November 7

Proverbs 4:23 (NIV) 23Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

You can guard your wealth, your family, your friends, and many things, but if you do not guard your heart, you are in danger of losing everything valuable to you. The desires that you allow your heart to be set upon will direct the course of your life. If it is set upon the temporal, you will lose all that is eternal in the pursuit of the temporal. The things will end up enslaving you. Proverbs 5:22 (NIV) The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him; the cords of his sin hold him fast.

Lust for the physical will always demand more. The first satisfaction soon wears off, and a greater indulgence is then required to get that initial feeling. Eventually the world can see your enslavement, though you think you have hidden it from others. It is a meaningless existence.

But for those who have set their heart upon the eternal, life is always increasing in significance. Instead of being mastered, they are mastering their heart and going after the things that will end in blessing and peace. There is no need to hide what is in their heart. They share it freely with all, and others are blessed by it. Though they may not have the abundance of some, they thoroughly enjoy what they do have and share that enjoyment with genuine friends. Their life increases in richness and value as they grow spiritually. They look forward, with longing, to eternity with the God they have set their heart upon.

Here are two totally different ways of life decided by one thing, where the heart is set. Where is your heart set? Guard it with all diligence. The temptation to turn toward the temporal is ever present.

Meditation: Keep your eye on the goal and fix your heart there.

November 7

Titus 1:5-7 (NIV) 5The reason I left you in Crete was that you might straighten out what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you. 6An elder must be blameless, the husband of but one wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. 7Since an overseer is entrusted with God's work, he must be blameless–not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain.

This is the beginning of the list of the qualifications of an elder. Another list can be found in 1 Timothy 3. The first century church did not have a single man that led the local congregation, but a group of elders. Notice that in the above passage elders is plural, but town is singular. The Christians in each city, even though they may have met in several different homes, were considered the church of that city. Paul, Timothy, Titus, or one of the other church planters appointed the men who met the qualifications and were called of God as elders.

We have an example of how they functioned in the first verses of Acts 13. Instead of having "board meetings", they met together in prayer and fasting. As they worshipped, they sought God's heart. Though some individuals may have led out, the head of the meeting was the Lord Jesus through the Holy Spirit. They were following the pattern of the synagogue worship that they came out of. Those who had an understanding of God's word were given opportunity to speak. It wasn't always assigned to one man. The word elder, overseer, and shepherd/pastor were interchangeable in the first century. (Acts 20) Together they oversaw the flock of God under the Great Shepherd. They may not have all had the gift of preaching and teaching, but they were all pastors who were ready to share God's word.

This is why the qualifications of an elder are important enough for us to have twice in Scripture. Though the interpretation varies among groups, we can see that the standard of an elder is very high for a reason. They should not be elected in a popularity contest but appointed because of their reputation as men that live and teach God's word while looking out for God's sheep.

Consider: These are qualities that every Christian man and woman should allow the Holy Spirit to express in their lives.