Devotional on Proverbs

2004 – Big Island, Hawaii

How’s your heart doing?
Proverbs 4: Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts.
I try to keep an eye on my weight and sometimes I do a better job at it than I do at other times. I also pay attention to my bank account. Each month I take time to balance my checkbook and, while I’m no expert at it, I watch my retirement account, trying to do what’s prudent with it. There are lots of things to watch: maintenance on the car, paying the electric bill, mowing the lawn. The wise man of the Proverbs reminds me to keep an eye on my heart. Of course, he isn’t talking about lowering cholesterol. It’s the spiritual heart he’s talking about. I want to be sure I keep my heart centered on the Lord and to know that, as I seek him and his Kingdom, other things will take care of themselves. It isn’t that I’m to neglect watching my weight and my bank account, it’s that all else functions in my life as it should only when my heart is right with the Lord.
Take Away: It’s not a bad idea to do a “spiritual checkup” once in a while…just to keep an eye on things.

Devotional on Jeremiah

Navigating through a maze at night
Jeremiah 17: The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful.
I think it’s in order to quote more from this passage: “The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle that no one can figure out. But I, God, search the heart and examine the mind. I get to the heart of the human. I get to the root of things. I treat them as they really are, not as they pretend to be.” There’s much of our humanity that we humans can’t figure out. I may do something and then wonder why I did it or I may state a position and then realize that my reasons are not as clear as I thought they were. Jeremiah tells me that the heart of my life is a dark place. If you look at the passage again, you’ll see that he isn’t talking so much about darkness as “wickedness” (although I do think we’re sinners by nature and need to let the Lord deal with that aspect of our lives) as he is talking about “mysterious.” In other words, Jeremiah points out that our lives are a tangled web of desires, hopes, hurts, and misconceptions. Finding one’s way through all that is like navigating a maze at night. In a word: impossible. However, the Lord can find his way to the core of issues within me. He searches my innermost being, getting to the root of why I am the person I am. So what do I take away from this concept? For one thing, I see that I’m not qualified to judge others. I can’t untangle their lives so I had better leave the judging up to the One who can. Also, I come away from this passage reminded of how important it is that I rely on, and listen to, the Lord. He unravels the mystery of my life. Sometimes, he sees my failure and, looking through all the darkness, says, “That’s okay. You did your best, I judge you ‘not guilty.'” It may be though, that he’ll say, “what you did was plain sin. You rebelled against me and even though you can make surface excuses, I know better. Repent and make it right.” He knows me better than I know myself as he navigates to the very core of my being.
Take Away: The Lord knows me better than I know myself.