Remember the famous phone commercial for Verizon “Can you hear me now?” It was a play on what most mobile phone users were saying as they walked around looking for good reception. As you read today’s verse in Hebrews, you can almost hear the Holy Spirit saying the same thing: “Can you hear me?”
“Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness,”
Are You Listening?
The Holy Spirit still speaks today. He does it through the Word of God, a soft still voice in your heart, or through the spiritual gift of another person. It’s not a matter of what he is saying but are we listening? There is so much noise and distractions today that it is hard to hear the whisper of the Holy Spirit. We need to learn how to quiet our minds and steady our hearts so that we can truly listen to him speak.
There is something else that can prevent us from hearing; it’s our hard hearts. Whether it be bitterness from past pain or callousness from unrepented sin our hearts can grow cold. It is next to impossible for us to listen because we have shut God out. We have become so distant that any faint voice can’t be heard. Ask Jesus to soften your heart today. Ask for forgiveness, confess your sins, and surrender your soul to the one who can turn your heart soft again.
One more thing. There is another way that our ears go deaf. It is when we are in the midst of a trial or test. The sounds of the winds howling from the storm we are in can harden our heart. We can become angry at God because of the tough times we are going through. Don’t let this happen to you. All of us go through times of testing. Submit to the leading of the Holy Spirit and let him guide you through the trial.
Most studies and surveys say the same thing; workers don’t like their bosses. They grumble about them to coworkers, gripe about the way things are done, and generally are miserable at work. Most of the blame is put on the boss. As Christians, we are called to a higher standard. We are to work unto the LORD regardless of work conditions or who is over us. Jesus tells all of us ” be about your business.”
Blessed is that servant whom the master finds doing his job when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.”
Better Than Expected
Jesus is talking about the return of Christ in this parable, but there is an important principle we can apply now. We are to be about our business while we are at work. If someone is paying our wages, we have committed to do the job we are paid for. In fact, as a Christian, we are to do it better than we are expected to. This strengthens our witness and increases our value on the job.
Much of our work is done in anonymity. That is why faithfulness is essential. You may not get all the attention and appreciation for the work you are doing, but that is okay. The goal is to be found faithfully doing your job when the boss checks on you. Don’t strive for the attention or accolades at work. Be known as the one who consistently does your work well and can be counted on.
There is another aspect to this passage. One day Christ will return, and we need to be found about our business. We have a role to serve in the local church, and he wants to find us being faithful to that. We will give an account of our work when we stand before the Lord. The goal is to hear “Well done good and FAITHFUL servant.”
Your eyes are a window to your soul. Much can be known about you just by watching your eyes. The eye doesn’t lie. Your eyes exude health or sickness; they show truth or deception. Jesus tells us today that the eye is the lamp of the body. It tells us whether we are healthy or sick.
“Your eye is the lamp of the body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is also full of light. But when it is bad, your body is also full of darkness.”
You Cannot Hide
The eye doesn’t lie. You cannot hide what is inside from your eyes. You can change your voice, put a smile on your mouth and manipulate your body language but you can’t change your eyes. Your eyes illuminate what’s going on in your heart. When things are going good our eyes come alive, and we engage other people. When things aren’t going well our eyes look sullen, and we often look away. Your eyes cannot hide what is going on in your heart.
Are You Healthy or Sick?
Have you ever seen a sick person? Their eyes look sullen and dark. It’s not their fault or by their choice, but it is a reflection of what is going on in our bodies. When we are healthy, our eyes have a glimmer to them. People notice that we are doing well because our eyes show hope, they reflect life and energy. What are your eyes reflecting today?
The way to change your eyes is to change what is on the inside. What is your heart full of? Are you overflowing with the peace and joy that Jesus brings? If not you can change that today. Start with confessing your sins to Him. That will clean out all the garbage. Then start to pour in His Word and Holy Spirit. Ask God to fill you with a fresh dose of the Spirit right now. This will change your outlook faster than anything. Finally, guard what goes into your heart. If you keep pumping garbage into your mind and heart that is what is going to come out.
