LIVING IN SHALOM

Ps.34:12-14 – Do you want to live a long, good life,

enjoying the beauty that fills each day?

Then never speak a lie or allow wicked words

to come from your mouth.

Keep turning your back on every sin,

and make “peace” your life motto.

Practice being at peace with everyone.

Shalom is an important word in the Hebrew language. It can be used as a greeting and contains a proclamation of blessing over the recipient. The KM Dictionary describes shalom like this – “peace, safety, prosperity, well-being; intactness, wholeness; peace can have a focus of security, safety which can bring feelings of satisfaction, well-being, and contentment. → completeness; health; peace; prosperity; safety; well-being”. That is a mouthful. This verse gives us a glimpse into the life that we enjoy as this shalom. It says to turn your back on sin and speak peace not cursing on everyone. This would even include your enemies. I am convinced there is a life of wholeness available to us as we focus on the beauty of God and walk in peace with those in our lives. Here are comments from the notes in the Passion Bible.

“Twice the Hebrew uses the word shalom (in this verse). This word means much more than peace. It means wholeness, wellness, well-being, safe, happy, friendly, favor, completeness, to make peace, peace offering, secure, to prosper, to be victorious, to be content, tranquil, quiet, and restful….The noun shalom is derived from the verbal root shalam, which means “to restore,” in the sense of replacing or providing what is needed in order to make someone or something whole and complete. So shalom is used to describe those of us who have been provided all that is needed to be whole and complete and break off all authority that would attempt to bind us to chaos.”

Obviously there is strife in the world. We are confronted and even surrounded by it every day. This passage teaches us how to live above the chaos. Jesus said it like this, “you are in the world but not of the world”. He also said, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world”. So how can I walk in peace amidst all the strife all around me? Actually I can’t, but Christ in me can. I yield to Him, He lives His life in me, I get the SHALOM!!!

GOODNESS, GOODNESS, GOODNESS

Ps119:68 – Everything you do is beautiful, flowing from your goodness;

teach me the power of your wonderful words!

This verse is obviously written by someone who has tasted the goodness of the Lord for themselves. As this verse indicates, God’s goodness is more than what He does. The things He does flows out of who He is. The very essence of His being is good. As a result, everything act and word that flows out from Him is characterized by His goodness. The first glimpse of God that we have is His creative acts in the book of Genesis. After each part of creation was completed the scripture declares that God saw it and it was good. His work of redemption declares His goodness, His incarnation as the man Jesus of Nazareth displays His goodness. The healing ministry and teaching of Jesus portrayed His goodness and His work of redemption is an overwhelming masterpiece of art putting His goodness on display for all eternity. Here is how Charles Spurgeon describes this verse.

“God is essential goodness in himself, and in every attribute of his nature he is good in the fullest sense of the term; indeed, he has a monopoly of goodness, for there is none good but one, that is God. His acts are according to his nature: from a pure source flow pure streams. God is not latent and ill active goodness; he displays himself by his doings, he is actively beneficent, he does good. How much good he does no tongue can tell! How good he is no heart can conceive! It is well to worship the Lord as the poet here does by describing him…..We believe in his goodness, and so honour him by our faith; we admire that goodness, and so glorify him by our love; we declare that goodness, and so magnify him by our testimony.”

It is the very goodness of the Lord that attracts us to Him. I remember all of my preconceived ideas about the Lord before my conversion. I felt like I was never going to be a good enough person to be a Christian, my life was too ensnared by my sinful pleasures. It was a taste of His goodness that won me over. I saw His acceptance and love of me in my sinful condition. His goodness drew me in but didn’t leave me the way I was. As I got closer it was the same goodness that won me that began to change me. It was the goodness and kindness of the Lord that led me to repentance.

SAVIOR OF THE WORLD

Jn.4:42 – Then the Samaritans said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you told us, but now we’ve heard him ourselves and are convinced that he really is the true Savior of the world!”

This passage is one of the first indications that Christ was coming for the whole world, not just the jews. The conversation by Jesus with the Samaritan woman was borderline scandalous and was not at all what His disciples had expected. The Lord was expanding their vision to embrace Him as the Savior of the world. The picture is a Leonardo da Vinci painting entitled Savior of the World. It was sold recently as the most expensive painting of all time to a prince in Saudi Arabia. He truly is the Savior of the world. In this particular story the Samaritan village had begun to believe on Christ. At first it was just the testimony of the woman at the well; after hearing Christ for themselves they believed on Him because of His words. Just as Jesus had given the woman at the well life, the rest of the village were also tasting of Christ’s life giving water as they drank from His words themselves. The Aramaic word for Savior in this passage literally means life giver. He gives life to all who receive His word. Here is how Matthew Henry describes the power of meeting Christ for yourself.

“Faith comes to its growth, strength, and maturity, by hearing the testimony of Christ himself; and this goes further, and recommends his doctrine to our acceptance, and obliges us to believe it as undoubtedly certain. We were induced to look into the scriptures by the saying of those who told us that in them they had found eternal life; but when we ourselves have found it in them too, have experienced the enlightening, convincing, regenerating, sanctifying, comforting, power of the word, now we believe, not for their saying, but because we have searched them ourselves: and our faith stands not in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”

All of us have developed preconceived ideas about the Lord and spirituality from our past influences. The woman at the well, as the rest of this Samaritan village, was trapped in a religious world without life until they heard for themselves. If we are honest with ourselves maybe much of what we believe comes from what others say. Listen to His word for yourself and you too will say, “he really is the true Savior of the world!”

THE ANOINTING AND THE SPIRIT OF PROPHESY

Acts 19:6 – And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying.

I think many Christians have a narrow understanding of the gift of prophesy. Many think that prophesy is always predictive, declaring the future plans of the Lord. Certainly prophecy can be that but the gift of prophesy in the New Testament includes other things, specifically it includes magnifying or worshipping the Lord supernaturally. One example is in today’s verse. The disciples in Ephesus who were baptized in the Holy Spirit responded the same way those in Cornelius’s house did in Acts 10. When they were filled with the Spirit they prophesied, most likely worshipping the Lord by the Spirit. Similarly, at Cornelius’s house, the new believers spoke in tongues and magnified the Lord. This is exactly what the Spirit has always done, specifically in the life of David. David wrote his Psalms by the Spirit of prophesy. David’s Psalms were supernatural, a great display of the Spirit of prophesy. Here is a description from the Life in the Spirit Commentary.

“The immediate consequences of this Spirit-baptism are charismatic manifestations of tongues and prophecy The phrase “and prophesied” must not be assumed to indicate an additional sign. It stands parallel to the phrase “praising God” in Acts 10:46. Prophetic activity is realized in the last days (cf. the events of Pentecost, which shows a close relationship between speaking in tongues and prophesying via Joel 2). Similar to the disciples at Pentecost and Caesarea, these people at Ephesus speak in tongues and give inspired praise to God after receiving the Pentecostal power of the Spirit. Like earlier outpourings of the Spirit, the initial evidence of the charismatic experience of the Ephesian believers is speaking in tongues. Paul instructs, baptizes, and lays hands on them, but through the sovereign action of the prophetic Spirit they are endowed with power for ministry.”

This gift helps us understand supernatural worship. I think that when the Holy Spirit falls on us and we experience the power of His presence, as we yield to His presence we then experience worshipping the Lord in our heavenly language and also worshipping spontaneously in our own language. That supernatural worship is one example of the Spirit of prophesy. Understanding and yielding to this gift in private and public worship changes everything.

FOUNTAIN IN YOUR SOUL

Eph.5:18,19 – And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;

Being drunk in the Spirit is not some new bizarre twist on Christianity forged in the halls of charismania. Spiritual intoxication is as old as communion or any other sacred part of our Christian faith. Even though this intoxication is often characterized by laughter and extreme joy it is saturated with the very holiness of the Lord. Actually it has erupted throughout church history often scandalizing segments of the body of Christ. It has often been connected to critical seasons for the church, equipping Christians for the persecution and temptations that are rampant in the world. Here is how Augustine described spiritual intoxication and drinking in his day.

“The Holy Spirit has come to abide in you; do not make him withdraw; do not exclude him from your heart in any way. He is a good guest; He found you empty and He filled you; He found you hungry and He satisfied you; He found you thirsty and He has intoxicated you. May He truly intoxicate you! The Apostle said, “Do not be drunk with wine which leads to debauchery.” Then, as if to clarify what we should be intoxicated with, he adds, “But be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart”. Doesn’t a person who rejoices in the Lord and sings to Him exuberantly seem like a person who is drunk? I like this kind of intoxication. The Spirit of God is both drink and light.”

Many have left the church in our generation because of a dissatisfaction that has developed in their souls. Churches have scrambled and morphed into a culturally acceptable model to try to keep the crowds. The changes in church hasn’t helped meet the nagging thirst that is in the dissatisfied souls of this age. The solutions are as old as the gospel itself, man is thirsting for God and nothing less will do. The solution for today’s world is the same as the one that has surfaced throughout history. Man is thirsty for living water, the water that becomes a veritable fountain in our souls.

