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“The Secret of Joy” (2 Cor. 8:1-4)

Preventing Hardened Hearts (Heb. 3:13-15)

Preventing Hardened Hearts (Heb. 3:13-15)

WONDERFUL THING IN THIS PASSAGE – We live in a hard world, and it is easy to become hardened by it. We can help one another avoid that.

Like the Hebrews, most of us can look back on periods of “hard struggle with sufferings” (Heb. 10:32-34). Some of you are in such a time now. May the Lord meet you in your troubles and make Himself dear to you. May He grant you strength to persevere and faith to keep trusting Him. May He teach you things you could only learn in adversity. And may He then bring you quickly into easier times.

People can come out of hard times better – or they can come out bitter. They can learn to draw closer to the God who saw them through, or they can decide to reject the God who didn’t rescue them soon enough. They can become harder or softer, and there’s something you and I can do to make the difference:

“Encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin’s deception… As it is said: ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.’” (Heb. 3:13,15).

This passage points back to an incident in Psalm 95:7-11 and Exodus 17:1-7. Early in their journey to the Promised Land, the Israelites camped where there was no drinking water. They could have trusted the God who had recently demonstrated His control of all water by parting an entire sea of it to bring them out of Egypt. They could have humbled themselves and asked Him what to do next. Instead, they focused only on their dry throats. Rejecting God, they demanded that Moses give them water – now, or die.

We and our fellow believers are still easily deceived by deprivation and sin. Even if we’ve often heard God’s voice and experienced His care, we can focus all our attention on the difficulties of the moment and God’s “failure” to alleviate them. Any of us can harden our hearts.

WONDERFUL THING IN OUR LIVES – That’s where you and I can help, dear friends. God has given us a unique power to encourage one another, and He calls us to exercise it every day. The Greek word translated “encourage” in this passage means more precisely to speak encouragingly to someone right beside you.

You and I can help each other keep our hearts soft by reminding each other that …

  • God has chosen us. – We are not “just anybody.” God chose and called each of us as His children.
  • He has rescued us. – Like the Israelites, we were helpless to free ourselves, and God saved us.
  • He has provided for us. – Time and time again, He has given us more and treated us better than we deserved.
  • He has proven Himself to us. – He has come through for us when nothing less than a miracle would do.
  • He has led us. – We have heard his voice, often in quiet, small ways, and He has guided us to better places.
  • He has a plan for us. – We are not just “wandering in the wilderness.” He is building us into the people He wants us to be and guiding us to the destiny He’s prepared for us.

Who do you know who needs to hear some of that or some of the other encouraging things you could add? Who do you need to encourage before the day is over? Imagine what the church would be like if we asked that question every day.

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