Many men are looking at their commonplace lives wondering if this is all there is. They dream of making a significant spiritual impact on their families, their neighborhoods, places of business and churches, and it doesn’t have to be just a dream. It can be reality.
Experience the reality by taking a pilgrimage through In Search of Shalom. Shalom is so much more than what many may think of as “peace”. It stands for the fullness of life that God planned for every person. The man who finds shalom not only experiences it for himself, but also brings it to his world. Using the Pilgrim Psalms as a guide, Hanschke skillfully uncovers the instructions of Psalms 120 through 134 that leads a man on a pilgrimage that can change him and his world. Come join the men who are finding fullness of life the way God planned it, men in search of shalom.
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How Badly Do You Want Success in Life?
— PSALM 120 —
1 I call on the Lord in my distress, and he answers me.
2 Save me, Lord, from lying lips and from deceitful tongues.
3 What will he do to you, and what more besides, you deceitful tongue?
4 He will punish you with a warrior's sharp arrows, with burning coals of the broom bush.
5 Woe to me that I dwell in Meshek, that I live among the tents of Kedar!
6 Too long have I lived among those who hate peace.
7 I am for peace; but when I speak, they are for war.
Life was meant to be enjoyed, and all men want to feel successful. But how can we focus on such things when the world is changing so drastically and we can't seem to do anything about it? Every day, we're confronted with a changing moral climate, a struggling economy, political upheaval, the threat of terrorism, and a concern for our children and grandchildren who are bombarded with values different from ours. How can we bring some sense to our world, or stability to the chaos? How can we bring hope, peace, and contentment to our family? How can we live life to the full as God intended it?
Like the psalmist, maybe you're saying, "Too long have I lived in Meshek." You might be thinking, "I need to get away. I need to take a fresh look at my life and what it offers my family and the world around me." Psalm 120 establishes the need for a pilgrimage. It's a time to get away, rethink, and make some changes.
The man in Psalm 120 says he was tired of living in Meshek and Kedar. In Biblical times, Meshek was located north of Israel by the Black Sea. Kedar refers to nomads who wandered in the Arabian Desert southeast of Israel. These were places of hostility where peace was nearly impossible for the people of Israel. If an Israelite lived in either place, he would constantly feel the oppression of an argumentative, uncooperative, combative people. To say you lived in Meshek is to say you were living in an undesirable place. The psalmist had to get out of Meshek. He was ready for a change. He just wanted a little peace. Sound good?
He writes, "Too long have I lived among those who hate peace. I am for peace; but when I speak, they are for war." He wanted peace more than anything. What is this peace he's talking about? In the introduction, we defined the Hebrew word Shalom as "peace," but it actually incorporates all these concepts:
Harmony within and without
Vigor and vitality in all dimensions of life
Basically, it's the way things ought to be — the way God intended life to be. It's what a man wants for himself, his family, and his world. In a word, it's success, God's way. The New Testament concept of peace is similar. The Greek word for peace is Eirene. It carries the same meanings as Shalom. It stands for harmony, security, prosperity, and wholeness.
It also includes the idea of restored relationships. Perhaps some relationships in your life need restoring, but before you can do so with others, you first need to restore your relationship with God. Isaiah 59:2 says our sin has separated us from God. In order to restore the relationship, our sin problem has to be addressed. Jesus died to reconcile us, to bring us back into a relationship with God. As Romans 5:1 says, "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."
A restored relationship with God brings peace. When you believe that Christ died for you, you receive that peace, and things are made right between you and God. That's reconciliation. However, you may need to restore your relationship with God before you can fully restore relationships with others. That begins by accepting Jesus Christ and His death for you. Once a relationship with God is restored, you can restore your earthly relationships and experience all the other aspects of Shalom.
Throughout this study, we'll use the term "Meshek" to refer to the place where you live and work. The pilgrimage will take you away from Meshek, in mind and spirit, in order to realign your life with God so that you can experience His Shalom. Throughout this book, the word "Shalom" will always be capitalized. This is to remind you that Shalom comes from the presence of God.
By dwelling in Meshek too long, a man loses touch with the life characteristics of Shalom. How much have you lost by dwelling in Meshek? How much have you changed from the person you were or wanted to be? The purpose of this pilgrimage is for you to regain Shalom, perhaps in a way you never experienced it before. Whether you need to regain peace, experience it in a new way, or for the first time, Shalom is within your reach.
