Thursday, September 10, 2015

the point of belief

  John 20:8-9 Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead.

They had walked with him for three years.  They had seen miraculous healings, water changed to wine, bread and fish multiplied.  They had heard him say that he would die and be raised again in three days.  Yet, when the resurrection took place they were startled and amazed.  It is fascinating to consider what it takes for us to believe...really grasp the reality of who the Lord is and what He has done.
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We have to move from a "head knowledge" of Jesus as a character we have heard about and even read about to a "heart knowledge" that grasps how He directly impacts our lives on the most personal level.
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We may have know about Jesus for our entire lives but we have not "come to know him" until we realize that the resurrection really represents our own personal passage from death to life.
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blessings,
Rob Smith

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

first words

  The first words...first things Jesus had to say after the resurrection...have to be worth considering.  What would Jesus say to the ones who had been closest to Him after defeating death?  In the book of John (chapter 20) we see the first person that Jesus spoke with was Mary Magdalene.  She was upset when Jesus was missing from the tomb and, mistaking Jesus for a gardener, asked where the body had been taken.  Jesus speaks her name to let her know it is he.  Right away He gives her a job to do!  She is sent to tell the disciples a message: "I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God."  Later that same day Jesus went through a locked door and appeared in the midst of the disciples.  He showed the marks of the nails in His hands and the spear wound in His side and said, "Peace be with you.  As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you."  And then he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit". 
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When Jesus comes to us he knows our name, just like Mary.  He calls us personally, in the same way.  And as He did with Mary and the disciples He establishes His identity, speaks peace, provides His Spirit to accompany us and gives us a job to do.  After He told them to receive the Holy Spirit He identified the mission they were being sent on.  It was the ministry of forgiveness...the mission He had come to fulfill in our midst. He said, "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld."  We are either on the mission to continue the work of forgiveness or we are not. 
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He speaks our names, brings His peace, equips us and sends us to tell others. 
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blessings,
Rob Smith

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

as the sun traces the day

  1 John 2:17 "And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever."
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How does the "world pass away"?  It occurred to me that the world passes away in a similar way to each day passing away.  We say that the sun rises and sets because the sun appears to move through the sky, but we know that the sun is not moving.  The earth is turning and gives the appearance of the sun in motion.  When we hear that the "world is passing away", it is true that the world itself is aging and ultimately will wear out but I think the meaning here is that each of our lives are passing as we live them out on the earth.  When we read that "the world is passing away" we really understand that our life on the earth and in the world is passing.  We are growing, not only older, but closer to the end of our time riding planet earth and surrounded by all the influences and temptations and challenges of this life.  We see the marks of this in our personal lives.  Time doesn't stand still and life has seasons for each of us.  This is the plan of God.  But there is a forever place...a place that lies beyond the grip of time... and we have the opportunity to be in that place.  We need to replace the love of this place (which has the appearance of going on and on) for the place that will go on forever.  That's why the exhortation of 1 John 2:15-16 is so vital: "Do not love the world or the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world-the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride of life-is not from the Father but is from the world."
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blessings,
Rob Smith

Sunday, September 6, 2015

prophecy

  It's like a book that has been written and now has been made into a movie...that's how history is playing out.  The book has already been written and the story is unfolding before us.  How else could one explain the tunic of Jesus?  The tunic of Jesus was taken at his crucifixion and the four Roman soldiers who divided his clothing did not want to tear the tunic.  They cast lots for it.  This was a fulfillment of prophecy from Psalm 22, verse 18.  And what a convincing fulfillment...after all, what possible motive would these four Roman soldiers have to fulfill (or even know about) a prophecy concerning Jesus.  Sometimes it is the small things that reveal the large things.  God's story has been written and now is unfolding.  Do you sense your place to respond in faith and bow before the writer?
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Psalm 22:18 (written by David after he had escaped King Saul)
They divide my garments among them, And for my clothing they cast lots.
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John 19:23
Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments and made four parts, to each soldier a part, and also the tunic.  Now the tunic was without seam, woven from the top in one piece.  They said therefore among themselves, "Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be," that the Scripture might be fulfilled which says: "They divided My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots."
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blessings,
Rob Smith

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Where are you from?

