Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Thou wilt keep him in PERFECT PEACE

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength” Isaiah 26:3.4. “. . .O Lord, have we waited for thee; the desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee. With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early” Isaiah 26:8,9. (Perfect Peace is shalom, shalom; the concept being heightened by repetition, thus perfected. It is “peace, peace!”)
In a day of turmoil, when all around us seems to be in total confusion and chaos: What are we to do; to whom shall we turn for Peace? “Be careful [anxious, as many define it] for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” Phil. 4:6-7.
Notice the similarity of Old and New Testament. In both there is the Promise; in both the Provision: “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace.” “The peace of God, which passeth understanding.” Whose mind is stayed on thee.” “shall keep your hearts and minds.” “the Lord. . .the Lord Jehovah.” “through Christ Jesus.”
BE CAREFUL! Three words in the Greek give us a three dimensional picture: merizo, to part, disunite, divide. merimna, (from merizo, the idea of distraction.) merimnao, to be anxious about. When one is distracted in any given situation, his attention is divided between two objects. He cannot rightly focus on both. Did not the Lord make our eyes to look in the same direction: not one to the right, the other to the left; one upward, one downward? Trying to focus on two objects at once may quickly draw one into a state of confusion, especially if you have a one track mind like me!
Many words have two or more definitions: consider merizo, to DISTRACT.
distract, (1) [Diversion] divert the mind or thoughts or attention, draw or lead away from, BEGUILE, lead astray. Further definition: amusement, pastime, drawing the mind in different directions, preoccupation, engrossment. From these, if left unguarded, may come fascination, a fixation, passion.
Eve was beguiled, distracted by the serpent, and we have the conversation between the two. But did Eve immediately partake of the forbidden fruit - or did she pass by the tree day after day, being intrigued by its beauty, becoming preoccupied, attempting to justify her actions (should she decide to eat of it’s fruit?) After all, in her eyes, it appeared to be good for food, it was pleasant to her eyes, and a tree to be desired! Eve became fascinated; she gained a passion for the tree. Many have speculated about the fruit: it was from an apple tree they say. One thing is certain: for Eve, at least, it was Passion Fruit!
Should one ask - why would you think that Eve might ‘pass by and gaze at the tree day after day . . .” I might ask, What makes you think that the serpent would attempt to beguile her only once, and no more? Was Jesus not tempted of the devil over and over when He was in the wilderness? And of Samson and Delilah: “Samson, Tell me, I pray thee, wherein thy great strength lieth, an wherewith thou mightest be bound to afflict thee.” “And it came to pass, when she pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, so that his soul was vexed unto death; Thus he told her all his heart” Judges 16;6,16,17a. And you can recall the remainder of the story.
distract, (2) [Confusion] perplexity, abstraction, bewilder, complicate. Eve’s distraction drew her eyes from the Lord to the serpent and the Tree. On one hand she has heard the Voice of God saying, “Thou shalt not,” and the voice of the serpent saying, Oh go ahead! God does not really mean what He said! He’s just trying to withhold some good things from you! You deserve to eat of the tree: it’s your decision; do what pleases you! If what you do pleases you but is displeasing to God, in the final outcome you will find that it did not please you after all!
Sons and daughters of Adam and Eve: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. Further, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Anything less is because we are distracted; we are not fixed on Him! There is a term for this condition: it’s called SIN. Anything less than loving the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind - is sin.

BE CAREFUL! The ‘care’ in careful has also a two fold meaning: (this useful information came from Webster’s Thesaurus.)
(1) [Careful conduct] heed, precaution, vigilance, watchfulness, diligence, oversight, attention: these are but a few. (These things are commendable and to be desired in our Christian walk.)
(2) [Worry] anxiety, distress, perplexity, fretfulness, stress, encumbrance, strain, load, pressure, vexation, fear, uneasiness, exasperation, misgiving, anguish, apprehension - and the list continues. (These may be avoided by prayer and supplication; and when they are, we can expect the peace of God which shall keep our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. As one has so aptly said, “pray without ceasing - or worry without ceasing!”)
We often hear (or perhaps may be found saying!) “I’m under a lot of pressure”, or ‘I’m greatly distressed” or “I’m rather depressed”, or “Under the circumstances. . .” We did not get these from scripture! Search your Bible! You will find none of these expressions (nor the words) recorded!
What a sad commentary for us as Christians. Your heavenly Father has not in His design and Eternal Purpose arranged for you to be “Under a lot of pressure,” nor to be “Under the circumstances.” But there is a recurring phrase that is to be found in over half of the books of the Bible. Look up the word LIFT, LIFTED, LIFTING in your concordance. You will find in every case the word UP following it. The very first occurrence is in Genesis 7:18, and involves a man named Noah and an ark: “And the waters prevailed, and were increased greatly upon the earth: and the ark [capsized and was torn asunder!] NO! “it went upon the face of the waters!” The previous verse tells us, “and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was LIFT UP above the earth.”
“And the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth” “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” John 12:32. Jesus walked upon [up on the face of] the water. Could He have sunk into its depths? Could the Ark with Noah and his family have capsized and sunk into the seas? Could God have shut him in; shut the door of the Ark, just to have the ark torn to bits and its passengers drown in the turbulence? Could the waters have done the same unto Christ Jesus, God’s established Ark of the Covenant, our Ark? No! The waters could only ‘bare Him up’, could do no less than ‘lift Him up above the earth!’ Can you imagine hearing Jesus say, “I’m under a lot of pressure!” or I’m distressed!” or “I’m depressed!” or “under the circumstances!”

