Perfect Peace

Today I want to look with you at a place in the Bible, that’s been really important to me ever since I was young.
Even when I was a young adult in my 20s and I know we have a lot of awesome young adults at Pathway.
This verse had a special meaning to me.
There was a camp I used to go to called Camp Awana, in Wisconsin.
I was there as a kid growing up. I was there as a counselor in my teens. I was there as a youth pastor staffer in my 20s. So Camp Awana was a really big part of my life. And one of the things we did there was memorize Bible verses.
And I remember standing on this hillside with a bunch of junior high kids, shouting out the Bible verse, I’m going to have you do.
At Camp, we memorized Bible verses. And I was in charge of a group of kids about about 50 of them. So to help them memorize their Bible verse, we would all stand outside on this beautiful hillside in the morning and recite our verse for the day one line at a time.
And to make it fun, I had the kids get louder and louder, and faster and faster. So we were screaming these words at the top of our lungs, and super fast..
As I read this to you I’m going back to that place. Feel free to shout along.

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3, NKJV.

Yep, I have super fond memories of this first from my camp days. There are a couple of more reasons why I wanted to go to this first today.
One is because of one simple fact of life that we can never get away from is this. Life is full of problems.
You will always have curveballs thrown at you. You will always have stress. You’ll always have anxiety.
It’s always been this way. And I think you already know why, if you’re part of pathway.
Life is hard because this fallen world is a morally broken pain machine. That’s not going away. So troubles happen, surprises happen, viruses happen, nasty breakups happen, teasing happens, loneliness happens, shutdowns, lockdowns, quarantines, breakdowns.
There are always things in our lives that cause stress.

When I first took this verse to heart, it really gave me a way of handling all that stress.
I was kind of an upstart of a youth pastor. I was a rock and roll youth pastor in a hymns and potluck church.
I was always in trouble for something. I remember getting set down by the board once because I went to a dance. Honestly, the board of the church called the special meeting over this.
I was 22 years old. There are over 20 men on the board, average age 200. They put me on trial for going to a dance.
Oh, and I should say it was a square dance. And, oh, I should say, I took my mom.
And if ever we need a message from God to people in trouble. It’s today. At the end, one of the board members spoke up and asked what in the world, they were doing, and they just adjourned the meeting.
I got a get out of jail free card that day.

Okay, so, anyway. I was in a lot of hot water all the time. Also I was lonely. Also, I was broke.
I was living in a little basement apartment in Chicago, and making my own way in the world.
This verse, gave me a lot of peace because it refocused me. I’ll come back to that in a minute.
But what really hit me about this first was when I studied it, I discovered something about its background.
These words were written to people who were in trouble.
My 20 something self thought, well I’m in trouble. I’m always in trouble. I’d say the same thing today.
In fact, when Isaiah first wrote these words.
He was speaking to a nation that was about to go under. He was speaking to the Jews. Just before they were sent into exile. And he was saying, even though your nation will be messed up, even though your economy will be messed up, even though your lives will be incredibly disrupted.
There is a secret way to handle it. There is a secret way for you to have peace.
There is a secret way for you to rise above the craziness of the Pain Machine, and to let the Grace Machine have ascendancy in your life.

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3, NKJV.

I want to show you this verse in Hebrew, because I can actually, because there is something really cool in this verse. And you don’t even know how to read Hebrew, to see it.
Here’s the verse. יֵ֣צֶר סָמ֔וּךְ תִּצֹּ֖ר שָׁלֹ֣ום שָׁלֹ֑ום כִּ֥י בְךָ֖ בָּטֽוּחַ
I want to show you this verse in Hebrew, because I can. Actually, because there is something really cool in this verse. And you don’t even know how to read Hebrew, to see it.
יֵ֣צֶר סָמ֔וּךְ תִּצֹּ֖ר שָׁלֹ֣ום שָׁלֹ֑ום כִּ֥י בְךָ֖ בָּטֽוּחַ׃
I’m thinking that most people already know. The Hebrew word for peace. It is shalom. And here it is in Hebrew: שָׁלֹ֣ום
Our verse says you will keep him in perfect peace. Perfect Shalom.
One of my Bible encyclopedias says this.
Peace a condition of freedom from disturbance, whether outwardly, as of a nation from war or enemies, or inwardly, within the soul. The Hebrew word is shalom, meaning, primarily, “soundness,” “health,” but coming also to signify “prosperity,” well-being in general, all good in relation to both man and God. (ISBE)
But Shalom means more than peace or more than the absence of conflict.
Peace, [shalom] among the Hebrews, had a very extensive meaning: it comprehended all blessings, spiritual and temporal. Hence that saying of the rabbins: Great is PEACE, for all other blessings are comprehended in it. (Adam Clarke)

To have Shalom, is to have the one thing everybody is looking for, but so few people seem to find.
And yet here it is, right here, a promise. Here it is right here. The secret of the singular prized possession that makes every other prized possession unnecessary.
To have Shalom, is to have peace in a storm.
Love in spite of conflict.
Joy, in spite of sorrows.
Laughter in spite of heartaches
Praise in the midst of problems.
And a prosperity deep in your heart that money can’t buy and bankers can’t repossess.
Shalom, is a condition of the heart. No matter what the condition of the outer world.
And Isaiah, speaking to people in deep trouble speaking to people on the verge of national catastrophe offers a secret way to have this incredible blessing of peace and Shalom, no matter what happens, no matter what may come.
I’ll come back to that in a minute. But here’s the cool thing I wanted to show you.
See right here the word shalom? And you see right here the word next to it.
What do you notice about these two words? That’s right, they are identical. Shalom Shalom. Peace squared. Shalom squared,
It’s translated perfect peace. But it means an intense, sense of tranquility and fullness and blessing and peace, so deep in your heart that no disaster can take it away.
This is the promise of Isaiah 26:3. And this is why I have come back to it all the years of my life.
I will be a happy Pastor if I could make this verse one of the most important Bible verses in your life.
I suffered a lot of loneliness in my 20s, I suffered a lot of depression in my 20s. There was a lot of chaos in my life.
But here was this promise from God.
This incredible promise of the most amazing possession, a person can have. This is God’s promise to you.

The Condition

But there is a condition. This is a conditional promise. Who gets to live this shalom-squared kind of existence?
The person whose mind is stayed on God.
Let’s look at the three main words… mind, stayed, and keep…

Your Mind
If you have ever stood by the ocean and watched the waves crash against the shore. You know how incredibly powerful. That is, if you have ever gone surfing, or boogie boarding or just playing in the waves. The force of that is incredible.
As strong as that is the surface motion of the ocean is nothing compared to the deep ocean currents.
There are currents that run through the ocean that affect the climate of the continents.
There are rivers within the ocean, like the gulf stream and the equatorial current that are hundreds of times the volume and power of the Amazon River. The real motion of Earth’s oceans happens deep beneath the surface. In these deep ocean currents.
Something like this is happening in your mind.
When you think, there are a couple of levels to how you think.
On one level, your mind can process information. Facts. Data. This is the academic part of your thinking. And it’s super important. Let’s compare that to the waves at the top of the ocean.
But there’s a much deeper level. Yes, you process information as Academic Truth.
But you also process information in your gut and in your instinct, and in your immediate reactions. You’re thinking, and figuring things out in the blink of an eye. You are thinking without thinking.
Instead of calling that academic truth, I want to call that Integrated Truth. It’s part of you. It’s not software, it’s hardware, it’s hardwired into you.
These are your instincts, your gut reaction. You just know. Your spidey senses, the stuff your heart knows.
Are you sticking with me here? Because this is the biblical concept of what’s going on between your ears.
We have two layers here.
We have the waves on the surface of the ocean. The surface waves represent academic truth.
And then we have the deep ocean currents. These are the real motions of the seas. The deep ocean currents represent integrated truth, deep truth.
This is the difference between the head knowledge and the heart knowledge.
Remember we are trying to figure out what is the secret key to unlock the riches of this peace that God has for us. How do we get there?

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3, NKJV.

Isaiah is saying is that if you want perfect peace; then something has to happen to the deep layer of your thinking. What’s that? That part of you has to be:

Stayed
NLT: fixed. NIV, NASB: steadfast
So this is the condition. This is the condition for God to fulfill the promise. If you do this part, then God promises to keep you in that perfect peace.
The tallest building in the US is the Sears Tower in Chicago. It stands 1,450 feet tall and dominates Chicago’s beautiful skyline. The building is so tall, that the broadcasting antennas on top are struck by lightning over 650 times each year—its 110 stories tall.
The Sears Tower contains enough steel to build 50,000 cars, and enough telephone wiring to wrap around the world 1.75 times.
When they built it, starting in the late 1960’s, workers dug a hole for the foundation. They dug a hole 100 feet deep, into bedrock.
Then they hammered 200 caissons into the bedrock. Those are open tubes, made of steel, and slammed into the bedrock by incessant hammering. The 200 tubes covered two square blocks. Then, the workers filled each tube with concrete, enough to build an 8-lane highway five miles long.
Two hundred steel tubes, filled with concrete, hammered into bedrock.
That is what it means to be stayed on something. Hammered deeply, anchored firmly, and resting squarely on unmoving bedrock.
There is no way any of us can have perfect peace unless the deepest part of our minds is dug deeply into God.

Daniel said, “But those who know their God will be strong, and do exploits” Dan 11:32.
Solomon said, “The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe” Proverbs 18:10, NKJV.

The Sears Tower stands tall because its foundations reach deep.
How do you dig a deep mental foundation in God? How is your mind stayed on God?
A mind stayed on God starts with you learning the names, attributes, and character of God from the Bible… And then you pound these things deep into your heart through repetition and faith.
God uses the Bible for this. God paints the imagination of your heart with a picture of Him so true, and so vivid that you can go through anything, and know that…

  • As Jehovah, He will sustain you,
  • As Jehovah Jireh, He will provide for you,
  • As Jehovah Rophe, He will heal you,
  • As Jehovah Tsidkenu (the Lord our Righteousness) He will vindicate you,
  • As Jehovah Tsabaoth (the Lord of Hosts), He will roll up his sleeves and fight for you.
  • When you are lonely, He is Jehovah Shammah, the Lord Who is there.
  • When you are purposeless, He is Jehovah Nissi, the Lord my banner, and He leads you into your life’s true victory.
  • As El Roi (God Who Sees) He will take notice of you, He will triumph for you,
  • As El-Shaddai (God Almighty), He will be to you all you need and more than you imagine.

Whatever you are, God is what you need. God’s name is worthy to be praised, isn’t it? The Bible calls Him the Alpha and Omega that means from the A to the Z, His name is to be glorified.

  • Ancient of Days, the Almighty, and your Advocate on High
  • Bread of Life, and the Bright Morning Star
  • Chief Shepherded, Commander, and Comforter
  • Deliverer, the Desire of Nations, and the Door
  • Eternal God and Everlasting Father
  • Faithful and True, the Foundation, the Friend of Sinners
  • God Almighty, the Good Shepherd, and your Great High Priest
  • The Healer of my Soul, Holy One, the Horn of Salvation, and the Head of the Church
  • I Am, and Immanuel
  • Jehovah, the Judge, and His name is Jealous and His name is Jesus
  • King of Kings
  • Lord of Lords, and Lover of my soul
  • Master, Messiah, Mighty God, and Merciful One
  • Nazarene, the Name, Nissi (my banner), No Other Name
  • Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Omniscient, the Omega, the Only Begotten Son
  • Potter, and Prince of Peace, and Prophet
  • Qualified to fix whatever is your condition
  • Redeemer who died for my sins on the Cross of Calvary!
  • Savior, and Sanctifier, and Soon and Coming King! Servant, Son of David, Son of God, Shepherd and the Sun of Righteousness
  • Teacher and the Truth—taste and see that the Lord is Good!
  • Unfailing love
  • Vine and He gives me the Victory.
  • Worthy! Wisdom of God, and His name is Wonderful
  • X—He x’ed out all of my sins
  • Yahweh—Yahweh Yireh
  • Zion’s Salvation

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You” Isaiah 26:3, NKJV.

Keep
There is one more key word here in the verse, and I want to mention it, it is for me the best part of this whole verse.
We’ve studied the mind, we’ve studied what it means to be stayed and to have your mind stayed on God.
And now here’s the promise, God will keep you in perfect peace. What about this word, keep.
I actually think this is my favorite word in the whole verse.
This word means to set a guard. It means to call up the troops and establish a perimeter. That means to protect and preserve. That’s what the word keep means, and look at who’s doing it, who is keeping you in this perfect peace?
This is God’s job.
You aren’t just drumming this up from your own resources.
God grants this
God gives this
God ensures this.
Build a fortress of protection around you, and inside those walls is peace. God does this.
God is standing right now in front of you and me, and all of us with this most incredible promise he is summoning us to, to look at him and to learn of him and to study him.
Because no matter what else you have or don’t have to know your God is to know a peace that passes, understanding.

I still have struggles in my life. I still have a lot of issues I’m dealing with.
I have not been feeling well now for several months.
We’re all under a ton of stress.
But every time I come back to Isaiah 26:3, I am young again, standing on a hillside, with an awesome bunch of kids, shouting to the skies the truth of a God who gives perfect peace.

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