  It's interesting to hear someone speaking with an accent and then try to guess where they are from...whether it's a part of our country or someplace abroad.  I don't know if Jesus spoke with an accent but when Pilate was interrogating him the question was posed to Jesus, "Where are you from?" (John 19:9).   Pilate had already questioned Jesus and come to the conclusion that he wasn't guilty of anything.  But the priests insisted that Jesus be crucified for claiming he was the Son of God.  So Pilate actually started becoming a little anxious.  Apparently he'd never run into a scenario quite like this.  He was used to clear cut loyalties...in today's terms everyone was either a Democrat or Republican...or in those days a Jew or a Roman...but Pilate couldn't place just where Jesus fit in.  Jesus didn't seem to be associated with the familiar political bodies.  I believe that when Pilate asked Jesus, "Where are you from?" he was trying to get a read on where Jesus' loyalties were and generally they were associated with where you were from.
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It occurs to me that "where we are from" says a lot about "what we are for".  Are we following a large crowd or are we walking in the shadow of Jesus?  Do the actions of our lives and the accent of our speech reflect the reality of his presence?  When it comes to hard choices and ultimate loyalties...what are our choices and where are our loyalties?  If we were interrogated by Pilate would he wonder where we were from as well?
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blessings,
Rob Smith

Friday, September 4, 2015

Jesus' prayer for you

  If you have come to know Jesus personally, as your savior, you can trace your faith to a prayer he made on your behalf.  It is recorded in the book of John, chapter 17:
Verse 20: "I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me."
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Jesus is about to be betrayed by Judas...He knows the soldiers are coming for him...and yet he is praying for his disciples and for us who would eventually believe in him.  Jesus seemed to be always thinking about His Father and about us and about how to bring us to the Father and how to bring the Father to us.
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And now we who have believed are the carriers of these truths...that others might believe through our sharing of the word with them.  For there are others for whom Jesus prayed in chapter 17 that must hear and believe!
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blessings,
Rob Smith

Thursday, September 3, 2015

couldn't follow Jesus

 
Jesus was all about having his disciples follow him...that's really what it meant to be a disciple...to follow Jesus.  As Jesus launched his ministry and assembled the disciples we see this:
John 1:43 'The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee.  He found Philip and said to him, "Follow me." '
Jesus described himself as the shepherd of a flock in chapter 10 (verse 4): 'When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.'
and there is a discipline of following Jesus that is vital to growth and effectiveness:
John 12:26 'If anyone serves me, he must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also.  If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.'
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So it was a little surprising when Jesus told his disciples that they couldn't follow him late in his earthly ministry.
John 13:36 'Simon Peter said to him, "Lord where are you going?"  Jesus answered him, "Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward."
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After following Jesus for three years they were instructed not to follow...actually they were unable to follow...Jesus as he went to be crucified.  Only he could go through that awesome sacrifice and suffering to pave the way for Peter and all of us, who have trusted in Jesus, to follow afterward.
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After Jesus was resurrected he reappeared to the disciples and gave them instructions to carry on after he would leave them.  Once again he instructed them to follow:
He gave Peter instructions personally in John 21:19 '(This he said to show by what kind of death he (Peter) was to glorify God.)  And after saying this he said to him, "Follow me."
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Jesus went the one place we cannot follow in order to make it possible to follow him in this life and beyond to be with him in eternity.
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blessings,
Rob Smith

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

His love for us

  The gospel of John, 11th chapter, tells the miracle of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.  As I listened to the story this morning I was struck with the miracle of Jesus' great love for people...for individuals...for ones just like you and me.  Several times in this chapter we are given insight into the emotions and feelings of love and compassion that Jesus has for us:
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Verse 5 "Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus."
Verse 11"...Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him."
Verse 33 "When Jesus saw her (Mary) weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled."
Verses 35-36 "Jesus wept.  So the Jews said, 'See how he loved him!'
Verse 39 Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb."
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I was reminded that Jesus sees us also, individually, and he loves us deeply and personally.  He identifies with our pains and our losses.  He feels our grief.  He is motivated to bring us out into life and away from death.  Just as he restored Lazarus to life, so he will restore each of us to eternal life if we believe and trust in him.  He is our savior and he is the one who truly and deeply loves us.
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blessings,
Rob Smith

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Fw: finding the way


----- Forwarded Message -----
From: Rob Smith <toanosmith@yahoo.com>
To: Rob Smith <rsmith@mycwa.com>
Sent: Tuesday, September 1, 2015 7:34 AM
Subject: finding the way

 I really like using GPS when I'm traveling.  I just enter the destination...my phone already knows where I am...and the system almost instantly computes the best route to take and how long the trip should take.  It even shows accidents and slowdowns that lie along the path.  As I follow the directions, the system prepares me for the next turn and ensures I know how to make the course changes.  If I get off track, or make a detour for food or gasoline, it helps me get back on track.  One of the things Jesus was communicating to His disciples during the final supper before His crucifixion was that He was going away but that He wasn't going to leave them permanently.  He told them (John 14:4 "And you know the way to where I am going.").  As the disciples tried to program this into their GPS systems they came up short.  They didn't really understand where He was going at all.  Here's what one disciple said (John 14:5) Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going.  How can we know the way?"  With our smart phones we have to start with the destination for the system to compute the best route.  But with Jesus the destination and the route are really wrapped up together.  We don't have to find Heaven using GPS, or by studying maps, or by trying to live a certain way...that we think will get us there.  Jesus is like the sure guide on a tour.  If we are with the guide, we will find our way...we just need to ride with Him.  Jesus put it this way (John 14:6), "I am the way, and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me." 
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Once we have been found, we are never lost again!
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blessings,
Rob Smith


