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Defining Faithfulness, Part 4

Delight in Grace / Grace Bible Church / Rich Powell
The Truth Network Radio
August 24, 2023 10:36 am

Defining Faithfulness, Part 4

Delight in Grace / Grace Bible Church / Rich Powell

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August 24, 2023 10:36 am

Believers have a calling to faithfully center our attention on Christ.  He is our reference point for all of life.  While the calling is the same, the faithful stewardship of that calling will look a little different within the unique context in which God has placed us, each investing in the relationships around us.  Today Pastor Rich looks into Hebrews 3:1-6 to help us better define what it looks like to be faithful as we point others to the Savior.

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Welcome to Delight in Grace, the teaching ministry of Rich Powell, pastor of Grace Bible Church in Winston-Salem. Hebrews 3-12 puts us on high alert to a great danger. Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. We must cultivate a surrendered, trusting heart toward our Father. Today, Pastor Rich points out the traps in our thought life that will quickly lead us to a hardened heart. Hebrews 3, 7-19 holds important wisdom for us on how to avoid a heart of unbelief. Listen now, listen, as they start providing their objections as to why they should go into the land, listen to what they say, listen to their exaggerations and what are they pointing to. Verse 33, there we saw giants, the descendants of Anak, and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight and so we were in their sight.

A little exaggeration there. Chapter 14, so all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried and the people wept that night and all the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron and the whole congregation said to them, if only we had died in the land of Egypt, if only we had died in this wilderness. Listen to this, verse 3 is amazing, isn't it? Why has the Lord brought us to this land to fall by the sword that our wives and our children should become victims? Was it not better for us to return to Egypt?

And so they said to one another, let us select a leader and return to Egypt. That's the day of rebellion that the writer of Hebrews is referring to, when they tested God and their hearts were hard and with that background he says, beware of an evil heart of unbelief. The hard heart thing, hard heart, the word hard is from the word scleruno which means to set firm. It's like concrete.

Concrete is first soft and pliable and you can mold it but then when it dries it sets hard and it's unpliable and that's the idea here, a hard heart. It's firm, it's stubborn, it's essentially saying, I'm not going along with that. I'm set in my ways, I'm not going along with it. And so for the Hebrews then, that the writer of Hebrews is writing to, when the church first started it was all Jews and he's writing to a large group of Jewish people who are thinking, okay, we recognize, we look at the Messiah promised in the Old Testament, we see Jesus Christ, we think, okay, he really could be this Messiah and they started associating themselves with Christianity but then they recognized the cost of being Christian, the cost of discipleship and because of that there was hardship and they were teetering on the fence saying, I'm not sure I signed up for this Christianity thing and everything that's entailed with it.

We think we might just go back to being good old Jews and just follow the law code where somebody tells us what to do. This trusting God thing is hard and they are being warned about having a hard heart. Well, here's how that happens. There's five steps to this and this is the warning for us today. How to get a hard heart?

Imagine that. You can actually go to somebody and say, you know, I went to church to find out how to get a hard heart. Of course, it's a warning. Don't do this. Beware of this. This is a warning and it applies to you, it applies to me.

Nobody's toes hurt more this morning than mine. Okay, I want you to know that. The first step, the first movement towards developing a hard heart is distraction. What is the distraction for the Hebrew people? Well, in the Old Testament, the distraction was, man, look at the land, look at the people in there. They're so huge, we can't overtake them.

This land devours its people. We can't do that and the Hebrews of the New Testament, this following Jesus, it makes people angry with us. You know, people don't like us that we're doing this.

This trusting God thing, I would rather be in a system where everything's predictable and this trusting God thing, it's like God's in control. I'm not sure I like that. Imagine that.

And so they're distracted. Was it not the Lord that said, take my yoke upon you? Take my yoke upon you. To take his yoke upon me means to be united with him, committed to him, working with him. And he says, take my yoke upon you because my yoke is what? Easy. And you will find what?

