Like a baby in the arms of a loving mother, so we – as Christians – rest in our trust of God who loves us. If we fully trust a perfect God, then we are kept in perfect peace, for we are trusting in the God who is perfect. Hence we have a perfect peace.
You will keep the mind that is dependent on You in perfect peace, for it is trusting in You.
‘What people do to me, I shall not dread or fear for I hope and trust in God,’ sings the psalmist.
“In God I shall praise my words; I hoped in God, I shall not dread what thing flesh, or man, shall do to me. (Yea, I shall praise God with my words; for I trust in God, and I shall not fear what any person shall do to me.)”
With complete trust in God, it makes sense that I would not fear anything someone might decide to do to me. Fear and dread and worry indicate a lack of trust in God, especially a diminishing of belief in His perfect will. Jesus, for a moment, asks God the Father if perhaps His perfect will might be fulfilled in some other perfect way than through crucifixion and death. But, within the same breath, Jesus says: ‘But not My will Lord, but Yours.’
Since Jesus is without sin, it follows His dread of the cross is part of His sacrifice for us. His fear relieves our fear just as His punishment deflects the punishment meant for us.
So, day in and day out, our worries and fears and dreads — though natural reactions to the stresses of living — should never define us. What should define you and me is our trust and hope in God, who is perfect and “who works all things together for good to those who are call according to His purposes.”
God the Holy Spirit warns us that “the fear of man bringeth a snare; but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.”
A snare is “a contrivance often consisting of a noose for entangling birds or mammals; something by which one is entangled, involved in difficulties, or impeded, or something deceptively attractive” according to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary. How is it that fear leads to entanglement, difficulty, impedance? Let that percolate.
Safe is defined as being “free from harm or risk; secure from threat of danger, harm, or loss; or affording security from danger, risk, or difficulty.” How is it that trust in God leads to freedom from risk, loss, danger, injury, harm and results in security and safety? Let that percolate.
Fear is “to have a reverential awe of,to be afraid of : expect with alarm; or to be afraid or apprehensive.” The Holy Spirit warns us not to have “a reverential awe of” man; He tells us not to anticipate with alarm what man might do; He encourages us not to “be afraid or apprehensive” in regards to mankind’s actions. Rather, we are to put our trust in the Lord. Let that percolate.
Trust “is an assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something; is one in which confidence is placed, is dependence on something future” i.e. hope. The Holy Spirit engages us to trust fully in the Lord God, our maker. As we rely on the character, ability, strength, and truth of God; we are truly safe.
“Wait for the Lord; be strong, take courage, and wait for the Lord.”
I can’t think of more comforting and yet challenging words than these. We are reminded that God acts; He is not idle. But the call to wait for the Lord, to be strong and take courage also implies that something difficult, even painful has entered our lives. We are staggering; we are fainting from woe. We can barely eat; we do not know the comfort of sleep. We each cry out, “I am wearied with groaning; all night long my pillow is wet with tears, I soak my bed with weeping. Grief dims my eyes; they are worn out with all my woes.” (Psalm 6: 6-7)
The comfort is that “though [our] fathers and [our] mothers forsake [us], the Lord takes [us] into His care.” (Psalm 27:10) In the Lord, “[we] find refuge.” (Psalm 7: 1) Yet, often we are left feeling abandoned, crying out: “When my prayer comes back unanswered, I walk with head bowed in grief as if for a brother; as one in sorrow for his mother I lay prostrate in mourning… O Lord, how long wilt Thou look on at those who hate me for no reason?” (Psalm 35: 13-14, 17)
We must remain “joyful in hope, patient in affliction” writes Paul. (Romans 12:12, NIV) This joyful hope as we wrestle with pain and a feeling of unanswered prayer is the essence of our faith, our belief in the essential goodness of our God. Without this faith, we are unable to “be strong” or to “take courage.” Without this faith in God’s perfection, we do not “wait for the Lord.”
Know that God is good, that He loves us beyond measure, beyond comprehension. Like the psalmist, we each must say: “But for my part I trust in Thy true love. My heart rejoices, for Thou hast set me free. I sing to the Lord, who grants all my desire.” (Psalm 13:5-6)
“I Am the Lord your God; I teach you for your own advantage and lead you in the way you must go.”
If someone leads me on a path that is the “way [I] must go,” I better follow. If this path is “for [my] own advantage,” then the only reason I might not follow that path is if I do not fully trust the one who is leading.
Peter steps out of the boat during the storm to walk for a short while atop the waves. Then he looks around, sees the storm and allows his fear to destroy his trust in his best friend – his Savior and King – causing him to sink beneath the water. Peter briefly trusts Jesus, then loses that trust. He stops following.
God “ransoms His servant[s]. Though He leads them through desert places they suffer no thirst, for them He makes water run from the rock, for them He cleaves the rock and streams gush forth.” (Isaiah 48: 20 – 21)
God says to us, “If only you listen to My commands…” (Isaiah 48: 18)
“You [O Lord] keep in peace men of constant mind, in peace because they trust in You.”
