average to awesome post cardSo we have been working through the second big decision that will help us take our lives from average to awesome, that decision is to Get Priorities.  Over the last two weeks Ken has really challenged us to do two things…first he told us that we need to be “All In” that we need to find a local church that we can engage and jump into it fully.  Then last week He came back and challenged us to “Wake Up” and engage the Jesus Mission fully.  He gave us a take home that I hoped you reviewed with your family this week.  In it he talked about the five parts of the Jesus Mission which are:

  1. Love God

  2. Love Others

  3. Love Growing

  4. Love Giving

  5. Love Serving

These 5 parts of the Jesus mission are a really big deal.  It really is all we would ask of you here at MRC…can I ask you something today?  How do those 5 things hit you?  Are they doable?  Do they make sense?  Do you see them as healthy challenges or is this just another church pushing in on you and asking you to do something, so they can get something from you?  Really your response to Ken’s challenge is a really big deal and it says a lot about what is going on inside of you.  When it comes to setting priorities for your life there is one area that we just can’t ignore.  That is your heart.  You can want to jump into the God mission, and you can want to connect well to your local church, but the reality is that if you are not taking care of your heart, things aren’t going to go well for you.  I want to help you understand something today, you are living in a world at war.  This war is being fought over your heart.  Your heart is at the center of this battle, it is a huge asset to the Kingdom of God, and I will tell you why.  It’s because your heart is the connecting point between you and God.  Your heart is where love comes from, so if we go back to the 5 parts of the Jesus mission; could you love God, people, growing, giving, and serving if your heart has been taken out of the game?  Your heart is the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit living inside you, so if you have no heart in it where does the Holy Spirit live in you?  Your heart is talked about all the time in scripture, and there is a reason why.  You live in a world at war, and at the center of this battle is your heart.  Your heart is the connecting point between you and God, so we must fight to protect our hearts.

Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.  NIV

So Solomon wants you to know something, the most important thing you can do is guard your heart, because it is the wellspring of life.  So if I’m reading this right, the heart is a pretty big deal.  We are in a series talking about priorities right now, and Solomon just started this verse by saying…above all else…this is the key, priority one has to be your heart.

Now I know what you’re thinking…wow, Sam this is pretty dramatic for a nice fall Sunday morning here at MRC, but I want you to know something, it actually is that dramatic.  The message is that urgent and far too many people are not recognizing the fact that we live in a world at war.  Far too many people aren’t understanding just how important they are to God.  They walk through each day of their lives, working, paying the bills, chasing kids around to different sports fields and never see their true greatness.  They never see the actual glory of God that is inside them.  We never stand up as the royalty that God created us to be.  We can’t see it because we have been deceived by our enemy.  He is trying to take your heart out and his strongest tactic ever was to convince the world that there was no battle at all.  So most people walk through life and never understand why life is tough.  They don’t see the fight that they are in, and they never engage the battle.  This is devastating, and typically leaves the person wondering if there even is a God at all.  We have lost sight of the battle and in doing so, the enemy is there to take out our hearts.  Remember your heart is the connecting point between you and God.  It is the well spring of your life, and it is your enemy’s number one target, it matters that much.  Fighting for your heart (the connection point between you and God) has to be a huge priority in your life.

So what can we do?  Most of us aren’t walking through life feeling like warriors or essential pieces of the God mission.  I think if we are honest most of us walk through life feeling kind of ordinary.  We get picked a part by an enemy that we don’t recognize at all and we get lulled to sleep in this foggy notion that there is nothing more going on than living out our lives on this Earth.  Listen to Paul’s warning here, he’s trying to help us out…

2 Corinthians 4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

So Paul throws out a warning to us all here…do not lose heart.  He goes on to say that each day of our lives as time passes by we are wasting away on the outside, that we are being renewed on the inside!  He says yeah, we are walking through tough times but our eternal glory outweighs the tough times!  You know what, it is that glory that your enemy is terrified of…it is the last thing your enemy would ever want to see come out of you…and here is Paul reminding you that it is there, and he tells us in verse 18 what we need to do!

