Guard Your Hearts

24th October

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

PROVERBS 4:23 (NIV)

In Biblical times, the heart was considered the hub of our lives; Decisions, emotions and being. After Greek Dualistic ways of thinking were introduced, we now separate our hearts and minds as two different things. Our hearts for emotions and minds for thinking, acting and contemplating. Yet according to the writer of today’s key verse, all that we do, the very core of our lives, flows from our hearts. When we ignore our heart’s voice, as mere emotion, we ignore the very core of who we are. Our hearts are not just, physically speaking, pumping blood around our bodies. Our heart is the center of our lives.

If the above is correct, then why do we give our hearts out so cheaply, make rash decisions, leave it open and don’t protect the one thing we should guard above all else? Guarding our hearts, isn’t simply just inviting Christ to live in it and that’s it. It is a daily discipline of surrendering, and asking God to protect it. It is like your house. You might care about what’s inside, but if you don’t lock the door, you are open and vulnerable to a burglary or so much worse. You need to shut and lock the door, so no unwanted person can enter. The same is with our hearts. Although Christ lives in it, we still need to put disciplines in our lives to make sure, He is the sole resident and ruler of it.

When we do this, Christ’s peace will fill us, and this peace ‘will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus1’. Our daily surrendering to Jesus, will protect our hearts from the storms around us, keep us safe from the distractions that want to enter it and fill us with Heavenly peace, blessing and direction.

1Philippians 4:7

The Growing Kingdom Of Jesus

23rd October

Jesus also used this illustration: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she only put a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.”

MATTHEW 13:33

What is the Kingdom of Heaven? Well, as one preacher says, ‘the Kingdom of Heaven is everywhere and in anyone, where Jesus is recognised as King, He rules and is allowed to reign, that is to abide in sovereign authority.”1 This means that the Kingdom of God, is not confined to a church building and its four walls, or in another strategic place, it is in all of us and everywhere. There is no end to His Kingdom, it cannot be stopped and we are part of it.

Jesus, in His parable of the yeast, highlights the point, that His Kingdom is a Kingdom that just keeps growing. When He said this, perhaps the disciples didn’t realise the significance or the role that they would play in His Kingdom, too occupied with thinking that finally the Kingdom of Israel would be restored from the hands of the Romans. But Jesus was talking about a Kingdom that would out last both the Romans and Israel. He was talking about the Kingdom of Salvation, the Kingdom of Heaven.

Jesus used yeast to show the disciples, just how much influence His Kingdom can have. Just a little bit of God’s Kingdom can change societies, countries and even this world. We have this yeast in our lives. We have God’s Kingdom living in us and it is spreading. Our communities and workplaces are the perfect temperatures and environments for the yeast to ferment and grow. The harvest is ready. Surrender all of our lives to Him so that firstly His Kingdom can grow in us, and then spread out to all around us. His Kingdom is growing and we are part of it. Isn’t that GOOD NEWS?!

God Has A Plan For You

18th October

Make the most every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.”

EPHESIANS 5:16-17

God has a plan for everyone’s life. He created you and saved you for a reason. You were not saved just to be a number in God’s Kingdom. You are more than just a number. God equipped you with gifts and tools to be able to live out His plan in your life and to bring Him glory through your life. Yet in order to fully understand who God has made us to be, we need to live by the Spirit’s leading and not our own. We have an opportunity everyday, despite of the world around us, to live fully in what God has for our lives. Whether that be at home, school, work and elsewhere. Everyday let us come before Him, and invite His presence in our lives, to lead and guide us and to understand clearly what He wants from us this day. Start your day in Him, be lead by Him and see Him work through you.

Submit To One-another

17th October

And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

EPHESIANS 5:21

Submission is a term that can conjure negative feelings. Yet in a Biblical context, and more so in this passage, submission is not a sign of weakness or negativity but an act of humility and strength. When you submit to someone else, you are empowering them to be who God made them to be. You are releasing people in their gifts and bringing God the glory. The same applies in marriage, the context of which this passage was originally written for. Submission in marriage is not one way. It is mutual.