HEART SEARCHER

ROM.8:26,27 – And in a similar way, the Holy Spirit takes hold of us in our human frailty to empower us in our weakness. For example, at times we don’t even know how to pray, or know the best things to ask for. But the Holy Spirit rises up within us to super-intercede on our behalf, pleading to God with emotional sighs too deep for words. God, the searcher of the heart, knows fully our longings, yet he also understands the desires of the Spirit, because the Holy Spirit passionately pleads before God for us, his holy ones, in perfect harmony with God’s plan and our destiny.

This passage of scripture from Romans is one of the most powerful looks into the blessing of our heavenly language. It shows us several results of our praying in tongues. The first is supernatural help by the Spirit interceding for us. Here is a glimpse into the word intercession from the Passion Notes.

“The Greek word hupererentugkhano is best translated “super [or hyper]-intercede for us.” We can only imagine how many blessings have poured into our lives because of the hyper-intercession of the Holy Spirit for us!”

Amazing. As we pray in tongues the Lord is actually releasing His prayers in us and for us. This brings immediate supernatural help.

The next benefit is connected to the word groaning. Again, the Lord is interceding for us using our own vocal cords. He is praying in groans for God’s perfect plan in our lives. This is a comment on this from the Passion Notes.

“We find three groanings in this chapter. Creation groans for the glorious freedom of God’s children, we groan to experience the fullness of our status as God’s children, and the Holy Spirit groans for our complete destiny to be fulfilled (here).”

Finally, the Holy Spirit uses this intimate language of the Spirit to search our hearts. As we yield to the Lord consistently praying in the Holy Spirit, our will becomes entangled with His. His purposes and plans began to be infused in us as we become more and more conformed to Him by the Spirit. Here, again, some comments from the Passion Notes on this passage.

“Or “God, the heart-searcher.” God searches our hearts not just to uncover what is wrong, but to fulfill the true desire of our hearts to be fully his. Grace triumphs over judgment.”

So what shall we do? Pray in the Spirit and allow Christ to be formed in you.

IN DEEP WATER

Lk.5:4 – Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.

It’s not just hard work and correct plans that bring in a true harvest, it takes the blessing of the Lord to produce fruit. This short story is filled with revelation about the call of God, the blessing, of the Lord, repentance, and the power of His word. For the story to even be relevant to us we have to come to one important conclusion, in some degree all Christians are intended to be fishers of men. Once that is settled we can begin to determine what “launch out into the deep” means to us. Peter was about to find deep water, not just in the Sea of Galilee, but deep spiritual water as he began to follow Jesus. That’s where all true fishing expeditions begin, following Jesus. Listen to how Charles Spurgeon describes today’s passage.

“Master, we have toiled all the night and have taken nothing.” What was the reason of this? Were they not fishermen plying their special calling? Verily, they were no raw hands; they understood the work. Had they gone about the toil unskillfully? No. Had they lacked industry? No, they had toiled. Had they lacked perseverance? No, they had toiled all the night. Was there a deficiency of fish in the sea? Certainly not, for as soon as the Master came, they swam to the net in shoals. What, then, is the reason? Is it because there is no power in the means of themselves apart from the presence of Jesus? “Without Him we can do nothing.” But with Christ we can do all things. Christ’s presence confers success. Jesus sat in Peter’s boat, and His will, by a mysterious influence, drew the fish to the net. When Jesus is lifted up in His Church, His presence is the Church’s power—the shout of a king is in the midst of her. “I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me.”

Maybe you can relate to Peter, lots of work and not many fish. How did that change for Peter? It started with a deeper revelation of who was on the boat. When Peter saw it, he was down at the Lord’s feet in repentance. From that point Peter began to follow Jesus. Where was He leading? Out into a deeper kind of water looking for different kind of fish.

MORE FOOD FOR THE SOUL

John 6:35 ¶ And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst”.

Food keeps us alive. Obviously, we eat for more than survival, pleasure also comes into play, but food is the very strength of our life. As the old adage goes, “you are what you eat”. That’s why what Jesus taught in today’s verse is so important, our spiritual food determines what and who we become. Jesus called this spiritual food our daily bread. Now here is where this parallel between natural food and spiritual food becomes interesting. Just as I said before, we eat physical food for pleasure’s sake, spiritual food begins to take on a spiritual attraction. The more we feast on the written word the more we acquire a taste for it. Reading the Bible can actually become the greatest pleasure of our lives. Here are some thoughts from Jonathan Edwards on this spiritual food and spiritual nourishment.

