the heart

She was over eighty years old and went to work every day. Though old in years, she was young at heart. She made her way through life in a wheelchair and was very successful in several different business ventures. She was also well-known for being involved in doing kind things for others who were going through difficult times. 

“What caused you to end up in a wheelchair?” asked a friend one day. 

“Infantile paralysis,” she replied. 

“My goodness! How do you cope?” the friend wondered, “and why do you do so many kind things for so many people?” 

“Well,” she said with a gracious smile, “the paralysis never touched my head or my heart.” 

Our head is the door to our hearts. What we see, think, and dwell upon shapes our feelings and is expressed in what we do and the way we act. 

It was the writer of Proverbs who expressed this truth so well. “Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance,” he wrote, “for out of it flow the springs of life.” 

Our hearts, the source of our feelings of love and desire, dictates the things that we do and say. How we live and what we find time to do and enjoy all come from “the inside” – our heart. Wisely, Solomon advises us to concentrate on those things that will reflect God’s love to others. We must make sure that what matters most to us leads us in the right direction and demonstrates our concern for others. We can only do this if we focus on putting God first. 

Prayer:  Help us, Heavenly Father, to look straight ahead and keep our eyes focused on You. Keep us from becoming sidetracked by things that would destroy us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Scripture For Today:  Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance for out of it flow the springs of life. Proverbs 4:23
The word “heart” in the Bible refers to “the center of things” or the “inner man” or “the governing center” of man. There is no suggestion in Scripture that the brain is the center of our consciousness, our wills or our thoughts. In fact some Biblical scholars believe that the “First great commandment probably means ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart’ - that is with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” In other words, what is in our hearts is what comes out in our lives.
Looked at from this point of view that the heart is essentially where our thoughts and desires and goals and values originate, we can say that for the Christian, life is “lived from the inside out.” Sooner or later, if it’s on the inside, it will surface on the outside. Then people will know who we are and what matters the most to us. Indeed, seeing is believing.
The Psalmist gave us this truth when he wrote: “I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You.” Jesus added His wisdom to this very basic truth when He said, “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart...For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”
One of the most popular advertisements on TV is the one that asks, “What’s in your wallet?” But in the end the answer to that question is not really important. It’s “What’s in your heart” that matters most. If God’s Word is in our hearts He will be obvious in our lives!
Prayer: Help us, Father, to spend time in Your Word and with Your Word so others will see Your Word in us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.
Following a horrible accident, one of the victims who was in critical condition was medevacked to the emergency department of a hospital in a large metropolitan city. As the staff was removing his shirt, they noticed the name "Jesus" tattooed across his chest in large red letters. Quite amazed the ER nurse said to the attending physician, "From the way he looks and how he's dressed and his lack of cleanliness, I would assume that the name 'Jesus' on his chest is only skin deep."
 If we who are Christ's disciples are to be worthwhile witnesses of God's Message, His name on us must be more than skin deep. It must be heart deep. Not only is His name to be on our lips but penetrate every area of our lives. Not only should it come out of our mouths, but it should be obvious in everything we do. The psalmist said, "But they would flatter Him with their mouths, lying to Him with their tongues, their hearts were not loyal to His covenant."
 Perhaps we can understand what the psalmist was talking about when we think of those who sing, "I Love to Tell the Story" but never witness to anyone. Or, someone who sings, "Have Thine Own Way Lord" with everyone but me. Or, "Take My Life and Let It Be" – yes, let it be right where it is – please don't bother me. I'm too busy.
 Unfortunately, the church has far too many members who say one thing with their mouths and another thing with their lives.
 We need to "transplant" His heart in our hearts.
 Prayer: Grant us, Father, a heart like Jesus, the mind of Christ and a life that is controlled by the Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
 Scripture for Today: Psalm 78:36 But all they gave him was lip service; they lied to him with their tongues.
Our hearts are amazing! The average adult heart beats 72 times a minute; 100,000 times a day; 3,600,000 times a year; and 2.5 billion times during a life time.