Thursday, August 20, 2015

eternal beings

 
It occurred to me yesterday that we should not be strangers to each other.  After all, each of us has a common destiny.  No matter what our background or our place in this life we all, one day, will stand before the one true God.  We all were built for eternity.  We all walk through the seasons of life here on the planet.  We all face the problems that come with that life...
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We should not be...we must not be strangers to each other.  In a sense we are travelers together in this train car of time.  And time passes like miles flying outside our train window as we all head to our eternal destiny.
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We must not be strangers to each other.
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Perhaps, as we interact with each other...even in common daily ways...we can remember our ultimate futures and perhaps we can see each other with greater love and depth and care.  Perhaps we can surprise others by showing more interest than is commonly expected. 
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Perhaps we can reduce the number of strangers around us now so that we'll recognize more friends in eternity one day!
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Matthew 25:38
And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?
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blessings, friends!
Rob Smith

Monday, August 17, 2015

uphill both ways

  I like to jog a backwoods road because it is away from traffic and buried in nature.  Also, it is heavily shaded and that makes a big difference on a hot afternoon.  The biggest challenge, though, is that the way out on this run is pretty much all uphill after the first half mile.  I can feel my breathing becoming labored as the trail progresses and I just hope I can keep going till the end of the climb.  But I realized yesterday that much of the way back also seemed uphill to me!  Some of the flatter stretches on the way out now seemed decidedly like climbs when I was tired.  "Both ways uphill"...reminded me of jokes about older generations walking to school on that kind of road! 
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Life can seem this way sometimes...both ways uphill.  Sometimes you seem to climb one hill only to find another one and every turn you make leads to another hill to climb.  But then you are reminded of a few other realities:  The view around you is beautiful and you are not alone.  Your creator is also your savior and helper and He is with you every step of the way.  And the challenge of the hills you climb is making a difference in your spiritual health and giving you the conditioning needed to make it all the way to the finish line.
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Hebrews 12:1,2 (part)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith...who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross... 
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blessings,
Rob Smith

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

From: Rob Smith

Good afternoon contact

 

 

http://solinfoservice.com/economy.php?cool=pxammyszxsfphqczq

 

 

 

 

 

contact
toanosmith@yahoo.com

Monday, August 3, 2015

Fw: weed by a gravel road


----- Forwarded Message -----
From: Rob Smith <toanosmith@yahoo.com>
To: Rob Smith <rsmith@mycwa.com>
Sent: Monday, August 3, 2015 7:36 AM
Subject: weed by a gravel road

There may be times when you feel as insignificant as a weed growing by a gravel road (picture attached).  You know you have a little color but you are stuck in one place and few pass by and fewer notice and you don't know if anyone cares.  Your fragile flower only comes out for a brief season and who will see?  I was encouraged this morning as I listened to the book of 1 John that God is the one who sees. 
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I thought about the apostle John and his fishing partners, James and Peter and Andrew.  They were like weeds growing by the roadside...actually they were common uneducated fishermen by the sea.  Jesus made a special point in selecting them and growing them to maturity.  It is amazing to consider the depth of insight that we hear from John after he walked with Jesus.  Their lives were transformed by being with Him and understanding that He is life itself.
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You may feel as insignificant or common as a weed by a roadside...or an unknown fishermen in a little known place...but the one who is life, itself, comes to you right where you are and offers life in all its fullness.  You are a weed intended for wonderful things!  And Jesus walks the gravel road where you are planted.
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1 John 1:2 (New Living Translation)
This one who is life itself was revealed to us, and we have seen him...
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blessings,
Rob Smith 


Sunday, August 2, 2015

Big world

  Dear Friends who have received my devotional thoughts:
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I'm about to experience something that will open up the world as a much bigger place.  In October I and several other friends are going to some pretty remote places in Africa to share the Gospel with Background Partners.  We will be using a "story telling" approach because we will be sharing with folks who are largely illiterate.  However, they are very comfortable and familiar with communicating through stories.  This reminds me of Jesus' use of parables and stories as a central part of His earthly ministry.  You all receive my devotional thoughts and so I wanted to ask for your prayer support and financial help too, if you feel led to. 
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The trip is scheduled for October 16-24 and we're going to Kenya.  The cost is about $2,600 and if you'd like to help you can do that one of two ways (gifts are tax deductible):
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Log on to www.bground.org/give and note my name and Kenya 15
or
Send a check made out to "Background Partners" and mail to my house (9381 Ottoway Ct.  Toano, VA  23168) and note Rob Smith Kenya 15 in the memo area. 
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I am trusting the Lord to help us really connect with a people very different in some ways....but very much in need of the same Gospel message that we have experienced!
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I am also trusting that the Lord will provide some exciting devotional thoughts along the way.
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I hope you will consider coming along for the trip with your prayers and support!
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We're hoping to be part of the following prophecy:
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Zephaniah 3:10
My scattered people who live beyond the rivers of Ethiopia will come to present their offerings.
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blessings,
Rob Smith

