Have you ever heard a story that was so powerful it stuck in your mind and changed the way you live? The Bible is one big story about God’s love and how He has redeemed us! It is a narrative unveiling God’s limitless love that takes us “out of darkness into His marvelous light,” as 1 Peter 2:9 says.
And yet, if we approach Scripture with stale familiarity, we can miss its power. On the other hand, if God’s Word feels foreign, unapproachable, or irrelevant to us, we cannot receive the grace and strength tucked within His Words. However, suppose we approach God’s Word rightly, with expectant hearts ready to receive and apply what it says. In that case, His power and goodness emanate from the pages. His truth saturates our souls and moves our minds toward His thoughts. But how does Scripture have this effect?
The Bible is an incredible piece of history. Yet, in its nature and application, it differs from every other story. Hebrews 4:12 tells us God’s Word is “living and active.” When we open Scripture, we’re not just looking at a historical record or a collection of inspirational thoughts. We are holding the living and active power of God. But what does that mean for our lives?
At the beginning of time, God spoke the universe and everything in it into place by the power of His spoken word. “Let there be …” He said of the water and dry land, the birds and sea creatures, the trees and flowers … and they were. There is great power in God’s spoken word, which did not cease after the first week. When God spoke nature into place, His power was released into every living thing. We can see it in a fiery sky alight with dawn’s colors or in fresh green shoots pressing through chilly soil at spring’s beckoning.
Scientists might refer to this as a “force of life” or an energy that permeates living things and compels them to continue thriving. Although they recognize it, scientists cannot pinpoint where this force of life originates. But we can look to Genesis chapter 1 and find God’s words speaking this force into creation, “Let there be…”
God is the bringer of life, and His words at creation not only ignited life on earth but placed into each living thing the capacity and drive to advance. We experience this force of life in His written Word as well. In fact, we see a beautiful reflection of this in Isaiah 55:10-11:
When God’s words were recorded as Scripture by forty different authors, His power was inscribed along with each story and sentiment because they are the very thoughts of God! As we meditate on His thoughts recorded in the Bible, they powerfully align our attention and affections with His desires and plans.
Every living thing is active. But, of course, we can perceive activity at different levels. A hummingbird beats its wings up to seventy times per second. Its heart beats around 1,200 times each minute to fuel that incredible motion. We can become tired just watching a hummingbird’s morning routine of collecting nectar. This exertion is much different than watching plant life, which can initially seem quite stagnant. Yet even plants are constantly active. As they stretch toward light, unfurl tight fists of buds into delicate blossoms, and dig roots deeper into the soil, they are exhibiting God’s force of life. In a way worth reflecting on, rest contributes to their growth. Perennial plants, which return yearly, lay dormant through the harsh winter months. Yet even as they rest, their roots strengthen so they can emerge even stronger the following spring.
It is the same with Scripture. In fact, as we look at Hebrews 4:12 and God’s “living and active Word,” we can zoom out to look at the entire chapter in its context and discover it is all about rest. In Hebrews 4:1-11, God makes an incredible connection between rest and belief. Talking about God’s gift of rest, verse three says, “we who have believed enter that rest.” This connection in Scripture is essential. It shows us that as we place our faith in the truth of God’s Word and the work of Christ, we’re able to rest. In our rest, our faith roots grow like a flower that may look idle but is actively absorbing light and water. Likewise, the light and life of God’s Word actively fill us as we rest in Him.
Because God’s Word is living and active, we are equipped with His power and love when we hide it in our hearts. His thoughts become our own, and His ways influence our behaviors and direct our activities. Hebrews 4:12 goes on to explain that God’s Word is “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.” We might hesitate to invite this sort of power into our lives. Yet as we do, we experience God’s life-giving nature on a new level. As He prunes our thought patterns, attitudes, or habits that hurt us or hold us back from His best, we discover new growth — much like a tree pruned of dying branches. Inviting His living and active Word into our hearts, we grow stronger than before and bear fruit for His kingdom.
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