Today’s Scripture:  “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”  Proverbs 4:23

Introduction:

After battling with some computer issues we’re back online.  It’s always good to have issues like this because it helps me to know that the devil knows who I am, and that he’s trying to keep me from continuing to embrace the call of God upon my life…but I refuse to let him win…because he can’t…the devil has been defeated…and my victory is in Christ…and even though we’re a few days behind…that’s okay…we’ll get caught up…and finish this series on time.

While there were periods of frustration I never lost heart because I’ve come to understand that any time I have issues it’s because the enemy is wanting to discourage me from continuing the ministry…but that’s not going to happen…like I said yesterday:  “greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world.”

So…we’re talking about keeping our heart today, and that’s kind of funny that we are because the battle here with the computer caused me to do just that…it also showed me that the diligence I used to not give up and work this issue out till I got back up and running and online pales in comparison to the diligence that it takes to keep our hearts towards God…because there’s so much today vying for our attention.

It’s so easy to be distracted today by the cares of the world, the entertainment venues of the world, and I know that I’ve been guilty of allowing both of those to keep me from getting all that God has for me whether it’s blessings or work that I’m to do for His Kingdom…the cares and entertainment of the world certainly are thorns…as Jesus described in His parable of the Seed Sower.

So…now that we’re back and online…let’s get back into this series…and see what the Lord would have to say to us.

Today’s Message:

We hear the phrase “follow your heart” almost daily from people in society. The Bible actually says that we are to guard our heart, not follow it. Why? Because when we follow our hearts we are basically just following our feelings. And friend, we are often misguided by our feelings.

Our feelings, aka the “heart”, can lead us into situations simply because it feels right especially when an old boyfriend enters the picture. Our heart can cause us to make decisions that are not thought through completely when that budget-busting pair of boots is just screamin’ our ever-lovin’ names.

I can’t remember who it was that said this, but who said this isn’t as important as what was said.  I think it may have actually been Pastor Curtis Holt of New Life Christian Center in Centerton, Arkansas.  The statement:  “Instead of following our hearts we need to learn to lead our hearts.”

Out of our hearts are the issues of life.  Jesus said here in Matthew 15:18 (NKJV) “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man.”  and “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” in Matthew 12:34 (NKJV).

The point here is that our hearts are vital to our walk with God because what we treasure in our hearts will show to the world.  Jesus says in Matthew 6:21 (NKJV)

For where your treasure is, there your heartwill be also.”  Which begs the question that all of us need to meditate upon from time to time:  what is your heart treasuring?

Does your heart treasure the things of the world or does it treasure the things of God?  What is coming out of your mouth?  Is it blessing people or cursing them?  Is it showing the world that you love the Lord or is it showing the world that while you might say with your mouth you love the Lord, but the truth is your heart is far from Him?

The heart…friends…is where we find our soul.  It’s also not talking about our physical heart that keeps our bodies alive by pumping blood throughout our bodies.  It’s talking about that place deep down within that makes us who we are, where all of our thoughts and imaginations are kept, and that place where the Holy Spirit dwells when we ask Jesus to come into our hearts.

Our spiritual heart…just like our physical heart is vital to our survival.  If you want to do a fun word study some time…just type the word “heart” into a Bible search engine such as the YouVersion Bible App…and see all of the references that it brings up.

We hear the phrase “follow your heart” almost daily from people in society. The Bible actually says that we are to guard our heart, not follow it. Why? Because when we follow our hearts we are basically just following our feelings. And friend, we are often misguided by our feelings.

I brought this back because I don’t believe the Holy Ghost is ready for us to move on from this point…we…as Christians should never make important decisions based upon our feelings…because our feelings can misguide and mislead us into places we really don’t want to be or go.  Yes…as always…friends…I am speaking to myself just as much as I am to you because I’m just as guilty as anyone else at making decisions based upon feelings…rather than consulting the Lord.

