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Friday, August 17, 2007

Wagon wheel arrangement
We saw this slice of beauty yesterday near an old shed on a nearby Amish farm.

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"The Inward Matters"

"Pilate … took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. 'I am innocent of this man's blood,' he said. 'It is your responsibility!'" (Matthew 27:24).  "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). 

Yesterday in the course of our chaplain visitation I had a very interesting question directed to me. An employee who reads this encouragement series earnestly asked me, "When we turn to Christ for salvation do we need to confess every sin we ever committed?"  Now if that were to be the case many of us would never finish the "sinner's prayer" would we!

I briefly explained that when we accept Christ we confess that we are sinners and accept God's forgiveness for all the sin we have committed, although at the point of our conversion, we may have a specific gripping sin we confess as well.  Following our conversion as a believer the indwelling Holy Spirit will continue to convict us of specific sins. It is in these matters that we confess our sins to God and ask His forgiveness and strength to resist the temptation to sin and eliminate it from our lives.

In the first daily text Pilate publicly washed his hands, but there's no evidence that he privately cleansed his heart.  He sought to absolve himself of his responsibility in Christ's death, seeking to place that responsibility on the crowd.  But he couldn't.  The ancient Apostles' Creed states, Christ "suffered under Pontius Pilate."  Pilate thought the symbolism of washing his hands was all that was needed.  How typical of the world's way, which so values symbolism over substance.  That's the way of false religions and even many perversions of Christianity. It's also the way of the world to cast blame on others rather than accepting person responsibility for our sins.

I believe symbols have some value and can be helpful as reminders of inwardly held faith.  After I accepted the Lord as a teenager I was baptized, publicly professing my faith in Jesus in front of a church in Independence, Missouri. I regularly participate in the Lord's Supper as commanded by Jesus before He died.  I have a fish symbol on my car and sometimes wear a cross on my lapel for a visual witness to others of the inward presence of Christ in my life. 

But I understand these symbols have value only to the extent that they reflect my commitment to Christ in the way I live my life.  I find great personal value and often quote the second daily verse written by the Apostle John,  "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).  Now that's substance!  Joy wells up within me as I share this liberating truth with you today. 

Two interesting observations about this verse: 1) The use of the first person pronoun by John.  He's not writing merely to them.  He's one of them. 2) "Confess" means "to agree with or say the same word."  When we confess we acknowledge God's perspective toward our sin problem.  The word is in the present active indicating our need to continually confess our sins as well as our absolute dependence on God. Today I urge you to make this confession of sin a regular practice in your life. That's the heart and substance of genuine Christianity.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Jesus, we confess our sins to You.  You are the One who cleanses our hearts so that we stand righteous before the Father.  Even then it is not in ourselves that we are made righteous, for our righteousness is as filthy rags.  It is in Your substitutionary death and victorious resurrection that we are forgiven of our sins and are able to stand righteous before a Holy God.  It is not by works of righteousness that we have done but according to Your mercy that we are saved, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.  

Personal Note from Brooksyne:  I relate to the individual who asked Stephen "Do we have to confess each sin we committed in the past when we come to Christ for salvation?"  As a teenager I gave my life to Jesus and dealt with this very same question.  I attempted to follow through with very lengthy and exhausting confessions but it never brought me peace as I knew there was much I would forget to confess.  I even imagined being hit by a truck or struck by lightning and going to hell rather than heaven because there might be an unconfessed sin in my life.  I never found peace or further understanding about this mistaken theology until I went to Bible College and came to further understanding  the grace of God that applies to our lives as we face the daily struggles and temptations from the enemy.  What peace has filled my heart since understanding and applying God's marvelous grace to my struggle against sin.

As a family we regularly pray for needs around the world as they come to our attention through the news.  This week among other needs we have been praying for the trapped miners in Utah. Last night we were so saddened to hear of the deaths of several of the rescuers and consider the tremendous anguish and despair of many in that area.

Today's suggested music (and a video):
"Amazing Love" (Audio)
"A Man Fell In A Hole" (Video) This is an incredibly powerful illustration of salvation through Jesus Christ (3 minutes)

Our neighbor's have grown some mighty fine tasing watermelon this year!  This is the second one we cut into only to find the melon so ripe it didn't need cutting.  It simply needed the blade of the knife to touch the rind and it divides itself into two pieces.  Yummy!  Yummy!

This afternoon my friend Ken Pierce will join me as we go to an antique tractor show in eastern Lancaster County.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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