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Shalom

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How to have Godly peace in the midst of unrest

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Shalom Judges 6:1-24 Turmoil, instability, unrest. Those are words that accurately describe our present day. People suffer from stress, grief, anxiety, doubt, and heartache. School shootings, bombings, murders, racism, and many other tragedies fill the news reports. Our world is filled with crime, even close to home. Sometimes turmoil, instability, and unrest even appear at work where the demands and expectations overwhelm the employees. Turmoil, instability, and unrest also find their way into people's homes, as evidenced by the high divorce rate. It seems that many couples today are married by the secretary of defense instead of the justice of the peace, creating a battleground fought with misunderstandings, neglect, arguments, and even physical and emotional abuse. Yet in all of this, the worst turmoil, instability, and unrest you'll ever face takes place within your very soul. This happens when it feels like you can't live with yourself anymore. When pain, regret, anxiety, or depression eat you up, leaving you with an empty void within. Whether it's in society, the workplace, or in the heart, turmoil, instability, and unrest threatens our emotions, finances, and even how we cope when under pressure. And instead of calling it turmoil, instability, or unrest, people today simply call it "drama." This world is filled with drama because our lives are filled with drama - either our own or other people's. Nobody desires drama, but once it comes, we're not sure how to get rid of it. Everyone experiences drama and the search for peace spans the ages. That's why today, we're addressing your need for calmness, stability, and security, by looking at one word, "Shalom," and the One God who provides Shalom, our LORD. Shalom is Godly peace, and there's a ton of verses we could use to talk about peace. But today, we're examining the only place in the Bible where God is called Jehovah Shalom, "The Lord Is Peace." (Read 6:24a) To better understand Jehovah Shalom, let's look at Judges 6. The Israelites are in the Promised Land, yet they're still experiencing drama. They're where they need to be but still facing chaos, showing us that you can be where God wants you and still have drama. And in the Book of Judges, we see a pattern repeat itself time and time again. 1. The Israelites rebel and sin against God. 2. Their sin leads to punishment and discipline. 3. Discipline drives them back to repentance. 4. They repent and God delivers them. It's within this pattern of sin, punishment, repentance, and deliverance that we discover the name, Jehovah Shalom. (Read Judges 6:1) Israel rebelled against God, and the result was defeat. They could expect victory in the Promised Land, but due to their disobedience, the enemies they were supposed to defeat actually defeated them. The Israelites "did evil in the sight of God," and the result is clear: Disobedience disrupts peace (Isaiah 57:20-21), but obedience brings peace (Isaiah 48:18), and peace accompanies righteousness (Hebrews 7:2). Folks, one of the biggest lies you'll ever be told is that you'll have no challenges in your personal promised land. But the biblical truth is you can be outside the will of God while inside the promised land. Fulfilling your destiny doesn't mean simply reaching your destination. Your destiny includes your actions and your heart while in that destination. That's why if you've ever reached your goal yet still felt defeated, it's because you've taken your eyes off God! That's the situation the Israelites were in. Year after year, for 7 years, the Israelites faced defeat after defeat. And it got so bad they ran and hid for protection. (Read 6:2) But things got even worse. The Midianites discouraged the Israelites, starved them, and stole their resources. (Read 6:4-5) Rebelling against God means the world takes over. The Midianites took over and ruined the Israelites farmland and crops. They utterly destroyed a year's worth of work in no time at all. But you know, sometimes God will let you hit rock bottom when you've rebelled against God in your actions and in your hearts because, just like the Israelites, it's there you remember God and repent. (Read 6:6) Many times people finally cry out to God when they hit the rock bottom of turmoil, instability, and unrest. It's in those low points where people aren't looking for religion; they're looking for God, and prayer is no longer repeated words, but a plea for redemption. In verses 7-10, God reminds His people that He was the one who delivered, released, saved, sustained, and protected them. But despite God's gentle hand, look at how easy it is to turn away. The Bible calls people who turn away from God worldly. Worldliness and idolatry go hand in hand. Idolatry is an idol, and an idol is never just a picture or decoration; it's whatever you ultimately count on for your satisfaction, your direction, and your provision. The Israelites stopped looking to God as their source of satisfaction, direction, and provision. They still had their religion. God was still there. But God wasn't their answer. They failed to realize that if God was powerful enough to get them out of Egypt, then God was powerful enough to sustain them in Canaan. They did what most of us do without thinking. Too many people worship God on Sunday but come Monday, worship something else - work, money, comfort, ourselves... anything that replaces God. And that voice becomes louder than God's voice, and we begin to doubt that the God who rescued and redeemed us is powerful enough to sustain us. As a result, the prophet informed the Israelites, and us, that their present turmoil, instability, and unrest wasn't a political, social, or a financial problem; It was a spiritual problem resulting from turning away from God. God let the Israelites hit rock bottom so they could realize that God was their only way back up. The Israelites cried out to God because of their mess, and the LORD sent an angel to Gideon. Gideon was someone just trying to survive. He was doing the best he could in the situation he found himself in. Gideon was shy and not a very brave person, but the LORD appeared to him and said, "The LORD is with you, mighty warrior." Have you ever had someone see something in you before you did? A parent, spouse, friend, teacher, who saw something in you and empowered you to rise higher because they believed in you. God saw Gideon, and God sees you. You may feel ordinary, but God specializes in turning the ordinary into the extraordinary! Gideon asked for the LORD to give him a sign, to make sure this whole thing was real. And when Gideon realized he saw and talked with the angel of the LORD, verse 22 tells us how utterly amazed he was. (Read 6:22) That's when God introduced His calming presence as Jehovah Shalom. Gideon experienced Jehovah Shalom. He found peace in knowing God and named the alter he built, Jehovah Shalom, "The LORD Is Peace." So what is peace? Peace, or Shalom, is not simply a calmness. Shalom means "wholeness, completeness, and well-being." It's having things properly lined up and ordered. Peace means no more drama. It's harmony and balance. It's not just a good feeling in certain moments because it means more than happiness. Happiness depends on what happens. When someone only shares bad news with you, they steal your happiness, and when someone only shares good news, they increase your happiness. But shalom isn't like that because peace isn't tied to your circumstances. It's that reason why people in Israel still say "Shalom" despite being continually at war. Shalom has to do with well-being regardless of circumstances because a person whose at peace finds rest within. They are calm, stable, and orderly. Despite what's happening around you, Shalom is peace that resonates from within. Shalom doesn't mean being calm when everything around you is calm. When everything is calm you're supposed to be calm. Shalom means you're at rest even when everything else seems to be wrong. When nothing looks right. When nothing looks promising. When questions add up. When all is dark, true shalom wins that battle because the calmness on the inside eases your mind despite the chaos on the outside! Jesus said, "These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace (shalom). In the world you'll have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). You know, it's one thing if the world is falling apart, but it's another thing entirely if you're falling apart with it. You can't control the world, but you can control how you respond to it. Jehovah Shalom provides peace even when you have problems, and when you have peace your problems won't have you! So, how do you experience Jehovah Shalom? You stand firm in your faith with Jesus as we watch Christ usher in light where there used to be darkness. Jesus has overcome - you have overcome too. Like the apostle Peter, you can walk on water when you focus upon Christ and are not distracted by the chaotic wind and waves around you. And everyone who knows Jehovah Shalom experience something that eludes many people today - Rest. Are you working harder all the time yet running out of time to get things done? Shalom gives us victory over life's business and drama because Jehovah Shalom, "The LORD Is Peace." This kind of peace is present in Christ Jesus who says, "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-burden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls" (Matthew 11:28-29). By wearing Christ's yoke in faith, you'll find shalom in Jesus' sufficiency to "will and to work" all of God's good pleasure in you and through you. Just as Gideon encountered God in the middle of a national, personal, and family turmoil, instability, and unrest, you can encounter Jehovah Shalom in the midst of your personal unrest. Despite all the drama, Gideon found how to have the inner well-being of shalom, which was simply knowing Jehovah was with him. Experiencing the power of peace happens when you know the truth and align your actions and thoughts to that truth. Too often, our thoughts disturb our peace. And something as simple as realigning your thoughts with the LORD's truth can change your outlook, provide trust, and give you courage. So, if you want to transform what you do, then transform what you think. For Gideon, it meant knowing that God wasn't just with him but also for him. God never left the Israelites; it was the Israelites disobedience that had left God. Gideon had not yet fought the Midianites. His problem wasn't solved. The enemy was still there. The journey wasn't over. But before Gideon addressed the physical realm, he addressed the spiritual realm by building an altar to the LORD. Gideon praised God on that altar, not because his situation changed, but because the LORD arrived in the midst of the situation. Praise Jehovah Shalom, "The LORD Is Peace." AMEN 2
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