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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

ARE YOU A PEACEMAKER? - IS THERE A HOME IN YOUR HOUSE? (PART 3)

 ARE YOU A PEACEMAKER?

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

(CLICK TO WATCH SERMON 3)

Today, we're in the third week of a four-week teaching series entitled, “Is There a Home In Your House?” We’re using 4 of Jesus’ 8 Beatitudes found in Matthew, chapter 5. The word beatitude simply means: blessedness. So the beatitudes are 8 ways that we can be blessed!

We know Jesus was speaking to everyone, but we’re applying them to our homes because, honestly, many homes today are not as blessed as God would want them to be.          

The first week we looked at the Beatitude, “Blessed are they which hunger and thirst after righteousness...” Last week, we looked at the very powerful words, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” Next week, we will conclude this series with Jesus’ 8th beatitude, “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake ...”          

Today, I want to talk about peace in the home. Jesus said:

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

PEACE MAKERS VS. PEACE KEEPERS




Most people’s homes are not characterized as homes of peace.  Instead, most are characterized by conflict, tension, and strife. I believe God has something far better for us! He wants our homes to be characterized as homes of peace.          

Now, some of you might say, “Okay, you're talking to me.  My home's got a lot of dysfunction in it, but most of it's not my fault.”

The reality is most families have someone in it that is a little psycho, someone that is very difficult to deal with. Think about it! Even if they don’t live in your house, somewhere in your family, there’s someone that a little dysfunctional and is always causing drama. 



Relationships are challenging. I find it amazing how easily people can slip into dysfunctional cycles in their relationships.

Let me illustrate: Me and my boys have a slugfest basically every other night. Every now and then, in the heat of the battle, they’ll push me over to the edge of the bed. When I realize that I’m getting ready to fall off, I get a firm hold on whichever is closest. That way, when I fall off, they go with me. Depending who lands on who determines who ends up hurt the most. We immediately jump up and do it again.

I see this every day in the real world. People in relationships, pushing each other over the edge, grabbing a hold of each other, falling together, landing on each, hurting each other, then saying ... “Let’s do this again.”

It’s a little crazy. Wouldn’t you agree?

I’ve said it many times, there are some relationships that need to be ended. There are some people that need to be cut out of your life. But here’s the bottom-line, there are some people in our lives that we can’t cut out of our life. Like your children ... Right?

Nothing is more difficult than having friction and chaos in your home. I don't know what that means for you. Maybe it’s a mother or mother-in-law standing over your shoulder telling you how to raise your kids. Maybe it’s a child that’s always disrespectful. “Don’t make me pull over!” “Don’t make me count to 3! One. Two. Two and a quarter. Two and a half. Two and three quarters. Two and four fifths. Two and nine tenths.”


After five minutes of counting to three and nothing happening, you head to the bathroom and scream, “Calgon, take me away.”

Maybe, you’re the kid or a teenager that’s thinking, “My parents will never trust me and they're always breathing down my neck. They're so controlling. They’re always yelling at and counting to 3.”          

You might be in a blended home and you're trying to raise your kids, and her kids, and our rids, and there's ex's involved, and it's so incredibly complicated.  And you wonder, “How could there ever be peace with all these moving parts?” Some of you, you might be at a place where you, to this day, have not forgiven your mom or your dad for something that happened years and years ago.          

Let’s read: 
Mt 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

One of the Hebrew words for peace is “Shalom”. For many years it has been a well known greeting. Peace in the Hebrew means a lot more than it does in the English language. It means more than just having an absence of pain and chaos. It also implies the presence of goodness and grace. So peace isn’t just the absence of war, it’s contentment.

When Jesus said this every one was shocked. The beatitude were very counter-cultural statements because everyone there had been raised with the mind set “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” If you steal from me, I steal from you. You hurt me, I hurt you. Jesus was telling us there is a higher calling for those that want to follow Him.          

Please note, Jesus said, “Blessed are the peace makers.” He didn’t say, “Blessed are the peace takers” nor did He say, “Blessed are the peace keepers.” And there's a big difference between a peace MAKER and a peace KEEPER. For years, I have been a peace keeper, but, lately, God is teaching me to be a peace maker.          

WHAT IS A PEACE KEEPER?
Peace keepers often avoid conflict to keep the peace. Peace keepers, trying to keep the peace, work around issues, not through the issues. So we get to the place where we're just trying to make truces or just get along. We get together at family dinners; we smile and act like everything is great although we know there's tension behind the scenes. We hide it the best we can because we want peace throughout the meal. We don’t want any fighting.

When we do this, everything builds up. It’s like a pressure cooker. You hold it in for so long you eventually explode. That’s not a blessed life. That’s a miserable life. That’s a peace keeper, not a peace maker.



    
“Blessed are the peace makers.” What will a peace a maker do? A peace maker will embrace conflict to make peace. We're not going to work around the issues, we'll work on the issues; we'll work through them.  And with the help of the Prince of Peace, Jesus, I believe there can be peace in your homes.          

