What’s the Condition of Your Heart?

by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio

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Hello and Happy Day! This is Dr. MaryAnn Diorio, novelist and life coach, welcoming you to another episode of Winning with the Word. Today is March 15, 2021, and this is Episode #6 of Series 2021. This episode is titled “What’s the Condition of Your Heart?”

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Did you know that the condition of your heart determines the course of your life? I’m not talking about your physical heart. I’m talking about that intangible part of you that includes your mind, your will, your emotions, and your conscience.

The Bible says this about the heart: “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”  Now that’s a pretty heavy statement, don’t you think? So heavy, in fact, that we would be foolish to ignore it.

Yet, many people do ignore it, and they ignore it to their own peril. 

What is meant by guarding your heart? To guard means to protect from harm. The Bible commands us to protect our hearts more than we protect anything else? Why? Because our heart is more precious than anything else. Our heart determines where we end up at the end of our life.

So, how can we determine the condition of our heart? A good way is to consider the different types of heart conditions the Bible talks about and then evaluate your own heart by these conditions.

The Bible describes six heart conditions. Let’s take a look at each one.

1. The Double Heart. The Double Heart is also referred to as the Deceitful Heart. I call it the Forked Heart, as in forked tongue. Scripture alludes to the double heart in Psalm 12: 2 NKJV: “They speak idly everyone with his neighbor: With flattering lips and a double heart they speak.”

The double heart is a two-faced heart. It speaks out of both sides of its mouth. It says one thing and means another. It is double-minded. In James 1: 8, we read that “a double-minded man is unstable in all of his ways.” So, a double heart is an unstable heart. What happens to things when they are unstable? They fall.

2. The Hard Heart. In Proverbs 28: 14, we read this warning: “Blessed is the one who fears the LORD always, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity.”

What is a hardened heart?

A hardened heart is a heart that has lost its sensitivity to the things of God. In the Gospel of Mark, chapter 8, verses 16-21, Jesus reveals that a hard heart has lost its ability to see, understand, and hear God. It is a heart that has also lost its ability to remember.

Let’s enter this passage in Mark chapter 8, verses 16 through 21. The disciples are out on the lake in a boat, and they realize they have forgotten to bring bread to eat. So, they’re discussing what to do. Let’s listen in on what Jesus says:

“Aware of their conversation, Jesus asked them, ‘Why are you debating about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Do you have such hard hearts? Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of broken pieces did you collect?”

“Twelve,” they answered.

“And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of broken pieces did you collect?”

“Seven,” they said.

Then He asked them, “Do you still not understand?”

Notice the four words Jesus used: See, Understand, Hear, and Remember. A hardened heart does not see, understand, hear, or remember God’s promise to take care of us.

How often, when faced with a new trial, do we allow fear to enter our hearts because we forget how God has helped us and delivered us in the past? I have been guilty of not remembering God’s past faithfulness. What about you?

Not remembering God’s past faithfulness is simply an indication of our little faith in His promise to care for us. We forget that the Lord has promised never to leave us nor forsake us.

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“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” 
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What causes a hardened heart?

Sin, pride, setbacks, and disappointments can cause a hardened heart. Especially in these last days, Satan is using setbacks and disappointments to wear us down, to weary us. The antidote to this attack of the enemy is praise and worship. The more we praise and worship the Lord, the more we are strengthened.

Another cause of a hardened heart is unforgiveness. When we refuse to forgive, we hurt only ourselves, not the person who hurt us. If you have unforgiveness in your heart, drop it now, as though it were a poisonous snake, because it is.

3. The Proud Heart.
Scripture talks about the proud heart in Proverbs chapter 21, verse 4: “Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, is sin.” The proud heart is the heart that thinks it knows better than God. It is the heart that chooses its own will over God’s will. The proud heart always has to have the last word. It always thinks it is right and others are wrong.

The proud heart has trouble asking for forgiveness. It is easily offended. It sees the splinters in the eyes of others but not the beam in its own eye.

Of all sins, pride is, perhaps, the most dangerous because it cannot see itself. The proud heart cannot see its own pride.

4. The Unbelieving Heart. In Hebrews 3: 12, the Word says this: “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God.” Notice that the Bible equates unbelief with an evil heart. This is quite sobering!

We sometimes take unbelief lightly, blaming it on our own humanity. Yet, God takes unbelief very seriously. He tells us that without faith, it is impossible to please Him. So, if we are in unbelief, we are not pleasing God.

How can we know if we have an unbelieving heart? Here are two signs:

__The unbelieving heart believes the five senses more than it believes God’s Word.

__The unbelieving heart gives in to fear when facing a trial. 

We need to be on guard against an unbelieving heart. Unbelief, if left unchecked, will cause us to depart from God. The chief danger of unbelief is that it destroys the trust that is the foundation of our relationship with God. Unbelief tries to convince us that God does not have our best interests at heart, that He doesn’t care for us, that He won’t come through for us.

Doubting God’s love for us causes us to lose our trust in Him. And when we lose our trust in God, we turn away from Him.

5. The Cold Heart. Matthew 24: 12 warns us that in the last days, when lawlessness abounds, the love of many will grow cold. We are witnessing the fulfillment of this warning in our own day. Lawlessness is a loss of respect for the law. Bottom line, lawlessness is a loss of respect for the Word of God.

When we lose respect for God’s Word, the Holy Bible, our love for God and for others grows cold. Love that has grown cold has lost its fire and, in truth, is no love at all.

6. The Unclean Heart. David the Psalmist prayed that God would create in him a clean heart (Psalm 51: 10). At the time David prayed this prayer, he had an unclean heart because he had sinned with Bathsheba and had had her husband murdered to hide the fact. God sent Nathan the prophet to convict David of his sin. David humbly acknowledged his sin and repented before God.

So, what is an unclean heart? It is a heart that is dominated by the flesh and not by the Spirit of God. It is a heart whose motives are not holy but selfish.  David understand that only God, the Creator, could create a clean heart in him. David could not do it on his own.

And neither can we. If you’re heart is unclean, repent before God now and He will give you a clean heart.

The first step toward receiving a clean heart is to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. If you do not yet know the Lord, I urge you now to receive Him as Your Savior and Lord. Pray this simple prayer with me now:

Lord Jesus, I want a clean heart. But You are the only One Who can make my heart clean. So, I ask You now to come into my life. I receive You as my personal Savior and the Lord of my life. Forgive me of my sins. Create in me a clean heart. In Your Precious Name, I ask and receive. Amen.

If you prayed this prayer sincerely, please write to me at drmaryann@maryanndiorio.com. I would like to send you a free e-booklet that will help you get started in your walk with Christ. I also encourage you to get yourself a Bible and read it every single day. The Bible is God’s love letter to you, His manual for your life. In the Bible, God reveals Who He is, and He teaches you how to live.

Finally, ask the Lord to lead you to the church of His choice for you where you can learn about Him and have fellowship and encouragement with other Christ-Followers. It is critically important in these last days to fellowship with other believers who are mature in Christ and can guide you as you grow in Him.

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Now it’s your turn: How do you avoid the evil heart conditions the Bible describes? Please leave your comment in the Comment Box below. Thank you.

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Featured Book of the Week:  THE IRON SAINT by MaryAnn Diorio, PhD

The Church in America is on the verge of a tremendous spiritual awakening, an awakening that will first be fueled by persecution unlike anything we have ever seen before in this land. Indeed, a prophetic word given in my home church during the month of November gave this warning to the Church: “Prepare for the fire of persecution!”

But the Church is not ready for this persecution. For the most part, the Church in America has been weak and lukewarm. Flabby and lazy. Consumed with the world and not with the things of God. As a result, the Church has been deceived and has subverted the divine order of things.

In THE IRON SAINT, Dr. MaryAnn Diorio seeks to help equip the saints for the work of true, integritous, and effective ministry. As a teacher in the Body of Christ, it is her burning desire to help correct this devastating error.

In THE IRON SAINT, Dr. Diorio has outlined a plan of action for strengthening the Church through uncompromising obedience to the Word of God. This plan of action is based on her own 50 years of walking with the Lord and being led by His Holy Spirit.

If you are a born-again believer and member of the Body of Christ, make this book a top reading priority.

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How to Find and Follow the Narrow Way

Dr. MaryAnn Diorio, Your Virtual Life Coach™

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines
the course of your life.” ~ Proverbs 4:23

Are you new to this blog? If so, what is the Matters of the Heart blog and why will it bless you to read it?

Matters of the Heart is a weekly blog that deals with the deepest issues of the human heart, the issues we all face but sometimes don’t want to talk about. The heart is the programming center of our lives. What is programmed into our heart will affect every area of our lives. Learn how to discover what is in your heart and how to program your heart for success.

