Prayer And Peace

TEXT

Isaiah 26:3

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.

INTRODUCTION

The New Living Translation reads…YOU will keep in perfect peace all who trust in YOU, all whose thoughts are fixed on YOU. The Easy to read version reads…God, You give true peace to people who depend on YOU, those who trust in YOU. I love Isaiah 26:3, my father in the ministry [Calvin C. Inman] quoted this verse often. I heard him quote it so often that I learned the verse by listening to him. It is a wonderful promise.

Have you noticed that little children rest more peacefully than we adults. It seems like the older I get, the harder it is for me to sleep soundly. Little children seem to have a higher quality of rest. I think this can be attributed to three things: [1] They have young bodies and do not have the aches and pains of a Senior Adult. [2] They are innocent. They do not understand sin. They have never contemplated death. They do not know what it is like to feel guilty. Can you remember the innocence of childhood? It did not last long, did it? [3] Children are not usually worried about the many things that we worry about. We have to worry about paying our taxes. It is a major headache for those who are self-employed. We worry about paying our bills. We worry about our health and whether or not it will hold up until we can retire. We worry about retirement. I have a dear friend in another State who calls me from time to time and we exchange worries. I was her pastor for only 18 months but she has the confidence to confide in me as I do her. She probably afraid to confess to anyone inside the community.  The last time we talked she had a list of concerns that were really troubling her. Not everyone is as honest  as my friend but I can tell by experience and the expression on their face that they are worried. If you are concerned, it is hard not to worry.

Jesus basically said that worry is a sin. He said in Matthew 6...” Don’t worry about your life; what you are going to eat or wear”…then He said, “Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries.” The question is: How do we live worry free? How do we move toward the “Perfect Peace” that Isaiah mentions?

1. WE MUST LEARN TO LEAVE OUR WORRIES WITH THE LORD

The bible speaks to this concern in I Peter 5:7…Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. Recently I was preaching a revival in a church and they sang a song that I loved. It has a Jewish beat and it speaks to this issue of God loving and caring for us.

Jehovah Jireh, My provider,  His grace is sufficient
For me, for me,  for me!
 Jehovah Jireh,  My provider, His grace is sufficient for  me

My God shall supply all my needs– According to his riches in glory
He will give His angels charge over me
Jehovah Jireh cares for me, for me, for me– Jehovah Jireh cares for me!

Charles Allen tells the story of a man who was a chronic worrier and he brought his anxieties home with him every day. He never enjoyed supper with the family or his time with them in the evening because he was worried about his work. His worry so consumed him that he decided something had to be done. One evening as he was about to climb the steps into his home, he said to himself, “I’m going to leave my worries on the porch and I will pick them up in the morning on my way to work.” So he did just that…in his mind, he sat his worries on the porch and then entered the house worry free. His family noticed the change and he had a delightful evening himself. The next morning when he picked his worries up, they did not seem as heavy. Some of the things he had been worrying about were gone. Joseph Scriven had this principle in mind when he wrote his mother this poem. The poem has been a comfort to many.

What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

I remember the words of another hymn that says, “Take your burdens to the LORD and leave them there.”

2. THE SECOND STEP IS TO FOCUS ON CHRIST

This promise is conditional. “I will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is fixed on Me,” that is the promise. There is no question that peace of mind is conditioned on our thinking. Paul encouraged the Philippians to discipline their minds by thinking good thoughts… Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. Our peace is determined in large part by what we have our minds set on. To the Romans, Paul said… For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. Sometimes our focus is on the wrong thing:

  • We focus on obstacles instead of opportunities
  • We focus on our problems instead of His power
  • We focus on our fears instead of feeding our faith
  • We focus on sin and Satan instead of our sovereign Savior
  • We focus on all that is going wrong instead of thanking God for what has went right

A manager held up a piece of white poster board on which he had put one tiny black dot in the middle, amidst the huge sea of white. He said to his sales team, “What do you see?” Everyone said the same thing, “We see a blot dot.” None of them said we see a white poster board. He said, “This is why sales are down, you are seeing the one tiny dot, that person who is not interested in our product but you are seeing all this white area that represents those who are interested.”

It is human nature for us to see the black dot. Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful,” but we don’t believe Him. We see the black dot instead of the white harvest. Every now and then someone will compliment me on a message and its like a grain of salt. One of the hardest lesson I had to learn as a preacher is to be gracious when people praise you but then you step on it and kill it. You don’t even take it home. Mild praise which is all I get doesn’t phase me but you like one unhappy Pharisee complain and I can’t get it off my mind. I have spent entire Sunday evenings struggling to come back to the pulpit because of something negative and sometimes tacky that was said to me.

When it comes to focus: sometimes the best thing to do is to stop and start counting your blessings. Make a list! You are going to be surprised at all God has already done for you. I have never met a complainer who was not extremely introverted and selfish. All they think about is their own needs and wants. No wonder they are miserable. Stop thinking about yourself and your problems. Find someone who has a greater problem and help them: that will help you.

3. THE THIRD STEP IS SET YOUR AFFECTION ON THINGS ABOVE

Stinking thinking is an everyday battle. In that respect, it is like pride; you have to deal with it everyday but disciplines help. I can tell you one thing you do not need to do all the time and that is watch TV. There is a lot of stinking thinking on TV. I know that some of you watch Nature shows and reality stuff and not all of TV is bad but the Network stuff stinks to high heaven. It is laced with Relativism and Secular Humanism. The left has made TV their number one brain washing implement. My suggestion and I am for from perfect on the subject of positive thinking, is that you read the bible a lot. I have a long way to go and a short time to get there but bible reading helps me as much as anything. I have to be careful about TV. Many TV programs are border line porn to me. That may be because I am an old man, I don’t know, but I do know that it is better for me not to see certain things. Once the wrong image gets in my mind, it may take me weeks to get it out.

Not only do you need good reading material to win the battle of the mind, you need good clean wholesome recreation. I pick at hunters a lot but really I envy them. They have a passion for what they do and its far better for them to be chasing deers than dears. Everyone needs some good healthy recreation. Some like to fish which could become a passion for me if I would make the time. We all need a venue where we can relax and enjoy God’s wonderful creation. For some it is a trip to the beach or if you are a fundamentalist, a trip to the coast or for some to the lakes and mountains. If you get involved in the wrong kind of rec or entertainment, it can corrupt your mind.

The New American Standard translates Isaiah 26:3 as follows…“The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You.” Steadfastness is the key to victory when it comes to the mind. We have to establish and maintain the right habits. You cannot allow your mind to wonder; it will inevitably go in the wrong direction. There is an old adage, “An idle mind is the devils work shop.” If you have to, memorize the list in Philippians 4…practice thinking on…

  • Things that are true
  • Things that are honorable
  • Things that are right
  • Things that are pure
  • Things that are lovely
  • Things that you admire
  • Things that are excellent
  • Things that are worthy of praise
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