Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years. Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways.’ As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest.’” Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion” (Hebrews 3:7–15, esv).
On Sunday night, October 8, 1871, D. L. Moody was preaching the gospel in downtown Chicago. He challenged the listening crowd to go home and “think about what I’ve said about the gospel and come back tomorrow and tell me what you’ve decided about following the Lord.”
Sounds OK, right? “It’s a big decision. Don’t rush into it. Weigh your options.”
“It all comes down to this: when you hear what God’s Word says, do something about it.”
About the same hour that meeting was breaking up, a few blocks west of downtown, a blaze had begun in Patrick O’Leary’s cow barn. By midnight the fire had jumped the Chicago River’s south branch and by 1:30 a.m., the entire business district (where Moody had been preaching) was in flames. By 3:00 a.m., the inferno had raced northward, jumped the main river, and devoured over 100,000 homes. Not until after midnight the following day was the fire extinguished as a steady rain left Chicago smoldering and in rubbles—with hundreds dead.
Many of the people who had heard the gospel on Sunday night perished in the flames. By not deciding to follow Jesus the moment they heard the invitation, they had missed their opportunity to respond to God’s good news.
D.L. Moody’s ministry was changed forever. He said, “From now on, every chance I get I will urge upon people a decision today, today. Today, sir, make a decision today. Although you can choose your actions; you cannot choose the consequences.”
“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” The writer of Hebrews repeats that warning three times (3:7, 3:15, 4:7). And while it applies to those who would respond to God’s call of salvation, it also applies to followers of Christ at some point of obedience.
It all comes down to this: when you hear what God’s Word says, do something about it. If you want to go further with God than you have in years gone by, decide today that every time God shows you something, you’re going to get after it. If He lays it out for you, don’t put it off.
Get on doing God’s thing right away. You don’t know how long the opportunity will be yours.
Lord, I feel the weight of obedience right now and am tempted to ignore Your prompting. Give me the strength to persevere in faith. As I face challenges, by Your Spirit help me walk in faith and obedience. How quickly this life will end; how soon eternity will begin. Might I be faithful to You to the finish line. I pray this in the enduring name of Jesus, amen.