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Jehovah Shalom. The LORD of peace. His peace is our protection from the storm. His peace is the guard of our minds and hearts. His peace keeps us singing though imprisoned, beaten down, bruised, bloodied, insulted, wounded or overwhelmed. His peace, like a group of Roman soldiers, fiercely guards us, not allowing the poison of circumstances and emotions to steal, kill and destroy us. His peace enables us to walk on water, win impossible battles, and sing the cold, dark night away, because this peace is not based in facts, but in God Himself. For, no matter where we are, if we are “in Christ” we are safe; we are secure; we are home. Christ is our haven of rest, and so long as He is in the boat, we will not sink.

Today let’s continue studying our LORD of peace.

Missing or Overlooked?

As I was thinking on our Bible topic this past weekend, I began to feel that something very important regarding application was missing, but I could not pinpoint what it was. How does it all play out? How does one apply this peace? How can it become operational in our lives?

A close relative of mine recently was speaking with a family friend. Though we live several hours a part and haven’t seen each other in a long time, she and her husband pray for my family, and we pray for them. This family friend has had some health issues for years, but has learned the importance of eating right and taking certain vitamins; the doctor has even prescribed some. The other day my close relative was concerned about this friend and asked if she’d ever tried several particular supplements that are known to help. Her friend’s response was that she actually has some of those. “Yes,” my relative said, “but have you been taking them?” Her response was something like, “Well, they’re in my cupboard.”

Those vitamins might as well have been hidden in plain sight. It was then that I realized that the pieces of the puzzle were not missing, I just had been overlooking what was right in front of me the whole time. All I needed to do was put them together, and then…live it.

The Passage

Here is the passage that contains the puzzle pieces:

Philippians 4:6-9, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”

How do we get and keep this incredible gift of peace?

First puzzle piece: do not be anxious about anything.

Second puzzle piece: pray with thanks.

Third puzzle piece: meditate on eight specific things.

Fourth puzzle piece: practice what you have learned in your mind, believed in your heart, understood with your ears, and perceived with your eyes.

Puzzle Piece #1: Do Not Be Anxious

To begin with, we attain this peace by not doing something. Philippians 4:6 begins, “Do not be anxious about anything.” Number one. This is a command. Do not ever, ever, ever be anxious, not about anything, at any time, or in any way. This is not negotiable. Now, what are we not to do ever? Be anxious.

Now, the Greek word for “worry” (merimnao) in this passage, “In New Testament times…was primarily used in connection with worry about finances, hunger, or some other basic provision of life. It pictured a person who is fretful about paying his bills; a person who is worried he won’t have the money to purchase food and clothes for his family’s needs or pay his house payment or apartment rent on time; or a person who is anxious about his ability to cope with the daily necessities of life…” Literally, in the Greek this “anxiety” disrupts and divides the mind. When we allow for any care, any emotion, any fear, it brings disruption to our personality and mind (The Complete Word Study Dictionary, pg 960). It creates a divided and splintered mind.

In what way is our mind being divided? Divide us from what? God’s breath of life.

A Divided, Suffocated Mind

“Matthew 13:22 says, “He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world…choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.” The word “care” is the Greek word merimnao [i.e. anxiety], again connected to material worries and concerns. Jesus says such worry “chokes” the Word. The word “choke” is the Greek word sumpnigo, which means to suffocate, to smother, to asphyxiate, to choke, or to throttle. You see, worry is so all-consuming in an individual’s mind that it literally chokes him. It is a suffocating, smothering force that throttles his whole life to a standstill,” (Rick Renner, “Are Worry and Anxiety Trying to Seize or Control You?”).

Thus, anxiety brings death. But, God’s word is life (Philippians 2:16). As Jesus so profoundly said in John 6:63, “63 It is the Spirit who gives life…The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.”

Eve

But, when God’s word is choked out by a divided mind, it brings suffocation and death. This is demonstrated in Genesis 3:1-5. “1 Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ” 4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Eve knew what God had said. But through the serpent’s words, she began to doubt God’s word, and emotions were stirred within her that had never before been felt. Was it possibly anxiety that God was withholding good things from her? Even so, the word of God was choked by words of the serpent that caused her mind to be divided by doubt and troubling, anxious thoughts.

Joshua and Caleb vs the Ten Other Guys

In Numbers 13:1-2, 25-28, 30-33 we find a story of contrasting faith and doubt. “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,2 Send thou men, that they may search the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel: of every tribe of their fathers shall ye send a man, every one a ruler among them…And they returned from searching of the land after forty days.26 And they went and came to Moses, and to Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel…and shewed them the fruit of the land.27 And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it.28 Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there…30 And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.31 But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we.32 And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature.33 And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.”

Anxiety makes everything else bigger than God. A good example of this is carrying boxes. When one is carrying a pile of boxes–and I mean a pile that goes up to or above one’s head–one finds it impossible to see beyond the boxes in one’s arms. In order to move forward, one has to attempt to peek around the boxes. Really, this is not a good way to transport boxes, for one’s field of vision is severely disrupted. Even so, when we get a pile of life events or emotions front and center in our arms and in front of our eyes and at the forefront of our minds, we will be unable to see God or His word. Furthermore, when carrying all of our boxed problems, we cannot receive the gift of peace that God wants to give us. Can we? If our arms are already full, we can’t accept anything new to carry.

This is what happened with the twelve spies. Ten of the twelve spies saw only the facts through the dim lens of doubt and anxiety, and the multitude believed them. Time after time, God had done wonders among the children of Israel. Time after time He had met their needs and showed forth His power in their midst, from the twelve plagues in Egypt, to the parting of the Red Sea, to the destruction of the Egyptians that sought to kill them, to manna from the sky, to abundant quail, to water from the rock, to their very clothes not wearing out, to abundant riches acquired from Egyptian households, and yet they still could only see impossibilities and questioned not only God’s power and provision, but even accused God of trying to kill them (Exodus 14:11; Exodus 16:3; Numbers 20:4). They were full of anxiety and fear and the facts that lay before them, so much so, that they were blinded to God’s truth and even to the very miracles of God.

Yet, Caleb too had seen the same facts, but he had learned, believed, heard and seen the wonders of God, and knew that if God was for them who could be against them.

Are We Like Our Mother Or Our Brother?

When anxiety divides our minds, it causes doubts to cloud our thoughts concerning what God has said; it spiritually suffocates us, cuts us off from God’s life-giving word, and the repercussions of that suffocation are endless, including physical illness. After all, science has proven that upwards to 87% of all diseases are caused by and/or exacerbated by fear-based emotions that send out deadly chemicals into our bodies.

In Adam and Eve’s case, they spiritually died in the garden that day (Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13), and brought inevitable death to the human race.

In the case of the children of Israel, all of them died in the wilderness, including the ten spies who caused their hearts to melt (Joshua 14:8). All of them died except for the two men who defied the facts and unwaveringly believed God: Joshua and Caleb. Both of them led their people into battle in the promised land, for they were as strong in their eighties as they had been in their forties (Numbers 14:11 says this of Caleb in particular). It is known that Caleb was age 85 when he was given the city of Hebron, that’s south Jerusalem, as a reward for his faithfulness to God (Joshua 14:6-13). And the very giants, the Anakim, of which the children of Israel had been terrified, 85 year-old Caleb defeated in that very city (Joshua 15:14).

Conclusion

So, what are we not to do? Be anxious.

What causes anxiety? Focusing on everything else and making everything else bigger instead of focusing on God’s word and allowing God to be as awesome as He is.

What does anxiety cause? Death…because it suffocates the Word of God out of us.

Anxiety makes our problems huger than God. In order to receive God’s peace, we must gain a proper perspective, but this requires letting our anxiety go. If we want God’s peace, we must obey this command to not be anxious. In order for God to be able to hand us His peace, our hands need to be free. God wants to give us His peace, but we cannot receive it until we drop the boxes of anxiety and fear and doubt and depression that we’ve been carrying. So, it’s time to drop the boxes, and accept the free gift of God’s peace, and let God be our focus and not the giants. In spite of all that is happening our world today (persecution on the rise, the mark of the breast in the making, the new world order coming together, and then the normal stresses of life like loss of job, broken dreams, relationship issues), let us choose to hold on to the peace of God. May we value it above all else. This is a choice. Let’s choose wisely.

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/

SOURCES

Rick Renner, “Are Worry and Anxiety Trying to Seize or Control You?” https://renner.org/worry-anxiety-trying-to-seize-you/

Rick Renner, “The Peace of God,” https://renner.org/devotionals/the-peace-of-god/

“Caleb,” https://amazingbibletimeline.com/blog/caleb/

Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament