Guarding Your Heart

Guarding Your Heart

Bryan Jones |

Let's learn how to love God by cultivating and protecting our hearts.

Love God • Love People
Guarding Your Heart – Week 1
Bryan Jones
April 16, 2023

A. Introduction

  • (Deuteronomy 6:4-5; Mark 12:28-31. C/R: Matthew 15:18)

Ranking system everything is ranked. Max McChesney in Special Friends… told me

Towards very end of Jesus’ ministry. He is moving closer to Jerusalem. He has cleansed the Temple. And there is widespread anger. They are trying to trap Jesus to take Him out. He is getting a barrage of hot topic questions.

What is the most important teaching of Scripture? Happening in the Temple… what’s most important priesthood? Sacrifice? What’s most important?

Mark 12:28-31 (NIV)

28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked Him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” 29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Rabbinic law- 613 laws 365 negative 248 were positive.

Deuteronomy 6:4 this was central cry of people- Shema prayer.

If this is the greatest commandment of all…, do we understand what it means to love God with our heart, soul, mind, strength… For years I didn’t understand what that meant… to love God with our heart means guarded our heart, we love God with our emotions, mind means we think like God not just affectionately about Him. Love God with resources means time talent treasure.

We don’t get to choose what…

Central practice said every morning and night. Mezuzah tube on the side of door. They would bind to arms… but we can’t get an outside in change… this happens when the Spirit changes us from the inside.

1). What is your heart?

At a 20,000-foot view I want you to think of the heart as the command center of a person. It’s the operating system, the CPU that drives us, it’s the engine that drives the body…

The heart relates to your will, your commitment.

Heart in the Hebrew understanding is the core of person’s identity, source of thoughts, words, and action. It is more than an organ. It’s the command center. Heart is where our religious commitment takes place, where we decide for or against God.

Purity of heart is the precondition of the vision of God .

Most important part of our faith is that our heart has been changed.

Now in the Shema in

Deuteronomy 6:4-5 (NLT)

“Listen, O Israel! The L ord is our God, the L ord alone. 5 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.”

You will notice it’s a bit different than what Jesus said in Mark 12

That’s because in Hebrew culture the heart was a thinking organ…

In Greek as in English, the thoughts are in the mind, not the heart, so it is good communication to include "mind" for a Greek audience. To cover the meaning of Hebrew "heart" one needs both heart and mind in Greek and English.

One of the questions I usually hate is when someone asks me how’s your heart? How do you answer that? But recently I’ve found out how to do a diagnostics test on my heart and it’s pretty easy. I just re-trace my words for the past week. Were they seasoned with salt? Was I quick to forgive? Was I more judgmental towards others? Did I find myself swept up in critical or negative self-talk? Listen to what Jesus says….

Matthew 15:18 (NIV)

But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them.

2). How is your heart?


Ezekiel 36:25-27 (NIV)

25 “‘I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put My Spirit in you and move you to follow My decrees and be careful to keep My laws.’”

The systemic problem in the world isn’t with education, economy, trade policy, violence. The issue is with our heart, it’s bent towards sin. Our hearts our dead towards Jesus. See the gospel according to Ezekiel 36 is about making mean people nice, or bad people good. It’s about bringing dead people to live in Jesus. To awaken your hearts to the redemptive story of Jesus. To understand joy, purpose and life that Jesus has invited us into.

Dead         Distracted

Satan wants you to be distracted. Isn’t it funny the moment you sit down to pray or read the Bible a million things come to your mind… I can’t remember anything but when I go to get alone with God, my heart and mind start to get distracted.

We are addicted to distraction.

Parable of the soils, thorns come in a create distractions…

Dead         Distracted         Dry

Parable of soils shallow soil… you aren’t spending time with God… and the roots aren’t deep.

Dead         Distracted         Dry         Devoted

B. Is your heart DEVOTED?

(1 Kings 8:61; Proverbs 4:23; Jeremiah 17:9; 29:11-13; Ezekiel 36:25-27)

1 Kings 8:61 (NASB)

“Let your heart therefore be wholly devoted to the Lord our God, to walk in His statutes and to keep His commandments, as at this day.”

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV)

11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the L ord , “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.”

I remember before my wife and I came to the Heights we took about 6 months off. We attended this small church and I remember during one of the services they had a few people in the choir singing. One was this really old lady who just seemed like she was just completely out of it. So, the band gets done and everyone walks off but her and she is just walking around. I was convinced she had lost her mind, so I looked at my wife and said go help her. At this point I’m the only one standing up and as soon as I start making her way towards her and the stage, the lady grabs the mic and says, “I’m about to sing a song that’s meant so much to me.” So, I just do this move (spin around) make my way back to my seat. I sit down and everyone is looking at me and Steph says, “Well at least that wasn’t awkward.” But that’s not why I remember the story. I remember the story because this 75-year-old lady grabs the mic and says, “I’ve been following Jesus for 40 years and it’s still a wonder to me. I have never gotten over how much Jesus loves me.” She said, “I want to sing the song Wonder of It All.”