But sadly it was not the case with our Brother Simon Peter: “Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. . . And when Peter was come down out of the ship [he was down and out, but to be literally so in a moment] to go to Jesus.
How did Simon Peter walk on the water? As long as his mind was “stayed upon Thee” as long as he trusted the Lord, “the Lord Jehovah was his strength.” He walked, not in his own strength: he was LIFTED UP of the Lord. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid: and beginning to sink.” Two things happened: He saw the wind boisterous: he was distracted; his mind and thoughts and attention were diverted. The distraction caused, under the circumstances, anxiety, distress, he was under pressure; he became fearful, apprehensive, in anguish. James tells us “he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. . .A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. . .let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord” James 1:6-8. But the Lord was faithful and gracious: He immediately stretched forth his hand and caught him. “Lord, save me, deliver me, lift me up out of this watery grave! How near was Jesus? Near enough to ‘immediately stretch forth his hand and catch him.’

“I was sinking deep in sin, Far from the peaceful shore, Very deeply stained within, Sinking to rise no more; But the Master of the sea Heard my despairing cry, From the waters lifted me, Now safe am I. Love lifted me! Love lifted me! When nothing else could help, Love lifted me!

Jesus has walked upon the water! Can we hear an Amen from the Psalms? “Thy throne is established of old: Thou art from everlasting. The floods have lifted up, O Lord, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their waves. The Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea” Psalm 93:2-4.
The floods have lifted up; a flood of men have lifted up their voices; their violent waves as the noise of many waters are lifted up against Him whose throne is established of old. Lift Him up upon the cross! “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up” That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life” John 3;14-15.
“The Lord God hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back. I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting. for the Lord God will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed” Isa. 50:5-7. It is the day of crucifixion. Jesus has set His face like a flint [the flint, a stone known for its hardness, used in the making of tools and weapons.] “I shall not be confounded.” His face was stayed toward the Father; He was not distracted. Therefore He was not confused, He was not perplexed; He was not bewildered. Can we not learn from His example? Some may ask, Could Jesus have sinned? Tell me now, how could one possibly sin when His face is fixed upon the Father, whose mind is stayed on Him; who is trusting Him? Even as Jesus cried, My God, why hast thou forsaken me, it was then, even as it had been all His life: Jesus was never distracted: He was not double minded; He was not unstable; He did not “serve God and mammon!” What of God the Father? Could He be distracted; therefore be confounded or confused? “Every good and perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” James 1:17.
LOVE LIFTED ME! “I waited patiently for the Lord: and he inclined [natah, stretched forth] unto me, and heard my cry. He brought [alah, lift, raise, recover. restore] me UP also OUT of an horrible pit, OUT of the miry clay, [quicksand?] and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God:”
LIFT UP, as found in the Scriptures is identified with - eyes, (Gen. 13:14, 18:2. Deut. 3:27, 4:19, Psalm 121:1, 123:1, Isa. 40:26, 51:6, Ezek, 8:5, John 4:35.) face, (Num. 6:25, Job 11:15, 22:26, Psalm 24:6, Lam. 2:19.) head, (Gen. 40:13, Ezra 9:6, Job 10:15, Psalm 110:6.) hands, (Psalm 28:2, 63:4, 119:48, 134:2, Lam. 2:19, 3:41, Heb. 12:12.) heart, (Lam. 3:41.) soul, (Psalm 25:1, 86:4, 143:8,) feet, (Psalm 74:2.) voice, (Gen. 21:17, Job 38:34, Psalm 28:2, 93:3, Isa. 10:30, 24:14, 40:9, 52:8, 58:1.) countenance, (Num. 6:26, Psalm 4:6.) prayer, (II Kings 19:4, Isa. 37:4) Also - banner, (Isa. 13:2.) ensign, (Isa. 5:26.) standard, (Isa. 62:10.) to mention a few.

“Come Thou Fount of every blessing, Tune my heart to sing Thy grace; Streams of mercy, never ceasing, Call for songs of loudest praise.”
But, alas, we must join also with the author as he writes: “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love .” And this will happen when we are distracted, when our focus is not totally on Christ. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee.” The world and its amusements will seek to draw us away, to fascinate us, to fix our hearts and minds on that which is not Jesus. My dear friend, if we are to have a Passion, may it be found anchored in our Lord Jesus Christ!
“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusted in thee. Trust ye in the Lord forever: for the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.“
“The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: The Lord make His face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The Lord LIFT UP his countenance upon thee, and give thee PEACE.” Numbers 6:24-26.