Community Group Study Notes
Have someone in your group give a brief recap of Sunday’s message, highlighting the primary Scripture passage(s) and main idea of the message.
What does it mean for us to be shalom people, based on this sermon? What actions can shalom people take to deal with conflict that arises in our lives?
What are the barriers to shalom that you’ve identified in your life? What can you do to overcome those barriers?
How might the cultural perception of Christians be changed for the better if we became known as peacemakers and took action as shalom people? Which of the typical Christian stereotypes would change as a result?
What is one action step you can take in light of this sermon and our discussion? Pray as a group for one another to take these action steps.
So good to see you this morning. Welcome to everybody on every campus. I'm delighted that you're with us this morning, worshiping together. Let's say for a minute, let's just do a quick thought experiment, if we could. Let's say for just a minute that this afternoon when you get home to your house or your apartment, wherever you live, your duplex, that after the Bills game that you watch, and we win, you walk outside, and you're excited about having won, and you walk outside 'cause it's a nice day, and that's what we do in Buffalo when it's a nice day. We walk outside. And you walk out into maybe the parking lot of your apartment complex or maybe into your driveway or wherever, and there's Jesus. And he says, "If you will do," blank, "I will bless you." Is there anything that you wouldn't fill in that blank with? If you will do, blank, I will bless you. Or, if you will be, blank, I will bless you. Is there anything that you would not fill in in that blank? Because I want to remind you that not only when we have the Word of God, Jesus has already said those types of things to us as if he were standing in our driveway. But I wanna remind you of some specific ways that Jesus said that. When we turn to the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter five, which we're all doing right now, either on your device or in your Bible, when you come to the Sermon in the Mount, what you have is Jesus giving nine statements of blessing, that this is what it looks like to live a life that is blessed. And he talks about not only what we do, but who we are in those statements, and there are nine of them, but there's one in particular that I want us to concentrate on as we think about this series theme that we're dealing with, the idea of shalom. I want us to think about the seventh one. It's interesting, it's actually found in the ninth verse. There are nine of them, but this is the seventh one and it would be our ninth verse. Sorry to confuse you there. And here's what it says. This is Jesus' words in Matthew 5:9. "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God." You see, what we have here is Jesus making a statement about who shalom people are and what shalom people do, and it's a beautiful one. Now, if you haven't been tracking with us, the word shalom is a Hebrew word, and it's a word that kind of summarizes what we end up translating in English oftentimes the word peace, but shalom is bigger than that. Shalom means wholeness and completeness and prosperity of life and serenity and peace and absence of hostility. This is the idea of shalom. And we talked about how God is the God who is shalom and God is the God who gives shalom and he gives shalom through Jesus. But when we look at this idea, Jesus actually talks about the nature of what shalom people are and what shalom people do, right here in this one verse when he says, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God." So what I want to do is I wanna summarize what I'm gonna tell you in one statement, and then I wanna unpack what I summarize for you here in just the next few minutes. And we're gonna be, you're thinking to yourself, "Wait a second, you're really just gonna give concentration to this one verse?" Yep, that's what I'm gonna give concentration to, but we're gonna bring in some other verses that help us to see what this verse is talking about, okay? So if I were summarizing this, I would simply say this. Shalom people are blessed, they're active, and they're identifiable. Let me say it again. Shalom people are blessed, they're active, and they're identifiable. This is where I'm going in this message. If you just want to say, "Hey, where are you going, Jerry?" I've just told you this is where I'm going, and I'm gonna break apart all three of these statements that shalom people are blessed, and they're active, and they're identifiable, and I'm gonna show them to you in the text itself. Let's start with the first one. Shalom people are blessed. Not a surprise that that's statement one. I just told you it was going to be, and if you haven't followed that, then you need some assistance from your neighbor, all right? Listen to what the verse says in Matthew five, verse nine. It says, "Blessed are the peacemakers." Blessed are the shalom people. Now, this word that we talk about, blessed or blessing, it's in an interesting word because it can mean happy or whole or shown favor by God, all of which are good things. Do you want that described of your life? When Jesus says, "Blessed are shalom people, blessed are peacemakers," do you want to be someone who is blessed? Do you want to be happy? Do you want to be whole? Do you want to be shown favor by God? I think the answer to that is yes. We all want that in our lives, right? Well, if that's the case, then he says shalom people are blessed. These are