Monday, November 26, 2012

What does it mean to guard your heart? A re-visit.

Guard your heart with all vigilance, for from it are the sources of life. (Proverbs 4:23 NET) So for an entire week I was pretty much confined to a cabin in a little bitty town that you could blink and completely miss it. To the right of the cabin (please picture green shag carpet, the stale smell of an old persons house, furniture from 1960, a carpeted bathroom, bunkbeds for the two rooms. Nothing glamorous unless you are a guy. To rod it's the taj me well, it's a place to rest my head as long as I lay something down first for fear of mites or worse. It's not exactly the place I want to spend an entire week at for vacation. Rod could live on an island as long as he could hunt. Me, I'm a deeply rooted people person)is a main highway so going out to play with my 1 year old is not really up for grabs. Yet it never fails that when I go I have some extended time to focus on the Lord through His word and to read and read. For the nerd like me that's a real good thing. Instead of the saying "my cup overflows" for me it would be my "books overfloweth!". Try as I may to keep my night stand free of commentaries and books without fail each room in my house ends up with a pile of books. I was pondering (doesn't that sound scholarly? Like of course you the middle of nowhere! Haha) how much time we spend on things that don't matter a hill of beans this side of heaven? How much time spent in front of a television medicating some sort of desire and trying to meet that desire in a deformed way? I'm not expecting that many people read this blog but let me go ahead and clear this up: I'm not saying at all that all forms of media or entertainment are bad or that you should only read your bible in your spare time. I know some would try to turn it into that. Yet when it all comes down to it if you take Gods word seriously...would what you watch, what you look at on the Internet, what you listen to? Do those choices edify you at all? Can those things stand up to verses in scripture? Are the things true? Go with me here for a second...let's look at a secular song and I could do it with a Christian song as many songs are there where a guy is singing about how he would die for you, give his life for you, in fact he's even going to die if he doesn't have you? The cynic in me will talk back to the radio and say, dude I know some girl wrote this song! Unless you have an extremely unhealthy obsessed relationship that suffocates your will to live...I've dated a lot of people and you may start out like that in euphoria or lust...but it sure doesn't end that way. One of you will likely feel suffocated when the new wears off and need to go drink from another well. If you don't pursue an active walk with Christ and you fold to the idolatry of things, people, or hobbies, you will forever be seeking from a different well altogether but one in the same becaus how it runs dry ever so quickly. I've encountered a lot of situations and had a ton of people confide in me and I cringe when someone has no biblical grounds to leave a marriage yet they are not happy anymore. Their spouse failed to be what Jesus should be to them and the other person didn't make them "feel" passion anymore. Or the person that thinks that if only they could move, then their problems would all disappear. That's where I want to insert: hello!!!! You are packing your junk and moving to a different house. Same people, same baggage, same problems at a different address!!!!!! Until we get to the root of our issues and deal with them head on baggage will continue to be a magnet attracting the opposite with equal amounts of more baggage and changes in circumstances or spouses will not solve the real needs of your soul. No one can validate you enough, applaud you enough, show you enough affection or adoration. So back to my litmus test of scripture. When we are allowing all of these things in our minds and hearts, say what you want about how you are the exception to the rule but you are deceiving yourself...when we allow those things Gods word is abundantly clear that your eyes, my eyes, they are a lamp unto our soul. If the light we let in is good then our hearts and minds will reflect that goodness. But if the so called light we think we have is dark...indeed there will be darkness. That's what happens though...if you don't guard your heart and mind you slowly compromise and become desensitized. Your heart becomes hard and calloused. You lose some spiritual nerve endings so to speak. The lines between black and white get blurred. It's a huge deal because I can run through channels, or the Internet, or the radio and tell you that as far as the mainstream goes most of the things we are letting in are not true, they are certainly not worthy of respect. Ok push pause again. We as individuals have little respect for ourselves. I can remember trying to teach my