Shalom: The Way Of Wholeness

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February 23, 2020

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    DAY 1: The Beautiful Beatitudes

    Matthew 5:1–16 Today’s virtue list is well known. The Sermon on the Mount is among the most famous, the most beautiful, and the most daunting of Jesus’ words. It is even more so for the Beatitudes. Blessed are you when…The Greek word is makarios and is almost always translated as blessed. One New Testament scholar believes makarios means flourishing. You flourish when… There are eight blessings. That means there are eight qualities of life that receive God’s blessing. Each quality listed is immediately connected to the blessing received. The final beatitude (being persecuted) has a much longer explanation about what it means to be blessed when you are persecuted. Then, Jesus moves on and talks about what it is to be salt and light. There is an intimate relationship of being blessed and being salt and light to the world. The kind of light and salt the world needs is to see the qualities of the spiritual and moral life that God blesses. Even when these qualities seem out of step with our modern world, we still let the light of those qualities shine forth. And when they do, we have a positive impact on the world. This is always what happens when godly, good character is humbly and gratefully on display. Others are blessed. Good things happen. And the blessing goes on. Be blessed, and in that, be a blessing. Consider each quality listed. Which ones are more consistently part of your spiritual life and what blessings have you received from God? Is there a particular quality-beatitude that is of special interest for you at this season of life? If so, what is it and why do you think it is significant for you now? Pray for God’s blessings. Pray for these qualities to be true of your life.

    DAY 2: The Shalom of God

    Romans 12:9–21 Of all the virtues or qualities of character we have chosen, this is the one where we believed the biblical word would be more powerful than the English word. Shalom is one of the most important concepts in the Jewish faith. Shalom means peace, joy, harmony, wholeness, contentment, safety, security, being calm, having assurance, and confidence. It is a complete state of harmony with God and with the world around you. Shalom is the way of wholeness, and we need it for our world. Our lives are fragmented. We do not have peace. Instead, we have worry and anxiety. Those are growing factors in our society. We are discouraged and depressed. Despair is a common reality. We feel trapped, stuck, confined. A life full of shalom will be full of many other virtues. The Romans 12 passage describes a wholeness of virtue and the relational patterns of virtue. As you read this passage, note each character quality mentioned and how it is expressed in action and relationships with others. Which ones speak more powerfully to you? Shalom was so important to the Apostle Paul that he opens every letter he writes with the language “Grace and peace to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (or some slight variation of that phrase). Paul merges together the deepest reality of the Hebrew Scripture and the deepest reality of the Gospel of Jesus. Check it out in these Scripture verses: Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 1:2; Galatians 1:3; Ephesians 1:2; Philippians 1:2; Colossians 1:2; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:2; 1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:2; Titus 1:4; and Philemon 1:3. Peter says the same in 1 Peter 1:2 and 2 Peter 1:2. Grace and SHALOM to you, through the Father, Son, and HolySpirit. May the grace and SHALOM of God flow through you into the world around you.

    DAY 3: It is Jesus Who Says “Don’t Worry”

    Matthew 6:25–34 Fortunately, Jesus does not simply say, “Don’t worry, be happy.” That advice comes from Bobby McFerrin and his song with that title. It is a fun song. A catchy tune. Breezy lyrics. Actually, kind of ridiculous lyrics. They don’t say anything more than, “Don’t worry, be happy.” But except for one shallow reason for why you shouldn’t worry, there is no reason given for being happy. In the Sermon on the Mount passage for today, Jesus gives lots of substance for a shalom that overcomes worry and anxiety. As you read this passage, what are the reasons why Jesus says you don’t have to worry? You should be able to name four or five of them. What undergirds everything is the theology of God Our Provider and the providence (provision) of God. God sees, God knows, God cares, and God provides. That is our faith and we are not to have little faith about this. Verse 33 is an important part of this. It tells us to seek first the kingdom of God and the things of God. One of the reasons for our insecurity, worry, anxiety, and fear is that we are pursuing wrong things and God gives no guarantee that our pursuit of wrong things will be honored. Instead, seek the things of God. Make God’s priorities your priorities, then you will experience the provision of God. What things cause the most worry to rise up in you? Daily make those things a matter of prayer. Ask God for his shalom to guard your heart and mind. Read Proverbs 3:5–6. What is God asking you to do about all the troubling things, all your needs, and all your options and opportunities?

    DAY 4: God With You

    Philippians 4:4–9 You have already read parts of this passage in previous weeks. We launched our series looking at these verses. Now it is time to give the full context of all the virtues mentioned. While many virtues are described in this passage, the shalom/peace of God is the context. And the Philippians (and us, too) are told how we will experience the shalom of God. • Rejoice in the Lord (this is worship). • Don’t be anxious, but pray instead. • Think of true, noble, pure, lovely, excellent things. • Put into practice good things you have learned from Paul. Then God’s peace will guard the heart and mind (4:7) and the God of peace will be with you (4:9). Paul provides a holistic approach to inner transformation. It involves emotions, spiritual practices, careful thinking, and behaviors. It is the combination of these four that brings shalom to us. More, it fosters our awareness that the God of shalom is present with us. It is the presence of God with us that is the greatest foundation for a life that is free from worry and anxiety. If God is for us, who can be against us? If you need to, do a brief reread of Romans 8:28–39. The presence of God as described in these verses is the bottom line reality for you and me to live with shalom. When the world around you is falling apart and you are still holding it together, you are actually being held together by the presence of God and his SHALOM.

    DAY 5: Things That Make for Peace

    Isaiah 9:6–7; John 20:19, 21, 26 Shalom is used over 150 times in the Old Testament and peace over 90 times in the New Testament. In many of the uses, it refers to the absence of conflict and war and of a cooperative coexistence with others who “could be” enemies. But in times of SHALOM, we are at peace with one another. On this final day, we will have you do a walk through of many short verses and discover what they say about peace. Numbers 6:22-27: A blessing to be given. 1 Kings 5:12 and 1 Chronicles 22:8-10: About King Solomon. Psalm 37:37; Psalm 85:7-9; Psalm 120:6-7; Psalm 122:6-9 Ecclesiastes 3:8: There is a time for everything, including peace. Isaiah 9:6-7: The promise of a coming Prince of Peace. John 20:19, 21, 26: Peace be with you. Pray for peace. Pray for peace inside you. Pray for peace around you. Pray that the Lord would make you an instrument of his peace to others.
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