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.
Your Printable of Proverbs 4:23 awaits you, as do all our favorite Proverbs on Pinterest.
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!
The Proverbs today is what I needed. God’s perfect timing.
Love your blog and more importantly your books and your love for The Lord.
What a blessing this Christmas Eve morning. Guard your heart is one of my most favorite. It helped me in a different way when my son was a herion addict.( He has been clean for 6 years and making A’s and B’s in college.) God is so good.
When I hear this verse, it reminds me of Mary. She stored away and pondered. That’s what we need to do. Granted, none of us is in a position that unique but we can follow her example. Put His word in our hearts and guard it well. I pray everyone has a blessed holiday.
When God’s Truth is explained in a different way, my understanding and appreciation is so enhanced and my love for Him increases. This happened when I read, God cannot give you more…” Wow. I feel so rich in His love. He has handed me everything.
Also, reading, “We don’t decide our future; we decide Whom to love,” takes a lot of pressure off of me and sets me in such a secure place. Another wow. I look forward to loving Him with deep gratitude through this Christmas season.
Thank you Liz for this beautiful reminder: whatever I feed my heart will eventually come out. Thank you for the challenge to be more diligent! God bless you & Merry Christmas.
Today’s Proverb helped to show me how easy it can be to keep God in our hearts and lives, if we will just stay out of our own way.
Today’s Proverb helped to remind me, if I stay out of my own way it’s easy to feel and give God’s love. To let go of worldly thoughts and keep my focus on my love for God and His love for me.
I do hope that sometime in the near future you will decide to take all of this years Proverbs and put them into a book we can purchase. That way we will be able to read and re-read them whenever we choose. Merry Christmas.
I love the analogy of God’s love flowing through us like a stream. No stop and go – no fret or worry – just flowing.
Thank you for all of this wonderful lessons from the book of Proverbs. I am so excited for what you will be sharing in 2015. Your announcement just cemented in my mind and heart what my focus should be next year – what God has already been speaking to me about.
BTW – I found your “Bookends” book at a thrift shop this week! I will have to make it my next fiction read!
Guard your heart is a favorite of mine. Due to circumstances earlier this year this Christmas is slimmer for me but it has helped me to guard my heart and focus more on Jesus as the true meaning of Christmas.
I can look back over the years of my life and see examples of this verse. Times when I put trash in and trash came out. Times when I put God in and God’s blessings came out. It’s so easy to get sidetracked, isn’t it? Thanks for these beautiful lessons on Proverbs.
Guarding my heart to me, means taking action every day by cleansing and refreshing myself with His Word. Meditating on it day and night so that I am able to do all He asks of me. Love this verse!
What a wonderful verse to meditate on at this special time of year. I will chew on it as I drive with my family to Vermont for a family Christmas.
Thank you SO much for this wonderful series that has seen me theough some very dark days this year….
Blessings to you, your family and all fellow Proverbs girls as we celebrate the coming of our Saviour :))
Merry Christmas to all on this Christmas Eve. Have loved your visuals as well as text in this series.
Liz! This is one of my all-time favorites & needs to be emblazoned upon my brain that keeps forgetting this great Scripture….It is colossally important to guard our hearts. I think of putting on the armor of God along w/ guarding our hearts. (from Eph. 6:10-18)….again something I forget to do DAILY. Thank you for this wonderful explanation a la Lizzie. You are a blessing to us all. Merry Christmas. Wish we were back at Starbucks in the Land of Denial. Off to WRAP gifts…..Tra-la-la….Love you!!! Blessings to you & your family. xoxo
Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and Christ’s blessings throughout the New Year! Have loved your books for years and look forward to your blog posts. There is always something that speaks to me and strengthens me each time I read them! We are all so blessed in sharing our love for our Lord through your writings.
Merry Christmas, Liz! And thank you so much for your faithful blogging. Debby Zigenis-Lowery
I have allowed everything (it’s a long, weary, traumatic story), to attack my heart. It needs to be guarded, a hedge of protection, a rear guard.
God loves you and He has your back 🙂 even if you have allowed everything to attack your heart. He is steadfast, will not move in His love and affections for you; just waiting for the time/s to walk with you, bit by bit and sometimes more than a bit by more than a bit. What a gracious and merciful God He is 🙂
Starting the first of this year I read the Proverb for that day and all in it. There are listed 31. Everyday of each month I read. So I have read most of them 12 times. This was so helpful to me, as the months and days moved in a wonderful pattern. I have changed a lot in my thinking this past year. I have also chosen a word to live by for the year. I started this several years ago. I started with Believe the first year, the second year Persevere, this year was Listen. I can tell you that choosing one word and following it can change your life. This coming year is insight- understanding. I get these words after many prayers for guidance. Have a Merry Christmas and a Wonderful New Year. Thanks for uplifting so many of us.
