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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Photo of winter farmview
This is the scene this morning of the Espenshade farm at the end of our road. 
Click here to enlarge today's photo.
I have photos of this same scene in the spring, summer and autumn.

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"Our Advocate"

"Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool" (Isaiah 1:18).

Today we woke up to a brisk 12 degree sunny day with a beautiful fresh cover of snow. My first requested chore this morning came from Brooksyne; "Stephen, could you turn up the heat on the coal stove?" The stove doesn't have a thermostat so somehow it's become my daily duty to keep up with the temperature changes and adjust our stove accordingly, doing so by leaning in and turning a small very inaccessible nut in the back of the stove.

I really like snow and miss some of the heavier snowfalls we were accustomed to several times each season when we lived in northern Pennsylvania and New England.  In northern Pennsylvania, during a youthful season of our lives, we both enjoyed getting out in the snow and cross country skiing.   I recall a blizzard about 14 years ago in New England and repeatedly jumping off the church roof into the deep snow with a friend!  I would have been around 40 when I had that kind of energy and sense of adventure.

Now my interests in regard to snow are mostly walking and taking pictures!  Today I managed to take the fourth photo in a Four Season landscape series of the Espenshade farm up the road from us.

Scripture often uses the natural wonders of God's creation to illustrate His intricate work in our lives. The prophet Isaiah uses the picture of pure white snow as a description of God's cleansing work in our lives, exchanging our crimson sins for His pure driven snow.  Isaiah uses vivid color, scarlet…crimson, to depict the shedding of innocent blood, ultimately the blood of Christ for our redemption.

We see this spiritual teaching described by Isaiah as it is lived out in the life of David in his great prayer of repentance from adultery which resulted in a host of sins: "Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow" (Psalms 51:7).  Since Israel is in a hot climate, it rarely snows.  Yet Mount Hermon has a snow cap that can be seen throughout much of northern Israel.

The promise made to the prophet Isaiah is ours to accept today.  The great Judge of the universe says "Come now, let us reason together."  The word "reason" is a legal term.  The New Testament also uses a legal term to describe Christ's work on our behalf as our "Advocate."  "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (1 John 2:1). 

Our Advocate is motivated by AGAPE love.  His advocacy on our behalf is impassioned and earnest.  He paid the full price for our freedom.  Our position is to accept this gift by faith.  We bring nothing to the courtroom but absolute guilt.  But our Advocate, Jesus Christ, paid the full price for our redemption, and meets us in His courtroom of grace.  Live with this blessed assurance today and truly be encouraged!

Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily Prayer: Father, I thank You for Jesus who entered the Courtroom of Justice with me as I sought favor with You.  I went to relinquish my sins but I had no defense or gift to offer in exchange for them.  I entered the Courtroom dressed in my very best as I presented to You my righteous acts one by one, but I quickly realized they were seen as filthy, crimson rags.  They were like leaves that shrivel up when detached from the vine.

But then Your Son, Jesus, my Advocate, took His robe of righteousness and lovingly placed it over my heavy shoulders.  It was at that glorious moment that You looked away from my filthy, crimson rags that Jesus removed and You looked upon my new robe of righteousness.  I was able to give You nothing but a heart full of crimson stains but You exchanged it for a surrendered heart that is now white as snow.  I am wholly grateful that when You look at me You see Jesus' righteousness.  He paid the full price, He paid it all.  I owe Him everything and it will take all my days here and throughout eternity to express my love and gratitude for His incomparable love and sacrifice toward me.  Amen.  

Brooksyne's Note:  Isaiah refers to the crimson color of blood that has stained the hands of murderers:  "Even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen.  Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean" (1:15b, 16).  God's offer of forgiveness is conditional on the expectation that we forsake our life of sin:  "If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.  For the mouth of the Lord has spoken" (1:19, 20).

I find it rather interesting that Isaiah who, inspired by the Holy Spirit of God, would write about those whose "hands are full of blood" (1:15C).  He is quoted more often than any other prophet in the New Testament.  A man of royal blood since he was the grandson of King Joash, yet being a child of an earthly king did not hold the same importance to Isaiah as being a child of the Heavenly King.  Tradition that has been accepted as authentic by many early church fathers, states that, "Isaiah resisted Manasseh's idolatrous decrees, and was fastened between two planks and 'sawn asunder', thus suffering a most horrible death" (Halley's Bible Handbook).  This brings to mind the Scriptures from Hebrews 11:35-40.

Thank You: We are very pleased and grateful to God that total 2008 contributions to the Daily Encouragement Net ministry were
$21,791.00. Brooksyne and I want to express thanks to all who supported this aspect of our ministry for Christ. Offerings came from over 80 separate sources from all over the world. Here's information about supporting our ministry and here's a current ministry update revised to 1/20/09We have always been open in our pastoral ministry regarding the finances of our churches.  We also practice this in our online ministry. Current 2009 YTD total offerings are placed in the footers in each of these posts.

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources
(Click on the link to open and play. In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.)

"Whiter Than The Snow"
 Video  While searching for an online version of the hymn "Whiter Than Snow" Stephen came across this powerful song with background photos.  The words are so true to Scripture, original in their musical content.  The singing is beautiful and the nature photos inspiring.  We couldn't find the singer or song writer but I encourage you to take the time to listen to this at least once.  It inspired me for the prayer today and transported me back to my experience of fully surrendering my life to Christ.

"Whiter Than Snow"  Video  A nice local church arrangement of this beautiful old hymn.

"Jesus Paid It All"  Video  This song came to mind due to the words, "Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow." This is a Fernando Ortega version.

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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, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. 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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