Greetings in the Beloved,
In meditating on the heart this month, the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) brought to mind a principle that has undergirded our spiritual lives since our early days as Messianic believers: Preparation of the heart, especially preparing our heart to agree with God.
There are two aspects to preparation of the heart. The first is the preparation that God does. The second is the preparation that we do. Psalm 10:17 is a key verse of Scripture concerning God’s role: “LORD, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will prepare (ta-KEEN) their heart; You will cause Your ear to hear.” The Amplified Bible says that God will “prepare and strengthen and direct” our hearts. God does this work of preparation in our hearts when we humble ourselves before Him, confess our great need of Him, and desire to do His will.
Preparation of the heart is an ongoing process. It involves holding our heart out before the Lord, with an attitude of desiring to please Him in all areas of our life. It also involves accepting the inevitability of change in our lives, saying to God: “Prepare my heart, Lord, for what You have in store for me. I trust that any change initiated by You is for the better, no matter how it appears at the time. Help me to yield to Your plans for my life, which are always good and full of hope.” (By the way, we find it helpful to focus on yielding to God’s will whenever we slow down at a YIELD sign.)
We, as disciples of the Master, also have a definite role in preparing our hearts. Proverbs 16:1 addresses this, “The preparations of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.” To prepare is to set in order (b’seder in Hebrew), to get ready, make oneself ready. For believers, intent on following Yeshua, we must PREPARE OUR HEART TO AGREE WITH GOD, as opposed to getting God to agree with what we have already decided to do!
We prepared our hearts to agree with God when we…left our families in New York to follow the LORD to Florida before we met the Messiah…opened our home on the beach to over 65 people over 11 years…began a Messianic Synagogue when we didn’t know what one was…began a television ministry when we didn’t own a television set…entered a new season of life as condo-dwellers…and much more! Amazing things can happen when we abandon our plans, and prepare our hearts to agree with God’s plans. He has better, higher, and at times, very surprising things prepared for His children!
A Heart Prepared to Welcome Messiah
One of Jamie’s favorite teachings is about Miriam’s (Mary’s) heart—a heart prepared to receive the Messiah. Many of you sang the words, “Let every heart prepare Him room, and heaven and nature sing…” during the holiday season. An important part of the preparation of the heart is to make room in our heart and life for Yeshua. If all the rooms of our heart are already filled, with “stuff,” whatever this stuff may be, there is no room for Him. We need to prepare for Messiah’s second coming in the way that Miriam prepared for His first coming— 1) Allowing God to prepare the soil of our heart so that the Seed (Yeshua) can be planted there, 2) trusting in the Lord with all our heart, 3) confessing as Miriam did, “Let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38), and 4) acknowledging the greatness, the holiness, the mercy, the strength, and the faithfulness of God our Savior, who is Worthy to be praised. (See Luke 1:46-55.)
A heart prepared for Yeshua’s return is a heart prepared to know God, enjoy Him, and love Him always. A prepared heart is an undivided heart. The psalmist wrote, “Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name.” (Psalm 86:11). A prepared heart has an upward focus: “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Colossians 3:2). A prepared heart is a heart full of faith (Hebrews 11:6), filled with songs of deliverance (Psalms 32:7).
A Supernatully Prepared Heart
God gave us an example of a supernaturally prepared heart in an unexpected way—not through a man, but a horse. Have you ever heard of Secretariat? It is said of Secretariat that he “ran the greatest race ever run.” This refers to the 1973 Belmont Stakes in which he ran an overwhelming 31 length victory. This feat had never before nor since been achieved.
After Secretariat’s death an autopsy was performed, and the mystery of this great champion was revealed. The veterinarians discovered that Secretariat had a healthy heart 2 1/2 times larger than the average. It weighed an astonishing 22 pounds. It has been said that Secretariat ran the greatest race ever run because he had a “supernaturally prepared heart,” giving him greater capacity!
