[All Scripture is taken from the ESV Christian Bible, except one.]
[My nephew Luke’s beloved dog Diesel loved playing in the snow.]
SNOW! SNOW! SNOW! We have sure gotten a lot of snow in the 2014-2015 Winter months. As the song goes, “And there’s no sign of stopping, and I brought some corn for poppin’. So, let it snow! Let it snow! Let it Snow!” The snow brings childhood delight to those who enjoy Winter sports and much needed dollars for those who make a living directly involving snow. On the other hand, snow brings dread to those who can’t get around very easily in the white stuff, those who depend on others to help them with their activities of daily living, hospital and other emergency workers, and for those who do not have warm places to call “home”. For those of us who develop “cabin fever”, it’s good remind ourselves to thank the Lord for the “cabin” we have the “fever” in and to pray for and help those who do not have roofs over their heads or who are unable to pay for heat. If we think about it, it is really a blessing to be able to have “cabin fever” in a nice warm house [especially with a 60” HD “Smart” TV].
I am one of those who have trouble getting around in the snow. It’s difficult for me to climb down snowy steps and my wheelchair does not have winter tires. I do not get to go out much in the snow, but I still think falling snow is a beautiful thing. One of my favorite things to do is watch the snowfall from the picture window in my warm living room. The snow is almost magical, in the way it covers everything with a blanket of white. It is absolutely stunning to see a red cardinal on a tree branch with red berries peaking out from under a fresh snow fall. White on red makes such a stark contrast. It reminds me of Isaiah 1:18:
“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”
This Scripture verse is absolutely amazing to those who have been forgiven of their sins by the blood of Christ. On the other hand, others do not believe they need forgiveness and think it absolutely ludicrous to think that red blood can make a person as pure as the fallen snow. They ask, “What is sin anyway? As long as no one gets hurt, I have the right to live as I please. I‘m not a bad person.” Jesus talks some about what sin is in Matthew 5:21-24:
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. So, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First, be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”
I have never murdered anyone, but I have been angry at people for not thinking about my needs, as they most definitely should. My wants and needs come first. Don’t they? Jesus says, “No, they don’t.” Jesus is talking about the attitude of the heart. Instead of thinking about how I hate the snow and how I envy those who sky and skate and enjoy all sorts of stuff in the snow and how selfish they are for not thinking about ME, Jesus teaches me to put them before myself. Sin is selfishness. Sin is thinking I am more important than you. In the Books of Romans, Philippians and I Thessalonians, the Apostle Paul teaches us how to be more like Christ – humble, giving and thankful:
“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned” [Romans 12:3].
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this in mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, Who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” [Philippians 2:3-8].
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, GIVE THANKS in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” [I Thessalonians 5:16-18].
Sin is selfishness. Sin is being conceited. Sin is not being thankful. Sin is not putting others first and being resentful when I do. Sin is not caring, as Jesus illustrates in the Parable of the Good Samaritan [Read Luke 10:25-37]. I have been guilty of one or more of these sins everyday of my life. And I know I am not alone. If we are honest with ourselves, we will agree with Isaiah 53:6: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned – every one – to his own way…”, but we can also rejoice that it doesn’t end there: “…and the LORD has laid on Him [His Only Son] the iniquity of us all.” Romans 3:23-26 echoes the same truth: “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation [acceptable offering to regain favor with God] by His blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in His divine forbearance He has passed over former sins. It was to show His righteousness at the present time, so that He might be just and the Justifier of the one who has faith in Christ.”
Jesus did what I could never do. Jesus paid for all of my sins by dying on the cross for me and for everyone who believes in Him; everyone who believes that what He did was necessary and true. It is important to accept God’s forgiveness, in Christ. When [not “if”] I sin I can be honest with God and be forgiven, time and time again, because of what Jesus has done for me.
“For our sake [God] made [Jesus] to be sin Who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” [II Corinthians 5:21].
“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” [I John 1:8-9].
To truly understand the love of God and His grace [unmerited favor] towards us, we must admit that we are sinners. When we do not consider ourselves to be sinners, we remain slaves to sin. Therein lies the problem. During the shameful period of American history when slavery was allowed, Harriet Tubman, a run-away slave who was instrumental in the Underground Railroad and worked to free slaves, had a hard time convincing some slaves to escape and leave their masters. Perhaps, for some strange reason, they were comfortable with being a slave. This is very hard to wrap my brain around, as it is difficult for me to understand why people are comfortable in being slaves to sin.
“For when you were slaves to sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you now are ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been freed from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification [the process of becoming all God wanted you to be] and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus as Lord” [Romans 6:20-23].
“If you abide in My Word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you FREE…So if the Son sets you FREE, you will be FREE indeed” [John 8:31b, 36].
[Statue of Sojourner Truth in Florence, Massuchusetts]
“I’m not going to die. I’m going home like a shooting star.” – Sojourner Truth
LET IT SNOW! LET IT SNOW! LET IT SNOW! [Only up to just before Baseball Season!].
[February is Black History Month.]
In 2011, my sister Jane and I visited our sister Sophie who lives in Oregon. On one of our sight-seeing trips, we went to Corbett, Oregon and discovered Farm Maid Goat’s Milk Soap. We really liked this soap and the many scents it comes in. We have Sophie send us a supply at Christmas. On each soap bar there’s a paper band around it, telling about the soap – where and how it’s made and the scent. It also has Acts 15:9b written on it: “…He also cleansed their hearts through faith” [NLT]. I thought that was pretty cool! In addition to soap, Farm Maid has candles, lotions and other items. You might want to check out the website: http://www.FarmMaidSoap.com.