“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23
One of the New Year’s resolutions that I have managed to keep is my plan to clean out the two storage rooms in our basement. When we initially moved into our house, whenever the movers didn’t know where to put something, we sent them to the storage rooms. Since then, a similar fate has been assigned to the stuff we continue to accumulate and don’t know what to do with. Cleaning out those rooms seemed like a daunting task, but I have to tell you it’s great to have it done. I go down there a lot now just to revel in the victory!
While I was cleaning, throwing away, sorting, and organizing, I thought about my heart. I thought about the secret places in my life that no one sees. The storage rooms where stuff that should be discarded stacks up. And here is what became clear to me: Who I really am is not determined by the parts of my life that are open to public view. In our house we do a pretty good job of keeping them in good order. The real commentary on what kind of a person I am is the condition of the storage rooms. If they are cluttered with unwanted, bad, and unnecessary things, then it says something about me. It says I am too busy . . . or, too lazy . . . or, undisciplined . . . or, just apathetic. Or, it says that I really don’t mind a lot of junk behind closed doors. It might even say that I like the junk in the storage rooms.
It’s like that in life. Who we really are is a lot about the condition of the secret places of our hearts.
When I was done, my male need for affirmation was out of control, I wanted Martie to come down immediately and see how clean and organized it all was . . . I even told my son that he had to stop by and see! Which made me wonder if the true test of secret places being in good order might just be whether or not you’d like someone to open the door to see how it looks. As the writer in Proverbs says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life”!
- What would happen if someone opened the storage room of your heart today? What would they find there that you might not want them to see?
- Read 139 for a solid reminder that nothing is hidden from God . . . He sees it all! Make verses 23-24 the prayer of your heart today: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
- Once you have cleared out the unwanted and unnecessary stuff in your heart, revel in it . . . And do what you can to keep it clean!
|DECEMBER 31, 2014
When Rushing Takes You in the Wrong Direction
“Careful planning puts you ahead in the long run; hurry and scurry puts you further behind.” Proverbs 21:5 (MSG)
I dropped the grocery bags on the counter and glanced at the clock. It’s way past dinnertime.
I shoved the dirty dishes to one side of the sink and quickly began washing the vegetables that rolled out from one of the bags on the counter. I could feel my heart racing as I grabbed a sauté pan and looked for the pork chops hiding somewhere in the refrigerator.
Why am I always running late? No matter how hard I try I just can’t seem to get my act together. I’m tired of rushing all the time. Why won’t anyone notice and help me?
In record time, I had potatoes in the oven, a fresh salad made and my stowaway pork chops sizzling on the stove.
Hopefully no one’s noticed what time it is yet. Breathe, Leah … breathe!
Just then I heard my teenage son hollering from the back door, “Mom, please come move your car out of the driveway. I want to shoot some hoops.”
In a mad dash, I headed for the door with my car keys in hand. I have to hurry – otherwise the pork chops are going to burn! I hopped in the car, shoved the gear stick in reverse and quickly backed up … right into my husband’s truck.
Oh, yes I did!
The crash was so hard and loud that my husband heard it from inside. In seconds we were surveying the damage. Let’s just say he was not a happy camper. And I wanted to curl up in a ball and cry my eyes out.
I felt terrible about what had just happened but no matter how many times I apologized, my words couldn’t fix the huge dents in both of our cars.
Keith was gracious and said it would be OK. But, it wasn’t OK. Not for me. I had made a careless and costly mistake that would have been avoided if I weren’t in such a hurry. My rushing had taken me in the wrong direction. Oh, and the pork chops on the stove? Completely burned.
Maybe like me you sometimes include too many things in your schedule. Sure, we have good intentions and want to meet everyone’s needs. But how helpful can we really be if we’re rushing around all day, feeling anxious and unintentionally setting ourselves up for careless mistakes because we’re doing too much?
I long to be a woman who chooses wisely and plans well. A woman who seeks the Lord’s guidance before setting her schedule, so that she can experience the peace of His presence instead of the anxiety of her hurriedness.