Abba, give us a heart like Secretariat! Prepare our hearts supernaturally so that we can “…lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1). May we have an enlarged heart for God, a greater capacity for Him, for His love, mercy, and grace. Perhaps that was King David’s secret. God called him a “man after His own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14), ish k’levavoh (eesh k’lay vah VOH). David may have had a supernaturally enlarged heart like Secretariat! Consider what he said in Psalm 119:32, “I will run the course of Your commandments, for You shall enlarge my heart.” David believed for an enlarged heart! Let’s ask God to do the same for us in 2016!
Preparation through Repentance
A heart prepared to agree with God is a heart quick to repent (which again is like King David’s heart). Our God says through the Prophet Jeremiah, “Then I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the LORD; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to Me with their whole heart.” (Jeremiah 24:7).The Hebrew word for “return” in this verse is שבו, sha-VOO, a form of the verb “repent.”
One aspect of preparing the heart through repentance is allowing the Ruach HaKodesh to search our heart, and point out any idols that might be there. Our God is a Jealous God קנא אל (El kah- NAH) (Exodus 34:14). He wants to have first place in our heart. When we repent of our idols, and forsake them in deference to Him, He blesses us with victory over our enemies. (And sometimes we are our worst enemy!) An example of God’s dealing in this way is the account in 1 Samuel 4-6 of the Ark of the Covenant that had been captured by the Philistines. The Holy Ark was the place where the Ruach HaKodesh resided in the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle and later in the Temple. After the Philistines sent it back to Israel, it stayed for 20 years in Kiryath Jearim. During this time, the Israelites worshiped other gods and continued to have struggles with the Philistines. One day, Samuel, the judge, spoke to the nation: “If you return to the LORD with all your hearts, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths from among you, and prepare your hearts for the LORD, and serve Him only; He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines.” (1 Samuel 7:3).
You are the ark today. The Spirit of God resides in you. Still struggling with Philistines? Pray along with King David, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalms 139:23-24). Repent. Return. Prepare your heart for the LORD, to serve Him only. He will deliver you. Victory is yours in 2016!
God wants our whole heart. With God it’s always about the heart! We have mentioned before that the first Hebrew letter in the Torah is bet and the last is lamed. Together these letters spell lev or heart in Hebrew. The entire Torah is about the heart—God’s heart reaching out to man, preparing man’s heart for salvation. He continues the process of preparing the heart of His children, so that we might be conformed to the image of His Son, a bride prepared for a Bridegroom.
Preparation through Pruning
If we are open to the Ruach, the preparation of our heart is part of our everyday walk with the Lord. Since we have been chosen and appointed by God to bear lasting fruit, pruning must be part of our preparation. Necessary, but not always nice. God sometimes chooses to be silent in His love (Zephaniah 3:17). He may seem distant. He may separate Himself for a season. But—He never leaves us! He simply steps aside to let His Spirit do a deeper work in our hearts. We are as high as we will ever be in Messiah (See Ephesians 2:6), but not as deep. Depth is a journey—one that involves pruning.
God has a lot of work to do in our hearts! At the core, the heart of man is alien to God’s nature, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Although, through Messiah Yeshua, we have been given a “new heart” and a “new spirit,” there is an ongoing process that involves dying daily to the “old” heart and spirit, and embracing the “new.” (You can tell which “heart” you are operating out of by what comes out of your mouth!) (Matthew 12:34).
When we allow the Spirit of God to do His pruning work, we can move forward in faith with a prepared heart, ready to be used by Adonai to touch the hearts of others. We like what Eitan Shishkoff, a Messianic leader from Haifa, said at a Rabbi’s conference a few years ago: “If I function out of my head, I will impact people’s thinking, but if I function out of my heart, I will impact people’s destiny.” Amen. That is why we need to have a prepared heart!