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Fw: Big God


----- Forwarded Message -----
From: Rob Smith <toanosmith@yahoo.com>
To: Rob Smith <rsmith@mycwa.com>
Sent: Saturday, August 1, 2015 11:13 AM
Subject: Big God

How big is your God?
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Does He fill your thoughts?
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Or do you bring Him in on occasional spots?
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How big is your God?
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Is He bigger than you?
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Or is He placed on a shelf with little to do?
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How big is your God?
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Does He fill your dreams?
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Or do you call Him up mainly for emergencies?
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How big is your God?
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Is He bigger than fears?
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Have you found Him to walk with you...year after year?
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How big is your God?
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Do you run to His side?
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And have you discovered Him living inside?
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His Son is the door that we must pass through...
The Big God is ready to fill you...and you...and me too!
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Psalm 86:9-10
All the nations you made will come and bow before you, Lord; they will praise your holy name.  For you are great and perform wonderful deeds.  You alone are God.


Friday, July 31, 2015

the lamb as shepherd

 
When the lamb becomes the shepherd,
You find the place of peace..
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The shepherd's job is very clear...
to lead all of His sheep.
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It took a lamb to walk with men,
To eat...to cry...to walk this place...
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The lamb was perfect sacrifice,
Come from Heaven to make us right.
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When the lamb becomes your shepherd,
You'll find your place of peace.
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We follow One who shared our flock,
Then purchased our release.
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Revelation 14:4
They have kept themselves as pure as virgins, following the Lamb wherever he goes.  They have been purchased from among the people on the earth as a special offering to God and to the Lamb.
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blessings,
Rob Smith

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Fw: content to be created


----- Forwarded Message -----
From: Rob Smith <toanosmith@yahoo.com>
To: Rob Smith <rsmith@mycwa.com>
Sent: Thursday, July 30, 2015 7:26 AM
Subject: content to be created

We just came back from a week in New England to visit family and see a friend's son get married.  New England is a beautiful place, full of history and natural beauty.  We saw villages that are still active with dates going back to the 1600's and the countryside was rolling and rocky and marked by lakes and hills going back to the glaciers.  I went for a morning walk at my Aunt and Uncle's house in Connecticut (picture attached) and was struck with the simple beauty of the river near their home.  I was reminded that I, too, am a part of this Creation picture.  We have a very special place in the order and plans of our Maker and He has gone to great length to restore us...made in His image...to a place where we can know Him forever.  But my starting point is as a created being.  I am reminded this morning that it is important to keep perspective on just who is the Creator and who is created.  He did such a fine work of fashioning us that we sometimes get things out of order.  We may foolishly think that we are the ones in charge!  It is good to be content to be created and share in the beauty of all of creation and especially the unique wonder of personally knowing and bowing before our Creator!
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Isaiah 45:12
I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens; and all their host have I commanded.
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blessings,
Rob Smith


Monday, July 20, 2015

assurance of forever

  Confidence makes all the difference.  When it comes to sports...to our work...our family...our relationships with friends...
Confidence makes the difference between expectation and reality.  How do we gain confidence that we have secured living forever.  And how important is that confidence...that assurance...to living effectively and purposefully here and now?
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When we have personally said "Yes" to Jesus' sacrifice and personally endorsed what he did on the cross...it is very much like endorsing a check that has been made out to you.  As an analogy, you cannot convert a check that has been made out to you until you sign your name to it.  When Jesus died on the cross He was sending you a check worth eternal life for you and made out to your name.  However, you must sign your name...personally endorse this transaction to convert to reality.
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And  then you will live the rest of your life here and transition there to the heavenly dimension...forever changed.  But you can expect to stumble at times...you can expect to have doubts...you can question whether anything has actually changed.
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You need the confidence of "assurance" of your salvation...like finding the records of the cancelled check to prove that the transaction took place.  When it comes to this assurance...this confidence...we do better to rest on God's promise than our feelings.
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Here are a few of my favorite assurance verses:
1 John 5:12-14
Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.  I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.  And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.
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It is critical to, more than "think" we have eternal life...We need to "know" we do!
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blessings,
Rob Smith

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

now and forever

  Forever is the word and the concept that I can't stop thinking about.  But, I realized that we make a distinction between living here and living somewhere else forever.  I've come to realize that forever finds its starting point now...here...and continues in the eternal dimension.  We are created beings who also need a redeemer to make it possible to move from now to forever.
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The book of Colossians puts it this way in the first chapter (verses 12-14):
'giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.  He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.'
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The past tense of the action affirms that when we have placed our trust...our faith...in the work of Jesus on the Cross we have moved from here to eternity.  Jesus put it this way, as recorded in John's gospel in the 5th chapter, 24th verse: 'Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life.  He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.'
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In a sense the past is passed when we have come at last to an honest recognition of just who Jesus is and what He has done for us.  Forever starts with Him at that moment and the transition to Heaven becomes the ultimate change of location..but not a change of status.
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Forever starts now!
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blessings,
Rob Smith

