What a sacred and glorious day to open His Word together!
This year my goal was to memorize all our 50 verses from Proverbs. Right. Still working on that.
Sandra, who chose Proverbs 4:23 as her favorite, remembers when a Sunday School teacher “asked our class to memorize this verse and gave each of us a copy handwritten in calligraphy.” So wise, that teacher.
Kathleen posted this verse on her refrigerator “when our girls were growing up. Important.” And Kay heard this verse during a sermon. “‘It’s all about the heart’—that’s what the preacher said. It hit me then and it continues to strike a holy chord in me.”
Here’s the verse these women can’t forget.
Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23
Above all else,… Proverbs 4:23
I chose a wintry shot of Notre Dame to help us imagine the one thing we cherish most, lifted high above the snares of this world.
The Hebrew word mishmar means “a place of confinement,” where we can protect what truly matters “more than anything else” (GW). Keeping it safe from danger with “diligence” (ASV), “watchfulness” (DRA), and “vigilance” (AMP).
Above all else, our society values beauty, wealth, fame. Visible, temporal.
Above all else, our God values the hearts of His people. Unseen, eternal.
What do you call precious? What do you need to protect above all else?
…guard your heart,… Proverbs 4:23
It’s not a suggestion; it’s a command: “Keep your heart pure” (NLV). Seriously, Lord? Pure? In this culture? We’d have to turn off our televisions, avoid our computers, skip going to the movies, stop reading the newspaper—
But that’s not what Jesus said: “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world” (John 17:18).
For as long as we’re here, this is where we’re meant to be. Surrounded by constant temptations, pulled this way and that, we are called and equipped by God to choose wisely.
Katie admits, “I used to think of Proverbs 4:23 as a protective verse, but I am now starting to think of it as a proactive verse.” Well done. By the power of the Holy Spirit, you can “protect your mind” (CEB) and “guard your thoughts” (CEV).
We’ve found the Hebrew word leb several times in Proverbs. No surprise, when it appears nearly six hundred times in the Bible! It means our “inner man, mind, will, heart.” Not the fist-sized organ beating in our chests, but the place where we feel and think and seek after God, since in Him “we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).
Why your heart is so important to God:
- That’s where you store His Word. “Lay up his words in your heart” (Job 22:22).
- That’s where you respond to His invitation. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart” (Deuteronomy 6:5).
- That’s where you learn to trust Him. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart” (Proverbs 3:5).
With our hearts safely in His hands, our lives flow in the right direction.
…for everything you do… Proverbs 4:23
All the “important things of life” (NLV), all the “issues” (ASV) we’re wrapped up in, all the “consequences” (CJB) of our actions—they all begin in our hearts.
Take that big Christmas gift I ordered for Bill. The one he is going to fuss at me for. It came straight from my heart—not to win his favor, but to show my husband how much I love him.
This is why God cherishes our heartfelt devotion: we’re no longer trying to earn His favor, His mercy, His grace. We already have that, and we know it. The Gift is given. The Gift is everything. God cannot give us more than He already has, because His Son is enough. His grace is sufficient.
Our gift to the Lord—our worship, honor, and obedience—springs from our love for Him, a love that cannot be contained. Like “wellsprings” (OJB), the love in our hearts overflows its banks. Spilling out, it creates a streambed that “determines the course” (NLT) our lives will follow.
We don’t decide our future, beloved. We just decide Who to love.
…flows from it. Proverbs 4:23
This broad stream in the Highlands of Scotland doesn’t question its “source” (CJB) or worry over its course. It simply flows. The water “cometh forth” (WYC) and goeth. (Sometimes the English major in me longeth to speaketh like that.)
Flow is a wonderful thing. Every minute of every hour, our beating hearts send blood flowing through our bodies, keeping us healthy. We don’t have to think about it. We don’t have to plot, plan, or scheme. It just flows.
In the same way, when we fill our hearts with God’s wisdom, when we love and trust instead of fret and fuss, God does something amazing. He turns our mess into righteousness. He changes our stop-and-go into flow.
Heavenly Father, flow sounds so good right now. Like peace, comfort, and rest, all rolled into One. However long it takes, help me hide Your Word in my heart, one verse at a time. Let Your love for me rekindle my love for You. Let Your trustworthiness strengthen my ability to trust You. I never want to forget the Gift You gave us two thousand years ago. We’re still unwrapping it, Lord. Still marveling over it. Still singing with our whole hearts, “How silently, how silently, the wondrous Gift is given.”
Now it’s your turn
- What does “guarding your heart” mean to you?
Bless you for clicking Post a Comment below to share your thoughts with us this holy season.
Each time you post a comment now through December 31, 2014, you’ll be entered to win a lovely prize that features Our #1 Favorite Proverb of the year. One comment per post, just to be fair. I hope you’ll comment every week (feel free to pop on my blog and post comments on the weeks in December you missed)!
Minutes before midnight on New Year’s Eve, I’ll chose 10 winners at random and give away 5 silvery necklaces and 5 colorful prints. Watch your inbox, as I’ll be reaching out to our winners via email.
Can you believe it? Next week we’ll unpack your #1 favorite. And I’ll spill the beans on what’s in store for 2015. Merry Christmas, dear one!
Your grateful sister, Liz
Bless you for reading my books this season!