Is Your House in Order?

“There is a time to keep, and a time to throw away.”

—Ecclesiastes 3:6,NIV


TV reality programs showcase hoarders for our entertainment. However, hoarding is neither entertaining nor laughable. An excess of clutter in our homes can be the symptom of a severe psychological disorder. Hoarders not only cling to things of value, but they also cling to mounds of things that have no value at all. Most of us say we can’t comprehend this type of thinking, and yet we often replicate it.

The start of a new year is the perfect time to take inventory of areas we’ve neglected and rid our homes of items we no longer use. When I clean, I tend to concentrate on the rooms people see and push aside the cluttered drawers and closets (and heaven forbid, the attic). Out of sight, out of mind, right? Wrong. Because I know the clutter is there, it creeps into the corners of my life and disturbs my peace until I’m pressed to do something about it.

But clutter doesn’t only accumulate in the physical realm: it builds up in the spiritual aspects of our lives as well. Anything that disturbs our peace or blocks our pathway of communion with the Father is clutter. Let’s face it: no one wants to open the door of their prayer closet and meet an avalanche of shelved grievances, stored anger, or suffocating pride.

The prophet Isaiah told King Hezekiah, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die; you shall not recover’” (2 Kings 20:6). We may think Isaiah was short on bedside manner, but the truth is, he delivered a hard message from the Lord straight to the proud heart of a king who had opened up his doors to the enemy. Isaiah’s message produced repentance, brought cleansing, and added years to the king’s life.

“It’s time to put your house in order” is not a declaration we want to hear. Those words from our doctor mean he believes our days on earth are few and that we need to attend to the important things before it’s too late—things that if left undone would burden and add further heartache to the lives of those we love. But what if hearing and heeding his words could add years to our lives, or at least enrich our remaining days? Wouldn’t you welcome them?

In church, we sing, “All to Jesus, I surrender; all to him I freely give.” This song is so familiar it’s easy to let the words roll off our tongues with little thought. However, surrendering to the Lord requires intentionally barring the door of our hearts to the enemy, giving God the keys to every chamber, and clearing a pathway to his throne room through repentance and prayer. Are you surrendering your all to Jesus or only giving him lip service?

Be intentional. Today is the day to set your house in order.



The Empty Chair

“When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him.”

Luke 24:30–31, NIV
9326689187_83a6e4ccb9_z.jpg“Hey! That’s my chair!”

Silly as it is, I imagine at some point you’ve gotten upset when someone took your seat—or someone has gotten upset with you for taking theirs. If not, perhaps you played musical chairs as a child. How did you feel when there wasn’t a chair left for you? Did you push and shove to claim the remaining chair? Did you walk away upset because you lost the last seat?

Regardless of what we lose, we’re prone to get upset when someone takes something we believe is rightfully ours— even if there is music playing in the background.

No one likes to feel cheated, but what about when we cheat ourselves? Who do we argue with then?  Do we even know we’re cheating ourselves—or care?

The heartbreak is that we regularly cheat and steal from ourselves, but we seldom bat an eye about it. Then, to add insult to injury, we repeat the behavior.

We cheat ourselves out of quality time with those we love, fritter away hard-earned money, and squander our days. We choose the path of least resistance, make harmful food choices, and give television sitcoms priority over reading God’s Word. The Word is where I want to sit for a moment, so pull up a chair (your own, please) and let’s talk.

There are plenty of chairs at the Lord’s table. There’s one reserved for each of us, so we never have to worry about someone stealing our seat. The question is: do we want it? I ask this because there are often empty chairs at his table. Sometimes the empty chair is mine. Do you allow misplaced priorities to rob you of time in God’s presence too?

A few days after Christ’s resurrection, the Emmaus disciples failed to recognize Jesus. Not until they invited him into their house and received the Bread of Life from his nail-scarred hands did their eyes open to his identity.

Do you wonder where Jesus is in your circumstances? Wonder if he cares? If so, refuse to substitute fare from the world’s table for the Bread of Life that comes through reading God’s Word. God paid the ultimate price for our reservation at his table—the blood of his only Son, Jesus. To know that we’re cheating ourselves out of a relationship with Jesus Christ and do nothing about it is foolish.

If we could pull back the curtain of eternity and see what is to come, there would be no empty chairs at the King’s table. Push away from the world’s table and claim your seat. There’s a chair reserved for you.



Knowing Perfection

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Ephesians 2:10, NIV

019The large, burly instructor ripped the nose from the face of my clay sculpture and threw it across the room while shouting words of disapproval. At the time, I was too frightened for them to register, but his disparaging remarks left a lasting impression deep within my spirit. The mere remembrance of that dreadful day causes me to shudder.

The setting for this traumatic experience: a big-city art school in the South. The perpetrator: a ruthless sculpture professor who enjoyed intimidating freshmen. His target: the clay head I painstakingly labored over. His casualty: me.

I was proud of my creation. And the nose―well, it was just about perfect, at least in my eyes. I had no clue someone would view my creation with less pride. Nor did I realize how my view of myself and my ability was about to change.

Words―emit power! Their tentacles probe deep into our souls, unearthing emotions we are unaware exist. Words have the capacity to change how we think, feel and act. They have the power to uplift or to destroy.

Regardless of the power of the words that he spoke, it was neither my instructor’s words nor his actions that wielded the deathblow to my spirit. It was the negative self-talk I continued to feed my soul. My destructive internal words wore away at my confidence, not only in my individual creativity but in who I believed I was as a person. I second-guessed myself and my abilities. My God-given potential slipped from view. I only saw my failures.

God, our Creator, looked on all He had made and said it was good. We are His masterpiece―the pinnacle of His creation. It saddens Him when we view ourselves with disdain. We are created to do good works through our relationship with Him in Christ. It grieves Him when we minimize our assignments and dismiss our roles in His divine plan.

God envisioned the work first. Then He envisioned us. He created us for His specific purpose and enabled us to complete it. It isn’t about us at all. It’s about knowing our Creator and realizing His desire for us to join Him in His work.

The enemy is out to destroy our God-given tasks. He is out to destroy us.  It is essential that we resist the destructive words of the enemy and follow the detailed plans of our Instructor.

We are a team.  And as we work in tandem, we will truly know God’s perfection.