Hebrews 3-4, Psalm 26
A vaccine consists of either dead virus or bacteria or weakened forms of it. By administering it we develop immunity to the real infectious agents. So many people have grown up in dead religions or in dead churches under priests or pastors devoid of genuineness. The result is they feel they have already heard this gospel stuff before and their hearts are hardened. Others have experienced the real thing, but feeling they are good enough based on the world's standards, they feel no compulsion to allow the real message to penetrate their heart. They trade the absolute truths present in the Word of God for the moral relativism so pervasive in our culture. Being "good" according to the world's standards is really meaningless according to God's standards. Realize there were really good Nazis in the eyes of the other Nazis, and there are currently really good members of ISIS according to the other members who will be deemed good by their standards if they carry out Jihad. In today's reading we realize it is and always has been the standard of God's Word and the condition of the soil of our heart.
The author of Hebrews warns in 3:7-11, "Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: "Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, In the day of trial in the wilderness, Where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, And saw My works forty years. Therefore I was angry with that generation, And said, 'They always go astray in their heart, And they have not known My ways.' So I swore in My wrath, 'They shall not enter My rest.' " Realize in the Parable of the Sower, the Seed and the Sower do not change. The only thing that varies is the soil. It is this variable which determines whether the Seed can have it's effect. Jesus said in Matthew 13:15about the people, "For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have been closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them." In Hebrews 4:2, it says in a similar fashion, "For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it." It is this feeling that we are pretty good which blinds us and deafens us. But even if we truly believed our actions were good, we should all be humbled by Hebrews 4:12-13, "For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is 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." God sees our thoughts, our motives, everything. This should bring us all to our knees since none of us can feel good under that level of observation.
So as we continue to live in this confusing world during very confusing times, when everything which is wrong by God's standards is called right by the world's standards, let us hold firm to God's Word and to the absolute standards of right and wrong. In Proverbs 6:16-17, it says, "These six things the Lord hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look,..." The reason that God places pride at the front of this list is because it is the sin that keeps people from coming to Him more than any other. This was the sin that caused Lucifer to rebel against Him in the heavenlies. In Jesus' Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:3, Jesus says, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Being poor in spirit is the opposite of pride. So many have their reasons for not believing in God and not giving their lives to Him: they have heard it before, they do not like all the "hypocrites" they see, it is boring, they are good anyway, etc. There are many reasons that people miss heaven by the 18 inches it takes from the distance from one's head to one's heart. May we all have good soil and receive God's Word, and may we reach out to a world in desperate need and plant the seeds of truth.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: