Today’s scripture reading is: Hebrews 3:12-4:1 12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.(A) 13 But encourage one another daily,(B) as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.(C) 14 We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold(D) our original conviction firmly to the very end.(E) 15 As has just been said:
16 Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt?(G) 17 And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies perished in the wilderness?(H) 18 And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest(I) if not to those who disobeyed?(J) 19 So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.(K)
A Sabbath-Rest for the People of God
4 Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.(L)
What grabbed my attention first in this scripture was verse 15: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.....”. I generally think of people in the Old Testament as having hard hearts (like the Israelites)... or the Pharisees having hard hearts towards Jesus... but me? Nooooo.... surely not! I haven’t necessarily thought of myself as hard hearted towards God... disobedient maybe, stubborn maybe, but hard hearted... ??? But I’m hearing God clearly on this now... YES Denise... you have hardened your heart towards me many times! And I know it’s true....how many times have I heard his voice about something and not really listened? My heart gets hard and I basically refuse to fully surrender to God because of a bad attitude or a sin in my life, or wanting to stay in control of a situation. I can be unwilling to really listen and... here’s the clincher... OBEY. When that happens, I am being rebellious and am turning away from Him. It happens more than I want to admit, and yet an encouraging and restful relationship with Jesus is waiting for me if I would just humble myself.
God knows that we struggle with having hard hearts because He says that we should “encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” It’s a daily struggle to surrender to Him, to lay down control, to listen... really listen to Him and be willing to obey. We need to encourage each other daily, to surrender and listen!
So what does this have to do with REST? In verse 19, it says that some were not able to enter God’s rest because of their unbelief. And in 4:1, says that the promise of entering his rest still stands if we don’t fall short of it. For me, this rest isn’t just sleep or relaxing... His rest is a lifting of burdens, an unexplainable peace, a comfort during hard times, and a release of control to Him so I can be free of my stinky attitude, judgmental tendencies, and arrogance that keep me from connection with Him. When my heart is soft, when I can listen to Him, surrender and humble myself... then comes the Rest and then comes Freedom. That’s what He’s calling me to right now. And freedom from all of that sounds so good!
I hear you Lord... I’m sorry for my hard heart, I’m sorry for my attitude, I’m sorry for not being a good listener because I allow sin to take over... forgive me. I come now with a humble heart that recognizes my hard heart. And I ask that you would fill me afresh, soften my heart, give me rest and freedom. I don’t want to fall short of entering into your rest. Thank you for speaking to me.... and helping me hear... What is your heart saying right now?