A Matter of the Heart
Day 1: On Sunday, Cory mentioned how the authors of scripture used the word heart. They weren’t limiting it to feelings but used it in reference to the center or to the whole of our lives including our thoughts, our emotions, and our will. Take a few minutes to reflect on Sunday’s message and take an inventory of your heart; not just your emotions, but all of you. Make a list of what fills your desires and thinking and decisions. What do you think about? What do you long for? What pressures or stresses you? Consider the motivations for the decisions you make. What actions do you take day to day? Apply these questions to specific parts of life like money or time or relationships to discover more about your heart. Is the Holy Spirit bringing anything to mind? Pray this prayer from Psalm 139:23-34 (The Message): “Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me. Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I’m about. See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong— then guide me on the road to eternal life.” Be open to learning about your heart today.
Day 2: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23, NIV). What priority do you place on guarding your heart? In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said it was worth it to cut off a hand or gouge out an eye if it would keep one from sinning and from hell. In the same sermon, He also said that things you do in your heart like despising someone or thinking lustfully about them make you guilty even if you haven’t done the action (Matthew 5:21-30). Both of these reference our hearts. Jesus knew the importance of the condition of our hearts, “above all else.” Other verses in the Bible describe that God knows our hearts and will judge what is in them. Do you often consider the state of your heart? Are there things that you know are not good for your heart but that you allow in your life anyways? What has positively affected your heart the most?
Day 3: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23). What does guarding our hearts look like? The Proverbs writer give us a few clues in the surrounding verses. Read Proverbs 4:20-27. He encourages us to keep God’s Word in front of us, not talk in a corrupt way, and to carefully do what is right and good. Filling our minds with truth from God’s Word is an important part of guarding our hearts. “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11). We can also guard our hearts by following the instructions that God gives us for the pathways of our heart: “Rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4), “Whatever is true... noble… right… pure… lovely... think about such things” (Philippians 4:8), “We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5b). Guarding our heart involves taking action. Proactively studying these and other scriptures reveal what encourages or discourages God’s heart and will help us in forming our own heart. Is there an action step in guarding your heart that God has brought to your attention? Do you have a family member or a friend you could talk with to help you in guarding your heart? Set up a time to meet.
Day 4: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23) Who is responsible for your heart? Can others control your heart? What is the one thing you have control over in any circumstance? The same event can happen to two people, but the heart of each person can go a different direction. When something happens, where do you allow your heart and your thoughts to go? What patterns of thought or attitudes are you building in your life? Recognize the power and the responsibility for what happens in your heart. Ask Jesus to help you guard your heart. Pray and look for ways He wants to work with you to expose or change the thoughts and attitudes that go through your heart or your mind. Be vigilant in guarding your heart.
Day 5: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23). If you are not careful about what is happening inwardly, things may happen outwardly that you do not desire. James says, “Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death” (James 1:14-15). Thought patterns lead to action patterns. Pay attention to what is in your heart. What is happening in your heart shapes who you are becoming. Every thought, decision, and attitude you allow or reject is like a building block of your life, for good or for bad. The heart is the starting point. Consider the weight of this verse. “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” (Matthew 16:26).