With full calendars and long to-do lists, it’s easy to become distracted from the true reason for celebration during the Christmas season. What tends to divide and distract you during the Christmas season? How can we cultivate a focused heart in this frenzied season?
Thanks for joining us for Week 2 of ‘Tis the Season: Preparing Our Heart and Homes for a Christ-Centered Christmas! This week we’ll be focusing on the latter part of verse 11 in Psalm 86 (our guiding verse for this study). If you have not already done so, please download the free e-book study guide that accompanies each week’s lesson. Now, let’s get into the Word!
… unite my heart to fear your name. —Psalm 86:11b
What does it mean to have an undivided heart?
In the original language of Scripture, the word for united this verse is yahad:
unite – yahad (H3161) – to be or become one, be joined, to be united. It refers to entering into the plan or thinking of a group, uniting with them. It is used figuratively of the psalmist’s desire for the Lord to unite his heart to walk in God’s ways and to fear him (Ps 86:11).
Let’s begin in Jeremiah 32:38-40 as we explore today this idea of cultivating an undivided heart for God:
And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them. I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. —Jeremiah 32:38-40
How do these verses relate to having an undivided heart?
One Way: Jesus is the one way. Jesus unites us to the Father, restoring the relationship that was broken by sin. He has made an everlasting covenant with us. He will never leave or forsake us. We are completely secure in Christ.
One Heart: Jesus provides the way for us to have a heart that is one with the Father — an undivided heart.
What tends to divide and distract your heart? Write down at least one thing that tends to distract from your time in the Word and in prayer.
How do we cultivate an undivided heart? What are some of the habits of those who desire to have a heart that is one with the Father? Read through each of the definitions for the heart and then the Scriptures that go with them. Just allow the Word of God to wash over your heart, soul, mind and spirit. Be renewed in truth today!
seek – zeteo (G2212) to find out by thinking, meditating, reasoning; to seek, to crave.
seek – darash (H1875) to tread or frequent; to resort to; usually to follow (for pursuit or search); by implication, to seek or ask; specifically to worship.
Practices of a Seeking Heart:
- Mark 12:30 – And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.
- Colossians 3:1-3 -If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
- Psalm 51:10 – Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
- 1 Chronicles 16:11 – Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually.
- Matthew 6:33 – But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
- Psalm 119:10-11 – With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
Prayers of a Seeking Heart:
- Psalm 19:14 – Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
- Psalm 119:36-37 – Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word. (NIV)
- Psalm 27:8 – You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you,“Your face, Lord, do I seek.”
Promises for a Seeking Heart:
- Psalm 34:10 – The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
When Colossians speaks of a life “hidden with Christ” it refers to one that rests in Jesus. It is finding our identity in who He says we are instead of seeking to impress others. It is finding our worth and significance in Him rather than other people or the things of this world. What are you seeking? What do you find yourself pursuing or craving to find satisfaction and significance? What do you resort to in times of need? Are you living out each day as one whose life is “hidden with Christ”?
batah (H982) to trust, trust in to have confidence, be confident to be bold to be secure
pistis (G4102) belief with the predominate idea of trust (or confidence) whether in God or in Christ, springing from faith in the same; fidelity, faithfulness the character of one who can be relied on; the conviction that God exists and is the creator and ruler of all things, the provider and bestower of eternal salvation through Christ;
Practices of a Steadfast/Sure Heart:
- Proverbs 3:5-6 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
- Colossians 2:6-10 – Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition…and you have been filled in him…
- Proverbs 4:23 – Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. (NIV)
- Colossians 3:16 – Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
Prayers of a Steadfast/Sure Heart:
- Psalm 73:25-26 – Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Promises for a Steadfast/Sure Heart:
- Hebrews 6:19-20 – We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.
We may not be sure of the situation or its outcome, but we can be sure of who God is and know that He does act on behalf of those who love Him and seek Him. As lean on God’s wisdom, words and ways instead of our own, we will find a stronger sense of confidence and security in our lives. He is faithful and trustworthy!
still – rapah (H7503) – to become slack, to cease; let drop, relax, refrain, forsake, let go, be lazy, be quiet
wait – qawah (H6960) – meaning to wait for, to look for, to hope for. The root meaning is that of twisting or winding a strand of cord or rope.
Practices of a Still Heart:
- Psalm 46:10 – “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!
- John 15:4 – Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.
- Matthew 14:13 – Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns.
- Mark 1:35 – And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed (escaped) and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.
Prayers of a Still Heart:
- Psalm 130:5 – I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;
Promises for a Still Heart:
- Matthew 11:28-30 – Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
- John 15:4-5 -I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
Our lives are so filled with activity, stimulation and noise that it is hard to find time to just be quiet and still before the Lord. God beckons us to come to Him, to find time to be still and quiet because He knows we need it! Just as Jesus retreated to a quiet, solitary place, away from the noise of the city, from people, and activity to be alone with God, we need solitary times and places in our lives. It will take discipline and planning on our part to carve out this time in our day, but if we will ask Him, God will show us when, where and how!
An undivided heart is one that is united with God — entering into the plan and thinking of His heart and ways.
- We desire to obey Him.
- We desire to walk in a manner pleasing to Him because of all He has done for us in Christ.
- We desire to bring Him glory in all things.
What tends to divide and distract your heart? Look at the list you wrote earlier. How can cultivating a seeking, steadfast and still heart help to unite your heart to fear, trust and worship God this season?
UNITED OR DIVIDED? Examples from the Christmas Story. Reflecting on today’s lesson and what we have learned about those present that first Christmas, how would you characterize their hearts? United or Divided? Record your thoughts and insights for each.
- Wise Men
“But of late, God has been pleased to keep my soul hungry, almost continually; so that I have been filled with a kind of pleasing pain. When I really enjoy God, I feel my desires of him the more insatiable, and my thirstings after holiness the more unquenchable; and the Lord will not allow me to feel as though I were fully supplied and satisfied, but keeps me still reaching forward. I feel barren and empty, as though I could not live without more of God; I feel ashamed and guilty before him. Oh! I see that ‘the law is spiritual, but I am carnal.’ I do not, I cannot live to God.
Oh for holiness! Oh for more of God in my soul! Oh this pleasing pain! It makes my soul press after God; the language of it is, ‘Then shall I be satisfied, when I awake in God’s likeness,’ (Ps 17:15) but never, never before: and consequently I am engaged to ‘press towards the mark’ day by day. O that I may feel this continual hunger, and not be retarded, but rather animated by every cluster from Canaan, to reach forward in the narrow way, for the full enjoyment and possession of the heavenly inheritance! O that I may never loiter in my heavenly journey! These insatiable desires after God and holiness continued the two next days, with a great sense of his own exceeding unworthiness, and the nothingness of the things of this world.” –David Brainerd, The Life and Diary of David Brainerd, ed. Jonathan Edwards.
Contemplate His Greatness! Find an area in your home where you can create a Contemplate His Greatness! board. It could be a bulletin board, chalkboard, dry erase board, notebook —any place that is prominent and accessible on a daily basis. Have each family member make a point to record daily an aspect of God’s greatness (His character and ways) that He reveals to you through His Word.
This post was originally published on Get Real on November 4, 2014.