Guard your heart
The world tells you to trust yourself and follow your heart. But what does the Bible have to say about it? On this inspiring sermon, pastor David examines the true nature of the heart from a biblical perspective, the dangers behind following your heart, and the practical ways of guarding your heart.
Great to be able to bring God's word to you this morning you your Bible there you'll need that we're going to be in proverbs 4 a little bit later on we just pray as begin this father we just want to thank you for your word this morning for how you speak to us through it would you open our hearts to your truth as we seek you in your word would you remove from us any distractions anything that would hinder us from hearing your voice may we hear your voice and respond in obedience and Fai to all that you would call us to this day by the power of your Holy Spirit accomplish in US Lord all that you have planned as we surrender now to your will in Jesus name amen if you were here last week or managed to catch uh the recording online you would have heard Dylan's message from Matthew 15 looking at M and we were challenged last week weren we just Dylan looked took us through that text to consider the state of our heart we saw that God cares about and is interested in the condition of our hearts and didn't said well we might be able to hide these things that are in our heart from each other we can't hide them from God the condition of our heart is of vital importance to our spiritual lives some much so that we find throughout the Bible that heart is mentioned almost a thousand times when the Bible speaks about the heart we we learned last week it's not just talking about the muscle that vital organ that pumps blood through our body but it refers to the spiritual part of us that that place where our affections and our emotions and our desires dwell the Bible talks about our heart as the the center of who we are it's the the seed of our life lives it's the control center of our being it's the place of our feelings our thoughts our decisions and intentions it's where we make choices about how we live about what we believe it's the realm of our principles the Bible speaks very much as though it's the new center of our lives and yet we saw last weekend as we sung in our songs this morning we recognize something of the Paradox when it comes to our hearts from that moment that we're born because of original sin we know we've got this heart condition this sick sinful heart that we saw in in Jesus address in Matthew 15 last week the Prophet Jeremiah put it this way he said the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick who can understand it that's from Jeremiah 179 but again the Paradox is when we come to Faith In Jesus when we experience the new birth that Christ offers us through the gospel God says we're given a new heart he puts a new spirit within us Jesus said in in John 7:38 that whoever believes in me as the scripture has said out of his heart will flow rivers of Living Water Paul said to the the church in Corinth in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that if anyone is in Christ he's a new creation to the Romans Paul said thanks be to God that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed it's the Paradox of the Christian life isn't it if we examine our heart we desire Jesus we desire to obey his commands to to live for him and yet at the same time we find in our hearts a desire at times for things that are not of Christ we live with this tension in our hearts this war within us the the sin nature that's at war with God's desires for us it's why the Apostle Paul would go on to say in Romans 7 that he finds this lur at work although I want to do good evil is right there with me for in my inner being I Delight in God's law but I see another law at work in me Waging War against the LW of my mind and making me a prisoner to the LW of sin that work within Me Maybe you can relate to Paul this morning maybe last week as we looked at jesus' comments about the heart as Dylan brought that challenge to us to examine the the state of our hearts maybe like Paul you experienced something of the weight of that tension maybe at times you find yourself back in that place where you're doing the things that want to do it's because we have this battle going on in our heart between our sin nature between our flesh and between the new nature that God has given us his spirit and friends this be why it's dangerous for us to buy into the idea that we so often see in our world today when it comes to matters of the heart doesn't our culture today say follow your heart maybe you're facing a decision or a question that you need to answer and so often our world's message to us on these matters is listen to your heart after all the heart knows what it wants the the Heart Wants What It Wants how the songs go back in 2005 Steve Jobs the CEO of Apple computer and Pixar Animation Studios he gave a commencement speech to the graduating students at Stanford University it's one of the alltime most watch addresses of its sort today over 42 million people have have tuned in since then to to watch to listen to the words of wisdom from the man who founded what is now the largest tech company by Revenue in the world with the climax of his speech Steve Jobs had this to say to the graduating students said most important have the courage to follow your heart and intuition they somehow already know what you truly want to become everything else is secondary maybe you're familiar with the 1998 Disney film Mulan the original not the the Remake maybe you remember Mulan singing the song when will my reflection show who I am inside there's a heart that must be free to fly the world says to us follow your heart listen to It Wants What It Wants and yet the Bible says the H wants what we feed the heart Above All Else the Bible says we to guard our hearts so it's my prayer this morning as we look at this text in proverbs 4 as we look at the verses