People who Prepared Their Hearts
The Bible gives us many examples of men and women who prepared their hearts to agree with God and obey Him. Consider what the Lord had to say about King Jehoshaphat: “…good things are found in you, in that you have removed the wooden images from the land, and have prepared your heart to seek God” (2 Chronicles 19:3). King Jotham, who “did what was right in the sight of the LORD” (2 Chronicles 27:2), “…became mighty, because he prepared his ways before the LORD his God.” (2 Chronicles 27:6). Of Ezra the scribe, it is said, “For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel.” (Ezra 7:10). Abraham, in the Tanach, and the Apostle Paul, in the Brit Hadasha, both had three days in which to prepare their hearts to do what God asked them to do (Genesis 22:3-4) (Acts 9:8-9). They both obeyed.
The common thread in all these godly men of old is preparation of the heart to say “Yes” to whatever God had ordained for them. If He truly is Adonai (Lord), there is no allowance for “No” to Him! Let us follow their example of seeking the LORD with our whole heart in 2016. When we do, we have a precious promise from Proverbs 8:17, “I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently will find me.”
Preparation Through Praise
Have you ever noticed a difference in the atmosphere of your home when you play praise and worship music? A lightness enters. Heaviness lifts. Demonic spirits hate the praises of God. They are not comfortable in a worshiping atmosphere. But God is! And praise prepares the heart to receive what God wants to give. It paves the way for the Ruach to work in our midst. It attunes the heart to the prophetic, and helps us hear from God more clearly.
As part of our preparation for the return of our Messiah, we must seek to have a heart filled with praise, “…speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord…” (Ephesians 5:19).
Praise prepares the heart of the bride for marriage—for becoming ONE with our Heavenly Bridegroom, Yeshua. We have been doing more premarital counseling than ever lately, and see firsthand the process of preparing one’s heart to be joined to another. The bride of Messiah is still a work in progress. Praise and worship—the atmosphere of heaven—help us to arise out of ourselves into the realm where our God lives, so that we can be prepared for our destiny as bride of The King.
One of our partners once wrote to us that “We praise, and God pours in fresh oil.” Yes! That is how we can be like one of the wise virgins of Matthew 25, who were prepared for the coming of the Bridegroom. The fresh oil is the oil of God’s Spirit. A prepared heart has plenty of this oil because praise and worship cause it to flow in us and through us. Holy oil also causes us to shine, to be lights in a dark world. Since we are prepared, we can proclaim to others, “Prepare the way of the LORD…” (Isaiah 40:3; Matthew 3:3). (P.S. It is time to check your oil!)
Preparation through Meditation, Prayer and Fasting
Space does not allow us to go into any depth on these three aspects of preparation of the heart. Our thought life, what we rehearse in our minds, can greatly affect our preparation or lack thereof. When the Lord speaks to us through His Word, or in prayer, we should “ponder” it, like Miriam (Mary), meditating on God’s words, His desires, and His kingdom purposes.
Fasting definitely helps prepare the heart to be more in tune with things of the Spirit. It is a discipline in which we prepare our heart to seek the Lord. Our hearts cry out with the psalmist, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.” (Psalms 19:14).
One final thought: The best preparation of the heart is the cleansing blood of Yeshua. We thank God for the blood and for the reassurance of 1 John 3:20, “For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.”
Preparation for Going Up!
Going up—aliyah—to Zion. We prepared our hearts to agree with God concerning another Mercy Mission, and He said, “Yes! Go in 2016.” So…We’re sure that some of you have already had a heart prepared to join us. Knitting needles have been waiting at the gate to hear the signal to begin making baby gifts for the baby shower in Haifa. It’s time to prepare hearts and gifts. When is Mercy Mission 2016? Nine months from now. (It’s like giving birth each time we go to Israel!) Date: November 7, 2016 – November 18, 2016. Let God prepare—as you prepare—your heart. “Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage (in whose heart are the highways to Zion [Amplified]).” (Psalm 84:5).
Preparing the Way of the Lord—with Love,