Community Group Study Notes
1. How do we typically talk about peace? How does the concept of Shalom expand our understanding of what peace really is?
2. What does it mean to say that God gives Shalom through Jesus? Why is that so important?
3. Read Romans 5:1 and 5:10. What does it mean to have peace with God? Why is this necessary before we can experience the peace of God?
4. How can you live as “Shalom people” in your circle of influence? Be specific in your answers and avoid generalities; instead of “We should…” statements, use “I will…” statements.
5. Pray to the God of Shalom, asking that He would fill you with His presence so that when others are in our presence, they will experience His.
- In 2019, Jason Isbell and Sheryl Crow covered a Bob Dylan song called "Everything Is Broken." I'm gonna sing it for you this morning. I'm kidding. Not going to sing it for you this morning, but I am gonna share... I'm sorry to disappoint you, but trust me when I tell you I'm doing you a favor. I am doing this for you because I'm a servant. I do want you to see some of the lyrics of this song, though, because they are rather pointed, and when I read them and when I heard them, it's interesting 'cause it's a very converse kind of song. It's kind of an upbeat song with basically lyrics that talk about the fact that everything is broken. Here's what Dylan wrote. Broken line / Broken strings / Broken threads / Broken springs / Broken idols / Broken heads / People sleeping in broken beds / Ain't no use jiving / Ain't no use joking / Everything is broken / Broken bottles / Broken plates / Broken switches / Broken gates / Broken dishes / Broken parts / Streets are filled with broken hearts / Broken words never meant to be spoken / Everything is broken Now, I don't have a line on authoritative understanding of Bob Dylan's spiritual condition. What I do know is that he would reference the Word of God in some of his writing and that whatever else that may mean, I think that Bob Dylan had a pretty good idea of the effects of sin on the whole world. Because in his words, everything is broken. I don't know that it takes a whole lot for me to convince you of that. I think if we look around, we can pay close enough attention to figure that out. Our culture is broken. We're used to now as normalized having base and degrading speech and art and cinema and media. It's just a part of everything now. Our politics are broken. We're being sold a steady diet of fear and degradation of the other. And we're told that those who are ideological opponents of ours should be treated as less than human. Our families are broken, marriages breaking up. Kids that don't have parents. Our identities are broken. We've bought a narrative that says we can be whoever and whatever we want to be, even to the point of bodily mutilation and psychological damage. This is where we're living. Everything is broken. It feels a bit like we're living in a scenario where we're on a chaotic runaway train that has no brakes and that is careening off the tracks. It's how we feel sometimes in the world that we live in, doesn't it? That everything's moving so fast and so chaotically, and so it amps up our anxiety and it amps up everything that we feel and we're stressed and we're having a hard time in the middle of the world that we're living. And sometimes we just wanna pull back and say, "Time out, I want some peace." Anybody feel like that or am I alone? Just like time out, I want some peace. But what do we mean when we say that? What is we're saying when we say that we want some peace? Well, truthfully, it depends, oftentimes on the context, right? Sometimes we have to listen for the context because we've got really one word in our English language, "peace," but it's describing maybe some different things. It may be that when we say, "My neighbors keep partying until the wee hours of the morning. I need some peace." That what we're saying is we need quiet, right? Or maybe somebody real seriously may say, "I'm tired of battling these demons of addiction. I need some peace." What they may be saying is, "I need serenity." Or maybe somebody would say, "I am stressed out and anxious over paying the bills for my business and paying the bills for my home. I need some peace." Maybe what they're saying is they need prosperity. Or maybe someone would say that's younger, "I wish my parents would stop yelling at one another. I need some peace." And what they're saying is that they want to see the absence of conflict. You see, it depends on the circumstance, right? We're not quite sure how we understand that word, but the interesting thing is, is that we've got a biblical word, a Hebrew word, that actually encapsulates all of that and then some. And it's the word shalom. The word shalom is a biblical word that is used in the Old Testament over and over again, and most times it's translated with the English word "peace." But the word shalom actually means so much more than that. The idea of shalom is the idea of wholeness, completeness, harmony, prosperity, absence of hostility, serenity, peace, right? This is the idea of the word itself, shalom. We see it in the Old Testament and in the New Testament, though the Greek words that are used there are translated "peace." If