wisdom Posts

High Places and Action Figures

Psalm 78 is a look back at Old Testament history. There’s so much in this chapter about clear obedience and clear disobedience. Yet through these verses you continue to see the presence of small compromises in the form of high places.

These high places are sneaky little things. They don’t seem like much at first, but they slowly grow to woo the hearts of the people away from undistracted devotion to the Lord. Though the people seem to serve the Lord with all of their hearts, they also offer sacrifices on these high places.

It has been said that big things are just the accumulation of the little things. In this case, that may be right. As these high places take root in the hearts of the community, the larger sins of idolatry soon follow. Not only do the people of God find themselves offering sacrifices on these high places, but now they take idolatry to the next level and begin to worship graven images and action figure gods.

Of course this brought about the judgment of God who, by His very nature, does not share His glory with anyone or anything. Their small compromises multiply into wholesale departure from the Lord. In return, the Lord was “filled with wrath and greatly abhorred”[1] them. That’s powerful!

So what are the high places in your life? The little things. The small compromises. What are the areas of your life that have subtly led you away from devotion to the Lord?

What about the large departures? Have you allowed anything in your life to become an ultimate thing? Have you bestowed ultimate value on anything, putting it above the Lord?

Big or small, repent and turn to Him for forgiveness. God is merciful and gracious but will not share His glory with anyone or anything. We must diligently fight to keep Him as ultimate in our lives. It doesn’t matter if it is a high place or a graven image; both bring dishonor to the Lord and should be repented of immediately. But if/when you turn to Him, you will find grace and mercy.

[1] See Psalm 78:58-59 (NASB)

Watch Over Your Heart: A Closer Look at Proverbs 4

What does it mean to watch over your heart? Proverbs 4:23 tells the reader to do just that:

Watch over your heart with all diligence,
For from it flow the springs of life.
– Proverbs 4:23 (NASB)

The heart is the root of emotion. It is the seat of desires. It is the place where passion is born and where every action finds its origin – thus the admonition to watch over your heart.

Your heart is influenced by input. The things you watch, listen to and interact with directly influence the state of your heart. From a spiritual standpoint, what’s going on at the heart level will eventually show in life. It cannot be hidden or covered. It will eventually come out.

If your heart is full of the things of God, that cannot be hidden either. If your input is godly and your heart is full of the Lord, then your life will reflect that.

As in water face reflects face,
So the heart of man reflects man.
– Proverbs 27:19 (NASB)

However, our steps are not guaranteed to be honoring to the Lord. Obedience is still a choice and the outworking of the heart is often full of challenges.

Proverbs 4 continues, challenging us to be diligent to watch over our hearts, but then to also watch over the outworking of the heart in life. And from this guarding of the heart, three cautions arise:

  1. Watch what you say.
  2. Watch what you see.
  3. Watch what you do.[1]

Not only do these reflect the state of your heart, they also serve as potential inputs. If you want your life to reflect Christ, being mindful of these three potential inputs is a great place to start. They serve as indicators and warning signs. If what you say, see and do are honoring to the Lord, it indicates a right heart. However, if what you say, see or do is dishonoring to the Lord, it reveals a heart in need of the transforming power of the gospel.

The truth is this is a fluid process. You will have your victories and defeats, but the end goal is a greater awareness of what God is doing in your heart and how that is being played out in the world around you.

Here are a few questions to consider:

  • What is the status of your heart? Have you thought about that lately? If not, take a few moments and dig a bit. What do you sense on the inside? Is there an abiding peace with the Lord or are you in disarray on the inside? If you find yourself struggling, turn to the Lord and invite him into the chaos. Remember, Jesus is Lord of creation and has the ability to calm the storms of life – even the ones in your own heart.
  • What do you say? What do your language, tone and content of speech say about your heart? We are called to show love for one another and to speak in a way that builds others up. How are you doing in the battle with your tongue?
  • What do you see? Are the things you are watching honoring to the Lord? It’s worth exploring the very root of desire that causes you to “want” to look at the things that have your attention. What is driving the desire to see what you are seeing? Is it to honor the Lord or are you driven by the flesh? If what you are looking at, or the very desire to look is not brought into submission to the Lord, you are fighting a losing battle. Invite the Lord into your temptation and see if He will help move your desires to other things.
  • What do you do? Actions and environments speak volumes of the state of the heart. What do you find yourself doing and where do you find yourself going? If the places you invest your time are not influencing you toward Christ, why are you there? If the circumstances in which you find yourself are not moving you to Jesus, find other environments to invest in. If bad company corrupts good character,[2] find people and places that fill your heart with godliness.

[1] Proverbs 4:24-27
[2]1 Corinthians 15:33