Guard Your Heart Like An Athlete Guarding A Football

I don’t play sports at all and I know nothing about football. Yet, I have seen a football in the hands of an athlete, held tightly like it was a gold nugget, and being carried through the hustle and bustle of other players serving as obstacles aiming for a chance to steal the ball and thwart the player’s chance to make it safely to the opponent’s end zone. And so I think about what if the player, who is carrying the football, fumbles and drops it. He must carry the ball and protect it with his force, focus and perseverance.

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.
Proverbs 4:23 NLT

How much so must we guard our hearts, not our physical hearts (which need taking care of too) but the part of our being that carries our souls. Our hearts are more valuable than a football. Our hearts are the breeding grounds for thoughts and seeds to be planted, and prayerfully the right seeds. They are the epicenters of our emotions, wills, desires, intellects, goals and dreams, etc.

Now, I am no expert on the body, soul and spirit either but I do know we are a three part being (1 Thessalonians 5:23). We possess all three: a spirit, body, and soul. All three must be tended to with care in order to function in this earth realm and live a quality life. And moreso to fulfill our God-given destinies.

So back to our hearts. Just like our bodies, our hearts are so vital to our existence here on earth. Our hearts exude our perspectives on things and direct our actions. It is crucial that our hearts our cared for and guarded because they are just as precious, valuable, and imperative to who we are and how we impact the world around us. So, let us protect and care for our hearts. And remember every part of our being matters to God, our bodies, souls and spirits.

Our thoughts, our self-esteem, our goals. Everything concerning our hearts concerns God.

So, why must we guard our hearts. Well, first we must remember that if we have to guard something, it is because it is valuable. We guard our hearts because our hearts are:

1. Valuable

2. Necessary for survival

3. Will impact others in some kind of way.

Our hearts and we in totality are valuable to God and to each other. Moreover, relationships are imperative for our survival, relationship with God and relationship with others. We were all created with purpose, talents and gifts that are to be operated in good stewardship, wisdom, and according to God’s will to help and bless others. We are valuable and we are here to make an impact in the lives of others. And we as the Body of Christ especially should be impacting others through the wisdom and love of God.

Now lets look at the second reason we must guard our hearts. We must guard our hearts because we have an enemy.

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 NLT

1. We have an enemy, the devil, to protect our hearts against.

2. The enemy has come to steal, kill and destroy.

3. The mind is often our biggest battlefield.

Anxiety, depression, and suicide is on the rise. The minds and attention of our youth are gravely under attack. Parenting is difficult more than ever. Marriages are crumbling. Perversion, lovers of self, and haughtiness are growing rapidly. Destinies and dreams are also going to the graves. And a person with a wrong perspective, unguarded heart, and one wrong decision can derail his/her future. Some of us are courting secret sins and shame, and I am talking about those of us in the Body of Christ. Some of us are in despair and straddling the fence with God, losing hope and zeal for God. Let us guard our hearts. Let us repent and draw close to God.

So, let’s look at that again:

We must guard our hearts because they are valuable epicenters that house our thoughts, emotions, intellects, wills, etc. that not only affect us but others. And we have an enemy that sees this and wants to distort our epicenters, derail our destinies, steal how we see ourselves and others, kill our hopes and dreams, and destroy the very things (like relationship) that God created us to use to impact the world around us.

Guarding our hearts mean to protect and care for them. Plain and simple. And now we know from who and why we must guard our hearts. So now how?

Guard your heart by protecting its gates (eye gates, ear gates, etc.):

1. What are you watching?
2. What are you listening to?
3. What are you saying to yourself or others?
4. What are you meditating on?

Guard your heart by taking every thought captive.

