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Category Archives: Pray Shalom Guide
Why does it seem that the rich of the world are favored over the poor? How does God feel about that? What did Jesus and His followers teach about being poor?
Jesus said that the blessing of the Kingdom of God is for the poor (Matthew 5:3; Luke 6:20). What does that even mean? Does it mean that God can only accept poor people into His Kingdom? That’s exactly what it means! Is that offensive to you? Does the idea of God choosing those who are poor in this world to be rich in faith and inherit the kingdom rub you the wrong way? It actually should, because it is counterintuitive to our thinking that the systems of this world have brainwashed us to believe. The systems of the world tell us the “rich, fixed and socialized” are the “chosen ones” and the elite and exceptional ones we all should aspire to. They have the education, the power, and the resources so they must be favored of “the gods.” They must be “blessed” as they flaunt their successes, power and wealth. Since society worships them as the height of human achievement, surely God favors them as well!
“No justice, no peace.” Is this a biblical statement? Is it more than just a cry from the streets by the oppressed?
If there is no justice, there cannot be Shalom. In the context of this text, the Hebrew word translated “righteousness” means “executed justice.” To the extent justice is rightly executed, the effect is always Shalom: nothing-broken-nothing-missing peace. Human thinking, motives, and behavior must be transformed in order for Shalom to manifest itself on earth as it is heaven. But how does that happen? When we look at the state of humanity, we can easily lose heart.
Why does God Bless us? Why is He so gracious to us? What is God’s endgame?
We ask God to bless us all the time, and when we have really messed up we beg Him for grace… And He gives it. Oh how freely He gives it! But why? Why does God choose to bless us and show us grace? Is it merely for our sake? Yes, He loves us, for we are His Beloved children and precious in His sight (1 John 3:1). Yes, His grace is sufficient and covers all of our sin (2 Corinthians 12:9, Ephesians 4:7). Yes, He is a good Father who wants to bless His kids with the best gifts (James 1:17). But God has an even bigger plan than merely blessing us individually and showing us grace in our personal failings. He blesses us so that we might be a blessing to the nations. He is gracious to us so that we might show His grace to all peoples of the earth. Our greatest blessing actually comes in joining Jesus as He renews all things.
How does God feel about segregation? Is there division in the kingdom of God? What is God doing to bring people together from every color, culture and class?
God’s design from all of time has been for humanity to flourish across the planet, united in Him and living in dignified interdependence with each other and creation. This Shalom community comprised of all nations has always been God’s heart for us, and in the deepest places of longing, humans desire that reality as well. But as the chaos of sin entered creation and embedded itself in the human heart, the quest for power over others began manifesting in wars between people groups and things like racism and classism became something to expect in every society. There always seems to be a people group acting as the oppressor and there always seems to be a people group suffering as the oppressed.
Do you ever feel like you are drowning in your doubts and fears? Have you tried to trust God but keep falling back into self-reliance? How do we stay in a place of perfect peace and trust in God’s promises?
When our minds are focused on Jesus and we are trusting Him with every aspect of our lives, we cannot help but have that nothing-broken-nothing-missing peace He desires for us. As everything we are is surrendered to the reality of our union with Christ, we find ourselves in a state of beautiful bliss and wholeness, really believing that “if God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31) But when we take our eyes off of Jesus, like Peter did when he tried to walk on the water (Matthew 14:28-33), we begin to sink into the chaos and fears of this life. One look away from Jesus and toward the waves around us that threaten to consume everything, and the next thing we know we are drowning in our worry and the consequences of the false shaloms we looked to instead of Him. All of us have sunk before, yes, even the most seasoned disciples who have done great things for the kingdom.
Are you a peacemaker? Does your life bring healing and wholeness to others and to your community? How do we become faithful previews of heaven’s peace here on earth?
Those who claim to have peace with God through Jesus are called to proclaim peace everywhere they go and to everyone they meet. They are called to live life on earth as it is heaven, where peace abounds, and the conflicts caused by our selfish sinful hearts are no more. This side of heaven, while still living amidst the chaos of this world, a peacemaker’s life is a faithful preview of the City of Peace to come, where Shalom is an everyday reality. A follower of Jesus IS a “Shalomer” on earth, who is constantly and graciously reorienting every aspect of their world so that people can not only “just get along” but thrive together to see the planet flourish the way God designed it to be. It’s in our identity as God’s people to be such peacemakers, just like Jesus. What does that look like and how does that happen?
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Have you ever heard God speak to your heart? What types of things does God say to His people? How do you respond when God speaks? The world is pretty noisy. Like a downtown city street at rush hour, our minds are filled with the noise of life, so much so that it is hard to hear the whisper of God, let alone decipher what He is actually saying to us. Our everyday activity consumes us to the point where God is often blocked out, or He merely becomes an afterthought that comes to mind only when a challenging situation arises. But God is always speaking to us, His faithful people, those whom He has called out of darkness and into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9-10). Like a father lovingly whispers into his child’s ear, the Father of the universe is constantly whispering to His children, affirming their identity as His beloved kids, encouraging them in their development, correcting their missteps with wisdom, and directing them in the path to walk next. Are we listening?