The Heart of the Matter is that Your. Heart. Matters.

What goes into your heart matters. What comes out of it matters, too. For people who didn’t have EKG’s, cardiologists, or heart hospitals, the ancient Hebrew people were pretty wise about matters of the heart. Solomon in particular seemed to have a deep understanding of the way the heart functions, and his Book of Proverbs is full of references to it. With all of our technology, do you think we are any smarter about these matters than they were 3,000 years ago?

Take a look at a few of these Proverbs and tell me what you think:
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23, NIV) “Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23, KJV) To the Hebrews, the heart was the center of a man’s being, the place where instinct, reason, emotion and will came together as the core of body, soul, and spirit. It was where he made decisions and created core values. Heart matters mattered to Solomon: Proverbs acknowledges it as the gateway for wisdom (2:10), and the place where understanding and God’s instruction could be stored and used (3:1, 6:21). Solomon saw the heart as central to a man’s commitment (3:5) and motivation (4:4). A teachable heart that is turned towards God’s wisdom brings both practical and spiritual rewards; a heart turned astray has other outcomes. A foolish heart will spurn good advice (5:12), act deceitfully (6:14), devise wicked schemes (6:18), be drawn into lust (6:25), and be willfully perverse (11:20) or unreasonably proud (16:5).

matters

In Matthew 6:21, Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” He also said, “Whatever comes from [the heart of] a man, that is what defiles and dishonors him.” (Mark 7:20, AMP) So, what comes out of your heart? One of the indicators is your vocabulary. (“Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks,” Luke 6:45) What are the first words out of your mouth when you are angry? Do your words heal or hurt? Do they help or hinder?

What do you think the things that come out of your mouth say about your heart? If you did a quick internal summary, how would you evaluate your heart? Is it well-tended, or is it a bit of a hot mess? Does it cuss or discuss? Is it a gateway for wisdom, or a repository for waste? Is it proud and self-centered, or is it open and teachable? If you take care of your heart, it will take care of you!

Jesus said that we are defiled not by what we do, but by what comes out of our hearts… Take an honest inventory of what has flowed into and out of your heart lately. Then remember what Solomon said. Look after your heart: everything you do flows from it.

You cannot see it, but it’s there, providing with every beat
The fuel to think, the means to care, the power to compete.
It shows resolve, or skips a beat, or sometimes feels a thrill–
While it contains the seat of instinct, intellect and will.
It is a place where body, soul, and spirit all reside;
It is a place where men can shine, or where they try to hide.
Solomon said it was a place where passion could be fired,
And that to keep it healthy, there was diligence required.
A foolish heart will do some things that just aren’t very nice;
It won’t subscribe to wisdom, and accept its good advice.
So guard your heart, since it is where a person’s measure is;
And watch what you put into it: It’s where your treasure is.

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For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

Wisdom is Tricky: A Fool Thinks he is Wise; a Wise Man Knows Himself to be a Fool

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5 NIV) All true wisdom, just like all true love, comes only from God. It is part of His character, a reflection of who He is and what He is about. It may come indirectly or be claimed by someone else along the way, but it all comes from Him alone. Apparently it is readily available for the asking, even though people don’t display it much. The book of Proverbs says, “Wisdom calls aloud outside; She raises her voice in the open squares.” (1:20)

Even Shakespeare pointed out that she is available to all who seek her, and yet so many lack her stabilizing presence. God is wisdom’s only source—and James says here that the Lord is willing to give it generously… So why aren’t all men wise? Well, first of all, you have to realize you don’t have it. That’s tougher than it sounds. A lot of people think they are wise but, well… perhaps they really aren’t. (Kinda like American Idol try-outs. A lot of people think they can sing, but, well, not so much!)

Second, you have to ask for it. And you have to ask God for HIS wisdom, rather than being egocentric and wrapped up in self-acquired knowledge. Asking for help implies assuming a subordinate position, and it’s amazing how many people are just too proud to do that. (And really, that’s what it almost always boils down to. We tell God, “Lord I want wisdom, but I want it on MY terms”. We want God’s plan handed to us the way WE want it; but isn’t that precluded by the fact that it’s HIS plan??)

