Tuesday, July 11, 2017
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We have some wonderful Native American friends in the Northwest, and during one of our reservation outreaches, they honored us by inviting us to stay in their home. We had a great stay, but I did have to learn a custom that was new to me. When you walk in their front door, you are greeted with a pile of shoes. Now, in many Native American homes in that area, it's expected that your shoes won't make it past the door. Which makes you think about what socks you're going to wear that day for sure; probably not the ones that look like Swiss cheese. Actually, to come into the house with your shoes on is to really dishonor your hosts. And anyone who has had to sweep or vacuum the trail left behind by dirty shoes knows it's not just about honor. It really makes sense to not track dirt into a clean house!
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Leaving Your Dirt At The Door".
The idea of taking off your shoes before you come in actually has a long history. Take Joshua, for example, on the eve of leading the Jewish people against Jericho. Our word for today from the Word of God begins in Joshua 5:13. "Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand.
Joshua went up to him and asked, 'Are you for us or for our enemies?' 'Neither,' he replied, but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.' Then Joshua fell face down to the ground in reverence and asked him, 'What message does my Lord have for His servant?' The commander of the Lord's army replied, 'Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.' And Joshua did so."
Now, Joshua is at a critical moment here. There are some major battles and obstacles ahead of him, as well as some major victories. And the Lord has important information to give him...but first, the shoes. After Joshua shucks his sandals, God gives him the battle plan he needs for the challenge he's facing. But first...the shoes.
Remember, Moses had that same experience at the burning bush. Before he could get the Lord's message for him, he had to take off his shoes. Now our friends in the Northwest don't want dirt brought into their house...so they expect people to remove the things that carry the dirt. And that seems to be God's message to Joshua, to Moses, to you and to me. Before you can hear from His heart; before you can get His word for the challenge you're facing, you've got to remove your shoes. You've got to get rid of the dirty stuff at the door of His Throne Room.
And that may be why your answer hasn't come-you've dishonored the Lord by entering His Throne Room, still hanging onto that dirty stuff. David learned, as he recorded in Psalm 66:18, "If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened." Now there are many reasons why God delays His answers to His children's prayers: it just isn't His time yet, He knows it wouldn't be good for you right now, or He's building faith and patience in you. But sometimes the reason God doesn't answer is the dirt.
Remember, God's the One the angels call, "Holy, holy, holy." And the thrice-holy God cannot bless you while you are hanging onto some sin that killed His Son. You can't work hard enough, you can't pray hard enough, you can't cry hard enough to move the hand of God if you haven't repented of the dirty stuff. Maybe it's a habit or a wrong attitude, a wrong relationship, a compromise, some self-centeredness or deceitfulness. But like our friends in the Northwest, God is saying, "Don't come in here with that." So before we say "please" and "help me", we need to come with a prayer that says, "I'm sorry. I want to be clean."
You don't walk into God's presence, tracking in with you something dirty He cannot tolerate. You honor your Lord when you take off your spiritual shoes before you enter His presence. You honor Him when you leave your dirt at the door.