Silence and Centering (PAUSE FOR 2 MINUTES OF SILENCE)
“Be still, and know that I am God!- Psalm 46:10
Gracious and loving God, we stand in awe of You. You are holy, You are worthy, You are perfect, You are God. But our hearts often are indifferent, our wills often are enslaved, and our actions betray our confession of faith. We are sinners in desperate need of Your grace and love. Only by Your grace can we stop the misdirection of our lives, and turn ourselves back toward Your loving arms. Embrace us with Your lovingkindness, understand us with Your compassion, complete us with Your redemption. encourage us with Your Spirit. In humility and with thanksgiving, we pray in the Name of Jesus. Amen
Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)
Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.
Our heart – our feelings of love and desire – dictates to a great extent how we live because we always find time to do what we enjoy. Solomon tells us to guard out heart, making sure we concentrate on those desires that keep us on the right path. Make sure your affections are pushing you in the right direction. Put boundaries on your desires; don’t go after everything you see. Look straight ahead, keeping your eyes fixed on your goal. Don’t get sidetracked; watch out for detours that lead to temptation. -Student Life Application
Jeremiah 17:9 says “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” Your heart? your heart is the most deceitful? and wicked? But what about all those people that tell you to follow your heart? Why would you want to follow something that the Bible says is deceitful? Proverbs 4:23 provides with the answer when it says “Guard your heart above all else for it determines the course of your life”.(NLT) The Bible repeatedly instructs us to guard our hearts. Why? because since the fall (of man through the sin of Adam), our hearts turned away from God and towards sin. We are born with wicked hearts that reject the Lord. When we are saved, a part of the renewing process is renewing our hearts, which means renewing the desires of our hearts and turning them to God. Is it easy? No way! But the guarding of our hearts against sin and temptation is an essential part of Christian living.
Luke 6: 45 says “A good person produces good thing from the treasury of a good heart, an an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.” (NLT) See what a crucial role your heart plays in your life? in your lifestyle? In the way that others define your integrity and character?
How do we guard our hearts? The next following verses of proverbs answer that question:
Look straight ahead and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. Don’t get side tracked; keep your feet from following evil” (Prov. 4: 25-27, NLT). the answer is quite clear, mark out a straight path for your life and stay on it! refuse to get sidetracked by evil, however alluring it may seem. We talked about trusting God to direct your path yesterday. Lay your path before the Lord and trust that he will direct you on it. Hebrews 12:13 speaks of the importance of staying on a clear path, less we stray and cause others to stumble along theirs.
All of chapter 4 talks about learning and growing in wisdom. It is not a coincidence that the chapter closes with the guarding of the heart. It is one of the wisest things that we can do as Christians because from the heart, all of our actions flow. So check your heart! Apostle Paul instructs the Church to continually examine ourselves. Ask yourself these questions:
What parts of your heart do you need to work on to keep in check?
What sins do you struggle with and how can you start guarding your heart against them?
Is my heart a pleasing home for Jesus to live in? Or is it full of smelly garbage that needs to get cleaned out?
How are you prone to try to please God by your acts, rather than loving Him with all your heart? How will you guard your heart today?
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