Jehovah Shalom, the LORD of peace is again our topic today–in these crazy days of 2020 when it seems that crazy is the norm. Last time we learned about both Gideon and Peter (in the article “Jehovah Shalom: What Is Our Focus?” https://holylight4u.wordpress.com/2020/11/19/what-is-our-focus/), and the importance of keeping our eyes on the LORD of peace in spite of our insurmountable problems. Their problems were very real and very dangerous–just like ours–but they learned that the LORD of peace was greater still. The facts were all against them, but God’s truth was on their side. Gideon faced a multitudinous army compared to locusts both in number and destructiveness, yet with 300 men attained victory because the god of peace was with them. Peter faced an overwhelming wind and indomitable sea, yet walked upon it so long as his eyes were on Jesus. Through the stories of these two men, we learn that no matter what we are facing, the LORD of peace promises us peace that is not like what the world gives; Jesus overcame the world, and in so doing, reminds us that we are to be of good cheer when Jesus is our focus.

Let us continue focusing on our LORD of Peace and the type of peace that He gives to us. This time our story is in Philippi, and our characters are Paul and Silas.

The Story

To begin with, according to Jesus, His peace is not like what the world gives. What does this mean? The world’s concept of peace is everything being just the way you want it to be on the outside. For example, what it would consider peace is if our bodies worked right, our food was fixed just the way we wanted it, we all had our own home, could drive our own car, go on vacations, have our dream job or no job at all, and on a larger scale, no world wars, no persecution of Christians, and no more politics as usual in Washington D.C.

However, the peace that Jesus gives is not like that. It is an inner peace that has nothing at all to do with circumstances. We catch a glimpse of this peace in action in the book of Acts.

Acts 16:9-10, 14-19, 22-30 states, “And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.10 And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia…to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days…14 And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.15 And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.16 And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying:17 The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.18 And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.19 And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers…22 And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them.23 And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely:24 Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.25 And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.26 And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed.27 And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled.28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.29 Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas,30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

So what is going on here? Paul had a vision, and Paul and Silas and Luke (the writer) and others with them, firmly believed that they were to go into Macedonia and specifically to Philippi. So, they confidently went. While there, many begin coming to the Lord, including a prominent woman named Lydia, many other women and their households, and things appear to be going well. Then, a girl, a simple girl, keeps following them around and announcing them wherever they go. There is nothing wrong with what she said, but, the spirit behind it was evil. And Paul finally cast the demon out of her. Sounds good. Sound wonderful. The girl is now no longer tormented by a devil, and the people don’t have to hear her declarations anymore. But, her owners are livid and stir up a crowd. She, or rather the demon inside of her, had been their moneymaker. The whole town wild with indignation, have Paul and Silas beaten over and over and over again, and then throw them into the inner most part of the dank and dark prison where they are enchained. So, they are bleeding, cold (because of shock), it might be stuffy with no air flow so deep in the dungeon too; they are hurting, have been treated unjustly, and are on top of it all, they are enchained so that they cannot move. Now, it’s midnight and what would you be doing if you had just undergone all that they had?

But they did not cry. They did not weep. They did not get angry at God who sent them there. They did not worry about tomorrow. They did not worry about their wounds. They were not fearful about what was next.

No. They were praying, and they were singing. Now, how could they do that?

Philippians 4:6-7 (written to church of that same city) explains how. First it says, “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.6 Be careful for nothing,” – that is, do not be anxious or worried – “but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Rick Renner explains some of the Greek to us when he writes, “…I want to draw your attention to the word “passeth” in the verse above…This Greek word denotes a peace so superior that it is held high above all other types of peace. This is a peace that transcends, outdoes, surpasses, excels, rises above, goes beyond and over the top of any other kind of peace. The implication is that people may try to find peace in other places, but there is no peace like the peace of God. The peace of God completely outshines every other attempt to produce peace, causing it to stand in a category by itself. There is absolutely nothing in the world that can compare with the peace of God.” (Rick Renner, “Peace That Passes Understanding,” https://renner.org/peace-that-passes-understanding/ )

And what is brought to mind regarding this peace is, there are rich people in this world. They have everything. Their circumstances are amazing. They have a mansion, they have maids, they have cooks, they have vacations, they have vacation homes, they have their own jet, everything that the world would consider peaceful, but they have no peace inside.

