Wash your hands

Hand washing is important. We go through our days touching doors, handrails, and shopping carts. We shake hands and high five. We flush toilets and read waiting room magazines. Do you know what could be on all that stuff? Just wash your hands, people! Not like every five minutes or anything, but maybe before you put your grubby little fingers all over those McDonald’s french fries. Because if you don’t, you will die! Too far?

hand-washingExodus 30:17-21 17 Then the Lord said to Moses, 18 “Make a bronze basin, with its bronze stand, for washing. Place it between the tent of meeting and the altar, and put water in it. 19 Aaron and his sons are to wash their hands and feet with water from it. 20 Whenever they enter the tent of meeting, they shall wash with water so that they will not die. Also, when they approach the altar to minister by presenting a food offering to the Lord, 21 they shall wash their hands and feet so that they will not die. This is to be a lasting ordinance for Aaron and his descendants for the generations to come.”

These guys seriously had to wash or die. It wasn’t just a passing comment; the Lord said it twice. “Wash your hands and feet so that you will not die.” Not catch a cold. Not get the flu. No… die.  I guess God really wanted the priests to be clean when they entered His presence. It makes sense, right? God is clean and so if we are to be in His presence, we are to be clean, too.

The good news is that elaborate hand and foot washing isn’t necessary for us to be in God’s presence. We don’t need a gold basin filled with water. We don’t need washcloths and towels. We just need repentance and we just need Jesus. Jesus is the wash basin through which we are cleaned and repentance is our response to the wash basin. We recognize that we have dirty hands that need to be cleaned. Jesus cleans. And because of his love for us poured out on the cross, we are made clean.

If you don’t wash your hands you might catch a cold. But unlike Aaron, you won’t die. Jesus has already done the washing. Receive in it. Bathe in it. Thank Him for it. Be clean!

Ya… I’ve got nothing

Genesis 44:16 “What can we say to my lord?” Judah replied. “What can we say? How can we prove our innocence? God has uncovered your servants’ guilt. We are now my lord’s slaves—we ourselves and the one who was found to have the cup.”

empty pocketsHave you ever been in a conversation that just isn’t going your way? Or maybe you have tried to get away with something that you know you shouldn’t be getting away with? Sometimes we try to talk our way out of things, but it doesn’t always work. “Well…” we say, “I was going to…”  And at some point we realize that all we have is empty words.  There are no excuses, explanations, or angles that are going to get us out of this one.  That’s when you simply say, “ya… I’ve got nothing.”

Essentially, that is what happened to Joseph’s brothers. He kept setting them up to look like crooks even though they weren’t. They tried to explain it but there simply was no explanation. There was no wrongdoing on their part in the situation, but they were convinced that God was punishing them for selling their brother into slavery. They kept on trying to find an excuse but eventually gave up trying to make sense of it all. They realized that they were broke; their figurative pockets were empty. “Ya… I’ve got nothing” was all they had left to say.

I wonder sometimes if we try too hard to keep ourselves looking good. We put on the smile and pretend everything is great. We hide our sin behind a facade of good behavior in hopes that no one will notice. At what point are we going to throw in the towel, wave the white flag, and hit our knees? When will we cry out to the Lord in humility and ask Him to change this cold, hard heart? Friends, we all need to come to the “I’ve got nothing” place in our lives. We need to recognize that we don’t have it all together and that there are no amount of excuses that will make things seem okay. We simply need to surrender and know that the God who is calling us out is the same God who loves us enough to redeem us.

*In what places of life are you trying to make it seem like everything is okay? Instead, try admitting “I’ve got nothing” and see what happens next.

How to get refreshed

Acts 3:19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord

refreshedThere’s nothing like a swimming pool on a hot summer day.  It’s so refreshing!  We all love times of refreshing don’t we?  It might be a getaway with a loved one or some time at the spa.  It’s so essential to unwind, relax, and be refreshed.  That’s why we look to so many places to refresh us.  We are looking for the secret to relaxation, the key to refreshing.  I think I just found it.

Repent.  Wait, what?  Say that again.  Yes, I said “repent.”  In Acts 3:19, Peter lists refreshing as a result of repentance.  Now when I think about repentance, I assume that the result will be the first thing Peter said – that my sins will be wiped out.  That’s good enough news by itself.  I mean, who doesn’t want their sins wiped out?  I don’t talk to many people who say, “I really like the gross feeling of sin in my life. I think I’ll just hang on to it.”  No, people don’t usually say that.  But we don’t repent either.   We try to suppress the sin, but we don’t confess it.  We try to exercise our willpower over it rather that hold on to His power to overcome it.  So I need to repent if I want my sins wiped out.  I have got to repent if I want to lose the gross feeling.  I must repent if I want the enemy to lose his power in my life.

Oh yes, we were talking about refreshing.  Peter said that if you repent, times of refreshing will come to you from the Lord.  Maybe that’s because repentance brings us into right standing with Him.  And right standing allows us into His glorious presence. Maybe it’s because God honors the humble and contrite heart and brings His healing presence to our every need.  Or possibly it’s because God loves His children.  Whatever the case, repentance brings refreshing.  It brings peace and joy, turns mourning into dancing, and welcomes the Father’s embrace.  Yeah, I guess that sounds pretty refreshing.  We should all try it today.  Ask God what you have in your life that you need to turn from.  Then repent… and enjoy the refreshing that only He can bring.

