14 August 2020 -Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)
12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
The verses before today’s verse talk about God’s promise of rest, both the eternal kind when we die and the daily kind that we need while we are alive. Access to this promised rest is conditional upon having a soft heart (verse 7) to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior and putting in effort to trust in God’s intent and ability to provide for His people (verses 9-11). This is opposed to following the path of those who were disobedient in the days of Moses and God’s people in the desert where their “disobedience” was essentially that their hearts were always going astray and they did not get familiar with the how God thought and worked” (3:7-14). As such, disobedience starts from our attitude towards God and then comes out in our actions; disobedience should not be mistaken for merely behavior acted out.
The guidance to keep the direction and attitudes of our hearts comes in today’s verse: keep going to God’s word, experience its precision to cut through the clutter and layers of our hearts, minds and physical life, and expose and clarify the true nature of what is going on inside of us. This way, we see what God has seen all along, and we get opportunities to address the condition of our hearts and minds, which will then be acted out in our life attitudes and behavior.
The question today’s verse presents is not trying to decipher its meaning but determining whether it is true. Interestingly, this verse was one of the key starting verses in the recent 20-day Write-Your-Own-Devotional Challenge workshop, and I had the privilege to see this verse come into action for 4 weeks with 16 members of our fellowship. There was progression in the effort and willingness of the participants, increasing precision and relevance of God’s word to reveal and address embedded issues and perspectives, and correction, help and encouragement to face real and present life situations.
As we shared our devotions, we were able to witness how God connected to each person built back onto the participants’ eagerness to keep going, and dig deeper, in the challenge. Looking back, perhaps some might say the hardest part of the challenge was in the decision to sign up and commit for 20 days (and with unknown people too). Thereafter, God made it somehow “easier” to come under the bright light and surgical knife held in His gentle and firm hand.
This week past, we have been looking at the idea of Jesus coming again, how He is like a thief in His timing, how we should view this subject and what our relationship with Him should look like. How fast do we hold on to the gospel, how do we dance with Jesus, how do we get ready for an event which date we do not know? By getting ready and looking forward to Jesus’ return every day. And how do we do that? Keep going into His word, take time to soak in what God says, see what it illuminates about your heart, and what seeps into your heart. You will feel safer and become more at ease about being checked up and “operated on” by God so that you can be a healthier and freer child of His. You will look forward to meeting God in person more.
Thoughts for the day
On a spectrum of “Yes, absolutely, I can never go back” to “No clue,” how lively, relevant and active has God’s word been to you?
- If you lean on side of “Yes, absolutely,” praise God and share your experience with someone.
- If you lean on the side of “No clue,” ask God to help you get started and ask people you know who enjoy God’s presence how they get into God’s word to walk with you for a defined period of time.
- If you are somewhere in between, ask God to move you along the scale to the “Yes, absolutely” side and explore more ways to soak in God’s word.
Dear God and Heavenly Father, thank you for speaking words that are forever true and relevant. I want to invite you more into my life, my heart and mind. Help me to discover how you speak to what I face daily, and the bigger things I am concerned with. I want to be a healthier and freer child of yours. Amen.