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Genuine Faith Listens, Learns and Perseveres (Hebrews 3:7-19)

Hebrews 3:7–19 - 7 Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, “Today if you hear His voice, 8 Do not harden your hearts as when they provoked Me, As in the day of trial in the wilderness, 9 Where your fathers tried Me by testing Me, And saw My works for forty years. 10 “Therefore I was angry with this generation, And said, ‘They always go astray in their heart, And they did not know My ways’; 11 As I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’ ” 12 Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end, 15 while it is said, “Today if you hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts, as when they provoked Me.” 16 For who provoked Him when they had heard? Indeed, did not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses? 17 And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19 So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief. What does today’s passage say? In today’s passage, the writer of Hebrews, quoting Psalm 95:7b-11, tells his believing readers not to make the mistake of hardening their hearts against God as He speaks to them through the Holy Spirit like the Israelites did at Kadesh Barnea which led to their 40 years of wandering (vv. 7-9).  This angered God and He did not allow them to enter into His rest in the Promised Land (vv. 10-11). He warns them not to develop sinful, untrusting hearts that will cause them to turn from God. Instead, they were to encourage and build one another up to keep their hearts, minds, souls and strength focused on God (vv. 12-13).  As those who share in the body of Christ, as brothers and sisters in the Lord, he says believers are to be open and responsive to the Spirit (vv. 14-15).  He reiterates that believers who come to God with a hardened heart will incur His wrath and not be allowed to experience His peace or rest (vv. 16-19). How can I apply Hebrews 3:7-19 to my life? As we go through this life, we will encounter many times where our faith hangs in the balance. These are the times when our choices truly matter. Will we listen to the whisper of God, or will we stray from the path He has laid out for us? These decisions shape not just our days but our eternal relationship with Him. Like fertile ground, our heart can nourish the seeds of faith, or, like barren land, it can resist the life-giving words of God. Today, the writer of Hebrews challenges us to think about how we react to God’s gentle nudging in our everyday lives. Are our hearts open, soft, and yielding, or have they turned to stone, deaf to His voice? The writer also asks us to look at our past, not to be ensnared by missteps but to glean wisdom from our failures. It's an invitation to recall the steadfast promises of God, to immerse ourselves in His love and forgiveness. Here are some basic principles from this passage that we should apply to our lives:

  1. Don’t Harden Your Heart to God Especially When He Speaks to You (vv. 7-11): The writer of Hebrews warns his believing readers, including Christians today, against developing a hard heart, especially as we hear God speaking to us through His Spirit, His Word, through prayer, or even through other believers.  Instead, we should respond with an attitude of obedience and openness.  When we harden our hearts, we separate ourselves from Him and His blessings and we become less and less sensitive to His leading. It often starts in a small, subtle way and we allow the enemy to steal our peace and joy.  All the while, in the back of our mind, the Spirit is reminding us to “Give thanks in all circumstances” but we don’t want to hear it.  Over time, our spiritual deafness gets worse and worse, and we sense a separation from God.  Instead, we need to be diligent at keeping our hearts open and responsive to God.  We do this by going to Him in prayer, reading His word, and fellowshipping with other believers who can help us when our thinking goes wrong.  We need to stay alert to all the ways that God speaks to us and be quick to obey Him.  If we do this, we will be able to have an ongoing, life-giving relationship with Him and remain firmly rooted in His peace and rest (Psalm 95:7-8, James 1:22-25, Ezekiel 36:26-27).

Food for thought: How can you make your heart more open to hearing God's voice today? What are some ways to keep from hardening your heart?

