Blessed Are The Poor In Spirit
At the very beginning stages of His public ministry on earth, Jesus clearly described a distinctive lifestyle for those who would seek to follow Him. Such Christian character is totally dependent upon the person of Jesus and can only be achieved through His grace.
This lifestyle is described clearly in the Beatitudes, as recorded in Matthew 5:1-12. Beatitudes are declarations of blessedness. The meaning of "blessed" goes well beyond the emotion of happiness, which is often dependent upon our outward circumstances. It refers, instead, to the complete peace, well-being, and spiritual joy of the saints who share in the ultimate gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. As Christian families, our behavior and attitudes should always reflect Jesus. The result will be a blessed family. Ephesians 4:22-24 says, "You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness."
If our families are to demonstrate consistent Christian character that is dependent upon Jesus and separated from the world, we will need to seek Him in prayer. Over the next several months, your family will be able to study and pray through the Beatitudes. Allow the Holy Spirit to be your teacher as your family becomes more like Jesus day by day.
Beatitude 1: Matthew 5:3
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (NIV)
"God blesses those who realize their need for Him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is given to them." (The Prayer Bible – New Living Translation)
This beatitude is fittingly the first, because it reminds us that He is God and we are not. God’s kingdom is always the focus of Jesus’ teaching! The Father wants us to come to Him in a poor and needy state spiritually. Our relationship to God should be one of total dependence. He will pour out His spiritual riches upon us when we come to Him with open hearts and hands, hungering and thirsting for more of Him. If we are filled with pride and self-sufficiency, God cannot use us, because we are demonstrating that we have no use for Him. What we must have is the realization that apart from God, we are and can do nothing (John 15:5-8).
We are spiritually bankrupt if we detach ourselves from God, because we have no claim to righteousness except through our relationship with Jesus! "‘Has not My hand made all these things, and so they came into being?’ declares the LORD. ‘This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at My word’" (Isaiah 66:2). When we seek Him in true humility, He can be seen living in and through us.
Once we learn true humility of spirit, He will pour out the blessings of His kingdom, which is already within us: "Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, ‘The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, "Here it is," or "There it is," because the kingdom of God is within you’" (Luke 17:20-21). The kingdom exists in the person of Jesus, who lives in us. His kingdom is spiritual rather than physical. Paul explains the kingdom well in Romans 14:17: "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men." The essence of the Christian life is to be like Jesus. As we take on His nature we will become more like Him, and the Father will pour out the blessings of the kingdom of heaven into our lives.
Use the key points below to explain the first beatitude to your children:
1. Our Lifestyle: Poor in Spirit –We must recognize our total and complete need for God…not just some of the time, but ALL of our lives! Desiring less of self and more of Jesus requires humility. Being humble is very hard, because we naturally want to be selfish instead. It is only by allowing Jesus to be in control of our lives – from the inside out – that we can have any hope of being "poor in spirit."
2. God’s Blessing: The kingdom of heaven – If we learn to be humble and to depend upon Him, then we will receive the blessing of the deepest and highest joy of His kingdom – true fellowship with God. Can you imagine what your family would be like if everyone lived a humble life, and God would pour out the blessings of the kingdom of heaven upon you? What could you do for others when you are all so filled to overflowing with blessings?
Step 1 – Learning To Be Humble
Scripture: "Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom" (James 3:13).
To Do: Have you ever done a job that you didn’t like? Could you find something to do around your home today that would please someone else? Maybe it will be a job like cleaning the bathroom, or taking out the trash without being asked…or even picking up a mess that you didn’t make. When you can begin to do these kinds of things on a regular basis with joy, you will learn true wisdom and understanding. Could you do this without anyone knowing it was you? What would your household be like if everyone in your family began to do the "deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom"?
Prayer: Lord, help us to learn wisdom and understanding by doing things with a humble heart and attitude. Give us the strength to do things for others that we don’t really want to do in our flesh.
Step 2 – Learning More About Humility
Scripture: "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves" (Philippians 2:3).
To Do: Think of something you have done recently for which you have received recognition. Have each family member share. Could you give up the need to be recognized so that God and others would get the glory instead of you? How could you do this in a practical way?
Prayer: Lord, help everything we do to bring You honor. Show us how to take our eyes off of ourselves and what we want. Instead, help us to look at others and see their value and worth through Your eyes.
Step 3 – Putting Others First
Scripture: "Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others" (1 Corinthians 10:24). "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others" (Philippians 2:3-4).
To Do: Have you ever had to make a choice between what you want and what is best for someone else? Could you do something someone else wants to do instead of what you want to do? Take turns in your family choosing an activity to do together and then do each one as you have time. See if you can all learn to value each person’s interests without complaining. Can you do each one with joy and enthusiasm?
Prayer: Dear Father, we want to serve others just as Jesus did. We want to be like Him more than we want to do what we want. Help us to learn to be unselfish and to put the interests of others above our own.
Step 4 – Letting God Have Control
Scripture: "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you" (1 Peter 5:6-7).
To Do: Sometimes we hold onto things that worry us. We neglect to give these anxieties to the Lord, and we selfishly cling to them. What is weighing on your heart today that you need to give to the Lord? Did you know that laying your anxious thoughts and feelings before the Father is an act of humility? It shows God that you are not too proud to let go of things He wants to carry for you. Have each family member share one thing that is worrying him or her. Then, ask the Lord to take these worries from each of you. During the week, ask each other how you are doing with the "worry" and encourage one another with 1 Peter 5:7: "Cast all your anxiety on Him because HE CARES FOR YOU!"
Prayer: Dear God, sometimes we get worried about things and forget to give those worries to You. Help us to recognize them quickly and let you have control of them.
Step 5 – Learning How to Get Smaller
Scripture:"He must become greater; I must become less" (John 3:30).
To Do: Have each family member tell something great about God. Write down all of the incredible things you know about Him. After each family member has a chance to share, decide how you might tell someone else – maybe another family – about how great God is! Could you share something wonderful about God with someone this week?
Prayer: Father, we want to be like John the Baptist, who knew that he was just a small piece of your plan to usher in Jesus’ kingdom. Help us to do and say things that will help us to become less so that You can become greater.
Step 6 – Learning About the Kingdom of Heaven
Scripture: "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power" (1 Corinthians 4:20). "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth" (Psalm 46:10).
To Do: Do you talk too much? Spend some time being quiet before God and focus on how mighty He is. Try letting your actions speak for you today. How can you show someone in your family that he or she is loved without using words?
Prayer: Father, sometimes we are too noisy. Help us to learn how to sit quietly and listen for Your voice. Teach us how to live out Your love in powerful ways without saying a word.
Step 7 – Sharing the Kingdom of Heaven with Others
Scripture: "But He said, ‘I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent’" (Luke 4:43).
To Do: The blessings of the kingdom of God are available to everyone who receives Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. In Step 6, we learned how to share the love of God without using words – by serving someone else. We can also share the love of God by not keeping the good things He has done to ourselves! We should do everything we can to share the Good News with others. Who could you share the Good News of Jesus with today? Think of something that God has done in your life that would teach them how Jesus is truly alive! Let them know what the Lord has done in your life and how that has made a difference for you.
Prayer: Lord, help us to remember not to keep the Good News of Jesus to ourselves. Give us courage and boldness to tell others about Him and what He has done in our lives, so that others will have the opportunity to receive blessings from the kingdom of heaven too!
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." His kingdom holds blessings far more amazing than anything we can imagine on this earth. Learn as a family how to become humble servants like Jesus. Serve others, and share Jesus with them…and you will be blessed!
Next Month – Beatitude 2: "Blessed are those who
mourn, for they will be comforted" (Matthew 5:4).
If you would like to read more articles by Kim Butts, please visit www.harvestprayer.com.