Thursday, January 22, 2015

Thoughtful About . . . Purifying Ourselves

This week, my husband went to a friend's Bible study to see about helping them with recordings. Then the next day we went to our Bible study with other young parents. Then the next day, we went to church.

And those three days in a row, using three different scriptures, the same message was spoken. Purify yourselves.

Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.
          ~ II Corinthians 7:1 (NIV)

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.... Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.
            ~ James 4:8, 10 (NKJV)

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.
             ~Titus 2:11-14 (NKJV)

The force of them all, in the various contexts, was the same. If we want to be something different...if we want to be set apart...if we want to avoid getting sucked down into the culture around us...well, this is how we do it. We purify ourselves of the things of the world. We get rid of all the contaminants.

How? In the first of those Bible studies my husband attended, that's what they were talking about. The how. And I love the answer they came to. That we do it by filling ourselves up with God. When we do that, when we fill ourselves up with Him, we don't have to worry about how to get rid of the earthly things. They just don't fit us anymore.

It's kind of like eating right. I don't know about you, but I love my junk food. And if I just try to cut out junk food, it's agonizing. BUT, if I instead focus on putting good stuff in--if I make up my mind that I WILL eat 5 servings of fruits and veggies a day, do you know what I've found? That I'm so busy eating the good stuff, which fills me up, that I don't have room or time for the bad stuff. It just stops mattering.

On the way home from church we were discussing the Purify Yourselves theme of the week, and my husband asked, "So why do you think this message is being preached right now? Is it something ominous? I mean why do we have to do this right now? What's coming?"

I can't really answer that, obviously. But to me, it didn't feel like a doom-and-gloom threat--purify yourselves or else. It felt like a key to a promise. So often lately we've been talking about how we can change our culture. How we get the attention of the world and point it toward Him. How we speak to this generation. 

To me, this message felt like a how-to. It felt like God saying, "Do you want to change the world around you? Then start with you. Get rid of the world inside you so that I can fill you up. And then you'll shine with Me, and others will see, and things will start changing."

It goes back to a saying we heard a few years ago:

I wanted to change the world.
But I couldn't.
So I decided I'd change my community.
But I couldn't.
So I thought I'd change my church.
But I couldn't.
I figured I'd change my family.
But I couldn't.

So I decided to change myself.

With God, I changed me.
And then my family saw and was changed.
Then my church saw and was changed.
Then my community saw and was changed.
And then the world saw...

We can't just change the world. We can only change ourselves. But WHEN we change ourselves...it doesn't go unnoticed, my friends. But I also believe this isn't a message just for my house. This is a message for the church.

Do we want things to change? Do we want the culture to realize where they're heading? Do we want to reclaim our spiritual heritage? To we want to embrace the full authority of the Holy Spirit and all He can do through us?

Then it's time we get off our rears and onto our knees. It's time we purify ourselves. That we wash away the filth of the world by filling ourselves with Him so fully that there's just no room for anything else.

And then...then we get to watch what He will do through His servants.


Pouring Water photo credit: Global Water Partnership - a water secure world via photopin cc
Overflowing Bucket photo credit: Kamoteus (A New Beginning) via photopin cc

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