Day 16

The Overflow of the Heart

Wisdom Proverbs 2:1-11
New Testament Matthew 12:22-45
Old Testament Genesis 32:1-33:20


For many years I wanted to meet the great evangelist Billy Graham (1918–2018). I felt deeply honoured when I discovered he was following me on Twitter! Of course, I followed back! He is one of my heroes of the faith. He spoke to more people about Jesus than anyone else in human history.

I heard Billy Graham speak many, many times. Every single time I listened to him, I felt inspired. He said that before he spoke he liked to fill his heart. He would prepare enough material for five talks so that he could speak ‘out of the overflow’.

According to Jesus, the heart really matters: ‘… out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks’ (Matthew 12:34). How do you store up good things in your heart?


Proverbs 2:1-11

Moral Benefits of Wisdom

  2 My son, if you accept my words
   and store up my commands within you,
  2 turning your ear to wisdom
   and applying your heart to understanding —
  3 indeed, if you call out for insight
   and cry aloud for understanding,
  4 and if you look for it as for silver
   and search for it as for hidden treasure,
  5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord
   and find the knowledge of God.
  6 For the Lord gives wisdom;
   from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
  7 He holds success in store for the upright,
   he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,
  8 for he guards the course of the just
   and protects the way of his faithful ones.

  9 Then you will understand what is right and just
   and fair—every good path.
  10 For wisdom will enter your heart,
   and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
  11 Discretion will protect you,
   and understanding will guard you.


Store up God’s word in your heart

Do you long to know God better? Would you like to be wiser, more skilful and to have more knowledge and understanding?

Make a lifelong, daily habit of reading God’s word. The writer of Proverbs urges, ‘store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding… For wisdom will enter your heart’ (vv.1–2,10).

  1. What do you need to do?

    ‘Store up’ God’s words within you (v.1). You need to ‘accept’ (v.1), listen and apply (v.2), ‘call out’ (v.3) and ‘search’ (v.4). ‘Searching for it like a prospector panning for gold, like an adventurer on a treasure hunt’ (v.4, MSG). This takes time and commitment. Don’t just prioritise your schedule; schedule your priorities. Set aside a regular time to read the Bible and schedule it as a top priority.

  2. What does God promise if you do this?

    You will ‘find the knowledge of God’ (v.5). ‘God gives out Wisdom free’ (v.6, MSG). Because of God’s character he ‘gives wisdom’ and ‘understanding’ (v.6), ‘victory’ (v.7), protection (v.8) and ‘discretion’ (v.11). He promises that God will ‘keep his eye on’ you (v.8, MSG) and ‘protect you, and… guard you’ (vv.8,11).


Lord, help me to continue to spend time with you each day and to apply the teachings of the Bible to my life.

New Testament

Matthew 12:22-45

Jesus and Beelzebul

22 Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. 23 All the people were astonished and said, “Could this be the Son of David?”

24 But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.”

25 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. 26 If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? 27 And if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

29 “Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can plunder his house.

30 “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. 31 And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

33 “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 35 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36 But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

The Sign of Jonah

38 Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.”

39 He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here. 42 The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now something greater than Solomon is here.

43 “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. 45 Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”


Go on being filled with the Holy Spirit

The words you speak really matter. Joyce Meyer writes, ‘Every word we speak can either be a brick to build or a bulldozer to destroy.’ Whatever is stored up in your heart will sooner or later be expressed by your words. Be careful what you look at, read and think about. Fill your heart with good things and you will think good thoughts, speak good words and bear good fruit (v.33).

Jesus says, ‘… out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. Good people bring good things out of the good stored up in them, and evil people bring evil things out of the evil stored up in them’ (vv.34–35).

You cannot change your thought patterns on your own. You need the help of the Holy Spirit – filling your heart with his love and good fruit.

Jesus says that every sin will be forgiven except for blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (vv.30–32). Sometimes people worry that they have committed the ‘unforgivable sin’. However, if you are worried about it, it is almost certain you have not committed it. There is no sin that cannot be forgiven if you repent and ask God’s forgiveness. The only ‘unforgivable sin’ is to refuse to repent and turn to Christ, resisting his Holy Spirit throughout your life.

