January 3 I Sunday
“So, as the Holy Spirit says: ‘Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts…’” —Hebrews 3:7-8
When we eagerly listen to the Word of God, something happens to our hearts. When we approach His Word with interest and a desire to know Him more, we engage in more than a mental exercise. Paul writes in Ephesians 1:18-19, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people, and His incomparably great power for us who believe.” It is important that we know intellectually of the hope, inheritance and power we receive in Christ, but it is in our hearts—the very centre of our beings—where these truths need to take root for change to occur in our lives.
The heart that does not pay attention to what God says becomes a hardened heart, where His truths no longer penetrate. The Pharaoh who ruled while the Israelites were in Egypt had his heart hardened 14 different times. On eight of those occasions, Pharaoh hardened his own heart, refusing to heed Moses’s message and let the Israelites go. The other six times, when Scripture says God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, it is because Pharaoh had built up such a resistance that God’s very act of speaking was enough to harden Pharaoh’s heart even more. We risk the same hardening when we refuse to let the Word of God speak into our hearts and accomplish its ends.
God is always speaking to us through His Word, which is why it is essential we hear Him. There are three kinds of questions we can ask the Lord Jesus that will help open our hearts to His Word. Firstly, we can ask, “What do You want me to know? What do you want to teach me about Yourself, myself, my resources in You or my purpose in life?” After hearing, learn it. Secondly, ask, “What do You want me to receive? Is there some wisdom, strength or quality in the fruit of the Spirit that You want to increase within me?” After hearing, receive it. Finally, we can ask, “What is it You want me to do? Is there an act of obedience I should be engaging in?” After hearing, step out in dependence on Him and do it.
God alone can soften a hardened heart, but we must be willing to hear His voice. Our priority when approaching Scripture should be to enjoy His Word, allowing it to transform our hearts however we may receive it. Whether through sermons, songs or Scripture, His speaking to our hearts is what teaches us truth, molds our lives and increases our enjoyment of Him.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, break the hardness within my heart, and grant me the will and discipline to study Your Word. Speak to me, Lord, and open my heart so I will hear. Thank You, Lord.