I don’t know if you are a person who likes to clean? I don’t. I like it when someone else cleans and I can just enjoy a clean room or car or whatever it may be but I don’t enjoy cleaning. I have four older sisters and when I was a kid my father made me do dishes. There was something in my little boy mind that thought “this is just wrong. Five women in the house and I still have to do dishes? That’s just not right.” Call me what you want but every little boy would say the same thing. Of course now that I’m all grown up my wife is grateful my father made me do dishes because I do them often but as a kid I didn’t like it at all. In my little boy mind doing dishes was just a burden I had to bare.  

     A few years back ago I had a moment with God through James chapter 1 verse 8 in where the invitation to cleans my heart went from a burden to an amazing invitation. James 1:8 says “Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.” It’s very important to know that when James said this he was talking to believers. I was struck by the words “purify your hearts” I immediately said to myself I can’t do that only God can do that. I think I even said something to the effect of “Lord I can’t do that only You can do that?” I don’t know how your conversations go with God but for me often they start with a question. One of my life time verses is Proverbs 25:2 which says “

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter,
But the glory of kings is to search out a matter. NASB

Very often when I’m reading scripture I come accross something that provokes a question in me. I have come to learn that God brings to me to a question I need the answer to and He takes me on a journey to find the answer. I have never heard the voice of God with my ears but I have learned to listen in my heart and realize if I will listen carefully I will often hear His still small voice return to me as a thought and the thought will often be something I already know. As I thought about it I realized it’s true that only God can truly cleans a heart but it’s also true Jesus made that cleansing available to us and we must do our part. He will not make us even though we need it. I was then reminded of what James said in verse 21; “So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.” Then it came to my mind what it says in 1 John 1:8-10 “If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts. NLT

Notice in this passage it says “if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” We must be honest with God, own and confess our sins if we want Jesus to forgive and cleans us. We can “purify our hearts” by recognizing it’s the blood of Jesus alone that purifies us from sin and being honest before Him of our need. “If we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” That “if” my friend puts the ball in our court. Jesus has already provided all that’s necessary for us to keep our hearts clean but we must come and confess.  

So as we start this new year I invite you, even urge you to clean house, God’s house, your heart! Remember “we are His house” Ephesians 2:20 NLT and everything associated with God is holy especially we His sons and daughters. It’s not automatic it’s just like doing the dishes we must do it whenever necessary. It’s not always a fun process, it can be pretty messy quite frankly but we must do it none the less. But here’s the best part that James was reminding us of, God desires to draw near. “Come close to God, and God will come close to you.” Do we desire this? Do we desire to be close to God? I have to admit for to many years in my Christian life I did not. I had so many miss-conceptions about God’s heart toward me. I had a thousand and one reasons why I couldn’t be close to God and unfortunately they kept me at a distance for many years but that is not our Fathers heart. Many years ago I heard someone say “you can be as close to God as you want to be.” That’s not true is it? Honestly when I first heard that I didn’t believe it. Do you? Do you believe you can be as close to God as you want to be? It’s true my friend and James 1:8 proves it. God promises if we will draw near He will draw near to us but it’s also true we must purify our hearts as part of that process. That is an absolutely amazing reality that The Almighty One is waiting for us to draw near to Him so He can draw near to us. If that truth doesn’t do something in my heart it only shows how indifferent and callus I’ve become. 

In closing I’m reminded of an amazing passage in Hebrews 4:14-16 that says; So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. What a amazing promise if we will just come and confess our sins when needed we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. The heart of our Father is wide open and Jesus has made the way the only question is will we come receive the cleansing we need and He will draw near.