Donna, would you be very specific on how you do what you have said? Especially about each one of the words you focus on. I would like to try it. Sounds like it would be of great benefit.
This was a great explanation of the verse and a good reminder that our hearts are really important!
I would like these to be put into a book too,but at least we can go back and read them online.
I find that the older I get the more visuals I need to help me guard my heart. I keep a bulletin board in my kitchen with scriptures and quotes and inspiration that are always just a glance away to remind me where my focus needs to be. And also there’s usually a blog and some scripture waiting for me in my email from someone. A steady diet…constantly feeding…
Great ideas Deborah. Thanks for sharing.
It’s so easy to get carried away with ourself. I’m big at that. An emotional
Soul. So this proverb is so special, it helps me to look outside myself. Then
my attention is placed more in prayer and asking the lord to guide my ways.
I look forward to these Proverbs with you all week! To ‘guard my heart’ means to me to keep myself from anything that is not from God. To stay away from anything the enemy would use to draw me away from God, His Word, His Voice and His Presence.
May you have a blessed Christmas Liz!
ps So enjoying your book “The Women of Christmas”. Love looking at these women in a new way!
I have loved this Bible study from Proverbs! I started to read each day through the month to my hubby and he got to look forward to me reading it 🙂 Each verse holds such special meaning and guidance for how we should conduct our lives. Merry Christmas to you dear Liz and to all here ♥
Love your teachings, and that compass!!! Merry Christmas to All and to All a goodnight ; )
Have so enjoyed this year of Proverbs and have shared them with my friends. Can’t wait to see what the next year will be. Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year.
“Guarding” is an ongoing action (a verb). I need to give it constant attention, not let my “guard” down because that is when evil gets in. Thanks for the fresh look at it!
“Guarding my heart” means paying attention to what I pay attention to. It’s too easy in our society to simply take in the myriad bits of information around us and not even be aware of what we are putting in our hearts.
God has grown my heart to be bigger than anything I could imagine. My faith helps me guard my greatest treasure. YOU ARE SO LOVED FOR PROVIDING THIS WEEKLY STUDY.
Guarding my heart, to me, means putting up boundaries so that no-one can influence me to be anyone other than who I am. I need to look after my heart, what is in it, like who God has made me to be and not being afraid to be that person, not being afraid to speak out the things that I know are true for me, even if I’m seemingly the odd one out at the time and my voice is the only one that is saying it. It means trusting God in those times, that He has my back when I face the fear of rejection perhaps. Guarding my heart means not giving into the ways of this world and not feeling left out for doing so … this is my heart we’re talking about. It means being brave, even with family members, saying what I need to say and being who I need to be and am. This is great stuff, thank you Liz! Merry Christmas x
Wow! Thank you. I could not have said it better. This is my prayer for the new year.
Merry Christmas Liz. This verse was the first one a friend and I chose as we began our memorization challenge.
Thanks for the teaching which expands on reasons why it’s important to guard our hearts. On a more physical note, I have also used this verse to help me remember to watch my lifestyle (diet and exercise) for my heart’s health.
How beautiful are God’s Words!
For me it’s to be watchful, be careful what I allow to take hold in my heart….unkind thoughts, hurt, anger….all those yucky hidden sins…something I realize more and more I need to be aware of. Thank you so much for these proverbs, for the love and challenge. Just now finishing “Women of Christmas” on this Christmas eve….my heart is so full!
I got home from church and found your email. It helped me to see that I have not guarded my heart as I should have this year. I have let confusion and anger get control. I want to get back to knowing God is my source and my guide for life.
This has been a very enjoyable series 🙂
To me, guarding my heart means being careful what I read, what I watch, what I listen to. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit is very good about letting me know when something is inappropriate!
I’m spending Christmas Eve with you before going to midnite worship at my beloved Lutheran Church. What a beautiful meditation to start my Christmas worship with you of course!
I need to learn to trust & love Him more.
Guarding our hearts means to me keeping and knowing God’s word in an intimate way and then being able to share with others what God has done in our lives. Also, maintaining a pure lifestyle remembering what goes into our hearts and minds usually comes out! Merry Christmas!
Wonderful verse and devotional, Liz. Thank you! The prayer at the end was just what I needed, and verbalized exactly what I wanted to pray tonight. Merry Christmas, dear sister in Christ!
Merry Christmas Ms. Liz! It’s officially Christmas.
The best way for me to guard my heart is to spend time with Father. This time makes a big difference in how my day goes, what I think about, how I treat others, choices I make. Getting quiet before him and enjoying being with him. It quiets my heart so I can hear him as he teaches me the right path to go for the day.