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Forever thinking

  The first definition in dictionary.com for "forever" is: "without ever ending; eternally: to last forever."  Forever is really two words: for and ever.  The definition for "ever" is "at all times; always".  From our earliest days in childhood we have measured life by change and time.  Each birthday marked by another candle on the cake and another grade level in school.  Physical growth marked in doorways for posterity...hallmark ages reached for driving for drinking for voting.  And then the progression of love, marriage, family and senior life with grandchildren and retirement.  We have this inescapable relationship with time.  But something within tells us we were fashioned for more...that life has qualities that transcend time.  This life, marked by the passage of time, is a gateway to a place where time no longer rules.  The Bible tells us that there is a King who rules across time in a forever way.  Exodus 15:18 tells us "The Lord will reign forever and ever."  So He will reign without ending and He will reign continually. Psalm 48:14 connects this sovereign with us personally: "that this is God, our God forever and ever.  He will guide us forever."  The promise of living beyond this time-locked place on earth's surface is held to us.  Daniel puts it this way in chapter 7, verse 18: "But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, forever and ever."
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We were made for the place beyond time...where forever and ever come together.
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blessings,
Rob Smith

Monday, July 13, 2015

Living forever

  So that was God's plan from the beginning...that man would live forever.  If Adam and Eve hadn't sinned in the Garden of Eden they would have lived forever in that garden.  They would have tended the garden and known the Lord in a direct and personal way.  But consider this: Adam and Eve were created beings that were placed on a created world under a created sun.  All of these creations have a material quality that tends toward ultimate destruction.  Barring replacement (possible to God, of course) the sun would eventually cool and the material world would lose its source of light and life.  It appears that Satan has won when he successfully deceives the original couple to disobey God.  But God is always one step ahead of Satan, like a chess master, thinking ahead of his opponent.  And God knows that the ultimate eternal life is spiritual in nature...to be directly in His presence in spiritual form...without even the veil of a created or material environment.  So man's failure to originally obey God leads to an ultimate plan to provide mankind with spiritual life that cannot be destroyed.  This plan unfolds first through an individual (Abraham) and then through a family (Jacob) then through a nation (Israel) and ultimately made available to all people, everywhere (including you and me).  God has turned the defeat Adam and Eve experienced around for an ultimate victory to complete God's original plan that man could live forever in a form and in a place that is beyond destruction and beyond corruption.
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But, perhaps most interestingly of all, He doesn't force anyone to go there.  For some...for many...this life is all they opt for.  To live out their days under the sun and across the seasons and the stages of human life.  But this is a short life and not the life God originally planned for man.  The apparent defeat that Satan achieved in the Garden of Eden was reversed for all men when God's Son defeated Satan through a life of perfect obedience and total sacrifice that was victoriously crowned with a death that was transcended by resurrection to life.  Jesus is both the perfecter of our faith and the pioneer of our path to that eternal life.
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But the key that turns the lock leading to life forever lies with you!  You must believe and then you, too,  will live forever!
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John 6:47
Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. [Jesus speaking]
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blessings that you might believe,
Rob Smith

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

harmony

 
The definition of harmony includes this phrase: a consistent, orderly, or pleasing arrangement of parts;  I was thinking yesterday how our greatest peace comes when we are in alignment with God.  When we are in alignment with God in our relationship, in the attitude of our minds and the purpose of our steps...we have the greatest peace possible.  And  it made sense to me.  If there is very little distance or gap between my ways and my intentions and His purposes and plans, then there is little cause for stress.  The stress of life comes from the gaps that come into the picture.
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Harmony is a beautiful musical reality where two sounds...two vibrations that are interpreted as sound...overlay each other and find agreement despite there separateness.
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Harmony is a good metaphor for the kind of walk we should have with the Lord and the kind of walk that will bring peace...as our thoughts are filled with His and our conversation is with Him and our steps are with His.
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Colossians 3:14 -15a
And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts...
-
blessings,
Rob Smith

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Fw: shipwreck!


----- Forwarded Message -----
From: Rob Smith <toanosmith@yahoo.com>
To: Rob Smith <rsmith@mycwa.com>
Sent: Tuesday, July 7, 2015 7:27 AM
Subject: shipwreck!

