We are in the middle of three-part series detailing, “Things we believe that are not really in the Bible.”
I have one daughter and one son.
I grew up reading books, watching television, and enjoying fun movies with both of my kids.
My daughter had a particular fascination with movies that featured stylish, pretty, young actors. For example, we watched numerous movies and shows from Mary Kate and Ashley, Hannah Montana, and Lizzie McGuire.
Most of these shows were tame, family-friendly fare filled with lots of shopping, cute outfits, and cute boys.
However, there was a subtle message that ran through these movies that now occasionally runs through the heart and the words of my girl.
I can sum up this message best by sharing a movie line from one of those shows we watched:
“I wish I could tell you what to do, but I can’t.
All I can say is… follow your heart.
It’ll tell you what is right.”
Lizzie McGuire” (2001)
“Follow your heart.”
We say this sometimes without even thinking about it.
It’s a common theme in today’s culture.
It may come out more like:
“You have to do what feels right for you. Do not let anyone influence you otherwise.”
“Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”
“You know the truth by the way it feels.”
“Sometimes you just have to stop thinking so much and just go where your heart takes you.”
(Love My Dress)
“Your vision will become clear when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.”
All of this sounds so good.
So culturally correct.
So hip and current.
But, is all of this really true and good?
Do we really want to look to our own hearts for all of the answers?
Will our hearts show us the way to go?
Could I answer by sharing a few words from the Bible about our hearts?
Jeremiah 17:9 – “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” (NLT)
In The Message, Jeremiah 17:9 reads, “The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle that no one can figure out.”
In Matthew 15:18, Jesus said, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.”
In Proverbs 28:26, we are told, “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but whoever walks wisely will be delivered.”
So, do we really want to trust our hearts if:
- Our hearts are incredibly deceitful?
- Our hearts are desperately wicked?
- They are where so much ugly comes from?
- Following them makes us foolish and unwise?
Consider further the words about following your heart from a few wise folks:
“How horrifically dangerous is it to follow our feelings, desires, and emotions?
Those things change all the time.
They can change with a phone call, a word of criticism or a traffic jam.
If we truly followed them, we’d be all over the map with our decisions.”
(Shane Pruitt, Relevant Magazine)
“If we make our hearts gods and ask them to lead us, they will lead us to narcissistic misery and ultimately damnation.
They cannot save us, because what’s wrong with our hearts is the heart of our problem.”
(Jon Bloom, Desiring God)
“The truth is, we can’t follow our hearts fully. It’s dangerous.
Any definition of success that starts with, revolves around, and ends with ourselves is doomed to disappoint.”
(Alex Cain, Christianity.com)
So, if it’s dangerous to follow our own hearts, what are we to do instead?
How can we make decisions that are wise and not narcissistic?
I’d like to suggest a four-part plan that you and I can follow to find God’s best for our lives:
First, Seek His Will in All You Do.
Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”
Go to the Lord with your choices, decisions, dilemmas, and issues.
Spend time in prayer asking Him what to do next. Open the Bible. Read it, get to know it, study it, and use it.Don't look into your heart for life's answers; look to the One who created your heart. Click To Tweet
Second, Ask God to Speak to You.
Jeremiah 33:3 – “Pray [Call] to me, and I will answer you. I will tell you important secrets [great and hidden things] you have never heard [known] before.”
Invite God to teach you, lead you, and show you what to do. Ask Him to reveal His will to you very plainly and very clearly.
How do you do this?
Third, Be Open & Aware. Listen!
God still speaks in our day and in our lives.
He speaks primarily through His Word. And, you don’t have to go on a hunt, for Him to speak through the Bible. Just read your next devotion, your next Bible reading, or your next chapter.
God can speak through any Bible text to get a message to you. He can “highlight” a word of instruction anywhere in scripture to speak to you.
He also speaks through sermons, podcasts, radio devotions, and Christian songs. Our God is able to use the words of a sermon or a song to lead us and to give us insights.
Further, the Lord can use godly friends and mentors to give us wisdom. Time spent with those who love Him and love us can often open up some great ideas about how to proceed.
There’s nothing mystical about all of this. God can use anything and anyone any time He wishes to speak to His children. He is God.
Our job is to be open and aware, looking and listening for Him to speak into our lives.
How do we make sense of it all?
Fourth, Put It All Together on Paper.
To enhance this process and to make it easier to follow, why not put all of this onto one sheet of paper?
Years ago, our friend Bob Sorrell showed us a wonderful technique for clearly finding God’s leading in your life.
He suggested that you write a very specific question at the top of a page.
For example, you might ask:
- Lord, do You want me to take this job?
- Do You want me to go back to school?
- Is this the right person for me to marry?
- Should I retire this year?
- Should I get involved with this ministry?
- How much money would You like me to give to this project?
- What type of car should we buy?
- Where should my child go to college?
Then, you fill in the page with everything God gives you over the next weeks or months.
As you read a great verse that pertains, you write it down. When your pastor mentions something in a sermon that pertains, you jot this down.
As things begin to happen around you, make notes. When friends make helpful comments, write this down.
Eventually, you will get to an answer – a solution. You will know what to do.
To assist you in using this process, I’ve created a printable. Just right click, save, and print it out.
James 1:5 – “If any of you needs wisdom, to know what you should do, you should ask God, and he will give it to you. God is generous to everyone and doesn’t find fault with them.”
To illustrate this whole process, let me share a final story.
Years ago, our family was trying to make a big decision that would impact all of us. I contacted one of my wise mentors for advice and to ask her to pray.
In reply, she sent me the most interesting word picture of what it is like to follow God’s plans for our lives.
She suggested that I think of following God’s will much like walking through a dark night with only a small flashlight to light the path. God usually doesn’t lead using large spotlights or huge flashlight. Instead, He leads us with a very small flashlight.
To follow Him, we have to stay close to Him so that we can clearly see the next step to take. Usually, He will only open up one step at a time. We won’t be able to look down the path or a few steps ahead.
Rather, we will press in close to Him, follow the light, and only take that step that is directly in front of us.
Are you looking for direction today? Seeking the next step for your life?
Don’t look into your heart!
- Seek God’s will in all you are doing.
- Ask God to Speak to You.
- Be Open & Aware. Listen!
- Put It All Together on Paper.
Were you encouraged today?
Would you share this article with a friend, co-worker, or family member?
Maybe you can send it to a friend or family member?
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