That brings us back to Proverbs 3:5-6:  “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

See…we’re to consult the Lord in ALL of our ways.  When we see here that we’re not to “lean on our own understanding” I believe we could add that we’re not to lean upon our feelings.  So, when we look at verse 5 again in that light we see it this way:  Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not unto your feelings.

Why?  Because like we’ve already seen our feelings (emotions) can lead us down the wrong path.  I know that there are times that I’ve made decisions based upon my emotions, and when I’ve done that the results never turn out very good.  However, when I seek the Lord…and make decisions based upon how I sense the Holy Ghost is leading me…and I follow that lead…things always turn out to be much better.

The Hebrew word for “wellspring” in the verse above is towtsa’ah. And in its simplest term means “goings out, going forth.” Meaning that basically what is in our heart is where our life will lead. With that being said, we must guard our hearts. We must allow God to overwhelm our hearts with his love and guidance.

“What is in our heart is where our life will lead.”  Which gets me back to the statement I started this message with.  “Instead of following our hearts we need to learn to lead our hearts.”

The question I hear you asking in my spirit is:  “how do we lead our hearts?” I’m glad you asked.  It goes back to the last series we did talking about why we should read the Bible.  We lead our hearts by studying the Word of God.  David wrote about hiding the word of God in his heart so that he wouldn’t sin against God.  When we are diligent about the meditation and studying of the Word of God…and we get it in our hearts…then if it’s true that what’s in our hearts is where our life will lead…then it bears to be true that if God’s Word is what’s in our hearts…we will be lead and our lives with match up more with what’s in the Word than what’s in the world.

I have really taken this to heart and am making sure that, by the power of the Holy Spirit, I am guarding my heart. I am the one in charge of my heart not the other way around. I don’t let my heart dictate my choices on a consistent basis. Sometimes it leads me to reach out to a hurting friend. And I follow it in some instances, but making this a daily practice will only yield pain and disappointment.

See.  When we have the understanding that we’re in charge of what gets into our hearts then we can make better choices about what it is we put in our hearts.  If we’re putting in our hearts the filth we see on television that’s how we’re going to lead our lives.  We’re going to lead our lives based upon what we see on TV.  That’s why we have so many marriages end up in divorce because of affairs because on television that stuff is made to be entertainment…and that it’s okay.  The thing of it is the thrills of the world are always going to be more appealing than the things of God…but I would give you this word of caution:  Satan will always show you the thrill…without giving you the bill.

There’s a cost for allowing the things of the world to penetrate your heart, and then become your guidance system.  There’s also a cost when you allow the Word of God to penetrate your heart and become your guidance system.

Not long ago I completed at 21 day fast from some of the worldly entertainment venues because they were beginning to become more important to me than the presence of God.  The things I fasted from were television, secular music, video games, and sports talk radio.  In their place I did things like replace my sports talk radio with sermons on the radio by people like Dr. David Jeremiah, Jack Graham, and more.  I replaced secular music with nothing but praise and worship music.  I replaced television with simply the “off” button, and I also ceased to play video and computer games.

Since the fast has been completed I have found a few things that I’ve been allowed to continue, and some that I have not.  God’s allowed me to turn ESPN radio back on, but as far as secular music…I don’t turn it on anymore.  I haven’t and will not be playing video or computer games anymore.

Do you want to know something else I found out?  All that stuff that was so entertaining to me wasn’t really necessary.  It also had begun to have influence upon my decisions, and it also affect my ability to clearly hear the Holy Spirit and be in God’s presence…which affected my ability to write good messages.

Since the end of the fast I’ve noticed that my messages are much better because the worldly entertainment venues aren’t that important to me anymore.  For those of you who don’t know I’m a huge Chicago White Sox fan, and I am also an admin for a White Sox fan page of Facebook.  I’m not as active on that page these days as I am on the Christlike Ministries NWA Facebook Fan Page.  My messages are better, more clear, more powerful, and much better reads than they were.  Why?  Because I’m more careful about what I’m sowing into my heart.