It's the perfect natural beauty of the local pond that I love so much...unspoiled by man.  Well that's been rudely disrupted by someone who sank their boat in a shallow area, leaving a windshield visible.  I mean...they didn't just have a problem and lose their boat in the pond...they left it there...out in the middle and it spoils the view!  We have a way of taking the perfection of our Creator's hand and finding ways of messing it up.  We come from a long line who have been doing this sort of thing since Adam and Eve tried going their own way back in the Garden.  I suppose we must acknowledge that shipwrecks and sunken boats will happen in our lives and it can appear that God is absent...but all of the shipwrecks and sunken boats are located in the midst of His handiwork...the nature that He fashioned and holds together.  So all of our issues play out on His stage, in His immediate presence.  It stands to reason that He might be the best one to approach for help to remove the sunken boats and retrieve the wreckage.  I can appreciate that He'd like to restore that perfect view that He had in mind to start with! 
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1 Timothy 1:15,19
15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost....19 holding faith and a good conscience.  By rejecting this, some have made a shipwreck of their faith.


Saturday, July 4, 2015

two body shops

  I love riding through the country and past small towns in rural areas.  Yesterday, Shirley and I enjoyed a brief excursion through Gloucester and Mathews and saw some beautiful country and great views of the Chesapeake Bay too.  One scene caught my attention as a study in contrasts.  Somewhere along the way an auto body shop was located next door to a funeral home.  Immediately I was struck with the interesting contrast and comparison.  Really we were looking at two kinds of body shop...one for cars and one for people.  The cars are not nearly as important as the people but the results coming from the auto body shop generally are damaged cars that are restored and returned to their drivers.  The result coming from the body shop for people is not as favorable.  These bodies of ours are just amazing.  They handle untold numbers of bumps, bruises and even breakages during a lifetime and we have medical people and hospitals to patch us up and help us get back on the road.  But there comes a time when the old chassis just gives out and the body needs to be prepared to return to the earth, while the spirit moves on.
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Two kinds of body shop side by side.  Sometimes we need the dents hammered out and a new coat of finish applied and sometimes the body has run its course.  But all will be well as we trust in the ultimate owner of all the body shops!
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blessings,
Rob Smith

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Fw: dead tree in the garden


----- Forwarded Message -----
From: Rob Smith <toanosmith@yahoo.com>
To: Rob Smith <rsmith@mycwa.com>
Sent: Thursday, July 2, 2015 7:33 AM
Subject: dead tree in the garden

Sometimes you just have to be honest and admit it...there's a dead tree in the garden.  This morning, on my walk, my eyes were drawn to a dead tree in the pretty marsh I've been visiting.  Whether from a lightning strike, insect infestation or disease...or possibly just age, a tree that once stood tall in the middle of the scene died and now it distracts from all that is living around it.
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I thought about our lives and, for the most part, they are full of abundance and God's blessing and we are aware of that...but in the middle of this garden there may be a "dead tree".  There may be some area of my life that has been struck by unexplained calamity, infested with some bug of jealousy or hatred or infected with a disease of selfishness.  When that happens this one dead tree can dominate the view of my garden.
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It may be time to call on the one who has fashioned the entire garden...who is supreme over matters of life and death and even our inner attitudes.  He is the true Master Gardener and, if I own up to the dead tree's presence....He's promised to remove it!
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Proverbs 28:13
Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them  will obtain mercy.
-
blessings,
Rob Smith


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

the invisible man

 
It's what goes on behind the scenes that is most important...the invisible part of us.  As we live and work and move alongside each other we can't begin to see the inside scene of people.  If you could paint the picture of the concerns, problems, worries, motivations and all that we carry in mind and heart you would fill many screens.  When we talk about health and fitness we generally talk about the physical body...what we eat and how we exercise.  It's a little more abstract to talk about health for the inner person.
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But it is the "invisible man" on the inside that is most important.  The place where thoughts and emotions form and cook together...the place where our personality resides...the place where dreams begin...the place where we ask the big questions of life...the place where the Lord finds us and the place that we will always carry, even beyond this life.
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I got a kick out of "Invisible Man" movies when I was a kid...the idea of moving around without anyone being able to tell you were there.  But I greater kick now, knowing that the invisible man I carry all the time is known by a loving Lord, who shepherds that inner person and provides rest here and forever.  And how wonderful that the invisible man in each of us can interact in so many healthy ways with other invisible people too!
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1 Peter 3:4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.
-
blessings,
Rob Smith

Monday, June 29, 2015

Fw: still waters


----- Forwarded Message -----
From: Rob Smith <toanosmith@yahoo.com>
To: Rob Smith <rsmith@mycwa.com>
Sent: Monday, June 29, 2015 7:22 AM
Subject: still waters

Still waters wait for me to find...
they calm the waves of stormy minds.
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Reminding me that you are near,
each day renewed...this heavn'ly mirror
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The beauty of creation fills,
Your glory into our hearts spills,
And self dissolves to thoughts that thrill
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Still waters do inspire!
-
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Psalm 23:2-3 ...He leads me beside still waters.  He restores my soul...


