Summary: Third sermon of initial 2009 series: ‘2 Things 2 B in 09’

(Slide 1) This is the time of year when we attempt to fulfill our New Year’s excuses… oops, I mean resolutions. And speaking of resolutions, oops, I mean excuses, I found several good ones this week as I prepared for this morning. I make no excuse for any of them.

This is one from a man pulled over for speeding by an Australian police officer… (Slide 1a)

"My wife’s about to get pregnant. And I need to be there when it happens".

From another officer is this one: (Slide 1b)

I had a guy for 63 in a 25. He said he was speeding up for the 55[MPH] zone ahead. (1/4 mile ahead)

Now students of any age are not exempt from making excuses about homework, are they? Here is one from a student about his or her math homework not being done on time: (Slide 2)

I have a solar powered calculator and it was cloudy.

Then there are excuses about giving to the church, right? Here is a very interesting one from somebody about giving to the church: (Slide 2a)

God doesn’t need my money

(Slide 2b) Just for your personal reflection this morning, what is the most frequent excuse you make?

In each of the statements that we have read, a conflict is revealed through an excuse given. There is a conflict between not speeding and a decision to exceed the speed limit; a conflict about not doing your homework and doing your homework; and a conflict about giving and not giving money to God… for whatever reason!

Excuses can and do create conflicts because excuses attempt to deflect the truth about a situation or a decision of some kind. The result is a conflict between what is true and what is not true.

Our main text for this morning is James 4:1-5 and in it the author strips away all of the excusing that we do:

(Slide 3) What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Isn’t it the whole army of evil desires at war within you?

(Slide 4) 2 You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous for what others have, and you can’t possess it, so you fight and quarrel to take it away from them. And yet the reason you don’t have what you want is that you don’t ask God for it.

(Slide 5) 3 And even when you do ask, you don’t get it because your whole motive is wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.

(Slide 6) Today is the third message in our initial sermon series for 2009; ‘2 Things 2 B in 09:’ A Peacemaker and A Missionary.

We are currently examining four important actions necessary in becoming a Biblical peacemaker and today’s action is this one:

(Slide 7) To become God’s peacemaker is to discern the nature of conflict.

This morning I again refer to the words of Neil T. Anderson and Charles Mylander as a focus for our thoughts regarding peacemaking and conflict. (Slide 8)

‘At its heart, conflict is a spiritual problem.’

(Slide 9) I also want to take the sub-title of their book, ‘Finding Peace With God, Yourself, and Others’ and use it as our guide for this morning as we understand in our determination that conflict is a spiritual problem.

A few weeks ago, I shared some various perspectives on peace that I want to bring back to the table so that we have a Biblically correct definition of peace. These perspectives come from Pastor Ed Sansett who writes, ‘English, Greek, and Hebrew have a slightly different slant on the idea of peace.’

‘In English,’ he continues, ‘the word peace means an absence of conflict or strife. It has about it the idea of serenity. If Israel and Hezbollah would stop bombing one another, you would hear reporters say that peace has returned to the region. They’d only mean that there was an absence of conflict and strife.’

Sansett then says, ‘The Greek language, of which the N.T. is written in, includes the idea of rest and to agree upon certain terms. On the other hand, the Hebrew language, and Jesus was a Hebrew, has the idea of everything that makes for a person’s highest good. English would say we don’t have trouble with another person, but the Hebrew emphasis would mean that the relationship is loving.”

Keeping in mind this very important of idea of a person’s highest good and a loving relationship, I want us to read again this morning what Jesus said was the greatest commandment (Slide 10):

‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the other commandments and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40, NLT)

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