The Importance of Listening To God

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The Importance of Listening To God

The Importance of Listening To God

Hebrews 3:7  Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice,
8  Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness:
9  When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years.
10  Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways.
11  So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)

Well, it looks like we actually made it into a new year! 2021 was a year where the god of this world was able to keep the minds of many people blinded. As the year progressed, it seems the world became more and more complacent with regard to the blindness they were living under. 2021 has also proven to be a year of major catastrophic events in many different places. We see the darkness as ungodly governments and media have tried to credit mother nature and climate change for these events. Just over the past couple of days many families in Colorado lost their homes to fires caused by heavy winds that knocked down power lines which were still live and caused sparks that started things on fire. The winds were so strong that the fire crews gave up on trying to battle the fires. These events show the power of God.
We know in Bible times that the devil would use storms to try to interfere with the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. We know those were the work of the devil because Jesus rebuked them and they stopped and He and the disciples continued safely to their destination. We also know that God caused unusual weather events to draw attention to Himself. As we look at our world through the lens of the Bible, we know that things are continuing to move closer and closer to the close of this dispensation. I believe God is giving warnings for both the saved and the unsaved.
In verse 7 of our text, God is turning His attention to the lost. God has spent time presenting the Lord Jesus Christ as better than the angels. Jesus Christ is the Saviour of mankind. Those who are saved have a great salvation. We have a hope that is built on truth. We have a Saviour Who is real. Now God is taking the facts of the greatness of Jesus Christ, and exhorting the lost to pay attention.
The Holy Ghost speaks to the heart of people. He convinces the world of sin and of righteousness and of judgment. People are trying hard to ignore His Work and it is costing them dearly. As we see in verse 7, it is not that God is not working in people’s hearts. It is a matter of whether people will hear His voice.
The Bible tells us:

Proverbs 29:25  The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.

Many people who should be seeking answers from God’s Word, have been afraid to let God draw them to Himself. They are so fearful of striking up a conversation with people for fear of getting the “virus”. The medical authorities and the media have convinced people that the world out there is so dangerous that the only hope is to isolate.
Interestingly, Biblical separation has been taught since the creation of the world. In Genesis 1, God separated light from darkness. He separated the water above from the water beneath. He separated the water from the dry land. He separated the various parts of creation into their kinds. He made man unique among all of His creation. He placed man into a beautiful Garden and told him there was one tree he was not to eat the fruit of.
Man chose to sin and since that time, lost people have scoffed at Biblical separation. The lost are strongly encouraging those who have been scared into taking the shots to separate from those who still exercise the capacity to think and realize the shots are not nearly as safe as they are suggested to be.
We need to hear God’s voice. On Monday we will be conducting the funeral for a dear saint named Richard Eisentraut. There will be people listening to that message who are lost. My prayer is that we can help them to see the importance of listening, not just to the words of a man who is standing behind a pulpit, but more importantly, to the voice of the Holy Spirit as He speaks to their hearts. He is speaking. Lost people need to listen.
In verse 8 we see that man has the capacity to harden his heart against the work of the Holy Ghost. God is all powerful. He uses that power to speak to the heart of man, but He also uses that power to give man the opportunity to choose to listen or to choose to rebel.
God referred back to the nation of Israel. They provoked God to anger many times. They did not have a personal and true relationship with God. Rather than simply coming to Him with their needs and asking Him to meet their needs, they demanded a response from Him according to their liking. That did not work then, and God warns each generation that it will never work.
In verse 9 God reminded the Jews, (who were the primary recipients of this letter), that their fathers had tempted God and proved Him even though they saw His works for forty years. Israel had put God to the test in a bad way. They were not trying to build a stronger relationship with Him. They were not seeking to know Him better. They were intent on proving Him to be an unreasonable and unjust God. He showed them for forty years that He was a loving and merciful God Who demanded righteousness of the people. He also provided all that was needed for them to live righteously. They rejected that and kept looking back to the paganism that God had delivered them from. It was because of the paganism of Egypt that they were forced into slavery. Too many of the Jews had grown accustomed with the paganism of Egypt.
True Christianity does not put people in bondage. True Christianity liberates people to serve God as He created them to do. The world demands liberty, but what they are actually demanding is bondage. Liberty comes in knowing the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour and serving Him as Lord.
God had been gracious with that generation. He had given them much opportunity to know His mercy and grace. They kept fighting until He gave them what they demanded. It is never wise to think you can win a fight with God. When God gives you what you demand, you have not defeated Him. You have not caused Him to change His mind and agree with you. You have simply pushed yourself away from His mercy and grace. You have demanded that He withdraw His hand and that has opened you up to more influence from the devil.
As we noted in the beginning of this devotional, the devil is working hard and God has given him more opportunity to blind people in their sin. The majority are pushing harder and harder to get to the edge of the cliff all the time. They are like the foolish people who are so intent on getting that selfie right at the edge of the cliff or right close to those waves that splash up on the rocks and make them exceedingly slippery. Some survive those foolish moves, but some die because they just have to have that “perfect” shot. Most people are doing the same thing with their souls.

Hebrews 9:27  And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

The nation of Israel provoked God to anger. They pushed so hard that almost an entire generation died out in the wilderness. Only two people survived to enter the land of Canaan. You notice in verse 10 that it was not God that lost out. It was the people that lost out. They erred. God is right all the time. Whether I choose to obey Him or not, He is always right. When I choose not to obey Him, I lose. It is always a good thing to submit to Him and be on the victorious side.
Because Israel fought against God, they did not know His ways, even though He showed them His ways for forty years. We know that two people can look at the same situation at the same time, and yet come away with two very different opinions. Two people can look at the King James Bible and come away with completely different understandings. One will see the hand of God in preserving His Word for the English speaking world by using fallible men who had the fear of God in their hearts and thus were willing to allow God to guide them to use just the right words in bringing His Word into the common language of the people. The other person will look at it and say it is outdated, and the translators could have chosen better words to make it much more accurate than it is. The one who trusts God and believes His Word will be blessed in growing closer and closer to the Author of the Bible. The one who finds fault with God’s Word will remain on the periphery deceived and trying to deceive others. Studying God’s Word is commanded in the Bible. The purpose of study must be to know the God of the Bible and to know how to walk with Him faithfully.
Joshua and Caleb walked in the same time frame as the “fathers” did in the wilderness. They faced the same challenges that the rest of the people faced. They also wandered forty years with the rebels, even though they were not rebels. The difference was that Joshua and Caleb trusted God and they did not join the rebels in their thoughts and actions. They entered the land flowing with milk and honey. The rest all died and were buried in the wilderness. They never entered the land. They could have, but they thought they had a better way than God had. They were fools and paid dearly for that.
The challenge today is the same as it was in the first century. That challenge was the same as that of those who lived in the days of Moses. Don’t neglect the Word of God. Don’t suppose you have a better plan than He has. Don’t follow the lies of the devil. The difference is in who owns your heart. Are you a self made person, or is God in charge? Have you been born again, or are you still in charge? Jesus told Nicodemus: “ye must be born again.” It was not an option then and it is not an option now. If you want to begin this new year with God’s peace in your heart, you must know the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord.
The Holy Ghost is still working today as He was when this epistle was written. God is still giving lost people opportunity to turn to Him today. For those that know Him, let us choose to draw more closely to Him each and every day of this new year. Let us give Him His rightful place in our hearts and lives. Let us also pray that others might humble themselves and listen to God as He seeks to draw them to the truth.
Pastor Bartel

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