Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Clean Hands, Clean Hearts

I'm studying Exodus. Okay, I know that probably isn't your favorite book of the Bible--or even of the Old Testament. But I am learning some amazing truths and finding there is so much more to Exodus than I ever saw before. Consider this a plug for Beth Moore's Bible Study titled "A Woman's Heart -- God's Dwelling Place."

My normal morning routine is to wake around 5:30am, spend 30-45 minutes in reading the Bible and praying, about 30 minutes exercising with Gilad, a shower and it's time to leave by 7:30am. I used to exercise first and have my devotional time after my shower, but I invariably ran late and short-changed my time with the Lord.

So I was caught off guard this morning when I felt a very strong leading to do my exercise routine and shower first. But I went with it.

Our "Treaure" this morning was Psalm 24:3-5:

3 Who may ascend the mountain of the LORD?
Who may stand in his holy place?
4 The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not trust in an idol
or swear by a false god.[a]

Naturally, my first thought was very literal, "Did God really lead me to shower first because He cares about whether I'm sweaty and stinky when I come to Him in prayer?"

Thankfully, the study led me past the obvious, beyond the surface, to a deeper understanding. We were studying the Bronze basin that resided in the courtyard of the Tabernacle where the priests must wash their hands and feet before offering a sacrifice and entering the presence of the Lord. The priests were first required to be consecrated by a blood sacrifice and cleansing before serving. A perfect picture of Christ's sacrifice on our behalf and out subsequent baptism. Our baptism isn't about getting physically clean--it's a metaphor for our sins being cleansed.

Then, each time they approached the Tabernacle to meet with the Lord, they were required to wash only their hands and feet. John 13:10 tells us, "One who has bathed," Jesus told him, "doesn't need to wash anything except his feet, but he is completely clean." This cleansing pictures our on-going sanctification--the process of conviction, confession, and repentance that enables us to enter the presence of a Holy God! Just as the Psalmist tells us: "Who may stand in the holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not set his mind on what is false and who has not sworn deceitfully."

Although as believers we have been cleansed by the sacrifice of Christ and washed in the waters of baptism, we cannot enjoy the presence of God or His fellowship on an on-going basis unless and until we have gone through this process of confession and repentance.

God was definitely speaking to me through my study this morning - but the message had very little to do with the order of my morning routine and much more to do with the state of my heart when I approach the throne of God.

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