Thank you for letting me share.
God bless you,
I so love how this community shares. I receive so many blessings from reading your comments.
There is an old saying: What goes in is what comes out. (or something close to this)
This is really true. It seems whatever I do first think in the morning is reflected throughout my day. I try to start my day off by spending time in God’s Word. This helps guard my heart for whatever is going happen during my day. I ask the Holy Spirit to show me how this scripture can be applied to my life today. I want what I’ve learned in my time with God’s Word to be what comes out.
The heart of the matter is the heart. It shows what we treasure. It shows who we truly are. What flows from the heart through speech and actions show our obsession. Oh. That my obsession would always be Christ, the lover of my soul!
Such amazing comments this time that truly spoke to me. I truly needed this verse today as my heart was left unguarded and hurt and anger crept in. I need to surround my heart
with His word and then out of it will come His love, His joy, His comfort. Merry Christmas Liz and to all the amazing women who faithfully share on this blog. I have loved this year of Proverbs. So very powerful!
Proverbs 3:5 “Trust i the Lord with all your heart, and lean not unto your own understanding…”
Merry Christmas my dear sister Liz!
Guarding my heart means that I need to be in God’s word daily. I need to confess my sins daily so that God can “create in me a clesn heart”. I need to pray and talk to God every day and listen for him to speak to me.
Have a blessed Christmas Liz. Thanks for all that you do for us.
I needed this so badly that I don’t have the words to explain. Thank you and merry Christmas to you and your family.
Guarding my heart means that I am careful in all things concerning my love for Christ
The images you paint of flowing are so apt and touch me so much. I long to have His love flow not just through me…but into others. Meditating on his Word and following Christ’s example as seen in His Word keep me at least in the stream. Some days I feel as if I am only a trickle, but my prayer for 2015 will be that the Love is a fast moving, deep current.
Merry Christmas Liz! Thank you for making 2014 so incredibly memorable. Hugs.
Still. Still. Still.
My heart, when guarded with the Shield of (Christ-authored and perfected) Faith, is still.
And it’s outflow is Peace that surpasses all human understanding.
I love your devotionals. Thank you so much. This verse teaches me to be conscious of what I allow to influence me and to be careful what that is because that determines what I feel, speak and live daily. Thanks for this beautiful encouragement today.
This spoke to me because I have not guarded my heart and I’ve now felt it’s becoming harden. Thank you Liz for the wonderful e-mails.
Ah yes. I need more flow. Thank you for the beautiful reminder.
It has been a year!! One daughter has divorced her unfaithful alcoholic husband, their house got sold after many many months of no offers, their eight year old boy is having a period of great adjustment, other daughter had a baby boy after her first was born 16 years ago, oldest child has been extremely angry about her mom and dad having a surprise.
My heart has had to be guarded from saddened anger, the pain my daughters have had to go through in 2014, but they have remained faithful to the LORD. We have praised Jesus for what He was going to do the next minute of every day as we sloshed through the turmoil. We praised Jesus, for as each trial began to finalize, we knew it was a GOD THING. How are hearts responded to the heart aches at hand, needed to be guarded. Yes and we wept with tears as each day brought another answer to prayer.
This beautiful thought is my New Year’s Resolution for 2015! Thank you for the inspiration!!!
Guarding my heart; Protecting myself from things that will pull me away from God’s truth.
New to your site or blog ,but like the Proverb study. And would like to be in on the contest. We are to love the Lord with all our heart,soul & mind. And our neighbor as ourself.
I love, love, love the flow -not stop and go…of this message!! At this time in my walk…it has been a STOP message that has buried me! And I know the “flow of His leading me….thank you so much for this reminder!
Thank you!!!! I needed this today especially. God bless you!
Thanks for this timely reminder! I so enjoy studying with you each week. Happy New Year!
I have to say thiis really touched my heart. I’ve been going through some physical difficulties and my thoughts and heart haven’t been in the right place. I thank you so much for this because it reminded me to protect and guard my heart against satan’s attacks.
What a fresh perspective on guarding my heart by choosing wisely what I believe. We were robbed a few days before Christmas and while I couldn’t guard my home I can guard (choose wisely) how I feel about the range of emotions that come from the event.
You are amazing, Liz! To me guarding my heart is making sure that my faith and God hold the #1 spot there. Then it means being careful who I let into my heart while being sure that I have opened it to all the potential that He has blessed us with in our world. No easy task to be sure! Merry Christmas, Liz and a very blessed new year to come:)
It’s all about the “beat!” Jesus is the gift that keeps on giving! When He lives in our heart, He supplies the continuous flow of new strength and love for us each day! Therefore, we can continue that flow of love to those around us each day! One big circulation system that keeps flowing all because we can choose to allow Jesus to stand guard in our heart! Let’s move to the beat and share the love of Jesus with those around us today!
