The second way we can remain strong in the Lord is by guarding our hearts. When we guard our hearts, we automatically guard our thoughts and our actions because the heart is the wellspring of both these things.
We already know that the heart is more than just the organ that pumps blood, it is more than just a small muscle with a herculean task; it is in fact the source of our emotion, often times overriding reason itself. From the Word we also know that the heart is deceitful, and that if given the chance it will play tricks on us, it will attempt to convince us to act on an emotional level rather than a spiritual level, and as such lose our way, lose our strength, and weaken our resolve.
Jeremiah 17:9-10, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.”
The best way to guard our hearts, the best way to offset the desperate wickedness of the heart, and avoid being deceived by it, is to make certain that every day, Jesus reigns supreme, and He is Lord and King, having established His throne upon our hearts. Daily, we deny ourselves, daily we pick up our crosses, daily we look in the mirror of God’s word, to make certain that we are doing His will and not our own, to make certain that we are serving Him and not our own self-interests, and in so doing, we are guarding our hearts, not only from the enemy’s devices, but also from the heart’s tendency toward wickedness and natural state of deceitfulness.
Some start out with fervor and zeal, reading the Word daily, guarding their hearts faithfully, making certain that it is always the will of God that they are pursuing, and the kingdom of God they are helping to build up, but with time, the zeal wanes, their attention is drawn to other things, and small cracks begin to appear in their defenses, and what was once guarded in perpetuity, is now only inspected infrequently.
It is because of this infrequent inspection of the heart that the enemy begins to sow doubt therein, and eventually we find ourselves absent of spiritual strength, questioning God, living in disobedience, plotting our own course, and kicking against the goads when commanded to do something out of our comfort zone.
Imagine you had a condition that required you to take a certain medication for the rest of your life. Imagine also that by not taking said medication on any given morning, you would not only be risking your health, but very likely your very life. This is the way we must approach guarding our hearts, this is the mindset we must possess, because it is that serious and relevant and necessary.
If we approach the task of guarding our hearts with the requisite soberness, if we purpose in ourselves that failing to guard our hearts even for one day may lead to sickness or even death, we will be diligent in making the time to actively and faithfully do just that.
Psalm 119:15-16, “I will meditate on Your precepts, and contemplate Your ways. I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget your word.”
I realize the following will be difficult to receive for some, because it cuts to the heart of why so many believers lack any sort of spiritual strength, but we live amidst a generation that has made it common practice to compartmentalize God and a relationship with God within an hour’s worth of church service every week or so. It is because we are not wholly surrendered to Him; it is because we are not wholly committed to the cause of Christ, that many have never felt the true power of God in their lives. Too few delight themselves in God’s statutes any longer, too few meditate upon His precepts, too few contemplate His ways or diligently study the Scriptures that they might not forget His word.
We have fashioned for ourselves a lazy man’s religion, wherein with minimal effort we can have maximum results, superimposing the baseless promises of countless infomercials upon our faith and relationship with God.
‘Just five minutes every other day, and you too can have a rock hard body! No crunches, no sit ups, no dieting, one little pill will make you look and feel like you were young again!’
I’m sure you’ve seen them, they’re still around if you haven’t, but we’ve done the same thing with our faith, gravitating toward the empty promises of those who would tell us that all we have to do is wave a hand, write a check, and the gates of heaven will open wide, Jesus will be standing there personally to welcome us into His kingdom, and as an added bonus we get one of the really nice homes with a clear view of the crystal sea as our eternal residence.
‘Jesus gave His all so you wouldn’t have to give anything!’
That is what modern Christianity has been boiled down to, wherein nothing is required of the individual, be it repentance, righteousness, holiness, obedience or self-renunciation. Sin no longer exists, the devil is just a fairy tale, hell is just a bedtime story to scare little kids into brushing their teeth at night, and whether you worship Jesus or a wooden spoon you’re still going to make it into heaven when all is said and done.
This is the kind of mindset that men devolve into when they no longer guard their hearts, when the Word is no longer living in them, when they no longer spend time with God, and when Christ no longer reigns supreme over every aspect of their existence.
The third way we can remain strong in the Lord is by having a consistent prayer life. Prayer is such an important aspect of our spiritual walk, and one that is so rarely focused upon that I’ve been toying with the idea of doing an entire series on it somewhere down the road, but for now all we really need to know is that every single great man of God throughout the Bible, and into today had a consistent prayer life. From the Prophets of old, to the Disciples of Christ, to Christ Himself, all had a life of prayer which was consistent and heartfelt. Learn to love your prayer time, look forward to it as you would reacquainting yourself with a long lost friend time and time again, know the beauty of fellowship with the heavenly Father, and know the strength that you can derive from the simple act of bending your knee and crying out to God.
One thing is certain; we will need to remain strong in the Lord in order to stand in the days to come, and wisdom would dictate that we use the time we have wisely, and accumulate as much spiritual strength as we are able.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.