Faithlife Sermons

Spring Cleaning

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This morning we have read through quite the collection of Scripture. In Jeremiah 31:31-34 we read about a new covenant that is said to be coming. This new covenant would see God’s instructions being written on the hearts of the people. Not only that, but we see that God promises to forgive those who know him, and he says that all will know him.
Our Psalter this morning comes from the very mind of David. After sleeping with Bathsheba and killing her husband, Uriah, the prophet Nathan confronts him. That moment led to this Psalm that we have read. In this song of lament, David cries out to God for forgiveness. He admits fault, that he has sinned against God. He then begs the Lord to forgive him, to cleanse his heart.
As we move into Hebrews 5:5-10 we are given a glimpse into Jesus’ life. Christ is called the High Priest who has been designated by God. We are told that while he was alive on earth he would offer prayers and appeals to God with loud cries and tears. We see here a very devoted, submissive, and obedient Jesus crying out to God on behalf of the people. His obedience stems from submission to the Father.
Finally, our Gospel reading. John 12:20-33 holds one of the moments where Jesus predicts his own crucifixion. Here, he explains that a grain of wheat must fall to the ground and die so that it can produce much fruit. He then speaks of obedient service to him yielding favor to the Father. But, one of the most profound things that Jesus says here is that he will be lifted up from the earth and he will draw all people to himself. John then narrates for us that this was to predict the type of death he was about to die.
Jesus’ death is the culmination of all of these things. His death was the establishment of the new covenant spoken about in Jeremiah. His death was his act of forgiveness. His death was the perfect act of obedience to the Father, the perfect sacrifice.
Once and for all, Jesus’ self-sacrifice as HIgh Priest paid the full price, it covered us all. This was the ultimate prayer to the Father for the people. It brought together the people as he was raised on the cross to the Father, just like the sorrowful pleas of David were lifted to the Father above. David prayed for absolution and forgiveness, and here it was, given in Jesus’ death.
Yet, despite all of this, despite Jesus’ sacrifice and perfect offerings, we still find ourselves struggling with sin. We struggle either with our own sin, or more likely the sins of others.
It’s easier for us to deal with the sins of other people, right? If it’s the other person sinning we can just point it out, tell them over and over again that they shouldn’t do that, and then we can feel good about ourselves for doing what we could. We look at what they do, what they say, how they act, and we determine what course of action they should take.
Sure, we may talk to them about the sin being committed, but it’s so much easier to avoid that awkward conversation. Instead, we just tell someone else about that person’s sin and hope that if word gets around enough maybe they’ll just stop?
But, no matter what, we think that our truest intention when dealing with other people’s sins is to help, but I think many of us really look to others as a scale for our own sins. We compare their sins with ours and try to determine whether or not our sins are as bad as theirs. If our sins aren’t really as bad, for some reason, we feel better about ourselves. If they are as bad or worse we tend to justify ourselves. Maybe, we should worry about the sins that we ourselves commit against God.
Now, should we dwell on the sins that we commit forever? Of course not! The perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ assures us of forgiveness. However, we can’t ignore the sins we continue to do. We must confess them to God and one another, seek forgiveness, and stop. Really, we need to approach our sins as David does in this morning’s Psalm. “Create in me a clean heart, O God. And, renew a right spirit within me.”
Yesterday, March 20th, marked the first official day of Spring. This is the time of year that many people love. It seems to curb the seasonal depression that most people gain, and it’s the sign of new life. We see the budding of leaves and flowers on trees and bushes. We hear the calls of birds we hadn’t seen in months, and the grass finally grows a deeper green.
Spring brings with it the birth of a new generation of many animals, a fresh smell in the air, and warmer weather. However beautiful all of this is, Spring brings for me a lot of sneezing, itching eyes, and runny noses. I’ve always had seasonal allergy issues. It’s nothing too bad, especially when compared to the allergies of some, but it’s nonetheless annoying.
But, do you know what else is annoying? Spring cleaning! I know, some people really love Spring cleaning. They love decluttering their homes and cleaning the areas of the house that haven’t been touched in months. They love the “newness” that comes with a freshly cleaned home, but I’ve never enjoyed Spring cleaning.
But there is one type of Spring cleaning that I think we should all get behind, a Spring cleaning of the heart. How dirty is your heart this morning? Does it need a gentle dusting, a slight shake outside, or does it need a complete renewal? It’s time that we each commit to a deep Spring cleaning of our hearts.
We need to start wiping down all of the muck that blackens our hearts. Blow off the dust of sin, scrape off the tar and mud that’s built up around it. Our hearts cannot fully function if they are weighed down with gunk, and if they’re covered in something that shouldn’t be there. In Jeremiah, we read that God’s instructions would be written on our hearts.
Sometimes, it feels like my heart is an old book. Have you ever seen a movie where one of the characters walks over to an old and dirty pile of books on a table or on the bookshelf. They inspect the pile carefully, grab one of the books, and then proceed to blow a bug puff of air from their mouths that sends once settled dust out into the air. Then, and only then, can they actually see what the book is. Then, and only then, can they read what has been written.
Brothers and sisters, the sins in our lives coat our hearts and make it so much more difficult to read God’s instructions on it. It’s not the sins of our friends, family members, politicians, lawmakers, movie stars, etc… that coats our hearts in this dust…it’s our own sins.
It’s the moments where we intentionally sin, or those moments when we neglect to hear the Spirit and do as we are told. As Christians, we should be seeking each and every day to live more and more like Christ. Today, we read that Christ lived in perfect submission to the Father, seeking always to do his will. So, no matter how hard, or inconvenient, or unpopular it is, how willing are you to be obedient to the Father?
All of us in this room and watching this video must recognize the filthiness of our hearts. We each need to see that through our own sins we stop being able to read God’s instructions clearly. So, are you ready to clean off the dust and grime, or are you just going to let it build up and build-up to the point that your heart isn’t even recognizable anymore?
So, my prayer for you this morning, and my prayer for me, is that we can all fall to our knees before the Father and long for a clean heart. The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus did not happen so that we could continue to live in sin however we like. As confessing Christians, we must seek to always step away from sin, keep our hearts clean and healthy, and hear what the Father would have us to do next.
Let us each do a little Spring cleaning in our lives. Sure, we can dust off the counter, vacuum behind the sofa, and maybe even clean out the gutters. But, most importantly, let’s remove the grime of sin from our hearts.
Let our prayer today, and every day, be this...
Create in me a clean heart, O God. And renew a right spirit within me.
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