all good things. Let me ask you a question. Why does God bless peacemakers? Because he is one. That's why. God blesses peacemakers, listen, because he is one, and he wants the world to know that. That's why he blesses peacemakers, because God is shalom, right? We talked about that last week. I've already set this idea up. Why does God bless shalom people? Because he is shalom, and he wants the world to know his peace. Now, you may not have ever heard of Hiroo Onoda. Yes, that's a Japanese name. Yes, this is a Japanese man, and maybe you've never heard of him. This is a picture of him. This is Hiroo Onoda. Now, why you may have never heard of him is because he was involved in World War II. He's before a lot of our times. By our, I'm putting myself in that category. He's before a lot of us, right? He was in the Japanese Imperial Army, and he was deployed to the Philippines during World War II, and while he was there, he came and he was an officer, and he was with some other officers that actually outranked him, and he was coming there as an intelligence officer and they were charged with the mission of fighting off all of the enemies of Japan that would be there in the Philippines. And so they lived in the jungles and they lived in the mountains, and they did whatever they could to survive and they fought the war against Japanese enemies. Well, the war ended in 1945. What was interesting is that during the course of the time that Hiroo was there in the Philippines, is that either the other men that he was with died in various battles, or they surrendered or left. And it was just him left. He was the only one. In 1945, the war ended, and he didn't know. He didn't find out. They started dropping some leaflets into the jungles in the mountains to say that the war was over, but he thought it was a trick. He thought, "No, they're just trying to... They're just trying to get me out. I'm gonna still do what I'm supposed to do." There were some people that tried to get word to him, and he thought, "No, this is a trick." 29 years, he lived in the jungle and in the mountains, believing the war was not over. Eventually someone ended up finding out that he was there, finding out who he was, got word to Japan, and do you know what they did? They sent his former commanding officer back to the jungles and mountains of the Philippines to make sure that he knew that it was official, and this man came as an ambassador of Japan to announce to Hiroo, "The war has ended. You can put down your arms." And he did. And that was a picture of him holding a picture of him when he was a soldier. Listen, I tell you that because the world actually needs commanding officers that have been sent as ambassadors into the world, because there are still tons and tons of people in the world that we live in that don't know that the war is over and that the treaty of peace has been signed in the blood of God's Son, the Lord Jesus, and they need for us to be ambassadors, to be peacemakers, to bring the blessing of announcement that the war is over. Jesus has secured our peace with the Father. Paul actually uses this terminology in 2 Corinthians chapter number five. He says, "All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." This is the heartbeat of why we are a people who are most blessed, because we become ambassadors, we become reconcilers, we become, here it is, peacemakers. God uses us to be peacemakers. And Jesus says this. "Blessed are the peacemakers." So shalom people are blessed, but shalom people are also, secondly, they're active. Shalom people are active. Let me see if I can explain why I'm using this term. Look back at the verse again. "Blessed are thee," here it is, "peacemakers." Right? Notice that it doesn't say peacekeepers. It says peacemakers. There's a reason for that. It's because when we look at how this word is constructed, it's constructed, it's kind of a smashed up of two words, an adjective and a verb that gives us this descriptor of being peacemakers, and it is active, it is not passive. You see, when we see that shalom people are peacemakers, that means that we are not somebody who, listen, who distantly tolerate, but instead, we actively engage, because peacemakers are active. Peacemakers share the good news of that there can be peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ. That's a part of being active. But peacemakers also recognize that when there is conflict and defense, that they also, instead of avoidance, that they engage it. Peacemakers are active, not peacekeepers. See, we live in a world, we want to be peacekeepers, we wanna be blessed peacekeepers. We just want to, we see some stuff and it's affecting us and it's affecting those around us, and we just kind of go... Right? We play avoidance. Jesus says, "No, no, no. The kind of people that are my kind of people, the kind of people that I bless, I bless shalommakers, I bless peacemakers, I bless those who are active, not just separating themselves from everything." Because in the world that we live in, sin and offense, those things can happen, right? And they do. There's no question about that. Sin and offense, it certainly happens, and what sin does is it separates, and sin threatens relationships. That's what sin does, right? And so we have to make sure that we understand that when we are peacemaking, we are active in a process, particularly if it involves sin and conflict around sin, because to just tolerate or to avoid means that we're just simply trying to have a truce with sin. That's not peace. Peace is not truce with sin. Peace is where holiness and righteousness are a part