Guard Your Heart | Static
Monday— Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. Proverbs 4:23
“There’s been a rash of burglaries in the neighborhood lately,” Tom told his wife, “so make sure the windows are closed and locked before we go to bed. I bought that expensive new security system. Hope it pays off!” His wife nodded and carried their sleeping baby upstairs. Then Tom turned to the heavy front door and jiggled the knob. Satisfied, he opened the door a crack, placed a landscape rock in the gap, and headed to bed.
Wait, what? Why worry about the windows if you’re going to leave the front door open all night? That’s a stupid thing to do if you’re concerned about break-ins, but let’s take a look inside our souls. There’s been a rash of deception and destruction in the lives of friends and neighbors, but are we leaving our hearts open to it? While stressing over physical health, financial security, and other people’s opinions, we often put a rock in the doorway of our lives called Pet Sins. Our excuses sound like this: “I know ______ is not right, but…” How would you fill in the blank? Try: bitterness, jealousy, sexual immorality, lying, greed, or addiction. Those are rocks left in the doorways of our hearts that keep the door open for Satan’s visit. Proverbs warns us that when we fail to guard our hearts, we are allowing our enemy unrestricted access to our lives.
Final Thought: Your enemy waits outside your heart for an opportunity to destroy you. Are you leaving the door open?
Prayer: Father, show me areas of my heart where I’m leaving the door open. What sins am I justifying that give Satan access? Help me learn to recognize and reject any idea that is not yours. I’m kicking the rock out of my doorway. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Tuesday— “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” Mark 4:23
Jesus said that odd little phrase several times, so it’s worth our while to camp on it for a few minutes and figure out what it means. Maybe an Irish Setter named Babe can help us. She was beautiful, with long red hair, floppy ears, and a brain the size of an acorn. Her hearing was fine—most of the time—until she saw a bird. Then she became instantly deaf, chasing birds in flight. Calls, whistles, threats, and car horns did nothing to slow her down. She had ears alright, but she refused to hear what she didn’t want to hear. She was so preoccupied with a pointless pursuit she was deaf to the voice of her master.
We can be a lot like Babe when we come across something in God’s word that we don’t like. We know we should be in church on Sundays, but the lake is calling. We heard God say “Thou shalt not,” but our flesh is screaming louder. We have ears alright, but we refuse to hear what we don’t want to hear. Even when Jesus was on the earth, in the flesh, doing miracles right and left, there were thousands of people who heard His words but did not hear His heart. They sat right there, like we do in church, hearing God’s voice but turning up the volume on their own frequency. “Discipleship? Ugh! Surely He’s not serious about that cross-carrying stuff. He must mean we should try to be more positive.” Jesus knew who was hearing Him and who was not. He still does. The ones who tune their ears to His voice are the ones who will hear him say, “Well done!”
Final Thought: Are you so preoccupied with pointless pursuits that you are deaf to the voice of your Master?
Prayer: Lord God, have I turned deaf ears to your voice? Am I fooling myself about my relationship with you? I want to have ears to hear all of what you want to say to me. Help me stop acting like a dumb Irish Setter. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Wednesday— Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. Ephesians 6:14
Truth has become as rare as a long-distance calling plan. Any pimple-faced geek with a camera can create a YouTube channel and declare himself the source of all of knowledge. Remember when the media at least made an attempt to give us plain ol’ news? Now the networks are as reliable as a fifty-dollar Fiat. So when the Bible says we are to put on the “belt of truth,” whose truth are we talking about? Republican truth? Democrat truth? Socialist truth? Kanye’s truth? Clearly there must be absolute truth somewhere, but how do we find it?
We uncover truth the way an archaeologist uncovers history. We dig until we hit it. Every society has created its own layers of opinion, folklore, tradition, and expectations. Discovering truth requires us to shovel all that aside and find the bedrock, which consists of “In the beginning God…” If the reality of God is the foundation upon which we stand, truth emanates from that. God has given us His very words which add details, principles, and instructions to our foundation. Paul explained that this truth is like a belt worn by a soldier. The belt was the foundation garment to which all the armor fastened. Without the belt, the body armor fell off. When God’s Truth is buckled firmly around our hearts, we can attach self-worth, joy, purity, and wisdom.
Final Thought: Where do you go to find absolute truth? If you are defining it yourself, it isn’t truth.
Prayer: Father, these crazy days of deception are so confusing. I don’t know who or what to believe. But you never change and your word never changes. Help me dig through all the chaos and let your truth make sense of it all. Amen.
Thursday— Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Corinthians 15:33
They were so fun! She was so hot! It was so exciting! That’s what we told ourselves just before the consequences showed up. We kept making excuses, listening to our enemy’s flattery: “You can handle this. You’re being a good influence on them.” When we finally woke up, we couldn’t understand how we ended up so far from where we thought we’d be. But it doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to solve this problem. The detour through Follywood began when we listened to the wrong voices.
We warn kids to stay away from troublemakers, but we often don’t take our own advice. Age doesn’t guarantee wisdom. We’re just as susceptible to influence as our kids are. No one can alter the law of gravity simply because they don’t like it. And we can’t alter the laws of relationships because God has already declared: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” While we’re instructed to love everyone and treat them kindly, we’re also instructed to be careful about who influences us. Take inventory of your most influential relationships. Where do they take you mentally? Emotionally? Spiritually? Morally? Bad company doesn’t always identify itself. It may sashay toward you with a flirty smile, flash past in a Bentley, or sit beside you in life group. It may pretend to be wise, innocent, or even godly. But you can identify bad company by the direction it’s headed.
Final Thought: Who was the bad company of your past? Who is it now? Wise people walk away; fools ignore the warnings.
Prayer: Father, this is an area that has gotten me into trouble in the past. I didn’t listen to your warnings and paid the price for it. I’ve been the bad company at times, and followed it at other times. May I become wiser about who influences me. Amen
Friday— Samson went down to Timnah and saw there a young Philistine woman. When he returned, he said to his father and mother, “I have seen a Philistine woman in Timnah; now get her for me as my wife.” Judges 14:1-2
Samson had so much potential, but he blew it all because he refused to guard his heart. Here’s how his story might sound in 2020: “Sam left his office at the church, dashed home to change, and headed downtown for the nightlife. He was young, good-looking, and poised for success. With his smooth talk and a charm that could melt steel, Sam was convinced he’d be the next Joel Osteen. After closing down most of the bars, he saw HER. Squeezed into a spandex dress that was more like a belt, she flaunted everything she had and it worked. No matter her atheistic views or loose morals, Sam decided she was for him.”
If you’re familiar with the rest of Samson’s story, you know things did not end well for him. Lust and arrogance are a deadly combination. But lust and arrogance define much of America right now, under the guise of freedom. Sex trafficking is funded by upstanding businessmen who violate someone’s child and then return to their own families. Our hyper-sexualized culture has 10-year-olds identifying with deviant definitions that would have made hookers blush a generation ago. “Get her for me,” is the theme song of the porn industry, of rape, of human trafficking. But lust is never satisfied. Arrogance won’t back down. Together they are destroying our culture, but they start by destroying the vessel that houses them—a heart that refuses to guard itself.
Final Thought: Is your heart harboring remnants of lust and arrogance? Listen to Samson’s warning. It will destroy you.
Prayer: Father, you know the places in my heart that harbor lust and arrogance. I haven’t guarded my heart because it makes me feel good. But the cost of that temporary feeling is too high. I confess it as sin and ask forgiveness. In Jesus’ name, amen.