Summary: A starting point for all of us in the kingdom of heaven requires basic changes in our attitudes or hearts which Jesus spelled out in the eight beatitudes.
“Developing Our Attitudes”
Text: Matthew 5:1-12
Last Sunday we kicked off this year’s theme of developing our core with seven things everyone can and should do more in 2014: to pray, study, meditate, worship, work, give and forgive more. As I considered where to start our development, I was reminded of Proverbs 23:7 – For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. This morning I want us to start with the conditioning of our hearts and I’ve chosen to do this with another of our mountain top experiences. We’ve had five from the Old Testament: Noah on the mountains of Ararat; Abraham on Mount Moriah; Moses on Mt. Sinai; Deborah on Mount Tabor; and Elijah on Mount Carmel. We had one from the New Testament on the Mount of Transfiguration. But, this morning, I want us to go back to near the beginning of our Lord’s ministry at the Mount of the Beatitudes or the Sermon on the Mount. We don’t know exactly where this was located but it was surely near the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee and Capernaum based on Matthew 8:5. I hope you’ll open your Bibles to Matthew 5:1ff. as we discuss “Developing Our Attitudes” starting with the beatitudes. As always, we plead with you to be like the Bereans in Acts 17:11 and search the scriptures daily to make sure we’re preaching the truth.
Jesus had formally begun His earthly ministry after His baptism and temptation in the wilderness in Matthew 4:17 where we read: From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Then, in verse 23 of this same chapter, Matthew states that Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus will describe the citizens of His kingdom beginning with some basic attitudes. So let’s begin with the first one in Matthew 5:3 – “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Blessings accrue to an individual based on God’s gracious response to our condition. In this case, the poor in spirit are those who recognize their spiritual poverty and their dependency on God’s remedies. The Greek word for “poor” in this first beatitude comes from a verb meaning “to crouch” & thus the word describes a beggar – without anything and dependent on others for their survival. Let’s go to Isaiah 66:2 where we read, “For all those things My hand has made, and all those things exist,” Says the LORD. “But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word.” The “poor in spirit” are those who realize they are spiritually bankrupt and only God can bail them out. David was such a man after his sin with Bathsheba and wrote in Psalm 51:17 – The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart – these, O God, You will not despise. So Jesus introduces us to the first requirement for citizenship in the kingdom: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” To many Jews, riches or wealth were seen as evidence of God’s blessings in one’s life – and now Jesus was teaching the opposite. Earlier this past week, I posted this little sermon quote on Facebook: “Only those who are truly aware of their sin can truly cherish grace.” Jesus means little to someone who fails to realize the need for a Savior. This is the starting point for all. We must recognize our sad spiritual state and the need for God’s rule in our lives. Verse 4: “Blessed are those who mourn,