that Liz read for us and we're actually going to start our reading from verse 20 a few verses back my prayer is is that we would benefit from this this morning as we consider not what our world says but what God says about these matters of their heart look in at verse 20 of proverbs 4 we read these words my son pay attention to what I say turn your ear to my words do not let them out of your sight keep them within your heart for they are life to those who find and health to one's whole body Above All Else guard your heart for everything you do flows from it keep your mouth free of perversity keep corrupt talk from your lips let your eyes fixed look straight ahead fix your gaze directly before you give careful thought to the paths of your feet and be steadfast in all your ways do do not turn from the right or the left keep your foot from evil God always blesses the read of his word those first nine chapters of Proverbs are made up of a series of lectures 10 lectures or talks that are given by King Solomon to his son training him in wisdom regarded as the wisest man who ever lived than Jesus Solomon promises his son that if he seeks wisdom he'll find it if he searches for wisdom God will grant him wisdom will fill him protect him instruct him and deliver him from Evil Solomon says that true wisdom is found in Running From Evil and running towards God so Solomon seeks to teach his son that being wise is about making decisions that honor God and align with his instruction and because the heart is the control center of our Lives because this is often the place where we make our decisions we're led by our hearts or we can be the heart where the heart goes so often we go in a sense Disney kind of gets it right but what Disney leaves out is the truth that our Heart Wants What It Is f and so it's important that we see at the very heart of Solomon's instruction to his son this morning the clear warning for us to guard our hearts notice that that's in the imperative it's of vital importance Above All Else guard your heart before you guard your home before you guard your children your spouse your work before you guard your wealth your bank account your passwords Above All Else guard your heart it's a military term it's the same idea as being put in charge of a a prisoner or a very important person your solemn Duty as that gu is to always keep a watch on them to ensure that they don't escape or that the important person is not harmed in any way you to protect them at all costs other translations might say it this way in verse 23 the ESV says keep your heart with all vigilance for from it flows the Springs of Life keep your heart with all viance the idea of keeping one's heart carries with it this idea of not letting it spoil like it might keep milk or or or food from spoiling when it keep our heart pure to protect prot it from turning rotten and spoiled why does Solomon drive home the point in such a a fashion why is it so crucial well we see in the second half of verse 23 there that it's because our life depends on it everything you do flows from your heart it's the control center or the the the bridge of the ship it's the nerve center of our being you watch any movie about Pirates coming to ships and if it's a modern ship what do the Pirates do they they go straight to the bridge when they board the ship because if they can take control of the bridge if they can take control of of that nerve center of the ship then they've got control of the vessel so it is with their heart if someone wanted to take control of you to to lead you off the path of wisdom they they only need to taret your heart because once they have your heart the rest will follow what we put in our hearts determine where we go everything in our life flows from it so we need to guide them keep a careful watch them learn and get to know the things in our life that pose the greatest threats to our heart we need to make sure sure that the things that we're putting into our heart the things that we're feeding our heart are the things of God because if it's not of good and we feed it to our heart it's going to take us away from Godly places so how do we guide our heart how do we do it well thankfully Solomon outlines for us by way an action plan what it looks like in practice he gives us five ways that we can guard our heart the first one he says there in verses 20 to 22 we need to listen to the right instructions listen to the right instructions whose voice are you listening to there can be so many voices today that would compete to capture the attention or the affections of our heart whether it's the voice of our culture or or the media advertisers it's the the voice of sport social media the internet or television any number of of however many streaming services there are these days there's a multitude of voices crying out for the attention and the affection of our heart we need to ask ourselves whose voice are we listening to maybe it's the voice of friends the voice of Gossip or comparison that the voice of jealousy or insecurity all of these voices can at times overwhelm us and dominate our thinking and affect our hearts we need to ask ourselves that question whose voice am I listening to maybe this morning we're listening to our own voice could be tempting to think as the world does to think that our hearts know what we want most of the time it could seem convenient just to listen to our livs and yet Solomon cautions us against this l in Proverbs 28: 26 he would go on to say those who trust in themselves are fools but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe in Proverbs 21:2 Solomon said a person may think their own ways are right but the Lord weighs the heart our hearts can trick us they can tell us that it's okay we can think that we're right but it's the Lord who weighs the heart we need to listen to the voice of wisdom we need to listen to the voice of God's word verse 21 and 22 of proverbs 4 don't let them out of your sight keep them within your heart for