Many year back I heard this ending of a long poem that an evangelist read at the close of his service It has always stayed with me. When I stand in the midst of a farm field filled with snow it feels for the moment like a barren place, forsaken by all life and hope. Winter in all its harshness has covered everything that was once green and growing. But God in His goodness and wonderful love knows exactly where we are. He has not lost track of our whereabouts. He is close by calling us to the warm fire of His home. There He will gently welcome us, wrap us in the covering of His love and comfort our hearts. There we will not be white like the snow -we will be washed and by made His blood…even whiter than snow
Filthy and black as the old trampled snow,
Sinner, despair not! for Christ has stooped low
To rescue the soul that is lost in its sin,
And raise it to life and enjoyment again;
Dying for thee,
The Crucified hung on th’ accursed tree!
His voice full of mercy falls now on your ear:
“There is mercy for you”—He will hear your weak prayer:
“O God, in the blood that for sinners did flow,
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” Anonymous
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Psalm 51:7
When I was small my mother always made me wait till after we had said grace before we ate. In Spanish we would say muchas gracias (much grace). In my little mind I didn’t quite grasp why, but in the passing years I am learning that the word grace really is at the center of gratefulness. Yesterday was a complete failure for me in the gratefulness challenge. I found though that as I genuinely confessed my own failures at ceasing my complaining and faced my own lack of gratitude, a real sense of God’s peace and mercy came to me.
David gives a glimpse of this mercy
Psalm 103:11-13 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
How wonderful it is to know and experience the real grace of God. We will never really become grateful or stop our complaining until the cross of Jesus Christ (The center of God’s grace) becomes the center of our thoughts and attitudes.
At the cross at the cross where I first saw the light
And the burdens of my heart rolled away
It was there by faith I received my sight
And now I am happy all the day Isaac Watts
…“Don’t touch this,” “Don’t taste that” and “Don’t handle the other”? “This”, “that” and “the other” will all pass away after use! I know that these regulations look wise with their self-inspired efforts at worship, their policy of self-humbling, and their studied neglect of the body. But in actual practice they do honour, not to God, but to man’s own pride. Colossians 2:23 (Phillips Ver)
Neither the split rail fence nor the no trespassing sign ever kept people out who wanted in. In the same way, the law with its rules and regulations, can never truly govern the soul of man. Eve will always taste the fruit, Adam will always disobey God. Only the power of the Holy Spirit in our life will break the cycle of sin and set us free to unlimited freedom found only in Jesus Christ!
And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ Matthew 20:6-7
Often this parable is taught as if the workers were being sent into the harvest of the vineyard. But though harvest is the high point of any year in farming, Jesus never mentions harvesting. Often people forget that in every season of the year there is work to be done on a farm and all of the seasons matter to God in His vineyard. The owner kept going out to find workers even till the eleventh hour because of the urgency of the work.
I am more a pruner of apple trees than of grapevines, but the process is very much the same. As we sit in Winter it seems the hopes and the flowers of Summer are only a distant memory, But, God has a job to be done even under the load of Winter snow. This is the time of pruning and it begins when the trees reach full dormancy. At that moment when everything seems cold and hopeless the preparations for next year’s harvest urgently need to begin.
That is the perfect time for pruning away the sucker growth that will rob the plants of their fruit bearing strength. Those are the days when diseased branches can be cut out without spreading the infections. That is the exact moment when the dead branches no longer can hide under the leaves of the living and can be stripped away to open the trees up to sunshine and air.
As co-workers in God’s vineyard we should never be discouraged in whatever season He is sending us out to work. Even at the eleventh hour Jesus sends us out with His promise that we will receive from Him His reward of equal grace. It is never too late, nor too early to press ahead with the work He has sent us to do.
The animals take cover; they remain in their dens. The tempest comes out from its chamber, the cold from the driving winds. Job 37:8-9
The Hawk has his solid nest in the pines and the eagle has fled to her mountain. The ducks and geese have packed their bags and wisely headed for warmer climes, but where do the little birds go? Where do my friends the chick-a-dee, the sparrow, and the tit-mouse pass their snowy stormy nights?
Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Matthew 6:26
Legend has it that the wider the lighter brown sections of the Woolley-Bear caterpillar the milder the coming Winter will be. According to my small friend we are going to have another whopper of a Winter! Are you prepared?
In Proverbs 31 we are given the picture of the woman who fears the Lord. She seems to be a cross between Wonder Woman and Zsa-Zsa Gabor. Not to detract from the thought that she is a great example for Godly women today, she can also be thought of as a picture of the church – The bride of Christ.In middle of that list of things like; taking care of the poor, being good stewards, working to provide for the family’s needs and being strong is a very interesting verse.
She is not afraid of snow for her household,
for all her household are clothed in scarlet Proverbs 31:21
As a part of God’s bride (the church) we must also remember to prepare for Winter. Around here we might put away the porch furniture, cover the grill and bring in the potted Hibiscus. On the farm, the last of the apples need to be picked off and put in the cellar, the cow corn cut and put in the silo and the house furnace cleaned and checked. These are all steps to protect and prepare because the gentle days of Spring and Summer are over. The long assault of cold, ice and snow are at our doorstep and we do all we can think of to be ready.
As a church we need to also prepare because Jesus is returning and though the timing is secret the event is certain. There are still souls lying exposed and vulnerable out in the harvest fields. The things we are doing will soon be exposed to the light of God’s presence and we need to evaluate their worth. Most of all we need to remember the Cross. It is the Cross of Jesus alone that covers, protects, prepares and makes beautiful our souls before God. The cross clothes us in scarlet and because of the sacrifice of our Savior’s blood we are safe and need not ever be afraid!