Cleaning and Sanctification


I cleaned my pantry out the other day.  I have been wanting to do this for months now.  When we moved into this house, I had the first pantry that I had ever had.  I did not know how I wanted to organize it nor when I put things in it did I want to think about getting rid of anything.  I just wanted to put things away and figured I would deal with it “later.”  I finally got to organizing and cleaning it the other day and it feels so good now to go in there and smell how fresh it smells and see how neat it is.  I had two shelves for the things I have canned such as jam or applesauce, but had no shelf for the empty jars. I have a shelf for empty jars now.  They used to be stashed into whatever empty spot there was. Another organizational mess.

This morning in Sunday school, we learned about the feast of Passover.  Our teacher spent time in Israel studying and was able to see the customs before him.  He told us about one family who would hide pieces of leavened bread around the house; the children then went around to find these pieces of bread.  They would then take this bread to the temple and burn it. Leaven is a picture of sin in our lives.  The point being made is how much we need to search out the sin in our lives, so that we can be clean before God.

The better we understand the depth of our sin; the greater we understand the depth of God’s grace.

The better we understand the depth of our sin; the greater our sanctification.

The disorganization, the clutter, and the dirt in my pantry bugged me for a long period of time.  It wasn’t until a few days ago when I decided that no matter how long it would take or how much effort I would have to put in, the task needed to be completed.

Sin is the same in our lives.  It may bother us, but we just keep dealing with it and looking for ways to co-exist with it.  Even close the proverbial door on it so no on sees what is really going on inside.  Hiding the sin does not make it go away.  Closing the door to my pantry did not make the mess go away.

In order to really do business in our lives with sin, we must intentionally seek it out.  Just as the children searched out the leavened bread before Passover, so we must search out the sin in our own lives.  We must listen when someone points out sin in our lives.  When we fail to listen and heed or fail to be sensitive to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, we are proud and stubborn and harboring more sin.

If you came to my house you would think it looks pretty clean.  I vacuum the floors and clean the bathrooms and make sure my kitchen is spotless.   What if you had looked in my pantry, would you have thought the same thing?

“Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself…” (Daniel 1:8).

It started in Daniel’s heart.  He wanted to be sure to remain clean before God no matter the circumstances.  Each instance we encounter Daniel in the Bible, his sanctification is growing.

The better we understand the depth of our sin; the greater we see our sanctification growing.

What must be lost to gain

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The 2018 winter Olympics are upon us.  I enjoy watching all of the competitions, so the next few weeks will be filled with watching athletes compete for a few short minutes for which they have trained for years, many since they were barely able to walk.  Is it worth all the sacrifice?  There is a lot at stake.  They have to spend hours practicing and becoming physically fit.  They have to watch what they eat, make sure they get enough sleep, find the right coach that they get along with and will also challenge them to their peak performance.  These athletes in every moment of their days are striving for physical perfection.

Two of our daughters have taken up figure skating, and doesn’t every young girl who watches figure skating in the Olympics dream that one day she could make it?  Once we got into the sport, we realized that the financial commitment was more than we could make.  The time commitment forces the athlete to give up just about everything else in life.  Yet, many willingly give it all up with the dream of being the best.  They willingly sacrifice sleep and leisure for early morning practices and coaching sessions.  Family life is centered on going to the gym, or the rink, or the hill.  It is not just the athlete that sacrifices; it is the entire family.

Is it worth it?  To some it is, and we watch their stories unfold before us and their Olympic dreams become a reality.  To others we see their dreams crash around them in a flood of tears and waves of disappointment of being so close and yet so far away from the podium and the medal.

We all have the same amount of time.  How is it we choose to spend it?  We all have talents.  How is it we choose to exercise those talents?  How many times have we said or heard someone else say, “I could never do that, I’m not that talented”?  Maybe you do not have the talent of figure skating, but you do have the talent of hard work, encouragement, or helping others.  There are no gold medals for encouragement on this earth, but in heaven someday God will tell you, “Well done good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:23).

Delaney and I are studying I Corinthians, and this week we were in chapter 9.  I have been pondering I Corinthians 9:27 “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”  This chapter has metaphors related to athletes in a competition.  At the original Olympic Games, a herald would call the athletes by name to line up and then read the rules so everyone could hear.  Paul in I Corinthians is using this metaphor in this verse.  As a Christian we need to maintain self-control over our bodies.  We need to execute discipline in our spiritual walk with the Lord.  If we do not, we end up being like the herald who after reading the rules, entered the competition only to be disqualified because he did not follow the rules.

The Christian life is not about the external rules that we must follow that get us to receive the ultimate prize-eternal life with God our Creator and Jesus our Savior and the Holy Spirit our Comforter. The Christian life is about living and loving from a right relationship with our God.  This enables us to be self-controlled and disciplined.

The Olympic athletes did not become great overnight, rather they executed much self-control and discipline.  When I meet Jesus someday, I do not want to look back over my life and regret.  Rather, I want to see that the self-control and the discipline allowed me to lay at the feet of my Savior the prize that only seems valuable because I could give it back to Jesus.

Money or Winning


There are a few things that we would consider a “universal language.”  Money, a smile, a shaking finger, a handshake, a gift, a raised or angry voice, or a gentle voice.  Any of these are understood by the receiver whether the giver is known or not.  Most of these have no hidden meaning, but two do.  Money or a gift could have a positive or a negative connotation.  They could be used as a bribe or as a gesture of love and kindness.

One of the shows that our family enjoys watching is “Survivor.”  It has been running for the last 18 years.  It has become quite a phenomenon and quite an accomplishment to be picked to be on the show.  They asked the contestants that will be playing in the next season a “Would you rather” question.  Would you rather win Survivor without winning the million dollars or be the first one voted out and win a million dollars?  So the question here is what is more important, the money or the title of “Sole Survivor.”  I asked my family this question and they were split.

So money or title/fame?  Maybe it is money vs. the experience. Being voted first off, one would miss the experience.

Money speaks a universal language.  We all need money to live.  Some of us think we need more money to live than others, but it is a need.

Some think that money will buy them whatever they need.

  • Happiness
  • Love
  • Friendships
  • Security
  • Salvation/Eternal life

We work so hard for this needed commodity and yet it has also become a symbol of value and importance.

Peter and John were preaching the gospel and people were accepting Christ as their Savior and receiving the Holy Spirit.  In Acts 8, Simon offered Peter and John money so he could receive the Holy Spirit.  Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money.” (Acts 8:20).  Simon thought money could buy for him what he wanted, but Peter told him, “repent of this wickedness of yours and pray to the Lord…” (Acts 8:22).

Money does not buy happiness, love, friendship, security, or salvation.  Simon thought that his money would get him the power of the Holy Spirit.  What Simon really needed to do was to humble himself.

Have you met a truly humble person?  They do not have to yell to get our attention, rather their humble spirit commands attention.  A humble person is easy to be around because they are more interested in another’s life than making sure everyone else knows about theirs.  They are good listeners.  They are encouragers. They are noticers.

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.” (James 4:10).

Consider what it takes to be humble.  In being humble, our happiness is not dependent on things, others, or money.

As I have watched Survivor for the last 18 years, I have noticed that the person that usually wins the money is not the loud or the obnoxious leader.  The path in life to the things that really matter is not the fame and fortune, it is the path of humility.

The “universal language” of a smile, a gentle touch, a gentle tone, and a servant’s heart are the things that speak volumes to others.  Wouldn’t we rather keep company with this type of person and see them win Survivor?  Then we must strive to also be gentle, with a servant’s heart, and a smile on our face.

Money can’t buy happiness, but a humble spirit goes a long way to showing others the love of Christ.