"THE PREPARATION OF THE HEART."
I. PREPARING YOUR HEART FOR THE LORD IS AN OFT USED PHRASE IN THE BIBLE.
A. Samuel called upon the people of Israel in 1 Samuel 7:3
, saying, "If you will return to the LORD with all your heart, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the LORD, and serve Him only: and He will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.
1. Ashtaroth was the sex goddess.
2. Things today are not too different from things in those days for people in our society seem to be obsessed with sex.
3. Last night on the news they reported that some schools in England are now giving school children from 11-years old and upward the morning after pill without notifying the parents.
4. The prophet Hosea said, "They have sown the wind and they shall reap the whirlwind."
B. David prayed in 1 Chronicles 29:17
, "I know also, my God, that You try the heart, and have pleasure in uprightness. As for me, in the uprightness of my heart I have willingly offered all these things: and now I see with joy Your people, who are gathered here, and offer willingly unto You. O LORD God of our fathers, keep this for ever in the thoughts and in the heart of Your people, and prepare their heart unto You:"
C. Concerning Rehoboam the son of Solomon we read in 2Chronicles 12:14
, "And he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the LORD."
D. The prophet Jehu came out to meet king Jehoshaphat in 2Chronicles 19:2
, "And said to king Jehoshaphat, Should you help the ungodly, and love them that hate the LORD? Because of this the wrath of the Lord is on you. Nevertheless there are good things found in you, in that you have taken away the groves or the playgrounds for sexual activity out of the land, and have prepared your heart to seek God.
E. In 2 Chronicles, Hezekiah prayed for the people saying: "The good LORD pardon every one that has prepared his heart to seek God."
F. In Psalm 10
David said: "LORD, You have heard the desire of the humble: You will prepare their heart, and will hear their prayer.
II. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO PREPARE YOUR HEART FOR THE LORD?
A. In Ephesians 3:17
, Paul said, "That Christ might settle down and make Himself at home in your heart."
1. If Jesus should call you and say that He was coming over to your house tonight for dinner, what kind of preparation would you make for Him?
a. Would you go through and toss out a lot of the magazines that are in your family room?
b. Would you try to hide a lot of the videos that you have?
c. Would you do your best to see that the house was spotless?
d. Those are the things that we should be doing to prepare our hearts for the Lord.
e. The prophet Samuel told the people to put away their false gods, and prepare their hearts for the Lord.
f. What if Jesus said that He had decided to move in for a while, would that make you feel uncomfortable?
g. He wants to move into your heart. What must you do to prepare for Him to move in?
2. Something to ponder, if Christ is dwelling in your heart, that means that He goes with you wherever you go. He participates in everything you do.
3. Paul wrote to the Corinthians 6:15: "Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of a prostitute? God forbid. Don't you realize that if you have sex with a prostitute you become one body with her? for God said that the two, shall be one flesh.
III. HOW DO I PREPARE MY HEART FOR THE LORD?
A. First of all through the reading and meditating on the word.
1. What a great way to cleanse my mind, to purify my heart.
a. David asked in PSA 119:9
, "How shall a young man cleanse his way?" He answered his own question saying: "by taking heed to the word."
b. Jesus said to His disciples, "Now you are clean through the word that I have spoken to you."
c. Paul wrote to the Ephesian believers of how Jesus loved the church and gave Himself for it that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.
B. Next we prepare our hearts through prayer and meditation.
1. We are told concerning Jesus in Luke 9:29
, "That as He prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and His raiment was white and glistening. Oh, the wonderful changes that take place in us when we pray.
2. As Jon would say, our lives are altered when we kneel at the altar. We need to live an altered life.
C. We prepare our hearts by not allowing filth to be planted in them.
1. Paul wrote to the Philippians, "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
2. He told the Corinthians to cast down imaginations, and every high thing that exalted itself against the knowledge of God, and bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
3. He told the Galatians not to be deceived for whatever a man sowed that he would also reap, and if we sowed to the flesh, of the flesh we would reap corruption, but if we sowed to the spirit, then of the Spirit we would reap life everlasting.
D. We prepare our hearts by putting off the old life, and beginning the new life.
1. To the Ephesians Paul wrote: "That you put off concerning your former manner of living the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness."
2. Paul instructed the Colossians in 3:1, "If you then are risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God. Set your affections on things above, not on the things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life shall appear, then shall we also appear with Him in glory. Therefore put to death the fleshly desires of your body such as fornication, sexual impurity, lust, evil desires and greed which is idolatry. The wrath of God is coming on the children of disobedience because of these things. You did these things when you were living a worldly life. But now also put off these things, anger, wrath, malice, cursing, and dirty jokes. Do not lie to one another, because you have put off that old life and its deeds, and you have put on the new man which has been renewed in the knowledge of Him who created him."
IV. EZRA PREPARED HIS HEART TO DO THREE THINGS.
A. Seek the law of the Lord.
1. In Psalm 1
, David speaks of the extreme happiness of the man who delights in the law of the Lord and meditates in it day and night. David said that he would be like a tree planted next to a river; his life would be fruitful, his leaf would not whither, and whatever he did would prosper.
2. The idea of seeking the law of the Lord, is that of seeking to obey the law of the Lord.
3. God has given glorious promises to those who would keep his law. In Leviticus 26:3
, "If you will walk in My statutes, and keep My commandments, and do them; Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and you shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely. And I will give peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and no one shall make you afraid: and I will rid evil beasts out of the land, neither shall the sword go through your land. And you shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword. And five of you shall chase an hundred, and an hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight: and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword. For I will have respect unto you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and establish
My covenant with you. And I will set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you. And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people."
4. No wonder Ezra wanted to prepare his heart to seek the law of the Lord.
B. He also wanted to prepare his heart to do the law of the Lord.
1. James said in 1:22, "Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves."
2. Paul wrote to the Romans in 2:13, "For not the hearers of the law are justified before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified."
3. Moses said to the people in DEU 5:1
, "Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I give to you this day, that you may learn them, keep them, and do them."
4. As we read today in Psalm 19
, "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting to the soul."
C. Ezra prepared his heart to teach in Israel the statutes and judgments.
1. Ezra knew that the only hope for a nation was to know and do the commandments of the Lord.
2. The prophet Micah wrote, "He has shown thee, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?"
3. Jesus said in Matthew 5:17
, "Don't think that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I have not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For I truly say to you, Until heaven and earth pass, not one jot or tittle shall pass from the law, until all is fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
4. We may not be called to teach the law of the Lord but we should prepare our hearts to seek and to do the law of the Lord. Jesus said that all of the law was fulfilled when we loved God supremely and our neighbor as ourselves.