harmonyPsalm 23

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures.”

If you want to see shalom in action, think of this most loved passage in the whole Bible.

“The Lord is my shepherd…”

Or, God is my shepherd, I have everything I need. He gives me rest, surrounded by his blessing.”

Who would not be filled with gladness knowing God takes care of everything?

This is why we find joy and shalom in the Bible together as much as joy and shalom are connected in the brain. They work together, but they are not the same.

When we translate the word for shalom into English, we use the word “peace.” It is a good word, but the trouble today is peace has lost this “everything is going to be fine” meaning and has come to mean, “absence of violence.” But, shalom is so much more than that. As we know all too well, you can be in a truce without sharing joy with others.

The word “Harmony” works better for us today.  “Harmony” is what our brains prefer. A sense that everything is going to be alright. With harmony in our lives, this is shalom. Our relationships are right. Who we are makes sense. Our reactions to the world please us and please God. A modern technology term also gives us a deeper sense of what it means to experience shalom. Synchronization.

When we have harmony we are in synch with God. We are in synch with the world around us. When we have harmony we can experience the presence of God.

Without harmony, our world is chaotic and moving too fast. We find it hard to be in synch with God, and we so don’t experience God. Not that he is not there or he doesn’t want us to know he is there, it’s just that we can’t experience this when we are overwhelmed by our problems.


When have you had problems synching something with your computer or smartphone? What were you feeling? Think about that experience in terms of life in general.


Ephesians 2

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

To live our lives bringing the gladness we share with God into the lives of other people is how God chooses to use us.  This is a key to loving our neighbor. To live our lives starting joy wherever we go. God makes this possible by giving us his grace. But, not only in a forgiving way. The Bible word for “grace” is actually the same root as the word for “joy”- charis.

Saved by grace also means saved for joy. Grace has been defined as “unmerited favor.” A clearer word for favor in modern English is “special.” Very,very special. So a good definition for “grace” is “Very special and you don’t have to do anything.” Or “Very special and you don’t have to work at it.”  Saved because we are very special to God and we don’t have to do anything to be special. Just exist. What does this look like? Just like last week, we are back to babies again.

There is no one who gets unmerited favor, someone who is very special and they don’t have to earn it or do a thing about it- than a baby. When a good mom and dad see their baby for the first time, they aren’t going to love that baby more or any less than they do at that moment. All the baby has to do is be. The baby doesn’t have to do anything.

That’s our identity with our loving father. It isn’t what we do that makes us special. It is who we are.

This is my primary identity. This is who I am. Son of the God of everything. Son of an amazing loving Father. How do I respond to him?

Joy. Joy is our response to God’s grace. The joy we see in a smiling baby is our model. And that’s high energy joy! That’s joy that wants to make mommy and daddy glad to be with us. Babies learn to imitate good parents right away. They will do anything to get that smile out of mom and dad. A baby follows their parent’s lead because they want to please their mommy. Their daddy. There is nothing like being glad together. But, joy can be a bit overwhelming.

So, in comes something Jim Wilder calls, “Joy’s sister.”


Shalom is quiet and low energy. God wires us for shalom just as he wires us for joy. You see, we are all rather weak and can’t sustain a high-energy state for long. God wires our brains so that every experience of high energy joy calls for a time of rest to follow. This is the endless rhythm God wires into us. High-energy joy followed by low-energy shalom. One can’t live without the other.Back to kids again.

When we wind kids up, we need to bring them down. We help them quiet and rest.

God designs this to be the rhythm of our lives. Shalom is that powerful rest that comes when you know everything is right. There is nothing to worry about.


What is a great worry you have today? Where is God in that worry? What might he say to you about it?


“We are a low-joy nation. And what happens in low-joy places? Problems are bred. This low-joy has reached the highest levels. Our national leaders have finally succumbed to being almost pure predators.” (PD)
What is a predator?
What can be done?

How God wires us for joy and shalom…
How you might be the best true hope….Listen




Ephesians 6

1For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.

The shoes of the soldier are called, caligae. These are not as much sandals as they are marching boots. And when your enemy attacks you and pushes against you with his shield, you can stand firm because these shoes have spikes on them, almost like golf spikes.

These shoes of peace harken back to Isaiah were the prophet says,

How beautiful on the mountains

    are the feet of the messenger who brings good news,

the good news of peace and salvation,

    the news that the God of Israel reigns! (52:7)

Because we have peace with God we can have peace with each other. We can experience the Shalom of God, where we know everything is going to be right in the end, even if we don’t know why. We can stand firm.


In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.

The Roman shield is the scutum. It is used to stop the enemy from pushing you back. The middle part can also be used to batter someone. But, the main use of the shield is to protect from projectiles. Now the word here for fiery arrows is plumbata. This is a dart weighted with lead that soldiers would carry in their shield. These could be thrown at a range of up to 70 yards. To be protected from these darts and arrows, a soldier would lift his shield over his head, or a whole group of soldiers can do this by forming a testuto, which is Latin for “tortoise.” You have seen this tactic used in Roman movies.

The fiery darts are the lies Satan sends our way. Where the devil tries to sow doubt, despair, bad circumstances, and temptations, including arrogance and pride. Faith is confidence in Jesus that says, No!” to all of that. It is having confidence in who Jesus is and my identity through him as having the same loving father. Confidence based on evidence.

Whatever the devil throws your way, you are strong and protected by Jesus. This protection is as it has always been and will be for you forever.


When gets in the way of your sensing the presence of God in your life? What can you do to change this?

Ephesians 2

For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us…He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near. Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.

What is this wall of hostility, this barrier between the Hebrews and the Gentiles, that Paul is talking about?

For the Hebrew people it’s all about patience. They are waiting for the day that by following the laws and regulations of their faith, they will be rewarded by their God. They may be exploited now, but the day of reckoning will come. The Hebrew nobodies will be the dominant culture and have all the wealth and power. They are the chosen people and the ones who will win out in the end.

Now, Paul is saying they have it wrong. God is blessing them by bringing them together with their oppressors and creating a new people. Not Hebrews and Gentiles, but God’s people. United through Jesus. Well, how do they experience this?

Hebrews no longer look at themselves as the only ones who are blessed because they follow God’s laws and some day they will prosper and dominate, and the Gentiles no longer pursue wealth and power in order to live an even more decadent life. Neither group can live in God’s ways under human power. Instead, God creates a new species.

Through Jesus, God makes it possible for the Hebrew people and the Gentile people to live with Him in shalom. That is where things are right between them and all things are right with God. It is only through the Holy Spirit that they can see this and do this. To live with the peace of God is only possible when you live with the justice of God. God is just and that is a family trait.


When the oppressed come into power in world history, what usually happens?