Paul alludes to the relationship between us (God’s church) and Christ. He tells us that just as Christ loved us, so we should love each other. Just as Christ laid down His life sacrificially for our sakes, so we should do the same with each other. Christ gave us the perfect example of ultimate humility, sacrifice and submission. He put our needs before His own life, and freely gave it up for us. If we believe this, then we should have no hesitation to freely lay down our lives, not only for our spouse but for all.

When Jesus laid down His life for us, He elevated us to become children of God, no longer slaves to the enemy, sin and temptation. He empowered us to live in His original plan for our lives and in turn, glorified Himself through us. See how powerful submission and humility are?! Both ends of the deal, end up with God getting the glory! Our natural desires of glorifying ourselves are quashed as we start to live in Gods desires for our lives.

When You Pray, Do You Believe?

14th & 15th October

Weekend Edition

““I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in Me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in My name, and I will do it. Yes, ask me for anything in My name, and I will do it!””

John 14:12-14

Perhaps today’s key verse needs reading again! Did you get it? Did it sink into your hearts? Jesus clearly says, that we can ask for anything in His name, and He will do it. We have access to the power of the name of Jesus Christ: the name that has been exalted above every other name in all of existence, both past, present and future. Moreover, Jesus promised that the disciples (we are included in this promise too), will do even greater works than Jesus did! How is this possible? Well simply, because we can witness the greatest miracle of all, salvation through Jesus Himself. It is greater than seeing the dead rise, greater than seeing broken limbs healed, and even greater than seeing body parts regrow. Yet all these things too are possible with God, because Jesus said it. Because Jesus lives, because He resurrected from the dead, because He now sits at the right hand of the Father in Heaven, we are empowered and equipped with the authority of Jesus’ name. When you pray in His name, believe for the answers, trust for the miracles and watch the power of God in action!

I Stretched Out My Frail Arm And You Took Hold Of It

13th October

The Lord will not reject His people; He will not abandon His special possession…. I cried out, “I am slipping!” but Your unfailing love, O Lord supported me. When doubts filled my mind, Your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.”

PSALM 94:14, 18-19

For some, Friday the 13th is an unlucky day, yet if you are reading this devotional today, it might just be your lucky day! We have good news for you. You are God’s special possession and He promised to never leave you. Even when it feels like you are slipping, falling and even drifting away, know this, that the Lord God is still supporting you, cheering you on with His unfailing love. When you doubt God’s goodness, when you doubt God is with you, when you are surrounded by situations that feel overwhelming, look back to this verse and live in God’s promises for you.

Honesty should be at the forefront of our relationship. Just as the writer of this Psalm so openly shared his struggles with God, so should we. We shouldn’t think that having an off day is a weakness but rather know that His strength is made perfect through our weakness. There is nothing wrong with crying out to God, telling Him exactly how you are feeling. He wants to help us and He will help us. It is His help and comfort that gives us ‘renewed hope and cheer’. Stretch out your hand and trust that God will pull you up!

Don’t Miss Out

12th October

Then Jesus began to denounce the towns where he had done so many of His miracles, because they hadn’t repented of their sins and turned to God.”

MATTHEW 11:20

You would think, after seeing Jesus heal a blind man1 and feed 5000 people with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish2, people would turn to Jesus in repentance, falling at His feet. These are no mere human achievements. They are completely supernatural events. Yet sadly many didn’t. How could anyone possibly ignore them and not want to turn to the One who did these great miracles? It seems madness right? Yet, and the same is true today, so many people experience and see the miraculous and even encounter God’s wonderful presence, but close their hearts to Him, because the love of this world, is greater than their love for God.

Friends, although this may seem like a hard thing to read, it is important that we too do not fall into the same bracket of seeing the miraculous, experiencing God, yet closing our hearts and ignoring the Holy Spirit because we feel there is too much to give up. Nothing could be further from the truth. When we choose Christ, yes we may have to give up our pleasurable yet sinful habits, but what is waiting for you, can’t even compare in greatness to our former lifestyles. Don’t close your hearts to the loving arms of our Creator God. Acknowledge the work of Jesus in your life and let it change you. Turn to Him and you will receive life and life in all of its fullness. A life that doesn’t leave you feeling empty but full in every sense.

1Mark 8:22-25

2Luke 9:10-17