth up to heaven. And he saw the angels of God going up and down the stairway....16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, "Surely the Lord is in this place, and I wasn't even aware of it!" 17 But he was also afraid and said, "What an awesome place this is! It is none other than the house of God, the very gateway to heaven!"

This day I walk in Heaven's sight,
though I don't live that way...

I think I move in life by self...
My strength, my path...just me...

But Jacob's dream reminds that,
angels are moving near and

God is active all around...He's there,
and He is here.

The very thought of Heaven close
affects my view of life,

The door to all that God indwells,
is here...

Where dreams find light.

Rob Smith

Saturday, April 6, 2013

unseen construction

Psalm 139:13 
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother's womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
    as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.

Unseen behind God's factory wall, construction's going on.
No noisy hammers can be heard as parts are forged and formed.
The blueprint came from before time, drawn from the Master's mind.
Now substance given to bring forth life...a babe will walk in light.
What we can't see we humbly know is far beyond man's doing,
A person taking shape within a mother's body...growing.
The weaver of such wondrous work is knitting parts together.
Young parents' hearts are awed to become father now and mother.
But unseen work is being done to add to flesh and face...
and even after birth takes place, the unseen part awaits,
the miracle of "forever life" when grace is kissed by faith.
(to unborn children everywhere)
love and blessings,
Rob Smith

Friday, April 5, 2013

relative living

Genesis 34 One day Dinah, the daughter of Jacob and Leah, went to visit some of the young women who lived in the area. But when the local prince, Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, saw Dinah, he seized her and raped her....Hamor tried to speak with Jacob and his sons. "My son Shechem is truly in love with your daughter," he said. "Please let him marry her. In fact, let's arrange other marriages, too. You give us your daughters for our sons, and we will give you our daughters for your sons....14 They said to them, "We couldn't possibly allow this, because you're not circumcised. It would be a disgrace for our sister to marry a man like you! 15 But here is a solution. If every man among you will be circumcised like we are, 16 then we will give you our daughters, and we'll take your daughters for ourselves....22 But they (Jacob's family) will consider staying here and becoming one people with us only if all of our men are circumcised, just as they are. 23 But if we do this, all their livestock and possessions will eventually be ours.

There is an account in Genesis 34 of the one daughter of Jacob (who had twelve sons).  As they live in a foreign place, the one daughter, Dinah, is raped by the son of the area's ruler.  Rather than being punished for this grievous sin and crime the son and his father seek to strike a deal.  In fact, they see opportunity to ultimately steal all of Jacob's property and make it their own.  As a result, the table is turned and they are the ones who ultimately lose all their property and even their lives.  It seems to me that Shechem and Hamor reflect what life can look like when you live in a realm where justice is not connected to righteousness.  When there is no justice or punishment for wrong than we easily justify even our worst actions because we have made self more important than anything else.  The actions of Jacob's sons in the story are certainly cruel, but they are the direct result of a failure to directly address a serious wrong.  Truly, God is not only sovereign over all...He is the anchor of our lives and the one who holds the fabric of society together.

Rob Smith

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Jacob holds on

Genesis 32 As Jacob started on his way again, angels of God came to meet him. When Jacob saw them, he exclaimed, "This is God's camp!" So he named the place Mahanaim.....24 This left Jacob all alone in the camp, and a man came and wrestled with him until the dawn began to break. 25 When the man saw that he would not win the match, he touched Jacob's hip and wrenched it out of its socket. 26 Then the man said, "Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!"
But Jacob said, "I will not let you go unless you bless me."
27 "What is your name?" the man asked.
He replied, "Jacob."
28 "Your name will no longer be Jacob," the man told him. "From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won."

Jacob has spent 20 years working for a bigger rascal than himself, named Laban.  Now he is returning home, as God has directed him, with his large family of 11 sons and four wives (a story in itself!).  But he has one great challenge ahead.  He must face the brother he deceived and stole a birthright and a father's blessing from.  His brother Esau's anger was what drove Jacob away to begin with.  But God has told Jacob that he will be safe and Jacob is proceeding out of obedience, though with great trepidation.  Just before he would face Esau, Jacob has a night alone and encounters God in a wrestling match (perhaps an early showing of Jesus, or perhaps an angel).  They wrestle all night and neither can prevail until the heavenly being puts Jacob's hip out of socket.  The interesting thing to me is that, at that point, Jacob doesn't give up...instead he holds on!  Rather than separate himself as the loser in the contest, he insists that he won't let go, even though he can no longer wrestle and no longer win.  He has come to believe that only God can bless him and so he won't let go without a blessing.  Then Jacob learns that holding onto God when you can no longer wrestle is the key, itself, to blessing.  And his name is changed by the heavenly being to Israel as Jacob has learned to no longer wrestle with men in his own strength and no longer to expect to outmatch God in his own strength...but to acknowledge that he is a man who limps and finds blessing by holding onto God and God's strength.

blessings from another who limps and leans on God!
Rob Smith