Yesterday was a turmoil kind of day for me. It felt like my heart was racing a hundred miles a minute, my thoughts were here and there and everywhere. My mind was crowded with thoughts of this and that and everything in between. I was in my car going here and there and everywhere! It was a day I was glad to see go, and say good-bye to as I laid my head on my pillow and went to sleep. As I woke this morning, my heart was peaceful, it was rested and a scripture passage came to my mind.
“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts You.”
As I read these words I was reminded of a time when Paul was shipwrecked on a small little island in the middle of the sea. The ship he was on was carrying him to Rome; he was a prisoner, set to go before Caesar to plead his case. Violent storms caused them to run aground on this little island called, Malta. Acts 27:39-28:10 tells us of his adventure with the natives on that island. But the part that stuck out at me was in verses 3-5.
“But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat, and fastened on his hand. So when the natives saw the creature hanging on his hand, they said to one another, “no doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he escaped the sea, yet justice does not allow to live.” But he (Paul) shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm.”
Here was Paul, shipwrecked on an island in the middle of the sea, and a poisonous snake comes up and latches onto his hand. What did he do? He shook it off into the fire and went about his way. Let’s be real, if that was me, and I was shipwrecked on an island and a snake bit me, I don’t think I would be shaking it off as if it were nothing! I would be freaking out! I would probably be lying on the sand, dead because of the worry and fear of it all! But not Paul, why I wonder? Because his mind was stayed upon the Lord God, he trusted God with every situation in his life.
Isaiah gives us a promise, a promise that Paul claimed and clung to- God keeps us in perfect peace when our minds are stayed on him, when we trust him. Paul did not worry or fret or wonder what the heck was going on when trials came against him, he lived the promise of Isaiah 26:3. Perfect peace comes when we believe that nothing happens to us that has not first passed through the hands of the Father. Nothing can happen in our lives that God has not put His seal of approval upon. A pastor once told me that “If God brought you to it; He will bring you through it.”
Perfect peace is more than just a knowing, it is a ceasing of inner turmoil and frantic frenzies that we find ourselves so apt to fall into. Paul did not have worry or anxiety as that snake came up and sunk its venom into his hand, he shook it off into the fire and kept right on trusting God. Paul knew and lived a secret that we tend to forget sometimes- God is always in complete control. The Bible tells us that God knows our comings and our goings that He knew us before the foundations of the world, He knows the exact date we will leave this earth, and nothing is going to change that. No one can do anything to you that God has not already said could be done.
Look at Job, if you are having trouble believing that. God would not allow anything to happen to Job without His consent. And the same goes for us. We can live in perfect peace; we can have that freedom from inner turmoil, worry, anxiety, fear and all these other trials that steal our peace, because we too have been given the promise of Isaiah 26:3. But how, how can we have this inner peace, this perfect and complete peace that God wants us to have? It starts with our minds.
First, we need to bring every thought into captivity. If the thought that comes into our mind begins to bubble up and cause us any turmoil, stress, worry or anxiety, we are to toss it out. Shake it off into the fire, just like Paul did. We are not to dwell on the matter- we are to give it to Christ Jesus and claim, “I have perfect peace because my mind is stayed on You.” When thoughts of anger, fear, and disappointment creep their way into our thoughts, dismiss them, and claim the promise given to us. “Refuse to think about your problem, how to handle the impossible. Think on God’s power, not your weakness. Think on God’s victory, not your defeat.” Pastor Chuck Smith.
Paul knew that not even a viper could harm him because God was in complete control. He knew and believed that nothing could happen to him unless God had pre-ordained it. There was nothing and no one that could come against Paul that God had not already seen, solved and gained the victory over! Paul was an example of Isaiah 26:3, his heart and mind were stayed upon God, His power and His providence. Paul was not scared of what might happen, because he trusted completely in the One who had the ultimate and final say in regards to every trial, tribulation, and shipwreck and snake bite of his life.
Paul tells us that we are to “think on these things” in Philippians 4:8 and when we do, “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:7) Perfect Peace starts in our minds, and settles in our hearts. When we bring our thoughts to a place of rest in God, then our hearts will also find that peace and He will guard us and keep watch over us. Nothing, absolutely nothing can happen to us unless God has preordained it, set His seal upon it and already worked out a way for you to get through it. Even the day of your departure from this earth has been set by God, sealed by God and redeemed through the precious blood of His Son, Jesus Christ.
When we feel those anxieties and worries coming up, shake them off- just like the viper that Paul shook off into the fire, shake it off and keep your mind on God, for He will keep you in perfect peace when your mind is stayed on Him, because you trust Him. Amen.