Daily, we renew our minds through the Word, prayer and the presence of the Holy Spirit. As our minds are changed, our trust grows. As our trust in God blossoms, peace is our fruit.
Jesus tells us that we “are strangers in the world” just as He is. He prays to the Father, “Consecrate them by the truth; Your Word is truth.” (John 17: 16 – 17) Jesus tells us that He gives us His “own peace, such as the world cannot give.” He commands us to “set your troubled hearts at rest, and banish your fears.” (John 14: 27 – 28)
The author of Hebrews calls us “that household of [Christ’s], if only we are fearless and keep our hope high.” (Hebrews 3: 6) We know that perfect love banishes fear, for fear has to do with punishment. If we fear punishment, we do not fully recognize the extent of God’s love of us.
God keeps us in perfect peace because we trust in Him.
In confession resides purification. Jesus promises to purify us from all unrighteousness as we confess our sins to His Father and to one another.
“If we say, ‘We have no sin,’ we deceive ourselves.” (1 John 1: 8) On the other hand, if we recognize our sin, and confess it as existing, as undesirable, as unworthy of our relationship with Christ; then God the Father is willing and able to forgive us.
Jesus presents us as His clean brothers and sisters to His Father — we are washed in the blood of Christ so that “though [our] sins are like scarlet, they are as white as snow; though they are as red as crimson, they are like wool.” (Isaiah 1: 18)
Jesus says this is reasonable; that we are able to discuss this truth — “if [we] are willing and obedient, [we] eat the good things of the land.” (Isaiah 1: 19) Our obedience consists of believing on Christ, of recognizing our core unworthiness, of placing our entire trust in His sacrificial grace and in His righteousness.
Paul rhetorically asks, “What should we say then? Should we continue in sin so that grace might multiply? Absolutely not!” (Romans 6: 1 – 2) We are not to sin, but “if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father — Jesus Christ the Righteous One. He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for those of the whole world.” (1 John 2: 1 – 2)
The negative is presented first — “the man who trusts in mankind, who makes human flesh his strength and turns his heart from the Lord is cursed. He is like a juniper in the Arabah; he cannot see when good comes but dwells in the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land where no one lives.” (Jeremiah 17: 5 – 6)
Cursed is the one who puts his trust in mankind. This man is cursed even when good circumstances surround him. He is incapable of appreciating the good in his life.
Blessed is the one who puts his trust in the Lord. “He is like a tree planted by water: it sends its roots outward toward a stream, it doesn’t fear when heat comes, and its foliage remains green. It does not worry in a year of drought or cease producing fruit.”
The blessings come despite outward circumstances because the root is watered by the stream — Jesus is living water. Despite difficult situations in life, the man who trusts in God appreciates the good within.
Rejoice in the Lord! I say it again, rejoice you who trust in the Lord!
When I focus on the Lord, my mind is kept in perfect peace. As long as Peter keeps his eyes on Jesus walking on the water, he is able to walk on water, too. As long as I know my Lord is an everlasting rock upon which I am able to stand, I will remain there; and I will not fear the storms which rage about me. Peter only sinks when he loses his focus on Christ.
Peter throws his net out because Jesus tells him to do so. He doesn’t really expect results. Yet, Peter catches fish — so many fish. He catches fish because he trusts Jesus.
Miracles happen, even when I don’t expect them. I turn and see them, surprised and delighted that God loves me so much. He protects me; and my gratitude is palpable. In the ordinary chain of events which should result in disaster — but miraculously don’t, I see God’s hand.
I doubt that Peter, James, and John expect Jesus to transfigure before them on the mountaintop. I imagine they are pleased to be spending time with Him, time alone on a hike. But, I doubt they expect to see His face shine “like the sun, and His clothes become white as light.” (Matthew 17: 2)
So often, the ordinary turns extraordinary. God appears, fully evident to us. Peter, James, and John want to build three tents, and stay there! Thrilled to experience the full glory of God, they decide it is “good that we are here.” (Matthew 17: 4)
Better to carry that mountaintop experience with you — by trusting in the Lord. Keep your mind “stayed on” God; and He “will keep [you] in perfect peace.” (Isaiah 26: 3)
“The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.”
Wow! How many times do you wake up in the middle of the night in fear of man? Or, struggle to sleep because of a ‘man,’ a person in your sphere who has — or appears to have — a great deal of influence on whether you eat or not? You are not in the trap yet, but it is certainly set. I imagine a bear trap with those iron claws which hold and tear the flesh, or a smaller, more subtle rabbit snare which holds and chokes away the air.
The struggle to escape the trap does the damage.
God, through Solomon, says: ‘Trust in Me. If you trust in Me, you will be safe.’
A promise so difficult for us to fully grasp. I don’t feel safe! I feel so vulnerable. So many things can go wrong, and do! How can the Lord say that I will be safe?
Paul writes, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed in us.” (Romans 8: 18) And he reminds us, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8: 28)
Trust God — seek Him first, and He will keep you safe.