When my daughter was a toddler she liked to watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. One morning she was in her routine, wearing her Minnie Mouse dress, of course, swaying back and forth to the music while being laser-focused on the screen.
She made the mistake of setting down the sausage biscuit she had been nibbling on. Focusing on the TV and naïvely placing it on the ottoman, was nothing more than an invitation for our Labrador Retriever who scooped it like nobody’s business!
I am certainly biased, but I’ve never met a Lab with an ill-will. Whether you agree with me or not on the Labs, I know for certain that there are plenty of foxes out there looking to scoop up your joy and freedom! You want to avoid those enemy traps at all cost, so this post is dedicated to understanding how it is you guard your heart.
There are lots of things we can learn from a Lab (or any other dog for that matter!). Have you ever stood in a kitchen eating pizza and noticed a dog’s face beneath you? That face look up at you is the face of hope! With the same hopeful anticipation, let’s pin down a truth…how to guard your soul.
I hope your heart began to stir if you read my post about contentment. Maybe this is an area where you struggle?
I know that struggle! As for me, getting to the place where I am at peace with my circumstances or surroundings didn’t happen overnight! It was a journey! In fact, it was such a long journey that I ended up writing a book about it. I’d love to share that story with you if you like to read. (Dying to Find My Laughing Place).
One thing I learned about myself while writing the book was certain patterns of behavior I had developed. Hind-sight is always 20/20, right? I was clearly able to see that one of the things I did not do was guard my heart. This, like many topics I explore through the blog, is easy to talk about but much more difficult to put into practice!
I am a firm believer that identifying the problem, however, is half the battle!
With eyes wide open, I’m asking you to take your Bible and read chapters 29 and 30 in the book of Deuteronomy. I’m not going to type it for your convenience for two reasons:
1. It’s long!
2. I encourage you to be extremely familiar with flipping through your Bible if you are not already comfortable doing so.
Maybe I’m old-school, but I prefer using a hard copy and tend to read the New King James Version (NKJV) or New American Standard (NAS) most. I like a hard copy of the Bible best because I can silence my smartphone and read God’s word without popups, notifications, or any other distractions. The enemy loves to keep us distracted, right? Beat him at his game…grab a Bible.
These chapters at the end of Deuteronomy were written by Moses, the leader of Israel used by God to take the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt and into freedom in the land of Canaan which was promised to them by God.
Israel has a long history throughout the Old Testament of being disobedient and turning their backs on God, and it was no different at the time Moses wrote these chapters. They had been wandering around in the desert for forty years as a result of their disobedience.
Moses was at the end of his life when he made this speech to the Israelites. As he spoke, they were reminded of God’s covenant with them and the blessings that came with being obedient to His commands.
Likewise, the Israelites were reminded about the curses for not following God’s commands.
Please read Deuteronomy chapters 29 and 30.
What insights do you get from the conditional covenant in this passage? More specifically, do you see the significance of the word “if”?
God periodically made covenants with His people. A covenant would be like a binding contract in today’s culture. Sometimes He made a covenant that required nothing of the people He made the promise to. For example, after He flooded the world He gave the covenant of the rainbow that signified His promise to never flood the earth again. There’s nothing you could do to change that covenant.
In this particular covenant with Israel that Moses is talking about in chapters 29 and 30, you will see that there are conditions that needed to be met. So, it’s considered a conditional covenant.
With it being a conditional covenant (Deuteronomy 30:9-10), the word “if” had HUGE implications. So…Moses urged the people to do what in Deuteronomy 30:16?
Israel needed to keep God’s commands to get blessings.
Now, fast forwarding to where we are at on the timeline of history, we live in the church age. Jesus came and gave us a New Covenant (Hebrews 8:1 – 9:15, Luke 22:20) which applies to you and me. Under the New Covenant, God still requires us to keep His commands. We would have no need for a mediator or atoning sacrifice, Jesus, to reconcile us back to holy God if breaking His commandments (sin) didn’t matter!
But they do matter!
Let’s look at another example from the Old Testament. King Solomon, another great leader of Israel, came face to face with the same choice of obedience. Solomon did have a detour much like you and I often do. So, you can relate to him! And so can I.
His detour of misery, apart from God and in pursuit of earthly pleasures, led him to ask a particular question in Ecclesiastes 1:2-3. Again, hoping to get you familiar with the books and pages of your Bible, will you please turn there to read?
If you read through my other post What is Contentment? you will have taken a brief look at Solomon already.
What is the question Solomon asked in these two verses?
Everything seemed so meaningless, but yet Solomon knew life had to have some sort of meaning to it. After extensive (and expensive) research of the matter, he came to a single conclusion.
He concluded the point and purpose to a man’s life according to Ecclesiastes 12:13 is what?
Fear God and keep His commandments. Notice that we see the same word being used. Keep.
The Hebrew word for “keep” in Ecclesiastes 12:13 is the same Hebrew word used in Deuteronomy 30:16. It is also used again in Proverbs 22:5. Ahhhh! I’ll actually type this verse for you because I want you to see something!
“Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse; He who guards his soul will be far from them.” Proverbs 22:5
Did you know that instead of using the word “keep” the NKJV translates it into “guard”? However, it is the same word in the original Hebrew text.
Using these three examples as guides, what do you learn about how to guard your soul?
I know it sounds so simple, my friend. But it’s really as simple as making a decision. Make it your resolve.
As you read Scripture, apply it. Make the verse you are reading about your goal! And so on. I promise…that’ll keep you busy for the rest of your life!
You will make mistakes. And so will I! When you mess up, confess it to Him. He already knows anyways. I can’t think of a single time when His people had true humility and a heart of repentance and cried out for His help that He didn’t answer! He always shows mercy to the ones living lives of submission and repentance to Him. That goes for you too.
The keys to being guarded in a way that keeps you coming back to His path is to love Him with all your heart and soul and to keep His commandments. Jesus said that loving God is the greatest commandment, so don’t get burdened down by a long list of things to do!
Keep it simple. Love God. Pursue Him. Trust Him at His Word.
I hope this discussion has helped you to see the simplicity of the Christian pursuit. Pursue Him. Press in. And let Him guard you from a world of trouble.
I’m so glad you’re on this journey with me! I look forward to sharing other posts and discussions with you.
I would love to answer any other questions you may have in response to this email. Feel free to hit reply!
Keeping faith and until next time,