Are you tired of living in fear? Are you tired of living on God’s grace instead of on His abundance? Have you ever thought that maybe you are in the situation you are in because you have become your own worst enemy? Guess what? You are not alone. The world is full of people just like you! The Bible is filled with stories that reflect how the people of God would allow their fear of the unknown to rob them of the fullness of their blessings. God’s Word teaches us that when a person hears His Spirit and do not react to it are simply provoking It. Our fear is simply our disbelief in God to fight that particular battle in our life which is a sin in itself. And as it has been revealed to us many times before in scripture, there are consequences when we allow fear to harden our hearts to acting when God tells us to do something. For today’s message, I would like to share with you one of these biblical situations and what we can learn from it. Now if you are ready for this knowledge, let’s begin!
It is written, “So, as the Holy Spirit says:
“Today, if you hear his voice,
8 do not harden your hearts
as you did in the rebellion,
during the time of testing in the wilderness,
9 where your ancestors tested and tried me,
though for forty years they saw what I did.
10 That is why I was angry with that generation;
I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray,
and they have not known my ways.’
11 So I declared on oath in my anger,
‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ”
12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. 15 As has just been said:
“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts
as you did in the rebellion.”
16 Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? 17 And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies perished in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? 19 So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief,” (Hebrews 3:7-19, NIV).
There are many things that we can learn and apply in our lives in this Scripture, however, I want to discuss two main points. First, we see the reference to Moses’ congregation (the Israelite people or church). We learn in the book of Exodus that these people sinned against God and for their sins and transgressions they were punished into a season of bondage and slavery. God revealed Himself to Moses as a prophet to call His people back to Him. He also worked many wonders and miracles in these people’s lives through Moses and released them from their slavery by the Egyptians. However, almost as soon as the “church” heard the voice of the Holy Spirit they turned away from God in disbelief. They hardened their hearts and turned back to idol worship when Moses was on top of Mount Sinai (Exodus 32). Then the people refused to fight the Canaanites as the Lord commanded them to (Numbers 14). What I want to highlight is their consequence for not listening to the Holy Spirit and choosing to harden their hearts to Him. Moses’ congregation tested the Holy Spirit and lost (Hebrews 3:8). They were punished by never being able to see the Promised Land as their consequence. They came close to receiving their full blessing that the Lord had for them but they became their own worst enemy.
This teaches us to protect our hearts and to guard ourselves against being with those with an unbelieving heart. As the complaining of the few multiplied, it was those few who caused the many to harden their hearts from the Lord and stop believing that He would conquer their enemies (their next battle). This brings me to the first application of this Scripture, and this is to keep a healthy dependence on the Lord. If God brought you out of bondage and the slavery of sin, why would you forget about it after you received your blessing? Why turn back to your old habits when He rescued you from them? You see, like Moses’ congregation, if you do not protect your heart from other’s doubts and disbeliefs you will find yourself becoming just like them. Then, you too will miss out on the full blessing that God wants you to have. You see, when you hear the Holy Spirit and then turn away from Him, you will only provoke His anger and there will be a consequence that you do not want to face. Trust me, I know this from first-hand experience. I guarantee you that if the people knew that their thoughts and actions would keep them simply living off God’s grace instead of His abundance they would have kept their mouths shut and encouraged one another to do the same.
This leads me to my second point, what do you do when you find yourself in this situation? Do you allow your fear to fester and wait for “tomorrow” to address the issue? No, you address it today! This apostle reminded God’s people to “Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness,” (Hebrews 3:13). Now, I am reminding you of this today. Why do you think that the author said to encourage one another “today?” It is because tomorrow is not promised. If we do not obey the Holy Spirit’s voice today, then we end up slowly hardening our hearts to sin and then it becomes a habit. Remember having days that we are tempted to not act on the Holy Spirit’s voice is the same as having days to provoke Him! To provoke Him is to act in disobedience and disbelief. It will only lead to continued temptation but we have a choice “today” to change it. Ultimately, if you don’t work on changing your heart how can you help another with theirs? They deserve better and so does Jesus Christ.
The application of this truth is simple. This Scripture is not only speaking to you individually but all of our brothers and sisters in Christ. If you find yourself in disbelief, repent of this sin. When we do not have our full trust and confidence in Jesus Christ we are sinning against Him. We are acting no different than Moses’ congregation. They received freedom from their bondage and sins and then they became a slave to sin again. They allowed their fear in the physical to cause themselves a consequence in the spiritual. However, if there would have been more people in that congregation praying and encouraging one another to stay faithful in the Lord we all would have something different to read and study in the Bible. Their choice robbed the congregation of their blessings but this does not have to be you! If you find yourself up against a giant, stop and take a breath and fully give it to God. Do not allow fear to take up space in your heart and mind that faith should have. Don’t push your battle for tomorrow because of fear of the unknown. Seek guidance from the Holy Spirit and then fight it with all you got! Now, if you see someone else struggling, hold their hand through their battle. Pray for and with them! Didn’t Jesus do this for us? Do not gossip, do not become a stumbling block for that person, and do not turn your back on them. Pick up your cross and fight their battle with them today.
So, I urge everyone reading this message today to reconsider your lifestyle and commitment to Jesus Christ. Do you know Him? Have you heard His voice and long ago accepted Him as your Lord and savor but then life got to you? Has your heart grown hard because of your fear and disbelief? If this is you, take the time right here and right now to reconcile with Him. Stop provoking the Holy Spirit and turn away from your sin of disbelief. If God helped you fight and win your past battles, don’t allow yourself to think that He will not do it again. He will because He is faithful and because He loves us. Also, make time “today” to encourage that brother or sister of ours that has fallen from the fellowship of God or the church. Make time to let them know that they are still loved and valued. Try and help them fight their disbelief or heal their broken heart. As long as we have today, we must make it count. So make a difference today and learn from the past, because tomorrow is not promised. Amen!