Hebrews: Today…Part 1-03/07/21

 Series Title: Jesus is GREATER than…

Message: ‘Today…’ pt.1

Text: Hebrews 3:7-4:11

 Introduction: I think one of the things that Kathy hears a lot from me and that she really doesn’t care for is… I’ll get to it…. You know the next word… TOMORROW.

Let me ask. Have you ever put off doing something today only to find out that it would have worked out better if you made it yesterday… when it was today?

TODAY! PP: We love to play fast and loose with… TODAY! For instance:

  • PP: When we’re children, we play dress up to pretend we’re older.
  • PP: When we’re teens we want it to be tomorrow because we can drive, we can stay out later, we can be done with homework and school.
  • PP: When we done with school, and we’re working, all we think about is wanting it to be tomorrow so we can retire.

The problem with all of that is this… when all we want is tomorrow, when all we look forward to is tomorrow, we miss out on so much… today.

PP: Here’s a foundational truth we will see from our text over the next 2 weeks:

  • What you decide to do today, the choices you make today, how you live today…
  • will determine your tomorrow!

And that’s true for our spiritual life as well. Whether you’re 15 or 85 years old, your goal for each today ought to be the same… pursue Jesus, live according to your heavenly calling.

  • The key to tomorrow is to see what God is doing for you today, right here, right now.
  • The key to tomorrow is choosing to live passionately for Jesus today, right here, right now.

If we choose not to… there will be consequences.

Transition: Open your Bibles to Hebrews 3:7 where we’ll hear God speak to us concerning today.. three ways:

  • Hear today, Believe today and Encourage today.
  1. Hebrews 3:7-11 Today… Hear!

PP: Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, ‘Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers put Me to the test and saw My works for forty years. Therefore I was provoked with that generation’, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart; they have not known My ways.’ As I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’

The writer is telling us that we need to hear God speak to us… today. If we choose not to hear God’s voice, to obey God’s Word, then we risk hardening our hearts towards Him… tomorrow. That’s the gist of this passage.

  • Hearing God’s voice is God speaking to us by his Holy Spirit who lives inside the Christian.
  • Hearing God’s voice is also the same as reading God’s Word. God speaks to us through the Bible.

Implied in both is the idea of obedience. How do I know that? Because the writer uses a real-life event that the Jewish Christians would have known from the time they were children.

  • Israel’s rebellion, prior to entering the Promised Land.

The writer recounts this disastrous event in the lives of the Israelites, from Psalm 95, which was first recorded in Numbers 14.

That was a sad day in the history of the Israelites.

  • It was the day they chose not to obey what God had said, not to trust what God had done for them
  • and instead choose to go back to the past, to yesterday, to Egypt, because they thought it offered them a much better… tomorrow.

They no longer trusted God, they no longer believed that God had their best interest at heart. That day, that TODAY, they rebelled against God. All the adults, except Joshua and Caleb, ended up dying in the Wilderness and never entered the Promised Land. It was God’s judgment for them not hearing His voice and obeying His Word on that… today.

  • God spared Caleb and Joshua and allowed them to enter the Promised Land because they were the only adults that remained faithful to God… each today they had.
  • They heard God’s voice, they obeyed God’s Word and they trusted God.
  • They placed their tomorrow in God’s hands and God blessed them in their today…

Contextually, the writer of Hebrews sees the Jewish Christians is a similar position… they’re considering going back to Judaism, to yesterday, rather than trust God, by listening to Jesus… today.

  • They were doing that because they feared their tomorrow.
  • They feared greater persecution tomorrow for rejecting Judaism and embracing Jesus today.

The problem was, by focusing on tomorrow, they would reject Jesus today. And if that happened, God would discipline them as He did the ancient Israelites who rebelled against God. How were they disciplined?

  • Every adult who rebelled against God and His Word, who disobeyed God, who chose not to believe that God was their salvation and their hope… today
  • They all died as they spent 40 years of their tomorrows wandered in the wilderness.

God said; ‘They shall not enter My rest.’

Just before the Israelites were to enter the Promised Land, after the 40 years of wandering in the Wilderness, Moses once again warns them to hear God’s voice, to obey His Word, because if they choose not to, they too would not find His rest. Here is how Moses put it in Deuteronomy 28:65-66

 PP: And among these nations you shall find no respite, and there shall be no resting place for the sole of your foot, but the Lord will give you there a trembling heart and failing eyes and a languishing soul. Your life shall hang in doubt before you. Night and day you shall be in dread and have no assurance of your life.

This is what the writer is saying will happen to the Jewish Christians if they choose to seek a better tomorrow by choosing to fall away from Jesus today.

Now, I don’t believe this text says they will lose their salvation, only that life for them will be

  • more difficult, more anxious, more doubt filled than they could imagine.
  • God will remove His blessings, the comfort of His presence and they will struggle every today.

In other words, they will lose experiencing God’s rest… today.

