Mourning to Morning

Matthew 5:4

September 1, 2014

 

“Blessed are those who mourn,

for they will be comforted.”

- Matthew 5:4

 

What is God’s Word for me today?

It is appropriate that on today, Labor Day, we are talking about comfort for those who labor and are overwhelmed. Jesus said, “Come to me all you who labor” (Matthew 11:28). Our second step toward happiness is through the avenue of mourning. The Greek word that is used here is the strongest word for mourning in the Greek language. It is the word which is used for mourning for the dead, a passionate lament for one who was loved. In the Septuagint, which is the Greek version of the Hebrew Old Testament, the word is used to describe Jacob’s grief when he believed his son Joseph was dead (Genesis 37:34).

 

This is the kind of overwhelming sadness that takes hold on a man, so obvious that it cannot be hid. It is the kind of sorrow that hurts the heart, bringing unrestrainable tears to one’s eyes. Jesus is literally saying, amazingly, “Blessed is the man who mourns like one mourning for the dead.” Have you ever mourned for someone like that? Perhaps you are in that kind of pain today. If you are, find hope in the fact that God’s richest blessings have been reserved just for you!

 

How does this make me become like Him?

The deepest faith in God is the faith that is willing to go through the storm instead of around it. C.S. Lewis wrote The Problem of Pain. In this marvelous work, he described pain as “God’s most unwanted gift.” But it is a gift. Any preacher who says God will keep you from experiencing grief if you have a strong enough faith should have his papers revoked. There will come times in your life when you will cry uncontrollably and suffering indescribably. It is in those moments that you will find God in ways you have never seen him before. Get ready for those moments, because it is then that you will most become like Him.

Winning the Kingdom

Matthew 5:3
August 29, 2014

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

What is God’s Word for me today?
Jesus said to those who live in such poverty belongs the kingdom of God. This means a society where God’s will is perfectly done on earth as it is in heaven. We can only do God’s will in this manner when we realize our own utter helplessness. We trust God completely. The kingdom of God is the possession of the poor in spirit, because the poor in spirit have realized they can’t do it on their own.

An old English writer paraphrased this first beatitude like this. “O the bliss of the man who has realized his own utter helplessness, and who has put his whole trust in God, for thus alone he can render to God that perfect obedience which will make him a citizen of the kingdom of heaven!” Fanny Crosby wrote, “Some day the silver cord will break, and I no more as now shall sing; but oh, the joy when I shall wake within the palace of the King! And I shall see him face to face, and tell the story – saved by grace!”

How does this make me become like Him?
All that God has for anyone else, he has for you. You don’t have to wait to enjoy the kingdom’s blessings. They are set apart just for you today! All you have to do is humble yourself and fall upon Jesus. In your hopelessness, he is made strong. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Starting today, you can become like Him.

Poverty of Spirit

Matthew 5:3
August 28, 2014

“Blessed are the poor in spirit.”
– Matthew 5:3

What is God’s Word for me today?
If you’ve been reading our daily devotions all week, you might be kind of depressed right now, thinking you need to sell everything you own and become a poverty-stricken homeless person. Not at all! This beatitude never says material poverty is a good thing, nor does it call you to live at Salvation Army. In fact, Jesus said a lot about lifting the poor and helping them move into a better lifestyle. The poverty that is blessed is the poverty of spirit. Jesus did not say, “Blessed are the poor.” He said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”

When a man realizes his own utter lack of resources to meet life and he finds his help and strength in God, he becomes the subject of our first beatitude. It is all about humility. Reading from Isaiah 59:9-11, missionary Elisabeth Elliot wrote, “I am clay.” The passage pictures us as vessels in the Potter’s hand. The word humble comes from the root word humus, meaning clay. Are you clay, moldable in the Potter’s hand? That is the kind of life God calls blessed.

How does this make me become like Him?
God is not asking you to be poor financially, but in spirit. Humble yourself before him, recognizing him as your sole source of joy and peace. When you do this, you will become blessed. And when you do this, you will become like Him.

Detached and Attached

Matthew 5:3
August 27, 2014

“Blessed are the poor in spirit.”
– Matthew 5:3

What is God’s Word for me today?
The night before his assassination, Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “So I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!” He was ready, because he knew the Lord. When Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” he was saying “Blessed is the man who has realized his own utter helplessness and who has put his whole trust in God.” (William Barclay) True happiness and blessedness occurs when these two things come together: detachment and attachment.

