Two weeks ago today, while in Mozambique, I got up and took a cold shower. There was no hot water because the power was out in Nampula. I don't like taking cold showers. I certainly don't like shaving with cold water. The power goes off every Sunday morning in Nampula, so if you don't get up early, you're out of luck. My host, Mike McCoy, forgot to tell me that. That's why he took his shower early. When we got back that evening after worshipping with other evangelical missionaries, not only was there no electricity, there wasn't any water. Mike said that happens too. On Monday morning there was electricity, but no water. We had to leave for the bush early. So I didn't take a shower on Monday. And I didn't take one on Tuesday because they don't have showers out in the bush — although the good folks there do provide a ten gallon bucket of hot water, that has been heating all night on an open fire, for you and three or four others to use. I went from Sunday morning to Wednesday morning without bathing. I looked rough and probably smelled rougher. When we got back to Nampula, the first thing I did was wash my hands with hot water and soap. Out in the bush about the only thing you can do is use wet-wipes and waterless hand sanitizer. But those things don't get all the grime off. When I washed my hands at Mike's apartment, I couldn't believe how filthy they were. And the shower and shave with hot water? Ah, they really were heavenly! I was reminded that there really isn't a substitute for hot water and soap.

There is no substitute for the blood — the Blood of an Innocent One. When all is said and done, the blood is life. The blood of Jesus Christ, the very life of Jesus Christ, is the key to life in all its fullness. His blood, His very life is what cleanses our consciences and enables us to live joyfully and faithfully, giving ourselves unconditionally to him, preferring right over wrong. His sinless life allowed for His blood to be a cleansing agent, a purifier to clean us up. Because He gave Himself as an eternal and spiritual sacrifice to God for us, "Now we can serve the living God and no longer do things that lead to death" (Hebrews 9:14). There it is. Because of what He did, we can prefer right over wrong and right always leads to life while wrong always leads to death. There really is no substitute for the blood, is there?

And because there isn't, when our consciences are consciously cleansed with blood, a result is empowerment to serve the living God. What does your service amount to today? Each of us knows, don't we? None of us can serve Him with gladness of heart if we haven't allowed the blood of Christ to cleanse us. If there is no cleansing, there is no power. One of the reasons why pessimism pervades some quarters of the church is because the church, that is the people, has forgotten the blood. When the Blood of an Innocent One becomes the filter, we can, without a doubt, experience an invasion of optimism in the people of God. What a way to serve the living God — allowing optimism to saturate our existence, to inform everything we do.

At once that saturation of optimism leads us to realize that Jesus "offered himself" (Hebrews 9:14). A conscious conscience cleansing with blood will direct us to offer ourselves. So what are we offering today? We know that, too, don't we? There is so much you and I can offer — particularly in our material possessions. The truth is if we are conscious about having our consciences cleansed with His blood, we'll show it with our checkbooks and we'll do so we great optimism. Remember, Jesus "offered himself." It stands to reason, then, that we are to offer ourselves — everything about us. In doing so we are offering hope to a world that is hopeless without the blood, without the life of Jesus Christ.