It All Starts With The Heart <ul><li>The heart is a mysterious spiritual reality that allows us to experience the fullness of life. It includes emotion, but the heart is not limited to emotion. According to Scripture, the heart can be grieved, troubled, broken, pierced, divided, and joyful. Dr. Charles Ryrie defined the heart as “the very core of life.” Our heart is the truest expression of who we really are. </li></ul>
Guarding Your Heart <ul><li>Proverbs 4:23 (AMP) 23 Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life. </li></ul>
1. RECOGNIZE THE TREASURE <ul><li>Two phrases jump off the page when reading this passage, “above all else” and “wellspring of life.” To experience the fullness of our faith and partake of the blessings of God, we must recognize the treasure of the heart. “Above all else” communicates priority, and “wellspring of life” communicates a glorious promise. The text identifies guarding your heart as more important than anything else. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Jesus declared that we should love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30). When describing the kingdom of God, Jesus revealed the things that come out of the heart defile a man (Matt. 15:16-20). He also taught, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Luke 12:34). The apostle Paul prayed for the saints that “the eyes of your heart may be enlightened” (Eph. 1:18). </li></ul>
<ul><li>We find similar instruction in the Old Testament where we are commanded to trust the LORD with all our heart (Pvbs. 3:5) and to hide God’s word in our heart (Psalm 119:11). The prophet Samuel revealed that God does not evaluate people by outward appearance, but He looks at the heart (1Sam. 16:7). </li></ul>
<ul><li>Perhaps, the most significant verse describing the treasure of the heart is found in Romans 10:9 which says a person may be saved by “believing in your heart” that God raised Jesus from the dead. </li></ul>
2. PRIORITIZE THE TASK <ul><li>Having identified the biblical mandate for us to recognize the treasure of the heart, we must prioritize the task of guarding our heart. </li></ul><ul><li>The command to guard our heart rarely, if ever, receives the priority that the Scriptures attach to the heart. </li></ul>
Jesus Warned <ul><li>… about ‘offenses’ - And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another (Mat 24:10) </li></ul><ul><li>Offense can affect our heart, mind and actions: (Greek -> skandalizo ) </li></ul>
The Causes For Offense <ul><li>are many: </li></ul><ul><li>Words (things said and not said), actions (things done and not done), perceptions... </li></ul><ul><li>Expectations (realistic / unrealistic; spoken / unspoken ) </li></ul><ul><li>Pride </li></ul>
3. MINIMIZE THE TRASH <ul><li>Guarding your heart includes seeking God, but we cannot ignore the instruction to minimize the trash from our lives. The verses that follow the command to guard our heart describe putting away perverse speech , looking straight ahead , and choosing good paths. </li></ul>
Hebrews 12: 1-2, <ul><li>These verses are similar to the New Testament challenge contained in Hebrews 12:1-2 “Therefore since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily entangles us, and run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith.” </li></ul>
To Remove Trash… <ul><li>We should embrace the challenge that the apostle Paul gave Timothy to purify himself so that he would be a “special instrument, set apart, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work” (2 Tim. 2:24). </li></ul>
4. ENERGIZE WITH TRUTH <ul><li>A fourth strategy for guarding your heart is to energize with truth. Note the instruction “pay attention and listen closely” (Pr. 4:20). This emphasis to give careful attention to divine truth is followed by the promise of life and health. </li></ul>
CONCLUSION: <ul><li>Guarding your heart is critical to experiencing all that God desires for your life. When we Recognize the Treasure, Prioritize the Task, Minimize the Trash, and Energize with Truth, we place ourselves in a position to receive the blessings of God . </li></ul>
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