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Sermon On The Mount - Living in the Kingdom
By Pastor Delbert Young

4. Blessed Living (Mat 5:9-12)
Blessed Living

Remember the story about the Three Little Pigs? One of those pigs was a peacemaker in that story. It was the pig willing to build a house that could withstand the attack of the wolf. He brought peace to himself and to the others. There are many spiritual truths in the Three Little Pigs story. All three were excited about having a strong house to withstand the attacks of the wolf. We all want a strong life to withstand the attacks of the devil. However, not many are willing to do what is necessary to acquire one. The pig that did build the strong house said, "The most difficult part was getting started. Then we can work on one thing at the time. It won't take long." (I never thought I would quote a pig). It's that way with our lives. If we will simply get started and then work on one thing at the time, in no time we will have a house to withstand the storms of life. Instead we take shortcuts so we can do what we want and end up with lives of straw and wood. We become easy targets for the wolf. Two of the three pigs didn't believe the wolf would come. Most believers really don't believe the devil will come until it's too late and their homes and live are destroyed. Which house are we building? Are we building lives that bring peace to ourselves and others? Or, are we attempting to take shortcuts? We really don't believe there is a devil desiring to devour us and if there is, he will not get me?

Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

The Bible says, "Blessed are the peacemakers," yet war is a constant of human history. Neither civilization nor democracy has changed that fact. Few years of human history record no war. At this very moment wars are being fought. War is a constant of every individual life. The Bible tells us we war with the flesh. We war with the devil. Believers war with the kingdom of darkness. Not many years of our lives will pass with no war. We war for our families, children, marriages, finances, jobs, health, etc. At this moment most of us are at war with something. It's not that the Lord does not expect us to have wars. It's that he expects us to make peace. "Blessed are the peacemaker . . ."

Blessed are the peacemakers . . .

The word "peacemaker" is made up of two words, peace and maker. The word "peace" finds it origin in the Hebrew. It is shalowm (Strong's #7965) and means far more than the absent of war. It means to be safe, in health, happy, prosperous, and at peace. Kingdom peace is peace in the spirit, peace in the soul, and peace of body. Kingdom peace encompasses the entire person.

As I initially approached this lesson, I approached it with the thought that a "peacemaker" was a person who brought peace to the situations of others. I saw each of us being a spiritual Henry Kissenger winning the Nobel Peace Prize. This is true for a peacemaker is the person to whom we go for support when we are in a difficult war. They help bring peace to our spirit, soul, and body. However, Jesus has now giving six necessary attitudes for us personally. Nothing thus far has been for us to invoke in someone else. The next (eighth) beautiful attitude will also be about our personal attitude toward persecution. It would be totally out of context for Jesus to be telling us that this attitude is about bringing peace to others or others bringing peace to us. The truth is we cannot bring peace to the lives of others until we have a life of peace. The one pig could not bring peace to his friends until he brought peace to himself. So, the first thing we need to see about this beautiful attitude is that I must first be a peacemaker to myself.

The second part of the word is "makers." It shows that the person is not passive. He or she will "make" something happen. It's not allowing someone to run over us thinking that will bring peace. That approach to peace will not bring peace to the spirit, soul, or body. It fact, it will do the opposite. It is not allowing the kids to run crazy so there will not be yelling in the home (there shouldn't be yelling, but parenting). It's not allowing a dominate spouse to take advantage of the other spouse in hopes of preserving the marriage. It won't. It's not allowing a dysfunctional boss to take advantage of an employee or an employee to take advantage of a job situation. The "peacemaker" is aggressively seeking peace. A peace maker makes peace.

A peacemaker does not "play" peace. I can quote Isaiah 54:13 saying, "All my children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children," but if I don't make certain my children are taught of the Lord, there will be no peace. I can say, "Let the poor say I am rich" all I want, but if that is all I do then nothing will come of it. Somewhere along the way, I must make something happen.

Let's list some characteristics of a peacemaker. There are two characteristics that I must do if I want to build a life of peace.

1. Honest

I must look at my life and be honest. I know my strengths and weaknesses. If I am continually fail to win a battle, I must be honest about the problem. There is no peace if we continually disguise a fault in our lives never repairing it. There were people in Ezekiel's day that did just that. Here is what the Lord said.

Ezekiel 13:10 "'Because they lead my people astray, saying, "Peace," when there is no peace, and because, when a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash,

Ezekiel 13:11 therefore tell those who cover it with whitewash that it is going to fall. Rain will come in torrents, and I will send hailstones hurtling down, and violent winds will burst forth.

