📝 = Fill in the Blank
Good Morning Church Family,
Glad to see everyone this morning. This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. Amen? Happy you are able to join us today.
It’s certainly no small accomplishment that you arrived here safe and sound when you consider the persecution of Christians around the world attempting to gather and worship.
We often sell ourselves short on what we do accomplish on a daily basis which is also the case in our daily walk with Jesus.
We sell ourselves short, often thinking we are not worthy, and in doing so we miss out on what he has instore for us.
Although we do fall short of His glory, His grace is all we need.
Look at 2 Corinthians 12:9 where the Lord relays to Paul, “My grace is sufficient”
9 But He said to me “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly in my weakness, so that the power of Christ may rest on me.
📝 God’s power is perfected in our weakness.
I know for myself I often feel not worthy of God’s attention or the opportunities and blessings he provides.
For instance, when I was approached by Albert about speaking this morning, my first inclination is to ask my wife “don’t we have something going on that Sunday??”
When that failed, I head down the path of an easy topic! But God takes us outside of our comfort zone so that we are completely reliant upon him where “His power is perfected in weakness”.
We often put people we read about in the Bible up on a pedestal and think there’s no way we can measure up to their standards and have God use us as He use them. Let’s look at a few of them a little closer.
Let’s start with Moses.
Did you know he was a murderer?
Take a look at Exodus 2: 11-12
11 In the course of time Moses grew up. Then he went to ⌞see⌟ his own people and watched them suffering under forced labor. He saw a Hebrew, one of his own people, being beaten by an Egyptian. 12 He looked all around, and when he didn’t see anyone, he beat the Egyptian to death and hid the body in the sand.
But that sin did not stop God from using Moses in amazing ways.
Moses also had a speech impediment. Take a look at Exodus 4:10
Moses said to the LORD, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”
Moses repented and despite sin and a disability, God used Moses for one of the most important assignments of all time, leading His people out of Egypt.
📝 Jesus didn’t call the equipped, He equipped the called.
How about Noah?
God considered Noah the last righteous man on earth at the time. Noah was tasked with the preservation of mankind, but he wasn’t free from sin.
Take a look at Genesis 9:21
When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent.
Noah repented and God used him in a very critical role, preserving mankind!
Consider Paul and his thorn. Let’s look at 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 a little closer.
Paul's Thorn and God's Grace …8Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me. 10That is why, for the sake of Christ, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.…
Add this to what Paul did as Saul where he attempted to destroy the Church and persecute Christians and you don’t have a guy you’d figure God would be interested in using.
However, Paul repented, had the transformation on the road to Damascus and went on to be known as possibly the greatest missionary of all time!
For God to not just forgive a man blood-thirsty to persecute Christians, but to use Him greatly for His purpose is one of the greatest examples of God’s love, mercy and grace for us.
Then there’s David, a man after God’s own heart as we see in Act 13:22 ,
22 After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’
But David concealed his adultery and a murder as we see 2 Samuel 11.
In fact, David broke HALF of the 10 commandments. Those of which include, murder (2 Samuel 11:17; 12:9), lying (2 Samuel 11: 7-8, 12-13), adultery (1 Samuel 11:4), coveting a neighbor’s wife (2 Samuel 11:3) and even stealing another man’s wife (2 Samuel 12:9).
Even though his sins were many, he turned to God, confessed his sin and asked for forgiveness. And God forgave him.
Maybe you’re saying you had previously denied God and you definitely aren’t worthy.. well, let’s just say Peter did that 3 times. God certainly forgave him and used him in a mighty way.
Oh, you’ve been running from God?? You’ve got nothing on Jonah whose running landed him in the belly of a whale.
Jonah repented and begged God to save him. And the Lord listened. Jonah went on to spread God’s message to the Ninevites, they repented, and God did not destroy them.
Just as God forgave and used each of these in a mighty way, He is waiting to do the same for you.
Even if you’re dealing with a disability like Moses with his speech impediment or Paul’s thorn, God is waiting to use us all.
Take a look at 2 Corinthians 4:17-18
For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. So, we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
If you ever feel like you aren’t worthy enough, remember this:
📝 Jesus used a bunch of flawed people to share Hope to a flawed world.
While preparing, I ran across this and wanted to share:
📝 The primary disability in life is a bad attitude.” “Your disability will never make God love you less.” “Put a go in front of disabled. It spells: God is abled.”
So regardless of your past, your shortcomings or disabilities, “He is STILL the way” for each and every one of us. That’s the title for today’s message.
We need to remember Psalm 139:14
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
Anybody or anything that makes you feel differently is a lie straight from Satan.
And in this case, we respond to Satan just as Jesus did in the wilderness:
Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’” Matt 4:10
📝 This should be our daily proclamation…Not today Satan! Get away!
Satan is certainly lurking around every corner; every situation and we need to be prepared by putting on the full armor of God each and every day as we see in Ephesians 6.
So now that we see that God can really use us regardless of our flaws.
How do we prepare ourselves? I’m glad you asked. This brings us to today’s verse.
📝 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3
Let’s first review what led up to this particular verse.
