If you don’t prepare, you will permit a pack of problems.
When Catherine and I were first married, we decided along with my brother to go on a canoeing/camping trip. It started as a canoeing trip, but we also wanted to camp. What we wanted was a two-day canoe trip where we could camp half way. The issue that arose was that the canoe outfitter did not have any such trip. So, we made our own; We received permission from the outfitter to pick a spot along the creek bank that we could camp. It was accessible by car, so we set up camp first and then embarked on our canoe “adventure.” We only canoed downstream for an hour or so, then set up camp. We thought that we were prepared to camp, but as it turns out not so much. It first became clear that we didn’t thoroughly prepare when we realized that we didn’t properly “prepare” the female portion of our trip that there would not be any facilities. We had to make our own. Next, we were confronted with the task of finding suitable wood to create a fire, so that we could keep warm and cook our meal. David (my brother) found an area not too far away that we could get some firewood. It was an area that had been cut down previously and had small twigs as well as some bigger pieces that we could burn. We had prepared ourselves for the task of cutting wood, by bringing along a hatchet. So, there we were, tents up, a fire started, all was going well. Then, for a reason that I am still (26 yrs. later) not sure of, Catherine somehow stepped (barefooted) right into the fire! Well as you can imagine this was not a planned event, and we were not prepared for any such thing to happen. For instance, we did not have any, and I mean any first aid supplies. As I mentioned earlier, our campsite was accessible by car, and we had a car there; so, we could find a store in the area that we could purchase some first aid supplies. Luckily, she wasn’t burnt bad just scared. We called it a night so that we could get an early start on the rest of the canoe trip the next morning. When morning arrived, we decided to cut a little more wood to heat up some breakfast and coffee. I went to the area to chop up some small kindling to get the fire going, and that is when I realized what a mistake that I had made….
…There was a bee’s nest in that woodpile, and I suppose they were not active the night before, but now in the morning, they were alert and ready to attack. And that is exactly what they did. I had to run into the creek to get them off me. We decided to forgo the breakfast and just start on our canoe trip down the creek.
If you don’t prepare, you will permit a pack of problems
For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.
Ezra prepared his heart:
He prepared his heart to:
- Seek the Law of the Lord
- To do what it says
- To teach those statutes and judgments to others
We will discuss these in more detail later, but first, let’s define the word Prepare. To prepare means: fitted; adapted; made suitable; made ready; provided.
If you don’t intentionally prepare, you will not, Seek the Law of the Lord, or do what it says, and therefore, surely will not bother to teach it to others. In 2 Chronicles 12:14 we see what is says of Rehoboam “And he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the LORD.” and in Isaiah 29:13 ” Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: ” we see that the issue was that the people were only giving God lip service, while their hearts were far from him. God is interested in your Heart.
How do you prepare your heart?
Here are three ways that you can employ to prepare your heart for the Lord’s service:
First, you need to Fix your heart and commit to what you will do when temptation comes. To fix something is to settle or establish it. You need to establish what you will or will not do before the situation arises that causes you to need to make that decision. We see in Psalm 57:7 that David said: “My heart is fixed,3 O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise.” David “fixed” his heart ahead of time on what he would or would not do. He wrote this at the time when he was fleeing from the persecution of Saul (King of Israel). David was running and hiding from Saul, but had two distinct opportunities to kill Saul. In 1 Samuel 24:4-7 we see an instance where Saul was exposed, and David was able to get close enough to cut the hem of his garment but refrained from doing Saul any harm. Again, in 1 Samuel 26:8-11 David had the opportunity and was encouraged by his men, to kill Saul in his sleep, but he would not touch “the Lords Anointed” nor would he allow anyone else to harm Saul. See also:
- Psalm 108:1
- Psalm 112:7
- Proverbs 23:12
The next step to take to prepare your heart is to Humble yourself to the Lord’s will. LORD, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear: – Psalm 10:17. We need to humble ourselves and place the will of the Lord above our will. In 1 Peter 5:6 we are told that if we humble ourselves, then God will exalt us in due time. In James 4:6-10 we see that humbling ourselves is connected to purifying our hearts. We need to draw near to the Lord with a true heart.
