Nov
20

The Promise in the Storm

(C) Copyright Jerry Smith

(C) Copyright Jerry Smith

It probably goes without saying that we all like a good promise. It’s a word with anticipation! Just think, because of the promise, something is ours.

Being a grandfather has brought me into the world of promises more frequently than I can remember! My grandchildren seem to lock away my words when I tell them “I’m going to ‘do something.’” They’re more than prone to come back to affirm, plan on, count on, or anticipate that word I gave them.

There are a couple key things to the “promise” or when grandpa tells them he’s going to do something.

First, there’s the foundation of every promise. Without a foundation for the promise, all you have is a pretense! What makes grandpa’s promise worth anything is that grandpa does what grandpa says he does.

Now comes the second key thing. With a foundation for a promise you can rest on it, rely on it, revel in it, or realize it in the coming days. A promise can build faith and ground hope. It can bring peace and set perspective.

This takes me to the image I made of this storm over the Grand Canyon. In the midst of the storm there was the promise in the storm, the “bow in the clouds” promised by our heavenly Father that He would never again bring devastation upon the earth by flood!

There’s even more here in this Word from God! The “bow in the clouds” marks the new beginning of life, a life ravaged by sin. This promise will unfold in our heavenly Father bringing righteousness for all of us, a righteousness made full in our Savior, the Lord Jesus, who died for sin so that by His grace, through our faith, we can have His very righteousness as our own!

All this unfolded from a promise, not built on any pretense, but founded upon the very Word of God! Here we most definitely build faith and ground hope, find peace and set perspective. And, in the storm of life, this promise is there!

Jul
11

Something Old, Something New, Something Sad, Something True

Here is a simple tale of what many would consider not much ado, about . . .

Something Old Something New

I have come to the place that my heart languishes every time I hear or read the phrase “Old Testament” or even “New Testament.” Let me explain the source of this languishing.

There is virtually no contest over whether our Hebrew Scripture, regularly called the Old Testament, is part of our Bible. Yet, this larger section of our Scriptures is minimally read or referenced.

When you dive on that monumental task (Attempted only by “Zealots”!) to “Read Through the Bible,” there’s often a choke, sputter, stutter, stumble through this “Old” section. It may indeed be with the hope that you’ll ultimately make it to the “New” section that enables your perseverance to finish the task of reading the “Old.”

Many people find interest in the Genesis account, especially if you stick with the account of Creation and definitely overlook the Table of Nations in Gen 10. Add to this interest the enjoyment of a Psalm here and there, and let’s add a pithy Proverb, but definitely not many “Proverbs,” as that’s like reading the phone directory!

Most readers of the Bible would rather, might I say, much rather, turn to the Greek Scripture, regularly called the “New Testament” part of our Bible.

Otherwise, it’s just a text snatched here and there for the three great times of the church. In case those times have slipped past your notice, they’re the “Hatchum’” — “Matchum’” — “Dispatchum’” moments when the same used and misused texts of Scripture seem to surface.

When you stop to consider just the labels themselves, i.e., “Old” and “New,” it seems we’ve already set our course with the very words themselves. For example, and probably just the same for you, I have an “old” shirt, really “old” shirt. I also have a “new” shirt. Just the labels set our course for how we, not only approach, but how we see a piece of clothing!

Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th Edition) shows for a field of meaning for “old,” things like: dating from the remote past; relating to a past era; showing the effects of time; no longer in use; tiresome.

By contrast, the same dictionary shows for a field of meaning for “new,” things like: having recently come into existence; being other than the former or old; made or become fresh.

When we come to God’s Word, our Bible, not only before Jesus, but those who were set apart, e.g., apostles, to write the teaching of Jesus, had a very different view of our Hebrew Scripture. They didn’t know any part as “Old”! They simply knew of God’s Word, Holy Scripture, i.e., Moses, the Prophets, and the Writings.

Not only did they not know anything of “Old,” they knew nothing of “New”! They knew of further revelation as God progressively unfolds His plan and Promise. This Jesus, about whom they wrote, is the Messiah, the fulfillment of vast prophecy already written, the very Word of God for mankind, and the subject of yet to be revealed prophecy, all of which is part of God’s unfolding revelation.

Christians knew only of the Word of God, witnessing and revealing God, His Person, and His Promise, a Promise grounded upon Jesus, both Lord and Messiah (Acts 2.36). A Promise to yet be unfolded in the coming Kingdom of God. Do note that after two years in a Roman prison, the Apostle Paul was still proclaiming this kingdom! Acts 28:30–31.

30 And he stayed two full years in his own rented quarters and was welcoming all who came to him, 31 preaching the kingdom of God and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus { the Messiah } Christ with all openness, unhindered.

Without the Hebrew Scripture we would not know who Jesus is, what He came to do, the authority He has, the Kingdom He will yet bring! We’d not know Him as the long prophesied Messiah, the very Son of God, Shepherd, Lord, Savior, and King!

