Nowadays I am reading Proverbs. During the reading and pondering of Proverbs, I was surprised. One reason that I was amazed is that I started to understand the meaning for specific verbs that I would not get before. When I was young, some of them were very strange to me; I might not understand the world of adults at that time. Now I understand why these are called ‘wisdom’. Indeed, I am getting older and older.
What I want to emphasize here is that it is important for you to read the Bible steadily. You may not understand the bible fully although you have read it several times. This is the exact reason why you should read the Bible daily. Whenever you read the Bible, I hope that you will confess that you learned something new through the Holy Spirit. I would like to encourage you to come to read the Bible on Sunday morning.
My little hope is that the people of our church will fall into the joy of reading the Bible, God's Word. I believe that the Word of God becomes a nutrient in your hearts; God's Word has become the light of your lives; God’s word makes you overcome the temptations of the world. I would like to hear that you find the wisdom in the Bible to unravel the complicated problems in your lives. I hope that our despair will be changed into the hope and comforted by God's word.
The beginning of all these is from reading the Bible. I hope that you and me, not only in the morning of the week, but also as usual in every day. When you pray and read the bible, there will be time when some thoughts by the Holy Spirit will fall into your hearts. And I want you to hold on to that word, and to live a day, live a week, and live a year. Then you will experience your spiritual growth. You will experience that God's Word is alive.
Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”
I hope that this confession will be yours.
I had the experience of walking the street at night when I was young without light. I felt that someone might come to me from behind. The darkness creates fear. However, the fear disappeared with a flashlight. This is true that the darkness in your life will be gone with the light of the Bible. God’s word will shine on you and will repel your fear in your life. I hope that you can confess like a psalmist. 'The word of the Lord is the lamp to my feet, and the light for my path.'
2. Lessons learned from Proverbs
One thing what I learned from Proverbs is about the origin of our life. Do you know where the source of our life is? Proverbs 4:20-23 gives us the answer.
My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a man's whole body. Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. (Proverbs 4:20-23)
The source of our life comes from the heart.
Our bodies are healthy when our hearts (or our minds) are healthy. Furthermore, when our mind is healthy, so our family and our society are healthy. This is true that our country is healthy when our hearts are healthy because we are a member of the country. On the contrary, if our mind is taken away from the evil, our body becomes sick. When our minds become sick, our homes and our society become sick. So it is important that our minds keep healthy and clean. This is another reason why we read the Bible.
In 2016, a movie titled "Tunnel" was released. It is a movie about the collapse of the tunnel as you can guess in the title. One person lives in it dramatically. In the movie, I saw how important it is for a person to have a certain mind in a difficult situation.
In the Bible the mind occupies a very important position. When I searched for the word 'heart' in the Bible, I found that there are more than 1000 Bible verses. What does this tell you? It is showing us how important our heart is. I cannot quote everything related with “Heart (=mind)”, I want to share some today with you.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. (Matt. 5:8).
This is the blessing Jesus said. I believe that the great blessing is to see God.
The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live (Deut. 30:6)
It is also what we need to pray to God. We should ask, 'Let us love God with all our heart and with all our minds.’
Simon in today’s passage is an interesting person. His job was a magician. I am sure that you've seen magic, which would be fun. However, magic is not real, but fake. Magic is a trick for people that do not recognize the reality. Due to the technology, many surprising magic shows have appeared: The building may be gone in front of you; a person seems to move from here to another area in a very short time. This kind of magic is so exciting and interesting.
Simon, however, used his magic to steal people's hearts. In other words, he had bewitched people with sorceries; this was the response of people, saying that 'Simon is the great power of God.' You can see how great his influence was in Samaria. Everyone from the lowest to the highest followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his magic. Although it was not true of God's power, his influence was great and would govern the people in Samaria. He boasted himself that he was someone great. Simon would be rich and honorable in Samaria due to his sorceries, but not God’s power.
But Simon had a problem. Philip, a God’s man, came to the land of Samaria and began to preach Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God and also healed the sick. Philip did what Simon could never do. Who knows Philip’s miracle was real or fake? Simon should know what the real was.
The people who followed Simon didn’t follow him anymore and started to follow Philip. People's hearts moved to Philip. Simon saw this and then what he started to believe in Jesus and to follow Phillip. In addition he was baptized. You may see how sincere Simon was.
However, his real attitude was revealed. It was when the apostles came to the land of Samaria and laid their hands on people who needed the Holy Spirit. Simon was very shocked to this scene. And Simon would think, "This is the technology that I have to learn” So Simon asked the apostles to teach this with money. Do you know what Simon was thinking? By using this technology, he might believe his honor and also wealth could be recovered. This would be his hidden intention in his heart.
What did the apostles who read Simon’s heart say?
Peter answered: "May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. (Acts 8:20,21).
Peter pointed out that Simon's heart was full of evil thoughts: Simon was a man who had not been right before God. Although he was baptized and seemed to believe in Jesus, there was still an evil heart in his heart and he was still trying to do his own desires. He took his own greed, but not abandon it, and believes in Jesus. What Simon did was that he took good things in his mind. What the apostle Peter said to him was thus,
“Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin." (Acts 8:22, 23).
Simon was baptized and followed Philip diligently, but in his heart there was no real repentance. If he repented, he should say like this, 'I was misleading people with my magic, and took a lot of unfair advantages. What I did was not the power of God, but I did it by lying. "
Repentance is not a sadness for sin, but a change of mind. What we find here is that Simon did not repent for his sins in his heart to the end.
“Then Simon answered, "Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me." (Acts 8:24)”
What Simon was asking is that he didn’t let himself be ruined, and he had no interest in repenting his sins. He just worried about his loss in wealth.
Why is this story written in the story of Samaria evangelism? It is because this will happen also in the ministry of the church. It also shows that there will be people who will not give their hearts to God, but will try to sell God's power and make them rich. It was the heart of Simon who had no true repentance. What happened when Simon had a great influence in the land of Samaria? It was a place full of wicked men and wicked spirits; it would be natural that people sick spiritually and physically.
4. Philip’s heart
So what was Philip's mind? And what was Peter's mind? Their hearts would be the heart of Jesus. How do we know? You can see from the fruits of their lives. There is the difference between Simon and Philip.
Simon said that he was great with his magic; he boasted himself. He enjoyed being praised by people. He raised the money with his sorceries. How about Philip? He performed a lot of miracles, but he didn’t boast himself. He boasted of only Jesus Christ and also shared the kingdom of God with Samaritan. Philip knew that what he did was not his own ability but the power of God. His heart was humble.
I think this is the confession of a person who has embraced Jesus. "He must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:30)." John the Baptist said. We can read the mind of John the Baptist. On the other hand, Simon's heart was like this. "I must increase, and he must decrease."
The heart is like a bowl. Depending on what you put in the bowl of the heart, our lives and values will be different. I want to ask you to take a look your minds as well. What contains in the bowl of your heart? Is it like Simon’s heart? Is it like Philip’s heart?
Before his downfall a man's heart is proud, but humility comes before honor. (Prov. 18:12).
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: (NIV, Phil. 2:5). Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: (KJV, Phil 2:5).
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross! (Phil. 2:6-8)’
I hope that you put Jesus' heart in your hearts. Jesus is humble. He loves the people of the world. He was obedient to death in God. God bless you who have the mind of Jesus in your heart. Amen!
Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. (Prov. 4:23).