Diligent Use of the Word of God

We had just moved into the area, bought a house, welcomed our first baby, and settled into a new church.  The house was definitely a fixer-upper, but we were determined to start practicing hospitality, so we had a steady stream of company, including a dear lady who sat next to me in the alto section of the choir.  She and her husband came for dinner one August evening —  I remember the timing because I had made a blueberry pie for dessert, and we spent some time talking about the local blueberry festival as I cut into the pie and noted that it was . . . o.k. My blueberry pies are always a little too juicy for my liking, but . . . oh, well.

I remember a lot of details about that dinner and dessert, but here’s what I don’t remember:  when or how I learned that my new friend happened to be one of the judges for the Festival’s blueberry pie baking contest.  She certainly didn’t tip her hand at the dinner table that evening, and I was certainly thankful that I hadn’t known that particular detail as I served that sorry-looking pie.

We have strong feelings when we hear the word “judge,” and our minds always go immediately to the negative:  Too juicy.  Was the crust flakey enough?  Were the berries too sweet?

Reading Hebrews 4:12, this familiar verse brings to mind the ability of God’s Word to judge, to discern, and to expose my inner heart.  I picture it slicing through all my mixed motives, all my flabby excuses, and finding nothing but badness at the root, but there’s more to it than that . . .

12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (NASB)

According to the prophet Jeremiah, we all could use a little help in the matter of judging our own heart’s motives, and looking at the placement of Hebrews 4:12 within the author’s arguments for entering into God’s rest, it becomes clear that the Word of God can play an essential role in protecting the reader from the same fate as the nation of Israel.

Hebrews 3:19 reveals that the disobedience that kept the people of Israel out of the Promised Land was unbelief, specifically, disbelieving the Word of promise, mercy, forgiveness and welcome which they had received from God, (Hebrews 4:2).   Hungry for cucumber salad with a side of leeks, they bemoaned the presence of tall-guys in Canaan, and their sin of unbelief was passed down through the centuries, resulting in the New-Testament-era camel-swallowing and speck-picking that Jesus condemned.  Warren Wiersbe diagnoses their misstep with his usual clarity:

“The Israelites criticized the Word of God instead of allowing the Word of God to judge them — and they lost their inheritance.”

Therefore, the message of the Holy Spirit through the writer of Hebrew is this:

Beware lest this happen to you!
Take the Word of God to heart!
Hold yourself before the Truth and be diligent in your knowing, in your trusting, and in your believing.
God’s Word is “living and powerful.”
It is “sharp  and piercing.”
It will turn a spotlight on motives that you would rather keep private.
It will expose attitudes that do not support your public persona.

But this is only one aspect of the Word’s working.

As we soak mind and heart in the truth of Scripture, as we read its promises (God’s promises), we find evidence that supports firm belief in those promises.  The more soaking, the more belief, so that when the two-edged sword does its work, what it finds is:

A trustful leaning into the promises of God like oxygen.
An awareness of sin’s deceitfulness and a soldierly accountability for the “thoughts and intents” of one’s heart.

So the warning stands:  fear unbelief!
But the promises also stand.

Let the Word of God lead your heart toward the evidence of God’s power and blessing.


Photo credit:  Jon Ottosson

Thanks for joining us in our study of The Epistle to the Hebrews, a letter to a congregation of struggling Jewish Christians written by an unknown author sometime before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.  My Sunday school class and I will be landing on a few verses in each chapter with the goal of getting an overview of this fascinating and complex book.  These mid-week reflections and observations are intended to initiate a deeper pondering of the week’s assignment in preparation for our discussion the following Sunday.  It’s not too late to catch up by reading Hebrews 1 -4, and, if you’re interested, last week’s blog post.

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I link-up with these communities on a regular basis:   Soli Deo Gloria Connections, Inspire Me Mondays, Good Morning Mondays, Soul Survival, Testimony Tuesday, Titus 2 Tuesday, Tell His Story, Coffee for Your Heart, Live Free Thursdays, Faith-Filled Fridays, Grace and TruthStill Saturday, Weekend Whispers, Sunday Stillness, Faith and Fellowship, Blessing Counters, Women with Intention, Sharing His Beauty, Monday Musings, Motivate and Rejuvenate Monday, Thought Provoking Thursday, Small Wonder, Playdates with God,  A Little R & R, Beloved Brews, SusanBMead, Faith Along the Way, Cozy Reading Spot, Reflect, Literacy Musing Mondays, Purposeful Faith, The Loft, Words with Winter, Rich Faith Rising, Encourage Me Monday, Tuesday Talk, What to Read Wednesday, Booknificent Thursday, Give Me Grace, Three-Word Wednesday, Word-filled Wednesdays, Faith ‘n Friends, Essential Things, 100 Happy Days, His Purpose in Me, After My Coffee, Thankful Thursday