It’s hilarious to watch my wife and I try to decide upon a movie to watch because that’s one of those things that grieves my spirit is movies, and I’m very picky about the kinds of movies I’ll watch.  It’s hard these days to find movies that don’t promote stuff that’s completely contrary to the Word of God.  There’s movies today that make homosexuality funny and acceptable.  There’s movies that make cheating on your spouse funny and acceptable.  There’s movies that make disrespecting God funny and acceptable.

That’s what’s important about “leading” your heart.  What are you leading your heart with?  Are you leading your heart with things of the world or are you leading it with things of God?

Let me add that if you’re leading your heart with the things of the world without making sure the Word of God is constantly being sown into it…then you’re allowing the world to lead your heart…and if things in your life aren’t going the way you believe they should…you have no right to blame God…take a look at what you’re allowing to lead your heart.

Are you leading it or is the world leading it?  Are you allowing the Word of God to lead your heart or are you allowing the entertainment venues of the world to lead your heart?

By the way…don’t get mad at me either.  We’re talking here in this series about living a surrendered life.  Do you understand that surrendering some of the things you enjoy are part of surrendering your life to God?  In a perfect world we’d surrender everything that displeases God.

If you look at the lives of people like Smith Wigglesworth, Charles Spurgeon, Oswald Chambers, JC Ryles, and others they all have something in common.  Most of them had zero influence from the world.  They didn’t so much as read newspapers.  If you look at the lives of these men of God you’ll also know that some like Smith Wigglesworth oozed the power of God.  There’s stories of people who were healed just because Smith Wigglesworth happened to be on the same train or bus.

I kind of wonder how they would fair in today’s world with so much technology today, and I understand that we live in a much different world than they did back in the early 1900’s and late 1800’s.  However, the one thing we can take away from their lives and use today is that if we want to have a more powerful influence and have more of the power of God in our lives…then there are things we’re going to have to lay down and surrender to God.

Believe me.  One of my favorite bands of all time is 3 Doors Down, and for a while it was alright with me and the Holy Ghost to listen to their music…but now it’s not.  One of my favorite songs of all time is “Blue on Black” by Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and for a while not only was it okay to listen to it…but I used to sing it for karaoke.  Since the fast…it’s not okay anymore.  Today…all I listen to is Christian music, and I’m discovering artists that I love like Jesus Culture, Rhett Walker Band, and more.

What’s happening?  I’m changing what’s being sown into my heart, and therefore my desires are changing…and the direction my life is going is also changing.  That’s what is meant by “leading your heart” instead of following it.

I hope that this message has challenged you to think about what kinds of things you’re putting into your heart.  I’m not saying that you shouldn’t enjoy music or movies or television shows or video games, but what I am saying is that if you’re allowing those things to be sown into your heart without the Word of God…then I’m fairly certain the direction your life is going is based upon what’s leading your heart.

Let’s guard our hearts from this day forward.

I know that this is something that I’m always working on, and have to be extremely careful about…because what I sow into my heart affects not only the direction my life goes…but it also has an effect on writing these messages.

So…I’m just wondering if we can all agree to do a better job of guarding our hearts from this day forward…Amen!?!

Points for Pondering:

  • Do you find yourself following your heart on a regular basis?
  • If so, what is the usual outcome?

Be A Doer Not Just A Reader:

  • Let’s guard our hearts from this day forward.

Conclusion & Prayer:

When it comes to making decisions in our lives and honoring God and the people around us, consider getting all of the facts and weighing your choices based upon more information than just “following your heart.”

I don’t know about you, but this message has given me cause to be more diligent to protect and guard my heart a bit more than I already am because I want to be sure that I’m not being lead by my emotions or the ways of the world.  I want to be sure that I’m being lead more by the Lord’s love and guidance…and that means I need to become even more diligent about what I’m putting in my heart…how about you?

Lord God…thank You for Your Word today.  Teach us, Father God how to better guard our hearts.  Help us, Lord to be more careful about what we’re sowing into our hearts, and help us…Lord to be more diligent and committed to filling it up with Your Word.  In Jesus’ name…Amen & Amen