Better (By Lynne McCarthy)
Text Hebrews 3-4 (Ps. 26)
Observe This ‘Book of Better Things” asserts Christ’s sovereignty and superiority over everyone and everything, from angels to patriarchs.
The ancients regarded Moses as greater than the angels. The writer of Hebrews, however, places this servant of God in his proper relation to Jesus, the Son of God (3:3-6). The quote from Psalm 95:7-11 warns against hardening hearts to Jesus, as the Israelites hardened theirs against God and Moses. The urgency is to seek God today, lest any of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin (12).
“Therefore…” Israel took 40 rebellious, unbelieving years to enter the Promised Land. The writer warns readers to be careful, or they will meet the same end as that generation. But for faithfulness and obedience to His Law, His Word, God offers something far better -- real rest.
What is this rest? Joshua led Israel into the Promised Land, a new Sabbath rest. Joshua, (Yeshua) led into that rest, but Jesus (Yeshua), greater than Joshua, is our rest (Mt. 11:27-28). We no longer work at righteousness (10). It’s Jesus’ gift; we simply believe (11) and find our rest, in Him.
For the word of God is living and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.(12,13) This passage cuts deeply to convict, if we’re alive to the Word. That is its purpose.
Interpret Hardening our hearts -- a subtle, terrifying, deceptive process: lapsing into indifference; presuming on God’s mercy (What I do doesn’t matter; God has to forgive!); unbelief; living without Him. Sin = deceit, in the way it comes to us, its promises, what it calls itself in rationalizations before and after sin is done. The Spirit invites us to abandon that deadly equation and let God soften our hearts, today. Or, better, Now.
Those tough verses in 4:12-13? The Word pierces festering hidden sin, drains lies and falsity, heals and makes right. If we submit to God’s scrutiny, we find He longs to set us free from our dodgy motives, our willed deceptions, our hiding from Him (remember Genesis 3?). These chapters don’t mince words. Divine surgery excises sin to restore His real life.
Apply People who prayerfully and carefully exhort and rebuke are rare and precious. Our hard hearts resist their Spirit-discerned correction, but how we need them!
Accountability is significant to fellowship -- if we are in fellowship. Loner Christians are in a precarious place. We, God’s family members, offer gentle reminders to get back into community, worship, the Word, prayer, whatever has been neglected (while so aware of our own flaws). The Spirit writes the mercy script and we, His family, act out of His sometimes-tough love. It’s God’s counter-cultural way, His Spirit of love and humility returning us to better things!
“I’m trying to believe!” “I wish I could believe!” Really? Grinding effort, wishful thinking – don’t bother. Faith is God’s gift. Unbelief, disastrous to our spiritual lives, requires others to remind; prayer to focus; the desire to change; the Spirit to gently bring us back home – into the heart of Jesus.
Ask Lord, do You have anyone in mind who loves You (and me) enough so when my heart hardens, this saint and You can help me humbly undergo Your surgery?
Pray Test me and know my heart that I may not sin against You, Lord of my heart.
Sing Heb 3:1-6 Psallos Maker of the Stories https://youtu.be/Zl8tNuPJtZU
Heb 4:9 Donald Lawrence A Rest https://youtu.be/rVkAA82A-4A
Heb 4:12 Brentwood Benson https://youtu.be/Ikkckwy3ruk
Heb 4:15-16 Winter Haven Redeemer Throne of Grace https://youtu.be/NvKKfL-PszI
Ps. 26: Ben and Noelle Kilgore https://youtu.be/iXCYEHdoRqY
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In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.