We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5 NLT

Catch them thoughts and check them?
Is this a thought lined up with the beliefs of God? Is this a thought from God or the enemy? What are you rooting your belief system in: witchcraft, conspiracy theories, what they say, or God? We cannot serve two masters. Are you feeding your spirit with the Word of God? It is so easy to just let your thoughts slide. But we have to have discipline over what we allow in our heads and what we allow to dominate our thoughts. People who are anxious tend to worry about the future. They tend to overthink and worry and struggle with a spirit of fear. People who tend to struggle with lust need to address when they tend to lust and what does the lust feed on. Pray that God destroy every proud obstacle that keeps us from knowing Him and that He captures our rebellious thoughts and teaches us to obey Him.
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8 NLT

Guard your heart by reading the Word of God and meditating on it.

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Hebrews 4:12 NLT

His Word cannot return to Him void. Get His perspective, His views, His thoughts and His wisdom on the matter, about you and the world that surround you.

Guard your heart by developing discipline and obeying God’s word.

It is not enough to just hear and read God’s word but we must obey God. Trust His intentions and purpose for us are good. Do not harden our hearts when we hear God’s voice. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide us. Seek God for help. Rely on His grace for it is sufficient. His strength, power and Word enables us to develop the mindset and discipline we need to live pleasing before God. “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8 NLT

Read these relative chapters also.

Ephesians 5

1 Timothy 4

But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. James 1:22‭-‬24 NLT

Now mentioning seeing yourself, guard your heart by seeing yourself the way He does.

It is so imperative to see yourself the way God does. If we are unable to see ourselves the way He does then I wonder if we are truly able to live, act and respond from the most authentic place. Can we really dwell richly in God’s love, that is unconditional and pure? Can we wholly communicate and impact from the Creator who created us with such a zeal and impact that is necessary? If we are unable to see ourselves the way God does, are we leaving cracks in the epicenter that let the enemy slip in?

So there you have it! It is not easy to guard something right? We have to have sharp focus. We have to persevere through countless obstacles and not give up. We have to be vigilant in watching and praying. We have to discipline our thoughts and that alone takes work and surrender to God. We have to not naively guard our hearts because we have a constant enemy. We have to remember the value of that which we are protecting. And we have to guard our hearts as we allow God to prune us and develop us in the fear of the Lord and wisdom of God as well as help us to bear fruit and subsequently more fruit, showing ourselves to be disciples of Jesus. Listen. Moreover, every human should not be guarding their hearts to restrict love, but guarding their hearts so that they can truly love. But to guard our hearts we need Jesus and His grace to be able to do so. We need God’s wisdom and Helper to direct us and heal us to guard our hearts and to also be able to walk in His love and receive His love. That is the last reason why we should guard our hearts. To walk in God’s love and receive it. Let us break it down further; we should guard our hearts:

1. to not be hindered in receiving the love God has for us and

2. to be able to love others as we love ourselves, and lastly but not least

3. …”‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’

Start today in guarding your heart by asking God for wisdom and grace to do so. Gather some scriptures to post on your wall or mirror and meditate upon them daily. Set a plan in place to guard your heart and seek to draw closer to God who loves you with an unfailing love.

Throwback Thursday: Go To War

Happy Thursday! This throwback originally published on September 9, 2016 is a must read for this season. We must remember that we are in a battle whether we want to be or not. Please read this throwback and make sure you put on daily, besides your mask, the full armor of God.


Recently, while reading the bible, I realized this wasn’t just my daily routine reading (which it should never become just “I read it just to say I read it”). I was reading Deuteronomy 20. This chapter details Moses teaching Israel the laws for going to war. I realized God was speaking to me. In fact, He was teaching me and revealing to me things I had not come to understand until now.

GOING TO WAR

When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them, because the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt, will be with you. 2 When you are about to go into battle, the priest shall come forward and address the army. 3 He shall say: “Hear, Israel: Today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not panic or be terrified by them. 4 For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.”

5 The officers shall say to the army: “Has anyone built a new house and not yet begun to live in it? Let him go home, or he may die in battle and someone else may begin to live in it. 6 Has anyone planted a vineyard and not begun to enjoy it? Let him go home, or he may die in battle and someone else enjoys it. 7 Has anyone become pledged to a woman and not married her? Let him go home, or he may die in battle and someone else marry her.” 8 Then the officers shall add, “Is anyone afraid or fainthearted? Let him go home so that his fellow soldiers will not become disheartened too.” 9 When the officers have finished speaking to the army, they shall appoint commanders over it.