If you recall from few Sunday’s ago, Albert shared the passage where John the Baptist baptized Jesus. Jesus emphasized the importance of baptism by immersion and set the example for all of us to follow.
After this Jesus retreated to the wilderness led by the Spirit and essentially emptied himself by fasting 40 days and 40 nights while refuting the devil’s temptations.
Finally, last week we learned after Jesus had been baptized, fast and refuted the devil, he started calling his first disciples and preaching.
Recall the verse from last week:
From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”
And we heard about “The Kingdom Way” thru renewing our mind, speech and actions. Matthew 4:17
That brings us to Chapter 5 in Matthew and the most famous sermon ever given, The Sermon on the Mount.
This really can be considered the Constitution of the Kingdom. Its no accident it is placed near the beginning of the NT. Its position signifies its importance.
Again, to emphasize the importance of this moment consider what Jesus has done leading up to this…baptized…fast….calling disciples and began to preach.
And finally, Jesus had amassed quite the following.
Look at Matt 4:23-25:
23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24 News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them. 25 Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis,[g] Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.
All of this leads us to this important moment of the Sermon on the Mount
Look at Matt 5:1-2:
📝 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them. Matt 5:1-2
So, he sees the massive crowd and he goes up on a mountainside.
Although the Bible is silent in regard to the exact location of the Sermon on the Mount, it has been historically believed to have been given on Mount Eremos.
This location has been commemorated as the place of the message for more than 1,500 years. It is positioned on Galilee's northwest shore between the cities of Gennesaret and Capernaum.
And it’s pointed out that he “sat down”. Didn’t find a makeshift podium to stand above all on the mountainside before the disciples and the masses.
He chose to sit down and began to teach (not preach) specifically to his disciples with countless others listening in.
It had to be the greatest EF Hutton moment ever! Can you just imagine everyone there quiet as a mouse straining to hear every word! Probably dating myself with that reference.
For those a little younger, how about Forrest Gump when he stopped running and everyone listened intently…”I’m pretty tired…..I think I’ll go home now”
The sermon on the mount goes on for 3 chapters and is chocked full of the ultimate guidance for living. It truly is the recipe or blueprint for living our lives; our character, our conduct including how we pray.
Now with all that said and the disciples as well as countless others listening intently, He starts this sermon with:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3
Now this must be pretty dog on important if this is what he started with and rightfully so because the stakes are high……we’re talking about ownership of the kingdom of heaven!
This is the first of eight beatitudes that Jesus shared to start the Sermon on the Mount.
I want to share how my commentary described 4 ways to understand the Beatitudes:
Code of ethics for the disciples and a standard of conduct for all believers.
Contrast Kingdom values (eternal) with worldly values (temporary
Contrast superficial “faith” of the pharisees with the real faith Christ wants
They show how the OT expectations will be fulfilled in the new kingdom
They are not multiple choice picking just those that you want to apply, they must be taken as a whole.
They are truly a direct contradiction of what the world values.
A W Tozer describes them like this:
“A fairly accurate description of the human race might be furnished to one unacquainted with it (human race) by taking the Beatitudes, turning them wrong side out, and saying, ‘Here is your human race”
Simply put… the direct opposite.
Just like living in the flesh is the opposite of living in the spirit.
📝 The Beatitudes give you a concise summary of spiritual life.
The Beatitudes demonstrate that the way to heavenly blessedness is opposite the worldly path people normally follow to find happiness.
In these, Jesus describes the character of true faith.
The Beatitudes, translated by some to mean "beautiful attitudes", come from the Latin word meaning "happy" or "blessed."
As such, the location where he gave his entire message is sometimes called the Mount of Beatitudes.
Each describes a spiritual condition and the Godly results of those that realize that condition.
We’re going to concentrate on the first one.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3
Now you look at poor in spirit and you think my spirit isn’t poor but that’s not what this is saying.
It’s not referring to your natural disposition but to deliberate choice and discipline.
It’s acknowledging your helplessness and reliant on God’s omnipotence.
Think about Jesus and his fast for 40 days and nights, he completely emptied himself to be totally reliant on the Father.
That’s what this is about, totally emptying ourselves of worldly things, distractions, stumbling blocks; whatever it is that is preventing you from becoming completely reliant on Him. That’s what poor in spirit is referring to.
It’s obviously pretty important because the kingdom of heaven is at stake here!
When Billy Graham was asked what it means, he brilliantly responded with the following:
📝 "What did He mean? Simply this: We must be humble in our spirits. If you put the word humble in place of the word poor, you will understand what He meant.” - Billy Graham
In other words, when we come to God, we must realize our own sin and our spiritual emptiness and poverty. We must not be self-satisfied or proud in our hearts, thinking we don’t really need God. If we are, God cannot bless us.
📝 God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. James 4:6
So, I ask you, what is preventing you from completely emptying so that you can be filled with nothing but the Holy Spirit?
Whatever is that we brought in here with us today, lets leave it right up here and not leave with it.
Remember Matt 11: 28 -30
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
God is waiting on us. Put away those worldly distractions and turn completely to Him., for then yours is the Kingdom of Heaven.