Third, Proverbs says that fear (respect, awe) of The Lord is the beginning of wisdom, but that fools despise it (and Him). If God is real, you’d be a fool not to fear Him. After all, this is the God who created the universe, who upholds all things by the word of His power; this is the God who weighs the nations as dust in the scales, holds the keys to life and death. But this is also a God who requires faith, who gives evidence but not irrefutable proof, and who allows all men to choose how they will perceive Him.

1 Corinthians 8:2-3 says, “If any man thinks that he knows anything, he nothings nothing yet that he ought to know; but if any man loves God, the same is known of him.” To see God properly and become wise requires that we assume the right perspective, that we humbly acknowledge where true wisdom comes from and ask the Creator for what only He can give. Back in the heyday of boxing, Mohammed Ali said, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee, you can’t hit what you can’t see.” I think he was describing his own speed and elusiveness, but he could have also been talking about wisdom: if you can’t see it, you can’t hit it. A lot of people out there dodge and weave through life, proud of how smart they are or how much they have—even as they make foolish choices or head down destructive paths. They may be rich or famous, they may even be smart, but somehow wisdom has eluded them. So, next time you encounter a fool, you’ll know what their real problem is. And next time you act the fool instead of making wise choices, well—at least now you know who to ask, right?

Wisdom wanders in the streets, and even calls aloud,
While millions pass her by because they're too smart or too proud.
Wisdom, see, is not just facts that people learn in schools,
Or being bright, or having lots of intellectual tools;
(In fact, some who believe they're wise are really still just fools!)
Some think wisdom is acquired, and work hard at the task,
But James says that it comes from God; we only have to ask.
The next time life requires some wise advice to help you live it,
James says that if you ask the Lord for some, He'll surely give it.

 

To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

Freedom is a Two-edged Sword. While You’re Making Plans, Consider This:

Freedom is a door that swings both ways. The Bible has a lot to say about our freedom to choose, and about all the contingencies that result from it. “To humans belong the plans of the heart, but from the Lord comes the proper answer of the tongue. All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord. Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” (Proverbs 16:1-3, NIV)

“There are many plans in a man’s heart, Nevertheless the Lord’s counsel—that will stand.” (Proverbs 19:21, NIV)

“So I gave them over to their own stubborn heart, to walk in their own counsels.” (Psalm 81:12, NIV)

“Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.” (Romans 1:28, NIV)

According to Proverbs, we have the right to make plans, to keep our own counsel, and to make choices based on our heart’s inclination. Those plans may or may not coincide with God’s plans, but we are not restricted to obedience. These verses point out that our actions come from our heart, our motives, and our will; we are free to plan and pursue our own choices.

But freedom is a two–edged sword. When we have the ability to do whatever we want, we have the ability to choose to do something foolish, impractical, or selfish. Apparently every time we make plans, and every time we take action, we have the option of seeking and taking the Lord’s counsel. Solomon points out that our human plans can be self-interested, temporary, based on impure motives, self-delusional, impulsive, stubbornly selfish, and sinful. Men have been proving that for centuries.

The Lord’s plans, on the other hand, are not based on petty human desires for power, fame, or lust. They are solid, dependable, wise, and worthy. These verses highlight a couple of things. 1) Before you make plans or take action, seek God’s counsel. We aren’t always even honest with ourselves about why we are doing something, or what our true motives are. Going through the process of asking the Lord what He thinks provides perspective, and it is always a good idea.

2) Remember that your plans can take you the wrong direction. We have the freedom to be stubborn as we walk away from God. To be sure, He will call us back, He will offer counsel and direction, and the Holy Spirit will offer motivation to do right. God’s desire is for us to be holy as He is holy, to walk with Him and to commit our way to Him. He will call all people to Himself, and He will offer all men motivation and inspiration.

But there are several places in Scripture where it plainly says that at some point God will honor man’s freedom to such a degree that He will “give them over” to their own plans and desires. Those who continually choose self over God will ultimately get their wish. C. S. Lewis said, “There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, ‘All right, then, have it your way.’” When wrong seems right, and when culture tells you it’s ok to choose something depraved over God’s plan, tread lightly. Exercise your freedom wisely. You may find that you have started down a one way street. Don’t miss that last exit.