PP:

 Commentator Leon Morris explains God’s rest this way: God’s rest refers to “a place of blessing where there is no more striving but only relaxation in the presence of God

and in the certainty that there is no cause for fear.” God’s spiritual rest comes to the person who “does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly” (Rom. 4:5). “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1).

The word, if, here is very significant.

  • IF they chose to hear God speak.
  • IF they choose to obey what God tells them,
  • then, their hearts won’t be hardened like the ancient Israelites were,
  • then they will enter God’s rest.

Now, remember that we already discussed that in any church, now and back then, there are three groups of people:

  • Those who are truly saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus.
  • Those who are ‘churched’ who know about Jesus but it has never reached their hearts, so they give their lives to Him.
  • Those who are seeking Jesus but have yet to place their faith in Him for salvation.

I believe this warning from the writer is for all three:

  • To the born-again Believer, he’s telling them to continue to hear God speak, to continue to obey God’s Word, and continue pursuing Jesus so you will experience God’s rest in your… todays.
  • To the other two groups he warns them that to continue to reject Jesus today, will result in a hardening of their hearts making it very difficult for them to receive Jesus… tomorrow and ending in a life of unrest and separation from God for eternity.

Look, I know this is a lot. And I know I haven’t given an in-depth examination of how a Christian can never lose their salvation.  But let me give one relevant example from what happened to the Israelites in the Wilderness, that might make it a bit clearer.

  • We know that both Moses and Aaron died before they entered the Promised Land.

What we also know is that both Moses and Aaron were found faithful by God and are in heaven as we speak.

When we consider the generation of Israelites that did enter the Promised Land under Joshua’s leadership, we could never assume they all were going to heaven, like Moses and Aaron.

  • They sinned very quickly after entering the land.
  • And many Israelites who entered the land were unbelievers.
  • Finish out the book of Numbers after chapter 14 and you’ll see that.

One of the writers points here is to tell us to learn from the ancient Israelites mistakes. The Apostle Paul tells us of the same thing in 1 Corinthians 10:11

PP: Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.

So, what is it that God wants us to learn, today, from verses 7-11?

  • Hear Me when I speak… today!
  • Obey what I say… Today!
  • Trust Me.. today and you will experience My rest in all of your todays until you reach the ultimate place of rest… heaven and my presence.

Transition: The writer tells us next to believe God… Today!

  1. Hebrews 3:12 Today… Believe!

PP: Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.

Again this sounds like

  • if we don’t keep our heavenly calling,
  • if we stop believing God and HIS Word,

then we’ll lose our salvation by falling away from the Living God.

 However, I believe the key phrase here is unbelieving heart.  Listen to God’s promise in Ezekiel 36:26-29a

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes and be careful to obey My rules.

You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be My people, and I will be your God. And I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses.

In Acts 15:8-9 Dr. Luke add this about the new heart God gives us as an act of His grace. And God, Who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as He did to us, and He made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith.

The new heart that God gives us by His grace, is a heart of faith, a heart to believe in Jesus, to believe in God, to believe in His Word.

  • Christians have a believing heart, not one they cleaned up and worked on themselves, but a heart of faith that God gave them by His grace so that we would believe in Jesus.
  • And listen, there is nothing I’ve found in the Bible that says God will ever take that believing heart away from us.

The heart mentioned here is an unbelieving heart. Look, w make it that way all on our own. And at it’s very center, is what distinguishes

  • those who are saved from those who are not saved,
  • those who are children of God and those who are not children of God.

So he’s talking to those who are in the church.. but who are in the two groups of people who are either ‘churched’ or who are still looking… both of whom are not saved, because both have an unbelieving heart.

It’s like the writer’s saying:

  • Look, it’s great you are part of the church. It’s the absolute right place for you to be to find faith in Jesus.
  • But look, if you don’t stay in the church, if you leave and go back to following Judaism, you’ll be walking out on your opportunity to know the Living God, to be God’s child and to have a believing heart.

Not believing fully in Jesus and going back to Judaism will lead you to fall away from the living God.

  • Remember, today is the day to believe in Jesus, to trust God, if you don’t your heart could be hardened. Making it harder to place your faith in Jesus… today.

So listen please. If you’re here this morning, or if you’re viewing this on Facebook Live… seriously consider your position before God…. At this very moment, today:

  • Are you saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus?
  • Or, are you ‘churched’ do you know about Jesus but it has never reached your heart to give your life to Him?
  • Or, are you seeking Jesus but have yet to place your faith in Him for the forgiveness of your sin?

Look, you don’t know how many more todays you’ll have before it’ll be tomorrow and…too late.

The Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:2 quotes God saying: …In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you. Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

  • Our text is telling us not to be like the ancient Israelites who didn’t believe God, who were disobedient to His Word and never entered God’s rest.
  • Instead… believe, place your trust in Jesus and Jesus alone for the forgiveness of your sin… and do it while it’ still… today.

