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AWAKEN 2019: A Protected Heart

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“Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life. Put away from you a deceitful mouth and put devious speech far from you. Let your eyes look directly ahead and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you. Watch the path of your feet and all your ways will be established. Do not turn to the right nor to the left; turn your foot from evil.” - Proverbs 4:23-27

Do you ever find yourself controlled by your circumstances of life? The book of Proverbs gives wisdom for every area in our journey. And at the center of it is our heart. The world competes for it. The world tries to manipulate it and ultimately control it. But wisdom tells us we need to guard it. How do we do that? We begin by considering everything we say. We protect our eyes from what we shouldn’t see. And then we give careful attention to what we think about (Psalm 19:14). Jesus explained how important influences are to the heart when He said,

“The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.” - Luke 6:45

Jesus taught that, “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”(Matthew 6:21). This means, in light of Luke 6:45, that our heart’s condition will inevitably spill out into our lives. Therefore, what we allow in our life impacts the condition of our heart, and our words will always reflect where our heart is. Because of this, it’s important we pay intentional, purposeful attention to what we allow to influence our lives. We tend to think that we only need to be on guard or on our best behavior when we are at church, but in reality that’s a fraction of our time in any given week. As followers of Jesus, we are to live our lives moment-by-moment to bring glory and honor to Him, and one of the ways we seek to do that is by protecting our heart.

In conclusion, take some time to read and reflect on the following questions:

  • Consider what you have been reflecting on; does it bring God glory?  See 2 Corinthians 10:5
  • Consider how you’ve been speaking; does it honor God and those around you?  See Ephesians 4:29
  • Consider what your eyes focus on; does it reflect the love relationship you have with Jesus?  See Psalm 119:37

AWAKEN 2019: A Hoping Heart

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“The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. ‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘Therefore I have hope in Him.’” - Lamentations 3:22-24

Everyone has limits. Whether it’s emotional or physical, all people have a limited supply. Not only that, but the book of Psalms communicates that all things on earth (including you and me) will wear out (v. 26). Life as we know it will one day come to an end.

“Of old You founded the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. Even they will perish, but You endure; and all of them will wear out like a garment; like clothing You will change them and they will be changed. But You are the same, And Your years will not come to an end.” - Psalm 102:25-27

Though everything as we know it will one day fade away, God will not; He is eternal. This can be quite the head-scratcher for us because we aren’t able to comprehend someone or something being “eternal.” Yet, God has always been and will always be. There was never a time God has not existed; from eternities past to eternities future He has always been. Today's verses begin by saying, “The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail” (v. 22). God being eternal means He  has an infinite supply of lovingkindness towards us in Christ so when we make mistakes, we have no need to approach God as if His lovingkindness is limited. If He were human, there would certainly be a cutoff point of grace, but there is not because He is our eternal, loving Father!

There’s something more to remember about the Lord’s compassion towards us, “They are new every morning” (v.23). The text is not literally saying that we must wait until every morning to receive compassion from God. At any moment when we seek the Lord for forgiveness and grace, He will give it. We don’t need to wait until tomorrow to experience a fellowship with our Father. Instead, imagine the writer of Lamentations attributing the most faithful aspect of creation, the sun rising every day, to the faithfulness of the compassion of the Lord. As certain as the sun is to rise, God is even more certain to offer grace and forgiveness to those who seek Him. Therefore, let every morning be a reminder that the lovingkindness of the Lord never ceases!

In conclusion, take some time to read and reflect on the following questions:

  • Do you have a biblical understanding of forgiveness?  See Colossians 3:13
  • Do you genuinely understand God’s grounds for forgiving us in Christ?  See Colossians 1:13-14
  • Can you say, along with Psalmist, “The Lord is the strength of my heart and my portion"?  See Psalm 73:23-26

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