BLESSED ARE THE POOR IN SPIRIT
INTRO NEW SERIES
Everyone wants the good life. What does it mean for you? Lifestyle? Stuff? Financial security? Family?
ILL: Video Clip ’In the Game’ from the Pursuit of Happiness.
The world says, ’take what you want, pursue happiness and fulfillment at all costs.’ But Jesus inverts the world’s order and ethics.
1John 2.15 15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. Whoever lose their life will find it, the last will be first, the leader must serve the servant.
So what is the good life and how can we find it?...
And what does it mean to be blessed, anyway?
Some tss ’happy’, but blessed is not an emotional state. Fortunate or ’to be congratulated’ closer. Objective state of being rather than the way we feel.
Times I’ve been in a tough place and others have called me blessed.
The Beatitudes - the good life, the blessed life, found in the upside-down Kingdom of God, now and in eternity.
INTRO MARK 5.3
Matt 5.3 - Blessed are the poor in spirit, for their’s is the Kingdom of Heaven (TNIV). You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule (The Message).
Empowerment - a word for our times. Despise dependence - stand on own two feet.
People accuse Christianity of being a crutch. How do you respond?
1. THE POOR IN SPIRIT
A. THE POOR IN SPIRIT ARE HUMBLE AND DEPENDENT
Jesus said, ’Blessed are the poor in spirit’. Who are they? Some clues from Scripture:
Isa 57.15 ’For this is what the high and lofty One says-- he who lives forever, whose name is holy: "I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite."’
Lowly and contrite = humble, and sorrowful and repentant for their sins.
Mark 10.15 "anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it."
Little children are dependent and completely trusting.
Luke 5.31-32 Jesus answered them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."
When we’re sick we need help - we depend on the doctor for a cure.
Poverty, spiritual or physical, is a state of dependence - need help to manage.
The poor in spirit are those who know they are needy and seek help.
ILL: A friend once took me out to coffee and punctured a tire on the way. I knew they were tight financially so offered some money to fix it. He was reluctant to take it but eventually accepted. He admitted it was his pride and independence.
Like many of you we sponsor a child. How would you feel as a parent if you relied on a complete stranger’s help to feed, clothe and educate your child? Humbled?
Overseas I encountered many beggars - vulnerable, exploited. How do you think it would feel to go to a complete stranger to ask for money for food?
B. THE POOR IN SPIRIT ARE WILLING TO RECEIVE
It’s incredibly humbling, even humiliating, to be that poor, but they are blessed. Why?
Because humble people are so desperate they’re willing to receive help! They have nothing else to lean on so the lean on Jesus.
It’s simple - the rich (hear spiritually arrogant) think they can do it themselves and refuse God’s help, the poor in spirit know they can’t and receive it!
1Pet 5.5 ’God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble’
When people say Christianity is a crutch, do you know what to say to them?
"Yes it is! And if you think you can do life without him then more power to you, but I need Jesus, I’m going to receive every blessing he has for me!"
2. THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN
What does it mean that the kingdom of heaven belongs to the poor in spirit?
On one level it means receiving eternal life - salvation.
Becoming a follower of Jesus is a very humbling process.
- admitting we are guilty because of sin
- admitting we can’t save ourselves and need God to do it for us
- death to self through the cross
- turning from autonomy and self-rule to submission and dependence in God’s rule
B. LIFE AND FREEDOM
Not just salvation - the Kingdom of Heaven = the rule of God = the presence of God
John 17.3 Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
Biblical knowledge = experiential, personal, intimate
Jesus saw his ministry of announcing the Kingdom as something much bigger. In another place he quotes Isaiah as his mission statement:
Isaiah 61:1-3 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion-- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.
Jesus’ ministry didn’t just involve preaching - healing, restoring, freeing.
That is the life God calls us to, a good life, a blessed life. Not always easy, not always materially rich, but spiritually blessed.
3. HOW CAN I BE BLESSED?
Don’t you long to see God’s Kingdom manifest among us? People being drawn to Jesus? Lives being radically transformed? People being set free from addictions and anger and broken hearts being renewed. That’s the good life!
If you don’t and you’re a Christian, let me say this in love - you’ve got a problem. Somewhere along the line you’ve lost hope or fallen into apathy.
A. DANGER OF COMPLACENCY
Many Christians/churches like the church at Laodicea.
Rev 3:17 "You say, ’I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked."
We think we’re OK. But Jesus is gagging - ever taken that last swig of coffee at the bottom of a cup you’ve left awhile?
Three things that will keep us from the Kingdom, even if we think we’re in it!
Ignorance: like a leper we’ve become so deadened to the pain of life we just don’t know that we’re in a desperate state.
Arrogance: we really are arrogant enough to think that we’re doing OK, that we’re good enough. Your arrogance keeps you from receiving God’s gift.
Apathy: we know we’re probably not OK, but we just don’t care. We’re comfortable and don’t want God messing up the neat covers that cover the messy sheets below.
B. NEED FOR REPENTANCE
If we’re not desperately aware of our need for God this morning, need to do a careful search of your heart.
Begins with a posture of humble dependence. You can’t fix your condition.
The poor in humble cry out to God - ’Help me, I can’t help myself’.
And when we do that, from the heart, not just out of some religious show, we become the poor in spirit and we are blessed!
If you’re not a Christian this morning - Jesus is inviting you to enter His kingdom for the first time. Bible says the consequences of our sin and wrongdoing is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ. Jesus died in our place so that we can have life with him.
How do we get this free gift? By being poor in spirit.
- confess our sin to God
- ask for God’s forgiveness and help
- accept Jesus into our heart as Lord and saviour
Ask for response.
If you are a Christian and you know that you haven’t been living in the blessing of the Kingdom because of ignorance or arrogance or apathy, Bible says if we confess our sin he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
- confess where you’re at
- repent from whatever is keeping you from leaning into God
- ask God to fill you afresh