“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts…” (Hebrews 3:8, 3:15, 4:7, quoting Psalm 95:7)

It is a simple yet forceful command, one with tragic consequences if ignored.  When you hear God speak, “do not harden your hearts.”  In other words, do not ignore God.  Listen.


Do not just hear the words presents, listen.  Listen to the message being presented.  Heed the warning.  Follow the directions.  Trust in God and do as He says.

Why?  God sets things very straight forward in Scripture.  With God, life is seen in terms of darkness (sin and evil) and light (good, righteousness, God!).  There are no shades of gray.  Evil is evil, good is good.  And we are instructed to “abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good” (Romans 12:9, ESV). 

The world lives at odds with the ways of God.  We are constantly being bombarded with messages and temptations and avenues to sin.  I’m afraid my little boy is going to be pushed into puberty at an early age just seeing the magazine covers in the supermarket checkout.  Every time we turn on the TV, hop on the Internet, drive down the highway… opportunity to sin knocks. 

The problem with sin – one problem with sin – is that it diverts our attention away from God.  We think a little sin here or there is no big deal, but that thinking begins to accumulate in our thoughts until we find our spiritual engine isn’t running nearly as clean as it once did. 

You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view than mine, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. – Galatians 5:7-10 (ESV)

The drift away from the Lord can be subtle.  But, the very second we begin to put anything before God – even things we consider “good” – then the drift away has begun. 

Here is a little exercise that I think would benefit every believer, to help us stay on course.  We teach our son that, before crossing the street, he needs to stop, look and listen.  Before we take off in our lives, it would be wise if we did the same:

STOP: take a moment and consider where you’re going.  Ask the Lord, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalms 139:23-24, ESV).  If you think God doesn’t know, read Psalm 139.

LOOK: look around you.  How are you spending your life – your time, your talent, your treasure?  Where does your passion lie?  Where is God leading you?  Does what you think, what your believe, what you do and what God says all line up?  In short, what is important to you?

LISTEN: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”  And if you seek the Lord and ask Him, you will hear His voice.  “For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened” (Matthew 7:8, ESV).

Today I want to encourage each of us to listen.  Listen to what God is saying. I mean really listen.  Listen by spending time in God’s Word.  Listen through prayer.  Listen for that still, small voice.  And follow God’s lead.  Trust me, He’s speaking.  Bluntly, sometimes we just need to shut up and listen. 

Yet another phrase I ought to have tattooed on my forearm: shut up and listen.


“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” – 1 Peter 1:8-9 (ESV)

Joy is such a wonderful gift of God for those who believe in Jesus.  Regardless of circumstances, despite troubles and hardships, no matter what life throws at us, we can have joy.  We can be overwhelmed by joy, our hearts flooding over with cheerful, calm gladness, joy “inexpressible” – beyond words.

Why?  Because Jesus transcends circumstances.  Because…

“…we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.  For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”  (2 Corinthians 4:16-18, ESV)

You see, we face trials and troubles to strengthen our faith.  The Lord is greater that any problem, any illness, any disaster, any trial, any worry, anything.  And because He loves us so, we can rest in Him, wait patiently on Him, through any situation, with the full confidence that God is in control of the outcome, and His will is going to be done.

And His will is far better than anything we could ever do on our own.

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land. In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there. But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace” (Psalms 37:4-11, ESV).

Be filled with the joy of the Lord!

Psalm 91–This Psalm Is For You

If you are facing difficult times, this psalm is for you.

If life is getting you down, this psalm is for you.

If you need some encouragement, this psalm is for you.

If you need a reminder of the great, immeasurable love of God, this psalm is for you.

If you need the promise of the Lord’s great might, this psalm is for you.

If you need courage to face the day ahead, this psalm is for you.

If you’re not sure which way to turn anymore, this psalm is for you.

If the road ahead seems bumpy and rough, this psalm is for you.

If you are hurting, this psalm is for you.

If someone you know is hurting, this psalm is for you.

If you are a human being, this psalm is for you.

Please take a moment, prayerfully consider sharing this psalm with someone who is hurting and in need of a boost of God’s Word.  Let them know God loves them, God cares, and God is there.  And so are you.

1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

2 I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

3 For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence.

4 He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.

5  You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day,

6 nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.

8 You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked.

9 Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place— the Most High, who is my refuge —

10  no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent.

11  For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.

12 On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.

13 You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot. 1

4 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name.

