Attention: Vigilance Required

Call me with your auto questions.

A few years ago I bought a used VW Eurovan. The Owner?s Manual said its high performance engine required high octane gasoline, which is the most expensive. So with my vast experience of car engines I said to my wife, ?You know what? I bet the car companies are in league with the oil companies and they put that in there so you have to buy the most expensive gas, then the gas companies give the car companies a kickback. So we?re going to use the cheapest gas.? Guess what happened? It ran just fine. Until the engine died. My mechanic called and said I don?t know what you did but the engine is full of gunk. It has to be replaced. What kind of gas did you use? Uhhhhh. Low octane, I mumbled. My wife was telling an expert foreign car mechanic from England about it and he asked ?What did your Owner?s Manual say?? She said, ?To use high octane gas but my husband didn?t think it needed it because he thought the gas companies were in cahoots with the car companies.? He shook his head and in a very disgusted British accent said, ?You?re supposed to do what your owner?s manual says you should do. I?m embarrassed for you.?

Needless to say, now I?m very careful with what I put in my car. Lots of people are even more careful about what they put in their bodies. Some who are sensitive to gluten won?t take a single bite of pizza because it triggers an immediate reaction. How much more seriously should we take the care and nurturing of our souls. Proverbs 4:23 tells us:

Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.

Our heart is the core of our being. It?s who we are. It is where all our thoughts, feelings, motives, emotions and desires originate. All our words and actions flow out of our heart. Apart from Jesus, our hearts are spiritually dead. We have no desire or ability to obey God. But when the Spirit regenerates us he gives us new hearts that love God and want to serve him (Ezek 36:26-27).

But we have to care for these new hearts. It?s like we begin our lives with a garden with polluted soil, full of weeds and rotten fruit. Then God gives us a completely new garden with rich soil and tender green shoots which will produce beautiful fruit of the Spirit. But we have to KEEP and TEND the garden. We have to water and feed it and protect it from parasites.

Why? For from it flow the springs of life. Our whole spiritual life and our whole life in this world is affected by our heart. Our heart is the fountainhead of the river that is our life. If the springs of a stream are polluted the whole stream will be. If our heart is polluted because we don?t keep it well, our whole life will be as well.

So how do we keep our hearts?

First, by filling them with God?s word. We need to water the garden and regularly pour the life-giving nutrients of GOD?S WORD into our hearts. Read the Bible or listen to it regularly. Pray beforehand and ask God to speak to you. Underline. Take notes. Highlight. What is God saying to you?

Memorize Bible promises and verses that encourage you. Write them on 3×5 cards and review for few minutes as part of your devotions. If you memorize 1 Scripture every 2 weeks that?s 25 in a year. Or memorize them by listening to Scripture songs. If you like, you can download Free Scripture Songs in our archives.

Keep your heart by watching what comes out of it. In Matthew 12:34 Jesus said ?…out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.? Watch your speech – if praise and thanks regularly come out – that?s what?s in your heart. ?If grumbling and unbelief regularly come out that?s what?s there.

This doesn?t mean that we can?t honestly say how we?re doing. If you?re suffering and someone seriously asks you how you?re doing, be honest. You don?t have to say ?Fine? and force a fake smile. You can say, ?Thanks for asking. I?ve actually been in a lot of pain.? Or, ?this trial has been really hard.? BUT I would also try to connect your speech to God as well. I?m not saying that every single time you say you?re suffering you have to immediately say in some automatic Pollyanna way, ?But God is good!? But I believe it is important to make connections with our speech to God. So many times, when someone asks how I?m doing in a tough time, after trying to honestly tell them I try to affirm God?s faithfulness and love, primarily for myself. If what comes out of my mouth is what?s in my heart, I want to keep trying to connect my speech to God?s truth.

To be continued…

Mark Altrogge

I’m a pastor at Saving Grace Church in Indiana, PA. I’m married to Kristi, have 5 kids, and a growing number of grandkids. I enjoy songwriting, oil painting and coffee, not necessarily in that order.