Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: – Psa. 95:8 KJV
Please click on the link above to download the full text of this Ministration.
Today’s devotion is the final part of our meditation on the Psalm 95. Whereas the devotion titled “Just Praise Him”, with scriptures taken from verses 1-5 of that Psalm dwelt on the need for the Christian to make it a duty to praise the Almighty God, the devotion titled “Just Worship Him” with the scriptures taken from verses 6 and 7 stresses on the need for man to show gratitude to God by honoring Him with worship. The devotion today has its scripture taken from the last four verses of Psalm 95, which are verses 8-11.
The Psalmist in this scripture has an advice for anyone who has decided to honour the invitation to praise and worship the Almighty God, in order to avoid problem associated with improper conduct during such sessions. He lets people realise the danger that could be lurking if simple adherence to His instruction is not done. This is because, at that point, it will not be about how positive the intention to praise or worship Him may be, but more of obedience to His words. The Almighty God has never ceased to let all those who come to Him know that He exalts His words more than His name – Psa. 138:2. Praise and worship will be about His personality or better put, about His name but that will never be sufficient to excuse any form of dis-obedience for His instruction – 2Sam. 6:6-11.
The psalmist advises anyone who comes to the Lord whether to praise or to worship, not to harden his/her heart – Psa. 95:8a. In order words, whoever is coming to the Lord must be willing to listen to all instructions and carry them out to the letter as doing anything different will attract the anger of the Lord. The Almighty God considers such act by anyone as attempts to provoke and tempt Him. His reaction to this act cannot be predicted but will definitely not be positive. In the case of Uzzah, he was struck dead instantly (2Sam. 6:7) and in the case of the Israelites who did that in the desert, he ensured that they did not witness His promise for their lives – Psa. 95:10-11. It is almost certain that dis-obedience to Him irrespective of the positive act that such a person may be involved in, will ultimately lead to death, spiritual, physical or both.
So, unless God decides to harden someone heart in order to destroy such (Ex. 7:3; 9:12; 14:14), why will someone be dis-obedient, or put in today’s context, why will someone harden his/heart against the instruction of the Almighty God?
1. Ignorance will always remain a major reason why Christians will find themselves on the negative side of God – Hos.4:6. Most Christians genuinely love and wish to serve God but either due to a wrong path to growth or complete absence of proper indoctrination to enhance Christian growth, they end up operating in their own knowledge which most times is never sufficient. A Christian group that does not create a path to spiritual development for its members will have a high population of dead but living members just as a Christian that ignores processes initiated for his/her development is no doubt on the path to spiritual death. There is simply no way to grow in Christianity without mentoring. God gave everyone He called a mentor and your case cannot be different. A Christian who cannot reference a mentor is at best a disaster waiting to happen. It is never too late to be rightly directed because wrong will always be wrong and cannot be adjusted to become right without a complete u-turn. Make that turn today to avoid the very imminent danger ahead.
2. Spiritual deafness is another reason why someone will ignore the Almighty God. To be spiritually deaf is to lack the ability to hear from the Lord. This has nothing to do with presence or absence of human sense of hearing, but with the ability to communicate with Him in the spirit. This is an ability that is conferred on one by the Holy Spirit. A Christian that does not have the Holy Spirit will sooner than later make an error of judgement similar to hardening of heart as he/she will implement an instruction that will not be from the Lord. A Christian who intends to avoid spiritual death must make it a point of duty to have the Holy Spirit residing in him/her. That remains the promise of Jesus Christ to all those who believe, to teach them what the Will of God is in all situations – Jn. 14:26. Just as Peter advised, ask for it today and God will grant it – Acts 2:38.
3. Lack of understanding is another possible reason for acts that seem like hardening of heart. The officer in the treasury of the Ethiopian Queen could not have demonstrated devotion to the worship of God more than he was doing, having to travel hundreds of miles to worship in Jerusalem and showing so much appetite for the Word. However, operating in the word goes beyond mere appetite for the Word. It is actually in the realm of understanding it, which also requires either the Holy Spirit or a human mentor. It is impossible to understand the Word of God if one has not been properly mentored – Acts 8:27-39. The young Samuel needed to be mentored to understand that it was God that was calling and not man – 1Sam. 3:4-20. Again seek a God directed mentor so that your understanding of the Word can be such that will make your praise and worship of Him bring you positive reward.
4. Impatience during situations, especially negative situations, is also a major reason why people have negative experience during praise and worship. Moses advised the Israelites in the face of the attack by the Egyptians to be still in order to know that they have a God (Ex. 14:13) just as the Almighty God spoke through the Psalmist that it is in being still that that His lordship can be established – Psa. 46:10. Elijah also discovered that God was not in the wind, earthquake or fire but in a still voice – 1Kgs. 19:11-13. It is important to remain calm and patient so as to avoid the first error of King Saul who out of impatience offered a sacrifice that only priests offer. That became the beginning of his journey to spiritual death – 1Sam. 13:1-15; 33. Learn to be calm and patient and you will indeed see the glory of God.
5. Deliberate dis-honour of God is another reason why people seem like they have hardened their heart towards the Almighty God. For whatever reason mostly ego-related, an individual decides to ignore the instructions of the Almighty God. King Saul took a decision that was completely against the instructions of the Almighty God for reasons best known to him, by sparing King Agag and the fat animals, in complete negation of the instructions of God and seemed not to have any regrets. He only, knows why he did that but the repercussion was bigger than his ego as he died gradually transiting from spiritual death to humiliation and eventually physical death – 1Sam. 15:1-11.
All the above even when it cannot be exhaustive are major reasons that can make the time spent before Him in praise and worship become one of regret. The Christian should do all that is necessary to avoid being a victim of any of these and many more so that a period of joy and blessing will not turn to that of sadness and curses. May God continue to direct all our actions, especially those done before Him in Jesus name. Amen.