Wednesday, August 6, 2014

August 7, 2014

"Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the sons of God." Matthew 5:9

When Jewish people greet one another or bid farewell they say, "Shalom!"

"Shalom" means peace, not in the sense of the absence of trouble, but peace that comes from the presence and the prosperity of God.

Numbers 6:24-26 brings out this idea very clearly: “The LORD bless you and protect you; the LORD make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; the LORD look with favor on you and give you peace”

As you can see from that greeting given by Aaron, the brother of Moses, peace is the result of having a right relationship with God. Peace is living under God's favor.

The word "blessed" that prefaces each of the eight beatitudes means having God's approval or living under His pleasure.

A peacemaker has the double blessing of living under God's pleasure while experiencing God's peace. He has the "shalom" of God!

Obviously, to be a peacemaker you must first enjoy the peace of God! You cannot be an agent of peace if you do not know that peace. 

A pastor friend of mine gives this helpful explanation, "The word make in the term “peacemakers” comes from the Greek verb that means “to do” or “to make.” It is a word bursting with energy. It mandates action and initiative. Someone has to drag the combatants to the table and give them a reason to put down their arms. Notice Jesus did not say “Blessed are the peacewishers or the peacehopers or the peacedreamers or the peacelovers or the peacetalkers.” Peace must be made. Peace never happens by chance. A peacemaker is never passive. They always take the initiative. They are up and doing.

So when these two words are taken together, “peace” and “maker,” it describes one who actively pursues peace. The peacemaker pursues more than the absence of conflict; they don’t avoid strife (in fact, sometimes, peacemaking will create strife); they aren’t merely seeking to appease the warring parties; they aren’t trying to accommodate everyone. Instead, they are pursuing all the beauty and blessedness of God upon another."

One of my favorite Bible scholars, William Barclay translates this verse defining peacemakers, “They are people who produce right relationships in every sphere of life.”

Peacemakers live in the righteousness and the justice of God that comes only from a personal faith relationship with Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.

Peacemakers gently, patiently but persistently work to restore relationships between people and to reconcile people to God.

Blessed is the one who recognizes his sinfulness, mourns over it and repents to God, meekly submits to God's will, craves the infilling of God's righteousness, extends mercy to those who offend him, operates from pure motives and lives in God's peace!

That is how one becomes a peacemaker!

You can't have too much peace and you can't have too many peacemakers!

Will you be a peacemaker today?

August 4, 2014

"But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?" James 4:12b

I remember one time I was playing a golf match against an opponent from the club where I belonged at the time. That day I was playing very well and beat the daylights out of him. As we walked off the eighteenth green we shook hands and as I was turning to walk away he said, "You want to know what you were doing wrong?"

I said, "I beg your pardon."

He replied, "Do you want to know what you were doing wrong in your golf swing?"

While I am fully aware that my golf swing is far from perfect, I wasn't interested in taking instruction from a guy I had just beaten like a rented mule so I politely refused his well intentioned offer. Who was he to criticize me when I had handled him so easily? Why should my golf game be judged by him?

Now if someone like Jack Nicklaus wants to give me some golf tips - I'm there!

That is what I think of when I read this portion of Scripture about judging. Who am I to pass judgment on someone else when my game is far from perfect? Shouldn't I rather keep trying to improve my game? Wouldn't it be better for me to set a good example for other by the way I live rather than imposing my opinions upon them?

Who are you to stand in judgment of another person? Would your thoughts and energies be better served perfecting your own walk?

Which would you rather be part of, a church where everyone is telling each other how to live and criticizing one another personally and privately OR how about a fellowship where each believer is seriously seeking God to become a more excellent follower of Christ?

Me, too!

Granted, it is easier to analyze and criticize others instead of confronting our own glaring weaknesses but it is also destructive. It is certainly more consistent with human nature to pull someone else dawn rather than working hard to be lifted up. But believers are called to live under the supernatural not human nature.

How about you? Are you playing the role of Monday morning quarterback finding fault with others from the cheap seats?

Why not be a team mate that is practicing hard to improve your game and a coach to help others get better?

Which do think would please God? Which do think will build a stronger fellowship? Which will you choose?