I’m telling you that moment was forever etched in my heart. Honestly, she wasn’t a great singer. But her joy. 40 years with Jesus and it was still a wonder. Still a roller coaster. I long for a heart that beats like that for Jesus. I never want to get used to or take Jesus for granted. I don’t want to just go through the rhythms. I want Him to be my marvelous obsession.

How to live out of a devoted heart?

Proverbs 4:23 (NIV) (Memory Verse)

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

1). Protect your heart.

2). Cultivate (take care of) your heart.

Listen, in any marriage that really works you guard and protect the covenant relationship you’ve made.

The purpose of a garden isn’t the absence of weeds in the flourishing of life…

The purpose of a devoted heart isn’t the destruction of sin but deep life in spirit.

But to find that deep life we have to protect and cultivate…

Imagine a marriage where I said I love my wife, why? Because I don’t cheat on her or yell at her.

Or imagine a marriage where I say I love my wife, but I don’t spend any time with her, my friends are my main priority, I don’t really care about what she thinks…

Some people go I love Jesus because I don’t do this, and I don’t do that…. But have you cultivated your heart towards Him?

Or I love Him. I don’t really attend church and I put things before Him, but He knows how much I love Him… you didn’t protect that relationship…

It’s both protecting and cultivating…

Picture (Nicolaus Zinzendorf) was leader of protestant denominations known as the Moravian church. Zinzendorf led a group of people to the mission colony in Pennsylvania on Christmas Eve, and they named the place Bethlehem because of the Bethlehem star. The Moravian church had widespread rival. They saw God work in amazing ways. God was pouring out His blessings. The story goes that a visitor came to Bethlehem and saw the Moravians waking up early praying and singing songs throughout the day. They were asked why they were doing this stuff all the time; you are living in revival. Zinzendorf said they were fending off lukewarmness. They were cultivating their heart for God.

One of my mentors was saying that he was in Pennsylvania, and he stopped by a garage sale at a church. He walked down and saw that it was a Moravian Church. A church filled with revival and the presence of God was now reduced to selling cookies in a basement to keep building open. This is what happens to the church when people don’t fend off lukewarmness. When we live with a dry heart.

Few people arise in the morning as hungry for God as they are for cornflakes or toast and eggs. - Dallas Willard

C. How to cultivate and protect your heart…

1. Schedule. (meditating)

(Joshua 1:7-8)

Joshua 1:7-8 (NLT)

7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. 8 Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.”


Western culture- intellect.

Eastern culture- it’s about emptying yourself.

Biblical mediation is about filling your heart with Word of God.

I used to ask people, “are you a morning person or a night person?” Now I ask people a different question… what price are you willing to pay? People wake up at all hours of morning to do CrossFit and they guard what they eat for their bodies… which I think is wonderful… but imagine I went to CrossFit and they said, “hey, we are going to meet at 6,” and I said, “well, I’m not really a morning person”… “ok, well come at night”… “yeah, I’m really tired at night”… so maybe… “ok, well let’s talk about your diet. We need to cut out those sugars and fried food” … “Yeah, I’m not really looking to change my diet” … Those people would look at me and go, “you’re not ready… they aren’t being mean… they’re being honest…

So, the invitation from the Spirit is that God will grow your faith beyond your wildest imagination… God is in the business of taking small things and making them mighty… but what price are you willing to pay to protect and cultivate your heart? Are you willing to carve out time throughout the day to mediate to fill your heart with the word of God?

1. Schedule. (meditating)

2. Idols.

2 Corinthians 6:16 (NIV)
What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be My people.”

In Matthew 12 there is an interesting passage… on demonic activity and possession…

Matthew 12:43-45 (ESV)

43 “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. 45 Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation.”

Demonic possession and influence can only happen with empty things…

It’s about repenting and replacing.

1. Schedule . (meditating)

2. Idols.

3. Negativity.

Do you know one of the reasons that stress, worry, anxiety and depression are greater than ever before… because your heart wasn’t designed to carry the weight of all this…

Growing up newspaper was where we heard about news. Now we hear about every tragedy from every part of the world.

We wake up and grab our phone and read news reports. We turn on the news station and all is it is both sides republican and democrat create fear and a weight…

I’m not advocating burying our heads in the sand… I’m advocating for us to bury our heads in this book (Bible) so that we know the promises of God and not the perspectives of news reports, and governments, and culture don’t

Limit time on Facebook… Fill your mind with gratitude.

Take away questions:

1.) Does your schedule reflect God as your first priority? What might you need to let go of so you can say yes to Jesus (not asking do you love God, does your schedule reflect it)

2). What is competing for your heart beside Jesus?

3). Is there something/someone you need to create healthy distance from to help increase positivity?

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