of the mix, and are saying, I'm going to actively engage for the sake of the glory of God and the good of my brother or sister, potentially, in this offense. So how do you take action as a peacemaker? Well, the Word of God gives us a number of different ways. I'm gonna give you just a handful, all right? Here's the first. When you know, and I've kind of framed it in a question, what actions can shalom people take to deal with offense? Here's the first. Overlook it. That's the first thing that can happen. And you say, "Well, isn't that avoidance?" Uh-uh, that takes action. It's not easy to overlook an offense. I don't know if you know that or not. Keyboard cowboy. Right? Somebody says something, and then you just say, it's your responsibility. I gotcha. I'll show them. You don't even know them, but you're gonna show them somehow, right? Because it offended you. Well, what we can do, what we can do is we're allowed to actually overlook an offense, as shalom people. Proverbs chapter 19 says it this way. "A person's wisdom yields patience; it is to one's glory to overlook an offense. A person's wisdom yields patience; it is to one's glory to overlook an offense." The proverb writer is reminding us that we don't have to be offended by everything. We don't actually have to be outraged by everything. There are some things that certainly can draw outrage, but we don't have to be outraged by everything. We live in an outrage culture. Everybody's outraged and offended about literally everything, and we don't have to be. We're allowed to overlook an offense, because it's to the glory of God that we do that. Sometimes in love, we just say, we'll eat it. We'll absorb it. Sometimes in love, we'll just absorb it. Now, are there times where you can't just overlook it because of maybe the damage that's being done? Yep, that is certainly true. So what do you do in that context? What action do you take in that context? Well, first thing you should do, I think what Jesus taught us is that you need to check your eye. Some of you're going, "Eye what? Jesus was doing eye exams?" Well, listen to what he said in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter seven. He said, "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, "Let me take the spec out of your eye," when all the time there's a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you'll see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." Now, what Jesus is saying here is he's actually assuming that there will be times where we have the opportunity with brothers and sisters to be able to bring something up that needs correction. Jesus is assuming that that's the case, right? That this will happen. But when that happens, just make sure that when you say, "You know what? I need to get this little speck of sawdust out of your eye, but forgive me for the sequoia tree that's sticking outta my head." Jesus says that's not where we need to be, right? Because there's a hypocrisy in that, that the first thing we need to do is we need to check our eye. That's certainly not talking about our physical eyes, but that's talking about checking our eye to make sure that we're not in a place where we are hypocritically trying to be the sin police when everybody else around us is going, "What? That's you. You do the same thing. What are you talking about? Why are you correcting everybody on this, when that's you?" Right? We have to be careful. "You're so judgmental, you're so judgmental, you're so judgmental," and everybody's looking at you going, "Listen, Judge Judy, you might need to pull a little something right outta here, or a little something right outta here, right?" So you check your eye, right? That's an action to take. Secondarily, check your heart. Check your heart. It's sort of saying the same thing, but Jesus' half brother James says something quite interesting, and I think it's something we should pay attention to when we're taking actions for being peacemakers. James chapter four and verse one says this. "What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire, but do not have, so you kill. You covet, but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You don't have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures." You know what's important? When we're in the process of trying to make peace, here's what we better recognize first and foremost. Is the issue actually us in our own hearts? What causes fights and quarrels among you? Isn't it your desires that rage within you? James says. You see, there are times where we are maybe in conflict with somebody, and what we keep failing to understand is that it's us. Have you ever met those people that they're in conflict with loads and loads of relationships and they're just like beside themselves, like what is going on? And you kind of just go, let me think. There's a word for that, common denominator. It's you, right? It's you. You're the common denominator in all of these conflicts, but you're unable to see it because you're unable to check your own heart. You haven't been checking your eye, checking your heart to make sure that you're in a place where that can be the case. And in fact, what happens in our own hearts with our own desires that rage within us, is that we become idolatrous in the things that we desire. I like how Ken Sandy, who wrote a book called "The Peacemaker," he wrote a book that was really insightful and talked about conflict resolution, but he talked about this idolatry of heart. And he said there's a progression to it. It begins with I desire, and then it goes to I demand, and then it goes to I judge, and