Friday, June 26, 2015

God's will for you

  What we would give sometimes to just know what God's will is for our lives...
If only there were scripture that would lay it out...spell it out...state clearly in black and white...
Why does life have to be so nebulous...confusing...full of intersections with no turn signals?
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So I found a passage in scripture that does state God's will for those who have trusted in Him...
1 Thessalonians chapter 5 lists several things to do and a few things not to do and verse 18 seems to capture the central idea: "give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
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The circumstances of our lives are an ocean that we swim in but an ocean that we do not control.  This verse is reminding us that God does control the ocean, even though at times we may seem to be floundering and sinking.  He is greater than that ocean of circumstance and is using every aspect of our individual circumstance to grow us and use us to glorify Himself.  We are experiencing God's will as we recognize Him in the midst of our circumstances and we are in God's will when we thank Him regardless of circumstance.  God's will for us is our very best, not only despite our circumstances...but in the midst of them!
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blessings,
Rob Smith

Thursday, June 25, 2015

He will surely do it

  1 Thessalonians 5:24
He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
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Do what?  He will come again for those who have trusted in Him!  The previous chapter in this book puts it this way (verse 14) For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.
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"Asleep" here refers to those who have died, having placed faith in Jesus.  Jesus pioneered the path to eternal life and demonstrated that path through His own death and resurrection.  This chapter goes on to explain that all who have died, believing in the Lord Jesus, will be raised one day and joint with those who are still alive at His return.  Listen to this description of Jesus' coming: (verses 16-17 of chapter 4) For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God.  And the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.  The next verse says: Therefore encourage one another with these words.
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And remember: He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. !! (exclamation marks added)
-
blessings
Rob Smith

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Fw: swamp flower


----- Forwarded Message -----
From: Rob Smith <toanosmith@yahoo.com>
To: Rob Smith <rsmith@mycwa.com>
Sent: Tuesday, June 23, 2015 7:32 AM
Subject: swamp flower

I wanted to write about the mystery of marriage this morning, but I also want to show this picture of a swamp flower.  After all, they are both mysterious and wonderful.  As far as  marriage is concerned, only God would take two very different beings and thrust them together to make completeness and then allow them a lifetime to discover how to find oneness in the midst of great difference (not to mention to create a perfect setting for home and the conditions needed to bring children into the world)...As far as the swamp flower is concerned, only God would place beauty in a marsh where hardly anyone would notice or care.  The beauty of marriage and the beauty of the swamp flower surely were fashioned ultimately for the eye of God, Himself!  Perhaps marriage and the swamp flower are not so different after all...
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Song of Solomon 6:10 "Who is this who looks down like the dawn, beautiful as the moon, bright as the sun, awesome as an army with banners?"
-
blessings,
Rob Smith


Monday, June 22, 2015

Fw: light breakthrough!


----- Forwarded Message -----
From: Rob Smith <toanosmith@yahoo.com>
To: Rob Smith <rsmith@mycwa.com>
Sent: Monday, June 22, 2015 7:34 AM
Subject: light breakthrough!

Right now we are experiencing the longest days of the year...the most sunlight.  It's great to work all day and come home to be able to enjoy several more hours of daylight to do outdoor activities.  And what a contrast to the short days of December and January, when it is dark as you get up and dark as you return from work!  This morning I spied shafts of sunlight breaking through the trees and the shadows as the sun was still low in the sky.  It occurred to me that we need "breakthroughs of light" from the Lord to awaken us too!
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Breakthrough great light, into my woods.
Burst into sight with brilliance.
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Chase shadows away, you source of might,
Your presence makes the difference!
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Awaken thoughts, inspire dreams,
Dispel the fears that nighttime brings...
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Come with new strength as day is born.
Let me reflect you this sun-washed morn!
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And all through the day you'll reign bright above
Your light a reminder of your constant love.
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Genesis 1:4 And God saw that the light was good.  And God separated the light from the darkness.
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blessings,
Rob Smith


Thursday, June 18, 2015

healthy joints

 
As we get older we find our joints becoming "creakier".  When we sit for a long time we can count on stiffness to set in as we rise.  Reading through Colossians I was reminded that the body of Christ has joints too.  You might say that the joints are the relationships and interactions between each of us.  Chapter 3, verses 12-15 of Colossians talks about these "joints", these interactions.  We can learn a lot about how we are doing with the Lord from the healthiness of our joints with others.  We seem to need qualities that will lubricate the hard spots and cause our rough edges to be separated so that we can move together.  Qualities of mercy, kindness, humility, patience help ease the joints and forgiveness allows us to keep walking and not be stalled.  But the greatest "joint protector" seems to be love.  Just as our physical knees need to be held in place by tendons and ligaments, so our relationships with each other need to be held by love.  Love is strong and allows the different parts of Christ's body interact and move together but still allows them to be separate and not grind together...just like our physical joints and the muscles, tendons and ligaments that hold and guide them.
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Colossians 3:14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.
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blessings,
Rob Smith 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Fw: honey in the air


