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Blessed are Peacemakers Blessed are Persecuted Matt. 5:9-12

August 17, 2014 Series: The Gospel of Matthew

Topic: Sunday AM Passage: Matthew 5:9–5:12

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1When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. 2He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying,

3“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

5“Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.

6“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

7“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

8“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

9“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

10“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12“Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

I have a great idea for a reality TV show. It's about a guy who is meek and goes about with his Bible helping people understand how the Word of God is the key to inner peace.

What's that noise? Oh, crickets chirping. What? You don't think that would make a popular TV show?

If I was one of those teachers who breaks the class up into groups and assigns a project during the session, here's what I'd do. This side of the isle; Group P. That side of the isle; Group W.

OK, group P, I want you to take 5 minutes and write down on a pad the name of every peacemaker that comes to your minds, that the world holds in high esteem and their names are like household words.

Group W, same thing, but you have to write down names of famous warriors.

Does it occur to you as it does to me, that the warrior group could fill up pages of names, but the peacemaker group is having trouble finding names to match the digits on one hand?

Not only are there few peacemakers, but the world could care less. Peacemakers tend not to last long also. They get squashed.

9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

We have to get a little philosophical here. Peace, and the lack of it is a huge topic. There is a wide Breadth of ideas. There is Much confusion.

What are we talking about here. A 4 day ceasefire by Israel so the Palestinians can re-group and Iran can re-supply? The world is confused about peace.

Actually the world knows all it can do is settle for cease fires. There is no real peace. No lasting peace. No formula that works. All the world can hope for is a ceasefire here, a band-aid there, a treaty, a resolution, another cease fire.

I loved Pete Seeger. I know, I know, he's about as polar opposite of me as you can get. A hippie. A flower child. But I loved his music, and really, his style.

He died earlier this year. He was 94, and when he couldn't sing any more, he would just say the lines in his aged wobbly voice. He recorded until he was 91. But I loved him because he never sold out. He lived his 'cause' until he died, and his cause was peace.

And he could get violent about peace. In 1954, the record company was begging for something from him that was a little less punchy, something they could actually sell, and in defiance, he wrote directly from the King James Bible, Turn Turn Turn

"To everything, turn turn turn, there is a season, turn turn turn, and a time to every purpose, under heaven." When he got to the part where it says, "A time for peace" he of course added the words, I swear it's not too late.

Poor Pete. He exhausted himself living for a dream that is out of reach for this world. There can be no peace on this earth until "the god of this world" Satan, is removed. None.

Question: How many peace treaties have been broken? Answer: All of them.

In Isaiah 14, talking about Satan's fall, it says he made the world like a wilderness And overthrew its cities, Who did not allow his prisoners to go home?'

Genesis 1:2 The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep,

Speculators welcome. This is how Satan would like the earth to be. Nothing to reflect the Glory of God. Formless. Void. Darkness. Satans work? We don't know.

Here's what we do know. The religion of Islam is committed to chaos, because they believe that a collapse of order will force the coming of the 12th Imam, a messiah like figure to them. Anti-Christ to us.

So, anything that brings chaos, fear, war, collapse of governments, terror, dis-order, is good. You think I'm making this up? Rantings of a lunatic?

Let's think about this. A collapse of the worlds economic system. That ought to do it. Collapse the US economy and the rest of the world will fall like dominoes. Can you think of anybody who might be able to make that happen?

Paul in 1 Thess. 5:3 says this which fits perfectly right here; 2 For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. 3While they are saying, "Peace and safety!" then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. 4But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief;

When the anti-christ is revealed, the world is going to experience . . . peace. They're going to be falling all over themselves celebrating peace. "Peace!" "Safety!" Finally, peace. Who is like the beast! They'll be celebrating this man who finally achieved peace! Then out of nowhere, sharp! pains. Destruction without escape.

While people like Pete Seeger are crying for peace, there's a bigger force at work here. The cosmos, the world systems, is ruled by Satan, and he wants to overthrow the worlds cities and turn it into a wilderness.

So, what is Jesus talking about here? Blessed are the peacemakers. Is he talking about Henry Kissinger? Hillary Clinton? John Kerry? Colt 45?

Probably none of the above. They would be inconsistent with something Jesus said. John 16:33 on the night before his crucifixion, Jesus talks about the possibility of peace, in this world.

"These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world."

Earlier He had said to them, 14:27 "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.."

There is a peace that is outside of this world. Other-worldly. And Jesus gives it to those who love Him.

The world can be in chaos. It is in chaos. But God has given to those who belong to Him, a peace that transcends this world. No one in this world can take it away from you. It's source is outside this world.

So who are the peacemakers? eirénopoios (i-ray-nop-oy-os') The word is used just this one time in the new testament. It comes from 2 root words. eiréné which is the greek word for peace. and poieó which is a word that means causal. To make. To construct. To cause. And so, one who causes peace. A peacemaker.

Turn with me to Isaiah 52. And look at verse 7. One of the most beautiful verses in all of the Bible.

How lovely on the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news, Who announces peace And brings good news of happiness, Who announces salvation, And says to Zion, "Your God reigns!"

We are the peacemakers, each of us in this room, when we are doing anything related to winning lost people for the Kingdom of God. Seed throwers are peacemakers. Waterers are peacemakers. Harvesters are peacemakers.

Peace happens one person at a time, as we share the gospel of the kingdom and people, one by one, come out of Satan's kingdom and into God's kingdom.

That's our identity people. We work at our jobs. Clerks and policemen, technologists and book keepers, but that isn't who we are. Our identity is what we're doing for the advance of the Authority to Reign of God. We work to be good citizens and pay our bills, but none of that lasts. What we do to help people escape Satan's reign and flee to God's reign, any of it, that lasts forever. That is what a peacemaker does.

We bring Good News. We announce the possibility of peace and happiness. We announce salvation, freedom from the burden of sin. We announce to the world - Our God Reigns.

Satan is deposed. Satan is about to be judged with fire, and this world with him, but there is salvation available under the Reign of our God.

We make peace on earth, one person at a time.

There is no hope of peace on this planet while Satan is still ruling. So what we do is help people discover the peace that comes when you move your citizenship out of this world, and into a heavenly kingdom.

Those who do that will be called; Sons of God.

Soon our King is coming to cleanse this world with fire and remove Satan from his throne. He'll set up His reign, on earth, and peace and joy and happiness will be ours, here on this planet.

The sons of God will reign with God, on this earth, for a thousand years.

So, back to the nasty now and now.

There is another tier to peacemaking. I believe Jesus was talking about people fleeing from Satan's Kingdom of Chaos, to His Kingdom of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6 says; For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Those of us who are already sons of the King, are to be peacemakers.

Sometimes that just gets down to the nitty gritty. Paul says; 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Ro. 12:18

Tonopah is a good place for me to live. I'd be embarassed if any of you were in the car with me driving through Los Angeles on the freeways.

It's inevitable. I'm rolling with a truck and trailer, 10,000 pounds. Up a hill. Trying to maintain my speed, and someone with a little tiny car will come up the on-ramp. Tiny car. Big motor. All they've gotta do is step on the gas, right? Right?? Which they promptly do, after I've had to slow the truck down not to hit them. I've been known to say unkind things.

Or my other favorite. I'll be cruising on the 2 lane with my cruise control set. Little by little I catch up to a guy. So I kick it out of cruise and try to go a little slower. Nope, the guy is speeding up and slowing down. So I pass him and actually re-set the cruise control for 2-3 mph more than before, so I can put some space between us. Then he tailgates me for an hour.

Paul never had a clue. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Ro. 12:18 I'm trying Paul, but mercy, where do these people come from!

James knows exactly what ails me. James 4:1

What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members?

Conflict comes because I want what I want, and I want it now, and I'm wired so that my initial reaction is . . I'm not giving an inch.

This is a whole lower tier of peacemaking. Forget about the lofty ideal of lovely feet on mountains bringing gospel news. At another lever I have to struggle just to not be a jerk. Blessed are the peacemakers... but I find that, in my flesh, I'm no peacemaker.

