Keeping Your Heart
Matthew 5:8 (NKJV) "Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God."
Why does the heart matter?
Have you thought about your heart today? No, not your ticker, although that is worthy of consideration! No, what I am talking about is the seat of your soul and spirit, the place where life is begun and weighed out. It is the place where you interpret what happens to you and how you respond. It is the XO (Executive officer) of your life.
Everything that matters and has lifelong consequence flows from this place.
It would seem a rather important thing to understand how your heart responds and how to keep it in top shape. The Bible states that your heart is of supreme importance, so much so that it urges you to guard it, carefully and circumspectly.
Proverbs 4:23 (NKJV)
Keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life.
The words for "keep" and "diligence" are synonyms for guard and preserve. It is a way of saying, "This is way too important to be casual about. You must preserve the place of living springs in your heart".
I used an illustration in church about marriage that could apply to anything that has to do with the heart.
One fine summer day in 1606, in a grove of towering Sequoias, in a place that would come to be known as California, a tiny seedling poked up through the virgin soil. Drawing energy from the filtered sunlight of the towering sentinals, the infant lifted its miniature arms to the light and warmth that had awakened it.
A year later, as the seedling turned sapling, the London Company established the Jamestown settlement in Virginia.
A year after that, as the sapling became a young Sequoia, an adventurer named Samuel de Champlain founded Quebec City in New France, a territory that would one day be called Canada.
After three more years, when the Sequoia’s top was eleven feet above the forest floor, a group of scholars released an elegant English translation of the Bible that would be known as the King JamesVersion.
In 1618, when the tree was nearly two stories high, Europe be- came embroiled in a conflict that history books would one day call The Thirty Years War.
As the tree continued to grow, America became a nation, fought a civil war, joined Europe in fighting two world wars, put men on the moon, and suffered at the hands of terrorists on September 11, 2001.
Through all of those events, spanning centuries, the seedling became a towering titan of the forest, soaring over 240 feet into the California sunshine.
And then, just a couple of years ago, the tree fell to the earth in a thunderous crash. It was the first of Yosemite’s magnificent Sequoias to fall in many years, and the Forest Service authorized an investigation.
What mysterious force had slain the giant?
What would cause such a majestic tree to fall in this way?
There had been no windstorms, fires, floods, or lightning
strikes. The toppled tree showed no evidence of animal or insect damage. As park rangers and forestry experts examined the downed behemoth, they came to a startling conclusion. Foot traffic. In an interview with CNN, ranger Deb Schweizer explained that foot traffic around the base of the tree over the years had damaged the root system and contributed to the collapse. She added that park officials had now instituted a policy of fencing some of the oldest, largest, and most historically significant trees, ‘‘to keep the public from trampling the root systems of these giants.’’ (Taken from The Divine Mentor by Wayne Cordiero; Baker Books)
Protection had to be included to protect the trees, who for centuries had withstood storms, wind, fire and were taken down by foot traffic around it's root systems. This verse from Proverbs is encouraging us to do the same. Your heart is a sacred space and deserves protection.
The heart is the seat of purity.
Titus 1:15 (NKJV)
To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled.
Defilement (sullied, pollution) can come through exposure to things that dirty and pollute the flow of our lives, but also from unbelief. Belief has a way that can open up the heart and cleanse or keep pure our ways. "Pure" in this verse is the word we get catharsis from. There is a cleansing that happens in a heart full of faith and believing.
The sacred protection of our heart produces in us the ability direct what happens in and through us. We may not be able to determine what happens to us, but we can determine our heart's response.
Keeping the Heart Pure and Free
Philippians 4:8-9 (NKJV) Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.
"I can't afford to have thoughts in my head about me that God doesn't have in His." Bill Johnson
Years ago, I learned that our hearts can be thought of as containment units. The problem is that we keep the lid of our hearts open and anything gets in there at anytime. We allow thoughts that are not ours, pronouncements about us that are not His, interpretations of events and our role in them that are not true, and more to come into our sacred space of the heart and affect not just how we respond to life, but how we see ourselves, God and everything else!
