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Friday, March 16, 2012

Amish church parking lot (photo by Lee Smucker)
Our friend Lee Smucker took this photo from an attic window of his home. He is overlooking the Amish gathering for a church service in a member's home, as is their practice. I don't suppose too many of us will see our church parking lot look like this!
For a larger photo see here.

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"A Clean Heart"

"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10). "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).

Brooksyne and I serve as workplace chaplains in an HVAC (heating, ventilation & air conditioning) company. I enjoy visiting with the servicemen as they arrive early in the morning to get their assignments for the day. They're very devoted to their work and often talk "shop" for a few minutes, discussing work related issues that they are encountering.

Filter contrastUsually I don't understand much about what they're discussing but the other day one of the servicemen brought in an air filter and showed it to the other men, commenting on how extraordinarily dirty the filter was (see left photo for contrast of dirty filter vs. new filter).

Filters are important in HVAC not only for our comfort and health but also for functionality. A dirty filter can starve the unit for air and make it work much harder causing it to use more energy and wear down more quickly. Well, as you might imagine my mind started considering a spiritual application!

Generally speaking, a filter is a device for removing impurities or solid particles from a liquid or gas passed through it. Physically speaking, the coronary arteries pump blood that is essential to the heart. If cholesterol and fatty deposits (called plaque) attach themselves to the inner walls of the arteries this restricts blood flow to the heart which can lead to coronary heart disease, sometimes resulting in instant death.

And there's yet another heart disease that is not physical but spiritual instead. The seasoned believer will quickly recognize our daily Scripture verses. I suppose many have memorized the second and a few the first. These verses speak of repentance, renewal, and rightness of one's heart.

The first verse is part of David's great prayer of repentance following his sin with Bathsheba.
"Create in me a clean heart, O God."  A clean heart is a work of redemption. David realizes this and makes his appeal to God.

"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." It's one of those remarkable truths in the Christian life that form a fundamental principle. It describes the wonderful means that our gracious God has provided for us to receive a spiritual cleansing from sin in our lives.

The apostle John is writing late in the first century, perhaps sixty years after he had walked with Jesus. Peter, Paul and many of the other notable apostles had been martyred about thirty years prior to this writing.

John is surely very mature now. If anyone was ever expected to have reached his fullest spiritual potential and earned the right to point his finger and use a preachy "you" it would have been John. But I find encouraging significance in the personal pronoun he uses throughout the passage. It's known as the first person plural.  John does not say, "if you confess your sins", rather "if we confess our sins."

Is your spiritual heart dirty, clogging the work of the Spirit within you? Just as coronary heart disease can go undetected for years because the patient looks healthy and doesn't heed the occasional symptoms, we too can ignore or hide sin that is invisible on the outside. The spiritual image we want to portray to others may be different than the sinful "plaque" that is building within our hearts. In our personal assessment it's important to remember that "Man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart" (I Samuel 16:7).

God wants to thoroughly cleanse us. He has provided a means for spiritual cleansing, a straightforward promise based upon the character of His forgiveness. "He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." This really is good news and the best kind of cleansing. Search your heart, seek His forgiveness, and accept His thorough cleansing today.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Father, I lay my sins on Jesus, the spotless Lamb of God. Thank You for bearing them all and freeing me from the accuser's condemnation. I confess my sins to You, the big and small, so that my crimson stains are washed white in the blood of the sinless Lamb of God. Thank You for being the Sinbearer that lifts me from the slimy pit of mud and mire that blocks the flowing of Your Spirit within me. You are faithful and just; You forgive me of my sins and cleanse me from all unrighteousness as I seek Your forgiveness. You put a new song in my mouth and a hymn of praise and thanksgiving for Your wondrous love and forgiveness. Thank You in Jesus' name. Amen.

Muskrat (photo by George Blizzard)Last night we had our friend George Blizzard over for dinner and following our meal we went on the long Donegal Creek trail walk we often mention here on Daily Encouragement Net. We passed lots of wildlife and George snapped this photo of a muskrat in the creek. We passed an electric fence and George reminisced about a childhood experience involving an electric fence and unheeded advice!

Crocus (photo by Doris High)
It's a bit dreary today but signs of spring are abounding in our area with many blooming flowers and budding trees. Our friend Doris High shared this photo of a crocus on her photo blog.

Whiteboard witness at JK

Mike, a friend from the HVAC company, seeks to get in a witness for the Lord using a whiteboard.

Amish steam engine
We passed this interesting contraption at our Amish neighbor's farm yesterday. It appears to be some type of steam engine used in his greenhouse operation. Notice how the chimney is hinged to fold down. Do any of our readers have any idea how this is used?  Share here.

Today's Suggested Music and Sup
plemental Resources

"Create In Me A Clean Heart"  Video  Keith Green

"Create In Me A Clean Heart"  Video  Maranatha Singers

"Jesus Paid It All"  Video  A Capella

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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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