The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick,
Who can understand it?
"I, the Lord search the heart, and test the mind,
To give every man according to his ways,
According to the fruit of his deeds.
For the word of God is living and active,
sharper than any two-edged sword,
piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow,
and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him
to whom we must give account.
Jeremiah 17:9, Hebrews 4:12,13 ESV
Photo Credit: Joanna Ng
Many Christians go about their days without the Word of God. Sunday preaching is their only in-take, as a form of spoon-feeding. Void of His Word in their hearts, they are spiritual infants, whose lives are guided by the ways of the world, being tossed back and forth by the waves, blown here and there by every wind of teaching, and by the cunning an craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming (Ephesians 4:14).
Some Christians read the Word of God for others, typically because they have to preach, or teach, or lead a Bible study. Despite the exposure to the Word, because they are not reading the Word for themselves first, the Word is only in their intellectual minds, functionally a part of their teaching materials and presentations, but did not make it to the heart.
Other people think they know the Word, but because their hearts are not subjected to the reading by the Word, there is no conviction, repentance, transformation nor obedience. They do not practice what they preach. Other than their image of being more spiritual, their heart in reality is that of spiritual infants.
Even fewer are Christians who keep up the daily routine of reading the Word, but with their mind, from a self-oriented point of view, without a humble attitude towards the Word. Sitting on their driver's seat, they autonomously determine what portion of the Word apply, and take liberty to reject any portion that does not fit their heart's desires. Without an attitude of the fear of the Lord whose Word was breathed on by His Spirit, His Word has no authority upon their heart, therefore, there is no transformation of the inner being, nor obedience in faith. Without growth, they remain spiritual infants, but they may think they are spiritually superior, taking pride in being able to keep up with their daily spiritual rituals that most Christians can't. Void of a humble and contrite spirit, there is no trembling at His Word (Isaiah 66:2b), the Lord does not look upon them with favor.
Without His Word having power and authority over our heart, we are detached from God's heart, foreign to the ways of His kingdom. Out of the ignorance of His Word, the mind from our self-centered flesh takes liberty to define our own version of Jesus; as a relationship for our benefits, demanded to be accepted just as we are, sparing ourselves from the requirement of the confession of sins, repentance of hearts to reconcile with God. Without a heart that fears the Lord, taking Christ's love on the cross for granted, there is no Lordship that requires full surrender with a contrite heart. Such a one-sided relationship may meet your requirements but definitely fails Jesus'. You think you know Him, but He is saying to you, 'away from me' (Matthew 7:23).
Photo Credit: Aaron Burden
Only a humble and contrite spirit would one stop reading His Word from our own points of view, but let His Word read our hearts, for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16, Hebrews 4:12).
How do you know you have let His Word read your heart?
You do know because you will experience the power of His Word that is:
sharper than any two-edged sword
piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow
discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart
Your heart jumps for joy when His Word hits it so precisely like an arrow shooting right on target.
That is the anointing of the Spirit who dwells within you. That anointing is real, not a counterfeit (1 John 2:27). That is super cool and exciting, the norm of being Christian that we should expect. May we nurture that joy as the norm of our everyday life.
No matter how you approach the Word, there are only two possible responses:
Disobedient in doubts and disbelief: consequently, our heart cannot rest in Him, leaving us with a hardened heart (Hebrews 4:3,7,11)
Obedience in faith: consequently, our heart is transformed by the dynamic power of His Word, therefore we can enter and experience His rest.
Then there is an associated warning, "Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account (Hebrews 4:13)." On that day, when we see our Lord face to face, we have to give an account to Him regarding how we approach His Word.
Living life on the fast lane, I have lived a fair share of my days without the Word of God. Running on empty led to burn and crash. I have lived my days of reading the Word of God for others to fulfill my obligations as a Sunday School teacher or a Bible Study leader. The spiritual facade covered a heart that was running on empty.
Since my reset to version 2.0 of Being Christian, I took the approach of sharing the Word as a form of breaking bread with brothers and sisters in Christ. I learn to share from the spiritual manna that I received, given by the Spirit. "For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you (1 Corinthians 11:23)."
As I processed 2023 with the Lord, I felt I did not have the depth of faith to take on what I felt the Lord had called going forward. As I sought the Lord, I felt a strong impression that the Spirit prompted me to learn:
from Abraham: his audacious faith and obedience,
from David: his continuous sense of God’s manifested presence.
That was how the Lord prepared my heart, through His Word, to start my 2024 journey with Him, ready for what is to come. Being in the fourth week of 2024, I felt so deeply blessed and encouraged in Him through His Word. There are many verses that hit my heart so precisely like an arrow shooting right on target, refreshing my faith and hope in Him. When the Lord said, "I am your shield, I am your very great reward.", "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" (Genesis 15:1, 18:14), just to name a few verses, there is a new yearning stirring in my heart to go deeper in intimacy with the Lord. His Word is surely living and active.
May 2024 be a year that He revives His Church, as we humble ourselves and invite His Word to read our heart, calling forth our responses of obedience and faith, allowing us to experience His presence, entering His rest, in new dimensions we have never seen before!
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