Although the adult heart only weighs about 11 ounces on average, a healthy heart pumps 2,000 gallons of blood through 60,000 miles of blood vessels each day. If laid out end to end it would circle the globe two times. It pumps blood to almost all of the body’s 75 trillion cells. Only our cornea receives no blood. During an average lifetime, the heart will pump nearly 1.5 billion barrels of blood – enough to fill 200 train tank cars. And every day the heart creates enough energy to drive a truck 20 miles. In a lifetime, it will create enough energy to drive it to the moon and back.
When we consider all that our hearts do for us, its importance cannot be measured. Without its constant beating we could not live. It sustains our lives. Its every beat is a gift from God but we rarely think about it unless we have “heart-problems.” Yet, physical-heart problems are not as serious as spiritual-heart problems. Only God can do miracles with “both” hearts.
The word “heart” occurs six times in Psalm 73. But in verse one it speaks of “those who are pure in heart” – those whose heart is completely committed to God and place Him first in their lives and love Him unconditionally.
Over this God-centered heart is the heart that Jeremiah describes: “a heart that is deceitful and beyond cure.” A heart in this condition needs the Great Physician to cleanse it, restore it, live in it and fill it with His love.
Prayer: Help us, Father, to make room in our hearts for You – to allow Your Spirit to occupy it completely. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 73:1 Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. 
Following directions to get from one place to another is sometimes difficult. Even using a map or listening to a distant voice speak to us on a global positioning system often create suspicion. Often we have feelings of uncertainty until we arrive safely at our intended destination.
There was no doubt in the mind of David of what if someone wanted directions from God. It is a clear if/then. “If,” David wrote, “you want to stand in His presence, ‘then’ you must have clean hands and a pure heart.” Hands refer to our actions and hearts refer to our attitudes. Certainly, the word “pure” would eliminate most of us. In our moments of honesty and openness before God, we all recognize soiled hands and devious hearts. What then are we to do if we want to plead our case before God? Who can say, “My hands are clean and my heart is pure?”
Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” There is little doubt that any of us will achieve a pure heart in this life. Was Jesus teasing us? Indeed not!
In the beatitudes Jesus is talking about how we are to live. And He knew that we could never achieve the goals for Christian living that He was talking about.
So, what are we to do? Give up? No! In the beatitudes He is talking about motives! He wants us to have an inner attitude and desire to continually seek the Lord by reading His Word, seeking to know Him and then honoring Him.
Prayer: Thank You, Father, for Your Word that shows us the way to find our way into Your presence. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 24:3 Who may ascend the mountain of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place?
“Supermarket behavior” is fascinating to watch. It seems as though people change when they enter the door, get their cart and begin to walk through the aisles.
The cart becomes a very special "space" that we fill with various items for our particular wants and needs. We would consider someone strange if they met us at the door and said, "Here, take my cart and fill it with what you think I want and I'll meet you at the check-out area."
Often, however, we do that with our minds. We become careless with what we read, what we watch, what or who we listen to or what we think about. It can be dangerous, just as it would be, if we allowed some stranger to fill our cart.
We are warned in Proverbs to "guard your heart above all else for it determines the course of your life." In the Bible the heart is the “keeper” of our feelings and thoughts, guides our decisions and provides solutions for daily living. The heart is critical in the battle between wisdom and foolishness, righteousness and evil. That’s why it is more important for us to set boundaries around our heart than it is to watch what goes into such a simple thing as a shopping cart.
Prayer: Help us, Father, to be very careful about the things that come into our minds and control our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Proverbs 4:23 Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.
One of my dear physician-friends wrote a book entitled “The Body Reveals.” He began his medical career as a general surgeon then studied to become a cardiovascular surgeon. One day while we were talking, he said, “Larry, the most disturbing part of my practice is that I cannot get people to look at their lives - what they are doing to themselves. People think they can do anything they want and then go to a physician for a prescription or some surgery and all of their problems will be corrected. That’s not the way we work. There’s a connection between our bodies and our minds and we are very complex beings, because of the way God made us.”

There’s an intimate and complex connection between our hearts and bodies. Remember – God’s Word reminds us that our hearts contain emotions, values, goals, desires – the “sum total of who we are.” And, Solomon said it so well: “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” This is the only time the word medicine is used in the Old Testament.

