Hard Hearts don’t Float
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45 He made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while He sent the multitude away. 46 And when He had sent them away, He departed to the mountain to pray. 47 Now when evening came, the boat was in the middle of the sea; and He was alone on the land. 48 Then He saw them straining at rowing, for the wind was against them. Now about the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea, and would have passed them by. 49 And when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed it was a ghost, and cried out; 50 for they all saw Him and were troubled. But immediately He talked with them and said to them, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”* 51 Then He went up into the boat to them, and the wind ceased. And they were greatly amazed in themselves beyond measure, and marveled. 52 For they had not understood about the loaves, because their heart was hardened.
*Mt 14:28 And Peter answered Him and said, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water." 29 So He said, "Come." And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, "Lord, save me!" 31 And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, "Truly You are the Son of God."
I. When we focus on the Person and Plan of Jesus we experience joyful buoyancy
A. “It is I” is far better than wishful or positive thinking (Truth explains all the facts, found at the convergence of Revelation Reason and Reality)
Ro 8:31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Cf Ps 23
B. Especially when tired, we default to our experience rather than looking to God’s expertise (specializes in the supernatural) beyond exp = fear
Miracles” Class A– Superceding of natural events: Elisha, resurrection; Class B– Superintending of natural events: answers to prayer
C. If we’re walking in the Spirit (sensitive to His leading and prompting/instructing) and we take our eyes off God, we’re gonners.
If we can take our eyes off God and things are OK, we haven’t been walking in the light of the Spirit.
II. We can’t focus on God when we’re focused on our problems (Power-autonomy, Pleasure-comfort, Possessions-diversion)
A. Hardening = a dulled, calloused in sensitivity to God’s purposes and promptings (leprosy of the soul) that sets us up for damage and destruction
Ex 8:15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and did not heed them, as the LORD had said. Cf Ex 9:12
B. Softening our Hearts =(not sinning) (a hardened criminal no longer fears; a hardened saint just doesn’t see it, nor fears God)
1. Hardening/callousness occurs when fail to stay under God’s protection, ignore little promptings, and deaden our nerves.
2. Hardening manifests itself in not seeking God for our needs nor the needs of others (closed to the voice of God, unwilling to be used by Him)
3. Concern for others keeps our heart sensitive to God, asking Him for wisdom and dependently offering ourselves to meet the needs of others.
C. The Consequence of Hardening
1. We provoke God and eventually pay the penalty when we doubt His ability to provide for our needs and keep His word/promises.
2. We doubt/ignore God when we fail to fail to respond to His Revelation (Person, past acts, promises) keeping it fresh and in focus.
3. We experience the natural and unmitigated consequences of our actions, as well as direct discipline of God (Temporal wrath Acts 5; I1Cor 10:30-32)
4. Others are hurt or suffer loss by our disobedience. (Israelite children spent forty unprofitable years in the wilderness Numbers 14.)
5. Future loss, missing out: We forfeit God’s reward and His best for our lives. (God swore that they would not enter into His rest).
6. The Christian who falls into a pattern of unbelief will eventually depart from the Living God. This doesn’t mean loss of justification nor necessarily falling into a life of gross sin, but rather abandoning an abiding relationship with God who alone satisfies our every need, to instead live by our own wits in dependence upon our own finite abilities, and a soft fuzzy plush creature we call god.
III. Exhortation by the Body is God’s provision for a tender heart
to prevent us from being deceived (by Satan’s triple-hooked lure of power (security & significance), pleasure, and possessions) into departing from an abiding dependent relationship with the true living God, to a liaison of convenience with a pretend god of our own making, thus missing out on God’s plan and prize.
Heb 3:12 Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; 13 but exhort one another daily, while it is called "Today," lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, 15 ... "Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion."
A. Confident trust begins with a conviction that God is who He said He is and will do what He said He will do. (Heb 11:6)
B. Confident trust is built through repeated and progressive risky steps of dependent faith (Phil 3:12-14) (balance beam)
C. Confident trust is maintained through an accountable clear conscience, and resulting moral excellence (=not sinning) (Rom 8:13)
Questions for Reflection/Discussion/Response:
1. How is it that God can do “miracles” in a person’s life, yet they fail to fully follow, worship and obey Him? (Ungrateful lepers union)
2. What makes it difficult to keep our heart and focus on God? What makes it difficult? Are “huge” problems banes or blessings?
3. How tender are most Christians’ hearts toward God, His Word, His Spirit, and His Body? Do they know that? Why/why not?
4. How does God use the Body to keep our focus in the right place? What happens when we don’t like what or how others exhort?
5. What can you do this week to insure that your heart is tender towards God? How will you hear His voice? How will you respond?