The Messenger

1 Kings 14:7-9  7 Go, tell Jeroboam that this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘I raised you up from among the people and made you a leader over my people Israel. 8 I tore the kingdom away from the house of David and gave it to you, but you have not been like my servant David, who kept my commands and followed me with all his heart, doing only what was right in my eyes. 9 You have done more evil than all who lived before you. You have made for yourself other gods, idols made of metal; you have provoked me to anger and thrust me behind your back.

Uh oh… someone’s in trouble.  Remember when you were a kid and your brother got into big trouble and you were the messenger?  Yikes!  Sometimes it was exciting to tell them they were in trouble, because they had just clocked you in the face with a plastic toy.  Other times, you were afraid for them as the wrath of mom and dad was about to come.  Imagine being Jeroboam’s wife in this situation; she had to be the messenger.  “Hey Bo, I’ve got some bad news for you.”

And what a message it was! “I raised you up,” God told him.  “I called you out among the people, chose you, and made you king.  I told you to follow all my commands and I would be with you.  I wanted to be your God, your one and only.  I was ready to bless you and your descendants.  But you couldn’t manage to set me alone in your heart.  You didn’t follow my commands, but followed the evil in your heart.  You turned your back on me and now I am angry.  You have experienced my blessing, but now you will experience my wrath.”

I don’t know about you, but I would be freaking out right about now.  Nobody wants to get news like that.  It’s news that cuts to the heart and makes you want to throw up.  It was too late for Jereboam to do anything about it, too.  He had already messed up so bad that God had made up His mind.  But today God has mind up His mind about something else.  He has made up his mind to forgive you and accept you regardless of how bad you’ve blown it.  He sent His Son to usher in forgiveness, grace, and reconciliation.  And each day you get to choose to serve Him.  He wants to be loved with all your heart; He wants to be your one and only.

He gave us the Holy Spirit to not only comfort us, but to correct us.  He warns us of our sin and gives us the power to cut off our allegiance to other gods.  He helps us in our weakness and gives us strength to remove our idols.  That’s our God!  So if the Holy Spirit is bringing you some bad news about the allegiance of your heart, do something about it today.  Fix your eyes only on Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith.  It’s not too late.

Use the door

Luke 7:29-30  All the people, even the tax collectors, when they heard Jesus’ words, acknowledged that God’s way was right, because they had been baptized by John.  But the Pharisees and experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John. 

Picture yourself standing at the front door of the house.  You can hear people having fun inside and would like to go in too.  But you don’t really believe in using doors.  Unfortunately all the windows are locked and you haven’t mastered the skill of making your body go through a wall yet.  So you are stuck on the outside, because you wouldn’t use the door.  It’s your loss, really.  There is much fun to be had inside.  Not only that, but if it starts raining, you are going to be miserable.  And if you live in Washington, it is inevitable that it will happen soon.

Do you know what happened to the Pharisees?  They couldn’t enter the house that was the truth about Jesus Christ because they wouldn’t use the door.  The door was repentance that came through baptism.  People that came to John came to repent.  But not the Pharisees; they were too religious to repent.  They couldn’t see the error of their ways.  If you refuse to see the error of your ways, you will not likely receive the truth that Jesus has to bring.  You see, repentance comes before freedom.  Repentance is the door for grace.

So many people want the grace without the repentance.  They want to enter the house without using the door, but it just doesn’t work that way.  Jesus came to make a way.  He said that he was THE way, THE truth, and THE life.  Do you get that?  There are not many roads to grace.  There are not many roads to heaven.  No, there is just one: repentance, forgiveness, and justification through Christ Jesus.  Have you tried to shortcut your way into grace?  Have you been too stubborn or too prideful to admit where you are wrong?  Use the door today, my friend.  Use the door.

You can run, but you can’t hide

2 Samuel 20:20-22 20 “Far be it from me!” Joab replied, “Far be it from me to swallow up or destroy! 21 That is not the case. A man named Sheba son of Bicri, from the hill country of Ephraim, has lifted up his hand against the king, against David. Hand over this one man, and I’ll withdraw from the city.” The woman said to Joab, “His head will be thrown to you from the wall.” 22 Then the woman went to all the people with her wise advice, and they cut off the head of Sheba son of Bicri and threw it to Joab. So he sounded the trumpet, and his men dispersed from the city, each returning to his home. And Joab went back to the king in Jerusalem.

Remember when you were a kid and you played hide n seek?  I do.  Sometimes you could find a really good hiding space.  I can still remember some of the best places to hide in my parent’s house.  But there were some pretty lousy hiding spots too.  These were mostly taken by rookie hide n seekers.  Doesn’t everyone know to look under the kitchen table?  It’s just obvious.

Enough about hide n seek; let’s talk about Sheba.  He chose a pretty lousy hiding spot, too.  He tried messing with the king and then ran away and hid in a village.  But a woman of that village was loyal to the king and had his head cut off.  This is the problem with hiding from justice; it just doesn’t work.  There is no good hiding spot, because God happens to be able to see and know all things.  Hiding from Him is quite ineffective.

I wonder what would have happened if Sheba had asked to repent to the king?  I wonder if the outcome would have been different if he embraced surrender, repentance, and service.  What if he would have committed to serving the king for the rest of his life?  We have the same opportunity.  Because we are guilty, justice will find us… and it will affect us both in this life and the life to come.  But we don’t have to run away.  Instead, we can embrace surrender to the King.  Instead, we can let repentance be the cry of our heart.  And we can choose to serve the King with our whole lives.  This is the path to freedom.  It is the path of humbly running to the King rather than foolishly thinking we can run away and hide.