10 When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace. 11 If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to forced labor and shall work for you. 12 If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. 13 When the Lord your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. 14 As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the Lord your God gives you from your enemies. 15 This is how you are to treat all the cities that are at a distance from you and do not belong to the nations nearby.

16 However, in the cities of the nations the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. 17 Completely destroy[a] them—the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—as the Lord your God has commanded you. 18 Otherwise, they will teach you to follow all the detestable things they do in worshiping their gods, and you will sin against the Lord your God.

19 When you lay siege to a city for a long time, fighting against it to capture it, do not destroy its trees by putting an ax to them, because you can eat their fruit. Do not cut them down. Are the trees people, that you should besiege them?[b] 20 However, you may cut down trees that you know are not fruit trees and use them to build siege works until the city at war with you falls.—Deuteronomy 20

BATTLING

Plenty of times in my life, I’ve let the devil intimidate me. I start to focus on the problems, storms, and the SIZE of my God-given assignments and subsequently my weaknesses and insecurities to keep me from fulfilling the things God has for me to do and overcome. I have went to the battlefield trembling and unprepared to put up a fight. I have had battles at work, in my relationships, and with anxiety and fear. Yet, we all have battles and you probably either just came out of a fight or going in one. Real talk, this is life. No journey is all roses and beautiful green grassy fields. Sometimes, your fields become brown and your grass becomes flat because Goliath stepping all in it and messing it up. But God!

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.—Ephesians 6:12 KJV

As always, here are some Tools to encourage you along your Journey!

You have to remember that although some battles you may lose and some fights may wear you out, Jesus won the war and every believer is on the winning team. You are more than a conqueror and God has given you every weapon you will ever need to beat the devil’s behind and walk victoriously. Here is what I learned about going to war:

  • Don’t be afraid.

Naturally, you begin to assess your opponent’s strengths as well as your weaknesses. The devil gets you to do that—focus on the problem, focus on how he can retaliate, and what can further go wrong. He loves to intimidate.

God will neither leave you, nor forsake you.

God will fight for you.

Jesus doesn’t just have the solutions; He is the SOLUTION!

  • Talk with a spiritual authority and especially JESUS FIRST.

A spiritual authority/mentor such as your pastor will help you to get some clarity on the situation.

They will encourage you.

They will intercede for you and pray with you.

  • Get your affairs in order.

Put things in perspective.

Pray for God’s perspective so you can see it the way He does.

Assess how and when you should be “fighting”. Do you just pray and be quiet? Do you seek outside help? Is this a preparation period or a go period?

Have you forgiven others and have you mended what God has told you to mend? Are you walking in love? Are you providing for your household?

Is this really a battle or a diversionary one? The devil loves to distract us.

  • Are you pessimistic?

Do you have disbelief that God can move and do what He said He will do? Are you surrounded by other believers like this?

If you are pessimistic, those fears, disbelief and negativity can rub off on others.

Get with people who not only will help you to search God’s Word on the matter but believe and fight with you and vice versa.

Get with believers who remember that they already won because they are on the winning team.

  • When you are struggling with someone, be a peacemaker.

Don’t go looking to fight naturally.

Handle any wars period spiritually for we wrestle not against flesh and blood. Right? I know some people TAKE you there. Sometimes, I too have to catch even my thoughts because that is where the suggestions of giving someone an old fashioned butt whooping starts. Jesus, help us!

Perhaps that person is too struggling with something and cannot see clearly. Perhaps they are not. In any event, ask God for wisdom.

God will make your enemies your footstool, but the key is to LOVE and don’t be so proud. Love them anyway no matter the outcome.

  • Check the sin in your life.

Take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ Jesus.

Cherish sin no more.

Ask God to reveal the root cause of any sin in your life and give you grace to repent.

Repent wholeheartedly.

  • Be a life-giver and a fruit-bearer.

When you are hurt and wounded, sick and frustrated, tired and fed up, you can do and say things you regret.

You can make decisions that you would later regret.

You can take every innocent thing a person does and think it was meant for harm, become easily offended, and want to retaliate as well as cut people off for good.

Don’t destroy others around you. Don’t stunt the growth of your love walk and yourself.

  • Finally, OBEY GOD and saturate in His Word.

His Word is synonymous to His wisdom and His will. You need all three: His Word, His Wisdom, and His Will.

God’s Word is a weapon.

Obedience is better than sacrifice. Obedience to God protects you, helps you and brings you prosperity.

JESUS used the Word against the enemy when he was tested. Jesus won! https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+4

  • Bonus: Pray and Praise! Talk with God and praise His Holy Name! Prayer and praise too are weapons!

Now GO TO WAR!

Put your shoes on honey, our journeys await,

Tannika

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To check out my new book, Bring It To The Surface, click here!

The Enemy’s Trick (Lesson From Walking Dead)

Picture from AMC

I love the Walking Dead tv show. I just recently began watching season 10 which first aired October 6, 2019. I love seeing Rick’s people evolve, persevere, and overcome challenge after challenge. And I can always find a lesson or two in an episode. In episode eight, we see how Ziddiq’s PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that isn’t mentioned but one can conclude that is what he is dealing with including survivor’s guilt) has heightened. Finally, Ziddiq (played by Avi Nash) shares with someone the pain from seeing those he loved murdered right before his eyes. We also find out that there is a traitor in Alexandria. I felt something was off about this person but dismissed it. However, later in the episode and as they flashback to the traitor’s story, my suspicions turned out to be right. He was actually an imposter. When his true identity is discovered, what he tells Rosita made me immediately think of one of the enemy’s tricks. The imposter at Alexandria tells Rosita (played by Christian Serratos) that they are not as strong as they think they are. She expresses her growing fear to Gabriel (played by Seth Gilliam) and is starting to believe what the imposter says. And that is one trick our enemy uses to weaken and disarm us. He wants to bind us with fear and doubt. Fear and doubt are crippling, accusing, and draining. However, we do not have to walk around with fear. As believers, we must remember that God did not give us a spirit of fear but that of power, love, and a sound mind. We do not have to let doubt weaken our faith’s muscle. He who is in us is greater than he that is in the world and we can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens us. The enemy will use trials and tribulations, lies, doubts and fear to cause us to shrink back and lose confidence, feel alone, doubt or forget God’s providential care, unfailing love, and almighty power. But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one (2 Thessalonians 3:3 NIV). The enemy will also send imposters our way like enemies posing as friends as well as distracting and toxic baes and boos when we least expect it. But let us be alert and guard ourselves with the truth and power of God. Jesus guarded Himself in His time of weakness and wilderness during his 40 days and nights of fasting. He guarded Himself with the truth of God’s Word and by remaining confident in His Father.

So, let’s keep our eyes fixed on Jesus for He is the author and finisher of our faith. God is omnipotent and omniscient. He will protect us and guard our lives from the lies and imposters of the enemy. What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:31‭-‬39 NIV)

Wednesday Scripture-Led Writing Prompt: Expectation

Writing is such an great avenue to take to express one self as well as to find some understanding about some things. On some Wednesdays, we will have Wednesday Scriptue-Led Writing Prompts. What a great way to meditate on God’s Word, pray, and journal!

Based from these scriptures, write in your journal what is on or comes to your heart.

As for me, I look to the Lord for help. I wait confidently for God to save me, and my God will certainly hear me. Micah 7:7 NLT

Expectation

As the sirens echo through my ears

And broadcast my fears

As my soul cries tears

I train my heart to turn to the One

Who is near

I look to the Lord for deliverance and care

I look to the One who fills me

When I am bare

Who loves me unfailingly and pursues me with mercy

I wait with confidence

On my God who saves

I pray with expectation

Faithfulness is the Ancient of Days