Read: Proverbs 4
Key Verses: Proverbs 4:23. "Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”
Devotional: Our hearts can play a powerful role in our lives. It’s our hearts that dictate our moods, our outlooks on life and our willingness to push through or throw in the towel in the midst of tough times.
Sometimes, because of the messed up world we live in our hearts are exposed to some awful things that we are forced into hearing or seeing. Sometimes we just want to plug our ears, shut our eyes and run screaming out of the room. Unfortunately, most of the time that’s not an option right? We have to learn how to navigate our culture and yet at the same time protect, monitor and strengthen our hearts.
Protect Your Heart: If we’re honest we’ll admit that much of the impurity that we expose our hearts to is by choice. We pretend to be forced into it because that’s easier than making the hard decisions of changing our habits. Secretly we long to be able to join in on the conversation that everyone else is participating in around the office.
Protecting your heart isn’t impossible, it’s just difficult. In the Bible, Matthew 5:30 (NLT) says, “And if your hand—even your stronger hand—causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.”
That doesn’t sound impossible but it does sound really difficult. The problem with this verse is that it doesn’t sound like fun. If we're honest, when we read this verse we know that there are some things in our lives that need to be cut off or cut out. Protecting your heart is tough work but if we’re going to live lives of purity that bring honor to God than we are going to have to make some tough decisions.
Monitor Your Heart: Most of us are familiar with what a heart monitor is right? If you’ve ever had a surgery of any sort you know what a heart monitor looks and sounds like. The doctor hooks you up to a heart monitor to ensure that while you’re in the surgery or procedure that your heart remains healthy.
Let’s apply that same idea to our “hearts”. If you’re not regularly monitoring your heart you are running the risk of having a heart failure. I love this one because compared to protecting your heart, this one is far easier. You have an opportunity every day to monitor your heart as you choose to surround yourself with people that will help you in that process.
James 5:16 (NLT) in the Bible says, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.
I love this verse but I sometimes think that people miss the meaning. James doesn’t say that confessing your sins to one another brings forgiveness, only God, through the sacrifice of Jesus can bring forgiveness. But confessing your sins to one another, opening our hearts and allowing others to do some heart monitoring can bring healing.
Strengthen your heart. If protecting your heart is level one, the basic responsibility you and I have to help ensure that you don’t go down a path of unrighteousness. Monitoring your heart could be considered level two, you’re communicating, “Hey I’m pretty serious about this idea of righteousness.” Strengthening your heart lands at level three. Strengthening your heart isn’t just about keeping impurity at an arms length. Strengthening your heart is about you intentionally going out and seeking what God has for your life. Strengthening your heart is about you not being on the defensive, it’s about you being on the offensive. It’s about you intentionally putting yourself in environments where you can be challenged spiritually.
David says in Psalm 27:8 (NLT), “My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me. And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”
I love the decisiveness of David’s statement. “Lord, I am coming.” Does that describe you? Are you actively trying to strengthen your heart?
Take Action: Take some time to rate yourself in the areas of protecting, monitoring and strengthening your heart. Which do you find the easiest? Why? Which do you find the most difficult? Why? What would need to change in your life to begin practicing all three of these important aspects of your heart?
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