brother and sister about how our bodies are a temple of the Lord. How we are honored in His sight and precious to the Lord and how Christ calls us to be Holy because He is holy. The word there if I'm not mistaken (I'm in the car without my lexical aides) is the same word in Greek to be consecrated. To be set a part. There needs to be a difference in you and someone that doesn't know Jesus. In the New Testament we are encouraged over and over (or admonished) to walk in the light. To put off the deeds of darkness, to rid ourselves of how we used to live before we came to Christ...our former ways that brought nothing good and only shame. We also are told to offer ourselves as living sacrifices to God. I once heard a teacher say that the problem with living sacrifices is that we can get back up. It's the truth that's why we have to make some choices, draw some lines, and drive some stakes in the ground. Clearly, the new believers in the first century were struggling with those things or it wouldn't have been penned and God doesn't waste words. The same word to them is the same word to us. To guard our hearts we are going to have to allow the Lord to have His way and pull up some weeds that are overtaking our garden, clouding our thoughts, and turning up the heat for our flesh that will only get hotter and brighter and end the end consume you. Without intentional pouring the water of His word on the flames...that baby isn't dying out and if your choices dont line up, you are stoking the fire to your own flames. I can promise you one thing: you are going to get burned. I know from experience that anytime I've departed and not been obedient I took a hard fieldtrip and learned and an proclaim that He was right all along and He is for me. When you and I live in rebellion to Gods word it is the picture in James of us setting ourselves in opposition to God. We are literally like a wrestling match according to the Greek, arranging ourselves as an opponent in opposition to God. It scares me to think of it. God can not lie and while He is merciful, He is true to His word and what a man sews that will He also reap. Sew to the spirit equalling life and peace, or to the flesh equalling death and destruction. How about some life and peace!!! Pour me a tall glass of that! And here is where the rubber meets the road. When you continue to go headlong taking ways that are not firm...listen you are storing up wrath. I would encourage anyone who has an ear to REPENT! TURN! FORSAKE! FLEE! Run for your ever loving life! The thing is that once something has a stronghold on us and the enemy is ever accusing us, it makes it real hard to choose life and make good decisions because sadly some of been like the Pharisees that I mention in my previous post. They disqualify anyone who falls. So many that have caved to the fleshly desires feel that disqualification. And so many stand ready to cast stones, or worse keep you bound. Anyone who has truly walked with God for a length of time would know how capable they are of becoming ensnared and how as psalm 130 states and I'll paraphrase, that if You O LORD kept a record of sins who could stand? But with You there is forgiveness." Man may never forgive you for some of the things you have done. They may say, "hey Jenny, you made your bed so lie in it!" that's what the devil wants you to believe. That's what will set you free though is throwing yourself in the word of God. The last thing you need to do is put the bible down. As the late D.L. Moody once said, "this book (the bible) will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from this book." So I exhort any brother or sister in Christ to GET!BACK!UP! Pitch a tent in the scriptures. I'd say live in Psalms and Proverbs for a mighty long while. 1)because as nature abhors a vacuum and we were created to be can't just turn away from long standing sin without turning TO something and for freedom that's going to mean the daily choice to get in the word and let it transform you. Apart from Christ we can do nothing and if we are willing to radically forsake things that are destroying us oh and the people around us since our sin affects every member of the Body as we can't walk in darkness and operate in our callings and yall when you are operating as you should and fulfilling what God has put you here to do...there is a supernatural joy that comes from it. It's a paradox but I know it to be true! No one learns more than I do when I'm studying and teaching. I can remember lessons in my head that the Lord imprinted on me so to speak and I doubt one other person remembers it like I do because it was what God was working in me. However, we are robbing God and the Body of Christ when we are wigging out in sin. It is pleasurable for a season, promises much, and takes you places you NEVER intended to go. So again back to my banner, with the Lord is FULL redemption! Say it outloud! FULL REDEMPTION! Not in part