Thought for the Week - 1st OctoberPastor Gareth Watkins
Hebrews 3: 7- 4:3
“Today when you hear his voice,
don’t harden your hearts
as Israel did when they rebelled,
when they tested me in the wilderness.
There your ancestors tested and tried my patience,
even though they saw my miracles for forty years.
So I was angry with them, and I said,
‘Their hearts always turn away from me.
They refuse to do what I tell them.’
So in my anger I took an oath:
‘They will never enter my place of rest.’”
Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters.
Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving,
turning you away from the living God.
You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,”
so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God.
For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ.
Remember what it says:
“Today when you hear his voice,
don’t harden your hearts
as Israel did when they rebelled.”
And who was it who rebelled against God, even though they heard his voice?
Wasn’t it the people Moses led out of Egypt?
And who made God angry for forty years?
Wasn’t it the people who sinned, whose corpses lay in the wilderness?
And to whom was God speaking when he took an oath
that they would never enter his rest?
Wasn’t it the people who disobeyed him?
So we see that because of their unbelief they were not able to enter his rest.
God’s promise of entering his rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it.
For this good news – that God has prepared this rest –
has been announced to us just as it was to them.
But it did them no good because they didn’t share the faith
of those who listened to God.
For only we who believe can enter his rest.
I wrote last week about how we need more faith. Today I’d like to discuss how we can build our faith; how we can build our trust, dependency and reliance upon God.
Firstly, we can read our Bible. In Romans 10:17 we learn “faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” Our next step is to train our mouths to speak in accordance with the scripture and what God says. We then need to do the things God wants us to do.
The verses above go all the way back to Moses in the wilderness, to the book of Hebrews written by Paul, up to now. If we are going to train our mouths in line with scripture, these verses show us how our mouths can deny. Our mouths can deny God and harden our hearts through what we say. Our mouths can cause God to become angry. God is not a far off God, He is working in our lives, and there are consequences to our actions.
We read that we are to “be careful”. We have to be careful how we speak – we can’t speak as those who are in the world speak. Even though people might seek to take advantage of us if we don’t speak like them, we must still be careful with how we speak. We need to train ourselves and our mouths.
We also read that we must warn and encourage others. Do we do this? Do we persevere with our encouragement in love?
These verses show us how we can train our mouths in accordance with the scriptures; to say things in the way that God wants us to speak. The consequence will be blessing toward us, of faith, life and the flow of God.
We read that “God has prepared this rest”. He has rest for us – He has promised it to us! If we find that we are not in that rest, it might what we are saying or that we are living as we’d like. Or God might be bringing us into a place of dependency on Him. However if we might say “I have no rest – God gives me no rest”, then we are lying against the word of God. God’s word cannot be lied against. If we lie against God’s word, then there is a consequence for us. That is the training we need to learn!
Jesus Himself said in Matthew 12: 34:
How could evil men like you speak what is good and right?
For whatever is in your heart determines what you say.
Christ is teaching us a principle. Whatever is deep inside us comes out of our mouths. If that bit that comes out of us is not right, we need to bring it right. We need to train our mouth to speak in accordance with God’s scripture, so that our mouth can be right and our heart can be right. If our heart and our mouth is right under God, then His blessing comes back in and our faith is increased, because we’ll see the effect in our life. Christ taught us a principle!
We can train our hearts with the words that come out of our mouths. Just like the time tables we learnt in school. We learnt them by rote, by heart and still recall them straight away today! We trained ourselves through our mouths. We can work at our performance under God. God knows how we speak – what comes out of our mouths reveals the faith that is in our heart. Jesus Christ Himself taught us.
We can affect those things in our heart by rote – we can learn it over and over again. It will change the way we are inside and train us to be different people to who we are. We all need to move on in faith.
Holding on to that sin that comes out of us, contrary to the word of God, doesn’t do us any favours. It doesn’t make God pleased with us, it doesn’t bring the blessing of God. Similarly, speaking out of our mouths words and circumstances that we indulge ourselves in, doesn’t help our spiritual life. It doesn’t bring the blessing of God into our lives and our family’s lives. We need more faith!
If we don’t have the right anointing in the words we say, then we will not be able to influence others. We will be like the Pharisees that Jesus was speaking to in Matthew above. They looked and spoke the best, but their words revealed their true heart before God. James 3:4 tells us that “a little rudder steers a big ship”. What comes out of our mouths can have a massive impact and influence.
What would be your judgement today about what comes out of your mouth?
In Romans 10: 8-10 we read:
it is on your lips and in your heart.”
And that message is the very message about faith that we preach:
If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord
and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God,
and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.
We need to believe in our heart and confess with our mouths. One part doesn’t work without the other. We can’t believe, but refuse to speak of it. We can’t confess it, but not believe. We need to take the truths of God and know that the situations in our life lines up with that. That is the confession of the truth of God. For example, if we have a healing, to confess it is to acknowledge and confess that healing has come from God who has heard your prayer! That’s lining your life up to scripture and our mouths saying the same thing.
We see above that our heart is the centre of what we believe. If we learn something over and over again – as we can do with scripture – it changes the very being of who we are. It’s a practical, day by day, attendance to detail. There’s a positive effect on our faith. We read above that the mouth is spoken of before the heart. That is because what we speak of, out of our mouths, goes into our hearts afterward. We can affect our heart through our mouths.
We can talk negatively, unfaithful, condemning or selfishly out of our mouths, and therefore into our hearts. We need to speak positively, in line with the scriptures; this makes things fruitful. We need to challenge those things that come out of our mouths that do not line up with scriptures. For example, if we say “I’m not good enough”, we need to challenge that with scripture and remember that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13) and “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8: 36).
We need to learn the scriptures so that our mouths can speak the truth, which will go into our heart.
Words don’t just become audible, but they become visible in our lives. We need to read the word, we need to make our mouths line up with scripture and we need to act upon it.
In Hebrews above, Moses was in the wilderness with the children of Israel. We read the word “today” over and over. That is an action and our starting point. We need to be people of action today. We need to do something day by day, on and on unto Him.
What are you doing today about the levels of your faith?