The man who is truly blessed will be detached from things, for he will know that things have not got it in them to bring true happiness. And he will become completely attached to God, knowing that God alone can bring him help. He realizes that things mean nothing and God means everything. And thus the poor in spirit becomes blessed.

How does this make me become like Him?
You need to do two things today. First, detach yourself from things and relationships that don’t put you in a good place. Perhaps you need to detach from a habit or addiction. Then you need to attach yourself to God. If you only detach from what is bad, but do not attach to what is Good, you will never be fulfilled. And you will never become like Him.

Poor

Matthew 5:3
August 26, 2014

“Blessed are the poor in spirit.”
– Matthew 5:3

What is God’s Word for me today?
A certain former First Lady and future presidential candidate recently said she was not “truly well off.” Given her worth of $50 million and $100,000 speaking fee, this was news to many in the crowd. So let me ask you, what is rich? What is poor? My definition of a rich man is anyone with more than me. Jesus said the key to happiness is to be poor. There were two Greek words available for him to use to say “poor.” First, there is penes. This would be the working poor, those who have nothing superfluous, but only the bare necessities. That is not the word Jesus used here.

The second word for “poor” is ptochos, which describes the man who has nothing at all. It means absolute and abject poverty. It is connected with the root ptossein, which means “to crouch or cower.” The word picture was that of a man in poverty, begging on his knees. And this is the word Jesus used when he said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” He is saying the key to happiness is to be empty of everything else. Let me say it like this. Until Jesus is all you have, you don’t realize that Jesus is all you need.

How does this make me become like Him?
John Rockefeller was asked how much money it took to make a man happy. His response: “A little bit more.” Jesus said that to be high you bow low and to be full you become empty. If life is hard and you are really struggling, take heart. God is about to show up. And this will help you to become like Him.

Blessed

Matthew 5:1-3
August 25, 2014

“Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside
and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to
teach them, saying, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’”
– Matthew 5:1-3

What is God’s Word for me today?
This week we are beginning a nine-week study of “Being Happy.” In a Newsweek survey a few years ago, Americans were asked what they wanted most out of life. The #1 answer was: “I want to be happy.” Happiness is a choice. Abraham Lincoln said, “A man is as happy as he makes up his mind to be.” An elderly lady was being walked to her new room in a nursing home. She said, “I love my new room!” The worker said, “But you haven’t even seen it yet!” The lady replied, “Whether or not I like my new room has nothing to do with the room and everything to do with my heart.”

So let’s talk about what it takes to be happy. Actually, we will talk about something better – being blessed. The word “happy” comes from hap, meaning chance. Happiness comes when things go well. But the word for “blessed” (Jesus’ word) is makarios, a word used to describe ancient Greek gods. The idea is one of supernatural origin. And there is no verb here. Literally, Jesus is saying, “Blessed are those who have already entered into . . .” So, as we study the nine beatitudes over these next weeks, remember that your blessing has already been paid for.

How does this make me become like Him?
Lincoln was right. Happiness is a choice. But more than that, we want to be blessed. Blessings supersede circumstances. God blesses us in the storm and through the storm, not just by removing us from the storm. So claim your blessing today, and become like Him.

I Need to Let It Go

Romans 12:1-2
August 22, 2014

“Offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God –
this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform to this
world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
– Romans 12:1-2

What is God’s Word for me today?
The way of the world is to get all you can, can all you get, and then sit on your can. We are taught, in our culture, to measure success by how much a person has. But Paul says to “not conform to this world.” That requires a spiritual transformation that comes by the renewing of our minds. In other words, we need to change our pattern of thinking. So, rather than accumulating all we can, we give away all we can. We follow the advice of Charles Wesley, who said, “Make all you can, save all you can, give all you can.”

Remember the story of the widow’s mite. She gave her coins, but was not affirmed by what she gave. She was affirmed for what she kept – nothing. “She gave all she had,” Jesus said. Now, he is likely not asking you to give all you have. But I suggest Mother Teresa had it right when she said, “Give, but give until it hurts.” God measures our gifts by what we give, why we give it, and what we keep for ourselves. I have learned that the reason I need to give is not that God needs to get it, but that I need to give it.

How does this make me become like Him?
Pray about making a significant gift to your church this week. God can provide without your help, but you need to give because of the benefit this will bring to you. Jesus said more about money than just about anything else. He understands what matters most to you. Now is the time to demonstrate the priorities of life. “Give, but give until it hurts.” That’s what Jesus did, and our life’s mission is to become like Him.

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