Ezekiel 13:12 When the wall collapses, will people not ask you, "Where is the whitewash you covered it with?"

God is not concerned about a defective wall. He is concerned about defective lives. He was likening a poorly constructed wall that is whitewashed to cover the defects to a poorly constructed life that has been whitewashed to cover the defects. Instead of dealing with the problem and correcting it, the problem is simply whitewashed. When the rains come and the storms come (not if - when), the wall will fall.

Sometimes we have serious defects in our lives and never correct the problem. Instead we whitewash them over. We whitewash using excuses. We whitewash by pointing out the defects of others somehow thinking that will get the attention off ourselves. We whitewash by saying, "I am sorry," but never correcting the wall. The storms come. The whitewash is washed away and the defect is again seen because it was never corrected. We said, "Peace, peace, but there is not peace." The defect in our marriage is seen because it was never repaired. The defect in our finances is seen because it was never repaired. The defect in our children is seen because it was never repaired. The defect in our moralities is seen because the defect is never repaired. There is no peace.

What do I need to do if this is the case? I must first be honest if I want true peace.

Jeremiah said the same thing about peace except he used the analogy of putting a band-aid on a serious wound.

Jeremiah 6:12 Their houses will be turned over to others, together with their fields and their wives, when I stretch out my hand against those who live in the land," declares the LORD.

Jeremiah 6:13 "From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit.

Jeremiah 6:14 They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. 'Peace, peace,' they say, when there is no peace.

Sometimes we band-aid a serious wound. We talked about that last time - "Blessed are the pure in heart." We all have been wounded from wars and storms. These wars and wounds continue to take our peace if not healed. They will foul-up our souls. Defile our spirits (2Co 7:1) and make us physically ill. Notice from the passage (Jer 6:12) that when a serious wound is only band-aided, we eventually forfeit everything. We lose our homes. We lose our families. We lose our spouses. We lose everything. The problem is greed. We want what we want and we want it now! We all war with that from the least to the greatest. The passage is not only about ministry. We are all prophets and priests in the New Covenant (Act 2:17; Rev 5:10). We treat our wounds as though they were not serious and there is no peace. We cannot have peace until we heal that wound.

We must be honest. We must admit that we have been seriously wounded and that wound will take everything from me if I only continue band-aiding. The first characteristic of a peacemaker is being honest - not with other people - with myself. I must be honest about my life. Is it a life built with straw, wood, or on the rock? How do I do when the wolf comes?

2. Willing to Experience Pain

It hurts to make peace in our lives. In Isaiah's analogy, it hurts to wash out a serious wound, medicate it, sow it up, and get it healed. It hurts to forgive. In Ezekiel's analogy, it hurts to say, "I have defects in my life." It hurts to do something to fix the walls. It's embarrassing, hurts our pride, hurts our feelings, but it's better than being devoured.

Jesus is the ultimate peacemaker. He is the "Prince of Peace" (Isa 52:7-10). At his birth the angle announced to the shepherds "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men" (Luk 2:14). That sounds so sweet and sings so wonderfully, but it means that Jesus would experience pain to bring peace on earth.

Colossians 1:20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Peace requires a cross. We must lay down our wills and allow his will to be done on earth. The cross was painful. Yet, Jesus risked the pain to provide peace. Peace requires the laying down of my life. It requires my taking up my cross - his will for my life - and following Jesus. A peacemaker will experience pain to gain peace. Isn't it interesting how we will go under the knife and pain of surgery to heal our bodies, but reluctant to allow the great physician to perform surgery on our souls and spirits?

Somewhere along the way, we need to say, "Jesus, I've tried it my way and it didn't work. (We must be honest.) Will you help me?" The pig said the most difficult part is getting started. Then work on one thing at the time. In no time, we will have a life that can stand the attacks of the devil. "Blessed are the peacemakers . . ." God will bless that attitude.

. . . for they shall be called the children of God.

The sentence is emphatic in the Greek. The word "they" is "they and they alone shall be called the children of God." The thought is amazingly clear once pointed out. We cannot be troublemakers and be children of God. The children of God are peacemakers. If a person is constantly causing trouble and turmoil, always slandering and critical, always making trouble, then that person's soul is in jeopardy. That attitude is not the attitude of a child of God. It shows there is no peace inward. It shows defective walls and serious wounds that are only band-aided.

