Hebrews 8:13 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.Hebrews 3:7-4:11 7So, as the Holy Spirit says: "Today, if you hear his voice, 8do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert, 9where your fathers tested and tried me and for forty years saw what I did. 10That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said, 'Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.' 11So I declared on oath in my anger, 'They shall never enter my rest.' "[a] 12See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness. 14We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. 15As has just been said: "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion."[b] 16Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? 17And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert? 18And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed[c]? 19So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.1. Just a few hours and we will say goodbye to 2008 and hello to a new year. New Year’s Eve is a time of reflection. A time we look back over the past year and consider what happened in the world and in our lives. A time we look ahead and wonder about the unknown that lies before us.2. 2. Although this is a time to look back and look ahead, there is one time that is most important to us and that is TODAY.3. We are often told to make the most of the present - to not dwell in the past or the future. Now is what counts.4. In a sense this is what the writer to the Hebrew Christians is saying. 5 times he uses the word "Today" in our passage. And he tells us why today is so important to us.5. He is writing to Christians6. When is today? Today is the time when God speaks to us and we are still able to respond to His worda. 2 Cor 6:1-2 As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For he says, "In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you." I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.b. Today is the day when you have the opportunity to enter into God’s rest. d. We do not know when today will end so we have to deal with today as if it is right now.7. Today we hear the voice of God speaking to us. It is the voice that spoke to the people of Israel in the desert of Sinai. It is the voice that spoke through the psalmist top warn the nation of Israel. It is the voice that spoke through the New Testament writer to those who had to decide if they would follow Christ. It is the voice that speaks through me this evening to you who must decide how you respond to God tonight.8. We are commanded to do three things today.9. First command begins in vs. 8. Do not harden your hearts.a. The writer reminds us of what happens if we respond the wrong way. If we harden our heart and reject what God is telling us.b. The people of Israel had been rescued by God from slavery in Egypt. In Psalm 95, which is quoted in Hebrews, we are reminded by two words of the attitude of the peoplee. They wanted to go back to the land of slavery. They refused to know God and to know that He would provide for them. Result found in vs. 11 "They shall never enter my rest". Meant that a 11 day journey through desert became a 40 year journey. Meant that the land of promise, the rest from the wandering and unsettledness was given to only Joshua and Caleb of that generation. The others, of which there were 603,548 men, died in the wilderness.f. The command is that we must not harden hearts and refuse to obey God when we may find the going tough and the future to uncertain.10. The second command is in vs. 12 - See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God..b. We may have been taught the way of God but in the way we live we choose our own way, we become people that turn away from church and from what we believe. Like I did for years. c. But what we are doing is not just that. It is turning away from the living God. From a deep personal, living relationship with God Himself. People don’t reject the church, or us, when they walk away. They reject God Himself.11. These two commands are very important to us today. We must not allow hardships to stop us from trusting in God nor must we must not allow our sin to turn us away from Him.a. For people of Israel., the one led to the other. First they forgot the mighty power of God that had saved them and they refused to place trust in Him. That led to fear - they were afraid to go on to the land.c. That is what has happened in world.12. Since we no longer sense power of God and trust in Him we follow our own ways. That means a heart that is not softened by the Holy Spirit. A heart that rejects God. 13. And it seems that when a heart rejects God it can come to a point when it is too late. The people of Israel saw their mistake. Even though Moses warned them, they tried to fight Amelekites and Cananites. But it was too late. Today was over. They were defeated .14. For us we have to obey God to enter into His rest. But the obedience we are to have is to obey the call of the gospel and have faith in Jesus Christ. 4:3 - we who believe enter that rest.15. If not yet believe we cannot enter rest but there is still opportunity. 4:11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience. We must believe - put trust in God.16. Today is over for those who refused to enter Canaan but is not over for us. If your heart hard tonight - ask Him to soften it and to enable you to trust in Him. To experience the rest. The rest from trying to earn God’s favour. The rest of trusting in God. To be assured of your salvation and of God working out things for your good.17. Oh yes, one more command. 3: 13 - encourage one another.a. As long as we still have opportunity, as long as it is today, may we encourage each other to not be overtaken by discouragement and sin but to show our faith is genuine. b. That’s why we are placed together. To encourage each other to salvation - to enter into God’s rest. c. May we together grow in faith and knowledge of God. May we be God’s presence of hope and also overcome sin of disobedience by being holy examples of God’s faithfulness and love18. 2 Cor 6:1-2 As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For he says, "In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you." I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.• His associations are the same.• He still prefers to rescue sinful people and He still condemns the powerful who are merciless and heartless.• His teachings are the same.• He has not added or subtracted any doctrines, nor has He endorsed any new trends.• His expectations are the same.• What He said to the rich young ruler, to Nicodemus, to the woman at the well, and to the woman taken in adultery is pretty much what He says to you today. Matthew 25:31-46 means as much to Him today as it did then.• His activities are the same.• If you are part of the body of Christ, you should be doing the things that the body of Christ is recorded as doing. Jesus was not known for His reclusive piety. He did not live as an ascetic hermit in a cave on a hillside, preaching platitudes to those with the fortitude to visit Him.
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