This brings us to our key thought for this series: 
WE ARE NOT JUST A CHRISTIAN HOUSE BUT, WE ARE A CHRIST-CENTERED HOME.

I know there SHOULDN’T be a difference in the two phrases, but, unfortunately, in our culture the word Christian doesn't mean what it used to mean. More than 70% of Americans will say they’re Christians, but do you believe 70% of Americans have a Christ-centered home? Me neither.         

What is a Christ-centered home? Jesus isn't just a part of our life; He is our life.

In a cultural Christian home–in a home that's Christian in name only–when hard times come, they just write people off. “Well, forget them. They’re a bunch of idiots anyway.”

“You want me to forgive them? After what they did? I will never forgive them.” And I guess that's normal for most people, but in a Christ-centered home we say, “What does Jesus teach us about how to do relationships?”

He said, “Blessed are the peace makers.”          

Paul said something very complimentary in Romans 12:17-18 and verse 21. 

Romans 12:17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.
18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.


We are told to live peaceably with all men, but the implication is this won’t always be easy. We are to live peaceably if it is possible. There are some people that won’t let you have peace with them. That is why Paul said, “As much as lieth in you”. You can’t control what others do, but you can control what you do. Are you doing everything in your power to live peaceably with those around you?

Paul really drives the point home in verse 21:

Rom 12:21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
 
Blessed are the peace makers for they will be called children of God.          

WHAT IS A PEACE MAKER?

I’d like to submit three things that peace makers do.

1. TELL THE TRUTH
   
   
Eph 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
   
The Christ-centered home speaks the truth in love. Please, note, it doesn't say to “Yell the truth in love.” We are to speak the truth in love. But how?


2. SPEAK THE TRUTH DURING TIMES OF NON-CONFLICT

When you and your spouse are in the middle of a heated fight, it probably isn’t the best time to bring up new subjects. You should work on issues during non-combative times.          

3. CONFRONT THE ISSUE, NOT THE PERSON
           
Something I have noticed husbands and wives do many times is embarrass each other in public.  Unfortunately, I have done that to April in the past. I hope it’s a been a long, long time ago. But I would correct her in front of people and I’d do it in a way that was humiliating. Sometimes I was even right. She never tried to argue with me in front of people. She never railed back in public, but, later, in private, she would tell me that it bothered her. It took me a little while, but I finally caught on. I’m not saying it never happens now, but I catch myself immediately. 

Issues need to be dealt with in times of non-conflict and the issues need to be attacked, not the person.

Had my wife been a peace keeper and not a peace maker, we would have never gotten past that hurdle. She didn’t let me walk all over her. She brought it up, but she did it the right way. As Christ-centered people, we tell the truth in love. We love them enough not to work around the issues, but to work through the issues.          

I’d like to list a couple little statements that might be helpful to you to give you an examples of what you could say when trying to be a peace maker:

1. When you don't listen to me, I don't feel like you value me. 
2.This is how I feel when you do this...
3. When you lie to me about something really insignificant, I find it difficult to trust you ...
4. When you continue to check your phone at the dinner table, the rest of us feel devalued.
   
4. PEACE MAKERS ALSO APOLOGIZE WHEN THEY'RE WRONG

Jas 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.

I cannot stress this enough. When you sin against each other, you must repent! You must confess! You must ask for forgiveness. You should then pray together. Can you imagine how incredibly different our relationships would be if we owned our own sins, confessed them, and then prayed together?  Peace makers apologize when they're wrong.          

5. PEACE MAKERS ADMIT TO SPECIFIC ACTIONS WITHOUT EXCUSES

We admit to specific actions.  We say, “Here is what I did wrong,” and no excuses. You don't dare say, “Well, sorry I looked at something that was inappropriate, but if you'd been meeting my needs, you wouldn't have driven me to do that.” That's not an apology! That is pathetic.

“I'm sorry you got your feelings hurt, but you don’t have to be a big baby.” That's not an apology.

WE APOLOGIZE FOR SPECIFICS WITHOUT SHIFTING THE BLAME

“I am so sorry that I belittled you in front of your friends. I have no excuse for that; that was wrong.” 

“I am really sorry I didn't consider you. I should have called when I was late. I can see why you're so worried.” 
 
“I am sorry I raised my voice at you like that; that was disrespectful. Please forgive me.” 

“I'm sorry that I dropped the cat to see if he'd land on four legs. He did, but I should’ve known better than do it from the fourth floor balcony.”


REMORSE AND REPENTANCE ARE VERY DIFFERENT!


MOST PEOPLE STOP WITH REMORSE.

REMORSE LOOKS LIKE THIS: “I'm sorry we're having a hard time.” “I'm sorry you got your feelings hurt.” “And I'm sorry you misunderstood me.” That's remorse. 


