God's Heart Is: That We Become Peacemakers

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A Good Week In Pennsylvania

as Bobbi and I went to mingle with the church on Zion’s Hill, as the campground of the National Association of the Church of God is named, at West Middlesex in NW PA.
We shared the greetings of our church with many, and we bring back the greetings of the National Association to you all.
Those greetings come from General Director of Church of God Ministries in Anderson, Rev. Jim Lyon. They come from Presiding Elder of the National Association, Rev. Clifton McDowell of Brooklyn. The greetings come from Bishop Rev. Timothy Clark, Vice Presiding Elder Rev. Dr. Cheryl Sanders, Rev. Dr. Arnetta McNeese Bailey, now serving as the CODO of the National Association, and from Bishop Robert Culp, Rev. Dr. Ron Fowler, and Rev. Dr. Ed Foggs, and Dr. Rebecca New Edison, all past chairman of the General Assembly of the Church of God in Anderson, From Rev. Dr. Chuck Myricks, Rev. Paul Binion of Fresno, Rev. Quincy Fielding of Los Angeles, Kerwin and Madelyn Manning of Pasadena, and our friend Mary Binion and those who gathered in her house for a great fellowship meal, a great cohort of Pastors wearing collars, as did I, marching in columns into the Thursday night service, those gathered for the General Assembly of the National Association, and so many others I have had the great honor of connecting with and even more that Bobbi talked with during the days since I was last here preaching last Sunday.
I had the privilege of making a significant donation in the name of Inter-Community Church of God in order to be sure we show up, as a church, in the records of partners in ministry with the National Association of the Church of God.
By the way, although the humidity was higher, the weather in PA was a bit cooler, and very pleasant. Still, when we stepped into the Southern California heat last evening, I must say it is a dry heat that is much less oppressive than the humidity of the Eastern states.
>>>But now it’s my turn to preach again, and I want to start by directing us again to

God’s Basic Instructions

are given a condensed form in one of most important verses of all the Old Testament, from the teachings of a prophet we hardly pay attention to. That is, except at Christmas when we want to hear the prophecy of Jesus’ birth at Bethlehem. That is what the Biblical scholars around Herod that advised him when the Magi from the East were searching for the new-born King of the Jews.
That shows up in Micah 5:2.
There is a more important, life-changing verse in Micah that I have shared often, and that I have already noted as the core of my current preaching series on the heart of God for us:
Micah 6:8 NKJV
8 He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?
We will take a little time to explore some more what it means to do justly and to love mercy, thinking of the call of God on our lives to become peacemakers.
>>It’s a little surprising to me that

Peacemakers: A Rare Word in Scripture

When Jesus is our Prince of Peace, our Lord of Shalom, our means of breaking down the walls of division that are all around us.
In fact, in most English translations, peacemaker only shows up once, in the beatitudes, from the Sermon Jesus Christ, the Son of God, preached on a mountainside to a crowd of those who were stalking him.
Well, of course, the Bible says they were following him.
Well, you know in that 20 minute sermon, Jesus covered so much of how we should live our lives. But here is the verse that draws my attention for today:
Matthew 5:9 KJV 1900
9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Peacemakers. We need to see what that means. Oh, and what it means to be called the children of God.
There is one other verse where the New International Version translates the meaning as “peacemakers”.
It is from the short letter of James, the half-brother of Jesus, where he is sharing the difference between heavenly wisdom and earthly behaviors that we try to call wisdom.

Two Kinds of Wisdom

Here’s the plan for the child of God:
James 3:13 NIV
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.
So, James tells us first that the wise person shows wisdom by living it out in goodness, through good work done in humility.
In contrast, here’s the practice of those who don’t actually follow God’s heart desires for us: It amounts to being not just earthly, but

Wisdom of the Demonic

James 3:14 NIV
14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.
James 3:15 NIV
15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.
James 3:16 NIV
16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
The scripture, all by itself without any help from me is all that is needed to find a commentary on our human values and practices. There is true evil in envy, selfish ambition, lies and pride.
James says it plainly: that is earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. And it leads to disorder and every evil practice.
That’s a 2000 year old commentary on our human culture, truer today than it ever was.
But I want to be a preacher of the positive today. So let’s see what James had to say in contrast to earth-bound wisdom:

Heavenly Wisdom is Peace-loving

James 3:17 NIV
17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
James 3:18 NIV
18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.
And that verse, James 3:18, is where the NIV translates the meaning of the verse as what Peacemakers do.
And when peace is done, not just hoped for or thought of, God’s righteous law is fulfilled, and God’s people are strengthened:
Doing justice and loving mercy produce peace; and that is God’s requirement for us. And the blessing comes from God’s law, according to
Psalm 119:165 ESV
165 Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.

When Jesus Preached Blessings

It was a chorus of grace for us who are willing to hear and heed:
Matthew 5:3–4 NET
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them. 4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Matthew 5:5–6 NET
5 “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
Matthew 5:7–8 NET
7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Matthew 5:9 (NET)
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.

God’s Children Are Outsiders

1 John 3:1 CSB
1 See what great love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children—and we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it didn’t know him.
But to be children of God, according to Jesus, is to be peacemakers.
The world has no idea what we are up to, if we are truly following Jesus.
But God knows exactly what he wants from us.
Hebrews 12:14 NIV
14 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.

Do you want to see Jesus?

Hebrews 12:14 (CSB)
14 Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness—without it no one will see the Lord.

Paul’s Hope for the Church

Ephesians 4:3 (CSB)
3 making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
Ephesians 4:2–4 CSB
2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope at your calling—
More Context:
Ephesians 4:1–6 CSB
1 Therefore I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope at your calling—5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

Salt Your Paths with Peace

Mark 9:50 CSB
50 Salt is good, but if the salt should lose its flavor, how can you season it? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”
Hebrews 12:14 CSB
14 Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness—without it no one will see the Lord.

Find Wisdom, Practice Peace

Proverbs 3:13–18 NIV
13 Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, 14 for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. 15 She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. 16 Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. 17 Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. 18 She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed.
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