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It is day hundred-and-twenty-something of lockdown and this past week it seems to me that people are at an all time low. From the car guard where I buy my groceries at Spar to the waitress in my favourite coffee shop, smiles are few and far between and frustrations are at an all-time high. And I have been complaining and commiserating along with the best (worst!) of them.

But this morning when I opened my diary, I discovered a message from my 12-year old.

In her most beautiful handwriting she has copied Philippians 4:8:

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.” (MSG)

How amazing and humbling it is when the Lord speaks so directly to us. These words give me so much joy and at the same time encourages me to BE BETTER. Because I have not been filling my mind with things true and beautiful the last few days. I have not been speaking about things to praise and things that are “the best.” I have filled my heart with frustration and anxiety and I have not been lovingly reassuring others who are doing the same.

The Word tells us a lot about the heart and some of us surprised me a little. I would love to share 3 thoughts on the heart with you today:

1. The heart is not to be trusted

We love saying “someone followed their heart” or “the heart wants what it wants.” But God actually tells us we must not be led by our hearts. Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick, who can understand it?”

With this verse God reminds us to trust in Him only. When our hearts grow heavy with fear we must willfully focus on heavenly things. When the world and the state that it is currently in gets us down, we must lift our eyes to heavenly realities. When people’s actions disappoint us, we must surround ourselves with those that remind us of what is true, noble and beautiful. God promised that He will give us new hearts and we must fill these new hearts with so much joy that it will flow from us even in the worst of times. Which brings me to my 2nd thought.

2. The heart is a strong force

Proverbs 4:23 encourages us that a strong guarded heart can help others: “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”

The world tells us that “soft-hearted” means to be kind compassionate and tender but I want to propose the following: That is takes a really STRONG heart to remain kind, compassionate and tender in a sinful world. The state of your (strong) heart doesn’t only have a huge impact on your own life but also on the lives of others. When friends and family have dealt with you, do they walk away feeling hopeful and joyful or are they even more worried and anxious? Your heart is a strong force! Make sure it’s a force for good.

3. We have limited insight and understanding

Proverbs 3:5-6 reminds us to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.”

We constantly live in two realities. This wordly reality where times are incredibly tough, people are hungry and jobless and it seems that things are going downhill pretty fast. Sometimes my focus gets stuck here. But we must lift our chins and look up to fix our eyes on the heavenly reality. God is in control and He will wipe all our tears. If we focus on this reality we will be able to support, encourage and connect so much better with others. Just trust God to fulfill all His promises and stop leaning on your own understanding of what is going on.

While we are still here, we have to GUARD OUR HEARTS so that we can fill our minds with what is true, noble, reputable, compelling and gracious so that we can wipe the tears of others. And then we can ask God in complete surrender like David did in Psalm 53:10: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”spirit within me.”

Susan is a wife, mother and business woman. She owns a guest house, 3@Marion Guesthouse in Pretoria and loves taking care of guests from our beautiful country and all over the world. She is the Director of the Ultimate Pretoria Bucketlist who promotes restaurants, attractions and adventures and currently expanding to other cities and towns in South Africa. She is a board member of the Tshwane Tourism Association and is passionate about the hospitality and tourism industry, the service industry and small business challenges and joys.

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