October 20, 2017

A Prepared Heart

By Larry Ray Hafley

The difference between Rehoboam and Ezra, spiritually speaking, can be easily and readily discerned. Regarding Rehoboam, Scripture says, "And he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the Lord" (2 Chron. 12:14). Of Ezra, the Spirit saith, "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" (Ez. 7:10).

From the world's standpoint, perhaps Rehoboam "had more going for him." He was the son of Solomon, the grandson of David. His background was steeped in royalty. He had every advantage when it came to learning and knowledge. His father was the wisest of the wise. He heard conversations around the family table that were poetic proverbs. Wealthy parents afforded him any excellence that he desired give attention to, but, "He prepared not his heart to seek the Lord."

One's ascent up the scale of Christ is not attained by heredity or opportunity. One may have "an uncle that is a deacon," and a "grandfather who was a gospel preacher," but without preparation of the heart, it means nothing. It is often noted that relationship to Christ is an individual matter. None can obey the gospel for you. It is as true later as it is at the beginning. None can be faithful for you. None can prepare your heart. Those duties are yours exclusively. Thus, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me" (Lk. 9:23).

Preparation of the heart is a daily duty. It cannot be ignored from one day to the next. Satan attacks whenever the shield of faith is lowered. So, whoever you may be, do not neglect this day to equip your heart.

How To Prepare Your Heart

(1) By Prayer: Neglect of prayer, daily, fervent prayer, is a certain sign of distraction. Challenge your own heart. Is your life empty of regular, sincere prayer? A prepared heart is a prayerful heart.

(2) By Study: Observe that Ezra prepared his heart to "seek the law of the Lord." One must develop a desire and a hunger and thirst for the word of the Lord. David possessed this gnawing hunger (Psa. 119). Neglect of daily, diligent study will leave one's heart weak. It may not be able to withstand the strain of attack from every wind of doctrine. Hence, to prepare your heart, set aside time each day for reading, study and meditation.

(3) Avoid Evil: If you walk in the counsel of the ungodly, stand in the way of sinners, and sit in the seat of the scornful, do not be surprised when you do evil. To avert evil, you must avoid it. Practice purity. Sometimes all it takes is the switch of the channel or a turning of the head. Learn to avoid situations where temptations may be overwhelming.

(4) Emulate Good: When you hear and see good words and deeds, imitate them. Assume a virtue that you do not possess. Practice it, and soon it will be yours to keep.

(5) Think Positive: "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" (Phil. 4:8). A prepared heart is a positive heart. Like love, it "rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things."

(6) Recognize Faults: Hold confession to yourself. Admit your flaws and failings to yourself. Then eliminate them forthwith. Do not allow time to start justifying yourself or your errors, get rid of them-now.

Rehoboam or Ezra? Which will it be for you?

Truth Magazine XXII: 15, p. 242
April 13, 1978

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