By Greg Byman
November 12, 2018
St Joe Community Church
What did Jesus mean when he taught his followers to regard themselves as blessed when they are persecuted? Is the believer in Christ supposed to just smile in the face of loss of health, wealth, reputation, family or even life?
Today’s sermon is the seventh in a series called Game Changers, principles found in Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter 5, which when implemented in the Christ-follower’s life, produce game-changing results in one’s spiritual, emotional and even physical life. Pastor Greg Byman preached this sermon on November 12, 2017 at St. Joe Community Church. For more information visit www.StJoeCommunityChurch.org.
About St Joe Community Church
St Joe is located at 2900 North Anthony Blvd., just a few blocks south of the campus of Purdue University at Fort Wayne. Pastor Greg Byman serves as the senior pastor and the entire St Joe church family welcomes you to join us for worship service each Sunday at 10:00 am. For more information visit www.StJoeCommunityChurch.org or call (260) 471-4704.
For a transcription of today's sermon, click, "Read More."
Well, today's game-changer is, "Blessed are the peacemakers.”
What a timely thought. Let's read this together.
Blessed are the peacemakers because they will be called sons of God. – Jesus Christ, quoted in Matthew 5:9
Would you like to be called a child of God this morning? Would you like to be identified by the world as someone who is a follower of God? I mean, what greater honor would that be, to be called a son or daughter of God? How awesome would that be. What does that mean, that the people around you, would say, "that person follows God.”
Well a person that follows God is a peacemaker. That's a kind of person that follows God. That's the person that's called a son of God. A daughter of God. That's the kind of person that's identified with the movement of Christianity, a peacemaker.
Blessed are the peacemakers.
We're struggling as a country to figure out how to make peace with one another. We're at odds with one another. We don't like one another because we have certain positions that we take or another person takes another person. There's racial tension throughout our country. There's all kinds of problems.
We're struggling to figure out how to get along. The church must lead the way to show people how to live in peace with one another. This pulpit will never be a platform for political gain. Politicians may come and go through our building. We may even give time for them to share their burdens and pray for them. We'll talk about issues that are being played out in politics because that's how we legislate—for retarding evil or bringing evil to the forefront. Laws and regulations will either help or hinder the moral fiber of our nation. Even taxation is a moral issue.
But this church will never be used to be a place where any one particular brand is going to be said, "This is the way it ought to be.” Christianity is unhinged from, or unhooked from, any political system. It has survived all political systems, and it is the prevailing system that will survive even after all political systems and even our nation dissolves.
And as we talk about these issues—right, wrong, left, right, red, blue—we are called to the path of peace and to demonstrate how to get along even when you don't agree with one another. How can we agree? How can we disagree agreeably?
This has ramifications for your marriage. This has ramifications for your kids that live in your home. Now, the ones that are so loud in your thinking, "Can they just stop arguing less? Can I stop having so many strong opinions that are opposing to one another? Oh, I love my free-thinking kids until they all disagree on what they are free thinking.”
How do you help lead the way so that people know how to make peace in their circumstances? That person who chooses to do that is blessed, and just to recap what we've said all these last six times, and now our seventh message on what blessed means, it means to be a blessing that is independent of circumstances. This is not a blessing that is necessarily a physical blessing, although it can be. It's not because I'm blessed because I suffered loss. No, you don't.... You sometimes are in the middle of loss and yet, you're still blessed.
And it's God's applause from heaven. He's saying, "Well done! I'm so pleased with you! You are blessed for why you're doing these things.”
These, what we are calling game-changers, are things that when we do them, God says, "Yay! I am for what you are up to, and I applaud your effort, and all of Heaven rejoices as you make those wise choices in your life, and as you act in my name in these particular ways, you are blessed when you do these things.”
And it is not only a blessing now but is a blessing for the future in eternity. And we're going to have an opportunity to have an eternal blessing, that when we live out our life, just as I shared in many of the funeral messages before, it's almost like that needle point. You always position the needle point on the wall when you're finished so that you can see what the picture says. Nobody ever takes the needle point and flips it around and shows the jaggedly backside of the needle point. Why? Because you don't understand what it looks like.
Nobody has ever mounted a needle point backwards.
(We have to do that sometime around here, just to get people think, "What in the world is that all about? Well, we have this crazy pastor and he does things like that….”)
But that's how we live our life, and God is taking our lives, like thread, and stitching into the fabric of this world our lives. And so many times we're on the backside of the needle point, trying to figure out, why in the world are we doing this? Why in the world did you let that happen? Why in the world did this circumstance go on the way it did?