then it goes to I punish. You know why? Because idols need sacrifices. And sometimes if you're not meeting the desire of somebody who's grown an idol in their heart, then they want, they're gonna need to punish you. It starts with I desire, and then goes to I demand, and then goes to I judge, and then goes to I punish. That's why we've gotta be people who check our hearts when we get involved in the process of peacemaking, because sometimes we are the problem. And that's why we've gotta be ready to hear and receive the gospel in our own hearts and recognize what God has done for us in Christ. Listen to how Paul said it in the book of Colossians. He says, "Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body, you were called to peace. And be thankful." You see, what Paul reminds us of in this passage is that we are ready to forgive. Our hearts are in a place where we are ready to forgive. And by the way, just keeping something in mind here. Some people have been grievously hurt by other people. I mean, in terrible ways, terrible ways. I don't mean to say that forgiveness excuses all of that. It doesn't. Forgiveness and trust aren't the same thing. We must forgive. The gospel commands us. The gospel demands it of us, because we can't let a root of bitterness grow up in our own hearts, right? And we can't not remember what God has done for us in Christ, how much we've been forgiven, and therefore, we forgive. We will never, listen, we will never forgive other people more than how we've been forgiven in Christ, never. Not in a million lifetimes, never. So we must forgive. It doesn't mean automatically that we have to trust. Trust has to be won back, because people have maybe done some egregious things, right? So it doesn't just let them off the hook. God's the one who takes care of justice when we can't see justice, right? God takes care of that. He knows what he's doing. But for you and I, we can't be locked in the prison of our own bitterness. We've got to be willing to forgive. And Paul reminds us in Colossians that we don't have to be easily offended. We don't have to be, right? So overlook offense, check your eye, check your heart, and then initiate peace. Initiate peace. How do you do that? Well, I'm gonna run through this quite quickly, okay? How do you do that? Well, I wanna remind you that Jesus actually put a priority on us making peace with those where we've got an issue. He put a priority on it. Do you know what Jesus said? He said it's more important that you settle that than you show up to church. Listen to what he said, Sermon on the Mount, Matthew chapter five. "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift." Jesus says it's more important that you've made an effort at reconciliation and effort at peace with somebody, that there's a thing, right? There's something that's wrong, he said, than it is that you show up to church and bring your gifts. Settle that first, then you can come in clear conscience to be able to do that. It's more important than our church attendance. By the way, it's also more important than our comfort. Do you know what's uncomfortable? Talking to somebody about something that's wrong between the two of you. Because what we want to do is we want to avoid, but Jesus says if you see sin in your brother or sister's life or you've been sinned against, then you should actually leave your comfort behind and be able to take a moment to speak to them between the two of you. This is what Jesus said later in Matthew, Matthew 18. "If your brother or sister sins." In some texts that says, "If your brother or sister sins against you, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses." That's quoting from Deuteronomy chapter 19. "If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector," somebody who still needs and has yet to respond to the good news of Jesus Christ. Do you know what Matthew 18 does? And I could preach a whole message just on this passage, and maybe we should at some point, but there are some assumptions here in Matthew 18. One is that you have a desire to win your brother or sister. That's the assumption of the text, right? That that's your desire, is to win back your brother or your sister. There's also the assumption that there's a normal relational dynamic. In other words, it's not a power dynamic that's going on here. The reason I say that is because both parties can appeal to a higher authority. So this isn't some scenario where you've got somebody in great power and somebody in no power, right? This is assuming brothers and sisters in the body of Christ, a normal relational dynamic. It's also assuming that you could provide one or two additional witnesses to the sin that has gone on. This is less about just getting one or two people to come and listen to the conversation that you have, so that they can go, "Yeah, I witnessed that conversation." It's actually more about one or two people who actually have witnessed this behavior, and being able to say they can also testify that these things have happened, right? That's actually why he's referring to Deuteronomy chapter 19. That's the whole point. But if that can't be the case, at the very least, you could get a couple of brothers or sisters to sit in so that they could see how this is handled and what is said and all that stuff, certainly, right? So that's assumed in the text as well. And it's also assumed that you're gonna do your dead level best to work it out among you before it gets to leaders in the church. That happens all the time. Paul, when he was writing one of his letters, he talked to two women and named them in his letter, and he said, "Would you tell them to work it out? Work it out, ladies." That's what Paul said. He actually used their names and said, "I'm pleading with you." And he spoke lovingly of them, by the way. "They've been helpers to me in the gospel, and like, work it out." That's kind of the general tenor of this, right? But this is a part of how we are active. Jesus cares about this more than our comfort. He cares about this more than our church attendance. And by the way, this is even, this peacemaking, this active peacemaking, it's bigger than just our friends. It even involves people that that aren't our friends. Listen how Jesus said it in Matthew chapter five. "You've heard that it was said, "Love your neighbor and hate your enemy." But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect," or mature, complete, "therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." You see, we have been called to be people who demonstrate goodness and love to all. God shows his providential goodness and his providential love to all. It rains on everybody. The sun shines on everybody. And here's what Jesus says. You do that, too. You do that, too. There's gonna be people who you're gonna show love to and they're not gonna love you back, and he said, "It's okay. This is what I've called you to." Because can't anybody love people that love them back? Don't anybody do that? Is that good English? Don't anybody do that? I see, you're going, "You're not from around these parts, are you there, partner?" Right? Anybody can do that, but not everybody can do that for those who do not treat them the same way in return. But here's what I also know. Paul, in a corollary statement when he was talking about how Jesus taught these things, and he actually expanded on that in Romans 12, he also acknowledged something, that it's not always possible to find reconciliation because that does involve two, right? It's not always possible. So Paul said this. "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." As far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone, right? That's the responsibility we have, because shalom people are blessed people and shalom people are active, but thirdly, shalom people are identifiable. Let me explain what I mean. We're gonna see it in the text. Here's what Matthew 5 says. I've given you the ESV here for a reason. "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." This is actually the most prominent translation and the direct translation of the text. Huios is the term that's used there in the Greek language to describe sons. The implication is also, it could, of course, be sons and daughters, right? The NIV translates it children. That's completely true as well, because children are sons and daughters, aren't they? But it's interesting that when the scripture uses the connotation of children, it's mostly referring to relationship to a father. When the scripture uses the designation of sons, it's referring to character. It it's kind like we do in English, right? She's a chip off the old block, right? What you're saying is they're just like their mom or they're just like their dad, right? That's what you're talking about. This is going to the idea of character, that there is a distinct character of shalom people. "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons and daughters of God." They will look like God. What does that look like? What does a peacemaker who looks like God look like? Let me give it to you real quick. One word, Jesus. That's what it looks like. Jesus, the Son of God, has shown us what God looks like as a peacemaker, and listen to how Paul describes that in Ephesians chapter two. I want you to listen carefully to what he says. "For he himself is our peace," referring to Jesus, "who has made the two groups one." He's talking about Jews and Gentiles here. "And has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him, we both have access to the Father by one Spirit." Listen to this. Listen carefully to what Paul just said. Jesus had to destroy something and kill something in order for there to be peace. He destroyed the barrier and killed hostility so that there could be shalom, shalom between humanity and God and shalom between Jew and Gentile or shalom between people, right? Shalom between very different groups of people, by the way. They looked at each other very, very differently, if you would look back into history, right? But for for Jesus to secure peace, he had to destroy barriers and kill hostility. So jot this down. Sons and daughters of God destroy barriers and kill hostility to bring shalom. That's what they do because that's what Jesus did. Sons and daughters of God destroy barriers and kill hostility to bring shalom. So let me ask you, what are some barriers that may be in your world that need to be destroyed to bring shalom? I'll tell you what it was in when Paul wrote that. There was an ethnic barrier between Jew and Gentile. Some of us need to make sure that we destroy ethnic barriers in our lives so that we can see shalom, because sometimes we treat people certain ways because of their ethnicity. It's a barrier, and it needs to be destroyed for there to be shalom, because in Jesus, we're brothers and sisters. In Jesus, we're family. In Jesus, we're one. It doesn't take away the beauty of our diversity and our distinctiveness. That's the beauty of it. When you read the book of Revelation, every tongue and tribe, and this is the beauty of it, right? But we have to destroy the barriers. Don't rebuild what Jesus died to destroy. Or maybe there are political barriers. I have