One of the very first things one does when entering boot camp in the United States Marines is to learn the General Orders. These orders apply to every Marine sentry. They govern certain actions that are required at all times and in every situation. Above all else, Marine sentries must know their General Orders – verbatim – and they govern every post.
You may be wondering what that has to do with you. I’m glad you asked.
Before I tell you, welcome to “Mornings with Bishop Robert” — this morning you’ll be assigned guard duty. Seriously, thanks for joining me. My goal is to introduce people to the Jesus they never knew, and help them get to know Him and His word personally – and better ! If our time together today speaks to your heart, then let me invite you to like, subscribe and share it with a friend!
The first one is this: “Take charge of this post and all government property in view.”
So what does a Marine sentry have in common with someone wanting to get closer to Jesus?
Today’s verse says ABOVE ALL ELSE, GUARD YOUR HEART.
When I hear the word “guard” the first thing that pops into my mind is my General Orders. The initial and basic requirement of a sentry is to “TAKE CHARGE.” That is an active requirement, not a passive one.
Guarding your heart requires you to take charge of it, and to protect it from being exposed to things which might remove it from your control.
Make no mistake, there are lots of things that the enemy will try to use to gain control of your heart. They are set out like traps and lures, and he hopes that you’ll take the bait. Because, if you do, then the amount of control you’ll be able to exercise over your life will diminish moment by moment. It’s like a fish that’s bitten the hook. It’s still able to swim, but the fish is not able to swim AWAY. For all its efforts and fighting, the fisherman is slowly and surely pulling it closer and closer to the boat. Taking the bait will cost you every time.
Our heart needs our constant, active protection if we are going to avoid the bait and traps of our enemy.
The world is busy deliberately pushing the limits. Sensuality luring in anyone who will bite the hooks of pornography, lust and other destructive practices. The enemy cries “freedom” from behind his bait. Free sex. No rules relationships of every type and sort. Come and get whatever you want. He says, “It’s all good!” But take the bait and your life is going to spiral down as the enemy reels you in. I could give similar examples. Greed-driven business decisions that destroy your character, looking “profitable” but little more than a Trojan Horse that will destroy everything from within. Drug and alcohol abuse that dulls your senses and causes you to drop your guard. I don’t have the time to dive deeply here, but I think my point is clear.
ABOVE ALL ELSE, GUARD YOUR HEART
Interesting, isn’t it, that it is the HEART and not the HEAD which is given this focus. Our path to victory begins when we ask God to create a clean heart within us. He tells us, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” And once we see Him, we can follow Him wherever He leads us. Once He has taken residence in our heart, He will begin guide our head, as well. A well-guarded heart will serve to control our thoughts. A well-guarded heart sounds an alarm when we begin to engage in thoughts which (though tempting) will eventually be quite destructive. In other words, He will lead us away from the bait.
We begin by trust in the Lord with all our heart, and not leaning on our own understanding. See that? First heart, then mind. (That’s what “understanding” is referring to.) When we acknowledge Him in all our ways, He directs our path – AWAY from the enemy and his traps and bait. Do not be conformed to this world, guard your heat. As you do you’ll be transformed by the renewal of your mind. That combination develops His wisdom within, enabling you to discern what the will of God is in your life; His good and acceptable and perfect will for you. As you keep trusting, the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will continue to guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
And so we must GUARD OUR HEART ABOVE ALL ELSE.
Much like the rudder of a great ship, what we allow into our heart will determine our course. When we are cautious and guard our heart, it keeps us upon our course and protects us from destroying ourselves.
God’s word – it’s like body armor for our heart and mind. There’s a rule of thumb for wearing body armor. Three words. JUST DO IT !!
If you’re not already wearing it, it will be too late to put it on by the time you realize you need it.