The pilgrim, in the days these psalms were collected as a unit, sought the literal City of Zion where God's temple resided. In essence, he sought the presence of God. He travelled with others and recited Psalm 120 through 134, one a day, until he reached his destination. It was in Jerusalem, at the journey's end, where he would experience the life-changing presence of God. Using these same psalms, your pilgrimage will take you to the very presence of God and allow you to experience Him in a new way. Your destination is the same as the writer of Psalm 84 who declares: "How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God."
In the Old Testament Hebrew nation, when men embarked on their pilgrimages from Meshek to the City of Zion, they felt the freedom of getting away. However, the act of leaving Meshek didn't change them. Today, men sometimes leave their Meshek (their jobs and families) thinking that they can find a happier, more peaceful life, but their problems inevitably follow them. It's like taking a vacation only to return and find that you need another one.
What a man needs is a life-changing experience. He needs to change inwardly so that upon his return home he will face life differently and successfully. The intent of this pilgrimage is that you will change by having such an encounter with yourself and God. Throughout the rest of this book, you will deal with lessons God wants you to learn. Each one will bring you closer to experiencing Shalom. Your circumstances in Meshek are not going to change unless you change. Change isn't always easy, but the changes God brings in us reap fantastic rewards. So, ask yourself: how badly do you want success in life?
Consider the following New Testament verses that contain the word "peace" and discuss the questions below. Try to memorize one or more of the verses.
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.(John 14:27)
Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.(2 Corinthians 13:11)
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.(Philippians 4:7)
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.(Hebrews 12:11)
Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.(James 3:18)
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.(2 Thessalonians 3:16)
1. What have you lost by dwelling in "Meshek"?
2. In the definition of peace presented in this chapter, several descriptive words were mentioned. Which word(s) grabbed your attention and why?
3. What relationships in your life need restoration?
4. Which New Testament passage or phrase is most meaningful to you and why?
5. What do you hope to gain by taking this pilgrimage?CHAPTER 2
Who Is God to You?
— PSALM 121 —
1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains — where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip — he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord watches over you — the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. 7 The Lord will keep you from all harm — he will watch over your life;
8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.
As you begin the pilgrimage in search of Shalom, there is both a warning and a word of encouragement to keep in mind. The warning is that this journey will not always be comfortable. The search for Shalom requires an inward examination that will reveal things you need to change. But hang on. You're going to like the results. The changes are good and worth the discomfort. The encouragement is, "The Lord is your Keeper." No matter what happens to you on this journey, no matter what God tells you to do, keep this in mind: "The Lord is your Keeper." This is where you need to start.
We need help because the path we're traveling is slippery. We're going to face things about ourselves we may not like. We might slip and fall, but don't give up. Just get up and keep going. The temptation will be to go back to Meshek. You may think that however bad Meshek might be, it's home and you just want to make the best of it. There's a sense of security there, despite its faults.
When the children of Israel left Egypt, they experienced problems and wished they were back in Egypt where, at least, there was good food. Like the Israelites, you may at some point want to give up the journey and accept the lie that nothing is ever going to change. However, no matter how di?cult the journey, you can courageously go on if you rest in the knowledge that the Lord is your keeper both now and forever. We'll look at what God does as your keeper, but first let's see who this God really is.
The psalmist calls God the Maker of heaven and earth who will not let your foot slip. He is your security. Is there any higher authority or greater, more knowledgeable help than the Maker of heaven and earth? Establish this fact now that God is your keeper. What does that mean? It doesn't mean that you will never encounter problems, failures, or heartaches. It doesn't mean that you will never face cancer, loss of a loved one, or never lose your source of income. However, in all these things God will be with you to keep your mind and soul from disaster.
"Keeper" is the translation of the Hebrew word Shamar. It's used several times in the psalm in the verb form translated as "to keep" or "watch." God is the one watching over you. Genesis 2:15 helps us understand the significance of this verb. There, we read, "The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it." Adam was put in charge of the garden "to care for it." The word there is Shamar. Just as God assigned Adam to care for the garden, He has assigned Himself to care for you.
How does a good gardener care for his garden? He plants, nourishes, cultivates, and prunes it so he can accomplish his objective of having a fruitful harvest. That's what God does with you, His garden. He wants good results so He cares for you. He wants you to experience Shalom which is the success He has planned for you. Listen to Jesus' words about you in John 15:16: "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit, fruit that will last — and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you." That's God's plan and purpose for you.
