What do you do when fear or worry assail your mind? Derek looks at the enemies of peace and encourages us to trust in the Lord—trust in who He is and what He has done for us. As we focus on the good, fear and worry will soon be replaced by God’s peace which guards our hearts and minds.
It’s good to be with you again, sharing with you on our theme for this week: Where to Find Security.
In my two previous talks this week I’ve been sharing with you about the secret place of the Most High, found in Psalm 91, the place of protection from the terror by night, the arrow by day, the pestilence and the plague, the place where you will not be touched by God’s judgment on the wicked, the place where no harm will befall you, no disaster come near your dwelling.
Yesterday I directed you to the hidden door that leads to this secret place, and I said, “The door is the cross.” I compared it to the secret door in an ancient castle somewhere in Europe which is covered over by a picture or a tapestry, but when you lift the picture, underneath there’s a little something that you press and the door swings open and you have a place of escape. And I said that’s what the cross is. It’s like a picture that covers over the secret place. When we look at the cross, there’s nothing at first to attract us; there’s no indication of security there, but when we understand what took place at the cross, then we find it’s the way to the secret place because at the cross, Jesus identified Himself with us. He took our guilt, our condemnation. He died our death. He paid our penalty and when He died, we died. His death was our death and through His death we pass out of this world of insecurity, pressures, evil; we pass into another realm. And then Paul says in Colossians, “Our life thereafter is hidden with Christ in God.” That’s the secret place, hidden with Christ in God. It’s not in the next age but it’s right now. We’ve passed out of one realm into another realm in Christ.
Today I’m going to deal with security in another area, one where we all need it, but alas, we do not all achieve it. I’m going to speak about emotional security.
Mental and emotional pressures are increasing in our contemporary lifestyle. I read an estimate recently that in their lifetime, one out of every four persons in our nation will need some kind of psychiatric help. That’s a staggering figure. Most psychiatric hospitals today are filled to overflowing. When a person comes to the need of psychiatric help, that person has succumbed in some way to mental or emotional pressure and for the people that actually recognize their need and seek psychiatric help, there are probably twice as many that don’t recognize their need but have in some degree the same type of problem and they’re under the same type of pressure.
The remedy against mental and emotional pressure is summed up in one word, the word “peace.” Peace, not just in the sense of no war, but peace in the sense of fulfillment, completeness and rest.
Now, there are some main enemies of peace and I’m going to speak about two today: fear and worry. And each of them comes in many different disguises, fear and worry, we can be afraid of sickness. We can be afraid of people’s opinions. We can be afraid of a financial crash or we can worry about the same kind of thing. Worry is a kind of little nagging worm that eats away. Fear is more like a dagger that’s thrust into us, but each of them, in the end, is destructive.
Now, God’s main protection against fear and worry is trust and I’m going to read you a passage from Isaiah, chapter 26, verses 3 and 4, where the Prophet Isaiah speaks about protection from fear and worry. These words are addressed to the Lord and he says:
“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal.” (NIV)
Going back to the first verse, “You will keep in perfect peace;” that’s complete protection against fear and worry. And then it speaks about the area where fear and worry attack the mind, “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is steadfast,” settled, and the way to have a settled, steadfast mind is stated in the next line, ”Because he trusts in you.” And then comes this beautiful exhortation, “Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal.” The Lord is repeated there. It’s used twice for emphasis, ”The Lord, and only the Lord is the rock eternal.”
You remember last week I spoke about the anchor that passes out of time into eternity and is fastened in the Lord, the Rock of Ages. Well, that’s another picture of the eternal rock there. Trust in the Lord forever for the Lord, the Lord is the Rock eternal.
Now I want to explain to you quickly and briefly two steps to achieving trust. The first is, you have to be renewed in the spirit of your mind. You see, our minds are ultimately directed, motivated and controlled by spiritual forces and so to enter into real trust, we have to have a different kind of spirit controlling our mind from that which controls the minds of the people of this world. Paul says in Ephesians 4:23:
“Be renewed in the spirit of your mind.” (NASB)
Let another spirit come in and take control of your mind and reprogram your thinking, redirect your thoughts, give you new objectives, and new thought patterns. And then, in 2 Timothy 1:7, Paul contrasts the kind of spirit that operates in the people of the world and the kind of spirit that should be operating in a child of God. He says:
“God did not give us a spirit of timidity, [or cowardice, or fear, that’s the world] but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” (NIV)
That’s the Holy Spirit. That’s the Spirit that we have to invite to control our minds, the Spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. When that Spirit comes in, it excludes the spirit of timidity and fear. And secondly, in our minds, we have to focus on the positive. Paul says in Philippians, chapter 4, verses 6 through 8:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. [Every time you’re going to worry, don’t worry; pray. Lift it immediately to God with thanksgiving. Then this is the promise:] The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)
Don’t try and reason out the peace of God because it transcends all understanding. It’s something that goes beyond our power to reason out, we just receive it. And then Paul prescribes how to retain the peace of God in the next verse, verse 8:
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.” (NIV)
That’s the ongoing recipe for peace. It’s focused on the positive. Don’t think about the evil. Don’t think about people who’ve harmed you. Don’t think about the problems that may arise. Focus on that which is good. Focus on God, His love, His faithfulness. Focus on His Word. Focus on the people who care for you and pray for you. Think about all the good that you’ve received from people. Don’t let your mind be preoccupied with the negative. Somebody pointed out to me that in Egypt there are two kinds of birds. There are those which kill their prey and eat it alive and there are other birds that feed on rotten meat that’s stinking. And somebody said to me, “Both birds find what they’re looking for.” And our minds are like that; if we want to feed on rotten meat, we can, but if we want to feed on that which is fresh, we can. We make the decision.
In closing my talk today, I want to point out that the Bible is very realistic. It doesn’t assume that its recipe will be completely applied with total success the first time. It leaves room for an ongoing tension between two things, between fear and trust, and that’s the experience of most of us at times. In Psalm 56,. verses 3 and 4, this is what the Psalmist says:
“When I am afraid, I will put my trust in Thee. [He doesn’t say I’ll never be afraid; but he says, when I am afraid I will not yield to fear, I won’t focus on fear, I won’t let fear dominate my thinking, but I’ll turn away from the fear to the Lord and I’ll put my trust in the Lord, and then he goes on:] In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me?” (NASB)
As we turn to the Lord and put our trust in Him, we have to honor His Word. The expression of God’s will, God’s counsel, God’s attitude toward us is found in His Word. Circumstances might seem to suggest that God doesn’t care, that God is far away, that things are not under God’s control, but when we put our trust in God and in His Word, we cannot believe those lies of Satan. So the remedy, when fear comes, is not to say, “I’m not afraid,” but to say, “I won’t yield to fear, I won’t focus on fear, I’ll turn to God, I’ll put my trust in God and in His Word which never changes; and as I trust in God and His Word, fear will have no hold upon me.”
Our time is up for today. I’ll be back with you again tomorrow at this time. Tomorrow I’ll continue with this theme of security. I’ll be sharing on our protection against two other main enemies of emotional peace: “Discouragement and Depression.”