There is a cure.
Looking for a cure
It is a process of weeding out the thoughts before they get ensconced into our very way of seeing life. It is found in the verse quoted above.
When a thought or circumstance comes my way, I hold it for a bit and examine it in light of Philippians 4:8 and 9.
Is it true?
Is it noble? (Honorable towards God and His life and people)
Is it just? (Righteous)
Is it pure?
Is it lovely?
Is it of a good report?
Is it virtuous?
Is it praiseworthy?
If it is, I open my heart and receive it. I allow it to affect my sacred space. If not, then I keep the opening to my heart shut, to protect this vital seat of life. I then will even say out loud sometimes, but at the very least internally, "I reject that thought in the name of Jesus".
By slowing down my process and examining what I am feeling, sensing and perceiving at the moment, I am able to capture every good thought and add it to my root system and expose every less than worthy thought and banish it from my sacred spaces.
Why slowing down is important
I would urger you to go back and to reread Bethany's column from last week that reviewed the book, "The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry" by John Mark Comer. Slowing down is key in this process. When we do not slow down our reception of thoughts, they begin a process where we no longer respond to things, but rather, react. This "speeding up" of our reactions can put us in a place where we no longer consider anything, but like feral animals, simply react to everything in our world. This is the addictive mindset. Addicts get to the place where they no linger think, where their sacred root system is so compacted and stressed that they no longer need a triggering effect of a word or situation and they then run to their "go tos" for managing pain. You see their process of moving from a thought to a rational response has so sped up that they no longer deal in the rational, but in the feral world of reaction and pain management.
When our hearts are added to in this way, we are no longer pure, and cannot see God in our situation! It is here that we lose faith, not because God isn't there, but because we cannot see Him there!I
How do you mend and restore a broken heart?
Okay, so if you have allowed the sacred space of your heart to be trampled, what can you do to repair it?
Confession and repentance. "The way in is the way on", John Wimber used to say. In other words, confession (homolegeo - to agree with God) and repentance (meta noia - to change the mind about) got us in through believing the good news of the kingdom of God, then it will get us on when we are stuck. We agree that our way is broken and change our mind about how we have responded.
Clear the root system. Slow down and go after every thought. Yes, every thought. Pretend that you are capturing them and examine them n light of Philippians 4:8,9. The Bible states in 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (NKJV) "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ..." So, there it is. Bring every thought into the captivity of the obedience of Christ.
Nurture the soil of your heart. Think about the parable of the sower that Jesus taught. The four soils were all about the condition of the heart. Good soil produces a good crop. A good heart produces wonderful results in life. How do you manage your soil?
Watch your inputs. What goes into your heart and mind will come out. I remember years ago when I started thinking about cuss words when I was in traffic. This was not a normal occurrence to me. I suddenly realized that I had been listening to a lot of war books on tape as I was delivering. (For the younger ones, tape cassettes...oh never mind...) I had to protect my heart by trimming my liberty so I could have freedom.
Watch your outputs. The story above showed me as I became aware of how I was thinking that something was wrong. If you will listen to your outputs - thoughts, words and emotions, it will give you an idea as to the condition of your heart.
Add essential minerals. Prayer, Scripture, worship and praise, and good fellowship are all essential. Feasting on testimonies and what God is doing, also helps.
Get help where needed. Each week wonderful opportunities are available to get prayer. In addition, we have SOZO's and transformational ministry available through our teams. (See Roberta Powell for appointments at email@example.com) Pietze Duffield, one of our teaching team, has an amazing course on Triggers with Abi Stumvoll that is an amazing way to clear the decks. It costs, but is worth every penny. Also, Justin and Abi Stumvoll have "Living Fully Alive" which offers deep healing in these areas. Bethel TV also has courses. My point is, be actively seeking what God would have for you. Don't be passive in the area of growth!
Here is my prayer for you in this area, borrowed from Paul:
"Ephesians 4:20-24 (NKJV) But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness."
Keep your heart. Nothing is of greater importance!