* Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God (Matthew 5:9).
This has been an often misunderstood verse. I remember coming across this verse while I was dating someone whom was difficult to get along with. Instead of breaking up with her, I remembered this verse and thought, "No, I must hang in there and be a peacemaker." The relationship didn't last --- and I found out that I was putting it in the wrong context.
A peacemaker is someone who doesn't try to make peace with others (although that is quite Scriptural as we shall see when we get to the anger issue in Matthew 5:21-26), but helps people make peace with God. Jesus is the ultimate peacemaker, for He is called in Isaiah 9:6 the "Prince of Peace." Jesus came to bring peace not by taking away wars, for He told His disciples as He was leaving them that there would be "wars and rumors of wars", but He came to bring a greater peace --- being reconciled to God.
But we are to be ones who seek to bring Gospel peace as well as peace in conflict without compromising doctrine and biblical truth (Titus 2:1-10, Ephesians 4:15), being encouragers, and seeking peaceful solutions that are within Scriptural bounds.
The reward for a peacemaker will that he is called a son of God. I know the KJV says, "Children of God" and it may be more politically correct to interpret it this way, but (1) the Greek says "uiou" which is 'son' and, as again Carson points out, "In Jewish thought, 'son' often bears the meaning 'partaker of the character of.'" So we are like our Savior if we are peacemakers.
Do we who call ourselves Christians enjoy conflict and stirring the pot? Do we try to resolve conflict and find solutions? Do we encourage or discourage? More importantly, do we do everything we can to reconcile others to God through faith in Jesus Christ?
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:10).
Notice that Jesus says we are blessed if we are persecuted for righteousness' sake --- that is, we are persecuted for doing His will, walking in His way and speaking His Word. It reminds us of 1 Peter 2:19-21, which says:
For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly.  For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.  For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.
When we follow in Christ's steps, persecution will happen. Jesus said, "If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first." And Jesus' steps led Him to the cross. And, as 2 Timothy 3:12 says, "All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." Notice the word 'all' and the words 'will be persecuted.' If that is our desire - to live righteously in Christ, that will be our destiny on this earth --- persecution.
Amy Carmichael wrote a poem entitled "NO SCAR?" It is as follows:
Hast thou no scar?
No hidden scar on foot, or side, or hand?
I hear thee sung as mighty in the land,
I hear them hail thy bright ascendant star,
Hast thou no scar?
Hast thou no wound?
Yet I was wounded by the archers, spend,
Leaned Me against a tree to die; and rent
By ravening beasts that compassed Me, I swooned:
Hast thou no wound?
No wound, no scar?
Yet, as the Master shall the servant be,
And, pierced are the feet that follow Me;
But thine are whole: can he have followed far
Who has no wounds nor scar?
Do we have the scars of persecution for our faith? If there are no scars, are we truly living out our faith? While we will talk about this more next week, I want to leave you with the thought again that persecution is not something for those Super-Christians who are missionaries in volatile areas across our world. If we are living out the life of Christ in us, then we will be ridiculed, insulted, mocked for His sake. But let us not be too discouraged --- for ours is the Kingdom of Heaven.