 

Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose,
But even so, the Lord has given us the right to choose.
He doesn't make us follow Him or go against our will,
And even when we sin, His grace abounds and calls us still.
If you persist in choosing sin, however, you may find
That you have wandered out so far that God is far behind,
And He allows your own depravity to rule your mind.
Choose wisely. God desires that all his children would be saved;
But He also allows us each to choose to be depraved.

 

To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

Words are Powerful: How Important are Words in YOUR World?

Words have the power to transform or trash. They can unite and inspire, or they can divide and harm. Something said can insult us and hurt us, but it can also be the soothing salve on a fresh emotional wound. Take a moment and think about your words, or the impact someone else’s comments have had on you. I bet you can still remember that thing someone said to you once that still hurts your feelings when you think about it.

I guess it’s not surprising that the Bible offers insight about words and what they do. After all, Scriptures themselves are words… “My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your sight; Keep them in the midst of your heart.” (Proverbs 4:20, NIV) “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45, NKJV)

A couple of questions naturally arise from these verses: 1) how much of God’s treasure do you actually hear and “give attention to”? We are in a world surrounded by and bombarded with words from every imaginable source, covered over with phrases or slogans designed to influence you, get you to buy, to build a Brand, give you a call to action, or persuade you to listen again.

Words in our culture invade and surround you;
You hear them and see them in things all around you:
The radio, laptop, your TV, your phone,
On billboards and signs, they won’t leave you alone!
They fly through the air and they nest in your ears;
Your brain then records every word that it hears!
Words in commercials will just try to sell you;
You can’t believe everything newscasters tell you.
The words fill your mind, and there’s no place to hide,
Since those THOUSANDS of messages can’t be denied!
So be careful what words you allow to reside,
Since it’s words that influence who you are, inside…
If THOSE words are sobering, they’re just a start:
The real danger lives in the midst of your heart:
Your heart’s not at risk from words flying about,
But from words, Jesus said, from within, coming OUT.

Do you really pay attention to God’s word? Does the quick sermon on Sunday morning arm you with all the spiritual power you need for the week? Is your weekly small group lesson enough to equip you for spiritual battle? What do you “incline your ear to”? Do you pay attention to what you pay attention to?

2) How many of God’s sayings reside in the midst of your heart? I know SO much useless information and so much junk…but how many of God’s sayings are “in the midst of my heart”? When I think of all of the hundreds of old songs I can sing along with– every meaningless word of old tunes like “Hang on Sloopy” or “”Do-wa-diddy, Diddy-dum-Diddy do”, or even “You Can Call me Al”, it makes me think that perhaps my brain capacity has been just a teeny bit under-utilized. Maybe we should all start singing favorite Bible verses to catchy tunes.

So we have millions of words stored up, but the question is, Are they good ones? What do they say about us when we are saying them? We sure use a lot of them (he said, in a blog full of WORDS…). And by the way social media friends, when you criticize, rant, curse, mislead, spin, lie, spew hate; or when in conversation you tell dirty jokes, ridicule, gossip, cuss, and swear, it’s an indicator that maybe “the midst of your heart” needs a little work. Just sayin’.

To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

Wisdom is Precious. If You Have Some, Share it With the Rest of Us!

“Then he taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words; Keep my commandments and live; Acquire wisdom! Acquire understanding!” (Proverbs 3:4-5, NIV). Make a quick mental list of things important to you that were taught to you by someone else. The obvious things like reading, riding a bike, swimming, and driving a car come to mind… And then there are the subtle things like manners, values, appreciation, and humility: undoubtedly some aspect of all of those skills or behavior was taught to you by someone else. Having teachers makes an AMAZING difference in the quality of our lives, in our ability to solve problems, and in the opportunities that life brings our way. Say a quick prayer of thanksgiving for the people who have taught you the things you value the most.

