This week, we're starting a short series on Shepherding. Today, we're going to talk about shepherding your own heart, next week, we're going to talk about shepherding your church, then, we're going to pause to start our advent series, and then the week after that, Chase will finish our shepherding series with shepherding your family.
But today, I'm going to give you a few tips for how to shepherd your own heart during the week. And I want to focus primarily on four passages of Scripture. So let's start with Proverbs 4:23
Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.
Because this Hebrew word is singular, we each have a responsibility to guard our own hearts!
You are the gatekeeper of your heart. You determine what you will an what you will not allow in your heart. I cannot be that filter for you. Your parents cannot be that filter for you. Your church family cannot be that filter for you. You siblings or sons or daughters cannot be that filter for you.
That means you have important choices to make:
Do I watch a mindless TV show or video?
Do I play that game?
Do I listen to the country station?
Do I go see that movie?
Do I watch that sporting event?
You are what you eat. The same can be true of your mind. You will become that which you consume.
Youth pastor analogy: two dogs.
So how do we feed the beast of God?
“Listen, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
The command here is to one of constant consumption of the word of God.
Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.
This is so important. To call yourself a follower of Jesus and not be actively in His word, studying, trying to get to the heart of what the truth is is like saying you're on a soccer team without ever playing in a game, putting on a uniform, going to practice, or working out with the team.
As Christians, we have prescribed for us an outfit that we are supposed to put on every day. Paul talks a lot about this in Ephesians 6.
A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.
So, let's go through these and break them down:
Let's play a game called "Offensive or defensive?". I'll name a piece of armor of God that Paul talks about, and you tell me if it's offensive or defensive:
Belt of truth
Breastplate of Righteousness
Shoes of Readiness
Shield of Faith
Helmet of Salvation
Sword of the Spirit
So how does it make sense to be part of the kingdom of God that Jesus says the gates of hell will not overcome (are gates offensive or defensive?)
How does it make sense to be a part of that kingdom and not take up the only weapons that we have to fight in it?
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
Are you at peace?
How's your sleep? Do you get a good night's sleep, or do you wake up at night overwhelmed with stuff? How do you handle it? Do you let it overwhelm you, or do you pray and seek the word of God?
Do you get overwhelmed during the day with all your responsibilities? Do you freak out when political winds shift and don't go your way? Do you worry about things over which you have no control? Do you worry about things over which you do have control, but should not even reasonably on your radar yet? Do you play out every terrible what-if in your head for every scenario?
How's your prayer life?
Are you spending time on your knees?
If you don't know how to pray, start with something simple:
Adoration (Lord, you are great)
Confession (of sin or of knowledge of who God is)
Thanksgiving (Thank you for...)
Supplication (Please do ___...)