Sunday, November 05, 2006

Cleaning the Old Store

Intro.: We are approaching the winter months.

  1. I want you to imagine, just for a minute, that everyone who owns a car in the parking lot chooses to never wash their car this winter.

  2. We let the salt, dirt, and grime build up on the cars.

  3. Now it is six months in the future. And we go look at the cars. They all look alike – they are all grey (or would you call it a dirty white). The license number could just as easily be covered with salt and dirt – and be unreadable.

  4. For our cars to really stand out, we need to get them cleaned up.

  5. I think the same is true for you or me – if we want to stand out, we need to get cleaned up.

Read: Psalm 51:1-12


Trans: Stores have been getting ready for Christmas for weeks.

  1. They start by cleaning up the store

  2. Then they restock the merchandise

  3. Then they begin to market the merchandise

  4. Finally, throughout the holiday season, they need to keep the stock fresh and up to date.

  5. This is the model we will use during the next few weeks as we prepare ourselves for Christmas.

T.S. The first step in preparing for Christmas is to clean up the store.

  1. We will need to get rid of the dirt

    1. As I go shopping throughout the year, it seems that store is the dirtiest just before Christmas. Shelves are empty, more merchandise seems out of place, there seem to be fewer employees around just before the Christmas season.

    2. As the manager of a store, I would take a “cleanliness” inventory. I would walk up and down the aisles noting the places that needed to be cleaned out. I would make sure I checked every corner. I would look under the shelves and behind the cash registers. I would look everywhere to find those places needing to be cleaned before putting out the new merchandise.

(Ill.) Of course, cleaning is not just for stores. For example Colley Reserve, an amusement park in Glenelg, Australia, is located in the southwest corner of Australia was quite a mess after the picnic for the towns kids. But by the end of the day, it was left looking pretty as a picture. At day’s end, organizers broadcast the news that hidden among all the litter were two marked pieces of rubbish which could be traded in for new bicycles. Never has a picnic ground been cleaned as quickly.1

(Appl.) Just as that store manager has taken the time to walk through the store to find the places needing cleaning, we occasionally need to take time to take a spiritual inventory of our own lives. Let me suggest four questions that can contribute to an effective inventory:

    1. How do you spend your time? Keep a record for a week. Look at how the time is used – are you using your time as God would have you use it?

    2. What are you doing for recreation? What movies are you seeing? What TV shows are you watching? What books are your reading? Would Jesus want to be seen with you as you as you participate in your daily activities?

    3. What are you doing for your spiritual life? Are you in the word daily? Are you involved in ministry?

    4. Are there sins that interfere with your spiritual life – not to come down on yourself, but an honest evaluation.

    1. Psalm 139:23 says,
      “Search me, O God, and know my heart;
      test me and know my anxious thoughts.
      See if there is any offensive way in me,
      and lead me in the way everlasting. .”
      We want to see ourselves as God sees us.

  1. We will need to get rid of the old merchandise

(Ill.) One of the places I drop by on a regular base for a coffee break is our local Tim Hortons. Dave is the manager – and he does a good job of keeping the place in tip top shape. But you know something, I never see his employees cleaning the windows. Instead, he hires an outside firm to clean the windows. Two window cleaners are there every Tuesday cleaning the windows – inside and out.

    1. And that is where I get stuck. It would be so neat if I could reach out and touch Sandra and take away all those things that God wants to change. I wish I could do it to myself.

    2. You know, it is impossible to clean up the life of anyone else. It is impossible to clean up my own life. That job belongs to someone else.

    3. David understood this – Nathan had confronted him about his relationship with Bathsheba. In Psalm 51 we see his response. Yes, he acknowledges his sin; but he asks for something else as well. Four times he asks God to clean out the old stuff. Four times he asks God to wash away the sin.

      1. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. v 2

      2. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
        wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
        v 7

      3. Create in me a pure heart, O God,
        and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
        v 10

      4. Restore to me the joy of your salvation
        and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
        v 12

(Ill.) There is the story of the pastor who started his morning prayer, “Precious God, give us clean hearts, give us pure hearts, give us sweet hearts ...” and three ladies in the choir added, “Amen!”2

    1. The words were right, but those ladies got the message wrong – it is only God that can give us clean hearts, it is only God that can give us pure hearts. And it is only God, that can give us sweet hearts – regardless of how you interpret those words.

  1. We may never get it all clean

(Ill.) I drove up to Tim Horton's this past week and, sadly, I saw one really dirty window. Yes, it had been three or four days since the windows had been cleaned – but this window was really dirty. It was obvious, at least to me, that this window had not been cleaned for several weeks.
I had another situation where the cleaning was not perfect. We spent a great deal of yesterday afternoon raking the lawn. We tend to wait till late in the fall to rake – our trees never seem to let their leaves go. Yesterday, Jonathan, Wesley, Sandra, and I used our leaf blower and rakes to get the leaves out to the street. But you know, after we got all the leaves moved out to the street, I turned around and I still saw leaves on the lawn.

    1. God changes us at His pace. God changes us in His time.

    2. Even as God changes us, we will still find the need to recognize brokenness in our lives.

    3. Later in the month, we will talk about confession. But briefly, confession is agreeing with God. It comes back to where we started – we must continue to see ourselves as God sees us.

Conclusion: Returning to our original picture, once we have the store clean, we are ready to stock the shelves. And for that, we need to wait till next week.


1Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : A treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers. Garland TX: Bible Communications.

2Johnson, D. (2000; 2004). Did You Read That?. Thomas Nelson Publishers.

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