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Summary: The ingredients of life come into us and flow out from us through various avenues. Three of them are given special attention here; the mouth, the eyes, and the feet. All of these streams of life come from one fountain, the heart.

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PROVERBS 4: 20-27

GUARD YOUR HEART

[1 Timothy 4: 8]

Ever try painting a room without spattering paint on yourself? Or playing ball without getting dirty? Or washing the car without getting wet? It's hard, isn't it? How about staying pure and undefiled living life among sinners and not getting spotted (Jas 1:27). How can you do it?

The ingredients of life come into us and flow out from us through various channels. Three of them are given special attention here; the mouth, the eyes, and the feet. All of these streams of life come from one fountain, the heart. The godly life, and even the disciplined life, begins with the heart. The heart is where concentrated effort needs to be given. Eventually the mouth, eyes, and feet will reveal what is in the heart. If we will carefully observe ourselves, it is not difficult to find where we need to place additional attention.

I. FINDING LIFE AND HEALTH, 20-22.

II. THE SPRING OF LIFE, 23-27.

This is a wonderful paragraph for us to use for a personal spiritual inventory to see if we are really living in obedience to God. Verse 20 begins this section with the wisest of father's commanding his beloved son's total attention and concentration. My Son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings.

Whatever enters my ear has opportunity to influence my mind, my heart and my decisions, so I'd best be careful what I listen to. We must listen for God's Voice if we would hear words of eternal wisdom. Words of wisdom are God's vehicles to transport divine counsel to us. The reception and action upon God's wisdom by man is thus essential to our earthy and eternal well-being.

The first method of gaining God's words of wisdom is given in verse 20. There must be an attentive mind and ear. What worth are words of divine wisdom to us if we are inattentive or if our ear is tuned to worldly sounds or other stations of input? To the man that has turned a deaf ear even the most precious and sublime message makes no impression.

[WORKING AT LISTENING] Do you want to learn to listen? Here is a plan.

1) Start with the determination that nothing is going to stop you. Like the naval message, tell yourself, "Now hear this."

2) Overcome your listening inertia. Remember you have a natural tendency not to listen. You must determined to focus and pay attention.

3) Concentrate; give your undivided attention to whoever is speaking. Watch the way the subject then begins to open up to you.

4) Fight distractions. Refuse to pay attention to movement or sounds that prevent you from listening.

5) Don't let prejudices or emotional reactions get in the way. The speaker may be saying something that you need to hear even though it goes against your generally accepted ideas. Hear the conversation before judging it.

A good listener is relaxed. He leans slightly forward the speaker, his eyes focused on him, in an interested coaxing manner. Every aspect of the listening one says, "Tell me more."

Watch your speaker improve as he becomes aware that people are paying attention, wanting to hear. You'll see him drop his defenses and his confidence will become more apparent.


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