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Did you know that by the end of Christ’s ministry, virtually all of His followers had left Him? Acts 1: 15 mentions only 120 in the Upper Room. First Corinthians 15: 6 mentions about 500 who still followed Him. What happened to the hundreds–and even thousands–who crowded in on Him as He traveled through the cities and villages?

Sadly, they had determined that the cost of following Jesus was too great. They preferred to return to their old lives and their own ways.

TwoRoadsInterestingly, wherever Jesus went, He presented the high cost of following Him. In fact, on the surface, it could seem that He wasn’t too keen on increasing the number of His followers. The truth was that He wanted to be perfectly honest with His hearers that following Him would not be easy. In fact, it would be very difficult. It would be like trying to go through a narrow gate and then walking, often trudging, on a rough, rugged, and rocky path for the rest of one’s earthly life. Were His listeners willing to pay that price?

Jesus wanted them to have a good idea ahead of time about what they would be getting into if they followed Him. He wanted them to know that the way would be challenging and lonely a good deal of the time. Did they love Him enough to choose that way despite the suffering it would bring? In Luke 14: 28, Jesus warned them—and us—to “count the cost” before assuming any undertaking, especially that of following Him.

He also explained how to enter the path that would lead to life with Him in His Kingdom: “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it”  (Matthew 7: 13-14).             

In this passage, Jesus talks about two gates and two ways. The narrow gate leads to the narrow way, and the wide gate leads to the wide way. The narrow gate opens onto the narrow way or path that leads to life. The wide gate opens onto the wide way or path that leads to death. Many find the wide gate and follow the wide way, but few find the narrow gate and follow the narrow way.

So, what is the difference between the two gates and the two paths? Let’s contrast them:

THE WIDE GATE AND THE WIDE PATH

—The wide gate is the gate that represents the gate of lies; for example, the lie that all paths lead to God. Most of the world chooses this gate because it sounds so reasonable. This gate allows one to enter it without repenting, without dying to self, without giving up sin. The wide way is the way of tolerance, inclusiveness, and political correctness.

—The wide gate opens onto the wide path. This is the easy path, the path that requires no sacrifice, no self-denial, no giving up of one’s will and one’s personal agenda to submit to God’s will and God’s agenda.

—The wide path is the path of least resistance. This path does not require giving up anything, most of all sin. The wide path is highly traveled because most people choose this path. They choose it because it does not require that they give up what they want for what God wants. The wide path allows them to do their own thing under the guise that they are free, open-minded, and tolerant. On the contrary, they are in bondage.

—The wide path has no baggage restrictions. In other words, one can bring anything one wants with him as he embarks upon this path: the lies he believes; the bad habits he has developed; the sin in which he continues to live; the selfish attitudes he has learned to embrace. Anything goes on this path.

THE NARROW GATE AND THE NARROW PATH

—The narrow gate, on the other hand, is the gate of Truth. The narrow gate represents the truth that there is only one way to be saved, and that way is through the Blood of Jesus Christ. In John 14: 6, Jesus said this about Himself: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”  In Acts 4: 12, the Apostle Peter emphasizes Christ’s words by saying that “there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

—-The narrow gate opens onto the narrow path. This is the difficult path, the path that demands total obedience to the Lord, self-sacrifice, self-denial, the surrender of one’s will and one’s personal agenda to the will of God and His agenda. When we choose to follow this path, we become willing slaves of Christ. Henceforth, we constrain ourselves to do only His bidding, not our own. We no longer have the option of sinning if we truly love Christ and are following Him on the narrow way. We no longer can call ourselves Christ-Followers yet continue to lie, cheat on our taxes, speak hurtful words, live with our boyfriend or girlfriend, get a divorce, have sex outside of marriage, commit adultery, gossip, approve of abortion or homosexuality, give in to anger, watch pornography or R-rated movies, take drugs, eat or drink too much, treat our neighbor unkindly, hold grudges, get offended, be bitter and unforgiving—and on and on and on.

—The narrow path allows no baggage. In other words, all sin—all personal ambition, materialism, and self-centeredness—must be left behind because the narrow path is difficult and such things would be an encumbrance.

—-The narrow path is the path of utmost resistance. It requires giving up everything that displeases the Lord. It is filled with thorns and thistles and all kinds of dangers. It requires wearing the whole armor of God, praying without ceasing, crucifying the flesh, and walking in total obedience to the Master. It demands continual pruning of our flesh–a process that is both painful yet purifying. The narrow way demands that we live in holiness and not contaminate ourselves with the world. It requires that we change our thinking to agree with God’s thinking. It demands that we make the Word of God the final authority in our lives, not our feelings or the word of man. It requires not leaning on our own understanding but trusting in Holy Spirit’s leading. The narrow path is sparsely traveled because few people are willing to pay the price to follow this path.

WHICH PATH ARE YOU ON?

How can you tell if you are on the narrow way? Here are some questions to ask yourself:

1) Am I depending on anyone or anything else to save me other than the Blood of Jesus Christ? Am I depending on my good works or the fact that I think I am a “good person” to get me to Heaven? Do I believe that all methods of salvation are valid and that all religions can lead to Heaven?

2) Am I living like the rest of the world, or am I different? Am I expecting to live any way I want and then ask God’s forgiveness at the last minute of my life? Do I believe that because God has not caught up with me yet because of my sin, that He will never catch up with me? That He is looking the other way?

3) Am I considered narrow-minded and intolerant by others, even by other church members?

4) Do I believe that a good God would not send anyone to hell?

5) Do I believe that truth is whatever I define it to be and that there is no absolute truth?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are not on the narrow way but on the wide way. What should you do? Turn around and go back to the two gates. Then choose the narrow gate that will lead to the narrow way. It will cost you much, but the reward of following the narrow way is the everlasting joy of being united with Christ for all eternity.

Jesus spoke the following sobering words in in Matthew 7: 21-23: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”

These are words none of us want to hear. But the only way not to hear them is to find and follow the narrow way.

Now, it’s YOUR turn:  Have you been deceived into thinking that you were on the narrow way to Heaven? If so, has this post changed your thinking? Please leave a comment in the box below.

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“How to Find and Follow the Narrow Way” by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio (CICK TO TWEET).

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How to Hold the Ground of Your Heart

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines
the course of your life.” ~ Proverbs 4:23
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Your heart has ground, and it is up to you to hold it.

grass island and soil

The ground of your heart is its foundation. As a follower of Yeshua, the foundation of your heart is Christ.

Satan will continually try to shake the foundation of your heart. He can shake you, but he cannot shake Christ in you.

As you yield to Christ in you, Satan cannot touch you.

If you have not made Christ the foundation of your heart, do so now. Only in this way will you become immovable in the face of adversity.

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When Being Tongue-Tied Is a Good Thing

Tips for Controlling Your Tongue

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines
the course of your life.” ~ Proverbs 4:23
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All of my life, I’ve struggled with controlling my tongue.  Coming from a family of very expressive Italians, I’ve tripped over my tongue so many times I can’t even count them. Along the way, I’ve learned a few tips for tying my tongue, aka thinking before I speak.  Allow me to share them with you.

Man with hand on mouth

1–Thoughts precede words. Every spoken word first was a thought. Perhaps not a conscious thought, but a thought, nonetheless. So, to control your tongue, you first have to control your thoughts.

2–You have control over your thoughts. What you think is up to you. Before I came to Christ, I did not know this. Learning this truth revolutionized my life. In Philippians 4:8, our LORD commands us to think good thoughts.  If He commands us to do something, He gives us the power to do it.

3–Your tongue controls your life. Like a bit in a horse’s mouth, the tongue directs the course of your life (James 3:6). If you want a good life, learn to control your tongue. How? By allowing Christ to speak through your tongue. When you are tempted to say something contrary to God’s Word, turn to Jesus within you and ask Him to speak words of life through your tongue.

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Email: drmaryann@maryanndiorio.com
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Tel. 856-488-3580
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Copyright 2015 by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be published or printed in any form whatsoever without the written permission of Dr. MaryAnn Diorio. You may contact her at drmaryann@maryanndiorio.com to request permission.

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Dr. Diorio is a Certified Life Coach, a Certified Biblical Counselor, and a Certified Behavioral Consultant. She is also an award-winning, widely published author of fiction for children and adults. You may reach her at maryann@maryanndiorio.com or via one of her social media venues below:

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How to Discover Your Unique, God-Given Dream in Life

Answer Two Simple Questions


“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines

the course of your life.” ~ Proverbs 4:23
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God created you with a built-in dream.  Your dream is your purpose.  It’s up to you to discover what your dream is.

 

What's Your Dream Concept

Fotolia: File: #78631377 | Author: Krasimira Nevenova

How will you recognize your dream? By answering two simple questions:

1) Does this activity give me great joy in the doing of it?

2) Do others give me feedback that this activity is blessing them?

When you can answer both of these questions affirmatively, you will have discovered your dream.

Once you have discovered your dream, it is your responsibility to follow it.

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