15 When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.

16 With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

Psalms 91:1-16 (ESV)


(Jesus said,) “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.  But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” – Matthew 24:32-37 (ESV)

There are a lot of ways to get someone’s attention.  One is to pin a date to the return of Jesus Christ and announce it on billboards across the United States.  I like to joke that, when we get to Heaven, how hilarious it would be if someone asked the Lord, “What about those billboards that announced when you were supposedly coming back?” and He replied, “You know, ironically enough, I was going to come back on that date, until…”

All joking aside, as we studied John 1:19-28 at our Men’s Bible Study earlier this week, I marveled at the expectancy for Messiah the Jews held.  It had been around 400 years since God last spoke to His people through a prophet.  One would think, after that many generations, all that silence would have dulled the zeal for a promise still not fulfilled.   I find their expectancy astounding – especially when compared to our generation.  Today, believers have the Holy Spirit indwelling us.  And we can hardly wait for a stoplight to turn green or a line at a fast food drive-thru!

There are two points I want to make today.  One is the lesson of the fig tree, reiterated in Jesus’ parable of the ten virgins:

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” – Matthew 25:1-13 (ESV)

Verse 13 makes the lesson pretty clear: be prepared and watchful.  Be expectant!  The Lord is returning and, while there is no way of knowing the exact time or day of His return (not even via billboard), we can trust God in all things and know that His ways – and timing – are absolutely perfect.

While this covers eternal life, what about the here and now?  Well… Scripture makes clear that we should expect God in our everyday lives as well!  No matter what we face in this life, we have the indwelling Holy Spirit Who is always with us.  Just as God lived among His people the Israelites in the desert, so He remains and abides with His children today.  This is why the author of Hebrews could boldly remind us of the promise of the Lord made in Deuteronomy: “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5, quoting Deuteronomy 31:6).  So have no fear!  Be bold! 

So… let me ask you.  What are are you expecting today?  Whether we’re looking at our day-to-day lives or considering the eternal perspective, the answer should be the same:  JESUS!  Take heart and be watchful.  Expect God to do His will and know that His ways are greater. 

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.” Proverbs 3:5-8 (ESV)

The Absolute Truth

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:31-32 (ESV)

I’ve been thinking a lot about truth lately.  It seems to be one of those subjects that keeps coming up – sometimes in the peripheral of life, sometimes bulls-eye in the center.  Truth can be tricky to perceive.  As flawed human beings, we have a tendency toward self-interest, which causes us to skew the truth to fit our needs.

However, we do have a source of absolute truth.  And, yes, at the risk of being labeled “narrow-minded,” I will state emphatically and without reservation that there is such a thing as absolute truth.  And it is found in the Word of God, the Author of Truth Itself.

So… as I ponder the subject of truth, I wonder if the opposite is a lie, or an opinion.  It seems to me that both fit.  That does not mean that all opinions are lies.  But… just because one holds an opinion does not mean it is truth.  Truth has no sliding scale: there are no levels of truth, nor is there any such reality as something being true for one person but not for another.  Truth is truth.  Period.


So… consider this.  Jesus came into the world “to bear witness to the truth” (John 18:37, ESV).  As disciples of Christ (disciples being people who should be striving to emulate Jesus in our lives), it only stands to reason that we should want to be as accurate and pure in our teaching as possible.  Sticking to Scripture and the truth it contains is vital.  Consider this warning from James:

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well (James 3:1-3, ESV).

There are plenty of opinions being expressed out in the world of Christendom.  I write what I write today to say this simply: please make sure that what you are hearing is the whole truth of Scripture, not just scratching for tickling ears.  I am grateful for churches where the Truth is presented, where comfort is found but not at the expense of the truth of the Gospel.  God’s Word will not always be comfortable.  Sometimes it will be convicting (which should never be confused with condemning).  Sometimes the truth will be challenging.  But always, always, always, the truth will point us toward Christ.  Not toward simply what we want to hear, but what we need.  The truth leads us to God – without flash and flair.  The truth is found in what Jesus said and modeled for us.  The truth is revealed through the Bible, the Word of God Himself.

Abide in the truth – in God’s Word and Jesus’ Way – and the Truth will set you free.  Free from sin.  Free from guilt.  Free from misguided teaching.  Free indeed.

This post feels quite incomplete.  I realize it only skims the surface and hits the obvious. But it needs to be said.  I hope to delve deeper into the subject of truth in future posts.