Prepare Your Heart
"And Joshua said unto the people, 'Sanctify yourselves: for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you." Joshua 3:5

This week I've been thinking about preparations. When my daughters were young, December was a month of preparation. First there were the usual activities of cleaning and decorating the house, choosing and wrapping presents and ordering the main course for Christmas dinner. These tasks were sandwiched in between church services, children's plays, and parties for adults and youngsters, as well. Every Sunday the sermon focused on another aspect of "The Christmas Story," and heightened our anticipation of celebrating the Christ Child's birth.

Once Christmas was past, a new set of activities set in. You see, my eldest daughter was born on New Year's Eve. Every year I considered her birthday wishes early in the month--as in, what will we give her for Christmas and what will we save for her birthday--but preparation kicked into high gear on December twenty-sixth.

I needed to know what would please her. Who did she want to invite to her party? What theme did she want that year? We would make time together to visit the bakery to order her cake, then visit Target or the craft store to pick out plates and party favors. All of our preparations were meant to show her she was greatly loved. I made time to please her.

What response was I looking for in the heart of my daughter? Of course, it was an "attitude of gratitude." As she matured, I hoped she would see my love for her motivated the effort made to put on the best party ever. 

In Joshua 3:5 the nation Israel was instructed to sanctify themselves. God was about to do something wonderful for them, something they couldn't imagine. It was important for them to prepare themselves.

The Hebrew word used for sanctify is qadash. It also means to consecrate, purify, set apart and dedicate.

"Then the LORD told Moses, 'Go down and prepare the people for my arrival. Consecrate them today and tomorrow, and have them wash their clothing." Exodus 19:10

Washing away the dirt was always a part of making themselves presentable to the LORD. They were to rid themselves of the effect of the world. We know that God looks on the heart, so what are we to do?

"Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do." Joshua 1:8

"And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice--the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him. Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect." Romans 12:1-2

Joshua led the nation in consecrating (cleansing) themselves before the LORD. It was an act of faith based on God's Word. It prepared them for the victories that were soon to follow. For three days, while they cleansed themselves--spiritually and physically--they could see the raging current of the Jordan River at flood stage. They were not camped at a place where it would be easy to ford--cross over--the river. It would take faith to be obedient--and to wait and see how God would provide.

Where are you on your journey? Are you caught up in all the things that have to be done--work and school schedules--others' expectations of you or your own expectations for yourself? Have you slipped into a mindset that leaves God on the back burner? Are you ill? Heartbroken? Suffering in pain? Discouraged? Despairing of ever feeling good or happy again?

The worst time in my life EVER could be attributed to my being so caught up in the things of the world that I failed to prepare my heart to do good. It took me spending much time in God's Word--crying out for Him to search my heart (Psalm 139:23) and cleanse me--before our fellowship could be restored.

God wants to do wonders in your (and my) life. Are you ready?

"Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.  O give me back my joy again; You have broken me--now let me rejoice. Don't keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. .Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from Your presence and don't take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and make me willing to obey You."  Psalm 51:7-11

by Marilyn Allison