“The grace of Christ Jesus, it nourishes the soul; it gives life and strength to it. Before the soul receives this grace, it is dead. In this it doth more than bread does to the body, that does but preserve the life of the body and revives it when weakened and languishing; but this heavenly food revives men when dead. And it also continues the life of the soul: the soul, after it is revived, would die again, were it not for the continuance of supply of grace and spiritual nourishment. It strengthens the soul as food does the body. The soul in its natural condition is a poor, feeble, languishing thing, having no strength; but the grace of Christ makes it strong and vigorous. And this spiritual nourishment makes the soul to grow, as food doth the body. The supplies of the Spirit of God increase the life and vigor of the soul, increases the understanding, increases holy inclinations and affections…”

Edwards describes how we are made alive by spiritual food, nourished and kept alive, strengthened by this food, and actually begin to have inclinations and affections for the Lord awakened by the bread from heaven. Why is this ? Because the very life of God pulsates in every word of God. Remember, Jesus Himself is the word of God. So go ahead and dig in, the table is spread and the meal is better than you can ever imagine.

AT HIS FEET

Luke 10:38,39 ¶ Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching.

One of the great stories in the Bible talks about the conflict between the two sisters, Martha and Mary. The Bible says that Martha was “distracted with much serving” while Mary was sitting at the feet of Jesus. Martha was very upset with Mary and asked Jesus to correct her sister. What Martha failed to see was that Mary was not just sitting, avoiding the real work. Mary was sitting at Jesus feet. Jesus said to leave Mary alone, she had chosen the best part. There is a huge difference between just sitting and sitting at Jesus feet, Charles Spurgeon helps us see the difference in his comments on this passage.

“Mary was not praised for sitting still; but for her sitting at Jesus’ feet. Even so, Christians are not to be praised for neglecting duties under the pretense of having secret fellowship with Jesus: it is not sitting, but sitting at Jesus’ feet which is commendable. Do not think that activity is in itself an evil: it is a great blessing, and a means of grace to us. Paul called it a grace given to him to be allowed to preach; and every form of Christian service may become a personal blessing to those engaged in it. Those who have most fellowship with Christ are not recluses or hermits, who have much time to spare, but indefatigable laborers who are toiling for Jesus, and who, in their toil, have him side by side with them, so that they are workers together with God. Let us remember then, in anything we have to do for Jesus, that we can do it, and should do it in close communion with him.”

I often speak about the outpouring of the Spirit that happened in our church in 1994. In that outpouring the Lord redirected my main responsibility in ministry. Before that time I had been more involved in the business of the ministry, the Lord was calling me to a new job description. My new job was to spend the majority of my work focused on seeking God in study, listening to the Lord, and preparing to minister His Word. Don’t get me wrong, Martha’s work is very important. It’s just that the kingdom needs Mary’s work as well, not just sitting but sitting at His feet.

DRINKING AND THE ANOINTING

Ps.36:7- O God, how extravagant is your cherishing love!

All mankind can find a hiding place

under the shadow of your wings.

All may drink of the anointing from the abundance of your house.

All may drink their fill from the delightful springs of Eden.

To know you is to experience a flowing fountain,

drinking in your life, springing up to satisfy.

In your light we receive the light of revelation.

The anointing is probably the most ignored element of our Christian faith. Many churches have set up their services where it would actually be impossible for the presence of God to manifest in any significant way. The tragedy of course is this, the purpose of the church according to Paul is to be the habitation of the Spirit. It is not to be just a habitation of some idea or belief about the Spirit, but actually the place He is welcomed and sought. It is the local church that is intended to be the main place the glory of God is on display to the world. The worship services should be the place where the corporate anointing, which is specific for each house, is nurtured. Actually the alternate translation for verse Ps.36:7 is this, “They will be satisfied [or watered] in the abundance of your house.” So it is in the house of God that we are watered or are intended to drink of the anointing.

In verse 8 David talked about the abundance of God’s house. The abundance he is speaking of is the abundance of the anointing. Here is how the Passion Translation Notes describe this.

“The Hebrew word for “abundance” is actually butterfat or oil. It is a symbol of the anointing of the Holy Spirit.”

One of the shocking characteristics of the anointing is clearly seen in this verse. Drinking His anointing is the place where we experience God’s supernatural joy. This verse actually describes this place with the Hebrew word Eden. Here are the comments from the Passion Notes.

“Eden’s rivers of pleasure.” The garden of Eden had flowing rivers of delight. Eden means “pleasure.” The Hebrew word used here is the plural form of Eden, Edens.”

Putting this two ideas together we have to draw certain conclusions. The anointing is intended to be on display at church. When that is the case the church become the place of exceeding supernatural joy.