Transition: Our writer ends with one more thing to do while it is today… encourage.

  1. Hebrews 3:13 Today… Encourage!

PP: But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Now, this is something we can all understand, right? To put it simply, the writer is telling us that one way, a very important way we can help someone avoid developing a hard heart towards God, is by encouraging them. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is today.

So, how often should we encourage one another? Every day, every day, every day the other person has a today left.

But what does it mean to encourage someone?

  • It means to give support, confidence or hope to someone, it means to inspire, to lift up.

As Christians, we can encourage faith in others by helping them see the hope that’s found in Jesus.

Look, we can use words to encourage others. But if we’re honest, we’re better at using our words to discourage or put people down than we are using our words to encourage and lift others .

  • We saw that in the event in the Book of Numbers where 8 of the men who returned from spying the Promised Land gave discouraging words to the people, only 2, Joshua and Caleb, used their words to encouraged the faith of the people.
  • The 8 won out and the people began to rebel against Moses.

Words of discouragement are very powerful. But so are words that encourage.

We can also encourage each other with what we do. If we were to stay close to the context of our passage today,

one way to encourage others by what we do would be to show them

  • that our faith in Jesus is not just an intellectual exercise,
  • it’s not just something we do on Sunday, it’s a lifestyle.

We can show our faith in Jesus by what we do, and by how we live.

Why should we encourage one another? According to our texts one reason is

  • because sin affects all of us, sin distracts all of us, sin wants to destroy all of us
  • and it wants to do that… today, so that we’ll have no tomorrow with Jesus.

OK that’s the gist of it, the general understanding of verse 13. Let me give you some of the specifics.

Sadly, many of us live in a world where the only encouragement we get is a PP: ‘like’ on our social media posts. And it makes us feel warm for.. a scant moment.

Social media touts its effectiveness at creating and maintaining ‘friendships,’ yet, so many people who use those sites, are lonely. Because social media only teases with the idea of being connected to others.

PP: Listen, God has written practice of connecting with others in our DNA.  Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone… (Genesis 2:18a, ESV) This is not just concerned with a spouse. PP: It’s about friendship, being in community with others.

PP: Look, life, especially today during the continuing COVID Pandemic, we’re getting beat down, discouraged… weary. Sometimes we get so weary

  • we stop attending church, we stop connecting with Christian friends, we even start to disengage from Jesus.

Social media interaction only touches the surface of our despair: we need real, in person, interactions… real relationships.

Let me take a few moments to talk about what encouraging others looks like:

 First, exhort one another is a present imperative…

  • It can be translated keep on encouraging one another.
  • How often? Every day. Every day someone or perhaps even the same someone might need to be encouraged.. from you.

 Second, we encourage one another by actually following and living out the one another’s in the Bible. Here are just a few of the one another’s found in the Bible: PP:

  • Zechariah 7:9 Show mercy/compassion to one another
  • John 13:34-35 Love one another
  • 1 Corinthians 12:25 Care for one another
  • Galatians 5:13 Serve one another
  • Galatians 6:2 Carry one anothers burdens
  • Ephesians 4:2 Be patient with one another
  • Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another

PP:

  • Ephesians 4:32 Forgive one another
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:10 Comfort one another
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:11 Build up one another
  • James 5:16 Pray for one another
  • 1 Peter 4:9 Show hospitality to one another
  • 1 John 1:7 Fellowship with one another

All of these are a choice we make, every day to reach out to someone, to come along side someone to help them make it… today! And each of their todays.

The spiritual health of every member of our church community is each of our responsibility… PP: We truly are.. our brothers and our sisters keeper!

Conclusion:

ILL: Max Lucado talks about participating in a Young Life Summer Camp where every Thursday, 400 students make the fourteen-thousand-foot climb up Colorado’s Mount Chrysolite. [On one of those trips], somewhere around 4,000 feet, [a student named] Matthew decided to call it quits.

Lucado coaxed him, begged him, negotiated a plan with him: thirty steps of walking, sixty seconds of resting.

Finally, they stood within a thousand feet of the peak, but the last stretch of the trail rose up as straight as a fireman’s ladder. So they got serious. Two guys came up beside Matt, each taking an arm. Lucado pushed from the rear, and they all but dragged Matt past the timberline and to the awesome view at the top. That’s when they heard the applause. 400 campers on the crest of Mount Chrysolite gave Matt a standing ovation.

PP: As Lucado slumped down to rest, a thought came his way: That’s a perfect picture of God’s plan. Do all you can to push each other to the top. (As told by C Phillip Green)

Yes, encouraging others is hard. Yes, encouraging others at times won’t be convenient or comfortable.

  • But it’s what we do, Christian, so we can walk worthy of our calling in Christ Jesus.
  • And it’s what we do, so others can find Jesus and walk in Him.

And Christian, we encourage one another… while it is still… today!

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