they were translated into Hebrew, they would use the word "shalom." This big picture idea of what that means. Do you know, still in Israel today, I've been over there a bunch of times, going back here real soon, still today to say hello and to say goodbye in Israel. "Shalom." Shalom says "Hello," shalom says "Goodbye." Shalom is much more than just hello or goodbye. It is the wishing upon someone of the wholeness, the completeness, the union that there is in a life that is made whole, that is not so broken, right? This is the picture that we have of the word shalom, that it's never far from the Hebrew mind. In fact, I picked up on that when I saw one of the New Testament letters that was written to Hebrews. It's titled Hebrews, right? This is not a statement about a man making coffee. Now you're getting it, yep. It goes in waves, right? Some are early adopters. Some are kind of going laughing. That's a good one. Don't know what he's talking about, but I'm not gonna look silly, right? He brews, right? It's coffee, it's a joke. It's a stupid joke, shouldn't have told it. Thank you very much. I'll be here for a while if you wanna tip me. It's fine, I don't care. Whatever you wanna do. What the Hebrews always have in their mind is this idea of shalom. And when you come to the end of the letter that was written to the Hebrews by the author there, whomever that author may be, we don't know exactly who it may have been, but whoever that author of Hebrews was, when he was writing, when he comes to the close, he gives a benediction. And in that benediction you see that the idea of God's peace is not far from his mind. Here's what the writer says in Hebrews 13 verses 20 and 21. We're just gonna look at these two verses today, predominantly. I'm gonna be in a bunch of other places, but listen to what the writer says. "Now, may the God of peace or the God of shalom who threw the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus," that great shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing His will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen." You see, in the world that they were living in, in this world that they were living in, when the writer is writing to this church made up of struggling Hebrew Jewish Christians, he's writing to them and he's basically saying, "I wanna bring you some encouragement," because they were living in the midst of persecution. They were living in the midst of oppression and hostility and what he reminds them of at the very end of this letter is he reminds them of the God of shalom. And what I want us to do for just a few minutes together is to extract a few truths out of these two verses, the verses that we just read, so that we can learn a little bit about this God of shalom. Here's the first truth I want you to wrap your mind around. It's this: the God of shalom is shalom. The God of shalom is shalom by His very nature. Notice again what the very beginning of verse number 20 says: "Now may the God of peace..." I find it really interesting that the writer here chooses to call God the God of peace. You know, when I hear that phrase, I'm reminded that they are thinking about a whole lot about the nature of God. In fact, all the way to the very beginning of when they learned about who God is. You might remember in Genesis chapter one, it begins this way: "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, and the earth was formless and empty and darkness covered the surface of the deep, yet the spirit of God was hovering over the waters and then God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light, and God separated the light from the darkness," right? You remember that, Genesis chapter one, right? You know what's beautiful about that truth is that we're introduced to a God from the very outset of the revelation of who he is, a God of shalom, who brings order out of chaos. Right away we see that this God is a God who brings order, completeness, harmony, wholeness, out of the midst of disorder, disunity, and chaos. Why does God do that? Because it's who God is. God is shalom. This is who He is by His very nature. You see, God within Himself is whole, complete, harmonious, unified within Himself. In fact, when God was speaking to His people, Israel, through His designated leader, Moses, notice what is written about God, and God gives this revelation to Moses in Deuteronomy chapter six: "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one." Now that's a really interesting designation because sometimes we read that and we think, okay, he's writing this because all of the polytheistic religions who had many, many gods, they need to know that there is only one Lord. Certainly that is true. There's no question about that, one God. But understand that the word that's used here in the Hebrew language, Ahad, is a word that not only talks about a numerical value, but other times talks about a value of essence. The unified one, in other words. There's other terms in the Hebrew that can refer to the number one. This is talking about the essential one. The unified one. You see, because God has revealed Himself as Father, Son, and Spirit. One God in three persons, completely and totally whole. Complete, harmonious, unified. What am I trying to