For example, I like to climb mountains, but the older I get the more uncertain I feel about jumping from rock to rock or skirting around narrow ledges. What if I knew for certain that I would never fall to my death while mountain climbing? What if I had a guarantee that, although I might slip and get a few bumps and bruises, I would always return safely? My fear of mountain climbing would change. I could courageously take to the trails no matter how di?cult. That's the guarantee you have on this pilgrimage. You might sustain a few bumps and bruises, but you will not perish.
As you take this pilgrimage, remember that God is watching over you. He will not let your foot slip because He doesn't want you to fail. He wants to keep and protect you. You are important to Him, and He wants you to experience more than you currently are in Meshek, to experience the fullness of life. He wants you to experience Shalom.
Now, that's great news! Once you accept that God is your keeper, you'll carry that comfort with you the rest of your life. Consider this: God is there watching while you sleep (Verse 4). At 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning when you wake up panicked about your problems, you'll know that He has stationed His guard at your bedside. His presence is there. You can go back to sleep and let Him do His work.
A helpful way to focus on His presence with you is to speak His names and titles in your mind. I've found good results by using the alphabet to direct me. For example, I might say, "God, you are the Alpha, you're the Almighty, the Beginning, and the Bread of life. You are the Creator, the Christ, the Counselor, and Comforter," and so on through the alphabet. There are times when I wake up several hours later and realize I only got through the letter G. God is there as your keeper in the night hours. Acknowledge His presence at those times.
When you get up in the morning and go about your daily routine, you'll know that God is there at your right hand like a bodyguard. You'll acknowledge His presence as you open your eyes from sleep and read a portion of His Word early before starting the activities of your day. You'll talk to Him about the Bible passage you read, even if it's only a few verses. It will become so natural, because He's always there. You can't ignore someone who is constantly with you.
At work, God will be your keeper. He will keep you from getting scorched by your work even when things get heated through frustrations and di?culties. He is there to protect and guide you through problems. He already knows what you're going to face and is not surprised by the interruptions or crises that hit. He knew they were coming and He's ready.
If you anticipate an exceptionally di?cult day ahead, be encouraged by these words from the Lord. God spoke them to the people of Israel as recorded in Deuteronomy 20:1-4:
When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them, because the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt, will be with you. When you are about to go into battle, the priest shall come forward and address the army. He shall say: "Hear, Israel: Today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not panic or be terrified by them. For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory."
When a crisis hits, stop and acknowledge God's presence and lean on Him for help. He's not wringing His hands, saying, "Give me a minute. I'll think of something to help you." He already knows how to get you through the moment. In the evening when you come home, He comes home with you, not to rest from a busy day of watching over you, but to continue "keeping" you. As you face your family and the things that might be required of you there, stop and acknowledge His presence perhaps by praying with your family. At any moment of the day or night, you can turn to Him, take a deep breath, and say, "Okay, God. I'm ready. Let's go."
God is your keeper and He never takes a break. He doesn't have to. He's God, and He doesn't want a break because He's committed to "keeping" you. He has some changes to make in you, and you're going to like them if you remain steadfast in your search for Shalom.
But that's not all. The psalm goes on to say, "The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore." That's an amazing statement. Don't miss the implications. As you learn to look to God constantly, He will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. He's in the "keeping" business in your life. It's a permanent commitment.
What you gain on this pilgrimage will get you through anything in life, not just what you're dealing with now but in all your future problems as well. You will be a new man who will not only be changed but will bring change to your world — change that will carry into eternity. You will experience the fullness of life that God intended for you, and your Shalom will bless others along the way.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "In Search Of Shalom"
Copyright © 2018 Roy Hanschke.
Excerpted by permission of Morgan James Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 How Badly Do You Want Success in Life?,
Chapter 2 Who Is God to You?,
Chapter 3 Living in Spiritual Community,
Chapter 4 Fight Contempt by Serving,
Chapter 5 Remember Former Deliverances,
Chapter 6 Don't Get All Shook Up,
Chapter 7 Sacrifice May Be Required,
Chapter 8 Let God Build Your House,
Chapter 9 Walk God's Road,
Chapter 10 Don't Bless the Abuser,
Chapter 11 Confession Is Good for the Soul,
Chapter 12 Keep It Simple,
Chapter 13 God's Plan Is Bigger and Better Than Yours,
Chapter 14 Unity Is the Sweetness of Life,
Chapter 15 Bringing It Home,
About the Author,