TODAY, IF YOU WILL HEAR HIS VOICE, HARDEN NOT YOUR HEARTS.
A still, small voice
I believe that I have received a transformation of my mind, as spoken of in Romans 12. I have every reason to believe all of that has taken place in my mind. I can hold to this according to scripture. When I ask for wisdom I am given it, for James says that he does not withhold it. In pondering a passage of scripture, I am free to pursue my own thinking without any concern about anything except to know the Lord’s mind about the matter.
When we ask for wisdom and then reach conclusions we accept that as being where the Lord has led. Just now I am thinking about the passage cited above from Hebrews 4:7. (NIV) I was pondering about the meaning of it. I asked the Lord for guidance, and now I am writing my thoughts.
It is a marvelous, supernatural story of how we became creatures able to have receive thoughts– something completely intangible known as a thought! That’s the word to describe what takes place when God acts on our behalf and gives us the ability to think! The surgeon may look in vain. He has never laid his eye on the mind, for it is invisible. Being a storyteller, I cannot allow that to go by without a story.
When God breathed into the nostrils of Adam, the man became a living soul. God breathed into his nostrils! He brought him to life with His own breath. Man was the Father’s crowning creation because, this breath of God made him different from all the other creatures. Just a little bit lower than the angels the Bible tells, and crowned him with glory and honor, being able to think the thoughts the way that God thinks! Of course, we know when man fell from that place of high standing, he was then deprived of such sacred privilege. He was then in a stage called unregenerate. He remains in that “unborn” stage until regenerated by the power of the Holy Spirit of God. When that happens God begins to blow His breath on the human soul again and the new person emerges. He begins the process of growing. He is first the babe in Christ, then he becomes the person who reads the Bible and prays. Finally, the person wants to know God better. Then the Lord leads him into the place of complete trust when he allows the Lord to renew his mind. That is when the real adventure with the Lord can truly begin. Before that it was the process of learning all about the doctrines of salvation, baptism, the resurrection, etc. After the mind is renewed, the person notices a change in the perspective when God gives him a broken and a contrite heart, and then he begins to see things through God’s eyes and think with the thoughts that God gives when He speaks directly to him, and they become friends. That’s when the Lord comes in and they break bread together. The men from Emaeus knew him by the breaking of the bread.
The special verse I want to think about is Hebrews 4:7. Today, if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. I find it occurring to me often, but this time I seem to want to linger on it. I wonder why it came to me today?
I may begin with the word, today. It means the present time. Not the experience you had yesterday, nor what you may have tomorrow, but now. The verse goes on to say, if you will. Since it does not say nor does it mean, if you should, or just in case you hear his voice. No, it does not mean that to me; it means, if you will, or “if you wish to hear his voice.” As I ponder on these wonderful words that tell me plainly, if I want to hear your voice, I must not harden my heart, I ask, how is the heart hardened? Oh, there is no need to ask that, for I know that very well. I harden my heart by closing the mind immediately with the will. “I do not wish to hear this. It is not my worry. I will not be bothered by this.” I ask forgiveness for this tendency, I will to hear your voice, dear Lord. Yes!
My son, Frank, was attending a neo-Pentecostal type church in Los Angeles. He belonged to a regular church, but he said he met some of these people who were doing street preaching and he listened. He talked with them and learned about their ministry. Then he attended their meeting and said to us, “I see them as needing to be able to rightly divide the Word.” He attended their small groups so he could help them in that way. When he explained that to me, Frank and I went with him to visit that type of service. He said, “Now you are going to be shocked, but remember, this is the only way they can get these people in off of the streets. They are hardened. They have been on drugs, alcohol, prostitution and prison. The music is loud, because their spirits are seared over.” Even though he warned us, Frank and I could not get anywhere near it. We stayed in the outer hall of that big public building where they were meeting.
The music was just as if you were in some horrible dive, loud drums, etc., but then they started singing, and they had only one or two instruments with that, and that kept up another half hour or so, gradually growing more calm and orderly. Finally, Frank said, “You can go in now, as he is beginning to preach.” We entered and there was a horribly dirty, smelly person sitting next to me. On the other side of him was a large post such as would hold up a balcony. He was trapped. His face was flushed a deep red. He had not had a bath or change of clothes for months, I think. He would lower his face into his hands and then he would look around wildly. I thought, He is going to be sick, I believe. Maybe he wants to get out. The Voice said, you need to touch him, and speak kindly to him and say, if you wish to get out, we can move. I hardened my heart immediately. Touch him? No, I could never touch him. He is filthy.