tell you? That the God of shalom is shalom. He is complete and whole and harmonious and unified even in his Trinitarian presence. In fact, if we were to to break that up a little bit and look at the Father, the Son, the Spirit, you would see that the testimony of scripture actually talks about this God, this one God in three persons, being shalom. God the Father, right, is the first place that we would begin there, and it's interesting to me that when we see Gideon preparing to lead the people of Israel against the enemies of Israel, he freaks out. He's scared to death. He's like, I can't do this. God's like, no problem. There's too many of you. I'm gonna cut you down to about 300 people and you're gonna take on the... He's like, whoa, wait, what? And he's scared. And the angel of the Lord appears to Gideon, and notice what happens. It says, "When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the Lord, he exclaimed, 'Alas, Sovereign Lord! I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face!' But the Lord said to him, 'Shalom, do not be afraid. You are not going to die.' So Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and called it," here it is, Jehovah Shalom. "The Lord Is Peace." You see, the Father was revealing to Gideon that He Himself is peace. It's no question that not only the writer of Hebrews, but even the Apostle Paul, he would reference that same designation of God a number of times. Two of those examples are very quick. Romans 15: "The God of peace will be with you all. Amen." And then of course in the book of 1 Thessalonians: "May God Himself, the God of shalom, or the God of peace, sanctify you through and through." And there are other occasions of that in the New Testament as well, because the God of shalom is shalom. The Father is revealed as shalom itself, as wholeness, peace, completeness, unity, harmony. But so is the Son, by the way. God the Son is also revealed this way. I know we're approaching time where Christmas is going to be on everybody's mind, and when we get to around Christmas, we think about these passages of scripture in the Hebrew scriptures that were prophesying about the Messiah who was to come. And one of those is in Isaiah chapter nine. You're probably familiar with it. "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Shalom." This is how Jesus is revealed, that he is the prince of shalom, that he is by his very nature shalom. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit is revealed this way. Listen to how Paul speaks of the spirit of God in Romans eight. He says, "The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace." You see, the very nature of the spirit's life among us is that he himself is shalom and a life governed by His life will be a life of shalom. So we actually can see very clearly in the scripture itself that the God of peace, the God of shalom is shalom, right? But there's a second truth that I wanna pull out of here and it's that the God of shalom gives shalom. This is really good news for us living in a broken world, living in an anxious world, that the God of Shalom, who himself is shalom, He gives it to, out of really who he is. Notice with me again in the beginning of verse number 20, and then carrying into verse 21 says, "Now, may the God of peace... equip you with everything good for doing His will and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever, amen." You see, the God of shalom will equip you by his shalom, by his wholeness, by his completeness, by his peace. He will equip you to do every good work in His name for the glory of Christ Jesus. I really love how Eugene Peterson, who's now with the Lord, he actually rendered this text a certain way. It's a paraphrase called "The Message," So it's not a translation of the scripture. It's a paraphrase, but he in his own right was a fantastic scholar even in the Hebrew. But notice what Eugene Peterson wrote. He said, "May God," talking about this passage of scripture in Hebrews 13, "May God, who puts all things together, who makes all things whole... Now put you together and provide you with everything you need to please Him, make us into what gives Him most pleasure." The God who puts you together, who makes everything whole. This is a beautiful picture of what shalom is, right? Even though everything is broken, this is the God who is by His very nature shalom, and he can give out of who He is. In fact, in His Trinitarian nature, we can see that play out in the scripture itself. God, the Father actually demonstrates this through what He's revealed about himself and now what people say about him. You might remember that Aaron pronounced a blessing over the people of Israel. It's in Numbers chapter six. "The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face towards you and give you shalom." You see, the God who is shalom, the Father who is shalom, can give shalom to his people because he's giving what he has, what he is, right? Well, God, the Son also did the same thing. You might remember what Jesus said to his disciples in John chapter 14: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." How about Jesus saying this: "Peace I leave with you." "Peace I give to you." Why can Jesus give peace? Because He himself is peace. Because