God, you instruct us to keep our heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. You warn us that the heart is deceitful above all things. And you are a God that looks in on and tests the heart. LORD, we want to love you with all our heart. Help us to see in very real and practical ways what that means today. We commit this time to you in Jesus’ good name. Amen.
Good morning! I’m so excited to start this series with you. God is challenging me, and I pray He will do the same for you.
“O, Lord of my heart.”
What does that even mean? What does it look like for Jesus to be LORD of your heart? Of my heart? “Lord” in Hebrew is ‘adon and means “one possessed of absolute control.” In the Old Testament, Jehovah has been translated in English as LORD with all capitals. Jehovah is the proper name of the God of the Hebrews. (Bible Study Tools) Side note: Adonai was the plural of ‘adon and the Jews were so serious about revering God, that they would say Adonai whenever they came across the word Jehovah in Scripture. Now that’s a respect and understanding of the “LORD,” isn’t it? So what does it look like to have Jesus as the one “possessed of absolute control” of your heart? To have the God of the Hebrews as Lord of your heart?
We’ve all heard the saying “Follow your heart”, right? This is actually a SUPER dangerous piece of advice. The reality is that our hearts are “deceitful above all things and desperately sick.” (Jeremiah 17:9) Whoa! Those are serious words. Jeremiah sticks an exclamation point on the end of the verse by saying, “Who can understand it?” If we are honest with ourselves, I think we know that our hearts are sick. No matter how hard we try to be good and to love others well and to be humble and selfless and disciplined, our hearts lead us astray. We fail and instead of worshipping God, we worship idols. Idols are anything (good or bad) that are put in the place of God. They are anything that we worship as lower case “l” lord instead of worshiping Jehovah, God. Idols are broken gods that have no real power to redeem, satisfy or save us. For this reason, God instructs us to guard our heart “with all vigilance.” (Proverbs 4:23)
In the New Testament, we see a Pharisee who also happened to be a lawyer approach Jesus to test him with a question. He said, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” How did Jesus respond to that question? Do you remember? “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:34-40).
Here’s what I propose to you today: The way to “keep your heart” is to “love the LORD with all your heart.” It’s not about stopping certain behaviors. Instead, it’s about making SO MUCH of the person of Jesus that other things either fall away (sin and idols) or bow before God falling second in line (good things that have become god things). Worshipping Jesus as Lord makes Him Lord of our hearts. Kinda simple, huh?
If I’m honest, my heart most frequently leads me astray to worship beauty. I have a deeply embedded lie in my heart that I will be MOST happy when I am thin, well dressed, well put together (hair, nails + makeup). From this false belief, I strive. I’m inundated with this message and often exhibit behaviors to compound this lie (shows I watch, people I follow on social media, etc). I find two things to be true any time I’m striving after anything with my whole heart other than the Lord. I encounter one of two extremes: pride or despair.
Pride of heart says: “Oooo-weeee! Look at me! I’ve arrived. I have it all together. I’m beautiful and thin and well put together. Look out world, here I come.” My nose is high in the air and I consider myself to be the center of it all. After all, I’m awesome. (ew, even writing it out sounds gross)
Despair of heart says: “Woe is me. I’ve failed. Again. No surprise there. I haven’t exercised in two weeks. I look a mess today (just like yesterday). My husband doesn’t find me attractive and why would he? I’ll never lose these 10 lbs.” I’m naval gazing and I am a second-class citizen.
And what do you do with that? Where do you go with your pride? With your despair? I want to get insanely practical here with you and with God. We sing, “Be thou my vision, O, Lord of my heart.” We want that. We mean it when we sing it. But what does it mean to live with Jesus as Lord of our hearts on a daily basis? God knows our hearts. He knows that we are calling him, “Lord, Lord,” while placing other things higher than Him. So what does it look like to keep your heart with vigilance in a way that _(fill in the blank)_ is no longer the lower case “l” lord of your heart, but Jesus alone is capital “L” Lord of your heart? For me, what does it look like for my false god of beauty to bow before the One True God?
I submit to you that we first need to discover what it is that we are seeking from the lower case “l” lord that can ONLY be found in Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Read that again if it didn’t resonate the first time.
My lower case “l” lord is beauty. What’s yours?
I’ve had to really process through this with Jesus before submitting it to you. I want Him to show me what I’m seeking from other things that I can only find in Him. So…If my heart defaults toward worshipping beauty instead of Jesus, what am I looking for in beauty that I can only truly find in Christ?
This week in church we read from John 1. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” (John 1: 1-3) Jesus, the “Word”, is eternal Creator God. He has always existed, and everything that has ever existed was made through Him. “All things were made through Him.” Psalm 27:4 says, “On thing I have asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.”
Wanna know where following my heart leads? Following my heart leads to exchanging the beautiful glory of Creator God for created things. What I am searching for in my own beauty or in the beauty of people or things, can actually ONLY and FULLY be satisfied by gazing upon the beauty of God. He made it all. And yet, instead of worshipping Him for making it, I’m worshipping the created thing. How foolish! Do you see how much I’m settling? Why worship the painting? Yes! Appreciate it! Spend time gazing at it from a dozen different angles! Talk about the light and the depth and color and technique! Look at the control and discipline of each brush stroke! But at the end of the day, celebrate the ARTIST. Without the artist, there would be no painting. Apart from the ARTIST, the painting ceases to exist.
Here are four questions for you to spend some time journaling through. The first two are mine, the second two are directly from Jesus’ mouth:
Where does your heart most frequently lead you astray?
What are you looking for in your lower case “l” lord that can only be found in Christ?
“But who do you say that I am?” (Mark 8:29)
“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46)
My answers look like this:
- My heart frequently leads me astray to make beauty lord.
- I’m looking for security and comfort and love in human beauty instead of finding those things in Christ.
- I say that you are Creator God—perfect and radiant in beauty. You are more beautiful than all created things and in fact, in you and through you all beautiful things were made. Only through worshipping your beauty will I find satisfaction, security, comfort and love. My beauty is fleeting, has no bearing on my identity or value in Christ, and brings no lasting comfort. You love me as I am. I am enough in Christ.
- Forgive me, Lord for making beauty lord of my heart instead of you. Forgive me for calling you Lord, but continuing to demonstrate unbelief in this area. Thank you for using your Word to convict me and to bring me to repentance. My heart breaks over my idolatry, but I am comforted in knowing that if we confess our sins, you are faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Help me to keep my heart with all vigilance and to mean it when I call you “Lord of my heart.”
I’d like to invite you to spend a few minutes agreeing with God in prayer and worship before you journal:
I’m honored to fight this battle with you, my brother/sister in Christ. There is grace for us. So much grace. When you worship idols, repent. When your heart leads you astray, repent. When you believe lies, repent. Ask God to help guard your heart. Ask Him to teach you how to love Him with all your heart. My prayer for you today and every day is that Jesus alone would be Lord of your heart. Until next time!
be thou my vision.