And then, you have someone like the wife of Preacher George Young who is the author of one of the hymn “God Leads Us Along”, was left in abject poverty, and ended up in the poorest of the Poor Houses. A reporter came to find her to interview her about something, and he asked directions to her place of residence. When he found out where she was, he felt sure he would find her depressed and in despair. What he did find astounded him. For she was not even close to despair, but rather, was joyful. She was bubbling over with joy, for she told him there were many coming there who did not know Jesus and she got to share the Gospel with them. Her impoverished circumstances did not affect her adversely, because she had an inner peace that could not be touched.

“Paul continues to tell us that this peace surpasses and excels above “all understanding.” The word “understanding” is the Greek word nous, the classical Greek word for the mind. This word refers to the ability to think, to reason, to understandthe source of all human emotions. In Greek, the word “mind” represents the inner powers of a person and thus the place from which a person rules and controls his environment and the world around him. The Greek word emphatically depicts the mind as the central control center for a human being. Therefore, it was understood that the condition of the mind is what determined the condition of one’s life.

Then Paul tells us what this powerful peace will produce in our lives! He says that this peace “…shall keep your hearts and minds….” The word “keep” is the Greek word phroureo, a military term that expresses the idea of soldiers who stood faithfully at their post at the city gates to guard and control all who went in and out of the city. They served as gate monitors, and no one entered or exited the city without their approval.

The apostle Paul uses this word phroureo to explicitly tell us that God’s peace, if allowed to work in our lives, will stand at the gates of our hearts and minds, acting like a guard to control and monitor everything that tries to enter our hearts, minds, and emotions. When God’s peace is ruling us, nothing can get past that divine “guard” and slip into our hearts and minds without its approval!” (Rick Renner, “Peace That Passes Understanding,” https://renner.org/peace-that-passes-understanding/).

Conclusion

Peace has nothing to do with our circumstances, but is a gift given to us in spite of our circumstances. We cannot change our circumstances, but we can steer the ship of our hearts away from the craggy rocks of life. True peace is not living near a stagnate, untroubled pool, but rather, is like a trusting little bird perched on the end of a branch overhanging a frothing waterfall. It is the Apostle Paul and Silas praying and singing while in pain and bleeding, unjustly enchained in a Philippian jail cell. It is Job saying “Though God slay me, yet will I trust Him.” It is Shadrach, Meshach and Abedinego unafraid of Nebuchadnezzar’s wrathful fiery furnace when they would not bow down and worship the image. It is Martin Luther nailing the 95 theses to the church door, daringly calling the Church to repentance. It is Handel’s Messiah played in the foulest ghetto. It is the unconquerable smile on the gaunt and scared faces of the persecuted Church worldwide. It is the tiniest piece of heaven while living in the midst of hell. As the Psalmist says so eloquently, “if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there” (Psalm 139:8b). It is YOU in the midst of 2020 madness; it is YOU when YOU chose to sing hymns to God and pray undaunted though everything is out of control. This is the peace that Jesus, the Prince of Peace, promised and so generously gives to those who will receive it. God is still Jehovah Shalom, the LORD of peace. Let’s let Him be who He is in our lives today.

Other Jehovah Shalom Articles:

Part 1:

“Jehovah Shalom: What is Our Focus?” https://holylight4u.wordpress.com/2020/11/19/jehovah-shalom-what-is-our-focus/

Part 2:

“Jehovah Shalom: Peace in Spite of Our Circumstances,” https://holylight4u.wordpress.com/2020/11/23/jehovah-shalom-peace-in-spite-of-our-circumstances/

Part 3:

“Jehovah Shalom: Do Not Be Anxious,” (Puzzle Piece #1) https://holylight4u.wordpress.com/2020/11/25/jehovah-shalom-do-not-be-anxious/

Part 4:

“Jehovah Shalom: Abiding in Christ,” https://holylight4u.wordpress.com/2020/12/10/jehovah-shalom-abiding-in-christ/

Part 5:

“Jehovah Shalom: Thankful Prayer,” (puzzle piece #2), https://holylight4u.wordpress.com/2020/12/29/jehovah-shalom-thankful-prayer/

Part 6:

“Jehovah Shalom: Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus,” https://holylight4u.wordpress.com/2020/12/29/jehovah-shalom-turn-your-eyes-upon-jesus/

Part 7:

“Jehovah Shalom: Think on These Things,” (puzzle piece #3), https://holylight4u.wordpress.com/2021/01/07/jehovah-shalom-think-on-these-things/

Part 8: Puzzle Piece #4

Other Possible Articles of Interest:

“The Time Is At Hand: Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus,” https://holylight4u.wordpress.com/2020/07/15/the-time-is-at-hand-turn-your-eyes-upon-jesus/

“At Home In Christ,” https://holylight4u.wordpress.com/2020/09/09/at-home-in-christ/

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