2 Corinthians 4:18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.  NIV

Ok sweet, nice and simple…I just need to fix my eyes not on the things I can see but on the things I can’t see and I will be fine.  Wait, what in the world does that mean!?!?  Well what it means is that we have got to see the spiritual battle waging all around us, we must begin to see with the eyes of our heart, and begin to live focused on God and not on the temporary world all around us which our enemy is trying so hard to keep us focused on!  I believe this is why Paul would pray this prayer for us all…

Ephesians 1:18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20 which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.  NIV

Can you see from what Paul says here just how huge the battle over your heart is?  Do you understand why your enemy is so afraid of you realizing God’s power in you?  It is so important that we begin to see with the eyes of our heart because most of simply don’t believe that we are special in anyway, let alone that we have a role to play in a great battle!  Let’s face it, our lives are pretty ordinary.  We get up and do our thing each day, and never seem to see this amazing glory that Paul continues to remind us that we have!  I know for me it can be hard to see that I am anything more than just another person, on this great big planet…yet God doesn’t see me, or you that way at all.

You are not what you think you are!  There is a glory in your life that your enemy fears and he will do everything he can to destroy that glory before you realize it, and stand tall in it!

So I really wanted to end this section on priorities today helping you understand something…you live in a world at war.  The battle is waging over your heart because it is the connecting point between you and God.  Solomon says “Above all else you must guard your heart,” Priority one, guard your heart for it is the source of life inside you and because you have an enemy who is terrified of who you will become when you engage your heart fully.  Fight for your heart, if your enemy takes your heart out, he takes you out.

Your heart is the connecting point and without your heart fully engaged you can slide very quickly into religion.  A lot of good church folk have spent their whole lives working hard to master the rules of Christianity, they do their religious duty and engage the programs of the church, and never know God intimately.  It is so sad but it is because their enemy has taken out their connecting point to God, so it becomes about what they are doing rather than an intimate, loving, relationship with God.  Without heart there is no loving connection…there is simply rules and religious duty.

Isaiah 29:13 The Master said: “These people make a big show of saying the right thing, but their hearts aren’t in it.  Because they act like they’re worshiping me but don’t mean it, (MSG)

So what is missing in their worship?  It’s their hearts.  We must start to understand that there is a ferocious battle waging, and that battle is waging over your heart.  Attending church, raising your hands during worship, engaging different classes and programs for spiritual healing will not bring you to intimacy with God.  Let me tell you something crazy, you can even serve in your church and be recognized as a leader there and really looking the part to everyone around you but if you are not engaging your heart, it’s not going to bring you intimacy with God…it won’t bring you life.  There really is only one way to seek and find Him.

Jeremiah 29:13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. NIV

It is going to take heart.  Time and time again through scripture we are reminded of how important our hearts actually are.  We must live through our hearts, seeking and engaging God with all of our hearts.  The reality is that you can’t find God if your heart has been taken out, and your enemy knows it.  Which is why the wisest man that every lives would let you know…that above all else you must guard your heart because it is your connecting point to God and to life!  It is priority one.

So I want you to understand something, you are living life in a world at war.  This war is being fought over your heart.  The reality is that you have an enemy that is terrified that you will engage your heart fully and he is doing whatever he can do to keep you from fully engaging your heart.  There are three big tactics that then enemy uses to take out our hearts and keep us from finding God and I want you to see these schemes of the enemy today, because as you see them, you can protect yourself from them.  It’s time to take our hearts back!

Here are the three big schemes the enemy uses to take out our hearts:

  1. Make them so busy they ignore their hearts.

  2. Wound them so deeply they don’t want to even have a heart.

  3. Trick them into believing that their hearts are not good.

So now we will breakdown these three assaults on our hearts.  We will take a look at what each leads to, and then what we can do to combat them.

Assault Tactic #1 Make them so busy they ignore their hearts.

