Saturday, May 10, 2014

Sunday Blessed are the poor in Spirit

Blessed are the poor in spirit:
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Spiritual bankruptcy
What does “poor in spirit” mean? Jim Forest explains, “Without poverty of spirit, none of us can begin to follow Christ…It is my awareness that I cannot save myself, that I am defenseless, that neither money nor power will spare me from suffering and death.”
Martyn Lloyd-Jones says, “If one feels anything in the presence of God save an utter poverty of spirit, it ultimately means that you have never faced Him. That is the meaning of this Beatitude.”
The Sermon on the Mount and especially the Beatitudes tell us that without Jesus Christ, none of us could ever be saved. Since Christ came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10), He wanted to communicate the complete depravity and sinfulness of the human race.
Only in Matt. 5:3 is the word “poor” used for anything else other than monetary poverty. Those who are poor in spirit are those who deny their own spirit so that God’s spirit would be rich in them. It is the condition that is required for us to die to ourselves and live for God.
Born again believers are, as J.M. Boice said, “spiritually bankrupt.” As a result, we have, present tense, the kingdom of heaven. Spiritually poverty is the first step to being where God wants us to be: saved.
Question: What is the opposite of being poor in spirit?
Question: Why would Jesus use a financial word like poor?
God’s Standard: Perfection
Later in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus commanded the disciples to be “perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Even if we define perfect as “to be fully grown, mature, complete,” we are impossibly challenged to be as mature or perfect as our Father in heaven.
To understand the word “perfect” look at Matt. 19:21. Jesus told the rich ruler, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
Was Jesus telling the man that selling all and giving to the poor is the way to sinless perfection? Is that what it takes to be saved? No! Jesus was trying to show the proud man, who thought he had kept all of the commandments, that he too was imperfect.
Questions: Read Matt. 19:16-26. Was the rich man happy? What do his three questions show about the man and his state of happiness? (“Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” “Which ones (commandments must I keep)?” “What do I still lack?”

Contrition and Humility
God’s standard of perfection leads us to profound humility. People today view God far too casually, certainly in comparison to those who saw God in the Bible. Here are some Old Testament parallels.
Psalms 34:18 “The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.”
Psalms 51:17 “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart-- These, O God, You will not despise.”
Proverbs 16:19 “Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.”
Proverbs 29:23 “A man's pride will bring him low, but the humble in spirit will retain honor.”
Isaiah 57:15 “For thus says the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.”
Isaiah 66:2 “…but on this one will I look, on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at my word.”
 “Contrite” can also mean lame, stricken, crushed, broken, even destroyed. It is with that type of spirit that is the first step to salvation and also to happiness and blessedness.
Question: How can a contrite, humble and impoverished spirit bring happiness?

Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven
 What is the Kingdom of Heaven? It is more than going to heaven or even salvation. John the Baptist said the Kingdom of Heaven (KOH) is “at hand,” revealed in part during Jesus’ early ministry (10:7).

There is a present tense (5:3, 10; 11:12) and a future tense (8:11).
There is a spiritual sense (13:11) and a physical sense (11:12).
There is an earthly realm and a heavenly realm (16:19).

The KOH and Old Testament: Keeping the commandments is important and brings great praise (5:19-20), but the Law ended with John and the KOH came into being during Christ’s ministry (11:12 with Luke 16:16). The KOH includes Old and New Testament believers (8:11), but we have a greater understanding because of Christ (Matt. 11:11).
The KOH and unbelievers: The KOH is a powerful change, and the mighty take hold of it strongly (11:12). The mysteries of the KOH are hidden from unbelievers, but are revealed in part through the parables of Matthew 13, 19 and 22. The KOH is given solely by grace (22:10), but not to everyone (22:11). We cannot have the KOH through legalism (23:13).
The KOH and believers: Entrance to the KOH requires conversion (18:3) and doing God’s will (7:21), but even a child can enter by faith brings the greatest praise in the KOH (See Matt. 18:14 and 19:14). It is hard but not impossible for the rich to enter (19:23, 26). Sacrifices made have results in the KOH (19:12), but the KOH is not given by works (19:30-20:16).
The Kingdom of Heaven is going to heaven but so much more. It is for believers right now, Christ reigning in our hearts. The poor in spirit are blessed because we receive the KOH (salvation).
Question: Have you submitted to the Kingdom of Heaven by receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord, Savior and King?

Sunday’s “Be-Attitude”    Kid’s Korner by Morgan Perry
If you are poor, you may need to depend on others for help to meet your needs. Jesus is telling us we are “poor in spirit,” meaning that we need someone to help us spiritually.

Who do you think that “someone” is?

How do we ask Him to help us?

What is something you need to ask Jesus to help you with?

Christian Home Week -- The Beauty of the Beatitudes Introduction

The downloadable pdf is available at

Introduction of Matthew
   Matthew was one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, a tax collector when called by Christ. This gospel was written primarily to the Jews, emphasizing the supremacy of Christ to Moses.

Introduction of the Sermon on the Mount
   The Sermon on the Mount was delivered to the disciples, but heard also by the crowd, similar but different from “Sermon on the Plain” in Luke.
   A simple outline of the Sermon on the Mount is as follows:
1. The Kingdom and Blessings (Matt. 5:1-16)
2. The Kingdom and the Law (Matt. 5:17-48)
3. The Kingdom and God (Matthew 6)
4. The Kingdom and Others (Matthew 7:1-20)
5. The Kingdom’s Foundation (Matthew 7:21-27)

Introduction of the Beatitudes
As a kid, my favorite cartoon was Peanuts and good ole Charlie Brown. I had a book called “Happiness is a Warm Puppy.” If we were to put a Charles M. Schulz title to the beatitudes, it might be “Happiness is …”
The word “Beatitude” comes from the Latin word beatus which means blessed but the word is elsewhere translated as “happy,” “how fortunate,” “God blesses” (NLT), “You’re blessed” (the Message), and the amplified Bible expounds to “to be envied and spiritually prosperous…with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions.”
We could call these beatitudes the “Be Happy Attitudes.” Someone has said that they are not the “Do” Attitudes, but the “Be” Attitudes, meaning it is not what we do in the sense of legalism, but rather who we are in Christ. We should concentrate on “being,” not “doing.”

   Each beatitude builds upon the previous one, like a staircase. The first and last beatitude promise that “theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” From the moment of our salvation, the Holy Spirit within us provides for us a portion of the qualities found in each beatitude, but we must nourish and encourage each aspect to grow in our lives.
Other Beatitudes in Scripture
   Four other times in Matthew, there are pronouncements of “blessedness.” Chapter 11, verse six speaks about not being offended in Christ; Matt. 13:16 speaks on those who were able to see and hear Jesus at work, 16:17 pronounces a blessing up Peter for his proclamation of Christ as the Son of the living God, and 24:46 proclaims a blessing on those who are faithful when Christ returns.
   Luke records similar uses of “blessed” in chapter 6 and uses the word a total of 15 times in his gospel. John’s two beatitudes include the famous rebuke of Thomas’ doubting when Jesus says “blessed are those who have not seen, and yet believe.”
   Romans and James also have some beatitudes, and Peter echoes Jesus’ beatitudes in respect to suffering and facing reproach in 1 Peter 3:14 and 4:14. King James there translates makarios or makarios as “Happy” rather than “blessed.” And in typical numerical fashion, the Apostle John records precisely seven beatitudes in Revelation.
   The practice of issuing blessed promises goes back as far as the Old Testament, most notably Psalm 1:  “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night
    A beatitude can be traced back to the first occurrence in Scripture, found in Deut. 33:29, “Blessed are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the LORD? He is your shield and helper and your glorious sword. Your enemies will cower before you, and you will trample down their high places.”
   As you study these blessed promises this week, look for blessings and sources of happiness in keeping God’s word and these “Be Happy Attitudes”. As Pharrell Williams might sing, clap along if you feel a beatitude is for you. Thanks Morgan Perry for making this happy for the kids too!