  1. Let the Perseverance of Your Faith Be the Evidence of Your Partnership with Christ (vv. 12-15): In these verses, we are told to be careful to not let the sin in our heart cause us to turn away from trusting God. Living the Christian life is hard, especially if we try to do it on our own.  We can face extraordinary temptations to seek after the pleasures of the world.  The enemy will deceive us in every way he can to get us to turn from God.  Through it all though, God expects us to persevere.  We can do this by being diligent in studying His Word, going to Him in prayer, and being active in a strong community of believers.  God wants our attitudes to be full of gratitude and joy for His many blessings regardless of our circumstances; He wants our thoughts to remain pure, holy, and fixed on Him even when nobody else will ever know what we are thinking; He wants our words to be gracious and uplifting to others even when we don’t feel like it; and, most of all, He wants us to obey Him in everything, even the things that seem truly inconsequential to us. When we persevere like this though trials, temptations, and hardships in the power of the Holy Spirit, we give evidence to the world of the power of God to sustain us through everything with peace and joy. As we continue to persevere, our faith and our testimony will grow stronger and stronger. We will become a brilliant light in a world that is truly dark (Galatians 6:2, 1 Thessalonians 5:11, James 5:16, Romans 14:19).

Food for thought: How can you make your heart more open to hearing God's voice today? What are some ways to keep from hardening your heart?

  1. Learn from the Failures of the Past to Nurture Today’s Faith (vv. 16-19): The writer of Hebrews reminds us that it was God’s very own people who angered Him by their lack of faith and that is why they were not able to enter into the Promised Land and into His rest. Even as believers, our lives are full of examples of failure: failures of trust and failures of obedience.  But God does not keep a scorecard.  His love is steadfast and unconditional.  In fact, He has given us some amazing promises to see us through even as we sin and fail.  First and foremost, when we sin, He has promised that, if we confess that sin, He not only applies the forgiveness of the cross to it, He also cleanses us from all unrighteousness.  He goes on to promise that He will take the consequences of that sin and use it for our good – to teach us how to resist and avoid repeating the sin and to become more like Jesus in our ability to resist sin.  He promises us that, as believers, we do not and will not face His condemnation or judgment for our sin because He took care of all of that through Jesus’ finished work on the cross.  But perhaps God’s most amazing promise to us is that nothing in heaven or on earth will ever be able to separate us from Him through the love that is in Jesus Christ.  The question we have to ask our selves is, “Do I believe this?” Do I believe God’s promises?  It is not enough to simply acknowledge that these promises are true; we must live our lives as though they are true.  We must allow these promises to transform the way we live through trials and tribulations.  It is only then that we can truly enter into His rest and experience His peace which surpasses all understanding (1 John 1:9, Romans 8:28, Romans 8:38-39).

Food for Thought: How have the failures of the past shaped your current faith journey, and how can you use these experiences to strengthen your trust in God's promises? In moments of doubt or disobedience, how can you remind yourself of God’s unconditional love and the promises He has made to us through Jesus Christ? In this passage, the writer of Hebrews leads us to a profound truth about our spiritual wellbeing: the state of our hearts is crucial to our walk with God. Think of your heart as a garden. Just like any garden, your heart needs regular nurturing, watering, and sunlight. If we let it, this inner garden can either become parched and barren, repelling the nourishing light of God's Word, or it can become a vibrant, flourishing space filled with peace and joy. The key to this transformation lies in consistent care through prayer, immersion in Scripture, and the warm community of fellowship.  Applying this passage to our lives requires three actions on our part: listen, persevere, and learn. It's about listening to God's gentle voice amid the chaos, holding steadfast in your faith through the roughest storms, and absorbing the lessons from past slip-ups to straighten path forward. These aren't just fleeting tasks but lifelong commitments that will draw us ever closer to God and mold us into the likeness of Christ. Prayer Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that You would give me a heart that is open to Your teachings. Grant me the clarity to discern Your words and the willingness to heed them faithfully. I ask for the strength to stand firm in the storms of life’s trials and temptations, leaning not on my capabilities but on Your strength and mercy. Furthermore, I seek the humility to embrace the lessons of my past, transforming them into stepping stones towards becoming a more devoted and resilient disciple of Christ. Let me never lose sight of Your endless love and the steadfast promises You’ve extended to me. I pray these things in the most precious name of Jesus, Amen.

Hebrews 3:12 - Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. With His Blessings, Pastor Corby

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