This is a very popular assault on our culture today.  We live in a world that is flying a mile a minute don’t we?  We fill our lives with work, kids, and hobbies and we run ourselves into the ground.  We never stop moving, and we never stop adding things to our schedule that already has too much in it!  We have so much going on that we don’t have any time at all to engage God in a real way.  We have no time to guard our hearts.  The reality is that we are running faster than we can run.  We are working harder than we can work.  We are tired.  We are frustrated.  We are stressed out beyond compare.  We have buried ourselves in debt and feel stuck running at the speed that we are running at to pay bills…and frankly I think the thought of trying to break out of all we have to do sounds completely crazy.  This is our culture here in the USA, work, run, never stop.  We have decided that somehow it is ok!  All the while we have filled our schedules up to the point where we have no time to engage our hearts…this is not ironic, this is strategy!

What is really interesting is that even if we aren’t busy and stressed we talk to everyone like we are.  It’s like it isn’t even socially acceptable to be rested and healthy.  Ask someone today how they are doing and what are you going to get?  You are going to get a list of complaints and things they have to do…think about it…when is the last time you heard someone say, “Hey, I’m doing great.  I’m working less, I’m well rested, and I feel great!”  You won’t because that is not ok in our culture today!  It’s not ok to be healthy!  Think about how brilliant this is, the enemy is playing us all!  This world says stay as busy as possible, and if you aren’t busy you are lazy, or your just not living the way you should be living!  Yet Paul would say…

Romans 12:2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.  NIV

What is funny is many people look at this verse and have decided this means we don’t listen to secular music, we don’t dance, we don’t go to the bars, etc.   But take it a step farther; what is the pattern of this world?  Run like crazy, be stressed and exhausted, place no boundaries or health in your life, and if you don’t you are nuts.  Amazing.

So what does this assault lead to?  A person who is running with no margin in their lives, where clutter, exhaustion, and stress are pushing in harder and harder begins to see the world through a negative lens.  They don’t see positives and think the worst in every situation and really think the worst about everyone.  Why is that?  It’s because the well spring of their life is drying up, and it begins to come out on the people around them.

So what do I do to combat this?  You need to take control of your time!  You need to sit down and make a list of the things you need to be doing and maybe more importantly you need to make a list of the things you need stop doing.  At the top of that list has to be you spending time each day with God.  Here’s what I know, that if you are consumed by the chaos and clutter and busyness of life, even as I say this you can’t hear it, or you just laugh…YOU FEEL STUCK IN ALL YOU ARE DOING DON’T YOU!  I know because I did too.  The reality is that you are not stuck.  You must take control of your schedule.  Right now!  These are urgent times.  You are being taken out of the game and as much as you argue that you can’t afford to change the speed of your life, I’m here to tell you today that you can’t afford to allow your heart to be taken out!  ABOVE ALL ELSE WE MUST GUARD OUR HEARTS!  Take time today, to look at your life, your time, and make sure that the enemy isn’t taking you out with busyness.  I know first-hand just how easy it is to allow the world to control our schedule and we have to take it back.

Assault Tactic #2 Wound them so deeply they don’t want to even have a heart.

While the first tactic is sneaky and slimy and one that many of us fall into…tactic two is just brutal.  Many people on this planet are walking through this life carrying enormous wounds.  They have walked through brutally tough times, and they carry those hurts each and every day of their lives.  Some have dealt with tragedy.  Some with death and the loss of loved ones.  Some hurt all over from rejection from someone they gave their heart too.  Some just needed a friend, and instead were hurt by people.  Some have needed a church and found they weren’t good enough for the “church folk”…whatever the hurt is, it is a full on assault on your heart.  Let’s face it, we live in a broken world that is full of pain and we have to address the wounds of our hearts.

So what does this assault lead to?  These wounds leave of staggering.  They leave our hearts aching and if we don’t deal with that hurt we carry the weight of it, and it can grow and fester and become more than we can bear on our own.  Leaving us either angry and bitter and never willing to let anyone in again, or in a place where we just want to ignore our hearts and find a state of numbness where we can survive each day without dealing with the heart at all.  We spend our days trying to find ways to numb the pain, trying to ignore our hearts altogether.