 

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Published by

Michele Morin

Michele Morin is a teacher, blogger, reader, and gardener who finds joy in sitting at a table surrounded by women with open Bibles. She has been married to an unreasonably patient husband for over 25 years, and their four children are growing up at an alarming rate. Michele loves hot tea and well-crafted sentences, poems that stop her in her tracks and days at the ocean with the whole family. She laments biblical illiteracy and advocates for the prudent use of “little minutes.” She blogs at Living Our Days, and you can connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

28 thoughts on “Diligent Use of the Word of God”

  1. Michelle, thank you for sharing this at The Loft! You point out something I rarely focus on: the positive side of being judged!

    As always, you are a super wordsmith: Love this gem from you – “A trustful leaning into the promises of God like oxygen.” Such a good description! I need his promises even more than I need air!

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  2. Oh my! What a story about the blueberry pie judge and your pie. God’s Word is the ultimate judge, and Hebrews 4:12 explains exactly how that happens. I use that verse a lot in my teaching because it gives us good reason to study the Scriptures. Thanks for linking up, Michele. As always, you offer great wisdom for those of us at The Loft.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I have loved that verse, too, but when I looked at it in the context of the whole chapter I had to do some digging to figure out what it has to do with the “rest” and warnings that are given. As usual, it was worth the effort. Thanks, Leah, for reading and for your encouragement.

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  3. What insight, Michele, the Israelites judged God’s Word instead of allowing the sword of God’s Word to free them as it cut away their sin.
    I can’t help wondering the thoughts of your friend, the judge, and how she would have ranked your pie … Hospitality, love … I imagine perfect 10’s.
    Our perfect Judge brings freedom. Sweet blessings to you, friend. : )

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Michele, Thank you for sharing such an insightful and edifying post!

    I especially lingered over the following:

    “Beware lest this happen to you!
    Take the Word of God to heart!
    Hold yourself before the Truth and be diligent in your knowing, in your trusting, and in your believing.
    God’s Word is “living and powerful.”
    It is “sharp and piercing.”
    It will turn a spotlight on motives that you would rather keep private.
    It will expose attitudes that do not support your public persona.”

    I leave your blog feeling encouraged by the Power of the Word of God and how it guides us in all Truth to live obedient lives for Christ.

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  5. For the past several months I have been reading in the Old Testament. I can’t help but scratch my head in disbelief at how the Israelites choose to not follow through with what God wanted of them. (A lot like Christians today.) Each time they were brought to a place where they had to trust the Lord. (Again, like Christians today.) If they would have/ we would accept the Lord’s way and not our own, life would be so much easier. Thanks, Michele, for sharing with Thankful Thursdays.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. A part of me fears greatly the judgment of God. I desperately want to please Him but I know how often (and easily) I fail. I must remember that Christ clothes me with His righteousness before The Father. And I must not let the world distract me from obeying His Word. Thank you for sharing so eloquently!

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  7. Thank you for your thought-provoking look at this text. You’re right. I stand guilty of not wanting to be judged–all too often I know I’ll fall short. But part of a kind judge’s responsibility is to show how we can improve. And I’m thankful that God always does that for me!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you for the excellent reminder to stay grounded in God’s word. “The more soaking, the more belief,” I love this line. It’s a vivid reminder to keep soaking. Wishing you a blessed week

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Such wise words here about judging, Michele. Letting the Spirit discern things for us and through us is my goal. I know I probably fail more than I succeed, but thankfully grace covers even that. And I’m sure your blueberry pie was delicious! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This is great, Michele. I’m just getting ready to start a study on Galatians. Thanks for linking with #SmallWonder. I’m sorry I didn’t get back to you about your button question – it’s a work in progress!

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  11. I had always read that passage and wondered, how bad Israel, will they never learn! But I’m no different, Hebrews 4:12 should be at the tip of our thoughts. Always looking to God’s word to judge and correct ourselves.

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