the Son of God is shalom. He can give out of what He is. He's whole, He's complete, He's unbroken, and He can give that to us. The spirit of God also does this as well. God, the Spirit. If we look into what Paul says in Galatians chapter 5 about life in the spirit, he says: "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy," what? "Peace." The Spirit of God, when he inhabits our hearts, he gives to us peace. You know, maybe we could say it this way: The peace of God comes from the God of peace, or the shalom of God comes from the God of shalom. I think this was the idea that Paul was actually operating under when he was writing to the church at Philippi. Listen to his words in Philippians chapter 4: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." But notice what he goes on to say: "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever's true, whatever's noble, whatever's right, whatever is pure, whatever's lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me-
- put it into practice- and the God of peace will be with you." So he says you can get the peace of God from the God of peace, that this God who is shalom can give shalom to those who ask. You see, this is the life of shalom. It is the very life of God because God is giving to us from his very life. God is the only one, brothers and sisters, that can bring wholeness where there's brokenness. God is the only one who can bring order where there is spiritual chaos. God is the only one who can bring serenity in the midst of a world full of noise. God is the only one who can bring harmony when our souls are fractured and in division. The God of shalom is shalom and the God who is shalom gives shalom. But there's a third truth in this benediction in Hebrews that I want us not to miss, and it's this: The God of shalom gives shalom through Jesus. The God of shalom, He gives it through Jesus. You see, when we come back to this benediction in Hebrews chapter 13, when we begin to read, we may forget, because we love to talk about the God of peace. I need peace, God gives peace. That's what I want. But we may forget what peace costs. But the writer doesn't. Notice what the writer writes: "Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus." See, the writer's not at a loss to understanding what peace costs and that peace only comes through Jesus, the one who shed His blood to make an eternal covenant with humanity and who was resurrected from the dead. Why is the writer who was talking about the God of shalom, the God of peace, Why is the writer referencing the blood of Jesus? Here's why. Because of sin. Because without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin. The scripture tells us: "And sin has come to interrupt everything everywhere." There is a scholar who was formerly the President of Calvin Seminary. His name's Cornelius Plantinga, and he said this. He said, "Sin is the vandalism of shalom." I thought, what an insightful statement. Sin is the vandalism of shalom. The very life that God intends to give us is a life of wholeness, completeness, unity, harmony, serenity, absence of conflict, at least within us. This is the life that God intends to give us. This is the life that Jesus showed us. You do realize that, right? Jesus experienced trouble in this world. Jesus experienced circumstances that were very difficult. I don't know if you remember, but Jesus would go out on a boat with his boating buddies. Some of the disciples that he called to come with him, they were professional boater guys. They were fishermen. They lived in boats. It's what they did. Jesus was a carpenter by trade, right? He did, like, masonry work by trade. He may could have built the boat, but he wasn't maybe used to being out on the boat every day of his life. One day Jesus is out on one of those boats, and on the sea of Galilee, there is a tremendous storm. I don't know if you've ever been in just like a wooden boat, right? This isn't a cruise ship where you go and the seas are a little bit like this. This is just a wooden boat, like you feel everything. And do you know who's freaking out on the boat? Boat people. People who make their living being on boats and know how to navigate all this stuff, they're flipping out. And do you know what Jesus is doing, the carpenter? Sleeping. Do you know why? Listen. Because even though there was a storm all around him, there wasn't a storm in him. Because he is shalom. That's why when he wakes up, he sees everyone freaking out and he says, "Shalom, be still." And the wind and the waves die. See, Jesus came to give us that kind of life, and Jesus lived that life perfectly because he was sinless. But when you and I embrace sin, what we're doing is we are vandalizing the life of shalom that God has come to give us. That's not his heart for us. That's not his desire for us. So that's why we should run from sin. That's why we should kill sin. That's why we should abhor sin. That's why we should hate sin. That's why we should fear our lives walking into sin because it is the antithesis of the life that God designed for us. And that is a life of wholeness, of completeness, of beauty. Not of brokenness, not of separation, not of isolation. This is what God does, and He does it in and through Jesus.
