Tuesday, June 19, 2012

is cleanliness next to godliness?

Well, I do love a clean house.  Mine or anyone else's.  I feel unrest in the midst of clutter, and when the dirt and stickiness and crusted-on-food-nastiness fills my environment ... well, peace is fleeting, to say the least.  Many of my pet-peeves have to do with some kind of un-clean thing in my house, and I'm willing to admit that a mess can scream louder at me than any two-year-old.

And you'd think given that about my personality, my house would be clean more often than not... but you'd be wrong.  Most days, my house (and therefore, my heart) is a wreck.  Toilets un-scrubbed, papers and trash un-sorted on my desk, carpet un-vacuumed,  and floor un-swept and un-mopped.  I used to think I was the only one, but years and friends have taught me I was sorely mistaken.

And so I make many efforts toward physical cleanliness, because I'm so very protective of my peace.  Time management can help a little with that.  And so can kids who are older than five, and oh, Lord, I'm so thankful for their increasing ability and initiative.  But, the Father is also teaching me a bit today about spiritual cleanliness. Clean-ness of heart and soul and hands.

In my daily reading God walks me through Acts 14 and 15, and it makes me long for that kind of church body.  The growing, praising, sharpening, cleansing kind.  I'm asking God how I can personally be like Paul and Barnabas - so full of faith in Him.  When they traveled from missionary work and evangelistic church-planting back to the saints in Jerusalem, the most powerful part of their testimony was the same as that of our testimony today: God turns sinful lives into the redeemed for His good.  I know nothing more powerfully praising, nothing more Christ-glorifying, than a life changed.  And, just as I spoke to a dear sister over the phone yesterday while she drove back across the country from a tumultuous "vacation" with her family, "God is still in the business of changing people."

"And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith." - Acts 15:8-9 (ESV)

This version implies the faith that makes all people clean comes from Him, because so often we feel like faith-failures, and I know I'm not the only one.  But being a Christ-follower means being a Christ-depender too, and the faith we so desperately need to hold tightly in our hands is out-sourced from His own hand.  Our hearts cry give me faith so that we can put it in Him, and what can result from that kind of exchange, except holding hands with Him (Isa. 41:10)? 

Faith cleanses our hearts.  Faith in a good God (Psalm 116:5) who gives us good things (James 1:17) and works even the worst mess for our good (Romans 8:28), because we trust with faith - given into our hands and washed over our entire selves.

Lord, I want more faith from Your good hand so that my heart can be clean. I trust in You alone, Jesus to do this for me.  I want this kind of cleanliness - a heart cleansed and pleasing to You.  Hands purified and ready to love.  My soul adorned to be your pure bride. Only You can do this for me, Spirit.  Hold my hand, Father.  Today and every day hereafter.  I'm Yours.

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