Do you want to be that kind of woman too? What would our days look like if we embraced the pace of God’s steady grace rather than rushing ahead in our attempts to get more done? What if we actually lived like Proverbs 21:25 says, knowing that careful planning puts us ahead but hurry and scurry can put us further behind?
Would we be more helpful to others and ourselves by slowing down, giving attention to what we’re doing and being present in our circumstances, instead of daydreaming about the next thing on our to-do list? I think so.
As we enter the New Year, let’s decide to make a change and do things differently.
Let’s ask God for insight when we create our schedules and move at a pace that pleases Him. Let’s be wise women who choose to avoid the trap of rushing which often leads us in the wrong direction.
Let’s settle our hearts and watch the anxiousness wash away as we take God’s hand and walk in the gentle pace of His steady grace today.
Dear Lord, give me Your wisdom as I plan my schedule each day. If I start to feel anxious because I’m trying to do too much, remind me to slow down, focus on what I’m doing and avoid the trap of rushing in the wrong direction. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
From: Streams in the Desert
Samuel took a stone and placed it between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Up to here the Lord has helped us.”—1 Sam 7:12
The word “hitherto” seems like a hand pointing in the direction of the past. Twenty years or seventy, and yet “hitherto hath the Lord helped us!” Through poverty, through wealth, through sickness, through health; at home, abroad, on the land, on the sea; in honor, in dishonor, in perplexity, in joy, in trial, in triumph, in prayer, in temptation—“hitherto hath the Lord helped!”
We delight to look down a long avenue of trees. It is delightful to gaze from one end of the long vista, a sort of verdant temple, with its branching pillars and its arches of leaves. Even so look down the long aisles of your years, at the green boughs of mercy overhead, and the strong pillars of lovingkindness and faithfulness which bear up your joys.
Are there no birds in yonder branches singing? Surely, there must be many, and they all sing of mercy received “hitherto.”
But the word also points forward. For when a man gets up to a certain mark, and writes “hitherto,” he is not yet at the end; there are still distances to be traversed. More trials, more joys; more temptations, more triumphs; more prayers, more answers; more toils, more strength; more fights, more victories; and then come sickness, old age, disease, death.
Is it over now? No! there is more yet—awakening in Jesus’ likeness, thrones, harps, songs, psalms, white raiment the face of Jesus, the society of saints, the glory of God, the fullness of eternity, the infinity of bliss. Oh, be of good courage, believer, and with grateful confidence raise thy “Ebenezer,” for,
“He who hath helped thee hitherto
Will help thee all thy journey through.”
When read in Heaven’s light, how glorious and marvelous a prospect will thy “hitherto” unfold to thy grateful eye.
—C. H. Spurgeon
The Alpine shepherds have a beautiful custom of ending the day by singing to one another an evening farewell. The air is so crystalline that the song will carry long distances. As the dusk begins to fall, they gather their flocks and begin to lead them down the mountain paths, singing, “Hitherto hath the Lord helped us. Let us praise His name!”
And at last with a sweet courtesy, they sing to one another the friendly farewell: “Goodnight! Goodnight!” The words are taken up by the echoes, and from side to side the song goes reverberating sweetly and softly until the music dies away in the distance.
So let us call out to one another through the darkness, till the gloom becomes vocal with many voices, encouraging the pilgrim host. Let the echoes gather till a very storm of Hallelujahs break in thundering waves around the sapphire throne, and then as the morning breaks we shall find ourselves at the margin of the sea of glass, crying, with the redeemed host, “Blessing and honor and glory be unto him that sitteth on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever!”
“This my song through endless ages,
Jesus led me all the way.”
“In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, if any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.”
Patience had her perfect work in the Lord Jesus, and until the last day of the feast he pleaded with the Jews, even as on this last day of the year he pleads with us, and waits to be gracious to us. Admirable indeed is the longsuffering of the Saviour in bearing with some of us year after year, notwithstanding our provocations, rebellions, and resistance of his Holy Spirit. Wonder of wonders that we are still in the land of mercy!