- You see, since sin entered the world, humanity has been trying to solve the sin problem. But do you know why humanity hasn't? Because humanity is the sin problem. That's why. Because there's nothing anywhere in the world, nothing in all of the world, and no person who hasn't been touched by the brokenness of sin, every single person everywhere. And for us to embrace sin either passively or actively, it means we're at war with shalom. And to be at war with shalom is to be at war with God. That's why we can't solve this issue ourselves. Do you know why we can't solve it? Let me give it to you in a sentence. You can't have the peace of God until you have peace with God. You can't have the peace of God until you are at peace with God. You see, Paul actually identified this and realized that it's only through Jesus that we can have peace with God because we, listen to this. Every one of us, we're enemies of God until we've been regenerated by His son. You say, "Wait a minute, I'm not setting out to be an enemy of God!" Sin makes us enemies of God. We all have sinned. I know sometimes we look back on our lives and we kind of blame, you know, it's like our fore bearers and humanity. That's their problem! They walked independently of God and now they've cost me the rest of my life. Well, you've joined the party, because not only are we sinners by our nature, we are sinners by our choice. We have all joined this party. Every single one of us has chosen independence from God. At times in our lives, we have been tainted by sin. Paul in Romans 5 said it this way. He said, "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." And then in verse 10, he says this: "For if while we were God's enemies," See, he acknowledges it. "If when we were God's enemies we were reconciled to Him through the death of His son, how much more having been reconciled shall we be saved through his life?" You see, Paul tells us that we can now be, listen, instead of being people who are eternally broken, we can actually be restored because of what Jesus has done. That the son of God came to the world, was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, went to a cross to die for our sins so that he could satisfy the justice of God, so that God could be both just dealing with sin and the justifier, the one who forgives sin, and he's done that through the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ who went to a cross willingly. God didn't let him stay dead. He resurrected from him from the dead because his sacrifice was sufficient to satisfy the wrath and the justice of God. And so through Jesus' resurrection and his death that preceded it, we now, as the people who have been tainted by sin, can put our faith in what Jesus has done, not what we can somehow try to do to impress God. God's not impressed with us. He's impressed with his son. We can't do it ourselves. So many times we try that route, right? I'm gonna be a good person. I'm a good person. I pay my taxes. I walk people across the street, I stop on the side of the road. I pick up trash, I clean my room, I make my bed. I'm nice to my parents. I'm nice to my friends. And we think to ourselves, we've somehow tied God's hands behind his back as if God goes, "Oh, you got me." But the Bible tells us that we've all sinned and come short of the glory of God. And the penalty for our sin is death. Not only physical death, but spiritual separation from God. We can never do this on our own. Brothers and sisters, please know you can never work your way to God. God has already done it through his son and that's the only way it could be done. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." He didn't say, "Except through you." You see, this is our only hope is that we are restored in fellowship to God through Jesus Christ. He can listen on an individual basis. Why this is so encouraging is in the midst of a broken world that we live in He can restore you. He can make make you new. He can make you whole. He can make you forgiven. What a beautiful picture that is. And you know what I'm also reminded of is that God is not going to leave everything broken. We did this when God created everything. You can read about it in Genesis 1. It's good, it's good, it's good, it's very good. Everything God made was good. And then we got involved and we decided that we could be our own gods and we brought the brokenness into the world and creation suffers from it and our posterity suffers from it. And we all find ourselves in a place where we look around and we say, everything is broken. No, everything is not as bad as it could be, but everything everywhere has been touched by the effects of sin and its brokenness, but God's not gonna leave the world that way. You see, shalom in the flesh has already come at Bethlehem, and He who lived, died and rose again and ascended to the Father, He's coming again and when He does, He will judge evil and sin and brokenness and all those who embrace it, and He'll bring with him the beauty of a world of shalom, a new creation. You know, I'm reminded when I'm reading this benediction in the book of Hebrews that he references the God of shalom. I'm actually, not only does it make me go back to the book of Genesis to think about how God is revealed, but it