Summary: Blessed are the Peace Makers.

INTRODUCTION: Today’s study looks at what the Bible says about conflict and in particular, peacemaking. For a topical outline of the material covered, research Peacemakers ministry either through LifeWay or the Peacemakers’ website.

A. In a fallen world conflict is inevitable (personal level). Until Jesus returns there will be wars and rumors of wars (broader). We need to take a biblical approach

The beatitudes tell us: “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God”

B. Today’s lesson is built around three possible courses of action when conflict arises:

1. Escape

2. Attack

3. Reconcile

TRANSITION: This morning we visit Matt 5:9 as we embrace “Blessed are the Peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God.”

Stand as we read 5:1-11 of our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount.

TEXTUAL IDEA: God is pleased with His people who work at peace.

TRANSITION: Everyone loves peace, it allows them to do whatever they want without hindrance. But we aren’t called to love peace. We are called to love each other. Peace doesn’t come easy, but the results are worth working hard to attain.

SERMON IDEA: Three common approaches to conflict. Two of these approaches often result in Satan establishing strongholds in our lives.

A. Escape

B. Attack

C. Reconciliation

DIVISION 1: God blesses us when we face our relational problems.

Explain: We must resist the temptation to Escape, Evade, Ignore or Avoiding conflict.

Trying to escape conflict is never successful and does not result in bringing people together. If you want God’s blessing you must learn to be a peace maker.

A. Situation causing stress is already dividing and separating people. That is the work of Satan, not God. Satan sees an opening, an opportunity.

B. People experiencing strained relationships avoid each other. Satan gains a foothold

C. People often see or hear what they want … denial is easier - you have fallen for a diversionary attack - Satan begins to bring more forces to the battle

D. There is no joy in spending so much time escaping the enemy’s attacks. When we attempt to escape and evade back to friendly territory we are completely isolated, anxious and absolutely combat ineffective.

Argue from Scripture: Eli avoided facing his family’s problems too long. 1 Samuel 2 Relays the story of Eli and his evil sons.

A. V.12 Now the sons of Eli were corrupt, they did not know the Lord

B. V. 17 the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord, for men abhorred the sacrifice (on their account)

C. Eli ignored their sins until it was too late. By the time he finally speaks to them about their behavior they are grown, and committing adultery with the women who assembleD at the door of the tabernacle.

D. The result of Eli avoiding conflict with his sons? 3:1 …the word of the Lord was rare in those days, there was no widespread revelation”. That is not God’s plan for us. God intends for us to work our way through conflicts to peaceful solutions. You can count on the Lord’s help in the process of working toward peace. He came that there might be peace between men. He came that there might be peace between man and God. And do not mistake peace loving for peace making. There will be strife amongst us. Do not love peace so much that you avoid addressing issues that have divided us. Through time and trials we gain great trust.

E. By the way Eli’s sons Hophni and Phinehas were both killed as the Ark of the Covenant was captured by the Philistines. Upon hearing the news Eli falls out of his chair and breaks his neck. What an typical picture of how Satan will completely destroy your relationship with others. If you let him, Satan will lead you to places you should not go (Hophni and Phinehas had no business taking the Ark to the battlefield). Not only will he lead you away he will let you die there separated from your friends and family. That my friends is a sad story.

Transition: And I remind you that is not the storyline God has written for you.

DIVISION 2: God blesses us when we wait on His will.

Explain: The second typical approach to conflict is initiate an attack. Adapting the philosophy of the best defense is a good offense doesn’t work with relationships among God‘s family.

A. If you want to attack the sin in your life to work toward peace go ahead, you have an open invitation.

B. But when we attack others we are taking a position that winning conflict is more important than preserving a relationship or following Christ. “They will know you are My disciples, if you have love for one another”

Illustration: Karate - For years many Karate schools taught the philosophy of strike first, strike fast, strike final. In competition these opponents are the easiest to read. They become proficient at initiating a number of specific combinations that lead to quick victories. But there are inherent weakness that become obvious when the match doesn’t end quickly. Time and again I have seen their frustration level soar off the "fun meter" as they loose their concentration and usually their composure. In contrast more and more schools are teaching methods that focus on your ability to take the negative things directed at you and redirect them safely away. The methods I most appreciate are those that take it one step further by considering the opponents safety as well. As Seth prepares to demonstrate one of many techniques we teach at Highlander Martial Arts, I want to introduce another concept we call "full circle liability", a term coined by Tom Patire of CDT International. This term means that as Seth takes control of the attacker’s arm, he is assuming responsibility for his attacker’s safety. Seems odd, doesn’t it? Someone throws a punch at you and you’re worried about his safety. But remember, a Christian response is more interested in maintaining a relationship with Christ and the other person than they are about winning the conflict. In this case, Seth has decided that putting this person on the ground in a safe fashion will do more for his relationship with him than getting hit. So watch as Seth decides to "turn the other cheek". Now that happened quickly, so we’ll let you see it again a bit slower.

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