Wednesday, October 31, 2012
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I had to stop at a convenience store one Halloween night. I was not "trick or treating." I was just trying to pay for the gas I put in my car. That's when I saw this interesting sign they had posted; it was a sign I had never seen anywhere else. It simply said, "Please remove your mask before you enter." I wasn't wearing one. But for one unhappy moment, I did remember what they used to tell me in school long after Halloween, "Hey, Ron, Halloween's over! Take off your mask." I wasn't wearing one then either. But the sign was no joke. Obviously, they didn't want someone to try to pull off a Halloween heist, wearing a mask that would conceal their identity from the security cameras. Honestly, I didn't see anyone in the store that night with a mask.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Remove Your Mask Before You Enter."
I can almost imagine a sign like that one at the store, being displayed at the entrance to the Throne Room of Almighty God which we enter when we pray. "Please remove your mask before you enter." See, God isn't impressed by our religious words or our religious image. He is not interested in seeing the masks we sometimes wear with various groups of people around. He doesn't want to hear a recitation of the same tired old prayer script that we often repeat without thinking. He insists that we come as we really are - totally unmasked. The real God can only help the real you.
The futility of pretending or masquerading before God is abundantly clear in our word for today from the Word of God in Hebrews 4, beginning with verse 13. It says: "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account." So it's useless to come before God pretending we feel how we're "supposed" to feel instead of how we really do feel. It's a waste of time to come with our rationalizations, our excuses and our cover-ups. We are laid bare before Him.
There's no point in putting on a tie when you're spiritually and emotionally naked before Him. Tell it all. Let it go. Be real with Him. He won't love you less. He already knows what's behind the mask you show everybody else. You won't shock Him. You won't surprise Him, but God operates on an invitation basis. He comes into a part of your life when you open it up to Him. So He's asking you to check your mask at the door of His Throne Room and come, as the hymn says, "Just as I am, without one plea, but that Thy blood was shed for me."
This passage goes on to tell us that "we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet without sin. Let us then approach the Throne of Grace with confidence so we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." So, come in with your burdens and leave with His grace, which is always greater than the burdens. But come honestly.
Maybe you've prayed many times, acting as if you really belong to God, as if He's really your Father, when in fact, you've never really put all your trust in His Son. You've never trusted Jesus to be your personal rescuer from the death penalty for your sins. You've never turned your back on the sin that killed Jesus and said, "Jesus, You're my only hope of having my sins forgiven." So while everyone around you may think you really know Him, even though you may have fooled them and maybe even yourself, for years, Jesus knows there's never been that moment of personal surrender to Him.
And the longer you wait, the harder your heart is and the greater the danger that you will die without Christ in your heart. Oh, He may be in your head, but maybe not in your heart. This very day; this is the only day you're sure you'll have, you need to "remove your mask before entering." All that Christianity, all that religion, park your religion at the door and let God know you're just in desperate need of His Son to be your Savior. Let us help you with that. Go to our website, will you. It's YoursForLife.net.
When you come to God honestly, and you admit your need, and you begin your relationship with Him, well you'll enter His presence lost. But you'll leave found, and you will finally know that you belong to Him for real.