The Pharisees and teachers of the law may have been in danger since they attribute Jesus’ healing power to the prince of demons (vv.22–24). They have already seen plenty of miraculous signs from Jesus, but they refuse to acknowledge that Jesus’ power is the work of the Holy Spirit. When they say to Jesus, ‘How about a miracle?’ (v.38, MSG), it is as though they are putting Jesus under cross-examination.

However, Jesus’ reply turns the tables on them. Comparing himself with the Old Testament prophet Jonah, Jesus is referring to what would soon take place – his death and resurrection three days later (vv.39–40). The resurrection of Jesus is the ultimate sign of his identity.

Jesus gives two case studies from the Old Testament to show that the Pharisees already have enough evidence. First, when Jonah preached to the Ninevites they changed their lives. Jesus is greater than Jonah. Second, the Queen of Sheba recognised the wisdom of Solomon. Jesus’ wisdom is greater than that of Solomon. They, and we, need no more evidence.

Jesus uses a description of how evil spirits work to warn of the danger of turning back to our old lives having cleaned up ‘the house’. Jesus warns that when people return to their old sin, they often do so even more excessively (v.43 onwards), and that ‘the final condition – is worse than the first’ (v.45).

It is the Holy Spirit who gets rid of the demonic powers (v.28). Fight a daily battle to resist evil and ask to be filled with the Holy Spirit. The test of whether your heart is good is what comes out of your mouth. It is out of the ‘overflow of the heart that the mouth speaks’ (v.34).

Jesus says to them, ‘You have minds like a snake pit! How do you suppose what you say is worth anything when you are so foul-minded? It’s your heart, not the dictionary, that gives meaning to your words’ (v.34, MSG). The way to make sure that you say the right things is to make sure your heart is full of the Holy Spirit.


Lord, help me to fill my heart constantly with good things and guard it from evil. I pray today that you would again fill me with the Holy Spirit.

Old Testament

Genesis 32:1-33:20

Jacob Prepares to Meet Esau

32 Jacob also went on his way, and the angels of God met him. 2 When Jacob saw them, he said, “This is the camp of God!” So he named that place Mahanaim.

3 Jacob sent messengers ahead of him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom. 4 He instructed them: “This is what you are to say to my lord Esau: ‘Your servant Jacob says, I have been staying with Laban and have remained there till now. 5 I have cattle and donkeys, sheep and goats, male and female servants. Now I am sending this message to my lord, that I may find favour in your eyes. ’”

6 When the messengers returned to Jacob, they said, “We went to your brother Esau, and now he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.”

7 In great fear and distress Jacob divided the people who were with him into two groups, and the flocks and herds and camels as well. 8 He thought, “If Esau comes and attacks one group, the group that is left may escape.”

9 Then Jacob prayed, “O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, Lord, you who said to me, ‘Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper,’ 10 I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan, but now I have become two camps. 11 Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children. 12 But you have said, ‘I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted. ’”

13 He spent the night there, and from what he had with him he selected a gift for his brother Esau: 14 two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, 15 thirty female camels with their young, forty cows and ten bulls, and twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys. 16 He put them in the care of his servants, each herd by itself, and said to his servants, “Go ahead of me, and keep some space between the herds.”

17 He instructed the one in the lead: “When my brother Esau meets you and asks, ‘Who do you belong to, and where are you going, and who owns all these animals in front of you?’ 18 then you are to say, ‘They belong to your servant Jacob. They are a gift sent to my lord Esau, and he is coming behind us.’”

19 He also instructed the second, the third and all the others who followed the herds: “You are to say the same thing to Esau when you meet him. 20 And be sure to say, ‘Your servant Jacob is coming behind us.’” For he thought, “I will pacify him with these gifts I am sending on ahead; later, when I see him, perhaps he will receive me.” 21 So Jacob’s gifts went on ahead of him, but he himself spent the night in the camp.

Jacob Wrestles With God

22 That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. 24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”

But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

27 The man asked him, “What is your name?”

“Jacob,” he answered.

28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”

29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”

But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.

30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”

31 The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon.

Jacob Meets Esau

33 Jacob looked up and there was Esau, coming with his four hundred men; so he divided the children among Leah, Rachel and the two female servants. 2 He put the female servants and their children in front, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph in the rear. 3 He himself went on ahead and bowed down to the ground seven times as he approached his brother.

4 But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept. 5 Then Esau looked up and saw the women and children. “Who are these with you?” he asked.

