God's Word is both powerful and effectual. The writer of Hebrews says that it is "living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart." That's pretty powerful! The psalmist declares that the Word of God is capable of enabling us to keep our way pure. Undeniably, sin is strong and temptation great. Yet, the Word of God is stronger and greater and through it we can obtain the victory. Christ shows us the power of the Word in Matthew 4 when He does battle with Satan. He doesn't pull out the omnipotent powers of deity in His hour of temptation - though He could have. No, as a model to us, He clings to the truths of the Word of God and Satan flees from Him. The Word truly is the sword of the Spirit and we would be wise to love it and to live by it.
Not only is the Word powerful, but it is also effectual. God declares that truth very clearly in these verses. He draws us a picture by using the description of rain and snow. When God sends moisture from heaven it always accomplishes something. When rain falls, when snow settles, things get wet! You can't have precipitation without wetness! Won't happen. The two go hand in hand. Isaiah 55 puts it this way: "For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth, and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so shall my word be which goes forth from my mouth...." Rain pours down, snow blankets the ground and the result is the settling in of H20 that is absolutely necessary for seeds to grow and fruit to form.
God's Word is compared to this. "So shall My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it." Matthew Henry writes: "These promises of mercy and grace shall have as real an effect upon the souls of believers, for their sanctification and comfort, as ever the rain had uppon the earth, to make it fruitful. Christ's coming into the world, as the dew from heaven (Hos 14:5), will not be in vain."
God has sent His Word forth, just as He has sent forth the rain and snow. God has His sovereign purposes in the sending forth of that Word, and those purposes will come to fruition. For some, the purpose is conviction of sin. For others, the purpose is that they will be without any excuse on the day of judgment for sin.
This powerful and effectual Word has gone forth. What purpose is it manifesting in your life? What fruit is being produced in you through its falling out upon you? Are you walking in this powerful Word or are you running from it? You'll never outrun it and it will either be a lamp unto your feet in this dark world or a light to expose your unrighteous deeds in the next. We all deserve the latter. God has graciously offered the former through the redeeming work and righteous merit of Jesus Christ!
And finally, if the Word - through the gracious illumination of the Holy Spirit - is a lamp unto your feet, may I ask how often you are using it as you converse with others. (I'm not speaking of being a Bible bashing bully but of loving the Word so much that it dwells richly in you and that its truths naturally flow from you in conversation. There is a difference between the obnoxious Bible thumper and the humble Word lover.) Christian, it is His word, not our words that people so desperately need. It is His word that has promises attached to it. Don't be ashamed of that which is so powerful and effectual. Hold it forth in humble boldness trusting that it will accomplish what He desires and succeed in the matter for which He has sent it.