So how do we combat this?  The first thing we have to do is guard ourselves from bitterness by forgiving.  I know, I know easy for me to say, but the reality is that if we forgive we have an opportunity to move forward with life…holding onto those wounds will only lead to bitterness.

1 Corinthians 13:4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  NIV

We must keep no record of wrongs.  The reality is that people will hurt you what you do with that hurt is a really big deal.

We must understand a couple of things.  We live in a world at war.  We have an enemy who is coming to take you out, and we need to understand that these assaults are coming.  When we see this as a battle, we look at these assaults from our enemy for what they are, and they are horrific assaults on our hearts.  We must give the pain to Jesus who has the strength and ability to take if from us and carry it for us., And we just have to leave all the judging to him!

Assault Tactic #3  Trick us into believing that our hearts are not good.

If there is one thing we talk about a lot when we speak of the spiritual battle that’s waging around you, it’s that your enemy is a liar.  He is a schemer.  You see this war is different than any other because the war has already been won by Jesus and his amazing work on the cross.  So you are fighting a defeated opponent.  The reality is that your enemy has already lost.  He has no power over you.  That means the only ground he can take in your life is ground he tricks you into giving him.  He will whisper lies to you, and try to get you to agree with them.  He wants you to think you aren’t good enough to be loved by God.  He wants you to think your heart is not good and he will do everything he can to trick you into giving him ground in your life.

So you live in a broken world where we know we will be assaulted and hurt by people.  So the hurts come, we feel rejection or judgment and we start to hear that we aren’t worthy of love or that we are sinners, or that we just can’t do anything right.  We begin to agree with the lie that we are hearts aren’t good.  If this assault doesn’t come through hurts it can come through your own mistakes.  You make a poor choice, you screw up, you sin…and you decide you are a loser.  You begin to believe the lie that you suck and that you aren’t worthy of God’s love.  We know all the things we should be doing as good Christian people and we fall short of them.  (Because we are people, and people are imperfect creatures who make mistakes) it’s in those moments that the enemy comes into remind you that you aren’t worthy of God’s love.

So what does this assault lead to?  When we agree with our enemy’s lies, we give him ground in our life.  We look at all the good holy people around us and decide they are at a much higher level than I am.  Sadly we don’t serve the God mission because let’s face it, we are losers and we decided that we don’t have a good heart, so why even bother taking care of it…ALL LIES OF THE ENEMY, AND ALL GROUND THAT WE ACTUALLY ARE GIVING HIM IN OUR LIVES!

So how do we combat this?  We must recognize that we have an enemy, and that our enemy is lying to us.  We see the lie for what it is, and make no agreements, so the enemy can’t take ground in our lives.  If we can look back and see that we have made agreements with our enemy, the beauty of Jesus is that we can repent of those things, and ask “In Jesus name, that Jesus through the power of the cross, take that ground back in our lives.”  And just like that, it’s over…that is the beauty of fighting a defeated opponent!  The reality is that the best way to combat lies is to engage truth.  You do this by engaging the word of God.  This is your weapon in the fight, the word of God…

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.  ESV

By filling your heart with the world of God, you have the ultimate weapon of truth in this fight against your enemy!  Do you remember when Jesus was tempted by Satan?  How did Jesus respond to Satan’s temptations?  He responded with scripture all three times.  Fill your heart with truth and your enemy is powerless, because you will have the discernment necessary to see the lies for what they are and guard your heart well!

So today we end the second decision that will take your life from Average to Awesome.  That decision is to get priorities, and I really felt like we had to look at our hearts.  The reality is that without your heart in the game, you won’t engage the God mission.  Without your heart in the game you won’t be connected to God.  Without your heart in the game you won’t find your purpose.  You won’t find and fulfill the plan that God has for your life…and your enemy knows it.

Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.  NIV