“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 KJV.
For those of us who had the privilege of growing up under the preaching of Dr. W.O. Vaught (longtime pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Little Rock), we fondly recall this verse being recited as written above by our pastor every Sunday morning. To this day I can still hear the cadence of his voice, steady and strong, in my memory. This quoting of the verse from Hebrews was a weekly tradition, along with several others that as a young 18-year old, I took for granted. But what an impact this simple tradition had on me as a young woman at that pivotal point in my life.
You see, little did I know that because I had heard this verse recited out loud week after week, it began to take up residence in my mind. It began to shape my thinking and reasoning, among other verses that I heard each week. Even as it was occurring over the course of time, I was unaware of the roots that were being established regarding the foundation of God’s Word as my source of truth and my standard for decisions and choices I would make in life.
As I write this, I can’t help but think about how what we hear out loud contributes to our thought process and the shaping of our beliefs — beliefs about theology, about culture, about life. And let’s just admit, our world today is continually bombarded with noise and constant messages that we know are counter to the absolute truths of the Bible.
So what can we do? How can we intentionally build in methods of repeating God’s Word out loud in our lives and families so it can take root and flourish? Here are a few ideas I used to do with my boys as they were growing up and I want to implement back into my own life:
- Memorize scripture. This is a great family activity and there are many creative ways to make this fun for your kids and grandkids! You can also do this with friends.
- Read your daily Bible study passages out loud. Or use whatever Bible app you have to listen to the audio version. When we read God’s Word out loud we hear words and phrases that we might not catch just from silent reading. I truly believe God enriches the words He inspired, just as they were heard aloud by the people in Bible times.
- Choose key passages or verses as a framework for your family and your personal life. Just as the passage in Hebrews 12 became a framework for my spiritual life, there are many other verses that can serve to shape our spiritual thinking and establish a strong foundation in our biblical mindset. Write these verses down. Keep them with you. Say them out loud every day. Declare them as truths over your life. Speak them over your children and grandchildren.
God’s spoken words have Holy Spirit power (or as Dr. Vaught would say, “dunamis”). It is important to note that Dr. W.O. Vaught wasn’t chanting a mantra each week. He was speaking God’s holy word and declaring it as God’s holy truth. Just as he began each worship service with spoken truth, he also ended each service with this spoken blessing from God’s Word. Maybe you recognize it as a current worship song:
“The Lord bless thee, and keep thee; the Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee. The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.” Numbers 6:24-25, KJV