I don't understand God. But when we get to heaven, we get to see the right side of the needlepoint, and we see the perfect plan of God that was played out. We were part of that plan in an amazing wonderful way. That's the blessing of how we're going to live our life today. We’ll see the end result of why it mattered, and what we did, even though in this world we were never rewarded for what we did in Jesus' name, at least not in the glorious way God is going to reward us in heaven.
We are blessed. Blessed are the peacemakers. What does that mean? A peacemaker is someone who follows the example of Christ. He is the Prince of Peace.
In Ephesians 2:15, it says that he made peace between us and God. He showed us the way. And by the way, as we see that Jesus gave us peace, peace is costly. It's not free. Freedom isn't free. You hear that in our patriotic messages all the time. That men and women bled and died and continued to bleed and die and continue to have circumstances beyond the war because they fought for our freedom, that we have here in the United States of America. We have a peace that we are giving and the way in which we give peace may indeed cost us our lives, just as it cost Jesus his life. It's a costly thing, and yet it is an honorable thing, when we're doing it in the name of Jesus, because he indeed was the great peacemaker between us and God.
A peacemaker is someone who offers peace to others. The Bible is full of references to peace making, but we will briefly study two verses.
“…as much as it depends on you live at peace with everyone.” – Paul the Apostle, in Romans 12:18.
In Romans it says, there are people in your life that you're not going to be able to be at peace with because they choose not to be at peace with you. You can't do anything about that, but as much as it depends on you, live at peace with them.
And 1 Peter says,
“…seek peace and pursue it.” -- The disciple Peter, in 1 Peter 3:11
Seek peace and pursue it. So don't just say, "Well, I hope it all works out. I think that person will be....”
No, seek peace. Pursue peace. Go after it. It's a lifestyle of choosing peace and choosing to seek peace with people who you are not at peace with, or in circumstances where peace needs to take place. You know, every time we send an emissary a group of people over to the Middle East to seek peace, I think, "What good is that going to do?” How many of you have ever thought that? How many of you have reacted something like this:
They've been fighting this for how many centuries now?
It's not my battle.
I didn't start this. I’m not part of it.
Why are we doing this?
Yet, it is an honorable and wonderful thing—it's a godly thing—to seek peace and to pursue it. How do you do that? Well, you know, we all can debate that at lunch, OK, but the reality is peace making is a noble, honorable and godly endeavor. It's the moral thing that God has called us to do, and those that pursue peace, that seek it, they are blessed. It's a game-changer in the way their lives are lived and in the lives of people that they touch around them when they're trying to pursue peace.
And in Hebrews, we see a passage that says that we need to pursue peace with other people so that a root of bitterness does not well up within us.
There is actually a consequence to not living at peace with people. There's a consequence to holding on to unforgiveness. There's a consequence to holding an offense over someone's head. There is a root of bitterness. That root of bitterness worms its way into your life and it corrupts every relationship around you. That's why, when you are at odds with a friend, and you have hatred in your heart for that person and you're not willing to forgive and seek peace with that person, and you're doing everything you can to make sure that everybody knows that you were right and they were wrong, it will negatively affect every other relationship in your life. It will hurt your marriage, your children, and your workplace. Because we may think we can successfully compartmentalize our life, but our life is not really compartmentalized.
It's going to squirt out in some other way. You're going to have health issues. You're going to have problems because that root of bitterness starts to eat at you from the inside out and you're unable to function properly. When you are dysfunctional in one relationship, it will affect all other relationships around you, and in one way, shape or another.
We need to live in peace, and we need to offer peace to others whenever we're able to do so. And we need to offer peace and be peacemakers by inviting people to follow Christ. We are the ultimate messengers of peace to the world who desperately needs a savior. You see, there's a God-shaped vacuum in all of our hearts and lives and we need someone in there. We need Christ and people are filling that void with everything else except for Christ and they're trying to appease themselves with the shame of their sin with everything else under the sun except for total forgiveness through faith in Jesus Christ.
Their very thin value is low. They do not see themselves as a worthy person and so they find ways to appease their minds and their conscience from the things that they are guilty of. Instead, we should go to God and say, "God, I have sinned against you. I have sinned against what you wanted me to do in my life and I ask your forgiveness and when you are poured out this true forgiveness.”
