Hebrews 4 Devotion Sharing

Submitted by Carol Chou, Gracepoint Berkeley

What is the danger of hearing the word of God but not combining with faith?

The danger of hearing the Word of God, but not combining it with faith is finding no value in what I hear and not entering God’s rest. Verses 2-3 say that believing is combining what I hear with faith, or obedience, which leads to entering God’s rest. Believing is not merely thinking in my head, “Ok, that makes sense,” or “Yeah, that’s true.” It needs to manifest in concrete obedience to experience the truth of the word of God and finding God to be trustworthy, either for the first time or again and again. God entered His rest after finding His 6 days of work and design to be very good. In obeying His Word, I find that the way God designed life – abundance, boundaries, and all – and my submission to it to be good and enter His rest with greater trust that He is right, that He knows us the best and loves us the most, and willingness to trust Him again. Otherwise, there is disconnectedness, compartmentalization, hypocrisy, and powerlessness among many other things that demonstrate lack of trust in God. Not combining what I hear with faith leads to what is described in [2 Tim 3:1-7]:

1But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. 6They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 7always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth.

I used to think that I was a Christian and loved God because I went to church and didn’t do bad things. It was an individualistic view of being a Christian. But later, I realized I thought I didn’t do bad things because I was able to justify myself and rationalize how I had hurt God and others. I found admitting responsibility for my sin dreadful and unnecessary because I had reasons. But those reasons didn’t take away the damage I did of being selfish and inconsiderate. I knew apologizing was good when a wrong was done, but I couldn’t get myself to do it and it made me miserable. Could it be better to die to my pride and isolation and trust that my life is about love and restoring broken relationships through Christ? I found [Psalm 32] to be true of me.

3 When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.  4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Selah

It was when I decided to swallow my pride, see if the Word of God could be trusted, and confess my sins that I found release, freedom, and undeserved forgiveness through Jesus and restoration of relationships. After all the misery, I finally knew what it meant to obey and enter God’s rest. I found the next part of the psalm to also be tried and true:

5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD “— and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah

Even now, dying to my pride isn’t all that easy, but whenever my heart feels tight, I remember how God has been faithful and that I have to continue to trust and obey so that I can enter His rest and be true to what I say I believe. As the new semester has started and God has brought so many more people to love to me and to our church with many more to come through the other NSWNs in the next month, I pray that I can combine what I have heard with faith, get out of myself to allow the gospel to have power in my life, and embrace the younger brothers and sisters I’m called to welcome into the Father’s household and His rest from the burdens and chains of their sin.

———————–

Submitted by Myra Chen, Gracepoint Berkeley

What is the danger of hearing the word of God but not combining with faith?
The danger of hearing the word of God but not combining it with faith is that the message loses any value to us. It all becomes rhetoric and our hearts become hardened to the word of God, in which there is no room for the word to have any impact in our daily life. According to v12, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any double edge word. It is not just words from the past or dead letters, but filled with power and life to reveal all and penetrate to even our innermost places and to shape us. God wants to perform spiritual surgery on us so that we can experience the transformational and life-giving power of God’s word. But if we fail to combine the word of God with faith, it becomes dull and like in v2, the word has no value to us.

This is a warning for each of us as we are often engaged in hearing God’s word through daily devotion times, weekly bible studies, Sunday services, and prayer meetings. This is a lot of hearing. But if I fail to actually take the words I hear seriously and let it shape the decisions I make in my daily life, affect how I relate to people, influence the way I spend my time, change my value system, etc, it all becomes rhetoric. It’s just words and nothing else and eventually loses any power or value. Ultimately my senses will be dulled to the word’s power as well as to my own sins.

What are the truths that I have heard that I have not combined with faith?  How has this led to not entering into God’s rest?
A truth I have heard that I had not combined with faith is the truth of my identity in Christ as a dearly loved daughter of God. After becoming Christian, I knew I was dearly loved and a daughter of God, yet part of me did not trust it. For the longest time, I gave into the world’s teachings of limited resources and the need for me to work for God’s or people’s love. It was a mentality in which I still needed to take care of myself yet to my frustration, my hard work to “please” God and people did not work. I felt like I needed to be a “better” Christian to be loved and forgiven. It brought only weariness, new anxieties, worries, needs and frustration when there were no results instead of entering God’s rest. I never felt like I could do enough to gain that security and love.

Only when I go back to the truth of my spiritual bankruptcy and salvation where God was the one who initiated, forgives, and loved me first, that I can experience that freedom and rest in his love. He has already done everything. I am a failure and messed up but that’s okay because he loves me either way. I can stop trusting in my own resources and efforts, and instead depend on God. It means being honest and going back to him again and again with my failures because I trust in his amazing love and forgiveness. Only then can I experience entering in God’s rest.

What is the faith that I need when I hear the word of God?
The faith I need when I hear the word of God is to hear with ears that are open and to trust in Him. It can be hard to trust and depend on God because so often I instinctively just rely on myself and the resources I have, instead of God’s. I need to embrace the fact that God already knows me and as I engage in his word, I will be exposed that I cannot help myself, only God can. But the key is to not only hear and know the word of God but to actually apply it and live out the implications in my daily life in my trust that God loves me, wants me to grow, and has the best interest for me. It’s the hard work of actually going against my own desires and doing what I heard from the word of God. It means going against my feelings of rebelliousness, fears of the future, fears of losing out, or fears of rejections, and not allowing those feelings to dictate my actions. In my trust and faith, I can obey and experience the power of God’s word working in my heart and life.

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Response