Pity expressed herself most plainly, for Jesus cried, which implies not only the loudness of his voice, but the tenderness of his tones. He entreats us to be reconciled. “We pray you,” says the Apostle, “as though God did beseech you by us.” What earnest, pathetic terms are these! How deep must be the love which makes the Lord weep over sinners, and like a mother woo his children to his bosom! Surely at the call of such a cry our willing hearts will come.
Provision is made most plenteously; all is provided that man can need to quench his soul’s thirst. To his conscience the atonement brings peace; to his understanding the gospel brings the richest instruction; to his heart the person of Jesus is the noblest object of affection; to the whole man the truth as it is in Jesus supplies the purest nutriment. Thirst is terrible, but Jesus can remove it. Though the soul were utterly famished, Jesus could restore it.
Proclamation is made most freely, that every thirsty one is welcome. No other distinction is made but that of thirst. Whether it be the thirst of avarice, ambition, pleasure, knowledge, or rest, he who suffers from it is invited. The thirst may be bad in itself, and be no sign of grace, but rather a mark of inordinate sin longing to be gratified with deeper draughts of lust; but it is not goodness in the creature which brings him the invitation, the Lord Jesus sends it freely, and without respect of persons.
Personality is declared most fully. The sinner must come to Jesus, not to works, ordinances, or doctrines, but to a personal Redeemer, who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree. The bleeding, dying, rising Saviour, is the only star of hope to a sinner. Oh for grace to come now and drink, ere the sun sets upon the year’s last day!
No waiting or preparation is so much as hinted at. Drinking represents a reception for which no fitness is required. A fool, a thief, a harlot can drink; and so sinfulness of character is no bar to the invitation to believe in Jesus. We want no golden cup, no bejewelled chalice, in which to convey the water to the thirsty; the mouth of poverty is welcome to stoop down and quaff the flowing flood. Blistered, leprous, filthy lips may touch the stream of divine love; they cannot pollute it, but shall themselves be purified. Jesus is the fount of hope. Dear reader, hear the dear Redeemer’s loving voice as he cries to each of us,
“IF ANY MAN THIRST,
COME UNTO ME
“The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.”
Not saved! Dear reader, is this your mournful plight? Warned of the judgment to come, bidden to escape for your life, and yet at this moment not saved! You know the way of salvation, you read it in the Bible, you hear it from the pulpit, it is explained to you by friends, and yet you neglect it, and therefore you are not saved. You will be without excuse when the Lord shall judge the quick and dead. The Holy Spirit has given more or less of blessing upon the word which has been preached in your hearing, and times of refreshing have come from the divine presence, and yet you are without Christ. All these hopeful seasons have come and gone–your summer and your harvest have past–and yet you are not saved. Years have followed one another into eternity, and your last year will soon be here: youth has gone, manhood is going, and yet you are not saved. Let me ask you–will you ever be saved? Is there any likelihood of it? Already the most propitious seasons have left you unsaved; will other occasions alter your condition? Means have failed with you–the best of means, used perseveringly and with the utmost affection–what more can be done for you? Affliction and prosperity have alike failed to impress you; tears and prayers and sermons have been wasted on your barren heart. Are not the probabilities dead against your ever being saved? Is it not more than likely that you will abide as you are till death forever bars the door of hope? Do you recoil from the supposition? Yet it is a most reasonable one: he who is not washed in so many waters will in all probability go filthy to his end. The convenient time never has come, why should it ever come? It is logical to fear that it never will arrive, and that Felix like, you will find no convenient season till you are in hell. O bethink you of what that hell is, and of the dread probability that you will soon be cast into it!
Reader, suppose you should die unsaved, your doom no words can picture. Write out your dread estate in tears and blood, talk of it with groans and gnashing of teeth: you will be punished with everlasting destruction from the glory of the Lord, and from the glory of his power. A brother’s voice would fain startle you into earnestness. O be wise, be wise in time, and ere another year begins, believe in Jesus, who is able to save to the uttermost. Consecrate these last hours to lonely thought, and if deep repentance be bred in you, it will be well; and if it lead to a humble faith in Jesus, it will be best of all. O see to it that this year pass not away, and you an unforgiven spirit. Let not the new year’s midnight peals sound upon a joyless spirit! Now, now, NOW believe, and live.