Aloha Friday Message – January 16, 2015 – Hard-hearted Doorkeeper

1503AFC011615 – Hard-hearted Doorkeeper

Read it online here, please.

Psalm 95:7b-9O that today you would listen to his voice! Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness, when your ancestors tested me, and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.

1 Samuel 3:9-10Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.'” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

10 Now the Lord came and stood there, calling as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

E pili mau na pomaika‘i ia ‘oe a me ke akua ho’omaika’i ‘oe, ʻōmea! (May blessing always be with you and may God bless you, Beloved!) Last week we looked into hearing God calling us by name, picking us to be on his team, as it were. If we listen for his call and answer, if we chase him until he catches us, then we have an eternity to be with him. We also saw that, either way, our lives are going to be eternal; there will be a resurrection and some earthlings will be resurrected to Eternal Joy, but other will be resurrected to Eternal Sorrow. In today’s opening Bible verse from Psalm 95, the Psalmist recalls the provocation of God in the desert by the Israelites. This happened twice, and is recounted once in Exodus 17 and another time in Numbers 20. It was this second occasion when Moses and Aaron were as impatient and impertinent as the People and for that were banned from entering the Promised Land. This wandering in the desert came about because, as they neared Canaan and sent scouts to survey it on their Journey, Jehovah was greatly provoked with the men who returned and discouraged the hearts of the Israelites. He made them wander for forty years so that the generation that had disobeyed him would perish in the journey. (See Numbers 32, especially verse 13). They were stubborn. They chose to cling to their fear of the inhabitants of Canaan rather than the fear (absolute reverence for) of the Lord. This is characterized by the idiom of a hardened heart. But to understand that, we need to better understand what that meant in their time and culture.

When we see this phrase, we usually think about “heart” in modern terms. It is the place of love and hate, of desire and courage, of dreams and defeats. In the language of the Bible, “heart” is the place where our humanness is found. Understanding, kindness, thoughts, sympathy, reasoning and judgment, blessings and curses, and even joy – all of these things – which we think of as intellectual properties – are things of the “heart.” In other words, in today’s language, being hard-hearted is what we would call hard-headed. To be hard-headed is to be pragmatic, businesslike, not sentimental, stubborn – someone who can’t or won’t change their mind. They won’t listen to reason because they have their own reasons, and their reasons are definitely better than yours! From their point of view, they are “realistic and down-to-earth.” In the view of those trying to convince them to change their minds, they are unrealistic, and opinionated. They will stick to their ideas even to the detriment of their future just so that they can say they got their way. As I have commented before, there are some people who are not always right, but they are certainly never wrong.

When we are hard-hearted – or hard-headed – it can be really difficult for us to hear, see, or feel God’s call. We want what we want when we want it, and we shan’t be denied just because what we want is not good for us! That attitude seemed to reign supreme back in the 60’s when the motto was “If it feels good, do it.” There were a lot of devout hedonists in those days, and they – unfortunately – heavily influenced the generations to come. (Remember that hedonism is the belief that personal pleasure or gratification is the ultimate pursuit of humanity.) It is it that hedonism that is at the root of the absurdities we find in “Being PC.” Political Correctness aims at accomplishing faceless mediocrity in place of strong convictions. What happened at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness was a precursor of the repeated sins of Israel: “We’ll go where you lead us as long as it’s where we want to go.” That sounds silly, doesn’t it? Why ever would anyone allow their own decisions to contradict God’s leadership? After all, God “only” controls the land, the sea, the stars, and the universe. How is that we suppose we can obstinately defy him? He has shown us what to do, but we do not do it because we are blinded by our sin. He tells us what to do, but we do not do it because we cover our ears and shout LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA!

Now, compare this to what happened to Samuel. His parents, Elkanah and Hannah, gave him back to God; his mother took him to the Priest, Eli, and left him there to serve the Lord. Samuel knew he belonged to God, but did not understand it until God called him into service. Eli taught him to respond by saying, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” He chose to listen to God. The hard-hearted choose to listen to their own counsel. No one, not even God, has the right to deny them the things that they want. They will argue that there is nothing that is illegal if it makes them feel good (I know! Sounds crazy, right?) The Apostle Paul recognized this attitude in the Church at Corinth, and spent a considerable portion of his first letter to them reminding them of the many mistakes the Hebrews made when deciding for themselves what God really wanted. 1 Corinthians 10:23 23 “All things are lawful,” but not all things are beneficial. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Another way to express that is in the New Living Translation – NLT 1 Corinthians 10:23You say, “I am allowed to do anything”– but not everything is helpful. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”– but not everything is beneficial. Who decides what is helpful, beneficial, constructive, or edifying? Is it me? Apparently not because I’m pretty good at choosing things that are not good for me! Is it you? Well, I’d venture to say you’ve made your fair share of mistakes, too. Is it anyone you know? Yes, of course it is, and you know exactly who decides what is Good: The Author of All Goodness from Whom all Good Gifts come, from Whom all Blessings Flow.

So what were the Corinthians so hung up about that Paul had to take them to task? Well, they had fallen into a trap that we know all too well in our times: Immorality. Paul sometimes calls it fornication. That would be sexual intercourse between a man and woman who are not married, or any form of sexual behavior considered to be immoral. He also uses the word debauchery. Here’s a series of synonyms for that word: excessive indulgence in sensual pleasures; corruption of fidelity; seduction from virtue, duty, or allegiance; excessive indulgence of the appetites; especially, excessive indulgence of lust; intemperance; sensuality; habitual lewdness; in other words that devout hedonism I mentioned earlier. Paul further says this is a type of idolatry. Idolatry?! How can that be? Beloved, anything that gets more honor and attention in our lives than God does is an idol. I’m reminded of something we often hear on that crazy “reality TV show,” American Idol Judge: “What does this mean to you to win this competition.” Contestant; “It means the world to me. It means everything. There’s nothing I want more than to win this thing. And I’m just the one to do it!” What hubris! What excessive pride and arrogance! And yet, not to say that is considered being a natural-born looser!  Another “reality show” that just blows my mind is the one where some man or woman publically embarrasses themselves and twenty or so others of the opposite sex looking for “the one.” Is that really reality?

Jesus stands knocking at the door of your heart. Who would be so hard-hearted a doorkeeper as to shout out, “Go away! No solicitation allowed!”? Beloved, sin corrupts our hearts and minds. It makes us blind and deaf to God’s voice. It negates our prayer life when we refuse to repent and stick to our own hedonism and “guilty pleasures.”  Our conscience becomes dulled so that we not only cannot distinguish right from wrong, but also we begin to think there is no right or wrong! God created that body that has been carrying you around all these years. Do you think he wants it desecrated with lust, drunkenness, addiction, hatred, idolatry, and slavery to materialism? God’s Breath is in us! It is his Spirit that makes us Living Beings. Look at these other verses and think about God’s life being inside you every moment of every day.

Hebrews 3:7-8Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, as on the day of testing in the wilderness …”

Colossians 3:5Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.

1 Corinthians 3:16-1716 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Or do you not know that your body is a templeof the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.

Choices         

Your heart and your mind are what guide your body. Give them to God, and you will glorify and honor him in Heaven for all Eternity. Give them to your lusts, and you will not. The difference between immorality and immortality is the Cross. Look for yourself.

IMMORALITY

IMMORALITY

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved!

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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