Clean House

Every Wednesday night we host a small group in our home and every Wednesday when I get off work at 4pm it is a mad dash to get the house clean.  Carpets get vacuumed, magazines get neatly placed on the coffee table, tile gets swept (and mopped if needed), wood gets dusted, kitchen sink gets shined, counters get wiped down (with my favorite Mrs. Meyer's cleaner), and the coffee pot brews...filling the house with that fantastic aroma.  It takes effort to get it all clean and when our guests arrive they see a clean, put together home.  But, the truth is that my clean living room and kitchen is just the image I've portrayed to my guests of what I want them to believe the rest of the house looks like.  When they leave, I open up all of the bedrooms to see utter chaos. See, in the mad dash to get the rooms without doors clean, the rooms with doors are the holding grounds for where the stuff that was once cluttering up the living room just gets tossed into.  Rather than taking the effort it would require to clean every room and put everything in it's appropriate place...I just make the outside look good while keeping the other rooms hidden by shutting the doors.

When I walked into my clean living room tonight I had complete satisfaction and a sense of awe of how good it looked, but then I opened my bedroom door and saw what was hidden.  YIKES!  Reality hit...my house is not clean, it just looks clean from the outside...eventually (sooner rather than later) I will have to clean the bedrooms. 

The Lord spoke to me at that moment  that we sometimes do the exact same things with our lives.  We spend a lot of time and energy making sure what people see on the surface is put together, but there are places inside that remain hidden that we don't allow anyone to see.  Christians can be really good at this game.  We look the part, we are dressed to impress, we are at every activity that is happening at the church, we are good Bible study girls/guys... we are doing really good things...we look amazing from the outside...but, on the inside there is hidden sin or we are just flat out in pain, but just don't want to allow anyone to see that we aren't the perfection we've portrayed ourselves to be.  Please know that I don't say this in a condemning way at all, because this is something that I have to frequently pray about too (sometimes Pastors & their wives are masters at this :))

What God wants and desires from us isn't just to look good from the outside, but He desires our hearts...He desires every part of our beings. He wants to come in and clean every inch of us so that we can have the life that He has destined for us.  He wants us free!  If we are just going through the motions of keeping up the good Christian appearance...we must realize that is religion...not relationship. 

In the following passage of scripture, God clearly states how he feels about appearance & religion.

Isaiah 1:13-17 (The Message)

"Quit your worship charades. I can't stand your trivial religious games:Monthly conferences, weekly Sabbaths, special meetings— meetings, meetings, meetings—I can't stand one more! Meetings for this, meetings for that. I hate them! You've worn me out! I'm sick of your religion, religion, religion, while you go right on sinning.  When you put on your next prayer-performance, I'll be looking the other way.  No matter how long or loud or often you pray, I'll not be listening.  And do you know why? Because you've been tearing people to pieces, and your hands are bloody. Go home and wash up. Clean up your act. Sweep your lives clean of your evildoings so I don't have to look at them any longer. Say no to wrong. Learn to do good. Work for justice. Help the down-and-out. Stand up for the homeless. Go to bat for the defenseless."

Hurts a little bit doesn't it?!  There is good news though...there is hope!  Christ died on the cross and paid the ultimate sacrifice so that religion would be demolished & we could walk in relationship with Him. No matter what we've done, no matter what turmoil is going on the inside, He is always ready and willing to forgive & heal.  He is a gracious and merciful God who longs to be let inside so that He can fulfill what He gave His life for...to redeem our brokenness and make us whole...to give us abundant life!

Maybe you look great on the outside, but you know that the inside isn't looking so hot...open up your heart and let God extend kindness and grace to you.  Maybe you don't even know what to pray.  When I don't know what to pray and I'm dealing with areas that are hidden, I simply pray scriptures. I encourage you to read Psalm 139 in it's entirety, but here are two verses that I pray frequently:

Psalm 139: 23-24
"Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."
As I leave you tonight, I just want to encourage you as we are approaching Easter weekend...remember the sacrifice Christ made for you and open up your life in its entirety to Him.  There is no better way to thank our risen Lord than to give our lives completely to Him.  Open up all the doors in your life and let Him clean house...He does it better anyways! :) 

Oh how He loves us!

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