I've traveled outside the United States many times, but I've never had to wash my feet to get back into the country. Except for the last time. It wasn't exactly my feet that had to be washed, but the shoes on my feet-and all the shoes I had worn on my trip to the United Kingdom...because of concern over an epidemic of foot-and-mouth disease. So many British cattle and sheep had been destroyed because of that highly contagious disease - and while people can't catch it, they can carry it. So, as an important precaution, all of us travelers returning from that part of the world got to go through a separate line - where all our shoes were washed in a strong disinfectant. And none of us really minded. If we were contaminated, we sure didn't want to drag any disease back home with us.
Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Decontaminating At The Door."
As my shoes got scoured at Customs, I couldn't help but think about the decontamination scene told about in our word for today from the Word of God. Remember God's command to Moses when he heard the Lord's voice speaking to him from the burning bush. Here's Exodus 3:5 - "'Do not come any closer,' God said. 'Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.'"
Joshua was given similar orders when he met the Lord on the outskirts of Jericho - "The commander of the Lord's army replied, 'Take off your sandals for the places where you are standing is holy.'" There's important symbolism in this command from the Lord to two of His greatest leaders. Your shoes are presumably the most contaminated thing on your body, carrying around all the dirt you've picked up wherever you've gone. And God says, "Don't come into My Presence with contaminated stuff. Get rid of the dirt before you approach Me!"
Which is something we fail to do all too often. In a sense, we dare to come running into the presence of the Most Holy God with our filthy shoes still on - with all our contamination. They didn't want me coming back into this country with contaminated stuff - and God certainly doesn't want you coming into His Throne Room with all your accumulated dirt. You don't come dragging spiritual disease into God's presence.
Maybe you have been - and maybe that's one reason your prayers haven't been getting answered. Psalm 66:18 says, "If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened." That's why it's so important to confront our sin regularly, repenting of the sins of this day, this hour, applying the blood-bought forgiveness of Jesus to my wrongdoing when it happens. We don't wait for days before we shower - we shower regularly to get recent contamination off our body. How can we do any less when we come to our holy, holy, holy God?
Maybe you've been contaminated by hard feelings, by lustful thoughts, by growing anger, by sins of deceit, by things you never should have listened to or looked at. Listen to the call of God in 2 Corinthians 7:1 - "Let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God."
Don't drag your dirt in where it doesn't belong - into the Throne Room of the One who died so you don't have to live that way any more. Leave your contaminated stuff at the door - and let Him make you clean again.