makes me go forward to the benediction of the whole Bible in the book of Revelations. Revelation 21 tells us this: "Then I saw 'a new heaven and a new earth,' for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. And I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband." Friends, this world is coming, and if we are going to be a people of shalom living in a world of shalom because we put our faith in the God of shalom who's revealed and given his shalom in and through his Son, then why wouldn't we want to give glimpses of that life in this one? That's what we're destined for. But here we are living in a world of brokenness, a chaotic, anxious, broken world. But can't we, even though it might not be perfect as it will be, can't we give glimpses into that world while we're in this one? Isn't that what shalom people do? In fact, as I was reading further in Revelation 21, that was verses one and two, I picked up that there are probably some things that if you and I embrace them as shalom people in a broken world based on what is going to be, that maybe we could have an effect on the world that we're living in. What do shalom people do? What can we do? Here's the first that I picked up: Be God's dwelling place. We could be God's dwelling place. Listen to what the writer of Revelation chapter 21, as we continue on in verse number three, he says: "And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Look! God's dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with him and be their God.'" We're coming to a place, when a world of shalom is now a reality, a new creation where God is all in all. He is our God, we are His people. We are His dwelling place. What if we allow God to richly dwell in our lives? Now, let me ask you a question. What or who do people see when they see you? What or who do people hear when they hear you? You see, if we dwell, listen to this, if we dwell in God's presence and let his presence be our dwelling place, then that means that the people in our presence might see a different presence than ours. That's what we want. We want people to see God's life in us. Be God's dwelling place. That's what shalom people will be. And it's what we can be right now by the spirit of God. Let me tell you a second thing. We'd be compassionate. We'd be compassionate as shalom people. Notice what's going to be. Verse number four says, "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." You know what shalom people should do? They should be a people of compassion who can weep with those who weep, who can grieve with those who grieve, who can hurt with those who hurt. And it doesn't matter if we see the world the same way they do, if we share all the same thinking about everything. We shouldn't be the kind of people who are not compassionate. I was grieved when I heard about the response when I was reading the response of some people who even claimed to name Jesus as their Lord, when they heard about the Speaker of the House's husband, had his home broken into, and he was beaten in the head with a hammer by obviously a man who was mentally deranged to do that. That's an awful thing, right? And yet there were some people, even in the name of Jesus, who were trying to justify and it's like, wait, it doesn't matter if you don't view their policies and politics the same way. An elderly man in his eighties just got beaten with a hammer. Why would you rejoice in that? We should be people of compassion that look beyond the space and time that we are living in and look beyond whether we agree or disagree with people. But instead, we can understand that when people hurt, we can hurt with them. And when people grieve, we can grieve with them. Even if it was brought on themselves, it's still, we can be a people of compassion because we have a God who wipes every tear from our eye. But thirdly, we can be a renewer. We can be a renewer. Notice what the next verse goes on to say in verse number five: "He who is seated on the throne said, 'I am making everything new!' Then he said, 'Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." Do you know what shalom people would do in this broken world? Is that when we see brokenness, we would bring the newness of God into the brokenness. That's what we would do. That's what shalom people do. God is a renewing God. He's a God of shalom. He's a God where those things that are broken, He heals. Those things that are out of order, He brings into order. Those things that are fractured, He makes them right. That's the kind of people that we can be. Be a renewer by God's own spirit in us. Fourthly, we can be gracious. We can be gracious. Listen to what the tech says in verse number six. "He said to me, 'It is done. I'm the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.'" Do you know what that's a picture of? Grace. That you and I would have the opportunity to drink from the fountain of life in new creation is only an act of God's grace in Jesus Christ. It's that grace. Yet sometimes we become a people that are so closed off in the way that we think that we can't look around at people in the world who are tainted by sin, who are being destroyed by sin, and we look at them as if you're getting your just desserts. As if we did something to deserve the place we