A Season of Promise
4. The Promise of Peace
Isaiah 26: 3
Is it possible to have peace when we have problems? Can we experience shalom in times of sorrow, suicides, sickness, stress, struggles and sadness? We often say, “If only I could get some peace and quiet,” like it’s some sort of destination or something “out there,” when true peace is what happens “in here.” Friends, peace is the not the absence of external conflict. It’s the presence of the Prince of Peace internally. Peace can be experienced in the midst of the mess you are in and can help you endure disturbing problems and even difficult people.
Our promise today is found in Isaiah 26: 3. People throughout the centuries have locked into this verse because the peace that comes from God is perfect: “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in You.”
We’re learning that it’s important to understand the promises of God within the passages in which they’re found. In other words, before we claim a text we must first consider the context.
Isaiah is a prophet of God charged with ministering to the people of God during a very dark time in their history. As a young man he witnessed the rise of his country into an economic and military world power. But along with this prosperity there was also corruption, shallow spirituality and ritualistic religion. A new power had come on the scene in Assyria and the splendour of Isaiah’s nation was starting to fade. While politicians argued, the nation was downgraded and the people grew anxious. Kind of sounds like today, doesn’t it?
Isaiah was a wordsmith, utilizing a versatility of expression and vocabulary. His writing has a majestic grandeur to it as he exalts the grace of God in salvation. In chapters 24-27, we see a mixture of judgment and joy, of suffering and singing. Isaiah 26:1 tells us that this section is actually a song: “In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah…” and centres on the city of Jerusalem: “…We have a strong city; God will appoint salvation for walls and bulwarks.” Isaiah is looking forward to the day when a salvation song will be sung.
We could put today’s sermon into a sentence: Problems cannot thwart God’s purposes because the peace that comes from God is perfect. Aren’t you glad that no matter what problems you face, there is never any panic in heaven?
Powerful promise: “You will keep him in perfect peace…” Means - “To guard, protect or maintain.” The enemy is unable to get in when God’s peace protects us. With God as our guard we have nothing to fear. Psalm 29: 11: “The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.”
“Perfect peace” literally “shalom, shalom” in Hebrew. Isaiah doesn’t use an adjective to describe God’s peace but simply repeats the word. When a word is repeated in the Bible it’s done for emphasis, like an exclamation mark.
Many people fail to find peace that lasts because they’re looking for it in the wrong place. Peace is not found in pleasant circumstances or in people or in having a lot of possessions. Peace is internal, not external and can only come from the God who is peace. 2 Thessalonians 3: 16: “Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way.”
We’re learning that many of God’s promises are conditional - certain conditions that we must meet in order for them to be fulfilled. 2 such conditions in v.3 and another one in v. 4.
God Keeps Us in Perfect Peace…
1. When we keep our minds mindful.
“…whose mind is stayed on you…” A double dose of peace comes when we discipline our minds to stay centred on God. Most of us need to reframe our focus so that instead of getting all caught up in our problems, we lay fully on the Lord, leaning on Him with our full weight.
Let’s claim God’s promises instead of focusing on our problems – “Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest; finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest.”
Philippians 4: 6: “Do not be anxious about anything…” The word “anxious” means, “that which divides, distracts the mind and which draws a troubled person in different directions.” When we worry we’re saying that God can’t take care of us, that our problems are bigger than His promises.
Jesus doesn’t want us to be saturated with stress. Luke 21: 34: “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life…” Worry can weigh us down, and like an anchor, anxiety can cause us to sink spiritually. Even worse, stress can strangle us. If you’re sinking with stress today, follow the clear teaching of 1 Peter 5: 7: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
Some of us are stressed out simply because we’ve been allowing our minds to focus on things that bring us down. Wrong thinking leads to wrong feelings which can lead to wrong living. Conversely, right thinking leads to right living. What we put into our minds determines what comes out in attitudes and actions. What we believe determines how we behave.
Some of us are neither joyful nor peaceful because we allow our thoughts to control our behaviour. Did you know that the average person has between 50000 and 70000 separate thoughts each day? Sounds like we better have a filter, right?
