This post is not about taking the law into our own hands but at the heart of the dynamic of a vigilante is a sense that something has to change and someone should do something about it. Their frustration with the ruling authority’s inability or reluctance to act drives them to action. These thoughts are all contained within the 23rd verse of Proverbs 4 –
“Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts!” The Message
The ruling authority, God, is informing us that He is not going to do what only we can do – it’s ‘our heart!’
The short three-word sentence; keep vigilant watch, translates this way –
keep with more vigilance than you would use for anything else. Barnes commentary.
The NIV puts it this way – “above all else!”
The number one priority and discipline is to guard our heart as if it were the most valuable resource, commodity or treasure. The language of this verse seems over the top but actually, it is the language of a very concerned Father, who is seeking to help a beloved child, as they take their place in this world. Chapter four starts with this counsel – listen and pay attention to a father’s instruction. God as our Father, is trying to get us in the loop and see what’s vital and important, as we start out into adulthood – Guard your heart.
The last part of the verse – for that’s where life starts, carries the idea of the fountainhead or spring, i.e. the starting point of a river. Just as the spring of a river has its starting point deep within the ground, so too does the ‘downstream of our lives!’ The state and condition of the river are directly affected by the state and condition of the source, that is the spring. Making sure the spring was fenced off and protected from debris and dead animals would result in the downstream river quality being at its best. So, it is with the heart!
I have learnt, the hard way, that I cannot change me or my circumstances without first making the effort to go to the source and see if I have allowed anything in into my heart, that is directly affecting what it is I am seeking to change. This is vitally important because if I take new actions but still hold the same heart attitude, eventually my heart will win and my actions will wane and I will be discouraged.
Life, literally in the Hebrew, means boundaries and they are set within our heart and so, real transformations have to begin in the heart!
The context of verse 23 is from verse 20 to 25 and contains hints and warnings about how debris and death will try to get into the heart, so as to affect the downstream –
- Ears – Pay attention, to what it is our ears are listening closely to v 20
- Eyes – The words we continually focus on will get into our hearts
- His Words are life & health to our downstream life v 22
- Lips – put & keep far away perverse & corrupt speech v 24
God, as ruling authority, as our Father, is letting us into how He set up the system and informing us of our part. How vigilant we are, is our decision because love does not insist on its own way. However, love desires the best for us and as a father, He is not a passive observer regarding our life. Therefore, He will try to influence us for good and for change.
His influence centres around the event that lead to the ongoing discipline called self-discipline. The event is to show and reveal any perceptions, thoughts & attitudes that are in our heart. The saying is often true: the way we see the problem is the problem! Biblical transformation begins and only happens by the entire renewal of the mind. Roms 12:2.
After event number one comes to the ongoing process which will regularly lead to more of event number ones, and that is self-discipline or self-control. This is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit and He longs to help us through this ongoing event and process of transformation.
When the spring that’s producing our downstream is cleared of debris and death, the water and flow of our lives will run clearer.
Cardiology is the medical study of the structure, function and disorders of the heart. In this mini-series of four blogs I want to share some thoughts around the importance of the heart, as revealed in scripture. The state of our hearts, is right up there as a subject matter to our Father, in fact it is His number one subject – above all else, guard your heart! Prov 4:23.
God the Father is a committed and highly proficient cardiologist!
The heart has the ability to have affections, to think, to guide and set our life’s boundaries. It also has an overflow; the mouth which in turn has the power of life and death attached to it, namely the tongue.
The heart is so strategic to all of life, we are commanded to guard it, (Prov 4:23) as if it contained the crown jewels. The thought behind the word is to show vigilance more than over anything else we have or own. One commentator refers to it as the master-controller!
One man in Scripture understood this and that was David. He was after all, described as a man after God’s own heart! Acts 13:22. This king, warrior and minstrel penned these words –
“search me O God and know my heart…Ps 139:23”
David had the confidence, prior to Christ and Calvary’s grace, to ask God to know his heart. This is high level trust and a little risky but is the kind of prayer Father loves and will answer. David was asking His God and creator to know his heart through observing, experiencing and reflecting. All of these are the core dynamics of what the word know depicts. David was also saying “let me in,” on your observations, experiences and reflections.
For David, there were two aspects of his heart that he wanted His Father’s feedback on – the thoughts and the ways within his heart and that through these reflections Father would lead him in the way everlasting. This word everlasting means the old path and is made of two words that differ slightly. One means the right way, the way a man should go and the other, the way a man goes by habit. David’s son would learn this from his father and his own experiences –
“there is a way that seems right to man but its end is the way of death. “Prov 16:25
Here’s my attempt at paraphrasing David’s request from within this verse Ps 139:23
“I want you God to test through observation and experiences the thoughts and ways within my heart and reflect back to me, any habits that are not leading me in the well-established path of life which is Your desire for me!”
David’s prayer would be answered, numerous times and some of these were not good feedback but every time God spoke into David’s life about the state and condition of his heart, David responded with humility, transparency and faith! It is for this reason I believe God defined David as a man after my own heart, who will do my will.