The head was in the hands a long time, and then he again looked around wildly as if he wanted to escape. Again, the Voice said, Touch his shoulder and speak kindly to him. Say, Are you all right? Do you want us to move? We do not mind at all. I answered in my spirit, NO! I could never touch him. He might get violent. He is on the verge doing something even now! This is none of my business. The head was down in the hands again, and when he looked around wildly that time, I saw he was desperate. I knew I had to obey the Voice. I touched his shoulder. At that moment, a flood of pity filled my heart, and I thought, this could be one of my own sons and I whispered, “If you need to get out, we can move for you.” I allowed my hand to rest on his shoulder in a gesture of friendship. He looked me right in the eyes and said, “Oh, NO! I NEED to be in here. I just don’t know what to do.” I whispered, “Are you ill?” He answered in a tone of desperation and despair, “No, I just don’t know what to do!” The Voice said, He has been on drugs. Satan is holding on to him. I knew it was the Lord. My spirit answered, I know, I know.I will help him. I pressed his shoulder, and whispered, “Just be quiet and listen. You must be very quiet. The Lord wants you to listen.” I kept my hand on his shoulder, moved it to the center of his back, and rubbed him as if to comfort him. He quieted down at once. He listened all the rest of the service, looking right at the preacher. As I left, I reached for his hand and shook it heartily. I said, “God bless you.” He said, “Thank you.
After church, Frank, Jr. showed me the washroom and I washed my hands. I had the most peaceful feeling, and I knew I had been obedient. In the quiet restroom, I prayed for the young man, and I repented for my disobedient spirit. The Lord was pleased and I was at peace with myself. On the way home, my husband, Frank, said,
“Mackie, I am proud of you. You helped that young man.”
I said, “I can claim no praise. I had a struggle to obey.”
“I knew you were struggling, and I was praying for you.” Frank, Jr. sat on the other side of Frank when we were in church and had not noticed.
He asked, “What happened?” We told him and he was so glad.
When we arrived home after church the next Sunday, Frank, Jr. said,
“Mom, guess who was at church today?”
I asked, “Did you attend First Van Nuys?”
“No, I went to the mission again.”
“How would I know?” I asked.
He said, “You know the fellow you spoke to last Sunday?”
“He was there, all cleaned up, fresh shirt, his hair combed, and his face was washed. He found me and shook hands with me. I think he was hoping you would be there.”
We stayed there several weeks, but we never returned to the mission, The Hiding Place, again for we were attending Pat’s church and also First Van Nuys with Dr. Jess Moody, and we heard some great preaching there.
However, Frank said the young man was at The Hiding Place every Sunday. He would find Frank and speak to him, so that gave Frank a chance to lead him to the Lord.
We did attend some of their small group prayer meetings in the homes, and Frank, Jr. would say to us,
“Did you like the leader?”
“Oh, yes!” We would answer and then he would say,
“She comes out of drugs, prostitution and prison!”
I met a former “Hell’s Angel,” who had on a tank shirt showing his tattoos. He told me, “My mother says that I am her greatest joy and greatest pain.”
So, we can see how Jesus, the Good Shepherd, uses Christians who are not too proud to listen to his voice, who go to the desert to find his sheep. Then they actually do “rescue the perishing, care for the dying,” for Jesus is merciful, Jesus will save. Then, all of us must know in the depths of our hearts, that it is really true that “there, but for the grace of God, go I.” When I see to what depths of total depravity the human mind can carry one, my mind shrinks from that truth, and I want to say, “No, not I!” Then looking into the face of Jesus on the cross, I am bound to say, “Even I, Lord. It was I who nailed you there.” The old hymn says, “O Jesus, Lord, how can it be, That Thou shouldst give Thy life for me, To bear the cross and agony, In that dread hour on Calvary.”
Now, the episode I related about the young man who was destitute and forsaken, shows you how far pride will carry the saved person along, in the smugness of his clean body and clean clothes. But for the nudging of the Holy Spirit, which is the Grace of God, (LOVE) the poor soul who smelled bad, who was dirty, and in the clutches of Satan, might still be there, whether alive in the body or not, for it is the consciousness that survives. That is the story of one time when I listened and obeyed, but in the beginning, I did not will to hear his voice. However, he knows the heart. He wanted that sheep to be in his fold. What would have happened to that young man if I had continued to harden my heart even more? I wonder what would have happened to me? I am quite sure I would not have had peace of mind about the matter, and if that young man went out and got a “fix” and it happened to be an overdose, in what condition would I be even now. I do not really know, but the Lord would have held me responsible, and that is a sure thing. In the light of the fact that salvation is for eternity, then I know this means it is crucial to be sensitive to his Voice, and be ready and willing to hear and then act in the here and now. (TODAY) The reason is that the saved person is living in the eternal presence of God through the Holy Spirit. It is always today with Him. He is the I AM.
When we hear and see so much with the physical eyes of violence and crimes against humanity, with men’s hearts failing them for fear, we need to seek that inner silence. Yes, Jesus did say, “All power is given unto me in Heaven and on earth.” We know that he actually is “all power,” (all authority) and we know that “our God is a consuming fire.” But we remember how God found Elijah and spoke in the still small voice. In the human heart, he works quietly, and that is where he finds us. In the dim recesses of the soul, where we are not even aware, he is doing a work of wonder and grace. The song says, “How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given, so God imparts to human hearts the blessings of his heaven.”
There is a story that someone was saying to Dickens how awful the human race is, and Dickens said, “Right you are. It’s a good thing we are not the human race!” Many brush this off in false humility. I have actually heard Christians deny that we may hear his voice! They say, “Be careful if you go around hearing voices.” Still again we are reminded of the truth of infinite, matchless grace—Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Therefore, today, if you will hear my voice, harden not your heart.
I will to hear your Voice, Oh Lord! I delight to do your will.
Maxine J. Bersch-Lovern