When the Word Strikes a Heart

“When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes… ‘Because your heart was penitent, and you humbled yourself before the Lord, when you heard how I spoke, and you have torn your clothes and wept before me, I also have heard you,’ declares the Lord.” “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” “Whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. 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.” 2 Kings 22:11,19; 2 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 4:10-13

The living word of God, unlike any other book, has power to convict, give sight, bring low, transform, assure. Godly King Josiah was struck to his depths with the words of the Book, repented for himself and his people, then set out to lead reform. The word gives us the standard of which we fall short, but also the way to soul rest by offering us Jesus and His finished work on the cross. The word that exposes the horrors of the human heart also reveals the loveliness and mercy of God’s toward us.

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It is our wont to strive to conform to God’s patterns and keep His rules, but we struggle in frustration and defeat at the impossible. Yet, as God rested from His very good creation, and Jesus rested after winning our redemption on the cross– “It is finished!”– we are graciously offered this rest from working for our own salvation. In setting aside our self-driven efforts and receiving His saving work on our behalf, we are given a new work to do for our Lord, not to be accepted by Him. (John 19:30; Ephesians 2:8-10)

“O Lord, Thou didst strike my heart with Thy word, and I loved Thee.” St. Augustine

When the word truly strikes our hearts, its rays pierce us with the bright vastness of God’s glories, and our love for Him blooms in a myriad of facets in the way we live. We think, converse, process media, work, behave toward others, differently. Living for Him, we are at rest with joy and peace, founded unshakeably on the Rock. (Matthew 7:24-25; 1 Corinthians 10:4)

Where have we made God’s word a priority in our schedules, our opinion-forming, our decision-making? Do we regularly study it, consult it, feed on it, apply it, measure by it, depend on its promises? How are we moved, convicted, guided, changed by it? How has it trained my striving?

Lord, may I humbly ingest Your word. Soften any hardness of my heart into eager receptivity. Give me wisdom to understand, discern, and know Your ways, and change me so that I walk by them, step by step, and ever love You more. (Hosea 14:9; Psalm 95:7-8)

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