One Year Bible Reading Plan and Devotional
Today’s Bible Reading: January 3
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The Danger of Hard Hearts and Dull Ears
What is a hard heart?
The reason God flooded the earth was because the world had become full of people with hard hearts and dull ears. Jesus said in Matthew 13:15, ‘The hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.’ But what do these people with hard hearts and dull ears look like?
The root cause of a hard heart is sin and pride. Such a person is unteachable, arrogant, and refuses to repent. They want to live life their own way rather than God’s way. They do not listen to what the Bible says or what God is saying to them. Whenever we stop listening to God, all that is left is a dull heart that refuses to listen to sound teaching and instruction. A hard heart says there is no God. A hard heart chooses to live the way they want, regardless of what the Bible teaches. Over time, that person’s heart get harder and harder until they become unable to distinguish between right and wrong.
The Bible’s view of the heart
The Bible considers the heart to be the hub of human personality, producing the things we would ordinarily ascribe to the “mind.” For example, The Bible tells us that grief (John 14:1); desires (Matthew 5:28); joy (Ephesians 5:19); understanding (Isaiah 6:10; Matthew 13:15); thoughts and reasoning (Genesis 6:5; Hebrews 4:12; Mark 2:8); and, most importantly, faith and belief (Hebrews 3:12; Romans 10:10; Mark 11:23) are all products of the heart. Also, Jesus tells us that the heart is a source for good and evil and that what comes out of our mouth – good or bad – begins in the heart (Luke 6:43–45). Considering this, it’s easy to see how a hardened heart can dull a person’s ability to perceive and understand the things of God.
Can Christians have hard hearts?
What keeps a lost person from surrendering their heart to Jesus? A hard heart that is determined to live in their sin and refusing to accept the free gift of salvation. They would rather remain in their stubbornness of sin and pride then to know the joy that is found in surrendering to God. But what about the Christian? Can he or she have a hard heart?
Anyone’s heart can harden, even faithful Christians’. Satan would love for everyone of us to have hard hearts so that we are not living victoriously in fellowship with God and telling others the good news of the Gospel. Christians can experience a hard heart when the Holy Spirit reveals an area of sin or pride and ask us to surrender it to Him, but we stubbornly hang on to it, making it an idol in our lives, and refusing to repent. So it is important for us to understand what causes a “hard heart.”
Sin causes hard hearts
Sin causes hearts to grow hard, especially continual and unrepentant sin. Now we know that “if we confess our sins, [Jesus] is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins” (1 John 1:9). However, if we don’t confess our sins, they have a cumulative and desensitizing effect on the conscience, making it difficult to even distinguish right from wrong, just like in the days of Noah and in our world today. Scripture makes it clear that if we relentlessly continue to engage in sin, there will come a time when God will give us over to our “debased mind” and let us have it our way. But we also find in Scripture that God will bring judgment, such as when He sent the flood to destroy the earth and when Israel and Judah were conquered and carried off into captivity for 70 years.
Pride causes hard hearts
Pride will also cause our hearts to harden. The “pride of your heart has deceived you . . . you who say to yourself, ‘who can bring me down to the ground’ . . . I will bring you down declares the LORD” (Obadiah verses 3-4). When Moses came to Pharaoh with God’s instruction to let the nation of Israel go and release them from slavery, the root of Pharaoh’s hard-heartedness was his pride and arrogance. Even in the face of tremendous proofs and witnessing God’s powerful hand at work, Pharaoh’s hardened heart caused him to deny the sovereignty of the one, true God.
Whenever when we are inclined to think that we do not need God and want live life our way, it would be wise to recall what King Solomon taught us in Proverbs 14:12 and 16:25: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”
Set backs and disappoints in life can cause hard hearts
Hearts can also become hardened when we suffer setbacks and disappointments in life. Life can be overwhelming and impossible at times. When these difficult times come we must choose whether we will blame God and become angry or bitter or turn to Him trusting that He is in control and He is working in the difficult moment to teach us something new about Him as He grows our faith and dependence on Him. Because God is omniscient, he is never caught by surprise by the events of our life or in our world. He is always working to fulfill His prefect and holy plan for our lives.
No one is immune to trials here on earth. Yet, just as steel is forged by a blacksmith’s hammer, so, too, can our faith be strengthened by the trials we encounter in the valleys of life. As Paul encouraged the Romans: “But we also rejoice in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us” (Romans 5:3–5).
What does the Bible mean by “dull ears”?
When the Bible says that people have become dull of hearing, it is not saying that people are unintelligent or incapable of understanding. Nor does it mean that such people have abandoned their faith. Neither is it referring to new Christian who has not yet matured enough to understand the Word of God.
Being dull of hearing indicates laziness. Thayer’s definition of this Greek word suggests the idea of sluggishness and indolence. One who is “dull of hearing” is not necessarily lazy in every area of life. He or she may be a very hard worker at their job or at home, but is still “dull of hearing” as the Hebrew writer described. This is a laziness about learning the word of God.
Such a person is stuck in “spiritual infancy” and still grappling to understand the elementary principles of God’s Word and have not made sufficient progress to understand the deeper teachings. Because they are stuck in the basics, this person should not be teaching the Word of God to others. Hebrews 6:11-12 tells us, “Now we want each of you to demonstrate the same diligence for the final realization of your hope, so that you won’t become lazy but will be imitators of those who inherit the promises through faith and perseverance.”
In a world full of hard hearts and dull ears, Noah was a righteous man before God
In Genesis 6:9, the Bible tells us that Noah was a just man, perfect in his generation and that he walked with God. We also learn in verses 5-6 that “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” so much so that God was greatly grieved.
Although God found Noah “perfect in his generation,” it does not mean Noah was sinless. Rather he could be said to be wholesome, godly, and honorable, obedient to God. And God found him as righteous. But for the people in Noah’s day, not so much. Their wickedness was a testimony that they had hard hearts and dull ears.
People with hard hearts and dull ears refuse to hear what God has to say
The entire time the Noah built the ark, he preached of God’s coming judgment. However, the people were so totally depraved that they were not at all concerned. They chose to live in sin and pride than to hear that God was going to judge them by flooding the earth. They did not believe Noah and they were content to continue living in their wickedness and idolatry. Why? Because they had hard hearts and dull ears. They heard Noah warning them of God’s coming judgement. But they just laughed at him.
Noah told the people God was sending a flood, but they refused to listen
When I read about the people’s response to Noah, I imagine it went something like this:
“Hey! Old Man!” someone shouted as they passed by. “What are you building?”
Noah says, “A boat.”
The passerby is silent. He looks around left…and to the right. Maybe he heard wrong. “A what?”
“Did you say a boat?”
“Yes. A boat.”
“Do you see water around here?”
“No. Do you?”
“No. So why are you building a boat?”
“Because God is going to judge the earth for its sin, pride and wickedness by sending a flood over all the earth.”
“What’s a flood?”
“God said He is disappointed in the human race he created and He’s fed up with the sin so He is going to destroy the entire human race along with all the animals by sending rain.”
“Rain? What is rain? We’ve never seen rain before. Have you ever seen rain?”
“No. I’ve never seen rain.”
“What is rain supposed to be?”
“Water that falls from the sky.”
The passerby laughs. “Old man, you’ve out in the sun too long. Water doesn’t fall from the sky and even if it did, how can water destroy everyone?”
“All I know is God said He was sending rain that would cause the earth to flood and everyone would perish. He told me to build a boat and that my sons and I and our wives would enter the boat along with two of each species of animals and all else would perish. But it’s not too late. You can turn to God and He will save you. Just repent of your sins.”
The passerby laughs harder. “You’re one crazy old man. There is no such thing as rain and never has there been a flood before.”
The man continues on his journey laughing as he walked along. A little ways down the road a pair of elephants walk passed him. He thought about what the old man had said about two of every animal getting on the boat and hesitated for just a second. Then laughed again and continued on.
People with hard hearts and dull ears refuses to repent
None of them repented. Not one person had any desire to seek God. They simply continued on living the way they wanted and made fun of the old man building a large boat where there was no water in which to launch it. Day after day. Yet Noah was obedient to what God told him to do. Noah did not need to know what rain was or what a flood was. He simply surrendered his heart to be obedient to what God told him to do. This is why God found him to be righteous.
Our World is like the days of Noah
In Matthew 25:31-33, we find that Jesus also warns us and says that the world will once again be like the days of Noah before He comes to earth again. In 2 Timothy 3:1-4, we get a description of what the world will be like: “But know this: Difficult times will come in the last days. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.”
Doesn’t this sound like the world we live in today? If you have any doubts, you only need to watch the news feeds alerts on your phone or turn on the evening news. The question we need to ask ourselves is, “Would God say that He has seen me righteous before Him in this generation?” Or would He find us with the same hard hearts and dead ears as the people in Noah’s day?
The antidote to hard hearts and dull ears
First and foremost, we have to recognize the effect that this spiritual disease has on us. God will help us to see our heart’s condition when we ask Him: “Search me O God, and know my heart…see if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23–24). God can heal any heart once we recognize our disobedience and repent of our sins. In Ezekiel 36:26, God says, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” But true repentance is more than simply a resolute feeling of steadfast determination. Repentance manifests itself in a changed life.
After repenting of our sins, hard hearts begin to be cured when we study God’s Word. “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart. . . . I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:9–11). The Bible is our manual for living as it is “God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). If we are to live life to the fullest as God intended, we need to study and obey God’s written Word, which not only keeps a heart soft and pure but allows us to be “blessed” in whatever we do (Joshua 1:8; James 1:25).
Lord, revive the hearts and ears of your people – the ones who are called by your name – the children of God. May we seek you with all our hearts – and find you. May we be obedient to your word and your will. Break our hearts for what breaks yours. May we come to you in repentance and total surrender. Lord, we are desperate for you and long to see you pour out the Holy Spirit across our land.
#ReadYourBible #Genesis #Matthew
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