Then think of what Solomon said: Apparently wisdom and understanding can be readily acquired—anybody can get them. And yet they seem to be in short supply all around us. It’s surprising that something so available to anyone can be so rare. Voltaire said “The thing about common sense is that it is not so common.” The same can be said about wisdom. While understanding involves learning the details and being able to grasp subject matter or content, Wisdom is a little more complex. It is mentioned 222 times in the Old Testament, and Jewish rabbis regarded it as a virtue emanating from God’s character. I’m thinking it was even more amazing. In Proverbs 8:22, Wisdom says, ““From everlasting I was established, from the beginning, from the earliest times of the earth.” He describes being present for all of creation, and says, “Then I was beside Him, as a master workman; And I was daily His delight, Rejoicing always before Him, Rejoicing in the world, His earth, And having my delight in the sons of men.” (Verses 30 and 31)

Hmmm… Wisdom was there from everlasting, from the beginning, was a master workman in creation, and delighted in the sons of men. John 1:1-2 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him…” To me, Wisdom sounds perfectly interchangeable with the Word. The Word=Jesus=Wisdom. Perhaps one of the reasons that wisdom seems so rare in our world today is that not very many people recognize its source or follow its teaching. How about you? What wise thing have you acquired lately? And what wisdom have you passed on to somebody else? Any of you have some wisdom you’d be willing to share? Think of your best wise saying and post it here!

How does wisdom come to be? The Bible offers it for free,
And says that it can be acquired by anybody so inspired.
If we just had a Holy Book where we could read and take a look
And gain the wisdom of the ages written there upon the pages!
There is a Book that you can read where wisdom gained is guaranteed,
Whose timeless truths will make you wise if you will exercise your eyes…
If you gain some wisdom there, then take a little time to share!
Just write for us a little note to share your favorite verse or quote:

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To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

Wisdom and Counsel: Better Be Careful with that Bucket

“A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel” (Proverbs 1:5, NKJV) “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise.” (Proverbs 12:15, NKJV) “Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out“. (Proverbs 20:5, NKJV)

The word “counsel” is used a number of times in the Old Testament, and it is an interesting term. It sometimes simply means God’s wisdom and direction. It can also refer to resources that provide wisdom or guidance in making decisions, or it is used to describe sage advice.

Here in Proverbs 1:5 and 12:15, it is a noun that means to bind, or to pledge. It comes from the picture of using a rope or a cord on a large animal in order to pull or guide it in the proper direction. Without assistance in steering, an ox could end up plowing crooked rows, or it might wander over into a ditch. So it is with us. Our actions will be more profitable when they are guided by wise counsel.

The Bible says that not only is God a wonderful source of counsel, but so are others who have been blessed with wisdom. There is a godly wisdom that only comes from walking with Him and being invested in His word. But Wisdom can also be practical, attained through life experiences. There is an old saying that “Good decisions come from experience. Experience comes from making bad decisions.” I know I have illustrated the last part of that homily many times. Perhaps you have too.

One way to bypass the trial-and-error process is to seek the counsel of someone who is wise, godly, and experienced. Such a person would not offer a knee-jerk response or fire off an emotional email. The word picture in 20:5 is instructive because it describes a process for obtaining the kind of counsel that is truly beneficial (like water to a thirsty man in a dry land). It maintains that good counsel doesn’t come quickly or easily; it says that there is effort required to pull the heavy bucket of life-giving water up from the cool depths of the well; and that care needs to be taken with the precious contents so that none of it is wasted…

When Proverbs says, “counsel in the heart of man is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out”, WHO do you think of? Chances are that after you have prayed and looked into God’s word for advice, they might be the right person to call when you are making your plans or wrestling with a big decision. Get wise counsel. Make good decisions.

 

We all have times we wish for good advice that we could keep.
Proverbs says that counsel is like water, dark and deep;
When facing life decisions, and your heart is full of doubt,
Godly counsel can be there to help you think things out.
Proverbs says a man who thinks he's right may be a fool,
But in the well, the water's deep and takes a longer pull:
A man of understanding can provide a bucketful.
Though a fool may see himself as right in his own eyes,
It's better to seek counsel from a person who is wise;
If you must choose, then I advise you try that on for size.

 

To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread