May 24, 2011
Guard your heart!
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23, NIV).
Friend to Friend
It had been a very long day. My husband and I were both tired and looking forward to a good night’s sleep – but we needed to talk. We didn’t have any major concerns or problems to discuss; we just wanted to catch up on life and unwind a little bit. Dan was telling me about his day when he suddenly stopped, looked around and asked, “What was that beeping sound?” I hadn’t heard anything but suggested that the smoke detector battery probably needed replacing. “It was a different kind of beeping,” he said. We listened – nothing. We turned out the lights and went to sleep and I forgot all about the elusive beeping.
When Dan came home from work the next day, he grinned and said, “I figured out what that beeping sound was.” Since he had been at the church office all day, I was a little more than curious as to how he had managed to solve the mystery. “My defibrillator is beeping, which means that the battery is running out and needs to be replaced.” Why the man was grinning was beyond me, but it probably had something to do with the fact that dealing with heart issues is a common occurrence for us.
Dan has battled heart rhythm problems for years. In 2006, he went into cardiac arrest and became the proud owner of a defibrillator/pacemaker that keeps his heart in rhythm. The cardiologist told us at the time that the battery would eventually have to be replaced but we hadn’t given it much thought – until it started beeping. Dan called the doctor who immediately set up an appointment to replace the battery. Dan had an unusually hectic schedule and was hoping to buy a little time before having the outpatient procedure done. “What happens if I wait a few weeks to have the battery replaced,” Dan asked. The doctor laughed and said, “It will drive you crazy. Right now, the defibrillator only beeps once a day as a warning, but if we don’t take care of this now, it will start beeping every hour and then continually until the old battery is replaced. And if the battery is not replaced, the defibrillator will just stop working and your heart will not be protected.” Needless to say, Dan quickly scheduled the procedure.
As I waited for Dan to come out of surgery, I prayed. I asked God to give the doctors and nurses wisdom. I asked Him to guard my husband’s heart … and it was then that the Holy Spirit whispered to me, “And what about your heart?” Physically, my heart was healthy and strong. The spiritual health of my heart was an entirely different matter.
I was physically exhausted and had let my guard down. The minute I let my guard down, the enemy moved in with a vengeance. My unguarded heart was in trouble, wounded by the words of someone I love. I knew what I needed to do – deal with the hurt, forgive the one who had hurt me and let go of the pain. I just didn’t want to do it. And God calls that sin. As surely as that beeping defibrillator grabbed our attention, the Holy Spirit grabbed mine. I examined my life for ways to guard my heart against the inevitable attacks of the enemy.
- Be alert.
“Alert” literally means “to stay on guard” or “to keep watch.” Our Father wants us to stay alert and always be on guard. Columnist Herb Caen wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle: "Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up knowing that it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. And every morning a lion wakes up knowing that it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn't matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle; when the sun comes up you'd better be running." It doesn’t matter how long we have known God, we must get up each day, prepared to guard against sin, knowing we will face temptation.
- Get in the Word
Psalm 119:11 “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (NIV).
The best way to stay alert and the greatest deterrent to sin is the Bible. It is important to remember that God’s truth came before Satan’s lies. When God’s truth comes first in our lives, we will be able to recognize the lies of Satan and temptation will be easier to withstand. When we get away from God’s Word, however, we become an easy target for temptation and sin. Sin will keep us from God’s Word or God’s Word will keep us from sin.
- Pray continually.
Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to “never stop praying.” But many times, we pray only as a last resort. I read about a kindergarten class that went to the fire station for a tour. The fireman was explaining what to do in case of a fire. “First go to the door and feel the door to see if it’s hot. If it is hot, fall to your knees. Does anyone know why you should fall to your knees?” A little voice spoke up, “Yeah, to start praying and asking God to get us out of this mess!” How true! The power to withstand temptation comes from a praying heart. The devil will do anything to keep us from praying. He laughs at our religious activities and mocks our human wisdom, but he trembles when we pray.
Dan’s surgery was a success. The cardiologist smiled and said, “This new battery should last for several years, but if you hear a “beeping” sound, you know what to do.” Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our hearts “beeped” a warning when we are in spiritual danger and on the verge of making a wrong decision, speaking the wrong words or taking the wrong step? Or maybe when our “battery” is running low and we need to take the time to rest? God’s warning is much louder and stronger. We just need to listen – and guard our hearts.
Lord, today I come to You with a new commitment in my heart – to pray continually and to read and study the Bible. Strengthen me through Your truth and empower me to stand against temptation and sin. Make me more aware of Your presence and power, Lord. I want to be a godly woman, a woman of discipline, a woman whose life honors you and draws other to You.
In Jesus’ name,
Now it’s your turn
Read 1 Peter 5:8 (NLT) “Be careful! Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour.” Can you identify the attacks of the Devil in your life?
Take the following steps of faith:
- I recognize the power of prayer and the Word of God in my war with temptation.
- I admit that I have let my guard down and allowed the enemy to “sneak” into my life.
- I will identify the areas in my life that are out of control and surrender them to God.
- I will make prayer and Bible study a priority in my walk with God.
More from the Girlfriends
Temptation is a certainty of life but God has a plan that will enable us to stand firm through His Word and prayer. You can win the war with temptation. Need help? Check out Mary’s E-Bible Study, Winning the War with Temptation.
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Originally published Tuesday, 24 May 2011.