are in. We are beggars telling other beggars where to find bread. Because God has shown us such grace and such mercy, the most merciful people in the world, the most gracious people in the world should be people that understand the grace shown them in Jesus. That we were dead in our sin, that we could never resurrect ourselves, but God in His mercy has saved us. Lastly, from this text, we could be faithful. If we wanna be shalom people in a broken world, we should be faithful. Look at what verse seven and eight say. "Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars- they'll be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death." Here's what God says. If anybody should be people of hope and courage in Christ, it's us. It's us. If anybody should be, we should be. That we can live life in victory because the God of shalom, even though there's craziness going on all around us, it doesn't have to be in us because He's the one who can still that storm. You see, my brothers and sisters, when I look forward about the God of shalom and what he's bringing, this is not a dream. This is a reality. Shalom is coming and shalom has come. And so yeah, everything is broken, but it doesn't have to stay that way because the God of shalom is shalom. Let's bow our heads together. In a moment we'll be dismissed, and I would ask you in this moment, if you're here and you've never before entrusted your life to Jesus, I can't think of a better place than here and a better time than now. You see, God so loved the world that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him would not perish but would have everlasting life. And what we would love to do is hold out an invitation to you that if you've never before been transformed by Jesus, that today would be your day. That you would turn from your sin and yourself and put your faith and your trust in Jesus as your Savior and as your Lord, that you could know the peace of God because you have been given peace with God through the Lord Jesus that you put your faith in. And so if that's your need, when I say amen in just a moment, I'm gonna pray for us and we're gonna be dismissed, there'll be some folks that'll be standing down front. Some of them are coming already. There'll be some men and women that'll be down here. And here's what we'd love. We would love it if you would just take a moment and leave your seat and come forward. And as people are walking out, you're walking down, and you'd take one of these men or women by the hand and just simply say this: I want to give my life to Jesus. I wanna surrender my life to Christ and let them take a moment and pray with you and pray for you and send you home with something so that you can begin this journey of faith. There's no greater decision that you'll make in your life. None, no greater decision. It's the most important one you'll ever make, and that is to be born again by God's own spirit. So if that's your need, I encourage you to come and take one of them by the hand and do that in just a moment. Maybe you're here and you'd say, you know what? I have surrendered my life to Jesus. I have had my life changed and transformed by Christ. But I realized in the course of this listening to the Word of God that there are some areas in my life where I've held onto them and I haven't let the presence of the God who brings wholeness touch them. I've held on to this brokenness in my heart and I've shielded it. But maybe you need to let that go. Maybe you need to take a moment and just let that go before the Lord. And if you wanna do that sitting in your chair when we dismiss in a moment, you can. If you want to come and take one of these folks by the hand and say, "I would love for you to pray for me, that I would release this," then you can. Whatever it is the Lord is asking of you, I pray that you'll do it. Father God of peace, thank you that we have an opportunity to be at peace with you because of what you have done on our behalf through Jesus Christ's life, death, and resurrection. And that by faith in Him, in what He's done, we can be reconciled to you and we can have the peace that you give because you have made a way for us to be at peace with you through Jesus. Father, for those here who need to know that truth, to need to know that forgiveness of sins and peace of heart, I pray that you'd give them the courage to come and take one of these men or women by the hand and just let them know that they want to receive you. And Father, for those of us who are here that maybe, maybe we realize that in our lives, sometimes the people around us aren't experiencing us as a people who are a dwelling place for God, but that we would be careful to put ourselves in places where we dwell in your presence, through your word, by your spirit, so that our lives overflow with the beauty of who you are and that people that are in our presence would sense that there's another presence there, yours. That's what we need the world to see and to smell the aroma of Christ. So would you help us to do that for your glory? Because even though everything is broken, everything won't stay that way, and everything doesn't have to stay that way. Now by your glory, use us as agents of shalom in a world of brokenness. We pray for Jesus' glory. Amen.