Friday, May 16, 2014

May 16: Secrets to life, #3

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil things about you falsely account of me. Rejoice and be glad because your reward is great in heaven, for they persecuted the prophets before you in the same way.  (Matthew 5:9-11  NET)

The last two qualities of the Beatitudes are being a peacemaker and being persecuted for righteousness. Neither peacemaking nor the willingness to endure persecution are common in the world today—whether we’re talking about unbelievers or believers. And yet we can clearly see these two qualities among the disciples of the early church and among prophets of old. Today, anger, abuse, unforgiveness, and divorce are a daily experience—few people feel it’s worth their time to become peacemakers. Some fight, argue and complain, and others passively give in to the abuse of others out of fear and powerlessness, and neither attitude is healthy.

God calls us to make peace with Him, and to be peacemakers in this world. Instead of grudges and hate, He wants us to understand where people are coming from and seek to discover why they do what they do. Whenever Jesus came across troubled people—the Gerasene demoniac, Mary Magdalene (7 demons), Zacchaeus (corrupt thief), the woman caught in adultery—He would help them to change rather than hate and criticize them… and this is our challenge today. Most people act the way they do because they’re in pain, or because they don’t know how to change or deal with their feelings. Frequently, when someone takes out the time to understand and help these people, their lives change—and those who help them can be called peacemakers. Not only are they helping people to establish peace with their Maker (the most important thing we could do), but they are helping them to be at peace with the world. When we do this we show ourselves to be children of God—what a privilege!

I don’t think this needs to be said, but I’ll say it anyway—we are called to be peacemakers with God and with other human beings, but we can never be at peace with the devil and demons, or with sin. Concerning them, we have to be at war. If not, we will be at war with God.

No one looks forward to being persecuted, but when we are persecuted for righteousness, we show ourselves to be part of that group that is saved and going to heaven. We simply cannot genuinely follow God and not experience persecution. The more closely we follow Him, the more spiritual and holy we are, the more persecution we encounter because we make ourselves more and more the enemy of all evil. Since Satan is the “prince of this world” and controls the thoughts and actions of the large majority of people, we will be unjustly, and unfairly attacked, and even lied about by this world, when in fact all we are doing is minding our own business, being a good follower of the Lord Jesus, saving as many souls as we can, and having the “audacity” to believe that we are saved and on our way to heaven. And yet this type of behavior is extremely maddening to forces of darkness. They look at us and ask “Who do you think you are? How dare you challenge my authority!” We are an offense to them, and to anyone that is controlled by them.

But even when we are persecuted, we are to rejoice and be glad (something that enrages the devil and demons even more). Like Jesus said, we should pray for those who persecute us, and love our enemies. Our love for them is stronger than their hatred for us.

As we continue to develop the qualities we’ve spoken about over the last three days we will please God and confuse the world. Being poor in spirit, mourning, being meek, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, being merciful and pure in heart, being peacemakers, and being persecuted for righteousness sake are all qualities of a true child of God.

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