Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Blessings and the Blesser

Here at Hoosier Country Christian / Hoosier Country Home we have so much for which we are thankful.  We will celebrate the day like most, I suppose, sharing the day and a meal with family and friends.  There will be brothers, sisters, in-laws, in-laws to be, friends, children, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, grandnieces and grandnephews.  Our family Thanksgiving gatherings have always been a place where those among us who have no family near can come and be welcomed, and we have been richly blessed with their company.  There will be talk of family, Church, community, and world goings on.  There will be games, noise, running indoors, shooing outdoors, and lots of laughter.  And there will be prayer.  One more way in which we are blessed is that we have an extended family that not only counts our blessings, but recognizes our most cherished blessings come in proportion to our relationship to the One who blesses.
And thus God has always intended it to be.   Before His chosen people would enter the Promised Land, God instructed them of the connection there would be between the blessings He would send and their relationship to Him. 
Dt.8:6 (NIV) Observe the commands of the Lord your God, walking in obedience to him and revering him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills. 10 When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. 11 Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. 12 Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, 13 and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 
Many generations, and a virgin birth, a cross, and an empty tomb later, the Apostle Paul reiterated the connection and plainly set into words what a right relationship with Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord looks like, and how is it reflected in our relationship with those around us. 
Col:3:12 (NIV) Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
So today and every day enjoy that with which you have been blessed.  Count your blessings, thank the One who blesses, and strive to live today and every day like you are truly are grateful for all of it.  We are blessed! 
Col. 1:9-12,

Monday, November 23, 2015

As White as Snow

This week the Hoosier Country Homestead underwent a bit of a transformation.  It went from looking like this (early in the month to be completely honest) ...

... to looking like this!

Over just a few hours on Saturday the landscape was changed from browns with a just a touch of green to pure white.

What do you don't see in the 'before' picture are weedy garden beds that need to be cleaned out, some garden plots that really should have been tilled, some trash wood that needs to moved to the burn pit and burned, the list goes on.  With the covering of snow, about 8" worth, none of that shows.  It's not that the things that aren't right were never there: They are and will be there waiting for me when the snow melts or when I choose to dig them out.  But with the covering of snow they cannot be seen and to those who don't go digging, the 'wrongs' can't be enumerated. 

The first big covering of snow of the year (before I get tired of plowing and shoveling it) always brings to mind music and lyrics we sing as part of our worship.  The two that come to mind are the hymn "Whiter than Snow" written by James L. Nicholson in 1872, and the more contemporary 'White as Snow" written by Leon Olguin in 1990.  I know there are many others based on the same texts, but these are the two that come to my mind.  There are two primary passages relating to being made white as snow that are familiar to many Christians: Psalms 51:7 and Isaiah 1:18.  I'm going to focus on the latter and will include some additional verses just for context.  Here God is speaking to His people through a vision given to Isaiah.  He is pleading with the people, already feeling the weight of His discipline, to turn from their evil and turn back to Him.

Isaiah 51 (NASB)

18“Come now, and let us reason together,”
            Says the LORD,
            “Though your sins are as scarlet,
            They will be as white as snow;
            Though they are red like crimson,
            They will be like wool.

      19“If you consent and obey,
            You will eat the best of the land;

      20“But if you refuse and rebel,
            You will be devoured by the sword.”
            Truly, the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

This same offer of covering of sins applies today.  Our sins are covered and we are made pure as the white snow by the blood of Jesus to all who accept Him as Lord and Savior.  It's not like my weedy life was never there, it's not as if I will never struggle with things that need to be tilled out of my life or never have to deal with 'trash' that needs to picked out and burned, but I can rest assured that when God looks at me, no matter what things are done and undone underneath, He sees purity.

But not a purity of my own doing.  Just as I had nothing to do with the 8 inches of snow that covered my homestead, I can do nothing to cover my own sin.  And just as I can never enough work enough around the homestead to make it so perfect there are no 'wrongs' to cover, I can never 'work' my way into purity.  It is Jesus who makes me pure, and I get that way through Him alone.  And just like the clean, fresh cover of snow on the homestead, there is a quiet and wonderful peace in that.

Col. 1:9-12,