Oh, I am dirty again!

What are some of the ways you get the 'dirtiest' in life? For me, I am tinkering with learning to work with wood. All that type of work can leave you incredibly 'dusty', 'stained' with this or that, and kind of 'stinky' by the end of the project. Clean hands and a pure heart - two conditions we often find eluding us or hard to maintain. Our hands get "dirtied" by the things we do - the actions we take - like the times I am working out in the shop. Our hearts reveal their "soiled" condition by the words we speak, the thoughts we entertain, and the ways we respond to life around us. There are clearly benefits to maintaining both clean hands and a pure heart, but I wonder just how often we focus on one and not the other?

Who may go up the mountain of the Lord? And who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart. He who has not lifted up his soul to what is not true, and has not made false promises. He will receive what is good from the Lord, and what is right and good from the God who saves him. (Psalm 24:3-5)

The question posed - who may go up to the mountain of the Lord? Today we don't find ourselves making the journey to the city of Jerusalem like they did in the times this passage was penned. The journey was for them to go to the Temple of the Lord - to kind of 'go to church' as some might think of it today. In the times of the psalmist, this was a regular journey for the worshipers of the Lord. In fact, there were regularly "scheduled" feast days when all of Israel was to gather, bringing various types of offerings all the way to the city - regardless of where they lived or how long the journey might be for them. Each offering served a purpose - some to make "atonement" for sins, others to offer thanks for the tremendous harvest taken in from the fields - but all pointed to some aspect of the work of God in our lives and the ultimate sacrifice his Son would make for us.

Today, we think of "going up to the mountain of the Lord" as approaching the throne of grace - getting ourselves in a frame of mind and heart to receive from God what he might provide to us in that time of focusing on him for just a while. It is us going into God's presence, sitting at his feet, and worshiping him - not always alone, but with deliberate focus and purpose. Since the completed work of Christ at the cross, we all have this access to the "holy place" of God's presence. In fact, scripture declares we may come boldly into his presence! Yet, the "condition" of our hands and hearts may give us a little concern in doing so! We 'get dirty' with things we don't even know are 'soiling' our lives at times. The condition of our hands and hearts oftentimes isn't even in our focus as we enter his presence, but God knows the condition of these two things determines how well we will receive what he has prepared for us!

Clean hands and a pure heart are not a one time condition. The ability to keep clean hands is impossible without frequent washing! Think about it - how many times in a day do you "physically" wash your hands? Why do you wash? Simple - to get rid of what "contaminates" those grubby little hands! You probably are like me and desire they be clean before you eat, after you touch something which "soils" them, or just as "good measure" to avoid spreading all manner of 'unseen diseases'. The same is true of our "spiritual hands". They need frequent washing to remain clean! Purity of heart is elusive if the heart is not continually touched by the great healer himself. In time, our physical heart, if not taken care of, will become "occluded" with all kinds of fatty build up and hardened by "calcified" crusts. A similar process occurs when our spiritual heart is not continually renewed by the touch of God's healing hands. We begin to feel the "choking off" of the very supply we need in order to survive. We become hardened to the very things which move his heart so freely. Our hearts need "tending" and "mending" in order to beat as his does!

He who has not lifted up his soul to what is not true and has not made false promises will enter boldly into the presence of God. Guess what? All of us struggle with getting a good and solid grip on truth! All of us absent-mindedly promise things we have very little intention of ever doing! Yet...by the grace of God, we can enter boldly into the presence of God - even when we aren't all that 'pure' or 'washed' prior to coming into it. It is as we "wash again" and submit to the "purifying process" of God's touch we are made "clean" and "pure" all over again. No one struggles with this 'purity' thing alone - we are all in the same boat! Maybe this is why God encourages us to look out for each other, spurring one another on in this walk of grace! We all need grace - renewing of our minds, cleansing of our hearts, and our actions being anointed by his grace. So, who goes up to the presence of God - ALL who are willing to be washed! We don't wash alone! There is BIG "sink" in God's house! The moment we realize we need to be 'washed' is the moment we realize where it is we find this 'cleansing'. Just sayin!

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