In Genesis 35 we see God calling Jacob to return to Bethel, where God had appeared to Jacob some twenty years earlier, to dwell there and to build an altar to the Lord. Jacob didn’t just run off to Bethel but he prepared himself and commanded his household to also prepare themselves, as this would be the land where they were to dwell.
When God calls us into His presence or, when we want to enter His presence, we cannot do so with our idols, our impure hearts and our dirty garments. First we must get rid of our idols, the `foreign gods` in our lives. An idol is anything that is more important to you than God Himself; anything or anyone we turn to for help and fulfilment, rather than turning to God. This can include things such as Facebook, computers, mobile phones, smoking, pornography, sport, and shopping. The list goes on.
Even Church and our service to God can become more important to us than actually dwelling - being `still`- in His presence. God doesn’t take our idols away. We have to make the choice to get rid of them, and then do it – to make the choice to give God priority in our lives.
Practical Step: Take some time to ask Jesus to show you any idols you may have in your life. Then take a step of action and get rid of it.
Secondly we need to purify ourselves; purify our hearts. We can purify our hearts by confessing our sins to Jesus and receiving His forgiveness. `If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness` (1 John 1:9). I have found that talking to Jesus, out loud, in the privacy of my room, does so much more than just ‘talking to Jesus’ in my mind. God does something special when we take the time to talk out loud to Him about all that is on our hearts.
Practical Step: Take some time (at the end of each day is ideal) to talk to Jesus, out loud, about all that is on your heart. Confess your sins to Him and then wait and allow His promises of forgiveness and cleansing wash over you and through you.
Thirdly we need to put on new garments. `I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich: and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may no be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see` (Revelation 3:18). Have you ever wondered what you can buy this refined gold and white garments with? Every single person has what they need to buy this gold – in fact – as you work through the second step talked about above, you are purchasing this gold and the white garments! All you need to do is receive the gifts from your Heavenly Father.
We give to the Lord all our sins and shame and everything which is not in accordance with His perfect will for our lives. Then we allow Him to replace these things with His glorious riches in Christ Jesus, with His gold refined in the fire. This way we are open to receive His Holy Spirit in a fuller measure, which is the balm for our eyes so that we are able to see `let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith` (Hebrews 12:1(b)-2(a)).
Practical Step: Allow God to reveal anything in your heart that He wants you to give to Him then give it up to Him. Then just ‘be’ in His presence and enjoy communion with Him.
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