David was far from perfect, however, he always, apart from sixteen months of complete madness, went after and stayed after God’s heart! Like David I have prayed his prayer and invited God to search and try my heart and give me feedback because I want what David had and I can only have that, if I do what he did!
God is a proficient cardiologist understanding the hearts structure and function like no other, he designed it but He also knows the disorders of the heart and these fall into six categories –
- unclean heart Ps 51:10
- proud heart Prov 21:4
- hard heart Prov 28:14
- cold heart Matt 24:12
- double heart Ps 12:2
- unbelieving heart Heb 3:12
The beginning of the answer to that part of us described as deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? Jer 17:9 NIV Is to humble asks God to do in us what He did in David – search me and try me and give me feedback!
The next three blogs I’ll take two disorders from the list and share some thoughts.
Keep diligent watch over your heart, for that’s where life starts.
Keep your heart with all diligence for the issues of life spring from there Prov 4:23
The picture behind the thought of guarding your heart; is of something so valuable, it needs to guarded by special forces! It is the intentional stationing of trained guards, to protect at all cost, that which is not just valuable but strategic.
Strategic because our heart is our core and life and ALL its issues, issue from here!
Another way of saying it would be this, our core is who we BE and life IS responding to who we be not what we do. However, if who we be, synchs with what we do, then life and circumstances begin to change. And yet, there is another level of life and circumstance changing power available to us; when who we be is in NOW Grace and what we do is empower by the Spirit of grace.
Eruptive and disruptive power, the same as the Father exerted in raising his Son IS available, and part of ‘now grace’ which He has given to all His sons and all His daughters! Eph 6:10
A solid core, begins when we evaluate who we be. We take our heart in for a mot.
This is an ongoing dynamic the Father undertakes. “I the Lord search the heart. ” Jer 17:10. I do not look at the appearance. I Sam 16:7. His word tests the thoughts of our hearts. Hebs 4:12 Father is very interested in our hearts, who we be.
Who we be is the sum total of all we Believe and our Experiences. To be more forensic, it’s not just having experiences but our interpretations of those experiences.
The life limiting sentences like: I can’t. I am not good enough, talented enough or educated enough. If only. I’ll never… All of these and many more are decisions, usually made from within a traumatic experience and via the emotions that were present and strong at the time.
These short sentences can themselves be life-long prison sentences, keeping us in, holding us back, keeping us out and stopping us from entering in!
Gideon would be the classic biblical character for this core mind-set. See Judges 6. When God entered Gideon’s present He did so answering Gideon’s prayer and complaint by addressing the answer –
The LORD is with you, mighty warrior! Judges 6:12
God’s description clashed with Gideon’s interpretation of himself which was generationally deep! V15. Until Gideon’s core interpretations synched with the released revelation, the situation would be the same. God is patient and will wait but nothing will change long-term, until His revelation becomes our interpretation of who we are, what we have and what in Him, we can do.
The all-encompassing biblical word for this is grace.
A graced core is a solid core, one that has been set in and upon his Word; about who we are, what we have and what we can do because we are in Christ, the anointed one! When who I be lines up with what He says about me, and I stay there, my core becomes solid and stable. Stable is vital because unstable speaks of being two minded, or two-souled and this condition means we will not receive anything from Father. See James 1:8
Jesus said that out of the overflow of the heart the mouth will speak. Matt 12:34 So, our words are a glossary and a dictionary of our hearts. Jesus also said that we would be acquitted or condemned by our words, and that we would have to give an account for every idle word we have uttered. Matt 12:36&37
The word idle speaks of not being employed, of not putting our words to work for us!
The combinational power of who I be, synched with confessing His Word is unparalleled and is far more than just positive self-mirror talk. Jesus said that His Words were spirit and life. Jn 6:63 and that they had the power to set us free. Jn 8:32 When we take to heart, literally, His Word, his definition of who we, whose we are, what we have and what we can do, all things become possible.
Biblical meditation is thinking on and speaking out His Word simultaneously, so that the words of our mouth and the meditations of our hearts synch. Ps 19:14
Satan knows the system that the Father has put in place and all he can do is try to work the system, for his own aims and agenda by deception and lies. He’ll try and convince us that we are over the top with all this guarding your heart and confessing stuff. Don’t buy it for a minute. He’ll also try to get us to over emphasis one above the other which is typical of him, another one of his subtleties, designed to bring imbalance to our lives which inevitable leads to dis-ease!
Solid in core and steadfast in confession is vital to seeing all the promised resources of His kingdom becoming our reality. The Psalmist knew the importance of a solid core and a steadfast heart
They will have no fear of bad news;
their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear;
in the end they will look in triumph on their foes. Ps 112:7&8
When our core and our confession are synched God’s promises will materialise even when everything looks hopeless.
Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”[d] 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead.20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. Roms 4:18-21
Against all hope, Abraham in his core believed therefore he had hope. It says that he never wavered concerning the promise [the Word of God] but was strengthened in his faith by giving glory to God. Giving glory to God means in opened his mouth and confessed God’s faithfulness to his Word and His people.
Abraham was fully [core and confession] persuaded.
God still wants to release new ‘Isaac’s into His world but needs sons and daughters to become fully persuaded, in their core and their confession.
To all the next generation of Abraham’s and Sarah’s stayed solid and remain steadfast, your Isaac has been released!
“There is always a blessing to be had from the word therefore in the Bible. It makes us stop and look back to the preceding cause before we move on to the ensuing effect!” Moyter on Philippians
How many times have you had to go back before you can proceed and tick the box that says ” I have read the terms and conditions?”
I love it when I understand the T&C’s, start them and the withdrawal is immediately and literally deposited into my account!
“we do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience [endurance] inherit what has been promised.” NIV
Between, I believe and I receive, and there it is, there is always a gap! Even a nano second is a gap!
He gave them capacity that matched the command!
a ‘sufficiency to meet any deficit,’ we are experiencing.
through faith and endurance will shall inherit what has been promised!
All living things grow and change and so our Father has expectations that we as men will do the same. If we have a pulse, then it’s not over! Growth and change are still expect. Before we attempt to grow or change it is vital we check our paradigm, which acts like an internal map. This pod will shed some light on this subject. Enjoy
Sir Edmund Hillary made several attempts at climbing Everest before he succeeded. After one attempt he stood at the base of the giant mountain and shook his fist at it –
“I’ll defeat you yet,” he said in defiance. “Because you’re as big as you’re going to get – but I’m still growing
- I’m still growing!
- Question; are we?
Growth can be biological, facial, to do with abs and stomachs. We can grow in confidence, knowledge, skills, learning. We can grow a life, friendship, business, a marriage.
We all grow something, which grows or hinders everything else – habits!
- From everything Father has given life to, He expects growth. See Luke 13:6-9
- To recieve life and not grow is a ‘creation violation.’
- The Divine Manufacture sees growth not as an optional extra but fitted as standard!
- It’s in there and he expects us to utilise it.
To utilise means we make use of, or harness what’s there, we proactively make the decision to apply what is at our disposal and kick start the growth process.
In Luke 13:6-9 the Father, pictured as the vineyard owner, gives us the ‘heads up’ on the growth process –
- Proven material
- Time & Expectation
The Father is described as a vineyard owner, one who is looking for an end result from the investment of His time, resources and effort. These three energies and abilities, that we all have, are the ‘Growth Trinity!’ When these three are combined we release a strength that is not easily broken. See Ecclesiastes 4:12.
- All investments yield a return
- So, what are we investing our time, resources & efforts on or towards?
- Do we need to cash some investments in because they are hindering our growth?
The vineyard owning Father is not happy; in fact He has had enough. He is fed up of not seeing any growth on the plant that He owns and has been literally pouring His resources into for the last three years!
- Are there key people around us who are a little exasperated with our lack of growth?
- Are we exasperated with another’s lack of growth?
- Are we personally fed up with an unproductive area of our lives?
The vineyard owner is in evaluation mode and after His appraisal; He decides on a course of action and sets a time frame.
- If we don’t evaluate we will stagnate
- Stagnant places always yield results
This is real bottom line thinking from Jesus, about His Father and it may be a disturbing picture but it underlines the value and priority Father places on growth.
Winners never quit and quitters never win is simply not true. If we are to win through to growth, to feel the tape across our chest, we are going to have to quit some stuff. The manager of the vineyard implements a plan and the first part is Removal! He digs around the base, agitates and disturbs the soil and this is the preparation for the next stage which is application!
- What has accumulated in our minds and hearts that might need to be removed?
- Does the thought of change, produce agitation in us?
- If so, it might be a sign of the Father’s ‘Divine Fork’ going in!
Doing the same things but expecting different results is quit frankly; barmy! To grow we need to remove stuff – thoughts, attitudes, perspectives, habits!
We need to make room for some fertilizer!
The word is dunged. Nice! The Father will use even unsightly and smelly stuff, to bring enrichment to our lives, these are usually problems. Problems and potential are partners that many misunderstand and yet problems can be the ‘fertiliser’ that can kick start new growth and fruit.
Fertiliser can also be ‘proven material.’ The Father has helped many to grow before us and these growers have left insights and wisdom: proven material, for us to learn from. Wisdom is released when knowledge and learning are applied in given contexts. Father’s wisdom ‘calls out and raises her voice’ in some vital areas of the journey of life – heights, crossroads, entrances. Proverbs 8:1-3
If we are taking steps one through three then we will arrive at four – time and expectation!
Growth takes time and if we are implementing the growth trinity, then we should expect results because we have triggered a due process, which will lead to a due season of new growth and fruit. The Father who has set in place the process of growth has also determined the time of the harvest.
All the time we are waiting we should continually expect results, harvest, and fruit!
We can keep growing or we can remain the same, these are the choices available to us, and both can become habits.
Sir Edmund kept growing; eventually reaching his summit and conquering his Everest.
I don’t know what you might be facing or how mountainous it may seem but can I encourage you to keep growing, remove from your thinking what is hindering growth, apply proven material, give yourself time, whilst expecting the harvest you are cultivating.
Love and respect to all who are struggling and growing!