Sin Hardens the Heart

Sin Hardens the Heart

Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; 13 but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end . . .   (Heb 3:12-14)

This passage of Scripture above, says that we can become hardened by the deceitfulness [false-heartedness; faithlessness] of sin.  I believe that is referring to developing a hard heart

The last portion of the passage in Hebrews (above) says that we have become “partakers of Christ.”  What does that phrase signify?  It means that we are members of the body of Christ, and as such, we are His accomplices or assistants.  Remember that Paul tells us that we are “workers together with God” in 2 Corinthians 6:1.

Then the magicians of Egypt did so with their enchantments; and Pharaoh’s heart grew hard, and he did not heed them, as the Lord had said. 23 And Pharaoh turned and went into his house. Neither was his heart moved by this.  (Ex 7:22-23, underscoring added)

Hardness of hard refers to a heart that cannot be moved, stimulated, or motivated to a different path or a better way of responding.  It’s what happened to Pharaoh.  We must guard our own hearts carefully against the formation of such a tendency in ourselves.

When we walk in the light with Jesus, we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus continually cleanses us from sin.  (1 Joh 1:7)  So be mindful of staying in the light of God’s truth by reading the Word, obeying the Word, praying, and having fellowship with other believers.

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.  (Phil 2:3-4)  Following this admonition will also keep us tender-hearted and humble before the Lord.

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.  (Rom 12:21)  We’re indwelt by the Overcomer—the Victorious One—so that we are empowered to actually overcome evil with good!  Glory to God!

God’s good plans for each one of us are that we be blessed and that each of us bring blessings to many others.  (Jer 29:11)

The Seed of Abraham

The Seed of Abraham

 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. 16 For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham. 17 Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.   (Heb 2:14-18, emphasis added) 

Jesus is referred to as the singular “seed of Abraham” in the passage below; and it was to Him (Jesus) that the inheritance of Abraham was promised.

Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ.  (Gal 3:16)

And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.  (Gal 3:29)

Even as Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him as righteousness (Gen 15:6), even so all of us today who believe in Jesus as our Savior—apart from the Law—are justified.  Therefore, Abraham is the “father” of all who believe.  (Rom 4:11-17)  See Galatians 3:29 above once more.

Naturally, the “seed of Abraham” also refers to the Hebrew people who descended from Abraham through Isaac. Even more generally, the seed of Abraham could include Arabs, who trace their lineage through Ishmael. This is the physical seed of Abraham. The spiritual seed of Abraham (believers in Jesus Christ) is comprised of people of all nationalities and ethnicities but who have the same Redeemer & Lord. 

Being the spiritual seed of Abraham is much more important than being a physical descendant of Abraham when one is considering eternal truths.  Jesus reminds us that we must be born again.  (Joh 3:3)  Those of us who are born again, are Abraham’s seed, and we are guaranteed a lavish inheritance in Him! 

. . . giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.  (Col 1:12 – see also Col 3:24, Heb 9:15, 1 Pet 1:3-4)

God Has Spoken to Mankind

God Has Spoken to Mankind

God can speak to us in various ways.  As the Bible establishes, He can speak through miraculous or supernatural demonstrations:

  • He spoke to Moses through a burning bush (Ex 3:1-4)
  • God spoke to Gideon through a fleece (Judg 6:37-40)
  • He spoke to Saul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-5)
  • He used a donkey to speak to Balaam (Num 22:1-35)

God can also speak to mankind through dreams and visions.  There is clear evidence of this in the lives of Joseph, Solomon, Jacob, Peter, John, and Paul.  This may also happen to us today in 2019.  (See Acts 2:17)

God can speak to us through other people who are spiritually mature and operate in wisdom. He can speak to us through the Bible; through our thoughts; through circumstances; through the sensation of peace in our inner man; and also, God can speak to us in a whisper.  So, we must train ourselves to be VERY sensitive to God’s voice—no matter what the volume.

God spoke through the Scriptures the very story and plan of salvation:

 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.  (Joh 1:12-14)

Jesus Christ was born of the virgin Mary even as the Scriptures foretold.  Jesus fulfilled His assignment on earth and arose triumphantly from the grave and ascended into Heaven.  We accept the good news of salvation through the gift of faith that God has given to every believer.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.  (Heb 11:1-2)

Our God is referred to as the “Living God”  in Ps 42:2; 84:2; Isa 37:17; Jer 10:10; 23:36; Dan 6:20, 26; Hos 1:10; Mt 16:16; 22:32; 26:63; Mk 12:27; Lk 20:38; Joh 6:69 and others.   We are so blessed and privileged to be in a loving relationship with the living God.  Glory to God!

