Watch Over Your Heart

watch over your heart

“Above all else, watch over your heart; diligently guard it because from a sincere and pure heart come the good and noble things of life.” Proverbs 4:23 The Voice

Why do you think God asks us to watch over our heart?  I think it is because it is central to everything we do, say, think and feel.  Everything that comes out of us, originates from our heart.  If we are co-dependent, it’s because of an injury to our heart.  If we are narcissistic, it’s because of an injury to our heart.  If we are angry, violent or hostile, it’s because of an injury to our heart.

If our heart is guarded, really tucked into God for safekeeping, our hearts can operate in a healthy way.  God can heal every injury to our heart.  We still have to do our part and take our hearts to Him. We have to learn His ways in order to walk through life with a protected heart that is equipped to love others and see others the way that God sees them. It is a love that is not of this world.  It is a love that supersedes any love we have ever known.  It is the love of sacrifice and eternity. It is the greatest love story ever told.

Search my heart, Father. Let me place no other thing before You. Guide me. Please keep my heart straight. Holy Spirit, great Comforter and guide, keep me close to You in all matters. Keep my heart. Tend to my heart. Guard my heart.

Proverbs 4:23-26, John 3:16

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Be Prepared

Be prepared

“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.” Matthew 25:13 NIV

As I read some of the commentaries on this parable of the ten virgins, I learned that all the virgins — both the foolish and wise — knew that delays were common.  All of them rested and slept while they waited.  All of them had the same information but only half had taken steps to be prepared for the bridegroom to arrive.

The virgins had a job to do.  They were supposed to escort the bride to the bridegroom; they were supposed to light her path. Those that were not prepared were an insult to the bride.

It occurred to me that the church is the bride of Christ.  By not being prepared and diligent – we let the church down.  We are an insult to the body of Christ, the church.  I do not want to be a foolish virgin. I want my oil containers to be full.  I want my torch prepared to be lit as long as is required in order to meet the bridegroom.

Father, thank you for every preparation that You have in store for me. I welcome Your preparation, Your discipline and correction. Teach me Your ways. I surrender to Your teaching so that I can honor You and Your church.

Matthew 25:1-13, Hebrews 13:5

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VIP

VIP

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9 NIV

We are special.  We are chosen. We are royal.

Has anyone ever made you feel special?  Not just kind of special.  I’m talking over the top, out of this world, giddy with excitement special.  The kind that gives you butterflies in your stomach and makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  Multiply that times a gazillion and you still don’t even come close to how special we are to God.  It’s hard to comprehend!

So why don’t we celebrate more?  How do we treat the people that make us feel special?  I usually go out of my way to schedule time with them.  I miss it when I don’t talk with them. I seek their input and like to partner with them in work and play.  We laugh together.  We hug each other and cry together.  We anticipate getting together with excitement.  It’s wonderful when it’s mutual.  That is the very best.

We have that VIP invitation whenever we want.  So let the celebration begin….

Father God, thank you for the reminder to celebrate every good thing You have for me daily!

Jeremiah 31:3, Isaiah 61:10, 1 Peter 2:17

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I Wanna Be Like You

I wanna be like you

“1 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.  Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” Psalm 100 NIV

This is what I know:

  • God’s love endures forever
  • God’s love is perfect
  • Perfect love drives out fear
  • God’s love never fails
  • The greatest of all gifts is love

Father, help me to love like You do.

1 John 4:18, 1 Corinthians 13:8, 13

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Walking In The Light

walking in the light

If we claim to have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” 1 John 1:6-7

What does walking in the darkness look like?

It’s stubborn and bull-headed. It’s untrusting of God. We continue to try to maintain control and agendas.  We want what we want when we want it. Because we are not well suited for that, we get distracted by having too many balls in the air. It is very “me” focused. We get wrapped up in what we are about instead of looking to our Father. We lose sight of His ways. We become insensitive, inflexible and disobedient. Maybe even thick-skinned. Hard-hearted. We think we know best. We take detours from God.

What does walking in the light look like?

We stand, trusting in God and His word. We surrender to His will. We spend time learning and applying His principles to our lives. We walk a different way; His way. We keep our eyes on Him. We stretch ourselves to walk in what we cannot see.  Ever trusting God. We become sensitive, pliable and obedient to His will. We surrender to His love and (sometimes) correction to keep our hearts straight. We seek to see each other through His eyes. It’s beautiful when we see each other with His eyes.

Father, thank you for giving us all Your love and offering a better way. Help me to trust You more every day.

Psalm 119:27, 2 Chronicles 16:9, Hebrews 13:5, 17

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Run!

run

“But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, Godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.” 1 Timothy 6:11 NIV

Flee: To run away, as from danger or pursuers; take flight. To move swiftly; fly; speed.

Pursue: To follow in order to overtake, capture, kill; chase. To strive to gain; seek to gain or accomplish.

As I looked at these definitions, a comic strip started to form in my mind.  It looked a little like the old Tom and Jerry cartoons.  The pursuit was always heated!

So I picture Timothy fleeing from “all this.” What is my “all this”? What should I be fleeing from? A few years ago for me, it was a rat race in a dog-eat-dog environment. Today, it is letting go of circumstances and not permitting them to govern me. It occurs to me that growth always involves leaving something behind.  It might be an old pattern or perception. It might be something more material.

But it always requires that we pursue — chase, overtake, capture —  a different direction in some way. Grabbing hold of something new. A new learning. A new habit. A new life.

It is not possible to flee the “all this” and carry a lot of baggage in our new pursuit. It involves making choices; traveling light. The lighter yoke that only Jesus Christ can give us.

Lord, help me leave my “all this” behind to pursue righteousness, Godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.

Acts 17:28, Colossians 2:6-7

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We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know

we dont know what we dont know

“Do not let those gloat over me who are my enemies without cause; do not let those who hate me without reason maliciously wink the eye.” Psalm 35:19 NIV

Have you ever been bullied? Did you have a sense that those around you were a bit treacherous? I think our natural instinct is to become fearful and defensive in those situations.

When I was in middle school, there was a girl in my gym class that bullied me.  She began picking on me in private and then it became more public.  It was mostly verbal with an occasional push or shove. I could hear her talking about me loudly to others as I would walk by.

I made up my mind to be consistently nice…not just to her but to everyone.  I smiled every day.  I greeted everyone I came across every day.  I went out of my way in the hallways when I passed others to wave and smile when we made eye contact.

After months of this, she finally stopped me.  She confessed that she had thought I was fake and too sweet.  All the time she had watched me she saw what I had hoped for: that no matter how she or anyone else behaved I would treat them with kindness and respect.  I simply wanted to be a ray of light.

We became friends.  We didn’t hang out after school, but at school we became team mates on the high school volley ball team and we could count on each other.

What I didn’t know is that she had a very abusive home life.  One evening after school she went home and placed a gun in her mouth and shot herself on the family living room couch.  I had no idea what she had been battling at home.  She kept that private.

When I read today’s scripture in Psalms, it reminds me to lift these kinds of behaviors up to God.  My mission here is to be a light.  God knows and sees everything that every person is dealing with.  Sometimes just being a light is enough to turn their day around.  It makes me think of Jesus.

Father, help me to be more like Jesus every day. Teach me when to speak and when to be quiet.  Always let me be a reflection of Your love light.

Matthew 14:25-32, Acts 23:9-23, Philippians 4:9

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