Thirdly, we need to Remember what the Lord has already done for us. This will help you to reaffirm your stand that you made in the Fix your heart step above. O LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, our fathers, keep this forever in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart of thy people, and prepare their heart unto thee: – 1 Chronicles 29:18. Remembering what the Lord has done for you is a critical step to preparing your heart. After all we know that we could never number the benefits that we have received from the Lord (Psalm 40:5), because he loads us with these benefits on a daily basis (Psalm 68:19) he isn’t just going to give us benefits one day when we get to heaven, but right now, every single day he loads us with benefits. The idea is that he just doesn’t give us a little here or a little there but is loading us down on a daily basis. Again we see in Psalm 103:2 that we are cautioned not to forget all of these benefits. It is easy to start taking these benefits for granite, guard yourself against that tendency. And again in Psalm 116:12 we are reminded that we could never repay God for any let alone all of the benefits that he has showered upon us.
Let’s take a closer look at the word prepare. Here is an acronym to put what it means to prepare in perspective:
P = Prevent – make plans to prevent problems from arising
R = Reaffirm – Know where you stand (in knowledge and convictions)
E = Evaluate – Know your level of risk
P = Provide – Provide interventions based on your risk level
A = and
R = Respond – Respond to your shortcomings
E = Examine – Review the effectiveness of your plan and make necessary adjustments
Earlier, we mentioned the three things that Ezra prepared his heart to do. We will now take the time to look at these three things in more detail.
First, Ezra prepared his heart to Seek the Law of the Lord. That is to say that he wanted to be sure that he knew the Scriptures and that he Studied those Scriptures (2 Timothy 1:5, 3:14). To seek the law of the Lord, you need to be sure that you know where to find the Scriptures. Ezra was sure (Ezra 7:6). Ezra was a good scribe. After reading Matthew 23:13-15 you may come to the conclusion that all scribes were bad, but that is not accurate. There were some good scribes as well. Ezra was a good scribe, as was Baruch (Jeremiah 36:26-32). Jeremiah also had contact with a bad scribe, Jonathan (Jeremiah 37:15-20). What’s the point? The point is that there have been two sets of Bibles from the beginning. One set begins at Antioch of Syria where the Disciples were first called Christians (Acts 11:26) and where the first Missionary trip was commissioned (Acts 13:1-4). This line of Bibles ends with the AV1611 King James Bible. The other Line of Bibles begins at Alexandria Egypt. Egypt is used as a type of the World throughout the Scriptures and is used as a bad example (Revelation 11:8). The Alexandrian Line also comes through a Man by the name of Origen who didn’t believe that much of the Bible was literal and instead allegorized much of it. This Alexandrian Line also includes the manuscripts of Vaticanus and Sinaiticus which were discarded and hidden for over 1500 years and disagree with on another in over 3000 places in the gospels alone. This line ends with all modern versions of the Bible that we have today.
You need to follow the line of Bibles that God has blessed, which is the one that comes from Antioch and ends with the King James Bible. Once it is settled as to what the Scriptures are and where you can find them, it is time to move to the next step in preparing your heart.
The next step in preparing your heart is To Do what it (Gods Word) says to do (Joshua 1:8). In James 1:22-25 we are told that are to be doers of the Word and not hearers only. I would challenge you to ask yourself these three questions in the regard:
- Do I live it?
- Does it work?
- What difference has it made?
The third step in preparing your heart is To Teach the statutes and judgments to others. This means that we are to share Gods Word with others. We are called to be Ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20) Ambassadors are representatives of their homeland to a foreign one. This world is not our home; we are pilgrims and strangers in it. Our home is heaven where we are seated in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6) but are left here to be representatives for him. We are, therefore, called always to be ready to share our hope with those that we com into contact with (1 Peter 3:15). We don’t just share this hope as a matter of obligation but rather because we are passionate about it. We are also called to teach the next generation these truths (Psalm 78:1-7). It is our responsibility to teach our children; this is not to be left up to others.
In summary, we must prepare our hearts to:
- Study the Word of God
- Practice the precepts found in the Word of God
- Share the statutes and judgments that are found in the Word of God.
It won’t happen unless we Prepare. Flying by the seat of our pants and just handling things as they come up, just will not do! We can not have the attitude that we will cross that bridge when we come to it, but rather need to decide now (fix) what we will do.
If you don’t prepare, you will permit a pack of problems.