In the church, we are all to be peacemakers with one another. We all have plenty of the old flesh still hanging on. We all stumble in many ways. Me especially. People are going to disagree with me. I'm going to irritate folks. We are to be above all of it. Peacemakers with each other, so that we will not be hindered being peacemakers out in Satan's world, bring unbelievers in to real peace.

If we can't achieve it here, why would the onlookers think there's anything different with us. That said, I want to take a minute and praise everyone of you for your patience. You are a sweet group and I am encouraged by every one of you.

What a constant reminder that when we are Spirit filled, there is no place for conflict. But notice that Paul puts a disclaimer in Romans 12:18. It says; If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.

There are times when nothing you can do can make peace. Sometimes the clash of 2 irreconcilable world views is going to result in conflict. X2

Jesus makes it clear in this sermon, it had better be one sided conflict. Even if it's unavoidable. We turn the other cheek. We walk the extra mile. We give up our coat also. And still, conflict is inevitable for those who are living Godly in Christ Jesus. 2Tim. 3:12

Put your thinking caps on and tell me;

What will the reaction be if a bunch of subversives infiltrate the worlds troops and start spreading news of a better kingdom. Amnesty! Forgiveness from the burden of sins. Breaking free from the slavery of this world! Peace. A King who is a father who loves us and cares for our every need.

We infiltrate the enemy ranks and start winning folks out of Satan's kingdom and transferring them to God's kingdom.

How will that sit with the enemy?

That's a logical progression into the next beatitude, isn't it.

10 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

People living under the authority to reign of God and people living under the authority to reign of Satan, Kingdom of God residents, and kingdom of Satan residents, are going to clash.

And just to make it fair, God ties our hands behind our backs.

Paul, in the very next verse after the one we quoted about being at peace with all men, says this;

Ro. 12:18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. 19Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY," says the Lord.

So, we've got a one sided conflict. We're deep in enemy territory and the order has come down from our King . . quietly, lovingly, take the abuse. He will repay, later.

I have often thought about Paul's statement in Phillipians 3. We'll pick it up in vs. 9 Paul speaking about his faith. . . . and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, 10that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;

Pauls experience is threefold; (1st) That I may know Him (2nd) and the power of His resurrection (3rd) and the fellowship of His sufferings

I can only speak for myself. I identify strongly with his first assertion. Jesus is my treasure and I not only know Him intimately and personally, I long for that relationship to ever deepen.

Moving on from there, and thinking about the power of His resurrection. After 44 years as a christian, I'm just on the brink of this. I am committed to faithful teaching of the word of God in depth, with a strong committment in the belief of the power of the Spirit being unleashed through the idea of a community of believers committing themselves to the authority of the innerrancy of this Book.

We're only a few months into that experiment. Come back and check in a year to see how that has played out. 5 years? I'll say this; I'm not discouraged. At all. I believe God is going to visit this body of believers with spiritual power as we submit ourselves to the authority of this book.

Now, as to Paul's third statement of his experience; the fellowship of His sufferings; we know almost nothing. Let's be intellectually honest. We largely haven't had much pressure applied because of our faith in Jesus.

Is that a good thing? Probably not. Here are some reasons why.

First of all, Paul spoke of this experience of suffering for Jesus as positive. Something he longed to gain. It's the third thing in a trilogy of experiences that Paul finds descriptive of the christian experience. I want to know Him. I want to know His power. I want to know the fellowship of His suffering.

Secondly, do we believe Jesus? At all? Or do we dismiss what He says here in the beatitudes as something for another generation some time, but not for us.

10“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Happy are the persecuted. For the sake of righteousness.

That's a disclaimer. We could be persecuted for unrighteousness and there would be no blessing.

Suppose I convince you all to quit paying your income taxes. Does the Bible have anything to say on that subject. Well, yes. It says we're to pay our taxes.

So, suppose you're ignorant of the word of God, and someone convinces you to quit paying taxes, contrary to the word of God, and the government comes and persecutes you.

