Archives for category: Guarded Heart

2But as for me, my feet had almost slipped;

I had nearly lost my foothold.

3For I envied the arrogant

when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

Psalm 73:2-3

 

During this season, I have experienced some of life’s greatest disappointments and setbacks.  Most recently, I entered a business venture. As part of my due diligence, I implemented all the necessary safeguards to reduce, if not, eliminate my risks.  I read.  I researched.  I hired an attorney. I had a contract drafted.  However, life sometimes teaches us that there are no failsafe plans.  There are no world systems that could entirely mitigate moral corruption.  Although most, if not all, legal agreements are drafted based on the worse case scenarios, most people enter contacts with the assumption that the opposing party has some semblance of integrity, or at the very least, he or she has a fear of or a reverence for the law.  A year and a half after signing my contract agreement, the opposing party involved still managed to express flagrant disregard of the agreement by violating several terms of the contract. This morning, as I evaluated my situation, I thought about the above verse.

 

Oftentimes, it feels as though the lives of the wicked are bountiful.  Many of them cheat, lie and steal, yet they still manage to thrive beyond the imagination of the meek.  It’s easy to look at the proud and the arrogant and be envious.  They leap and abound.  Their lives are grand.  They enjoy fine things, and they seldom seem concerned with the toils of those who are pure at heart.  “They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong…they are not plagued by human ills,” (verse 4 and 5, NIV).  They play by their own rules.  They scoff at honor and valor.  The lives of the wicked seems grand, indeed.  However, there will come a time when the Earth’s grandeur will cease.  Each man will be equal, and God will judge each man according to his deeds.  “God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad,” (Ecclesiastes 12:14).  It’s so easy to want the wicked to pay—to take vengeance into our own hands because it might seem as though God is moving too slow.  However, Romans 12:19 says, “Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the LORD,” (NLT).

 

The truth is, waiting on God can seem slow, and, at times, feel torturous.  However, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance,” (2 Peter 3:9, NIV).  In His justice, God has given even the sinners time to change their wicked ways.  Psalms 73 goes on to say that God has placed the wicked on slippery ground.  The wicked will perish if they continue to do wickedness.

 

To those who are longsuffering, I ask that you give your suffering to God.  Leave your vindication in His mighty hands.  God is just, and He judges fairly.  Even King David, whom the Bible refers to as a man after God’s own heart, experienced God’s immense favor despite being reprimanded for his egregious sins. Although David had many shortcomings, God did not forget the promises He made to David.  During earlier times, God decreed that David would not only rule as king over all Israel, God also promised David that he (David) would always have a line to the throne (Jesus).  One of David’s biggest fall from grace was when he had an adulterous affair with Bathsheba, the wife of one of his soldiers named Uriah.  As a result of the affair, Bathsheba became pregnant.  In an effort to cover his tracks David tried to convince Uriah to sleep with his wife, Bathsheba, so that he could pass off the baby as Uriah’s.  Uriah, who was a committed soldier in David’s army, refused to lay with his wife because he did not want to break his allegiance to his fellow fighters by indulging in merriment during battle time.  After David realized that his attempt to cover his tracks had failed, he gave orders to have Uriah killed.  Fortunately, God did not allow David’s position as both king and the “apple of His eyes” to usurp Uriah’s life.  God was not only faithful to David, He was also faithful to Uriah, because the Bible says that God is not a respecter of man (Acts 10:34).  God avenged Uriah’s death by destroying the seed that was created from David’s and Bathsheba’s deception. Thankfully, God did not stay angry with David forever.  He pursued David and blessed him.  Moreover, David repented for sinning against God.

 

In all of our lives, there will be times when we feel forgotten about—by family, by friends, and even by God. Many of us feel like Uriah, a lone soldier in a vast army—a number in the crowd.  The temptation is to give up on God because we feel neglected or betrayed by Him.  However, just like God fought on behalf of Uriah, He will avenge us too.  The Bible says that God will leave the 99 sheep to find the one that has wondered away (Matthew 18:12-14).  It is during our weakest moments that God will seek us out and pursue us.

Guarded Heart

Today’s message is to guard your heart.

Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it,” (NIV). As we step into God’s presence over these next few days, I challenge you to guard your heart. According to dictionary.com, to guard means to keep safe from harm or danger. Therefore, to guard our hearts means to keep it safe from harm or danger.

Why on earth would we need to keep our hearts safe?

The devil comes to steal, kill and destroy, (John 10:10). The devil isn’t trying to destroy us per se. He is trying to destroy the thing that God loves most, which is us. To the devil, we are simply a causality of war. Fortunately, we serve a God that so values His creations that He ensures that we are always heavily guarded and heavily protected by the impenetrable forces of heaven’s army. The devil can never launch a secret attack while we are encamped on heaven’s base. The only way that the devil can attack us is by luring us from under God’s artillery.  The only way he can do so is by separating us from the word of God. Now, I feel the need to make this disclaimer. The Bible says that the rain falls on the just and the unjust alike (Matthew 5:45). We live in a fallen world, and bad things happen to good people and vice versa. The presence of atrocities in our lives is not always directly correlated with our deeds. I digress.

Again, I ask the question: Why should we guard our hearts? Simple! It’s where God hid His Word, and I could not think of a better hiding place.

33 “’But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel after those days,’ says the Lord. ‘I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people,’” (Jeremiah 31:33, NLT).

Think about this. Ephesians 3:17 says, “Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong,” (NLT). So, if God has written the word on our hearts, and Christ will make a home in our hearts if we let Him, then as long as we let Christ in, the Word is guarded, and it will begin to grow roots into our heart. Unfortunately, the devil is constantly trying to separate us from God by trying to steal and corrupt the Word in our hearts.

Guarding our hearts sometimes means not entertaining “debates” about religion. “Don’t answer the foolish arguments of fools, or you will become as foolish as they are,” (Proverbs 26:4, NLT). Entertaining misguided religious philosophies could corrupt our thinking, and subsequently derail our relationship with Christ. Before we began our walk with Christ, God met us where we were. Sometimes, we just have to allow God to meet others where they are. We don’t have to convict everyone. The same way God convicted us, He will convict others as well.

Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend,” (NLT). As we progress towards our God-given destinies, it is important that we surround ourselves with people who bring out the best in us as they challenges us to grow. God has planted His seed in each of our hearts, and we have to be careful how we allow it to be stolen or how we give it away.   If there are relationships that are hindrances to our growth, we might need to sever them to best guard our hearts. “If your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away,” (Matthew 5:30, NIV). Sometimes, in our misguided attempt to help others, we end up repeating lessons that we should have already received!

Today’s Prayer: Lord, help us to guard our hearts as we focus on you. Soften our hearts so that the seeds that you have planted will always remain on fertile ground! Help us to love you, ourselves and your people as you have commanded. Keep us free from temptation. Help us to forgive other so that you can forgive us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen!