We have thus far viewed God’s perfect peace through the stories of ordinary men and women: Gideon and his outnumbered 300, to Elisha and his servant surrounded in the natural by the Syrian army while in the spirit they were surrounded by the host of heaven, to Peter walking on the frothing waves, to Paul and Silas beaten, bloody, in pain, in shock, shackled in the innermost cell of prison praising the Lord, to Corrie ten Boom and her sister Betsy communing with God while walking outside on a frigid morning in a Nazi concentration camp, to the ten spies who believed their doubting eyes contrasted with Caleb and Joshua who believed God more than what they saw, to King Jehoshaphat and the nation of Judah when fell on their faces before God when they were unjustly challenged by three overwhelming armies whom God wiped out when Judah chose set their eyes and minds to believe God and praise the Lord in spite of impossible odds. From countless enemies on bloody battlefields to Nazi concentration camps to bombastic giants against people who felt like grasshoppers, to raging seas, to a murky prison, in all this we have learned that we are not to be anxious about anything. This anxiety is that which consumes our minds, steals our peace and causes us to believe problems are bigger than God. The issue becomes a skyscraper and we appear to ourselves as insignificant ants because we place the magnifying glass of our focus upon it and not on God.
Godly Concern That Leads to Godly Prayer
But, God calls us to do the reverse. Though it’s totally natural to be concerned. Even Paul was concerned. In many epistles he states he is concerned for the churches (2 Corinthians 11 is one such place). This is the same word used for worry in Philippians 4:6. The difference is, Paul took his concerns to God, and took productive, God-inspired, Spirit-directed action regarding his concerns.
So, yes, we’re going to be concerned. But, we are not to let it become all consuming. Rather, we are to, like Paul, take our concerns to the Lord–and leave it with Him, even if that means we must leave it time and again and again and again and again.
We are called to set out minds on things above (Colossians 3:2). We are called to lay up our treasure in heaven, to seek first the kingdom and then all things would be added to us. We are called to keep our minds set and at rest in God, to find our safety our security in Him, and thus God will guard with perfect wholeness in all areas of life. As Isaiah 26:3 clearly states, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.”
Why We’re Not Abiding
So, then, why is it that so few Christians actually abide in God’s promised peace? Has He, who cannot lie, not fulfilled His word to us? Or has something else gone wrong?
I had thought initially that there were missing puzzle pieces regarding the topic, and I wondered where to find them. But, just as in the case of my Mom’s friend who had health-improving vitamins in her cupboard yet had not touched them, even so, God has and is extending His peace to us, but we will not receive it. His peace remains in our cupboards, and when asked about it, we point to the bottles of peace on the shelves. Nevertheless, God gives us the prescription of Philippians 4:6-9, but it is up to us to take it. The puzzle pieces were not missing; they instead, had been overlooked.
Philippians 4:7 and Isaiah 26:3
In Philippians 4:7 we learned that God guards us with His peace. That is what “keep” means here in Isaiah 26:3 when it says, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace.” The guard that God sets round about us is the guard called peace. His peace protects us like a Roman guard set to watch the gate of a city. Nothing would get past those Roman soldiers. But, if people were outside the gate, the soldiers could not guard them. The guard was set for the city, and all inside the gate would be safe. To “stay” our mind on God, to “trust” in Him, is to be at rest in Him, to abide. Only the branch abiding in the vine will find the life giving sap of the tree. And just as only the abiding branches survive and thrive, only those who were within the gates of the city would be protected by the protection of the fearless Roman soldiers. Even so, only those who abide inside Christ and are hidden with Christ in God, who surrender all of their concerns and fears and anxieties will know the protection of God’s incomparable and unconquerable peace.
So, how do we as branches remain in the vine? How do we abide behind the gate with the Roman guard as protection? How do we abide in Christ? Obedience. And one such obedience is that of not worrying, but instead, of casting all of our cares upon the Lord because He cares for us: to let Him be our focus, instead of our worries, to let Him be magnified instead of our problems, to let Him be exalted instead of our fears.
Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus
There is a hymn entitled “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.” It was written by Helen H. Lemmel. “The author and composer of this hymn, Helen H. Lemmel, relates that one day, in 1918, a missionary friend gave her a tract entitled “Focused.” The pamphlet contained these words: “So then, turn your eyes upon Him, look full into His face and you will find that the things of earth will acquire a strange new dimness. “
These words made a deep impression upon Helen Lemmel. She could not dismiss them from her mind. She recalls this experience following the reading of that tract:
“Suddenly, as if commanded to stop and listen, I stood still, and singing in my soul and spirit was the chorus, with not one conscious moment of putting word to word to make rhyme, or note to note to make melody. The verses were written the same week, after the usual manner of composition, but none the less dictated by the Holy Spirit.””
“Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus,”
by Helen H. Lemmel (1922)
O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
O’er us sin no more hath dominion—
For more than conqu’rors we are!
His Word shall not fail you—He promised;
Believe Him, and all will be well:
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!
“Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus: Featuring Loyiso Bala, Neville D., and Ivan Siegelaar,”
In the Spirit of this hymn, let us indeed, turn our eyes upon Jesus, even now as 2020 turns into 2021. Though much is uncertain and everything up in the air, Jesus is still worthy of our focus and will keep us in perfect peace if our eyes remain on Him, and Him alone.
Other Jehovah Shalom Articles:
“Jehovah Shalom: What is Our Focus?” https://holylight4u.wordpress.com/2020/11/19/jehovah-shalom-what-is-our-focus/
“Jehovah Shalom: Peace in Spite of Our Circumstances,” https://holylight4u.wordpress.com/2020/11/23/jehovah-shalom-peace-in-spite-of-our-circumstances/
“Jehovah Shalom: Do Not Be Anxious,” (Puzzle Piece #1) https://holylight4u.wordpress.com/2020/11/25/jehovah-shalom-do-not-be-anxious/
“Jehovah Shalom: Abiding in Christ,” https://holylight4u.wordpress.com/2020/12/10/jehovah-shalom-abiding-in-christ/
“Jehovah Shalom: Thankful Prayer,” (puzzle piece #2), https://holylight4u.wordpress.com/2020/12/29/jehovah-shalom-thankful-prayer/
“Jehovah Shalom: Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus,” https://holylight4u.wordpress.com/2020/12/29/jehovah-shalom-turn-your-eyes-upon-jesus/
“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/