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22nd August: The Marks of Peace (1) -- Love for the Word of God

If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace... Luke 19:42 (NIV)

Every day of our working life we are rubbing shoulders with patients who are looking for peace, and to help them in their quest we must be sure that we ourselves are living in peace. This is not easy in our pressured age, but just recently I did a rapid survey of the factors associated in the Bible with peace and discovered at least fourteen to start with. Three of these are particularly important, as the peace they bring is qualified by the description 'great' or 'perfect'. We look at these over the next three days.

The first is love for the word of God (Ps 119:165). God's word can bring peace because it is powerful. Today's reading (Ps 29) is full of the might effects of God's voice, which strips the forest bare. This is why he can bless his people with peace (v11). The Lord Jesus could calm a raging storm with just the power of his word (Mk 4:39), and he told his disciples '... I have spoken to you that in me you might have peace' (Jn 16:33). What God speaks gives us peace because of its strength.

If this is really so, how is it then that we can fail to benefit from it? James surely gives us the answer when he tells us to 'receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save...' (Jas 1:21). To produce its effect, the word has to be received and implanted in the soil of our heart.

Jesus himself gave us a solemn warning in the all-too-familiar parable of the sower (Mt 13:18-23) of the danger of a defective incorporation of his word. A hard heart, a shallow heart, a heart cluttered up with other things -- these are the soils in which his word cannot fulfil its true potential, and these, too, describe the Christians who never fully experience the peace of God which passes understanding. How very different was the attitude of the Thessalonian Christians. To them Paul wrote that he thanks God constantly that 'when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you' (1 Thes 2:13). Was it any wonder that such believers should know the Lord as the God of peace (1 Thes 5:23, 2 Thes 3:16)? May God help us to know him like this too.

Lord, teach me to love your word, and so to obey it
that I may know your reign of peace in my heart today.

Further reading: Ps 29.


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