----- Forwarded Message -----
From: Rob Smith <toanosmith@yahoo.com>
To: Rob Smith <rsmith@mycwa.com>
Sent: Tuesday, June 16, 2015 7:40 AM
Subject: honey in the air

The morning walk these days leads down a gravel road that is walled by towering pine and hardwoods.  After walking about ten minutes we come to an open marsh and on the edge of marsh honeysuckle is in full bloom.  It is so refreshing to come out of the shadow of the tall trees and see the water, feel the open light of the sun and smell honey in the air from the plants.
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Honey in the air

stepping into summer heat
welcomed by the biting flies
feel the crunch of graveled feet
under leafy hardwood skies
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strolling down the windy path
thoughts of You who made it all...
talking with the One who lasts
hearing in my mind your call
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morning is a pleasant chance
for the new to wash the old
Lord, I thank you for this dance
down the road...
You bear my load.
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into open air I walk
view expands to open marsh
smells of honey fill the air
charge my senses...lift my heart!
-
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Psalm 119:103 How sweet your words taste to me; they are sweeter than honey.
-
blessings,
Rob Smith


Monday, June 15, 2015

Fw: the company of angels


----- Forwarded Message -----
From: Rob Smith <toanosmith@yahoo.com>
To: Rob Smith <rsmith@mycwa.com>
Sent: Monday, June 15, 2015 7:37 AM
Subject: the company of angels

In the company of angels
I will walk the road today.
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Not alone for any moment
they are watching all the way.
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Towering high above and closely spread...
God's light commands..as soldiers stand,
A forest of His Heavenly guard
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My life is safe within His hand..
How can I fear though life is hard
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These trees remind me He is near
Quietly surrounding..
He is now around me...
Shielding me on this ground, He
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Never leaves my side.
-
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Hebrews 1:7
Regarding the angels, he says,
"He sends his angels like the winds, his servants like flames of fire."
-
-
blessings,
Rob Smith


Friday, June 12, 2015

Fw: under surveillance


----- Forwarded Message -----
From: Rob Smith <toanosmith@yahoo.com>
To: Rob Smith <rsmith@mycwa.com>
Sent: Friday, June 12, 2015 7:39 AM
Subject: under surveillance

On the way to the pond you pass signs posted by a Hunt Club warning not to trespass.  They don't want any nonmembers hunting on their turf!  They are pretty serious too!  The picture !shows that they threaten you with continual video surveillance.  Apparently one of the hunters is always watching a TV screen that shows intruders.  There must be a few video cameras mounted up in the tall pine trees.  You just can't get away with things, even in the woods.  I was reminded that there is continual surveillance over us, but it doesn't require cameras or hunters hiding in trailers, watching TV screens.  God sees everything that is going on and happening in us, to us and from us...all the time.  And there are no limits to His data storage!  One day He'll play the tape for us, I think, and focus on some key turning points.  But for now, this picture reminds me that He is watching...and that's a good thing.  I need the reminder that He is near for so many reasons.  I need his accountability along with His awareness of my many needs!
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Psalm 121:5 The Lord himself watches over you!  The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
-
blessings,
Rob Smith


Thursday, June 11, 2015

why there are stars

 
So far...so very far away...
Are night stars in galaxies.
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Thousands of dots, that shine in the night
Beyond the sky, pinpricks of light.
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Humbling us here on this ball of clay,
Rivers of jewels, a true milky way.
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Why all the stars, so far away?
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The reason for stars (in millions they say)
To teach the lesson of night become day.
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No matter how vast the blackness of space,
Stars give us hope that light finds a way.
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Crossing the miles...crossing light years...
Our God shines on and on, dispelling our fears.
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Black is the night, incredibly vast...
But even this shroud is greatly surpassed,
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With diamonds of energy, prisms of fire,
that burn on for ages...
by Heaven inspired.
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There's light in the darkness!
That's what the stars say.
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And in the night seasons,
We're reminded, "He'll stay!".

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Psalm 147:4 He counts the stars and calls them all by name
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blessings,
Rob Smith

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

sign of Hope

  On the way into Richmond last week I saw a large billboard off to the side of the highway emblazoned with a word in huge letters: "HOPE".  In small letters beneath was a reference to the local hospital I believe.  It certainly grabbed your attention!  I was thinking about the thousands of commuters that passed the sign on their way into the city for a work day.  Hope is just what all of us needed that day (and every day).  Hope is one of those words that has one meaning to most of the world and another to those who have placed their trust in Jesus.  For the world, hope is a picture of a dream, a wish for a desired outcome...but there is no certainty of its fulfillment.  For the believer, hope is the assured outcome of what the living God has already accomplished for all who have trusted in Him.  That assurance comes from (1) His promise and (2) His inner affirmation of that promise by the Holy Spirit who now indwells the believer throught the wonderful work of faith!
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Hebrews, chapter 11 puts it this way:
verse 1: Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.
-
blessings,
Rob Smith