Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Crossing The Jordan - Part 2

In Crossing the Jordan, Part One, we began to explore our role in following the Presence of God and carrying it in front of others as it relates to the journey of the Israelites in Joshua 3.  Today, as I’m rereading the passage once again, verse 5 is glowing at me in neon lights.  Here, Joshua gives an order..not just to the officers or the priests..but to ALL the people.  He tells them to CONSECRATE themselves. Some translations say consecrate; others say sanctify, make holy, or purify. This command from Joshua was similar to the command Moses gave the people in Exodus 19 at Mt Sinai.  In both situations, God was about to do something spectacular and He wanted His people to prepare for His Presence.

What does it mean to purify ourselves?  Yes, Jesus set us free from sin when He sacrificed His life at Calvary.  Salvation is a free gift that we only have to accept.  We may no longer be required to go through the ceremony of “purification” that the Israelites had to perform, but we DO live in a fallen world.  Evil is in a constant battle with good.  Distractions are everywhere, and many things are competing for our attention.  Some days, we may not even feel saved.   God is always with us, but sometimes, the circumstances of life cloud our vision and reduce His importance in our lives.  I don’t know about you, but those times don’t make me feel like I’ve crossed the Jordan to “freedom” on the other side.

Sometimes, it’s busy-ness and simple neglect of our relationship.  Other times, it may be outright blatant sin that we’ve allowed to creep in and take priority in our lives.  It may be bitterness or unforgiveness in our heart that separates us from Him. Perhaps it’s the guilt of past wounds or mistakes that make us feel like we’re never quite worthy to be in His presence. 

Water has to go through a purification process before it is drinkable.  Air often needs to go through a purification process before it is safely breathable.  Gold must go through a purification process in order to discard the less precious metals and allow it’s true value to be recognized. 

Joshua was commanding the people to purify themselves because “tomorrow, the Lord will do AMAZING things among you.”  He was urging them to take special care to make themselves clean because God was about to show up in an amazing way.  Like the water, air, and gold, it takes a process to remove impurities from our lives and hearts. It is not done haphazardly or carelessly.  It takes time and focus. People’s lives depend on the impurities being removed from water and air.  Gold will never be worth its true weight with the less desirable metals attached.  In the same way, we must separate ourselves from sin and pursue purity if we desire to experience the fullness of His glory.

So what does the purification process look like for us?  Rather than a magic formula, each of us needs to find the answer individually through Bible study and prayer, since Jesus wants us to have personal encounters with Him that allow us to be shaped to look more like Him. However, a great start is intentionally focusing our hearts and our minds solely on Him through devotions, worship, prayer, & fasting.  As He begins to speak to our hearts and deal with us on our own issues, we may find it necessary to make some radical “clean up” moves.  (In my head, Dora and Barney are singing their clean up songs and getting rid of clutter J).  Our process may involve some sacrifice, throwing out some things that are cluttering up the God-shaped hole in our lives.  It may require pushing away our plates or turning off our favorite shows for awhile out of desperation to see the AMAZING move of His presence that is right around the corner.  It may require new habits and new hangout spots, even a new vocabulary. Sometimes when we want to see the Amazing, we have to do the Radical.

We’ll talk more about the signs and wonders that followed in our next issue, but just know this. True freedom ALWAYS comes with a price.  It is costly, but hindsight always shows it to be worth the sacrifice.  You’ll see that crossing to the other side of the Jordan comes in a miraculous way. When He writes our stories with His Presence, the results always top a Hollywood Blockbuster. Stay tuned for more.

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