The kin of forgiveness that I'm talking about is someone who totally erases your sins. He throws them behind his back. How many of you can see your backside? Nobody. When he throws them away, they're gone. People need to know that God wants to forgive and love them in a way they have never been loved before. Fatherless and motherless children need to know that there is a heavenly Father that never intended for their parents to do the horrible things that they did and that he wants to invite them into his presence eternally. He wants to give them a presence, even now, through the body of Christ, to find the hope and the meaning of life through relationships that matter. We need to be peacemakers. That's why our doors are always open to anyone who will come and to hear the Word of God.
That's why it's not just doors for people to come in. But those doors also are meant for us to exit and to go into the mission field, to go into the city, to go into our communities, and to be the peacemakers around us—to demonstrate it and when they say, "Oh, you must be a person that has something different than other people in our workplace.”
Our response can be, “Yes. And let me tell you why.” And that's when we invite them to hear about who Jesus is.
The Kodak Company used to have a phrase, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” You ever hear that? OK, old-timers?
You know, that's the problem with Christianity. They may think you're just a crazy nut that loves Buddha. Who knows? You've got to put context to your story. You need to tell them why you're acting the way you're acting.
The non-Christian: Why do you not get mad?
Christian: Well, time out. I get mad.
The non-Christian: Why don't you get even?
Christian: Well, if I don't live that way with God, I'm glad God doesn’t treat me that way.
The non-Christian: Well, what do you mean by that?
And when they see something different about your life, tell them why.
Christian: “Well I live for this savior that died for me, and he gave me a different way of living then I’ve ever been given by anybody else and he did for me more and anything that I couldn't do for myself. All I can do is live for Him.”
They will be called the Sons of God.
The world will know we're God's children when we look like him.
Two more points and we're done this morning.
Who is God calling you to be at peace with?
This is a game-changer for our church. This is a game-changer for your home. For your marriage. For the children in your life. Your grandchildren.
This is a game-changer at work. Our community. This is a game-changer on social media.
It's a game-changer in your conversations. Are you there to win? Or, you're there to seek peace? I like to win. I love yesterday's football. All those upsets. I love underdogs, and yesterday’s football games was made for guys like me. I'm hoping that Ohio State gets to beat Oklahoma one more time.
I love winning. I hate losing. But if that's how you live in your relationships, you're going to live a miserable life. Blessed are the peacekeepers.
There are people who don't want to shake my hand. But guess what? My feelings and my attitude and my decision to live at peace is not determined by what somebody else does. I choose to show, to demonstrate, to voice, and to live out peace.
In Celebrate Recovery, which we've been also highlighting through this series, this is the point that Celebrate Recovery uses through this Bible verse. This principle. It's:
Evaluate all my relationships. Offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me. And make amends for harm I’ve done to others when possible except when to do so would harm them or others.
Let's say that out loud, together.
We're all hypocrites in recovery. We're all in recovery from being who we shouldn't be to who God wants us to be. And my prayer this morning is that you will be the peacemaker in the lives of the people that God has called you to be at peace with. That you are currently not.
So the game-changer is make peace whenever possible and the question is, who's on your mind right now? What's the name of the person that God is asking you to go and seek peace with? Who is it that God is reaching out, is asking you to spend some time to pray, to write a note, to reach out to, to go have coffee with? It's time for us to figure out how we can live at peace this morning.
How many of you this morning would say, "I have peace through faith in Jesus Christ with God the Father,” but maybe there is someone in this room, who has not yet made peace with God? You have not yet opened your life up.
You have not yet asked forgiveness. You cannot evaluate a relationship with God like you are right now. And it's time for you to say, "God, I admit to you that I’ve sinned. Everything I’ve done that's wrong, and cruddy and nasty and shameful. I've offended you because I have tarnished the image of God that you've made me to be, and I ask your forgiveness.”
How many here would like to simply say, "Please forgive me.”
And then just say, “Jesus I believe that you died for me, that you're the one that that made peace between me and the Father. And I believe that you paid the ultimate price and you took my place and I believe, by faith, that because you died for me, that your sacrifice paid for my sins. And I now want to follow you as my Savior. What more could I do but to just give you my life to do it as you please?”
If that would be your prayer this morning, we have some people that would just reach out. If you have a prayer need or if you want to take that yellow card, that we've given everybody, to say, "you know what? I need to make a decision this morning. Write on that card, "I put my faith in Jesus Christ. I'm recommitting my life. I want to get baptized. I want to see what it means to belong to a church that is seeking peace in a city that seems to be a little bit at unrest, politically, socially. I want to be a part of a movement that only God can do.”
We invite you to join us on the journey of making peace in our city in our world and in the name of the power of Jesus Christ. Amen.
B: Bible book