“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.
“Faith is the assurance of things you have hoped for, the absolute conviction that there are realities you’ve never seen.” Hebrews 11:1 The Voice
I recently began a strengths coaching certification class with 11 other individuals. We are meeting each other for the first time with the intent of learning how to apply not only our personal strengths but others. One of the core concepts is “confident vulnerability.” As I examine this concept it resonates with my faith walk on so many different levels that it makes my head feel like it’s going to explode. It’s one of those concepts that may roll around in the back of my mind for the rest of my life as I look for opportunities to exercise and apply it.
In the context of strengths coaching, confident vulnerability is defined as courageously celebrating and embracing strengths, weaknesses and needs of both self and others without judgment. Think about that and prepare to be amazed. Immediately I think of Jesus. Who better models this incredible combination? Quiet, humble confidence full of the most incredible love that this world has ever seen. A love worth dying for…and He did for each and every one of us. It was so fragrant and attractive that it was irresistible to folks from every walk of life. People were curious and wanted to know more about His teachings and way of life.
As I was reading this morning, I ran across this statement1: “The only reason a shepherd would guide his sheep into a dangerous valley would be to lead them through it to a better place.” It was reassuring to know that my Shepherd knows that better place for me. As I follow Him through what appear to be dangerous valleys, I can be confident that He is taking me there. Confidently vulnerable and trusting with absolute conviction that He can see the realities that I have never seen.
Lord, I praise you for guiding me into Your realities that are so much more than what I can see with my natural eyes. Mold me and make me suitable to serve others when called upon to shepherd them to that better place. Give me strength and wisdom and discernment to follow Your footsteps through the dangerous valleys encountered in this life.
“The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all;” Psalm 34:19 NIV
Someone is always watching. It may be a friend or neighbor or a casual observer. When we encounter our many troubles, do we reflect the confidence that the Lord will deliver us? Is there anything different about us that stands out to the casual observer? Or do we look like everyone else?
Those questions can give me brain freeze. I ask for more boldness and courage daily. Now I’ve added confidence in the Word of God to my list. 1 John 5:13-15 says something very similar but is even more pointed. This is my paraphrase: An encouragement to believers: Be confident that we can have anything that we ask God for that is in His plan.
So that begs the question: What is God’s plan? I do not mean to sound cliché but it is pretty simple for me. It is God’s plan that we love each other. It is God’s plan that we share His love with everyone we meet. It is God’s plan that we take authority and demolish every obstacle that Satan places in our path that keeps us from accomplishing that goal. That is the simplified version.
Sometimes I get caught up in my own agenda. That creates anxiety in me that makes me wonder if I’m going to get what I want when I ask God for it. The anxiety comes when I try to anticipate the packaging! I begin to imagine the packaging and pile on features and benefits that really stretch the intent of God’s plan. It’s a slippery slope.
I’m thankful that God is patient and gentle and kind. He reminds me of His plan to keep me on track. I’m thankful that I can trust His love for me. Walking by faith is not for the faint of heart!! It requires a surrender that is very challenging some days for this rehabilitating self-sufficient, independent, performance driven, single mom! I remain thankful that God is teaching me a different way to live each day. It is a kinder and gentler path with a lighter burden…just like He promised.
Thank you Lord for Your gentle guidance and Your faithful presence. Help me to trust you more each day and rest in Your arms with confidence.
“The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in His love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17 NIV
Growing up I read a lot of fairy tales and Greek and Roman mythology as well as the Bible. Generally there was always a hero and a villain. I always pictured my hero as gallant and strong with a white horse and a sword. He represented what was right and true. It was a war against good and evil.
God assures us that He does not have to rush in to save us from some distant land. He is always present. He is able to save us completely, nothing remains broken or incomplete. We are made whole through Him. He is not only our Mighty Warrior, but He delights in us placing our hope in Him. He gets excited when we count on Him instead of relying on ourselves.
Father, help me break that old habit of self-sufficiency. Help me to remember that You are my ever-present Mighty Warrior who is anxious to save me from my present trouble. Father teach me to stay tucked into You to rest in Your love, peace and joy.
“24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away.” Matthew 13:24-25 NIV
As I was weeding in my yard one summer, I received insight from the dandelions I was encountering. I started to look at them more closely and here is what I noticed:
From a distance they are pretty, adorned in bright colors. They can even appear to be a flower versus a weed to the untrained eye.
As I started pulling them, I realized how deep their roots are – deep and tough. It’s hard to get the whole root off because it breaks easily. Pieces stay that will spring up again.
They spread easily – insidiously. Their multiplication system is very easy – where the wind blows, the seeds go. Indiscriminate. High volume.
It’s also tricky. I started simply picking off the flowers, and then I saw deep down in the core other buds coming up. It was almost creepy they were so hidden.
They choke out healthy grass and other plants. They want all the space. They don’t cohabitate well.
They don’t require care or nutrients to prosper and multiply. They remind me of something so ancient – like original sin. Old and ugly. Life smothering. Steal, kill, and destroy.
Still green, they blend in with the grass except when they bloom (bear fruit).
I won’t dissect every point. From a big picture level I realized this is exactly how Satan operates. By being grounded in God’s word we are not deceived. God’s word, time with Him in prayer, and praise and worship of our King is what nourishes us. They are our fertilizer, rich soil and eternal water supply!
Father, let me absorb all the spiritual nutrition that You so readily provide!
15 “If you are so numerous,” Joshua answered, “and if the hill country of Ephraim is too small for you, go up into the forest and clear land for yourselves there in the land of the Perizzites and Rephaites.” Joshua 17:15 NIV
When I read the book of Joshua, it becomes clear that there is a time for all things. It’s key to be in God’s timing. Throughout the book of Joshua there are tribes that readily took their lands and inheritance and those that did not. There were those that drove current inhabitants completely out of their land to take full ownership and those that learned to live with them.
God had just brought incredible victories to them while Joshua diligently sought the Lord’s counsel and followed it to the letter. Not everyone had the same heart to follow God’s direction to the letter. Why? I find it hard to believe….and then I realize the Israelites were more like me that I thought.
They were not perfect. God loved them anyway. They made God angry sometimes. God loved them anyway. They forgot about God. God loved them anyway. They fell back into worldly patterns. God loved them anyway. They faced consequences for their actions. God loved them anyway…
Just like He loves me.
Father, make me sensitive to Your timing in all things. Align my heart so that I walk in Your timing and instruction according to Your will. In Jesus Name, Amen.