©Joy Dunlap https://joydunlap.com

Did you know that some 36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolates are sold in the United States for Valentine’s Day?
Have you ever squished, or maybe sampled, one of the goodies inside only to find it wasn’t the specific one – or that sweet one – you were hoping to find? Well, some messages God shares about the heart don’t go down so smoothly either. Warnings and admonitions are added in with the ones that make us smile, but even these heart tugs are a sign of God’s deep abiding love for us.

Let’s open the box (i.e. The Book) and sample a few.

Keep Memories Close
When we remember God’s faithfulness, compassion and love for us in the past, it helps us trust Him for the future and the present. When life is going well, we sometimes set God aside. Conversely, when we’re faced with difficulties, disappointments and discouragement, anger or fear may arise.

Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Deuteronomy 4:9 NIV

Heart Jolt: Jot down 3 ways God has demonstrated His love and faithfulness for you when you needed Him.

Seek God Sincerely
The world and its offerings are enticing. False gods or material pursuits can captivate us and distract us from the blessings found in a thriving relationship with the Lord. If we focus on getting to know the character, the promises and the love of God, we will discover why He is worthy of worship.

There you will worship man-made gods of wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or eat or smell. But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. Deuteronomy 4:28-29 NIV

Heart Jolt: Ask God to reveal Himself to you in a real and personal way. Read (or read again) the book of John from the Bible as you pray.

Give Genuinely
The hand can help, but the heart can change lives and the world.
Giving genuinely means first caring and then sharing.
Not because it’s a tax deduction. Not because our name shows up on a list. Not because our friends are doing it or it’s politically correct. Not because we expect anything.

Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. Deuteronomy 15:10 NIV

Heart Jolt: Identify what group among those most needy passionately stirs your heart. Ask “Do I genuinely love them?” and “How do I show it?”

Stop being Stubborn
Evil hearts demand their own way. But God knows His way is the real path to fulfillment, peace and joy. The journey will be more difficult and will take longer when we close our hearts to His directions. Whether we go forward in faith or backwards as we refuse to follow his directions is ultimately our choice.

But I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you. But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts. They went backward and not forward. Jeremiah 7:23-24 NIV

Heart Jolt: Examine what ways you may currently be resisting God’s direction. Pray about His path for you.

Open Your Heart
When a plastic Valentine’s heart is difficult to pry open, or a gift box is tightly sealed in cellophane, the delicious candy inside remains more difficult to access. Likewise, hard hearts create a barrier to us feeling the love of the Lord and hearing His voice.
Difficult times or unmet personal desires can cause us to turn towards God or away from Him. If our prayers don’t get answered the way we want them, we may get angry or begin to doubt God. If we don’t get what we think we should in our own timeframe, we may get frustrated and tired of waiting. Anger and frustration can lead to rebellion against God – and put a “Don’t Open” wrapper around our hearts.

So, as the Holy Spirit says:
“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness, where your ancestors tested and tried me, though for forty years they saw what I did.” Hebrews 3:7-9 NIV

Heart Jolt: Ask God to reveal any unresolved anger or lack of faith you may be harboring. Address it and give it to God. He knows anyway.

God loves us and wants us to live an abundant life. A sinful heart, a stubborn heart and a selfish heart can keep us away from all the goodness He offers.

What kind of heart do I have for God right now? Is it full of sweetness? Or is it surrounded by a hard shell?

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21 NIV

Life is Better When It’s Full – Joy-full, Thank-full, Purpose-full and Friend-full! ™

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