There's no blessing in that. Out of ignorance, you're being persecuted for your own unrighteousness.

But suppose we believe the Bible is verbally and plenarily inspired in it's very words, and we understand that Paul in Romans 1 says homosexuality is an un-natural condition and it is a sin, and the government comes and says, if you hold that view, (or a thousand others just like it) we're going to punish you. What then? Who wins?

Clearly, the word of God wins, and we are to prepare ourselves to take the consequences, whatever the government may levy.

We need to have this discussion now! Before it happens, so when it does happen, (if it does happen) we've done some mental mathematics ahead of time.

In Hebrews 10, the author of Hebrews says something shocking to us;

32But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings, 33partly by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated. 34For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one. 35Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.

Lets review what happened to this first generation of Hebrew christians.

you endured a great conflict of sufferings, 33partly by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated. 34For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one

Conflict. Suffering. Public spectacle. Reproaches. Tribulations.

Some suffered all of the above, simply because they would not stand apart from the others who were singled out!

Prison! And the elephant in the room. Seizure of property. With joy!!

Yikes. I've got a really nice house. Comfortable. Up to date. Room additions. A new roof that will outlast me. And it's full of really beautiful things that God has blessed us with. A world class Chickering Grand Piano. Beautiful antiques. Decent quality furniture.

And I've got a lot of cool toys. Antique cameras and lenses that have renown in the circles of people who know about such things, around the world. You didn't know that, did you. My collection of antique lenses is known worldwide.

And I'm a little ashamed to admit that while I'm trying desperately to thin down the herd, we at present own 5 antique cars. FIVE! Shame on me. But God has seen fit to bless us, and if you review our 1040A you'll find that HE has also allowed us to give generously around the world, feeding orphans and helping missionaries.

God has rewarded us, me and Pam, for quietly getting up every day and working together year after year after year, living modestly and spending wisely, in a minimal sort of way. Glory to God, we have a lot of pretty stuff after 39 years (yesterday!) of team work.

Am I ready to let the government, a wicked, evil government at this point, take that away. Because I tenaciously hold to the Bible as revealed truth in all that it says, without error?

The hebrew christians witnessed the seizure of their property, the met it face to face, they went to prison, and it says; they did it with joy.

What about us.

We're all for getting on board with verbal plenary inspiration of the Word of God. Innerancy in it's total. Jesus said these words are faithful and true. We're all in! Now. It doesn't cost us anything. Yet. What about when it does?

I want you to go home and think about that. Have that conversation in your homes. What about when it costs me all my "stuff"? What then?

Weasel words. There are mountains of them on line. Weasel words that get around the inspiration of the Holy Bible, because our modern society already has folks who believe that in the category of "crazy's".

I guarantee you that this issue will find it's way, even to tiny little places like Tonopah, Nevada.

Oh, and the innerrancy conference I'm going to next march has a giant map of the world with red dots that represent people who openly want to identify themselves as participants in the affirmation of this theology. You can zoom in on the dots and click on them, and read every name. Around the world.

There's a glitch but I'm working with the folks to get my name and the name of this church, on that map. I want to be a red dot that says, I affirm that we believe the Bible is the innerant authoritative Word of God.

What if the price goes from nothing to everything, very quickly?

This is the only beatitude where Jesus doubles down. It's like His initial statement may not be enough on this one.

10“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

There's a double and triple blessing on this one.

11“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12“Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Will this happen pre-tribulation? Or will we just go blissfully into the rapture, easy-peasy? We don't know. Do we.

Look at the reward. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great!

IF God does allow it, and we are faithful, we'll have a giant reward in heaven. A reward that far surpasses anything we give up here.

Plus, I don't know about you, but in heaven, I won't be in the same class as the prophets. I'll be way way up in the cheap seats. Barely made it. Little tiny bit of fruit. A few shriveled up grapes.

Look what Jesus says here though. Persecuted, faithful people are esteemed in heaven, like the prophets.

Think about it. Talk about it.