their life to those who find them Health to one's whole is the key to Life Health and wholeness to see after the voice of wisdom to treasure the word of God in our hearts it's interesting to note that Solomon who gives this advice to his son was himself the son of King David before him David wrote in Psalm 19: 7 to1 about the importance of listening to the word of God Listen to As I read what David wrote in Psalm 19 7 to11 the law of the Lord is perfect refreshing the soul the statutes of the Lord are trustworthy making wise the simple the precepts of the Lord are right giving Joy to the heart the commands of the Lord are radiant giving light to the eyes the fear of the Lord is pure enduring forever the decrees of the Lord are firm and all of them are righteous they are more precious than gold they're much pure gold are sweeter than honey than honey from the Honey by them your servant is warned in keeping them there is great root War the jury still out on who we think wrote Psalm 119 it may have also been written by David maybe by one of the others but in Psalm 119:1 the psalmist says I've sted out your word in my heart that I might not sin against you it's important for us to listen to the right voice if we have got our heart many years later one would come who was wiser than Solomon Jesus the son of God who took on flesh who incarnated himself so that we might have life Jesus would pick up on this idea what he said to his disciples in John 6 and verse 63 Jesus said said the spirit alone gives eternal life human effort accomplishes nothing and the Very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life the one who is wiser than Solomon says listen to my voice hear the voice of the spirit of God the words I've spoken to you are the words of Life sadly John tells us that after this many of the disciples turn back and no long longer walked with him Jesus turned to the 12 in in verse 67 of of John chapter 6 and and he asked them are you going to leave as well Simon Peter replied Lord to whom would we go you have the words that give eternal life we believe and we know that you are the Holy One Of God he was listening to the right voice and he found nothing whose voice are you listening to the second way we guard our heart as Solomon instructs us this morning is to look in the right direction look at verse 25 of proverbs 4 says let your eyes look straight ahead fix your gaze directly before you to guide our heart we need to look in the right direction just as listening to the wrong voice can cause our hearts to spoil to to to look in the wrong direction can do the same we need to be mindful of the fact of what we do with our eyes can determine and affect the purity of our hearts where we look can determine where we go I remember when I was learning to ride a motorbik in in preparation for getting my license the instructor kept hammering home to us this truth is is like as you ride what you look at determines where you go if you're looking in the right Direction uh you you'll get to where you want to go if you're not you might end up going where you don't want to be it's why we put those baders or those shields on the eyes of of race fores so they're not tempted or distracted so they run straight and finish where they're meant to be if you want to guard your heart we need to ask ourselves the question am I looking in the right direction so much of the Temptation that we Face comes through our hearts we need to watch what we allow to come into our hearts through them it's how our hearts get in our technological age this can be quite a challenge anyone that's on social media knows that it's clever it's designed to keep you to hold your GES not only on on things that matter and that are good for our hearts but but on things that AR as well when you scroll over something slow on that social media that the algorithm behind it that feeds it out it it grabs a hold of it and it says aha I've got you and it feeds you more that Facebook feed or Instagram explore page can be dangerous if if we're not here it can easily become a source of input that causes our hearts to wonder same could be said of YouTube or of the of the internet or TV shows we choose to watch the books we choose to read we need to consider friends the direction that face be mindful of what we take into our hearts through our lives because it feeds our heart like that social media feed like that streaming service that the heart catches what our eyes serve up to and if we're not feeding our hearts the right things we'll find that we're cultivating the wrong attitudes ands deep in our heart instead of Desiring the things of God the wisdom of God we can find ourselves slipping into the Temptation and Desiring instead the foolishness of the world I think it was Billy Graham who said it's not the first look that's the issue it's the second it's why job made a covenant with his eyes because he wanted to to guide his heart to make sure that his eyes were looking in the right direction I wonder if Lot's wife had looked Straight Ahead straight ahead instead of looking back she would have gone down in history as an example of Mercy rather than as the pillar of with David that young man on his rooftop there had kept his eyes straight ahead rather than sustaining his Gaze on BBA he wouldn't have ended up in the place that he did Solomon says to his son guard your heart by making sure that you're looking in the right direction and again friends we see that the one who is wiser than Solomon Jes Jesus would pick up this truth in Matthew 6: 22 and 23 Jesus said your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body when your eye is healthy your whole body is filled with light but when your eye is unhealthy your whole body is filled with Darkness if the light that you think you have is actually Darkness how deep that darkness is the warning our heart friends we're looking in the right direction do we need to correct our gaze this morning if you do look to Jesus the one who's wiser than