One’s “peace of mind” directly affects our ability to maintain a life of wellness. Conversely, a “troubled mind” makes it difficult, if not impossible, to be healthy, and beyond that, to regain our health once we lose it. The most important lesson for us to learn from this verse is that “God is in control.” Whatever is, is a gift from Him to us and He is somewhere “in” that gift. He is at work in our lives shaping us to into His image. We must always remember that He will never leave or forsake us.

Prayer:  Lord, life is difficult. Sickness comes, doubts arise, suffering hurts. Grant us strength, peace and hope. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 17:22 A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

While waiting for my appointment with a surgeon, I decided to take my pulse. It was beating slowly, well within the normal limits. Suddenly the nurse called my name and directed me to a consultation room. After being seated she took my blood pressure - which was well above normal - which is unusual for me. Then she placed two fingers on my wrist to take my pulse. From the waiting room to the consultation room my heart rate increased twenty beats per minute. Fear got the best of my peaceful heart.

There is a direct connection with our emotional well-being and our physical well-being. When what was a fear of the unknown - the possibility of surgery - was about to become known, when faced with that reality, my fear could actually be measured!

The “heart” is much more than a muscle in the Bible. It is the center of our being: the source of our thoughts, our emotions, where decisions are made, problems are solved and choices sorted out. According to Scripture, the heart affects every part of our life - positively or negatively.

Solomon understood that and wisely wrote, “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the body.” It is obvious from what Solomon wrote and what science has confirmed that our emotional - or inner - state greatly impacts body.

Notice the impact of “envy.” It’s an emotion we all deal with. For some, the desire to want something that God has not given us can become so intense that it has the same results as cancer - it eats away life. Beware of envy.

Prayer:  Grant us peace, Lord, to be content with what You give us and accept all things with grateful hearts. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 14:30 A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.

“If it works, don’t fix it!”

Most of the time our heart works well and we rarely pause to think about it. Each day our hearts beat about 100,000 times. It sends 2,000 gallons of blood surging through the veins of our bodies, nourishing our organs and tissues. Although it is no bigger than our fist, it keeps blood flowing through 60,000 miles of blood vessels. It is the controlling force of our lives. When it fails, life ends.

The heart, in the Bible, is the center of our emotions, rational and irrational thoughts, our wills and desires. In the Bible, the heart is the “seat” of the entire personality.

And the heart, as described in the Bible, can be our most fundamental problem. What we store, keep or hide in our hearts is what we become and who we really are.

So, as long as we “keep our mouths shut” we can deceive others. But, unfortunately, that does not seem to be possible. In the blink of an eye or a moment in time, we “let our guard down” and our true “self” becomes exposed to the world. We are “found out.”

Solomon wrote that “The tongue of the righteous is choice silver, but the heart of the wicked is of little value.” Jesus said, “How can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”

We hear amazing stories about surgeons who are skilled at “heart transplants.” But a heart transplant does not correct the problem of evil. Only Christ can correct that problem. So, He does not transplant hearts. He transforms hearts. And when that happens, lives change.

Prayer:  Lord, come into and rule our hearts so others will know that Your Son, our Savior, rules our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today:  Proverbs 10:20 The tongue of the righteous is choice silver, but the heart of the wicked is of little value.

It is common to hear a Christian say that the “most important day of my life was the day I accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior.” It’s also common to hear them say that “it wasn’t long before I began to face the same old problems, was tempted and fell back in to my sinful ways.” How amazing that Solomon has some sound, solid advice for the new Christian as well as Christians of all ages and stages in their walk with the Lord.

“Above all else...” not don’t forget, or remember to, or think about. No! “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”

If there is any verse that we as Christians must take to heart it is a verse that warns us to “guard our hearts!”

There is so much more to our hearts than the “sentimental” side that we read of in novels and hear of in songs. The heart is where life begins and ends; it is where habits, values, wills and emotions begin. In our hearts is where we find the answers to “who we are” and “what the difference is between ourselves and others” and “what matters most” and “what we will give our lives for.”  It is from our “hearts” that “the real me” springs forth when we least expect it to and causes us to want to hide from embarrassment when we are finally “uncovered.”

What fills our hearts eventually flows into our lives. This “overflow” is who others believe we are. But, if we fill our hearts with His wisdom, others will see Him.

Prayer:  Father, may we relentlessly guard our hearts against anything that would destroy our walk with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today:  Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
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