Did your mother ever tell you to count your blessings when you were complaining as a child? I know mine did. Whenever I was getting negative and starting to complain about things not going my way she would tell me to count my blessings. When I was young, I had no clue what that meant. As an adult I totally get it. God has blessed me with so much, and sometimes I need to remind myself.
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
Count Your Blessings
David knew what it was like to be taken care of by the Lord. In the first four verses, he recounts the many ways that the Lord has blessed him. His sin has been forgiven, and he has been healed of diseases, redeemed from the pit, and crowned with steadfast love and mercy. He doesn’t want to forget all of these benefits, so he repeats them back to the Lord. This is something we should do as well. Spend some time recounting all of the many blessings God has bestowed on you.
Return the Blessing
For all of those blessings, David wants to return the blessing back to the Lord. His heart is full of gratefulness so he sings “Bless the LORD, O my soul!” With all of his heart, David worships the LORD. The way that we bless the LORD is by worshipping him. No gift or act of service will ever come close to the blessing of worship. Give him all the praise and glory.
Are you going through a difficult time? Maybe you feel stuck in life and can’t seem to get out? Instead of focusing on your situation remember two things: First recount the blessings that God has given you and second remember that he has crowned you with steadfast love and mercy. When we do this, our heart will be full, and all of our problems won’t seem so big. Count Your Blessings.
Have you ever lost something of great value? Maybe it was a family heirloom or something you have spent a lot of money on. Whatever it is the loss stings and there is no way of replacing it. That is what Jesus is talking about when he asks what does it profit if you gain the whole world yet lose your soul? He is trying to get us to count the cost.
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?
Don’t End Up Bankrupt
We need to be careful what we put great value on. People will sacrifice everything for love, wealth, and fame. In their eyes that is the whole world. If they could obtain that it would change everything. Sadly, they lose everything else in pursuit of it and end up bankrupt in so many ways. Jesus is trying to get us to count the cost.
Count the Cost
Jesus lays out the cost of following him. It is said that salvation is free, but discipleship costs you everything. If anyone wants to be a disciple of Jesus, they have to count the cost. He told his disciples they needed to deny themselves, pick up their cross, and follow him. That necessitated everything to the early church. They often had to leave family, job, and social circles to follow this new radical rabbi.
So many want to pursue all the wealth and possessions the world offers and still follow Christ. They convince themselves they can do both and almost kill themselves trying. Instead, Jesus tells us to lose our lives so that we can truly find it. This means we need to be willing to give up everything we are striving for and make Christ a priority. What we find, once we make that sacrifice, is a life we never knew existed. Carrying the cross might invite ridicule, but it also bears incredible fruit.
We learn way more from watching other people than we ever will from listening to them. When we don’t know what to do we watch others who have done it before us. I know its big to Google things, but when we are in a pinch, we will go to someone older and more experienced and seek their wisdom. This is an age-old method encouraged by Paul. The older generation is to train up the next generation.
“In the same way, older women are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not slaves to excessive drinking. They are to teach what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands and to love their children, to be self-controlled, pure, workers at home, kind, and in submission to their husbands, so that God’s word will not be slandered.”
Be the Example
Before we ever speak a word of encouragement we need to be the model example. Too many people today want to talk and be the expert but not back it up with action. Paul tells us that we are to be reverent in our behavior and not given to excessive traits like slander or drinking. Our example is much easier to follow when it is backed up by solid, consistent action.
Nobody likes a lecture. Words fall on deaf ears when all we do is point out what is wrong. Instead, we are to take teachable moments and use them to guide the younger generation. Our tone should always be one of encouragement. Failure should never be final but a life lesson along the way. Our tone should still be to encourage and build up. No one is perfect, and if we get disappointed at every mistake, it will further pile on the guilt and embarrassment.
God Gets the Glory
The intended goal is that the next generation will glorify God in their actions. For young women that happens when they love their families, their homes are under control, and they are kind. When these are out of whack, we run the risk of slandering God’s word. Train up the next generation so that God gets the glory.