Believers, including the earliest followers of Jesus, the Christ‑ones, would have been bewildered by the phrases “Old” or “New” with regard to Scripture. They had one written text, the Holy Scripture, Moses, the Prophets, and the Writings.

When Jesus came, this was Scripture, “the” Scripture! When the disciples of Jesus moved out in ministry, this was “the” Scripture. They read this Scripture as the authoritative Word of God. From “It” they learned that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God, Lord, Redeemer, and Shepherd. If they had not had “the” Scripture they would not have understood God’s design, God’s prophecies, God’s plan for a King and a Kingdom! This is “the” witness to Jesus!

In “the” Scripture they found God’s design for Israel, and for the Gentiles! They found the message of the Spirit of God who would bring new life!

The writings of the apostles confirmed what “the” Scripture had promised. These apostles also recorded the words of the Messiah, Jesus, as He taught, filling out, amplifying, verifying the foundation in “the” Scripture, and even adding to its prophecy.

The Messiah said, Lk 24:44–47.

44 Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

Lk 24:25–27.

25 And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 “Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” 27 Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.

Jn 5:39.

39 “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me;

Jn 12:49–50.

49 “For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak. 50 “I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me.”

cf Acts 2.14-36; 3.12-26; 7.1-53

“The” Scripture did not come to a close in any form when God revealed the Promised One, the Prophesied One, the Messiah. God’s unfolding revelation has been “added to” with the Scripture bringing Jesus’ teaching and the teaching of His Holy Spirit borne disciples. These very Holy Spirit borne writers build upon, quote, refer, illustrate from, “the” Scripture.

We have one Scripture, the very Word of God, breathed (2Tim 3.16-17), borne (2Pet 1.21), and blessed (John 6.68).

Skipping details about the impact made by the Enlightenment and Rationalism on our thinking, we began to see the Hebrew Scripture as about an ancient culture with no relevance to the world of today. It’s sad, but, the Hebrew Scripture began to be left aside.

The fact is that the writers of Jesus proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah to their world with those irrelevant Hebrew Scriptures! They proved their messages from these Hebrew Scriptures! They proclaimed the God of the Bible, the whole Bible, and His grace, and His Provision, from these Hebrew Scriptures!

It’s less than accurate to label our Bible’s Hebrew Scripture as “Old”! It’s equally less than accurate to label our Bible’s Greek Scriptures as “New.” We have one Bible, the very Word of One God, His unfolding revelation and Promise, His record which unfolds His glory! This is something true!

If your thinking about your Bible has been stimulated — It’s not something “Old,” it’s not something “New,” it’s nothing “Sad,” but it’s very “True” — then give consideration to setting aside the labels “Old” and “New” for any portion of God’s infallible, inerrant, holy message to us.

We have a Bible, God’s Word, Holy Scripture through which, cover to cover, we come to know the eternal God of all, His compassion, His grace, His Son, His Promise, and we will forever sing His glory!

May
21

The Empty Chamber

Here’s a guest post from a dear friend, Ed Kaiser, who both loves the Lord and loves turkey hunting! Enjoy Ed’s insights from “the empty chamber”!

 

Tennessee Tom-Tom

(C) Copyright Jerry Smith

Yesterday I had an incredible experience. It was a beautiful morning the sun was turning the eastern horizon a brilliant flaming red while a slight breeze gently moved my turkey decoys. I was sitting under a large cedar tree talking to a big ugly bird. We chatted for an hour and a half while he closed the distance. He suddenly stopped talking giving me no idea where he was. I was listening intently when he magically appeared twenty yards in front of me. He had slipped in crossed the fence and arrived unannounced. I placed my gun sight on his big ugly head and squeezed the trigger nothing happened he just stood there. I had failed to load a shell into the guns chamber. As I frantically tried to chamber a round, the gobbler walked off to live forever in the recesses of my memory. It doesn’t really matter to me that he walked off I had won the battle by getting him to come within range. I would like to have killed him but it is not the end of my world that he got away.

My favorite movie is “McClintock” John Wayne. In one scene he turns to Bunny and says “I’ve been doing some thinkin drinkin Bunny,” last night I was doing some sleepin thinkin. The events of the day were fresh in my mind but soon took a parallel track. I really enjoy when that happens.

I thought I was prepared to harvest that turkey. I was in the right place wearing the proper attire with a working knowledge of turkey hunting. I am respected in the turkey hunting community as a successful hunter having filled many tags. How could I not have chambered a round? I thought I had but I was wrong. Lack of preparation met opportunity and I failed.

The parallel thought line relates to the spiritual realm. How often do we attend the “right” church wearing the proper attire with a working knowledge of spiritual things with which we are respected among our peers because of these things. Then the opportunity to help someone spiritually walks into our life and our hammer falls on an empty chamber. We are instructed in 1 Peter 3:15 — Always be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.

Can you do that? Can you look someone in the eye and say with absolute confidence that you don’t fear the future because your hope is in Jesus Christ?

It wasn’t the end when that big turkey walked away from me but it is the end when a soul walks away from Jesus Christ. Unlike the bird each person must accept Jesus as their Lord and savior or spend eternity in hell.

If you are not prepared to “give an answer” get with someone who can disciple you to fill your empty chamber!

Feb
24

Lessons From The Least Likely Location!

If there are “least likely” locations, one of them would certainly be the book of Numbers in the Pentateuch. Those who set out to read through the Bible often think they find reason to jump ahead when they hit Numbers.Wilderness and Transjordan

This “least likely” place recounts the movement of the nation of Israel following their redemption from Egypt by the might outstretched arm. While there is considerable detail in Numbers, it is part of an even bigger picture taking us back to the Promise of God made to Abraham, repeated to Isaac, repeated to Jacob and his descendants (Ex. 2:24–25; 3:15–17).

While Israel struggled with their rebellion against God, God did not deter in His Promise.

Fast forward to the nation preparing to enter the land, camped in the Plain of Moab on the east side of the Jordan River, across in the distance was Jericho. Prior to their entry, God instructed Moses, Num 34:2.

2 “Command the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When you enter the land of Canaan, this is the land that shall fall to you as an inheritance, even the land of Canaan according to its borders.

Imagine being at that place, at that time, after those desperate years of disobedience, and hearing “this is the land that shall fall to you as an inheritance”!

God’s Promise has never faded! They were the very generation to enter God’s Promised Land!

Centuries have passed! Sin has raged! Yet, we learn, in a very “least likely” place, that God has been divinely involved, has divinely moved, greater than time, greater than nations, greater than my own sin!

God can be relied on! He makes good on His Promise! May our persistence in the pursuit of His provision be firm!

Feb
16

Three Things Worthy Of Remembering

Life is filled with a myriad of events, happenings, hills, valleys, highs, and lows — all of which we remember, and rightfully so. There are numerous lessons we’ve learned here!

God also marks things we should remember and there are definitely lessons to be learned. One of those things worthy of remembering is frequently passed by yet a closer look at the Tabernacle points us to God’s mark for our memory.

Ark of the CovenantWithin the Holy of Holies, according to God’s design, there was the Ark of the Covenant.

If you’ve not read of its construction for the Tabernacle, you can find this in Exodus 25.10 ff. This “chest” was the crux of the Holy of Holies, the most holy place! Its vital position is stated in Exodus 25.22.

22 “There I will meet with you; and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony, I will speak to you about all that I will give you in commandment for the sons of Israel.

{Some notes on Exodus 25.22 —
The Proper Place to Worship – Ex 20.24-26; 25.1-26.37; Deut 12; cf. Ezek 40-48
People have ignored the Lord, established their own idols. N.B. Lev 17.7, the prohibition for sacrifice to goat-demons outside the place of worship! Cf. 2Chron 11.15 for the acts of Jeroboam I for his own idolatry!}
 

Far more than just a piece of furniture, here is where God would meet with His people. As Scripture unfolds God’s revelation, three things are placed within this “chest,” i.e., the Ark of the Covenant.

Exodus 25.16 tells us the two tablets of the Decalogue given to Moses on Mt. Sinai were placed inside the Ark. These tablets, the preamble of the covenant, confirmed that it is God’s Word alone which sets the standard, pattern, practice for life. Our first thing to remember!

Exodus 16.32-34 tells us an urn containing some of the manna God provided to sustain His people was placed inside the Ark. This supernaturally given, daily sustaining provision of God, while furnishing sustenance for life, is not understood by man! It was called “manna,” i.e., “what is it”? It is God’s provision until His place of blessing is reached! Our second thing to remember is that God divinely provides, even though we typically don’t understand it, yet, His provision will sustain us!

Exodus 17.10f tells us that when God’s way was challenged, the account of Aaron’s confrontation through the grumblers, when leaders from the twelve tribes were instructed to place their rods before the Lord, only the rod of Aaron spouted as fruitful! We don’t want to miss that, Exodus 17.10, this is “a sign against the rebels”! Our third thing to remember is God’s way is not one of many ways, it’s the only way which will bear fruit! All other ways perish, fruitless, and faithless in their rebellion!

Ark of the CovenantThree things worthy of remembering . . .

  • God’s Word alone is the standard for life, faith, and practice! Yield to no other word!
  • God’s divine provision, supernatural sustenance, which we will not understand, yet it will sustain us! Find no other sustenance for your life!
  • God’s way, alone, bears fruit! No matter how or what someone puts forth, their way is fruitless and perishing! Find no other way for your life!