Advent 2017 - Prepare Your Heart [Receiving]

Updated: Mar 24


Matthew 22:36-40

Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets."

Isaiah 40:3-10

A voice cries:

"In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;

make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

Every valley shall be lifted up,

and every mountain and hill be made low;

the uneven ground shall become level,

and the rough places a plain.

And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,

and all flesh shall see it together,

for the mouth of the Lord has spoken."

A voice says, "Cry!"

And I said, "What shall I cry?"

All flesh is grass,

and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.

The grass withers, the flower fades

when the breath of the Lord blows on it;

surely the people are grass.

The grass withers, the flower fades,

but the word of our God will stand forever.

Go on up to a high mountain,

O Zion, herald of good news;

lift up your voice with strength,

O Jerusalem, herald of good news;

lift it up, fear not;

say to the cities of Judah,

"Behold your God!"

Behold, the Lord God comes with might,

and his arm rules for him;

behold, his reward is with him,

and his recompense before him.

John 1:19-34

Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely,

“I am not the Messiah.”

They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?”

He said, “I am not.”

“Are you the Prophet?”

He answered, “No.”

Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”

John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’ ”

Now the Pharisees who had been sent questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”

“I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”

This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”

Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”

Heart

Hebrew:

leb: inner man, mind, will, heart

Original Word: לֵב Part of Speech: Noun Masculine Transliteration: leb Phonetic Spelling: (labe) Short Definition: heart

Greek:

kardia: heart

Original Word: καρδία, ας, ἡ

Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine

Transliteration: kardia

Phonetic Spelling: (kar-dee'-ah)

Short Definition: the heart, inner life, intention

Definition: lit: the heart; mind, character, inner self, will, intention, center

accord (1), attention (4), attention (1), bravest (1), brokenhearted (3), care (2), celebrating (1), chests (1), completely (1), concern (1), concerned (1), conscience (1), consider (2), considered (2), courage (1), decided (1), determine (1), discouraged (1), discouraging (1), doing (1), double heart (1), encouragingly (1), heart (396), heart's (2), hearts (40), Himself (1), himself (6), imagination (1), inspiration (2), intelligence (1), kindly (5), life (1), merry-hearted* (1), middle (2), midst (1), mind (36), minds (3), myself (6), obstinate (2), planned (1), presume (1), pride (1), recalls (1), reflected (1), regard (1), self-exaltation (1), sense (10), senseless (1), seriously (1), skill (1), skilled (1), skillful man (1), skillful men (1), skillful persons (1), skillful (3), spirits (1), stouthearted (1), stubborn-minded (1), tenderly (2), thought (3), understanding (7), undivided (1), well (2), willingly (1), wisdom (2), yourself (1), yourselves (1)

I seriously just want to come up here today and read scripture (or continue to just read scripture). I mean tons and tons of scripture. I may be in the minority here, but there is something about reading the Bible that allows for an introspection to take place that seems rare in our times. The type of introspection that allows for the impossible to seem possible. The inner travel that propels us from the everyday mundane human existence. The type that makes for fanciful discoveries of mysteries that somehow appear vaguely familiar – like waking from a wondrous dream that allows you to momentarily grasp at a strange and wonderful land, existence, even an entire world…

“In the darkness something was happening at last. A voice had begun to sing…it seemed to come from all directions at once…Its lower notes were deep enough to be the voice of the earth herself. There were no words. There was hardly even a tune. But it was beyond comparison, the most beautiful noise he had ever heard. It was so beautiful Digory could hardly bear it.”

– The Magician’s Nephew

John 1:1-18

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ ”) Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

What is it about God’s Word that allows us to travel within? Is there some skull and bones secrecy, some gnostic understanding of events, is it an intellectual pursuit and discovery reserved for the learned and highly educated? What is it about how we, as human beings, are made, that allows for the transference of thought, will, emotion, and desire into a rational state of being?

What is the heart?

Merriam Webster defines heart as such:

Definition of Heart

  1. a hollow muscular organ of vertebrate animals that by its rhythmic contraction acts as a force pump maintaining the circulation of the blood could feel her heart pounding

  2. a structure in an invertebrate animal functionally analogous to the vertebrate heart

  3. BREAST, BOSOM placed his hand on his heart

  4. something resembling a heart in shape; specifically : a stylized representation of a heart a card decorated with hearts and flowers

  1. a playing card marked with a stylized figure of a red heart

  2. hearts plural : the suit comprising cards marked with hearts the five of hearts

  3. hearts plural in form but singular or plural in construction : a game in which the object is to avoid taking tricks (see 1TRICK 4) containing hearts

  1. PERSONALITY, DISPOSITION a cold heart

  2. obsolete : INTELLECT

the emotional or moral nature as distinguished from the intellectual nature: such as

  1. generous disposition : COMPASSION a leader with heart

  2. LOVE, AFFECTION won her heart

  3. courage or enthusiasm especially when maintained during a difficult situation never lost heart

one's innermost character, feelings, or inclinations - knew it in his heart - a man after my own heart

  1. the central or innermost part : CENTER a cabin in the heart of the forest

  2. the essential or most vital part of something - the heart of the city - get to the heart of the matter

  3. the younger central compact part of a leafy rosette (such as a head of lettuce or stalk of celery)

And so we are always attempting to become better, smarter, to gain more understanding (a true function of our hearts – and a desire that is a built-in-deception from our heart – more on that later). Science would tell us that our hearts are nothing more than the organ that sustains life through the process of blood circulation to the extremities and other vital organs.

If that is the case, and science wins the day, how would we then prepare our hearts?

According to healthyheart.org

You can take several steps to maintain a healthy heart: