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Practical Steps to Peace

One of my all time favorite verses is in Isaiah 26:3: “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.”

I believe this truth. Peace is not an elusive, intangible, lofty concept. Yet, it eludes many because they don’t access the source of peace. For Christians, we have experienced peace with God through our redemption, but many never live in the freedom Christ brings in our heart and minds as we seek to be transformed into His likeness. Why is that? Who wouldn’t want to know peace?

The Simple Path to Peace

There are so many deep truths hidden in this verse, and yet the solution to a mind at peace is simple. As I studied each word and looked up their definitions, I saw an even greater depth. Here are some of my take-aways that reveal this path to peace:

  • God does the keeping. We try in vain to create our own peace when He is the author of peace (Ephesians 2:14).
  • God protects and guards those who are abiding in Him. He guards our peace (Philippians 4:7).
  • The Hebrew word for perfect and peace are the same. I believe it is used for emphasis to say that we are given shalowm, a perfectly complete spiritual peace. Not just through salvation but in our spiritual growth too. There is a peace over our eternal destination but also a daily abiding peace for those who trust in God.
  • This completeness is given to those whose mind is stayed on God, the keeper and protector of our minds. While salvation brings peace with God and restores our relationship, our minds must be daily focused on Him to experience this perfect peace. Reading Scripture is a must for this peace!
  • The word for mind is yetser and refers to our thoughts and imagination. Our imagination is the center of moral reflection. Our minds should dwell on and be immersed in truth (John 17:17, John 8:32).
  • The Hebrew word for stayed is camak and means to prop up as to rest upon something; to be supported; to be held. Our minds are to be held and detained by the power of God and the truth of His words.
  • Why does God keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Him? Because this means this person trusts God. They set their hope and confidence in God. God rewards those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). The result is a mind at peace even in the midst of this dark world.

Why We Lack Peace

Our world is riddled with fear. Many are paralyzed by it. And this fear is not relegated to those without Christ. Not just the enemies of God. Fear is also being seen within the heart and minds of believers on a large scale. This election and virus has revealed where many are lacking in peace. But God’s peace is not of this world and can never be found outside of Christ.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

If we don’t want anxiety to rule over us, Jesus must rule and reign in our minds. He is not reigning where He is not being glorified. And He is not glorified when He is an afterthought or completely ignored until Sunday service. Walking with God requires time and intention.

The Disciplined Path to Peace

Forfeiting our time with God today forfeits His peace in our minds today and tomorrow. We won’t be prepared to meet tomorrow’s challenges without spending time with Him today. Our character grows and builds upon the actions of today.

Life is definitely busy. Our minds are overwhelmed with work family, ministry, etc. But we will only be “doing” and not “living” without the power of God in our lives.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to settle for less than God’s best. Less than the abundant life promised through Christ.

Those who abide on the vine will be productively bearing fruit. The fruit He gives and blesses – the best fruit! Many Christians lack fruit because they aren’t disciplined in keeping their minds on Christ. They let their flesh rule them and just don’t make a plan to spend time learning and becoming.

To wrestle with our flesh, we must make a plan. We need to know what and where to go to avoid wasting the time set aside to read His word by searching for where to begin. We need to think through when we will read our Bible, what Bible we will use, what study will we read, what reading plan or app will we use, what goals can we realistically set, and what in our lives needs to be strengthened by the truth of God’s Word. Making a plan to keep our minds stayed on God is the next right thing.

Practical Steps to Having a “Stayed” Mind: One Detained and Held by God

For busy moms:

  • Commit to 30 minutes of nap time or after they go to bed to read, pray, and think on truth.
  • Put headphones on while they play and you are folding laundry and listen to the Bible on audio. Don’t just listen to a podcast or devotion. Listen to a section of Scripture and meditate and chew on it.
  • Read the Bible to your kids.
  • Play truth-filled music in your home throughout the day.
  • Listen to an audio version of Scripture while waiting in a pick-up line or class. Or open a Bible app and read in the down time.
  • Hang verses around your house where you spend a lot of time. Read them often and pray for it to be real in your life.
  • If you still think you have absolutely NO time for alone time with God, trade off with another mom, ask a family member to help, or hire a babysitter. Women ask for help to get their nails/hair done, go grocery shopping, work from home, or have a girl’s night out. If we can do it for those things, we can do it for our spiritual health.
  • Maybe at dinner when you are waiting on slow eaters, read and pray while chewing. Linger at the table with your family and read a verse together.

The truth is that we have more time than we think we do. I would challenge you to put a piece of paper on the fridge and record everything you do in a day or a full week. Then notice how much time you spend on social media, Netflix, reading other books, exercising, shopping, etc. Be honest about where your time is going. Circle the times you could create room for the discipline of Bible study. This is your next right step.

Deep down, in my own life, when I am “too busy” to direct my thoughts to the Lord and spend time with Him through prayer or Bible study, it really hasn’t been about time. I just failed to prioritize God in the time I had. I failed to value the relationship the way I should. It took wrestling with the Lord and seeking a desire through a study of Psalm 119 (Click this link to access it) to remind me of the power of God’s word in my life. Once we realize it, it changes us and makes us thirsty for more. And it leaves us feeling empty when it’s missing.

Obstacles for finding the time:

  • Poor time-management – some struggle to plan and use their time wisely. Find an organizational tool to help manage it better.
  • Being unmotivated – some don’t have an intrinsic desire toward growth without accountability. I believe this grows with maturity. We start as we want to carry on. When we come to a place of desiring true peace, we will find the motivation.
  • Problems overwhelm us – some are so burdened with the cares of this world that they can’t think straight. But the solution to overcoming this is not avoiding God or His Word – it is allowing God to carry it and to strengthen you through His words to us in the quiet moments together.
  • No concept of time – some people underestimate how much time it takes to do things and are either running late or missing opportunities. If you give yourself 10 minutes to read Psalm 119, you have underestimated the length of the chapter and time required. Be realistic!

We must look at our priorities. Which ones could be changed or forfeited for the sake of finding peace?

Mature and healthy individuals do not neglect life and death responsibilities. We feed ourselves and our children…even our pets if we have them. We pay our bills so we don’t forfeit the provider’s services. And yet, when the spiritual needs of our souls are in need of care, we neglect to be filled with the life-giving words of Scripture. We forget to give thanks and pray in and for all things.

Shifting our Attentions

The problem is we don’t view time with God as restorative. We often view it as a duty. Netflix provides mindless entertainment. A diversion from the problems of the day. But what if we viewed Scripture and prayer as a tool of diversion – a time of rest and refreshment? A time to realign our hearts and minds after long days.

Merriam Webster defines entertainment as amusement or diversion. Something engaging that brings delight and enjoyment.

To divert means to give pleasure to especially by distracting the attention from what burdens or distresses. Read that again. Entertainment is meant to distract you from your burdens and distresses of life. But it is temporary. Who can go beyond distracting us from our troubles to actually carrying them for us and providing peace in the midst of them?

Jesus. Only Jesus. Jesus is the Word. And the Word is the light of men.

I would suggest that Scripture can divert our attentions in a healthy way. It helps us to turn aside from sin and cynicism toward holiness and joy. Why would we not run to it?

So, do you really want peace? Consider Isaiah 26:3. Are you willing to take practical steps today toward abiding in Christ and learning to trust Him through studying Scripture? Will you forfeit your perfect peace for a few moments of fleeting pleasure?

Peace is worth seeking. And the author of Peace is waiting to meet you there!

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