Jacob answered, “They are the children God has graciously given your servant. ”

6 Then the female servants and their children approached and bowed down. 7 Next, Leah and her children came and bowed down. Last of all came Joseph and Rachel, and they too bowed down.

8 Esau asked, “What’s the meaning of all these flocks and herds I met?”

“To find favour in your eyes, my lord,” he said.

9 But Esau said, “I already have plenty, my brother. Keep what you have for yourself.”

10 “No, please!” said Jacob. “If I have found favour in your eyes, accept this gift from me. For to see your face is like seeing the face of God, now that you have received me favourably. 11 Please accept the present that was brought to you, for God has been gracious to me and I have all I need.” And because Jacob insisted, Esau accepted it.

12 Then Esau said, “Let us be on our way; I’ll accompany you.”

13 But Jacob said to him, “My lord knows that the children are tender and that I must care for the ewes and cows that are nursing their young. If they are driven hard just one day, all the animals will die. 14 So let my lord go on ahead of his servant, while I move along slowly at the pace of the flocks and herds before me and the pace of the children, until I come to my lord in Seir. ”

15 Esau said, “Then let me leave some of my men with you.”

“But why do that?” Jacob asked. “Just let me find favour in the eyes of my lord.”

16 So that day Esau started on his way back to Seir. 17 Jacob, however, went to Sukkoth, where he built a place for himself and made shelters for his livestock. That is why the place is called Sukkoth.

18 After Jacob came from Paddan Aram, he arrived safely at the city of Shechem in Canaan and camped within sight of the city. 19 For a hundred pieces of silver, he bought from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem, the plot of ground where he pitched his tent. 20 There he set up an altar and called it El Elohe Israel.


Wrestle with God in prayer

Are you facing a major fear or worry in your life?

Jacob faced a very worrying situation. He had fallen out with his brother Esau, and feared that Esau might be out to get him. He was in ‘great fear and distress’ (32:7).

Jacob was a man of prayer – in spite of all his sin, he knew God. He recognised his own unworthiness: ‘I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant’ (v.10).

He prayed, believed and claimed the promise of God: ‘Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau – you have said, “I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea which cannot be counted”’ (vv.11–12). His prayer was answered – more than he could have even imagined.

Prayer is not always straightforward. Sometimes it seems, like Jacob, that we have to wrestle with God (32:22–32; Colossians 4:12). It can be costly in terms of time and energy. This requires determination. Jacob said to God, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me’ (Genesis 32:26), and we are told that from then on he walked with a limp (v.31).

Probably the nearest New Testament equivalent is the apostle Paul’s ‘thorn in the flesh’ (2 Corinthians 12:7), which he asked God to remove three times. Your weaknesses and vulnerabilities do not stop God using you. In fact, God often uses our weaknesses more than our strengths. God did not remove Paul’s thorn in the flesh. Rather he said, ‘my power is made perfect in weakness’ (v.8).

Perhaps you feel you have a ‘thorn in the flesh’ or you seem to be ‘walking with a limp’: you have some vulnerability or apparent handicap. Jackie Pullinger says she never trusts anyone who doesn’t walk with a limp! It is often through the difficulties, disappointments and struggles that our hearts are changed. We see a transformation in Jacob after he has wrestled with God. His attitude to his brother is totally transformed (Genesis 33).

After the victory had been achieved in prayer, everything seemed to fall into place. There was a wonderful reunion and reconciliation: ‘Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept’ (v.4).

Their attitude to each other had totally changed. Esau says, ‘I already have plenty, my brother. Keep what you have for yourself’ (v.9).

Jacob replies, ‘No, please!… If I have found favour in your eyes, accept this gift from me. For to see your face is like seeing the face of God, now that you have received me favourably. Please accept the present that was brought to you, for God has been gracious to me and I have all I need’ (vv.10–11).


Lord, thank you that you are a God who answers prayer. Help us to wrestle in prayer like Jacob. Lord, I pray that you would bring reconciliation in all my relationships with my brothers and sisters in Christ. May my mouth speak out of the overflow of my heart.

Pippa adds

In Genesis 32, we see that Jacob’s relationships with his parents, father-in-law and brother had been far from perfect. Yet through it all we see God’s love and provision for them. After he wrestled with God in prayer, we see a new humility in Jacob. For the first time, we read of him wanting to give instead of just taking.



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Joyce Meyer, Love Out Loud (Hodder & Stoughton, 2011)

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.

Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

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