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,
where your fathers put me to the test
and saw my works for forty years.
Therefore I was provoked with that generation,
and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart;
they have not known my ways.’
As I swore in my wrath,
‘They shall not enter my rest.’”
Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. (Hebrews 3:7-12)
Thank you very much, brother Mitch Majeski. God used you on Sunday to remind me once again of a truth that has been very slow to sink down into my heart. I mentioned it briefly the Sunday I shared my thoughts from the men’s conference, but I have been fighting an ongoing battle to replace lies that seem to continually oppose God’s truth. These are lies of inadequacy, that I don’t have anything to offer, that I’m not needed or wanted or even liked. Maybe some of you can relate.
God is so faithful! He keeps speaking his truth to me. His offers true words of affirmation: I’m his son; he saved me not because of righteous things I have done but because of his mercy. It gave him great pleasure and was exactly what he wanted to do, to make me holy and without fault in his perfect eyes. How cool! And yet I struggle to believe it. God has clearly spoken, but in my mind I find myself arguing with God. He says I’m adequate, but I believe the lie that I am not. He says I’m precious to him, but I feel worthless. In my head, I say nobody wants me around; God says he specifically chose me and that I belong to him through his dear Son.
It’s easy for me to pout and stay in my cycle of self-pity and hope others notice and feel sorry for me. Even as I write this I can imagine people saying, “Oh, that’s too bad for Joel.” You can feel as sorry for me as you do for the 10 spies when you read about them bringing back the bad report to Moses. “Oh, that’s too bad for Israel, they have to wander around in the desert for 40 years.” What was the problem? They were in sin. God had clearly spoken and they had refused to believe him. They had trusted in their own power instead of in God, who had clearly demonstrated his power to take out anyone who stood in the way. They had an evil, unbelieving heart.
The God of the Past Is the God of My Future
That same heart is in me. My situation is no different. I look at flaws and weaknesses in me, flesh patterns that I want rid of so badly but that keep coming up, and I get discouraged and say it’s hopeless. I am inadequate. I’ll never change, never be the man God wants me to be. There are too many giants in the land. I look like grasshoppers to them.
About a month ago I was sharing some of these struggles with a good brother. I was looking for sympathy. Instead I got a rightly and deservedly rebuked with the same verse as above. I had heard God’s voice but had hardened my heart against the truths of who he said I was through Christ. When I think thoughts about myself that are contrary to what God says about me, I call God a liar; I deem his finished work on the cross and his Spirit in me insufficient to accomplish what he began in me by grace. In those moments I am demonstrating an evil, unbelieving heart and I need to repent.
Has God clearly spoken?
“See, the Lord your God has set the land before you. Go up, take possession, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has told you. Do not fear or be dismayed’” (Deuteronomy 1:21).
But my inadequacies are too great:
“If you say in your heart, ‘These nations are greater than I. How can I dispossess them?’ you shall not be afraid of them but you shall remember what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt, the great trials that your eyes saw, the signs, the wonders, the mighty hand, and the outstretched arm, by which the Lord your God brought you out. So will the Lord your God do to all the peoples of whom you are afraid.” (Deuteronomy 7:17-19)
God, help me to remember who you are:
"You shall not be in dread of them, for the Lord your God is in your midst, a great and awesome God" (Deuteronomy 7:21).
God, help me remember your promises:
Know therefore today that he who goes over before you as a consuming fire is the Lord your God. He will destroy them and subdue them before you. So you shall drive them out and make them perish quickly, as the Lord has promised you. (Deuteronomy 9:3)
God has spoken. God has promised. He has demonstrated in the past his power to save to the uttermost. None of us would be where we are today without his gracious hand guiding us. Will we trust him for every step of the future? May it be so.