The beautiful attitude of the person in the kingdom is to make peace. They are honest. They experience pain to gain peace. They refuse to whitewash the cracks. They are called the children of God. They are part of the family of God.

We need to ask, "What is my track record? What do I bring to the table of life? Do I bring peace or trouble to my family? Do I bring peace or trouble to people in my life? Am I honest in my dealings? Will I lay down my life to make peace? What kind of life have I built - straw, wood, rock? Am I a child of God?" Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.

Matthew 5:10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Imagine being on the hillside and hearing this beatitude the first time that Jesus spoke it. It was shocking then and is shocking today. Someone said the reason Jesus repeated himself in verse eleven was because it was so incredibly shocking.

Matthew 5:10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

Matthew 5:12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

Until now, all the beautiful attitudes have been given in the third person. "Blessed are the . . ." "Blessed are they . . ." However, as Jesus amplified this one, it changed to a direct address. "Blessed are you . . ." The emphasis is if you are a believer, you will be persecuted. That is a given.

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake . . .

Jesus said there is a persecution that brings blessing. The persecution that brings blessings is persecution for righteousness sake. Usually the persecution we experience is from our own making and not for righteousness sake. I was watching a special on TV not long ago. A preacher had attempted to hire a man to kill another man. The preacher had been caught in an affair and the woman's husband was bringing the preacher grief. Unknown to the preacher, the man he was attempting to hire to do the killing was a detective. After being arrested, the preacher said he was being persecuted for righteousness sake. Go figure! My point is that most persecution we experience is because of our own making and not for the sake of righteousness.

We all have seen lazy and irresponsible Christians. We all have seen rude and unpleasant Christians. We all have seen critical and judgmental Christians. I know none of those go to our church, but there are some out there. A person's being persecuted for those attitudes is not being persecuted for righteousness sake. They are simply reaping what they have sown. I could tell you hundreds of stories about my being persecuted for stupidities sake. There are not that many about my being persecuted for righteousness sake.

The persecutions that bring blessings are for righteousness. What is righteousness? As we have seen previously, righteousness is doing the will of God. A great definition for righteousness is living like Jesus. The NIV says, ". . . because of me."

Matthew 5:11 "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.

We attempt to be Christlike and do what Jesus would do. Amazingly, attempting to live like Jesus brings persecution. The apostle Paul said this would happen to everyone attempting to live in Christ.

2 Timothy 3:12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted

My point is that persecution is a badge worn by the true Christian. If we are a Christian in the kingdom of God, we will be persecuted. There are no exceptions - EVERYONE! We should not be surprised when persecution comes. Rather, we should be surprised when persecution does not come.

I want to make certain that we see something in what Jesus said. Verbal abuse is a part of being a Christian. Most of the persecution that Jesus warned us would come is of a verbal nature. People are supposed to talk about us.

(NIV) Matthew 5:11 "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.

Like it or not, we are supposed to be talked about, insulted, and lied about. We are supposed to be spoken about as being evil. People are actually supposed to say all kinds of evil against us. If this is not happening, then we are not a real church. Guess what? We should rejoice! It is happening. It happens all the time. I don't know of a church in this area that is more verbally persecuted. I admit that some of it has been persecution for stupidities sake, but much of it has been for righteousness sake. The fact is that a church must be persecuted or it is no church at all.

Persecution has a way of slowing us down. It should speed us up because we know we are on the right track. There was no one persecuted more than Jesus both verbally and physically. The fact is that we too will be persecuted.

Matthew 5:12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

We are in great and elite company. We are in there with Elijah, Elisha, Daniel, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and all the rest. We have classy company who were selected to do the work of God. Our rewards are great.

. . . for theirs IS the kingdom of heaven.

The rewards or, better put the results, of the eighth beautiful attitude is the same as the first. For the person with the attitude of not backing down from persecution for righteousness sake, the result is entrance into the kingdom of heaven, now. It reads ". . . theirs IS the kingdom of heaven" (emphasis mine). Enduring persecution for righteousness sake is a key to the kingdom of heaven. Rejoice! Be very glad! You will experience an abundant life! You have great rewards.

Most modern theology tells us that we can't enjoy the kingdom of God now. It will come one day they say, but Jesus says we can enjoy it now. It is a life of Righteousness, and Peace, and Joy in the Holy Spirit. It is an abundant life. We build lives that can withstand the attack of the devil. We will be talked about, but great is our reward. It's not easy. It's a climb. The most difficult part is starting. What type lives are we building? Are they lives of Straw, Wood, or on the Rock of Jesus Christ?

 
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