REPENTANCE LOOKS LIKE THIS: “I was wrong. I sinned. I'm sorry. There’s no excuse for what I said. Will you forgive me?”


And when you sin, don't stop with “I'm sorry.”


“I'M SORRY” IS FOR MISTAKES; “WILL YOU FORGIVE ME” IS FOR SIN


“I'm sorry I left the toilet lid up.” That's a mistake. “Will you forgive me for deceiving you?” Now, that’s a sin.

Don’t fail to ask for forgiveness.


Blessed are the peace makers for they will be called Children of God.


This may be difficult, but we're not just a Christian family, we're not just Christian in name only. We are a Christ-centered home! A Christ-centered home is a home that isn’t just absent conflict; a Christ-centered home is full of love and grace and forgiveness. A Christ-centered home has peace makers in it.


Peacemakers tell the truth and peace makers apologize. Peace makers also:


6. LET THINGS GO!


I want to be careful right here. Because, for a lot of you, there is a tremendous amount of pain in your heart. Some of you may be thinking, “Well, you know ... you've got your little preacher life, your little preacher problems, but in the real world where I’m at, you don't know what I've been through.”


It’s true. I may not have been through some of the things you've been through, but I do understand betrayal and I understand that betrayal is very difficult to forgive. I also understand that unforgiveness for past pains will affect your home and relationships today.


Some of you have been betrayed by spouses. They committed adultery, maybe even multiple times, and you think, “How can I forgive them?” Some of you have had people you trusted with all your heart lie, deceive you, and leave you in a hard place. You’re now having difficulty forgiving.


There are several in this house that had someone in your family that was supposed to protect you from those around you, but they did not. For some of you, the protector was actually the perpetrator that took advantage of you and abused you. I hear you when you say,“How in the world do I forgive that? I don't even want to forgive. I get pleasure from hating them.”          


I'm not going to tell you it's easy, but I will tell you it's doable. And if we’re going to have Christ-centered homes, we are going to have to forgive. If you want a blessed life, if you want your heart to experience peace, love, and joy ... you will have to let things go.

But how?


Col 3:13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.


How do we forgive that which seems unforgivable? Paul said, “We forgive as the Lord has forgiven us.”


Has the lord forgiven you of a lot of sins?  Man, I don't know about you but he's forgiven me of a lot.  Has the Lord forgiven you freely even though you did not deserve it and couldn't earn it?  And that's how we're called to forgive, to freely forgive as we've been forgiven. That's what Christ-centered homes do.          


ILLUSTRATION – I’ll try to be careful about what I’m getting ready to say. But there was a time when my mom and I just couldn’t get it together. We couldn’t have a moment together where we didn’t argue and leave angry and hurt at each. Most of it was my fault. We’ve decided a lot of our problems were stemmed from being so much alike. Often we fought when we were actually saying the same thing. I didn’t want that friction to be between us. I had children that needed their grandmother. I realized I had to make some changes. We’ve done much repenting and God has done a work in our lives.

If you don’t remember another thing I say today, remember this: FAMILY IS WORTH IT. Husbands and wives carrying bitterness between them. Fathers and sons. Mothers and daughters. Brothers and sisters. We’ve said some things; we’ve done some things; we’ve acted some kind stupid way, but FAMILY IS WORTH IT.


 




Can I tighten this on down? Can I preach the words of Jesus?


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


We call ourselves Christian, but we don’t act like it. If we're followers of Jesus when someone strikes us on one cheek, we turn the other one. When someone asks for our shirt, we give them our coat as well.


 What we don't do is when marriage gets tough, just walk out, saying, “Forget you. I'll pack my stuff. You take yours. I give up. I'm not happy.”


What we don't do is write our children off. We don't walk away from our in-laws, saying, “You're annoying.” Of course they're annoying. You'll be an in-law one day and you'll be annoying too. We don't walk away from family; we don't cut family out. FAMILY IS WORTH IT          
   
We forgive as we've been forgiven. We show mercy as we've been shown mercy. And while we're at it, if we're followers of Jesus, family isn't just blood. Family goes beyond that into the body of Christ. And when we act like Christ and forgive, and show mercy, and make peace with those around us ... we are called Children of God.           


I've got five children. Guess what? They all look a little bit like me. Those who are lucky look more like April than me, but they all look a little bit like me. When we make peace; when we do everything possible to live at peace with others; when we are hurt yet freely forgive, guess who we look like? We look like our Heavenly Father, created in His image, conformed to the likeness of His Son.


Blessed are the peace makers for they will be called Children of God.

WE AREN'T JUST A CULTURAL CHRISTIAN FAMILY; WE ARE A CHRIST-CENTERED FAMILY.

Hear it and never forget it:  FAMILY IS WORTH IT. If we're going to call ourselves followers of Christ, we're going to honor him in loving the way He has loved us. 

Blessed are the peace makers for they will be called Children of God.          

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