Sunday, September 23, 2018

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Clean Inside and Out

One of the things we noticed when we moved to Georgia a little over four years ago were a lot of signs advertising businesses that power washed houses. Once I got settled into my new job, I asked a couple of my colleagues about these businesses. It turns out that the humid weather, tree pollen and red dirt tended to make a house look dirty.  The sun would bake the combination of mold, mildew and dirt into a dingy film or stain that would just make a house look sad. After living in our house for a couple of years, I realized that that dingy film could not be easily washed off with soap, water and brush. It really required a pressure washer to loosen and wash away the film. In fact, a lot of the businesses that did pressure washing used a mixed of water and bleach to break down the film and wash it away. Even the roof shingles would have a film build up. So, every spring I would see these signs popping up along the roadside for pressure washing houses, roofs and driveways. 

When I was growing up in Texas, my mother had her springtime ritual of doing a deep house cleaning. Anything that was not nailed down was taken out and scrubbed within an inch of its life. Mattresses were flipped. Closets emptied and old clothing would be either donated or given to our neighbors who enjoyed using old clothes for quilts. Although we did not have to pressure wash the outside of the house, we had to clean the inside.

No matter whether you own a home, car, boat, airplane or whatever, you clean them inside and out. By cleaning each thoroughly, you ensure that they will last for a long time and that dirt, grime, mold, mildew and rust will not destroy what you have worked so hard to afford.

Our physical and spiritual lives are the same way. We must bathe regularly to keep our bodies clean. We must keep our spiritual lives clean as well by doing what the Holy Spirit directs us to do. When we have our spiritual lives cleaned up, they radiate their beauty and the glory of God into our physical lives. Others see what it truly means to be a Christian.

Paul tells us, in 1 Corinthians 6, that our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit. We are responsible for their upkeep and continual spiritual maintenance. “19 Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, 20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.

By maintaining our physical bodies and spirits, we bring honor and glory to our God and creator. It is only by His grace and power that we have been redeemed and made holy. It is through His one and only son, Christ Jesus, that we have received this gift. We should not take it for granted or treat it as something we are entitled to. We cannot earn our way to heaven or everlasting life on our good looks or what we have done for those around us. Our salvation comes from believing in God and then accepting His will as more than just a part of our life. His will is our life. As such, we must always ensure that everything we do and say brings only honor and glory to Him. This includes taking care of our outside body and our inner spirit.   

In Luke 11, Jesus is invited to dinner with one of the Pharisees. Pharisees were responsible for the strict observance of the traditional and written law. Because of this strict observance, they held a place of superior sanctity in the Jewish faith. When Jesus sat down for dinner, he did not go through the traditional hand-washing ritual required by Jewish custom. The Pharisee immediately noticed this and was amazed by his failing to do what was dictated by tradition. Jesus responds to his look of astonishment, “39 You Pharisees are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and wickedness! 40 Fools! Didn’t God make the inside as well as the outside? 41 So clean the inside by giving gifts to the poor, and you will be clean all over.” 

While the Pharisees concerned themselves with the cleaning of the outside, some forgot or ignored the fact that the inside of a person is equally, if not more, important. In order for us to clean our spirits, we must act with a Christ-like attitude. We must love one another, take care of those who are in need, pray not only for those we love but also pray for our enemies, share the Good News with all and, most importantly, praise and worship our Heavenly Father. It is only by doing these things that we are able to clean our spirits and make the Holy Spirit a welcomed guest in our hearts. As we continue to grow in the teachings of Christ Jesus and follow his example, we are able to keep and maintain that radiant glow that reflects the radiance of the Father’s glory into the darkness of a sinful world.

If we just occupy ourselves with maintaining our outward appearance, sooner or later people will see us as posers or fakes. We constantly hear reports on the television or see articles on the Internet about “fake news”. As Christians, we cannot be accused of being fakes or charlatans. Once this occurs, God’s gift of salvation becomes cheapened and has no value in this world. We must always remember that we are members of a royal priesthood and the ambassadors of God. We are His emissaries and have a special mission to go into the world to preach the Word of God and baptize them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 

The sinful world of darkness is eager to marginalize our faith and will do anything to stamp out Christianity. As Christians, we cannot allow that to occur by posing as Christians. We must act and believe as children of the Most High.

In Matthew 23. Jesus rebukes the Pharisees for acting like righteous men. “27 Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

Do not let yourself fall into spiritual disrepair or fail to keep a clean spirit. Make sure you not only keep a clean outside but keep a clean, spotless inside. If we fail, then we are no better than the Pharisees that Jesus called hypocrites.

In recent studies by religious polling organizations, the number one reason people cite as their reason for not going to church is that it is full of hypocrites. Over the decades, this one reason continues to grow. Are we as Christians whitewashed tombs? Are we relying on washing our hands and not concerned about spotless souls? Have we forgotten our sacred responsibilities as members of God’s royal priesthood? If we have, God will remind of us our duties to the Kingdom and will give us guidance back to Him if we ask. If we earnestly seek Him, we will find Him.

By maintaining a spotless life and spirit, our testimonies of the work and love of God and Jesus in our lives will ring out as clear and true as the ring of a bell. When we do all things for the honor and glory of God with clean hands and hearts, we can truly stand firm in His grace.    

May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.
~ Numbers 6:24-26 New Living Translation (NLT)

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