Guard Your Heart
General: Learning to fly fish as a kid, using the book Fly Fishing for Dummies.
Personal: God has a book in the Bible that could be titled Life for Dummies. It’s real title is Proverbs.
The Bible is meant to be obeyed.
Biblical: Proverbs is all about wisdom, and wisdom = skill at life. Proverbs gives us principles for wise or skillful living. In other words, it shows us God’s design for life so that we can live according to God’s design.
Principles vs. Rules
Principles vs. Promises
Subject: Proverbs 4:20-27 (ESV)
Key Verse: Proverbs 4:23.
“More than all guardings, guard your heart...”
“for from it flow the springs of life.” Everything in your life flows out of your heart. Your heart is the source of your thoughts, attitudes, emotions, values, and desires.
Luke 6:45 (NIV)
45 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
Illustration: Jackson, MS, is in the news again because of a boil order in the city… We all remember the Flint, MI, water crisis in 2014… One of my favorite trout streams has had a new housing development built upstream, and the quality of the stream has significantly declined.
Application: Proverbs 4:23 (ESV)
How do you guard your heart? How do you protect the spring that feeds your life?
Guard your heart by listening to truth. Protect the spring that feeds your life by tuning your ears to what is right. (Prov 4:20, 24)
Verses 20 and 24 are a pair.
Summary: “Tune out the trash. Tune in the truth.”
Illustration: Joe Banderman: “Trash in, trash out.”
Tune out the trash. What crooked speech or devious talk do you need to put far from you in 2023? Movies? Music? TV shows? Friends?
Tune in the truth. How are you planning to bring God’s Word into your life in 2023? Worship? Devotional (A Clean Heart)? Gospel Community?
Guard your heart by looking at what (or who) is Christlike. Protect the spring that feeds your life by fixing your eyes on what (or who) is right. (Prov 4:21, 25)
Exposition: We naturally go where our eyes go (Corinne: “Keep your eyes on the road!”). What you spend your time looking at is what fills your heart and flows out of your life.
Illustration: When I was younger, I wanted to be like Willard Baker.
Application: Philippians 3:17. Who are you watching? Are you spending time with people who live like Jesus? Are you watching people who are the kind of people you want to become, the kind of person Jesus is?
Guard your heart by thinking about where you’re going. Protect the spring that feeds your life by putting your mind on the path that is right. (Prov 4:22, 26)
“Ponder” = “to make level.” The idea is level-headed thinking about your life.
“then all your ways will be sure.” If you’re paying attention to the direction your life is going, you’ll know when you start to veer off-course. You’ll get where want to go if you live on purpose and pay attention to your path.
We can’t decide what’s right and wrong based on how we feel about it, or what society tells us is good and bad. We have to come back to God’s Word.
Illustration: Living together before marriage…
Application: Before we make a major decision in life, we need to stop and think about the path we’re about to take. Where does it lead? How does this decision impact my trajectory in life? What is my trajectory in life? Following Jesus together for the glory of God and the common good. Marriage… kids’ school… new job… moving… retirement… What is the spiritual impact this decision will have on me and on those around me?
Guard your heart by turning away from sin and toward God. Protect the spring that feeds your life by pointing your feet toward what is right. (Prov 4:26-27)
Following Jesus doesn’t happen by accident. We have to decide to turn away from evil and turn to Jesus.
That’s a decision that has to be made daily (Luke 9:23).
It’s not just an intellectual exercise but a physical practice.
Illustration: Bob Goff, “We stopped having a Bible study and started having a Bible doing.”
Application: It’s time to stop talking and start doing.
Come to Jesus and he will make you clean. Follow Jesus and he will show you how to live the way God designed you to live. Let’s start 2023 with a resolve to follow Jesus on the path of life, to put him first and dedicate this year to him.