Speak No Evil

Speak No Evil

Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.  (Tit 3:1-2) 

Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?  (Jas 4:11-12)

The Scripture passages above remind us that we should not speak evil of anyone, but rather to be ready in every season for good work.  We’re called to be peace-promoting, quiet, and unpretentious people.

Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. (Lk 6:37)  We’re not called to criticize or to assess other human beings!  We’re told to judge ourselves first and foremost.  (1 Cor 11:31)

For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body.  (Jas 3:2)  The goal of controlling the tongue is a life-long goal that must be chosen for each and every day of our lives.  If anyone should ever accomplish this goal, James tells us that we would be “perfect” or complete and mature.

Furthermore, we have no need to judge anyone because there is already a Judge Who is qualified to judge mankind, since He lived as a man on earth.  All judgment has been committed to Jesus.  (Joh 5:22)

We should not only avoid judgment but we should not speak evil of other people.  We are to use our words wisely and to watch over them. (Ex 20:16; 23:1; Eph 4:29, 31; 1 Pet 2:1)  God bless you.

Looking for Blessed Hope

Looking for Blessed Hope

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ . . . (Tit 2:11-13, emphasis added)

I think it’s too easy in this age of high pressure and constant stress overlaid by tense world events for us to lose sight of our HOPE.  We need to meditate more frequently and regularly upon the truth that we are expectantly waiting and watching for our blessed hope which will be evidenced by the glorious appearing of our Savior, Jesus Christ! 

Here is what the Bible has to say about it:

Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.  (Mt 24:30-31) 

The righteous rejoice to even anticipate this event, so think of what the reality of it will be like!  In the meantime, we have many responsibilities to attend to—not only those of being responsible spouses, parents, children, or friends—but also the responsibilities that we have to Jesus, our Savior.  We have an active and eager enemy according to the Bible.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. (1 Pet 5:8) 

Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober.  (1 Thes 5:6)

Do not be taken unawares.  Do not be drowsing or spiritually dull.  Keep yourself spiritually keen, effective and alert.  Read the Scriptures; praise and worship God regularly; fellowship with other believers, and be a witness of what Jesus has done for you.  This lifestyle will energize your faith and move you forward in realizing your purposes in the Kingdom.  God bless you.

Be Ready!

Be Ready!

Why does the Lord want us to be ready to tell people about salvation at a moment’s notice?  One reason is that the Lord is not willing that any should perish; He wants everyone to be saved.  (2 Pet 3:9)

Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.  (2 Tim 4:2)  He wants us to be ready whether it’s convenient and whether it’s inconvenient—when the world mentality (at any given time) is “pro-Christian” or “anti-Christian.”  Our heart attitude should be eager to share the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ.

No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.  (2 Tim 2:3-4)  The warfare in which we’re engaged is to share the gospel with as many people as possible, regardless of their response or reaction.  Leave that part in God’s hands.  When we accepted Christ as our Savior, we were automatically enlisted as a soldier in the army of the Living God. 

You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men . . .  (2 Cor 3:2) Not only do we share the gospel with our words, but we share it by the lives that we live.  People will read us as easily as they read a book or a letter. 

What are you sharing through your day-to-day life?  Is your readiness joyous and filled with hope and courage?  If so, then it will be good and edifying to read!

Predicted Perilous Times

Predicted Perilous Times

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come . . .  (2 Tim 3:1)

For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!  (2 Tim 3:2-5)

Many of you already know that the Bible repeatedly mentions the last days.  This is a term that typically is understood to refer to a period when historical events would reach a final climax.  Whether or not theologians disagree on the terminology, we can all agree that we are living in perilous times. The Scripture passage shown above in 2 Timothy 3:2-5 describes what types of behavior we would see in the last days

If we are very honest, we have to admit that yes, we do see all of these behaviors in evidence in our world today.  So how should we respond to our perilous times?

The Bible shows us the way:

  • Read the Bible. (Josh 1:8; Neh 8:3; Ro 10:17)
  • Obey the Bible. (Joh 14:23; Jas 1:22)
  • Understand that Christians will at some point or other suffer persecution. (Mk 10:30; 2 Tim 3:12)
  • Follow Christ’s example in all things. (Joh 13:13-16; Lk 9:23; 1 Cor 11:1)
  • Allow the Scriptures to read you, correct you, and to transform you. (Heb 4:12; 2 Tim 3:16-17; Rom 12:2)
  • Love your enemies; pray for those who hurt you or abuse you. (Lk 6:27-28)
  • Resist the devil. (Jas 4:7)

Let us be obedient to the Word of God, and followers of Jesus, our example.