A Mind Stayed – Apprehending the Shalom of God
by Pastor Gene
Peace is, I think, the most elusive of all the things we desire and pursue. Some of the wisest men in the world can’t capture it. The richest among us can’t buy it. The worries of the poor keep it far from their reach. War-torn regions throughout the world can’t seem to find it.
The lack of it allows stress to ravage our bodies and our minds.
The shalom of God.
The truth is, the earth hasn’t known true peace since Adam’s fall. Even the very ground itself is at war with those who would harvest its riches (Genesis 3:17-19).
The arrival of sin drove a wedge into our relationships with one another, not to mention our relationship with God. He can have nothing to do with sin at all!
So, sin separates. It separates us from our God, it separates us from our neighbor, and it even separates us from the very earth we till.
Besides that, sin had a baby – a really ugly baby – and that baby’s name is shame. As soon as the first man and woman sinned, they reached for something to cover themselves with. It was their feeble attempt to deal with the strange new emotion that now flooded their hearts – shame. They’d never felt anything like that before.
When sin came, peace left. Like Elvis, ladies and gentlemen, peace has ‘left the auditorium.’
The shalom of God.
And ever since that time, men and women have spent their lives trying to recapture this slipperiest of qualities – usually without much success.
We want peace to settle upon us. We want to sleep through the night without the cares of the world tossing and turning us. But, more often than not, peace eludes us.
It’s from this tempest of turmoil that the prophet Isaiah looked forward to the coming of the One who would truly bring peace – real peace, real shalom.
The One who would come and make everything right, who would make everything whole.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this” (Isaiah 9:6-7, italics mine).
The promise is that, in Jesus – the “Prince of Shalom” – every hole in every wall would be repaired. Every gap would be closed. Every piece of every puzzle would be set in its proper place. Every one of God’s sheep would be present and accounted for. Everything broken would be fixed. Every severed relationship would be restored to a state of wholeness. Everything left undone would be finished.
In His second coming all of these things will be universally realized.
But, while we’re waiting for Jesus to come again, there is a peace – a real peace – available to us right N.O.W. as God’s children!
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” – those are Jesus’ words in John 16:33.
In yet another place, He promised, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27).
So, there it is, the promise that, although Jesus was going away, He was leaving something behind for those who would truly follow Him: peace, shalom.
“Peace I leave with you,” He said, and no ordinary peace, but “My peace I give to you.” It’s a gift – it can’t be purchased or earned. He gives us this peace “not as the world gives.” It’s not conditional. It’s not temporary. It’s a complete peace, a perfect peace.
But, if this peace is available to us, how do we get it? What keeps us from experiencing this perfect peace from God? The answer is simplicity itself: distractions.
God told the children of Israel “in quietness and in trust shall be your strength. But you were unwilling …” (Isaiah 30:15). Their peace would be found the same place ours is found: “in quietness and trust.” We have only to get quiet and consider Him above all other things.
When we get still before God, we’ll find peace, we’ll find rest. But distractions keep us from it. Distractions draw our gaze toward anything but God!
Yet, His promise remains, and it’s just as true for us today as it was for those in Isaiah’s day: “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you” (Isaiah 26:3).
Peace from God is available to all who have come to know the Son and who fix their minds on Him.
When our minds wander away from God, our peace wanders right along with it. We lose perfect peace when we consider our own way, when we seek to solve our problems without Him, when we approach the crisis with fear instead of faith.
As Moses told the frightened Israelites, “The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent” (Exodus 14:14). In deed He will, and indeed we do!
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you,” Jesus promised, and He’s good for His promise!
Yes, God! “You WILL keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you!”
And to that we say, ‘Amen and amen!’
To consider . . .
- What’s keeping you away from experiencing the peace of God? Which distractions keep you from fixing your mind fully upon Him?
- Obviously, fixing our minds upon God does not mean that we don’t think about other important things.
- Rather, it means that we see things through the eyes of faith. We try to see them as God would want us to see them. We approach even the most difficult times with faith instead of fear.
- Can you remember a time when you approached a serious trial in your life with faith?
- Do you remember when you’ve approached one with fear?
- What was the difference at the time?
- What was the difference after the fact?
- What did you learn?
- In John 14:27, Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
- What do you think Jesus meant by “as the world gives”? How does the world give peace? What kind of peace does it give?
- How is the peace that Jesus gives different than the peace the world gives?
Sermons with Boats in Them #2: ‘Dark Night was the Night and the Sea was a Fury – Tempestuous, Turbulent and Threatening.’
March 29, 2020