soul look to his light the Third Way We guide our heart is to watch what we say verse 24 of proverbs 4 where to keep our now free of keep corrupt talk from our lips we to watch what we say If you think about those first two ways that we um guard the heart they're all about monitoring what we take in the inputs that feed our heart this next way watching what we say helps us to pay closer attention to see what flows out of our hearts we see this uh in the Proverbs in the wisdom of Solomon that uh what comes out of our mouth reflects our character Proverbs 15:2 says the tongue of the wise commends knowledge but the mouths of fools pour out down at verse 28 of Proverbs 15 the heart of the righteous Ponders how to answer but the mouth of the wicked Pours Down evil things the with Hebrew phrases used there as a kind of sinful speech it literally means falseness of MTH Solomon shows us that what spills out of us from our mouth it flows out of what's going on in our hearts we need to watch what we say so that we can go our home so often our mouths can be out that for the evil for the unkind for the cruel for the spiteful for that which tears down instead of tears up that's the way the world thinks it's not the way of Love of Grace it's not the way of Jesus we need to ask ourselves before we speak is what I'm about to say true is it time is it necessary if we're going to guard our hearts we need to watch our speech at the very least it will help us to evaluate the state about us and how well we may be gu him I must confess there's been times when I've spoken foolishly or too quickly spoken without pausing to think and I've sometimes being shocked at my speech whoa where did that come from PR the one who's wiser than Solomon Jesus he would tell us that we shouldn't be surprised when this happens Luke 6:45 a good man brings good things out of the good stood up in his heart and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stor up in his heart for the mouth speaks what the heart is full of other translations say the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks what comes out of ours and be a real L test for what's going on that time in ours I think the example of carrying a glass of fresh water into the room one of my kids bumps me or whatever what's going to spill out of the glass fresh water you carry a glass of dirty water and you get diry water that spills out don't be surprised at your M it can show you what's going on in your life watch what spills out of you in those times of struggle and strife particularly in in the times of trial and difficulty watch what you say and how you speak those times can be great tests of our faith but they can also be great revealers that what going on inside our heart you know watch what we saying number four verse 26 of proverbs 4 we need to watch how we walk Solomon says to give careful thought to the paths for our feet be steadfast in all their ways we need to watch how we walk and who we choose to journey I think we can tell a lot about a person from how they walk from where they walk and from with whom they live the Bible's loves to say about how we plant our feet consider Psalm one the PSAL says blessed is the one who doesn't walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that Sinners take or sit in the company of mockers but whose Delight is in the L of the Lord and who meditates on his law day and night that person is like a tree planted by streams of water which yield his fruit and season and whose Leaf is not wither whatever they do prospers not so the wicked they're like the CH that the wind blows away therefore the wicked will not stand in the Judgment nor sinners in the Assembly of the righteous for the Lord Watches Over The Way of the righteous but the Way of the Wicked leads to destruction it's important where we walk and who we walk with Proverbs 3: 5 and 6 maybe one you've committed to memory before trust in the Lord with all your heart do not lean on your own understanding in all your ways acknowledge Him and he'll make your hearts strength Deuteronomy 5:33 you shall walk in all the way that the Lord your God has commanded you that you may live and that may it may go well with you that you may live long in the land that you shall possess Galatians 5:116 walk by the spirit and you not gratify the desires of the flesh Colossians 2:6 therefore as you reive Christ Jesus the Lord so walk in him or consider 1 Corinthians 15:33 do not be misled Bad Company corrupts good character we need to surround ourselves with who won't lead us astray be careful of who we follow we saw last week didn't we that the danger of following the wrong things of following culture or tradition or uh Bland religious ritual all of that is a recipe for a bad home if we don't pay careful attention to our walk to where we walk and with who we walk we could end up like the Pharisees who thinking they're okay maybe even looking like they're okay on the outs honoring God with their lips and then God said their hearts were far from you we need to be careful of who and what we follow we need to be careful of where we walk I think of King David as he let his feet take him where he wasn't meant to be alone on that rooftop with his gaze lingering on that she you contrast that with the account of J who ran from the approach of Piper's wife we need to watch our feet we need to be ready to Le from every approach which drags us down rather than sets us up we need to walk in step with Jesus and not in step with the word and again the one who's wiser than Solomon said I am the light of the world whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of Life 1 John 1: 5-8 says this is the message we've heard from him that declare to you God is light in him there is no Darkness at all if we claim we have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness we lie and don't live out the truth but if we walk in the light as he is in the light we have fellowship with one another in the blood of Jesus his son