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January 8, 2019

GOD FIRST: Guarding Your Heart

 “Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.”1 John 5:21 (NLT)

Many people are surprised to hear that there is a battle royal raging for their hearts.  But, when we think of a heart attack, most of us are prone to think only of the physical condition of our hearts.  Just as it is important to maintain a healthy cardio exercise program to keep our heart muscle pumping effectively, it is equally vital that we guard our hearts from whatever might take God’s rightful place in our heart.  Solomon recognized the danger in exposing his heart carelessly when he wrote Proverbs 4:23. He counsels us to:

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”

What is it that competes for your heart’s affection?  Perhaps, the best way to find out is to consider the course of your life right now.  Where are you headed?  Are you getting closer to God day by day or drifting further away?  Whatever you give your heart to determines the course of your life.  Is God first in your heart?  When Jesus told the parable of the sower and the seed, He warned us of the distractions that would lead to an unfruitful and unproductive life.  He described it like this:

“The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced.”  Matthew 13:22 (NLT2)  

The Bible warns us to avoid a double heart (Ps. 12:2), a hard heart (Prov. 28:14, Heb. 3:12), a proud heart (21:4), an unbelieving heart (Heb. 3:12), a cold heart (Matt. 24:12), and an unclean heart (Ps. 51:10).

“Ok, I get it,” you may be thinking by now.  “But how?”  “How do I guard my heart?  How can I keep away everything that might take God’s place in my heart?” 

One of the best ways I know is to put God first in my life every day by giving Him the first part of my day.  That’s why our journey in this God First devotional series is so important.  It will help you develop the spiritual habit of putting God first every day by reading God’s Word and spending time alone in prayer with Him.  Let’s be honest.  Our hearts can deceive us.  Jeremiah understood that when he wrote:

“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”  Jeremiah 17:9 (NIV)

Our heart has been infected with a deadly virus of sin.  It’s beyond cure.  The prophet Ezekiel said that this is why God offers us a new heart.  In Ezekiel 36:26, God says,

“I will give you a new heart—I will give you new and right desires—and put a new spirit within you. I will take out your stony hearts of sin and give you new hearts of love.”

Have you received that kind of heart transplant?  Have you opened your heart to Christ?  Does He have first place in your heart?  If not, ask Him today to give you a heart after His own heart.  Invite the Lord Jesus to rule and reign in your heart, to set up His throne in your heart and commit your life to Him.  Put God first.  He will direct the course of your life to a fruitful and productive end! 

Prayer:

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test my thoughts. Point out anything You find in me that makes You sad, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. Psalm 139:23-24 (TLB)