My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity. Proverbs 4:1-2
My son, pay attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not lose sight of them; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and health to the whole body. Guard your heart with all diligence, for from it flow springs of life. Proverbs 4:20-23
If we didn’t know that the word gives life, proverbs 4 makes it very clear! Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Notice that the proverb didn’t just say to guard your mind, though that is part of the outcome of guarding your “heart” (the essence of who we are as a body, with mind and spirit). If guarding our heart, guards our mind and thoughts, does it therefore also guard our body…? Something to ponder on!
The psalmist says: “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11. Sin separates man from God. If people read the bible, keep their minds free from worldly distractions and live good lives, would that bring forth springs of life? No! Only a revelation of Jesus, the word made flesh, can do that! With the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, the word takes root (see Mark 4; The parable of the sower). We cannot save ourselves through self-effort or good works! Only Jesus can give life. He saves us – by grace, through faith.
The bible, both old and new testament, is full of references to Jesus; prophecies, parallels in other bible characters’ lives, poetic and symbolic pictures. When the risen Jesus walked with two of his followers on the road to Emmaus, they did not recognise him. It was not until he had spoken of himself in the scriptures, and then broke bread with them, that they realised who he was and said, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” See Luke 24
Jesus may not be present in body now, but our hearts should burn within us when he is revealed anew in the word, as we read, listen, study. He is the way, the truth and the LIFE!
As Christians, we are still human – in the world, but not of the world – so the consequences of the fall will still have their effect on us. Yet Jesus tells his disciples, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33. Therefore, our hope is not in humanity, in nature, in technology, in medicine, in having a good education or a well-paying job. All these things will pass away… “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” Matthew 24:35. Our hope – our ONLY hope – is in the finished work of Jesus.
John 16:33 is preceded by Jesus saying he has told his disciples what is to come so that IN HIM they may have peace! The Hebrew word shalom, which translates as simply “peace” means so much more… safety, wholeness, health, provision, prosperity, rest… In new testament context, peace (eiréné) also encompasses the reconciliation of all things to God through Jesus. “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” Col 1:19-20
We know that stress is the opposite of peace. Even doctors say that stress can damage our bodies and minds. It causes dis-ease! But where stress is the cause of affliction, God’s peace is the remedy, and is found again and again in God’s word.
So… “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be apparent to all. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think on these things.”
Take time to meditate on these things… be refreshed, restored and at peace.
Thank you Father that Jesus IS the Word and that he gives me life in abundance.