purifies us from all sin how's our walk we walking in step of Jesus we're not going to grow in our relationship with him if we don't set time aside to spend with him every day we need to give careful thought to the paths of our feet finally verse 27 we see there's a warning a danger of drifting away to be we don't turn to the right or the left keep your foot from Evil the idea here is about giving in the previous verse in verse 26 was about giving careful thought to our world here in verse 27 it's about uh uh carrying it out as we set out on the path that we've carefully considered as we've chosen our feet as we steadfastly pursue it we to do that all the while being wary of the danger if we to drift to the right of the land there's a tragedy in our text this morning a real warning of the danger of the drift away in 1 Kings 11 we read that the one who penned this proverb in in proverbs 4 didn't follow his own advice Solomon in all of his wisdom drifted away 1 Kings 11: 4-6 tells us that as Solomon grew old his wives turned his heart after other gods and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God as the heart of his father of David his father had been he followed the ashth and the goddess of the sidonians and mo the detestable god of the ammonites so Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord he did not follow the Lord completely as David his father had done it's a tragedy all that wealth all that wisdom by every Earthly measure Solomon seemed successful and yet in the end he failed to gu his heart my guess is it didn't happen in one go it wasn't just a an instant thing my guess is it began as a small turning away a gradual drift as his heart slowly turned to the right or to the left a little compromise here a little compromise there a small justification it's not that bad I I'll correct that in a moment and give it enough time these little deviations these small turnings to the right or the left can de and damage our heart [Music] finally the heart is hard it no longer desires the things of God as it for we've allowed our hearts to turn away other gods in his place we need to ask ourselves the question this morning can I grief him there's a real warning there for us a danger that we might have stepped off the path he ever so slightly watch for that danger of the slow and steady drift and don't let your heart like Solomon's be turned away again Jesus the one who's wiser than Solomon said that comes to our hearts we need a a singular Focus we can't serve two masters Jesus said in Matthew 6:24 Matthew 7 13-4 he describes the the journey with him as a as a a narrow gate that we enter into a narrow path that we walk wide is the road that leads to destruction many enter through but small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a you find be weary of the slow Dam so how do we go that those five ways listen to the right instructions look in the right direction watch what you say watch how you walk who with who you walk and where you walk be weary of the danger of drifting away over the course of his ministry we see Jesus began to speak in Parables to those who are coming to listen to me he didn't do it so much at the beginning at the start but as Folk began to drift away from his message as as they closed their hearts to him he began to speak more and more in parables in Matthew 13 and: 10 we see the disciples kind of notic this and they ask him that they come to him and they say why do you speak to people in Parables and Jesus said in verse 11 to13 of of Matthew 13 there he said well I'm speaking this way so that those that want to know my words will hear it but those that don't those that have Harden their hearts those that have drifted away they won't understand Jesus said I'll cease to speak to them they won't understand the words say he goes on to quote the prophet Isaiah though thou see they not see though hearing they do not hear or understand in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah you'll be ever hearing but never understanding you'll be ever seeing but never perceiving these people's heart has become callous they hardly hear with their eyes with their ears and they closed their eyes otherwise they might see with their eyes hear with their ears understand with their hearts and turn and I would heal friends if we fail to guard our hearts we run the risk of Harden our hearts we run the risk of not hearing God speak we can find ourselves in church s in a a sermon like this we can even read the word of God and there can be no feeling at all in our heart nothing we can take away it's like we have that callous on our foot that that hard l that even if we're to stick a p in and we feel nothing the Bible says that above all else we to gu our heart lest we become desensitized to the things of God as our hearts grow callous and hard the danger is that God will speak and we no longer hear his words let that not be our SP this morning turn our hearts back to Jesus and look to him let's beloving heavenly father would you renew our minds and cleanse our hearts give us and New Hope to see your desires for us to understand all that you've done for us in Christ help us to look to Jesus to the Cross to the one who's wiser than Sol give us a deeper affection for him who PA our Deb and purchased our freedom help us to live day by day in the power of your holy spirit to guide our hearts such that we don't Drift Away father God would you be near to any here this morning who may have stray from that narrow path that leads to Life by Your Grace by the power of your spirit would you gently draw them back do the work in their hearts that only your spirit can do and so soften that which has become hard and callous restore them on the right path walking instead with you in Jesus name we pray amen we can sing a final song if you want to talk to anyone this morning about what God has spoken to you and you need us to pray with you talk to me after talk one of the Propet that somebody who came with this morning