but FULL...the whole thing...redemption. I get sick of people treating others like they should go home because they are disqualified. I'm puking in my mouth thinking about it. Like the woman caught in the act of adultery. Or the "sinful woman" when Jesus told them that He who was without sin to cast the first stone. None of them were without guilt. None could stone her because He blew the top off when He stated that to look and lust after another was the same as adultery. Clearly sin is equal in that it requires judgment yet not all sin has the same consequences. Yet not one of us is any better than the next but that doesn't give any of us a free pass to dismiss holding others accountable. Now that's a soapbox I hould save for another time. What's sad is that the enemy is so good at shaming us once we have fallen that we begin to believe the lies. Who are we to hold someone accountable when we did such and such? That is a weak link where people are falling like flies. You had a choice to sin and it's my understanding that the Lord is all wise and all knowing. He can't learn anything. Can't do it! Impossible. So, when He cried out: "It is finished" on the cross...guess what! It's finished. He bore our sins on a tree. Past, present, and future. Please don't take the seriousness out of what I'm saying and no we are not to use our liberty in Christ as a license to sin. So ok the apostle Peter (quick tangent: many believe he was the first pope and most Roman Catholics believe that the Pope is infallible...have they studied their original predecessor is what I'm curious about?)walked with the Lord of glory. He was an unschooled, ordinary man, and was taught by THE RABBI. The Rabboni healed the sick, raised the dead, taught him how to be a fisher of men, he knocked the socks off of Peter so to speak. Or the sandals as Peter covered himself in the dusty roads where Christ walked. He went from town to town and was privy to an intimacy which wasn't possible for others as the Holy Spirit had not yet come. Peter denied Christ. Flat out, straight up, said he didn't even know Him. Jesus who? Then, on that Friday, on a hill, He gives up His spirit, He was forsaken. And the temple curtain was torn into. The earth broke open, the sky turned black, and on the third day...He GOT UP! Born to serve and suffer, by His stripes we received life and healing from the unredeemed fallen state we live in. Instead of having to go somewhere to worship and inquire of the Lord...we gained access unto the Holy of Holies. No more sacrificial system...He was the Lamb Slain before the foundation of the world, and He calls you and me to offer ourselves as living sacrifice as our spiritual act of worship. Few of us understand the force or weight of that and what a privilege and honor it is to be a bondslave "doulos" of Christ. One who commits herself freely to be His slave and NEVER go free. All of that's to say, it doesn't mean there aren't consequences but He knew every day of your life before one came to be. If like in the end of the book of John, He reinstates Peter...then He will do the same for you if you humble yourself and cry out for mercy. If you are like me, you praise God for leaving that in His word. Peter sinned grievously and hung his head in shame. He went back to his old job (shame) of being a fisherman. He picked the nets up that He had probably dropped 3 years prior and went back to business as usual. I love Jesus because He stated before Peter's denial that he would deny Him 3 times, before the rooster crowed. He stated it to the T people. Y'all then, after telling him that Satan asked permission to sift Peter like wheat and said that He had prayed for him. Jesus prayed for him. He then told him that when he turned back (there was a turning away in the denial)to strengthen the brethren. I pray someone has read this far: He asked Peter three times on the shore, after His resurrection, whether Peter loved Him. You can't see it in English translations but He used different words for love and He pointedly lifts His head, as He is the lifter of our heads...and I'm sure looked him square in the eyes (the Lord gives us dignity). Eye contact is so important to me and usually people who won't look you in the eyes have a shame thing going. So He is all His mercy doesn't cast Peter away. Peter wasn't done yet. Peter would go to his departure being crucified upside down as to not dare feel worthy enough to be crucified in the same manner as Christ. As a side note crucifixion was considered so awful that people were not even to speak of it as it was an atrocity and a curse. Jesus was humiliated that we might have dignity. He took that for us. We can't even imagine. So sister or brother get on your face, grieve, mourn, and let your tears be the mustard seeds that you sew and when you get up off the ground from praying...pick up your bible and seek Him. It's the only ticket I know to true freedom. My battery is dying on my phone and I'm so not finished. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8 NET) Proverbs 4:23 AMP Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life. NIV 23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Do you remember the old song by Reba McIntyre and Vince Gill "The Heart Won't Lie"? Well, most of us know that is a lie. Our hearts are deceitful above all things. The things we say and do are definitely a reflection of what is in our hearts. Proverbs 22:15 says this "15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him." Bottom line folly is bound up in each of our hearts from the time we were born. If you read the preceding verses that lead into verse 23 you will see the importance that God's word must have in our hearts if we are going to live victoriously and be sure footed. God is not a man that He should lie (Numbers 23:19) if He says something in His word He means it and He will prove right always. I was reading in Jeremiah 5:3 this morning about how God struck Israel yet they felt no pain; He crushed them, but the refused correction. They made their faces harder than stone and refused to repent (I am paraphrasing). We can be bent on rebellion or we can set our face like flint determined to do the will of our Father (Isa 50:7 NLT). We can start choosing to believe Him and take Him at His word and live in obedience to Him. What does it mean for me to guard my heart? The word guard is the word Nasar meaning "to guard, protect, keep, obey; to observe, behold, watch, inspect. Used to denote guarding a vinyard..., a fig tree..., and a fortress. Those who performed this function were called watchmen...In an ethical sense one can guard his mouth (Ps 141:3; Pr 13:3), his path in life (Pr 16:17), his heart (Pr 4:23), His lips (Ps 141:3), and his tongue (Ps 34:13)...Israel was likened to a vineyard and the Lord served as her keeper (Job 7:20). (Key Word Study Lexical Aids) I would say part of guarding your heart means confession of your sins, examination of your heart, and a careful inspection of what you let in and out of your heart and mind. What you watch, where you go, who your friends are, what you listen to, what you set your affections on, and choosing obedience not based on feeling but on truth. Weeding out roots of bitterness, unforgiveness, disobedience, lust, immorality, gossip, and so many other things that seek to ensnare your heart. Knowing the truth is what will set us free from the deceitfulness of our own hearts. Heart is the word leb here meaning "the center, the middle of something... Leb however, is more commonly used for the center of man's inner or immaterial nature...In the bible the whole spectrum of human emotions is attributed to the heart...Leb is used to signify the mind (2 Ch 9:23), good sense (Pr 10:8), and discernment (2 Ki 5:26). Wisdom and understanding reside in the heart (1 Ki 3:12, Pr 16:23). The heart can be deceived (Isa 44:20) and is the point of origin of moral evil (Jer 17:9). It is the seat of the will (Nu 16:28; Jdg 9:3; 2 Ch 12:14). To refuse to make the proper decision is to harden the heart..." (Key Word Study Lexical Aids) So we are to guard the core of our being...the center of our emotions and our inner or immaterial nature. We do this by paying attention to His instruction (vs 20-22) that is what will keep our hearts with all diligence...the attention and application to Gods word. Here is what The Bible Knowledge Commentary says: " The heart should be guarded for out of it ( a wellspring) come one's actions (cf. Luke 6:45). Here the word "heart" means more than mental capacity; it also encompasses one's values (cf Matt. 6:21)." "These verses apply the command to guard one's heart (v. 23), including what one says (v. 24), sees (v. 25), and does (vv. 26-27). So I plead with you cry out to the Lord to make you wise in your heart. Ask Him to stand at the door of your heart with the truth of His word and guard that thing. Withhold nothing from Him. Further Reading: Proverbs 16:21 The wise in heart are called discerning, and pleasant words promote instruction. Proverbs 16:20-22 (in Context) Proverbs 16 (Whole Chapter) Proverbs 16:23 A wise man's heart guides his mouth, and his lips promote instruction. Proverbs 16:22-24 (in Context) Proverbs 16 (Whole Chapter) Proverbs 18:15 The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; the ears of the wise seek it out. Proverbs 18:14-16 (in Context) Proverbs 18 (Whole Chapter) Proverbs 22:17 [ Sayings of the Wise ] Pay attention and listen to the sayings of the wise; apply your heart to what I teach, Proverbs 22:16-18 (in Context) Proverbs 22 (Whole Chapter) Proverbs 23:15 My son, if your heart is wise, then my heart will be glad; Proverbs 23:14-16 (in Context) Proverbs 23 (Whole Chapter) Proverbs 23:19 Listen, my son, and be wise, and keep your heart on the right path.

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