God has packed a lot of good into his world and we need to fill our minds with that which is praiseworthy. Be deliberate about what you allow yourself to think about.
Problems cannot thwart God’s purposes because the peace that comes from God is perfect.
2. When we keep our wills willing.
““You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in You.” To trust in the Lord means to rely on Him wholeheartedly. Philippians 4 shows us how important it is that we lean on the Lord.
A. The Peace of God protects us.
Once we trust God with our trials and present our requests to Him, His peace will come flooding into our lives. Philippians 4: 7: “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” This peace goes way beyond all that we can even ask or imagine; it excels and surpasses everything we could have hoped for. In fact, we can’t even put it into words because it is peace, peace.
B. The God of Peace is present with us.
We do not have to live the Christian life in our own strength because Jehovah Shalom is with us. Philippians 4: 9: “And the God of peace will be with you.” We’ll learn more about the Promise of God’s Presence in another message. In what area do you need to trust God in? Let’s keep our minds mindful and our wills willing. That leads to the third condition. God keeps us in perfect peace…
3. When we keep our lives living for the Lord.
Isaiah 26: 4: “Trust in the LORD for ever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal.” We’re to trust in the Lord forever, which means, “perpetually” or “continually.”
Friends, God wants us to be faithful forever. We’re to lean on Him today and every day. Our lives must keep living for the Lord. Here’s what happens when we don’t. If you don’t walk with God, you’ll worry yourself silly. If you don’t trust, you’ll tremble at all your troubles. If you unplug, you will unravel.
We can rely on the Lord because He is the covenant-keeping God. He is unlimited and unchanging. He can be trusted to keep His promises. Isaiah gives us a double dose of a word. It’s as if he can’t find an adjective to describe the awesomeness of the Almighty so he simply repeats himself: “The Lord, the Lord.”
Do you think God is too puny to handle your problems? You can rely on Him because He is our Rock. It’s one thing to have right beliefs; it’s another to believe that God can handle your hurts and give you peace in the middle of your problems.
God will keep us in peace, peace…When we keep our minds mindful - When we keep our wills willing -When we keep our lives living for the Lord. Problems cannot thwart God’s purposes because the peace that comes from God is perfect.
Peace for All?
If you do not know Jesus yet through the new birth, perfect peace will be elusive for you. To say it another way, you will be restless until you receive Him as your Saviour and Lord. Isaiah 57: 19 – 21.
If you’re looking for peace today, you’re going to have to pursue it: Psalm 34: 14: “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” There are at least 4 sources of peace to go after.
1. Peace is produced by the Saviour.
John 14: 27: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
He expands this thought in John 16: 33: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Isaiah 9:6 tells us that Jesus is the “Prince of Peace.” Peace doesn’t come from going to a special place or having a certain possession; peace comes from knowing a special Person.
2. Peace is produced by the Spirit.
You can’t manufacture peace. You can’t fake it because it flows out of a relationship with Christ. Peace is a fruit according to Galatians 5: 22: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace…”
3. Peace is produced by the Scriptures.
If we want peace, we must fill our minds with the Word of God. Psalm 119: 165: “Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.”
4. Peace is produced by our submission.
If you’ve not surrendered fully, it’s time to do so. If you want rest, then make sure that you’ve repented. Isaiah 30: 15: “This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.’”
Think about this conditional promise in Leviticus 26: 3 - 6: “If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands…I will grant peace in the land, and you will lie down and no one will make you afraid.”
If we leave our house wide open when we go out or go away anything or anyone bad has access to come in. What’s wide open in your life right now? Does worry have easy access into your home? Have you left the door of anxiety open?
God wants to bless us, but he often does it in surprising ways. Give Him your worries, your fears, your concerns, those things that keep you up at night. And ask Jehovah, Jehovah to give you peace, peace because the peace that comes from Him is perfect. Problems cannot thwart God’s purposes because the peace that comes from God is perfect.