KINGDOM KEY #1: BE A VESSEL OF HONOR |Part 2 | Guard Your Heart
GUARD YOUR HEART
“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”
Anyone that has ever fallen away from the Lord, or have forfeited their calling, was not guarding their heart. We guard our homes with security systems, we lock our doors, our cars, so our vehicle and its valuables won’t get stolen. We secure our money by putting it in banks where there are vaults and security guards. But God says above everything we are to guard our hearts. How much more valuable is your heart than a house, car, or money? Your heart is the command center of your life and determines the course it takes. The Hebrew word for heart is Leb:
Heart: seat of appetites, seat of emotions and seat of passion
It is in the heart where affections are stored, that is why it needs to be guarded. The devil is always vying for our affections and the things we are most passionate about. When we start loving things in this world, the love of God grows cold. The flame for God slowly dies out. Remember Jesus said to a church, “‘But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. If you don’t repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among the churches’” (Revelation 2:4-5). So many of the interns I served with turned away from the Lord because their love grew cold. They failed to guard their hearts and it cost them their ministry and their intimacy with the Savior.
WHAT HAS YOUR AFFECTIONS?
You have to be open and honest with yourself, this is why you have to examine yourself continually. You have to guard your affections constantly. A few years ago, my wife and I had gotten a streaming account and started to watch a top-rated show. We got hooked on watching this show daily. Some nights we would watch 2-3 episodes. However, the Holy Spirit checked us on it and convicted our hearts. He told me that this show had my affections, so we quit watching it. I was not spending quality time with God during that season, I was not waking up early to spend time with God because I was spending too much time watching that show late at night. Can you see how we can easily trade greater things for lesser things?
I thank God for showing me the error of my way and teaching me not to watch anything that hooks my affections. Don't get me wrong, we still watch shows and movies periodically. But we are cautious, and we set up parameters to ensure the content is clean, pure, and inspiring. The psalmist declared,
“I will refuse to look at anything vile and vulgar.” (Psalm 101:3)
You have to be careful when you are choosing what entertainment you are going to allow into your home and your heart. You are the temple of the Holy Spirit and are commanded not to grieve Him (Ephesians 4:30). This is why we are to guard our hearts; to guard our relationship with the Holy Spirit. If you want a strong relationship with Him, which I hope you do, protect your relationship. Don’t participate in anything that grieves the Holy Spirit. If you cultivate an atmosphere that honors Him, you will have a strong relationship with Him, and He will honor you with His presence.
“I will honor those who honor me, and I will despise those that think lightly of me.” (1 Samuel 2:30)
A youth leader invited me to lunch recently and expressed that he was struggling with being on fire for God. The Holy Spirit prompted me to question the kind of music he was listening to. Right away it was like a light bulb went off and he was convicted. He was listening to music that was promoting sexuality, violence, and had foul language. My heart broke as I found out some of the other youth leaders were partaking in worldliness too. He then humbly asked, “Where do we draw the line?” I told him, “As a child of God, if it promotes sin, don’t partake of it.” We are told to,
“Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them.” (Ephesians 5:10-11)
As sons and daughters of the Kingdom, it is our responsibility to carefully determine what pleases God. If it is not clean by Biblical standards, don’t partake of it. Let Philippians 4:8 be your guide, “Dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” These are the things we are to fix our thoughts on. Grieving the Holy Spirit and violating your conscience is not worth the fleeting entertainment.
Much wickedness comes through various forms of entertainment. Lucifer is in charge of the industry; he is the prince of the air. Consider this: all forms of sexuality, perverse joking, foul language, using God’s name in vain, witchcraft, rebellion, revenge, and violence are in the average movie or T.V. show. Revenge and rage are central themes in some shows. Movies about the occult and witchcraft and books are prevalent in our culture. These forms of entertainment regularly incorporate a story-line of people sleeping together before marriage or living together, and homosexuality and sensuality are promoted more than ever.
The music industry is not any better. The mainstream music industry is steering the culture into utter corruption. Music is designed for worship and people don’t realize the spiritual effects it has on the heart. It has the power to stir up carnal desires in you. Video games are a worldwide phenomenon. I read recently that the average gamer is in his 30’s, and many games are violent with foul language. Think of what that constant corrupt input is doing to their hearts. This is what the world and many Christians inundate themselves with on a daily basis. Don’t live by the world's standard.
“But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy.
For the Scriptures say, ‘You must be holy because I am holy.’” (1 Peter 1:15-16)
Notice this wasn’t a suggestion but a command. “You must be holy”. We can never handle sin or control the effects it has on our spirit. I can’t drink poison and have it not affect me. Therefore, how much more should we guard our spirit over our physical body? Guard your heart beloved.
When we desire worldliness, we become worldly. When we desire holiness, we become holy.
Have you noticed when you take part in carnal entertainment it affects your attitude? Remember what Peter said, “Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls” (1 Peter 2:11). Peter uses strong verbiage in this text, “wage war” because Satan uses these ungodly desires to war, fight, and violently hurt your soul. Keep in mind, his motive is to kill and destroy (John 10:10). Two things begin to happen when we don’t guard our hearts and protect our souls. We become completely numb and desensitized.
When you become desensitized by worldliness,
you are no longer sensitive to the Holy Spirit.
You will be fascinated by the world or you will be fascinated by God, but never by both. Demas was one of Paul’s ministry workers and had served with him for almost five years. He had an honorable position serving Paul; however, he didn’t endure and therefore was replaced. Look at what Paul told Timothy, "Be diligent to come to me quickly; for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica," (2 Timothy 4:9-10 NKJV).
Demas was serving one of the greatest ministry leaders of all time. Could you even imagine how incredible it would have been to serve Paul and the mission God had given him? As great of an opportunity as it was, Demas didn't guard his affections and the love of the world lured him right back in.
Make this your prayer,
“Grant me purity of heart, so that I may honor you.” (Psalm 86:11)
Lord, I ask that you do a work of holiness in my heart. I want to live pure like Jesus lived. Purify and refine me. Expose any worldly passions and desires that are in my heart now. [Take a moment and allow the Holy Spirit to reveal impurities to you] I see the things that are displeasing to you, I nail these passions and desires to the cross now. Let me receive your grace to walk in purity and holiness. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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