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Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading
Psalm 95:7-11 "For He is our God; and we are the people of His Pasture, and the sheep of His Hand. Today, if ye will (are willing), hear His Voice. Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted Me, proved Me, and saw My Work. Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known My Ways: Unto whom I sware in My Wrath that they should not enter into My Rest."We all need to beware of hardening our hearts. Doing so is deadly, because to do so is to shut out the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Once the heart is fully hard, we grieve away the Holy Spirit, and ultimately commit the "unpardonable sin"!
So, how can we prevent hardening our hearts? Are they danger signs to warn us of the steps along the way? The best protection against it is to deliberately soften your heart towards God and to seek to hear His Voice. Make it your aim to listen to and obey the Voice of God through His Word and prayer. If you do these things His Voice will grow clearer and louder, like a radio being tuned in better and turned up in volume.
Failing to do this "stores up Wrath" against us:
It has been said that the same sun which hardens clay, softens butter. In this analogy, Yahweh is like the sun. He doesn't change. His love and truth remain constant. But how do we respond to Him? Are we hardened? Or are we melted? The choice is really ours - and the determining factor is based upon what we choose.Romans 2:4-5 (NIV) - "Or do you show contempt for the riches of His kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up Wrath against yourself for the Day of God's Wrath, when His righteous Judgment will be revealed."
Consider the Parable of the Sower, told by Yahshua. The Sower goes out to sow His Good Seed, but 3/4 of it falls on unfavorable ground. Only 25% of the Good Seed feel on good ground. But Good Ground is made receptive to Seed by proper soil preparation. In a spiritual sense, we also may make the effort to dig, weed and soften the “soil” of our hearts.
The kind of heart you have developed over your life so far is largely what determines how you respond to God’s Word when you hear it. The point of the parable is that it is up to you to work on the ‘soil’ of your own heart. You must dig it and soften it to enable yourself to hear and act on God’s Word. In other words, the responsibility for the state of your heart is yours. It is not something beyond your control, by God's Grace. It may be a painful and difficult process to change it, but it is worth the effort.
If your heart is hard and stony like the path or the rocky ground, then God’s Word, (represented by the seed) will not be able to get through to you in order to germinate. The “birds” will eat it before it has any effect on you. Or, even if God’s Word begins to affect you, like the seed that germinates in the rocky ground, it cannot put down any deep roots in your life, because your heart is too hard.
If you are like that, make a decision now to persistently and deliberately do everything you can to soften your heart towards Yahweh. You can do that by repenting, reading the Word of Yahweh - daily, humbling yourself, and prayerfully aligning your life with what you have found in His Word.
Hosea 10:12 "Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek Yahweh, till He come and Rain righteousness upon you."As you do those things prayerfully and diligently it is just like a gardener digging into rocky ground, taking out stones and putting in compost and manure to improve it. As he does this, day-after-day, the soil will steadily improve. Our hearts are just the same. Thus, it is our responsibility to actively participate in softening our hearts and to not let them remain hard or stony.
If the problem is weeds, the gardener tackles it by removing and preventing them so that his soil has fewer of them. You can do the same by removing things from your life which you know are likely to distract you or lead you into temptation or bad company. You might not have realized that God expects you to do anything about those things, but He does.
In 2 Chronicles, Yahweh gives a few of the vital steps to take to be healed of a hard heart:
2 Chronicles 7:12-14 (NKJV) "Then Yahweh appeared to Solomon by night, and said to him: “I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. When I shut up Heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, if My people who are called by My Name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My Face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land."Duke Taber, in his online article, "4 Spiritual Tools to Transform a Hard Heart", explains the steps . Now most of the time when I hear people preach or teach on this passage they seem to skip over all of it and focus on the repentance part. The turning away from the wicked ways. That is an important part, but to see a real change in your heart you have to take each step one at a time. There are 4 steps to this process:
#1 Cultivate HumilityI think the biggest roadblock that most Christians have today in seeing their hardened hearts changed, is the fact that they have convinced themselves that they are doing okay.
They look around and compare themselves to each other and as long as nobody is outwardly doing the major sins, they think that they have arrived.
There is a really big pride problem in the church today. We have to come to the point that we once again see our need to tear down the idols that we have allowed to rise up in our hearts and lives.
#2 Develop An Intimate Prayer Life.Prayer has been turned into some type of magical formula that get’s God to do what we want. Prayer is not designed to be used to give Santa Claus your wish list.
It is supposed to be a deep and intimate conversation with your heavenly Father. We must get back to that intimacy with God. We must start dealing in prayer with the realization of our idolatry and hardheartedness.
We have to stop asking God to give revival to the United States and start asking Him to revive us personally. We have to see that it starts with us.
#3 Learn To Seek His Face.Here is the whole key to seeing your hard heart softened. This is the answer to how you can get to the point of turning away from your wicked ways.
A good friend of mine many years ago told me that I had a choice before me. He said I should go look into a dumpster and see all the garbage, and then I should go and look out from the local mountaintop at all of God’s creation.
He then asked me, which one do I want to look at all the time? Well the answer was obvious
When we seek God’s face, we are looking to see His beauty and glory. When we see that beauty and glory, then why would we want to settle for dumpster diving?
It softens our hearts and makes us willing to turn from the garbage that we have been holding onto and viewing as some type of treasure.
#4 Turn From The Inside Out.It is when we have completed the first 3 steps that our heart and will is changed and we no longer want those wicked ways, but instead we want the beauty and glory of God in our lives. The turning becomes easy.
Psalm 95:7-11 "For He is our God; and we are the people of His Pasture, and the sheep of His Hand. Today, if ye will (are willing), hear His Voice. Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted Me, proved Me, and saw My Work. Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known My Ways: Unto whom I sware in My Wrath that they should not enter into My Rest."