Day 2: The Scalpel of the Spirit

 
 

READ

Revelation 1:16 & Hebrews 4:12-13

In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.
REVELATION 1:16

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. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
HEBREWS 4:12–13

In Revelation 1:16, Jesus is revealed to John (on the island of Patmos) with a double-edged sword coming out of His mouth. We know from Hebrews 4:12 that this sharp sword is a picture of God’s Word. In the context of Hebrews 4:12, the sword’s two edges reveal both its piercing power and its sharpness. I have also found this perspective to be helpful: one edge of the sword is for my flesh, and the other is for my spiritual foe. In this devotional, we will concentrate on the edge of the sword that is for our flesh—using the Scriptures as a type of surgical scalpel. 

In Hebrews 4:12–13, the Word of God is described as alive (living), active (effective, energetic), and sharper (cutting). So sharp that it can penetrate (pierce) into the very depths of our beings, God’s Word is both incisive and decisive: incisive, because it discerns the subtle differences between our soul and spirit, and decisive, because no sin or deception can remain undetected from its penetrating power. 

The Holy Spirit has used the Scriptures as a surgical scalpel in my life many times—in order to reveal and deal with sinful patterns. God’s Word has relentlessly penetrated through layers that hid patterns of sinfulness—from brazen selfishness to subtle pride. This same powerful Word has also burned through seasons of depression and condemnation that have crippled my soul, and it has rescued me from despair. 

What has been true for me can be true for you as well! Through the Holy Spirit and the people of God, the Scriptures can reveal, heal, and deal with anything you are facing. You simply need to apply them consistently to your life. Through reading (1 Timothy 4:13), speaking (Matthew 17:20), hearing (Romans 10:17), and meditating (Joshua 1:8), the power of Scripture can be released into your life. 

Although we don’t have time to discuss all the ways we can apply the Word of God to our lives, let’s take a few minutes to practice the skill of biblical meditation. The word feeds in John 6:57 is a powerful picture of meditating on the Word of God. We feed (gnaw, bite, chew) on the power and life of Christ’s person as we partake of His Living Word. 

“Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.”
JOHN 6:57
“The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.”
JOHN 6:63

Apply

The meditative exercise I have chosen for us is both biblically and neurologically sound. It is designed to engage both your spirit and the right side of your brain. Most of your embodied, emotional experience of God is guided by brain activity in this right side of your brain. 

MEDITATING ON THE SCRIPTURES WITH THE BRAIN IN MIND
DR. EDWARD B. DAVIS AND JIM LAFFOON

The following exercise is a potentially transformative way for the Holy Spirit to speak to you. It is designed to help slow down your mind so that you can listen more clearly to what the Lord is saying to your heart. Spend at least twenty minutes on it.

  • Find a quiet place where you can be free of distractions. Turn off your phone and forms of social media.
  • Quiet your mind; this can be a challenge. If you don’t already have a Scripture in mind, take several very deep breaths and ask the Holy Spirit to lead you to the passage He wants to speak to you. Or, you can simply pick a Scripture that corresponds to a need you are currently facing. (For the purpose of this exercise, we will use Isaiah 61:1–7.) 
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners … and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations … Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.”
ISAIAH 61:1-7
  • As you select a verse or verses from this passage, ask the Lord to bring His transformative power to the resistant area you are targeting.
  • Read the Scripture aloud several times, slowly. Read it again, slowly and deliberately, with varying levels of feeling, intonation, rhythm, and emphasis.
  • Next, write out the Scripture, using your non-dominant hand and using different-colored markers, pens, or crayons.
  • Then draw a picture under the Scripture, showing what the Holy Spirit seems to be speaking to you.
  • Spend ten minutes prayerfully journaling about what the Holy Spirit is speaking to you.
  • Discuss this experience with a Christian family member, friend, or leader. 

RATIONALE FOR THIS EXERCISE

Most of our embodied, emotional experience of God is guided by brain activity in our right brain, which is very neurally connected to our body. Because “neurons that fire together wire together” (Hebb 1949), to change how we experience God at an embodied, emotional level, we need to Stimulate Neural Activity and Growth (Siegel 2007) in the right brain and in the body. Interacting with the Scriptures in an overly intellectual way tends to only SNAG the left side of the brain (which is especially logical, linear, and linguistic), thereby just bringing changes to our head knowledge of God. In contrast, interacting with the Scriptures in the ways described above can bring about deep-level changes in our embodied, emotional experience of God. In particular, this exercise is designed to strategically SNAG the right brain, thereby disentangling us from “autopilot” and positioning us to better hear the Holy Spirit’s transformative, life-giving words to our heart. 

PRAY

It’s time for you to focus your prayers on your pastor, your local church, and the needs of our world.

  • Pray for your pastor and his or her family.
  • Pray for your church.
  • Pray for one of Every Nation’s six regions: Asia & Oceania, Africa, Europe, Latin America, Middle East, North America. 

Tomorrow, as we walk through the third day of our fast together, we will explore the power of praying in the Spirit. 

 

REFERENCES

Hebb, D. O. The Organization of Behavior; a Neuropsychological Theory. New York: Wiley, 1949. N. pag. Print.
Siegel, Daniel J.The Mindful Brain: Reflection and Attunement in the Cultivation of Well-Being. New York: W.W. Norton, 2007. Print.