Rest. But you see, it begins with, we like the easy part, we like the rest part, but what does it begin with? Take my yoke upon you. We develop a hard heart when we're distracted by what looks hard, what looks hard. When you see it as something you ought to do. When you see the Christian faith as an expectation you have to live up to, we become distracted by that.

And then what's the next step? After distraction, then I start to drift. What is it that drifts?

It's my attention that drifts. I stray, my attention strays from God. Who is God? The holy, awesome, infinite, loving, good God.

The miracle working God, the omnipotent one, who defines goodness. My attention begins to stray from him, departing from the living God. And I forget who God is, I forget what he has done. Let me put it this way, when I forget or marginalize what God has done, my trust becomes my trust becomes shallow, because my attention shifts from him to me, capital M. What does that mean? Me, capital M, means I am the greatest and most important reality. And I start to think that God's there for me.

That is serious drift. And this is what he means in verse 10, referring to the people of Israel, all this stuff that God had done, but their attention shifted off of him, and it was focused on the hardships and on themselves. And the Lord says, they don't know my ways. Verse 10, they don't know my ways. How could they not? He had led them miraculously out of Egypt across the Red Sea, around Sinai, and leading them on into the promised land. How could they not have known his ways?

Because their attention drifted off of God into themselves. That's the second step to a hard heart. Here's the third, then.

Well, let me back up here a second. When my attention drifts, I begin thinking, you know, I'm not sure if I've signed up for this. And we start thinking, the reason why my attention drifts is because I'm looking at something else that, you know, I wish things were as they used to be. I think, I wish things were still predictable. We love things to be predictable, don't we? Do you know why? Because we have the problem of self preeminence.

That's why. When I demand predictability, it means I'm not willing to trust, and I demand to be in control, and that is an outflow of my self preeminence. This is the problem Israel had. They want to go back to Egypt.

Things are a little more predictable back there. You don't have to really trust God. And so this leads to the third step, then. After distraction and your attention drifts, then the third step to a hard heart is deception. And the deception is just simply this, I think I know better. I think I know better.

And remember who you're comparing yourself to, right? The infinite, sovereign, benevolent, good, holy God. And yet we can lead ourselves to thinking and deceive ourselves to thinking that we know better. There's something better for me than what God has to offer.

There's something better for me than where God is leading me. I know better than God does. Just like Israel in Numbers chapter 14. We have decided God really doesn't know what he's doing. Let's choose a leader and go back to Egypt. That's what they said.

Really? Don't they know who God is? Stop there for a minute and don't point the finger at them. Don't you know who God is? Because what's distracting you this morning? What hard thing is distracting you from following God with abandon? Do you remember who God is?

This one who has spoken to us? Those of you who are 35 or over might remember listening to a Christian musician, Keith Green. If you grew up in strict fundamentalist circles, I'm sure you did not listen to him.

There was a day I did not and would despise those who did. And those that I had discussions with would be aghast to think that today I'm quoting him in a sermon. Join us this weekend at Grace Bible Church to see People Like Us, a play performed by Grace Bible Church's youth group. People Like Us gives a small glimpse into the lives of various men and women from the Bible. People who were just like us.

They struggled with sin and temptation and with the brokenness of this world, but God was still able to use them to accomplish his perfect plan. Everyone is invited to this free event held this Saturday and Sunday, August 26th and 27th at Grace Bible Church in Winston-Salem. The play starts at 7pm and the doors open at 645pm. You can find out more at www.gbcwinston.com. We're so glad you've joined us for Delight in Grace, the teaching ministry of Rich Powell, pastor of Grace Bible Church in Winston-Salem. You can hear this message and others anytime by visiting our website, www.delightingrace.com. You can also check out Pastor Rich's book, 7 Words That Can Change Your Life, where he unpacks from God's Word the very purpose for which you were designed. 7 Words That Can Change Your Life is available wherever books are sold. As always, tune in to Delight in Grace, weekdays at 10am.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-24 17:50:57 / 2023-08-24 17:55:27 / 5

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