Thank you Liz for all the different translations you use in your studies. I find them so helpful!
I love the idea you presented about flowing…changing our stop-n-go into flow! No beginning, no end. His love and grace and mercy just keeps coming and filling. I pray it over flows in me so others receive it even without words! Happy New Year Liz!
We thank you, for the ministry that you do! Your books are awesome and what a great new outlook on the Christmas Season I have after reading and studying your book The Women of Christmas! May the Lord continue to bless you!
I want to thank you first for all of your encouragement throughout the year. I love your website. I always feel blessed and happy after visiting it. I think guarding our hearts is so important today. To me, it means asking myself “Would I watch, listen or say that if Jesus were here?” When I ask myself that question it keeps Him very close and present in my everyday life and helps me guard my heart. May God bless you this Christmas and all of my fellow sisters in Christ, too!
As a child I memorized the verse: “Thy word have I hidden in my heart that I might not sin against thee.” Psalm 119:11. More recently I like the way HCSB writes this verse:
“I have treasured Your word in my heart so that I may not sin against You.” Verses that I have memorized, the Lord uses in big ways to remind me of His truths, His ways, His power, strength and faithfulness in the good times and in the difficulties of life. When I have ugly thoughts, I know that I have work to do and need God’s help to change my heart on the matter. Thanks Liz for your encouragement!! I pray for God’s richest blessing on your life right now!!
Thank Liz for your words of encouragement
I’m so grateful for these! They’re my bible study reflections that I meditate upon!
Great verse to memorize and keep in your Heart, we need to preach the gospel to ourselves everyday so that our hearts are in tune with His, and we do not go the way of the enemy with his lies so that our hearts gets sidetracked or go our own way of thinking was is right. Oh Lord put your heart as a seal on my heart and let your Holy Spirit keep me safe from from going stray
Lord keep us all safe in your love and may our heart be guarded by your Holy Spirit and love.
Guard my heart; that phrase sent me to the thoughts I harbored about my step-daughter who is in drug rehab this season. They weren’t pretty! They weren’t godly. In fact, I shared them with my daughter who had her own thoughts that weren’t pretty. Oh, how I need to turn over my heart above all else to my Father and instill His thoughts into my soul and mind. How different my conversation would have been had I guarded my heart and my daughter’s. Lord, give me a clean, pure heart and forgive my unkind words!
As I’ve just gotten ” a round to it” reading the blog from the 24th on the 29th – I’m struck with the wonderful analogy of the stream — it’s not about striving more — but about being in God’s Word and His wisdom will simply flow out of us – more being in mind and heart and less doing a checklist….Thank you, Miss Liz! May God bless you in 2015!
Liz, I have so enjoyed this study. As many others have noted Proverbs with its 31 chapters lends itself nicely into a daily devotional each month. “guarding my heart” to me means being careful what I allow to influence my walk: books, movies, tv shows and people- especially unsaved relatives. I find when I spend my time in the Word of God, I am happier and more at peace in my heart. I pray this coming New year will be filled with blessings for you and your family.
Guard My Heart … to me, means knowing what is going into my heart is going to come out of my heart…therefore, guard my heart against things that are not of God. Fill it with love, joy, patience, goodness, kindness, contentment, forgiveness, grace, mercy, and not just towards others but towards myself too.
Guarding my heart is keeping it from all that wants to pull me away from putting God first! This can be such a challenge!
To me, guarding my heart means to keep it filled with God, not letting other things crowd Him out. Keep the “Baals” from getting a hold in my heart. Another uber-meaningful study, Liz. Thank you!
Guarding my heart is a forward and backward activity. Seeing something come from me that obviously tells me my heart is not right means I need to get something out of my heart before deep roots are established. Looking forward, I can deflate the plans of the enemy by filling my heart with Word and Truth then drawing from the riches within.
Guarding my heart is so important – let the guard down and the bad comes in. I thought when my husband called me a prude that was a bad thing – it’s a good thing. My heart is changing. Yay!
Watching what I let my thoughts focus on. The enemy pops so many negative thoughts into my brain, that sometimes I feel like I am fighting to keep from getting worried or discouraged. Also examining my emotions. When I am angry or cranky, looking at why is that so. Is it a reasonable emotion, or have I blown things out of proportion? Those are ways that I guard my heart.
As I look ahead to the new year, this verse has even more meaning. I love, love, love the ‘flow’ visual. I thought I knew what this verse meant. But is is so good to hear about it anew. xo