gone to meddling at this point. Now, we oftentimes, in the body of Christ, don't have maturity enough to stop generalizing about people based on a particular political issue or the other. Now, in the body of Christ, we should have dialogue around certain things that affect a lot of people and what the Word of God brings to bear on those particular issues. We should do that. We should engage. We should vote. We should do all of those things. But if we let political tribe become of greater significance than the family of God, we are making a parody out of what Jesus died for. Or maybe, or maybe it's a social barrier. I've actually heard a believer that I was in a conversation with, years ago, actually, it was a secondhand conversation, but nonetheless, that I'm aware, that I knew of, years ago, talking about where they were going to maybe live and where they weren't, and said they weren't going to live in this place because everybody there was white trash. If that's what's in our heart about how we talk about image bearers of God, we've built things that Jesus died to destroy. We don't wanna live that way. You know why? Because sons and daughters of God are shalom people. They're peacemakers, and they look like their Father. They look like their Father. They look like the Son of God. Sons and daughters should look like the Son of God, the Lord Jesus. So let me ask you a question. Maybe there's some things in your world that you need to see destroyed so that you can experience shalom. I would ask you to let the Holy Spirit do that work in your heart, and just ask him, what is he saying to you about this living in the life of shalom? What is he saying to you? Is there someone that you need to release by actively forgiving, because you've held on to bitterness and grudges and all that, you've held on too long? They might not even still be alive, and you're still holding on like it's doing something to them. It's not doing anything to them. It's doing everything to you. Shalom people need to be able to release that. Or maybe you need to actually initiate as a shalom person asking for forgiveness. Your brother or sister has something against you, and it's legitimate and you need to seek their forgiveness. Maybe you've built a barrier that Jesus died to break down. I don't know what it looks like, but whatever it is, I'd ask you to let the Spirit of God speak to your heart, and do what he says. And maybe you're here, and you are still hiding out in the jungles and mountains of sin, and you haven't gotten word that the war is over, and that God has made a way for you to be reconciled to him through his Son, and his Son has signed the peace treaty in his blood, has died and has risen from the grave, and you need to know him. I want you to know this. You can put down your arms. You can lay down your pride. You can lay all of that down, and know this. You can be forgiven, made new, and adopted into a new family. And if that's your need today, I hope that you'll respond to that. Let's bow our heads together In a moment, I'm going to pray for us all and I'm gonna dismiss us, but I wanna speak just for a moment to you who may be here and you may never have before entrusted your life to Jesus by faith, by turning from your sin and putting your faith and trust in him. And if that's your need, I want to encourage you this day to do that. When I say amen to the prayer that I'm about to pray, there's gonna be some folks, men and women that'll be down front, down here, just standing down here, and as everybody else is exiting the building, maybe hanging around in the atrium to talk to one another, encourage one another, pray for one another, bless one another, they'll be here, and I maybe ask you to come this direction and speak to one of these men or women down here, and simply say this. "I want to receive Jesus as my Lord and Savior." They'd love to take a moment and pray with you and pray for you, and send you home with something that's gonna help you in your journey of faith. And even if you needed a Bible, we'd be glad to give you one of those as well. We've got all of those ready for you. So I want to encourage you, if that's your need, to please come. And maybe you need somebody to pray with you about something that's in your heart, that's in your life that you want to deal with, so that you might be a person who experiences the shalom of God, the blessing of God in your life as a peacemaker. Well, if you need them to pray for you, pray with you, they'd be delighted to do that as well. Or maybe it's somebody sitting nearby you, that you'd say, "Would you just spend a moment here with me and pray for me?" I'm sure they'd be delighted to do that as well. Father, thank you for the grace that you've shown us in Jesus, the love that you've shown to a world who was at war with you, but that you, because you are shalom, you initiated by loving us first, by sending your Son, by making provision for the satisfaction of your holiness and your judgment upon Jesus, who willingly offered himself in our place, the sinless substitute for sinful people, But you didn't stay dead, Lord Jesus. You rose from the grave and you conquered sin and hell and death on our behalf, so that now by faith in you, we can have peace with God, and we can have peace with people around us because of what you've done through your cross and your resurrection. So Father, I pray that you would help us by your Spirit to be peacemakers. "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons and daughters of God." May that be true of us as a people for your glory. We pray now in Jesus' name. Amen.