Open Up Your Heart

November 1


Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalm 119:81-88 | Ezekiel 1:1 – 3:15 | Hebrews 3:1-19 | 

Proverbs 26:24-26

Today’s Scripture Focus: Hebrews 3:1-19

“See to it that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the Living God. But encourage one another daily as long as it is called Today so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” (Hebrews 3:12-13 NIV).

The children of Israel drifted little by little into sin and unbelief. The tests of faith eventually led them to rebellion. The drifting led to hardened hearts and they missed out on the Promised Land. They didn’t enter into the rest that had been promised to them if they would listen and obey.

It is a dangerous thing to drift, to compromise, to rebel and to find one’s heart grow hard because of the deceitfulness of sin. It all starts so subtly–so easily.

That’s why God gives us brothers and sisters in the faith to encourage us and walk with us through the times of testing so that our hearts won’t grow hard. The ministry of encouragement is one that we all need. Sin is deceitful; it often draws us in subtly. Little compromises can eventually lead to rebellion and hardness of heart.

Sometimes God uses the prophet or the preacher to speak to hardened hearts (like Ezekiel who we also read about today)–but usually he uses a fellow traveler to speak a word of encouragement.

Do you know someone going through a tough time right now? Don’t neglect the ministry of encouragement. An encouraging word or a friendly conversation can have a major effect on a heart that is in a vulnerable place.

Do you know someone who seems to be drifting right now? Not showing up to worship or prayer? Making some bad choices? Your word of encouragement could be the one that keeps them from drifting further.

The ministry of encouragement is powerful, and it is one that we are all called to. Some may be especially gifted by God at it–someone like Barnabas in the New Testament–but we are all invited to join the ministry of encouragement: “Encourage one another daily.” Let me encourage you to be an encourager today.

Father, thank you for the encouragers that you have placed in my life. Continue to encourage them and enable them to minister encouragement to others. Multiply the ministry of encouragement so that none of us may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. Amen.

About pastorjeffsneighborhood

Born and raised in Minnesota, I have served in churches in Minnesota, Ohio, Oregon and California. I am a graduate of Crown College (MN) and George Fox Evangelical Seminary (OR). I have also done additional graduate studies in New Testament Studies at the Center for Advanced Theological Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary (CA). I am also a graduate of the College of Prayer. Having served as the Academic Dean and Program Director at Horizon Institute of Los Angeles for several years, I have returned to the pastorate and serve as Pastor of Big Trees Community Bible Church in Arnold, CA.
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