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Don't Stop Being Soft Towards God

Hebrews 3:12-14
See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called 'Today', so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. (NIVUK)

When circumstances get hard, some people trust God more; others stop trusting Him and trust themselves. Those who trust God are soft hearted to His voice and His leading. Those who trust themselves become hard hearted: grumbling and blaming Him as they either despair or design their own salvation. Today's verses point back to the Israelites wilderness experience. God was being kind in saving them from slavery but they complained bitterly about having to trust God for daily provision and daily guidance. They were not in control anymore; they hated it and hated God (1 Corinthians 10:5-10).

The writer of this letter is firm with his readers, using what the Holy Spirit inspired a thousand years previously in Psalm 95:7-11 – applying it as God's Word to them. These Hebrew-background believers were disturbed by the persecution they faced from their own people and from the Roman authorities: like God's people in the desert, they were tempted to abandon their freedom in Christ and go back to their religious slavery of rules and regulations (Hebrews 2:1). But that would demonstrate the same unbelieving heart, rooted in sinful rebellion and despising God's mercy.

In hard situations, we need encouragement to keep on trusting the Lord (Hebrews 10:24-25). It is one of the great functions of the Body of Christ. The failure of a brother or sister may be because we have failed to encourage them to stay soft towards the Lord. Temptation and the pleasant early fruits of sin are so beguiling; they cause us to think that we are better off away from God. But that is the route to disaster. It is not the initial steps of faith which complete the journey; we must keep going with Jesus until we meet Him (Galatians 6:9). That is why each 'Today', until Christ calls us or comes for us, is a God-given opportunity to repent and return to Him. Don't put it off, tomorrow may never come.

A sinful heart will believe anything except the truth. It accepts lies easily, becoming harder and harder towards the Lord. Instead of faith-filled believers using the obstacles to increase their confidence in the Lord, fear-filled doubters abandon faith and go back to their old way of life. Weekly encouragement in church to continue with Christ is good, but we often need daily support to keep believing. Our brothers and sisters need our help too. A daily email, message, phone call or meeting to pray together may achieve far more than most Christians realise. If you see a believer mesmerised by sin, hardened by faithlessness or despairing through fear, help them. Encourage them to see that Jesus is above their circumstances. He is the Lord; His Word is still in command.

Saving God. Thank You for those people who have encouraged me to resist temptation, repent of sin and keep on trusting Jesus despite the circumstances. Forgive me for those times when I have become deceived by sin and hardened my heart against Your grace. Please help me to stay soft towards Your voice, and to encourage my brothers and sisters who are being tempted away from the salvation which is only found in Jesus. In His Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams