Friday, June 6, 2014

June 7, 2014

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:3

If I were looking for a good illustration from the Bible of what it means to be "poor in spirit" I would point you to the story of the Prodigal Son.

This foolish young lad bought into the notion that being rich in material possessions was the essence of happiness. So, he coaxed his father into letting him have his inheritance in advance and he took the money and ran as fast and as far as he could from the rules and restraints of home to a place where the pleasures of self-indulgence would be his boundless!

But he ran out of loot before he ran out of lust and when he did, his party time friends decided it was time to depart! Suddenly his quest for happiness left him humiliated, hopeless, and hungry.

Finding himself in an urgent need for lunch money, he took the only job he could find feeding pigs in a pig sty. Here is a young man who was destined to own his father's farm now feeding hogs for a farmer far less compassionate than his father.

His hunger didn't stop before the paycheck started and the foolish lad found himself longing for the slop he was he was giving the swine. Surrounded by hogs and knee deep in mud and slop he began to think of home. His mistreatment at the hand of this farmer refreshed his recollections of how well his father had treated those who fed the pigs back home.

Showing sudden signs of common sense, the son reasoned that if he was going to slop hogs he may as well try to hire on with his dad. Without giving two weeks notice he waded through the mud, around the pigs and over the fence to return to his father with the little bit of strength he had remaining. Luke 15 records the reunion that happened when he met his father on the dusty road home:

“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate."  Luke 15:21-24

What is particularly noteworthy is the spirit of the son's plea to his father. Several key phrases give indication of his "poorness of spirit":

1) "Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you....."
2) "I am no longer to be called your son...."

He left as a son but was returning in hopes of becoming a servant. 

This is where it gets good!

We he came home properly poor, that is when he became prosperous! 

His father lavished on him full privileges of a highly favored son! The robe of righteousness, the signet ring of authority and the sandals signifying sonship! He finally found the happiness he had been looking for but it wasn't in the way he had expected.

What a vivid illustration of what Jesus meant when He said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit....."!

Being "poor in spirit" is not just about humility. Humility assumes you had something to be proud of. Being poor in spirit is about depravity, confronting your absolute spiritual depravity and then confessing it to your Father. That is your one chance at happiness!

June 6, 2014

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:3

Like every other golfer on planet Earth, I would love to be able to play golf at Augusta National Golf Club. But I have no chance of that happening. That privilege is reserved for a few uber wealthy or ultra important people.

What a thrill it would be to qualify for the U. S. Open Golf Championship! There is a chance for any scratch golfer who is fortunate enough to get through a local qualifying event. There is no chance of that happening for me.

As a baseball player I would have be thrilled to have been able to play at Yankee Stadium. I would have settled for just one game at the "house that Ruth built". There was no chance of that happening.

I would have even settled for Wrigley Field! But no chance there either.

Nowadays I would even settle for playing one more game for Indiana Wesleyan University. But, alas, there's no chance of that either. (I've used up all my eligibility)

Having once been a hoopster, a cager, a baller, a basketball player, it would have been a thrill to play the point for the Chicago Bulls at the Boston Garden. Unfortunately, there was no chance of that happening.

How great would it have been to be 6'5" and to be able to throw down a 360 slam dunk! But there was no chance of that happening at 5' 9". I got high enough to touch the rim one time.....

It would be a real rush to drive a stock car in a NASCAR race! I can't imagine what that much horsepower would feel like! And I will never know because there is no chance of that happening!

As impossible as these things have been for me, I have a better chance at any of those than I have of earning my salvation. In fact, I would have a better chance of ALL of them happening that I would of earning my salvation.

Check out this video, at least he has a chance! Right click on the link and take a look!

In this first Beatitude Jesus is telling you there is a chance for you to make it to the Kingdom of God but it is only one chance! The one chance you have begins with realizing you have no chance apart from Jesus!

You have nothing to offer God except your confession and repentance. Jesus is promising if you will confess to Him that you are totally and completely devoid even a shred of moral virtue. There is NO CHANCE of you earning your way into God's eternal Kingdom.

But if you will confess your sinfulness and repent of your sins and receive God's richness of love and grace through Christ Jesus. You WILL gain immediate entrance into His eternal Kingdom!

If you admit you have no chance, your chances improve!