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Blessed Are The Poor In Spirit

Matthew 5:1-12

"And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.  Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they that do hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled.  Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.  Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.  Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.  Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are you, when men shall revile and persecute you and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake.  Rejoice, and be exceeding glad; for great is your reward in heaven; for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you."  Matthew 5:1-12
Seeing the multitudes prompted Christ to do something.  What did He do?  He gathered around Him the twelve disciples, sat down, and began to teach them.  What did He teach them?  He taught them that the Kingdom of God is first spiritual then material.  He taught them that what comes out of their mouth has its source in the heart.  He taught them that out of character comes conduct and out of conduct comes influence.   He taught them the importance of the inward versus the outward.  What is this Christian character that produces the Christlike conduct that creates the Christian influence so badly needed in this world?  We will find it in the Beatitudes.  Each one begins with the word BLESSED.  The list in order is as follows:
  • Blessed are the poor in spirit...
  • Blessed are they that mourn...
  • Blessed are the meek...
  • Blessed are those who do hunger and thirst after righteousness...
  • Blessed are the merciful...
  • Blessed are the pure in heart...
  • Blessed are the peacemakers...
  • Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake...
Before we begin our look into the beatitudes, we need to ask a vital question.  For whom is this sermon intended?  To whom did Jesus preach?  To whom does it apply?  It was not preached to the unbeliever.  No.  It was spoken to the disciples of Jesus.  This does not mean that unbelievers were not standing around and listening.  I am sure they were.  However, this was directed at the twelve men he chose to follow him.  How do we know this?  Listen to the words of Jesus:
"You are the salt of the earth..."  "You are the light of the world..."  "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify YOUR Father which is in heaven..."   Matthew 5:13,14,16
And then the very first two verses of Matthew 5 declare this:
"...and when He was set, His disciples came unto Him and he opened His mouth and taught them, saying..."
So, let it be noted that unbelievers are not the "light of the world".  Unbelievers are not the "salt of the earth".  So, the message has to do with the disciples of that day and disciples of today!  That is, you and me, fellow believer!
Now, then, the beatitudes are at the very beginning of Christ's message to these men.  They are a declaration of the character that identifies the Christian.  The first word is blessed.  Blessed are... and on it goes from the first beatitude to the last.  Blessed means happy, or to be congratulated.  It is a word that speaks to the condition of the heart.  In secular usage, it was a word used to describe the social position of the wealthy who, because of their wealth are above the normal cares and worries of those who have not this wealth.  Listen, fellow believer.  No matter where you find yourself at this moment, you, because of the RICHES OF HIS GRACE AND YOUR POSITION IN CHRIST, you are now ABOVE the normal cares and worries of those who have not this WEALTH in CHRIST!  Somebody needs to shout!  You are blessed!  You are rich!  You are wealthy IN HIM!  So, the cares and worries that absorb others; that preoccupy others, do not overwhelm you!  Is it not true that people are worried and anxious over many things?  Is it not true that the cares of this life cause many to be discouraged and down?  The whole world is longing for happiness, for contentment, for meaning.  Yet in their pursuit of this happiness they always seem to come up empty.  Why?  Listen to Jesus' words:
 “...A man’' life consists not in the abundance of the things that he possesses." Luke 12:15
"For what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”"Mark 8:36
The word HAPPY or HAPPINESS, has to do with happenings.  You can see this in the word itself. Happy-ness.  Happening-ness.  A person's mood is determined by happenings.  If the happenings of my life are to my liking, then pleasurable feelings rise within me.  If I do not have to face difficulties, I am good.  If I can get away from them, not face them, or evade them, all is well.  But happiness which comes by just avoiding obstacles or difficulties only leads to more misery.  Opposite to that is The Sermon on the Mount which says, if you really want to be happy, this is the way to go.  And the first thing to consider is our character.  It is not conduct first, but character.   So, what is this character?
The first one is "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."  This is the first in order.  Jesus is not just randomly tossing these beatitudes around and letting them land where they will.  No.  He places "blessed are the poor in spirit" first because out of it comes all the rest, and because without this "poor in spirit" one cannot even get into the kingdom!  This is vital and fundamental.  So, what does it mean to be poor in spirit?  In short, it is to see myself as nothing before God and totally helpless to save myself.  The word poor carries the idea of brokenness.  Something broken and emptied.  A vessel must be emptied before it can be filled. When it comes to the gospel, the good news of Jesus, there is always two sides.  A breaking and an emptying and then a filling or a building.  People do not like this.  Have you noticed?  Many only want the love of Jesus, not realizing that before they can be truly blessed and experience the riches of His grace, they must first be emptied of all passion, self-reliance, pride, and dependence on self.  We must first acknowledge that we are nothing.  Look at this verse in Luke 2:34:
"And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, Behold this child is set for the falling and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against." 
Can you see the breaking, the falling, the emptying, and then the building, the rising again of many?  Let us look a little bit more at this word "poor".  There are two words for poor.  Two kinds of "poor".
  • Poor = a laborer who is poor by reason of his circumstances
  • Poor = a beggar who is poor by choice
The poor laborer has nothing great to speak of.  However, the beggar has nothing at all.  This is the word in Matthew 5.  A beggar.  The beggar is helpless.  His sense of helplessness drives him to the Savior for his needs and defense.  There is a total dependence upon another to whom he or she is answerable.  They are so dependent that they are vulnerable or susceptible to being taken advantage of by those who hold the power.  Isn't it true that many people are proud of their independence, or self-reliance?  However, a beggar says, "I can of my own self do nothing". Totally at the mercy of someone else.  Isn't it true that we live in a world of "I can do this"?  Like that old song Frank Sinatra used to sing entitled, "I Did It My Way".  Yeah, you did it your way, or maybe you are doing it your way.  Question:  So, how's that working for you?
We are so independent in this "land of the free and home of the brave".  I am reminded of my boyhood days growing up in a family of five boys, me being the youngest.  When one of my brothers would say "let me tie your shoe", I would respond, "I can do it myself!"  When you were young, your parents' goal was to get you to go from dependence to independence, right?  To teach you to tie your own shoes, feed yourself, to dress yourself.  Yes, that is correct.  It is right to teach our children to be independent and make responsible choices in this life, so they are not a burden to society.  That is right and good in the physical, material world.  But in the spiritual sense it is not that way.  While we go from dependence to independence in the physical, in the spiritual we go from independence to dependence!  It is meant to be that way.   Do you see that?  Think about it.  The longer I serve the Lord the more I know that I need him. My dependence grows and my independence dissipates.  A poor in spirit person is constantly realizing that without Him, I can do nothing.  How does one come to this?  It takes an encounter with God that will break us.  It takes a broken and contrite heart - pulverized and crushed.  So, I conclude that I need Jesus!  It is like climbing a mountain.  In order to climb this mountain, I must first admit that I cannot climb this mountain!  It is a spirit of abject spiritual poverty and humility.
Let's look at the scriptures and see what they have to say to us about being poor in spirit.  Many verses of scripture teach this most vital truth and necessity.  

"For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones."   Isaiah 57:15
So, poor in spirit is not an outward show, but an inward condition.  Notice, it is poor in spirit.  Listen to this:

"In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne...then said I, Woe is me!  For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts."   Isaiah 6:1, 5
So, Isaiah has an encounter with God and says, "Woe is me!"  "I am a man of unclean lips". Basically, Isaiah says, I have seen myself before a holy God and I have come out as nothing, as sinful, as an unclean man!  Ah, see?  This is poor in spirit.  He is in the presence of God and compared to Him, I am as nothing.  That's good, Isaiah!  Now the Lord can do something with you.  Now, my Christian friend, the Lord can do something with you as well.  It's about time we see ourselves correctly as we really are!  Do you remember Peter?  In Luke 5:8 Peter said, when he saw all the fish that the Lord had caused them to catch, "Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord."  He caught a glimpse of Jesus as never before and Peter, an impulsive, self-confident man, says, Depart!  Wow!  Can we see what happens to a man or a woman who has a glimpse, an encounter with the living God?  We don't jump up and throw our hands in the air and HIGH FIVE Jesus.  We bow, we bend, we recognize who WE are because we have recognized who HE is!
Oh, this is so cool.  The Word of God gives us illustration after illustration of what it is to be poor in spirit.  Look at this one:

"For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh."    Philippians 3:3
That's what Paul was like after he was saved, not before.  Before he was saved, he was a killer of Christians, a persecutor of the New Testament church.  But one day on the road to Damascus, on his way to persecute some more followers of Jesus, Paul has an encounter with the Christ! He falls to the ground, and then says to Jesus, "Lord, what will you have me to do?"  Later, you will find Paul writing these words: "In my flesh dwelleth no good thing."  Whoa!  Now there it is again.  A person who has come to the end of themselves is asking the Lord for direction, not giving direction, or making demands.  In fact, he recognizes then and now that in himself there is nothing good.
When you look in the book of Job, you will find another example of this beatitude.  You will see what a glimpse of God, the Creator of the universe, can do in a person's life.

"I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth thee.  Wherefore, I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes."  Job 42:5,6
When the prophet Daniel had a vision of the Lord, I notice the results of such an encounter in these words:

"Therefore, I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength.  Yet heard I the voice of his words: and when I heard the voice of his words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face and my face toward the ground."  Daniel 10:8,9
Prostrated on the ground, Daniel saw his corruption.  Do we?  Have we?  Notice it says, "my comeliness, (my purities, my goodness) was turned in me into corruption."  Now, wait, this is important.  Don't move on too quickly.  He saw his corruption, yes.  But not the corruption of his impurities.  No.  He saw the corruption of his purities, his uprightness.  Whoa!  Yes, my dear fellow believer in Christ.  The longer we go on in this Christian life, and have encounters with the Lord of glory, we will see more and more the impurities of our purities.  The Bible says, "There is none righteous, no not one."  And, "All our righteousness is as filthy rags".
Are we conscious of our total inadequacy? Am I comparing myself to the lowest or the highest standard?  You see, one who is poor in spirit has had and encounter with the Highest!  The result of that encounter is that I am now the lowest.  It is the same as Jesus said in the gospels when He referred to the Pharisee and the publican.
"Two men went up into the temple to pray: the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.  The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.  I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.  And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.  I tell you; this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for everyone that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted."  Luke 18:11-14
Did you see that?  What powerful words!  What is Jesus telling us?  Well, the Pharisee was comparing himself to the publican.  The lowest man he could find.  As the Pharisee compares himself to the lowest man he can find, he immediately feels better about himself!  My fellow believer, we can usually find someone worse than us, right?  I mean, come on, I know I am bad, but look at that person!  At least I am not as bad as THEY are!  I thank thee, Oh God, that I am not like THAT person!  This is nothing more than Pharisee-ism.  Religiosity.  When the Pharisee compares himself to the lowest standard, he always comes out higher!  But notice the publican. He is comparing himself to the God of the universe.  He would not even so much as "lift up his eyes unto heaven".   He "smote his breast" and said, "God, be merciful to me a sinner."  What is the publican doing?  He is comparing himself to the HIGHEST standard.  Friend, when we compare ourselves to the highest standard, we will always come out on the bottom of the list! Ah, yes!  This is it!  Really, Pastor Jerry?  YES!  10,000 times, YES!  Look what happens when the publican compares himself to the Highest.  He has a correct view of himself!  He sees that in him dwells no good thing!  He says, Woe is me!  I am a sinner!  This is poor in spirit.  And with the result being this: "I tell you; THIS MAN went down to his house justified".  Can somebody say AMEN?   Do you want to be justified?  Blessed are the poor in spirit.  Blessed is the one who knows that he/she is a sinner and we need a Savior.  Blessed is the man that knows his sinful condition and who comes like the publican and cries, "have mercy on me a sinner!"
Have you been comparing yourself to others who are worse than you?  Why?  I will tell you why I have done that.  Because it makes me feel better about my own shortcomings.  I am not so bad now.  I am not good, mind you, but at least I have found someone worse than me.  This keeps me from true freedom.  I stay sealed in my own sinful condition.  I am not truly happy.  I am not blessed.  I remain a frustrated, miserable, fault finding sinner in need of a Savior.  But it does not need to stay that way.  Call on Jesus now.  He will never push anyone away!

What about Jesus?  Was He poor in spirit?  Absolutely.  We see this in His life.  He became flesh and dwelled among us.  The Bible says He took on Himself the "likeness of sinful flesh".  Though He was equal with God, He took upon Him the form of a servant and made Himself of no reputation.  In John 6:38 Jesus said: "I came, not to do my own will, but the will of Him that sent me".  Poor in spirit.  In John 5:30 Jesus makes it clear, "I can do nothing of myself".  Poor in spirit. He also said, in John 14:10: "The words that I speak unto you, I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works."   Poor in spirit.  So, Jesus was totally dependent upon His Father.  
We must feel that we are nothing.  We are nothing.  We look to God in submission without any self-reliance.  Without the Lord, we are all headed for a Christ-less grave.  But thanks be to God, as we humble ourselves and come before him with a broken and contrite heart, confessing our sins, He will forgive, redeem, and cleanse us from sin and then He will be with us and in us!   I will say it in the words of a song my Dad used to sing in church.
Without Him, I would be nothing
           Without Him, I'd surely fail
            Without Him, I would be drifting
            Like a ship without a sail
           
Jesus, O, Jesus
            Do you know Him today?
            Please don't turn Him away
            Oh, Jesus, My Jesus
            Without Him how lost I would be!
Without Him, Mylon Le Fevre  1963 Angel Band Music
Am I poor in spirit?  If I am a Christian, I am poor in spirit.  But do I continue to be poor in spirit? Do I lament that I am not as poor in spirit as I should be or could be?  Do I say, Woe is me, for I am undone?  Like Paul, do we ever say, "O wretched man that I am…"?  Do you rely on your natural talents or ability?  Do you rely on your own morality or goodness?  Do you find yourself comparing yourself to someone not as good as you?  Are you conscious that in you dwelleth no good thing?  Do you ever find yourself repeating John the Baptist's words: "He must increase, but I must decrease"?   Am I conscious that I am nothing in the presence of God?  Am I concerned about having man's approval rather than God's approval?  What are the things I pray about?  External things, or my inward condition?  Do you desire to humble yourself or do you try to humble others?
Poor in spirit people know they are not perfect.  They know the Lord calls the shots and they are happy to have it that way.  They seek first the kingdom of God, and like Jacob, after his wrestling match with God, they walk with a limp and thank God for the reminder of such an awesome encounter with the Most High that changed them for eternity.  Poor in spirit people have a new perspective on life, on sin, on circumstances, on temptations, and every negative thing that takes place.  How can that be?  They know who they are in Christ!  They know they belong to the One who paid the ultimate price for their salvation and they are not their own.  As it says in 1 Peter 2:9: "You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light;"
Yes, a peculiar people.  What is this word peculiar?  It doesn't mean strange or odd as it does in our modern English.  It means to be "surrounded by".  It means to be "owned by".  Because you are poor in spirit and because you are who you are in Jesus, you are no longer going it alone! And whatever comes your way, God will use it for His glory and your good.  This is how I learned it years ago.  It means that as a dot is surrounded by a circle, so the Lord surrounds you!  You are His private possession.  But as you, the dot, are surrounded by God, you are also protected. How so?  Before you were saved, you (the dot) were not surrounded by the Lord.  You were out there all by yourself, a vulnerable target of the devil.  Every arrow (trial, temptation, sorrow,) he shot at you hit the mark.  You gave in.  But, when you surrendered your life to Christ, your position changed and now you are the dot surrounded by the circle, the Lord
Himself!  But the arrows do not stop coming at you!  Do they?  No. However, notice the difference.  Now, the arrow cannot get to you unless it passes through the "circle" of your God! He must allow it to penetrate and pass.  And since that is the case, the purpose of that trial changes from that of your destruction, to your development.  Amen!  So, a poor in spirit person has a new perspective on life, on temptations, trials, troubles, and every negative situation. Now instead of whining about everything, we have the same attitude as Joseph had toward his brothers who tried to destroy him.  He said,
            "...you thought evil against me, but God meant it unto good...? Genesis 50:20
Blessed are the poor in spirit!

Look What The Lord Has Done!

The Testimony of Brother Chuck – 82 Years Young

I am so blessed to be able to share with you today the working of the Lord Jesus Christ in my life.  Throughout my entire life, He has pursued me and not given up on me and I praise His name.

When I was 4, my mother abandoned all 10 of her children and left us with our father.  I was the ninth child.  I remember this as being a terrible time in my life.  Rejection and abandonment leave a deep pain in the heart.  My father did remarry, but with that came the difficulties of living with a harsh stepmother.  Looking back now, I can see that the Lord has been my help from that time until now.

Even during this time, my father faithfully took us to church, and at the age of eight, I gave my heart to the Lord.  I remember writing in my little Bible the date that I received Jesus Christ as my own personal Lord and Savior.  I had faith as a child.  Unfortunately, I did not continue living for and growing in Christ.  In my teen years I walked away from Him choosing to go my own way, rejecting what I knew was right.  In fact, at 18 I found myself sitting in a Texas jail having been arrested for "vagrancy and investigation".  I had run from the difficulties in my family life, searching for something that would bring meaning.  You know, God is faithful, and He continued to pursue me even there.  His hand of protection was on me for He is my Father Who is in Heaven and He cares for each of His children.

Yet, I still did not return to Him.  In my 20's I was married with children and spent 10.5 years in the military.  During this time, I continued to walk farther and farther away from the Lord.  I started smoking and drinking and soon I found that I no longer had control of the drink, but that it had control of me.   Softly and tenderly Jesus continued to call me.  He called deep within me, I heard His voice and am so thankful for His forgiving power.  I surrendered my life back to Him.

While in the hospital recovering from a near fatal accident, the Lord Jesus came down into my room and in a miraculous way just took the desire for alcohol away from me - it was completely gone.  I had friends say that if they would give me  a drink, I would down it, but I respond with a Bible verse that says, "...Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God." By the power of God, it has been 50 years and I have not had one smoke nor drink.  The Lord is faithful to save!

Friend, I do not know your situation.  Perhaps you have been abandoned by father and mother, or spouse.  Maybe you feel forsaken and alone.  You are NOT alone.  You have a Father God in heaven that loves you and is not too big to fit into your heart.  All you need to do is ask Him and He will enter in, change your life and you will never be the same again.  We are all sinners and have fallen short of the glory of God, but He is so faithful that if we confess our sins Jesus will forgive us and cleanse us from those sins.  Lay out yourself before the Holy God.  He knows where you are and what you are going through.  Surrender to Him and He will bring a peace that passes all understanding into your life.  He will change you from the inside out!  Amen.

Psalm 27:9-14   9 "Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.  10 When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.  11 Teach me thy way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies.  12 Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty. 13 I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. 14 Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord."

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