Matthew 5:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (NKJ Thomas-Nelson)
To grasp how contradictory the two halves of this sentence seem is impossible to the fleshly mind. The Greek word for “poor” (ptochos), is the word for beggarly. It is a desperate state of having no resources to operate out of or means of attaining them on our own. There is another state of “almost” poor (penes-Gk) or having little left. The person in that state can have just enough pride and religion left to never find the prize of poverty. They may be in very bad shape, but not bad enough to be thrust into the kingdom of heaven. They are not the people of this passage. Jesus is talking about a total lack of strategies or explanations or resources. Jesus is talking to those who would be bankrupt of all hope in their ability to fix their lives or their circumstances and hunger for change whatever the cost. Now, this is not the kingdom of the average person’s dreams, and certainly not what one thinks of with regard to heavenly living. Yet, Jesus makes them mathematical equals; total poverty of spirit equals (is) the kingdom of heaven.
Recently, though in times past also, I have witnessed people who were devastated by matters, I have been there. I have seen broken, weeping, anxious, depressed and hopeless people who could not contemplate going another day in their desperate condition. BUT…then something (really Someone) happened! Jesus became the only thirst, the only desire and the only goal. Life began to be lived beyond circumstance and in Christ alone. It is not explainable in a “how to” sense when you suddenly are possessed by something, really “Someone,” much larger, much greater than any mere circumstance or your own self. It is a miracle when poverty of self turns into the prize of the high calling of Christ in our lives and all things are summed up in Jesus. Is that not really the kingdom of heaven? And by the way, a kingdom is defined by the King and therefore it is not nearly so much a place as it is a Presence and a Person. This prize of poverty is available only to those who are willing to lose their lives, and be crucified with Him. He must be your only hope for resurrection.
There is one caution, one catch if you will. It is possible to walk away from and thereby lose the state of poverty and thus the kingdom of heaven by being rich in self sufficiency; and what is probably more concerning is that beingalmost poor may be a worse deception than being rich in spirit. It is often the “almost poor” that present themselves as the religious representatives of Jesus and thereby confuse a lost world. Those rich in themselves may be far from His Kingdom but few are confused by them. Arrogance is clear and cold. Lip service religion is foggy and lukewarm. It invites but repels at the same time. Is it possible that this is the reason for a “church” that is sometimes quite ineffective no matter how vocal?
Rev. 3:15 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.
From your father's heart with love (DWJ)
“Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.” I Thessalonians 5:24
It is a marvelous thing to be called by Christ into a transformed life. We rejoice, many who observe us rejoice, and heaven rejoices. Jesus will at times give us a glimpse of what we will be when His life dwells in us. This is evident in Jesus’ statement, but I have chosen you and ordained you that you should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain; John 15:16. It is when we become invested in establishing procedures for living this revelation out, instead of being enthralled with the Person who chose us, that our rejoicing can diminish quickly.
In the ten (10) verses preceding our text, Paul the Apostle has set forth at least a dozen spiritual characteristics or attitudes that are a picture of the life of the believer. Just three of them seem nearly impossible to me. “Rejoice Always….Pray without ceasing…In everything give thanks?” Does Jesus not know my circumstances today? Does He have any idea of the endless necessary tasks? Does He not understand that I am at times weakened and an earthen vessel? BUT, I conclude this is what He expects of me as a called out one and I must prove to Him that I am dependable. Come hell or high water I am going to look like this. I am going to do my best to climb into this photograph. After all, the world is watching and is this not what I am supposed to be doing?
The religious structure at times tends to reinforce this performance mentality by convincing me that one more night of attendance in some program, or one more committee appointment is probably needed; and if I will work harder at this I will achieve more success. Somehow, the beauty of the call of Christ has been replaced by the boredom of the carrying the call out. Who will rescue me?
“Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.”
In our passage is the simple and seemingly insignificant word “do” (Gk-poieo), which was indeed significant in the Greek culture. This word, poieo, has a different flavor than our English word “do,” which often may imply going through the motions of a tedious task of obligation. Rather, “poieo” often has the flavor of an internal and creative passion and drive that is at the heart of what results outwardly. This word was used of Greek artists when describing what was underneath their artistry. In the context of our passage the emphasis is much more than what drives my activity. We find both the doing and the “Who” of this doing disclosed. “Who also will do it” powerfully declares that God (through Christ) becomes both the source and the substance of my doing. The outward activity can now become a display of Christ in me to the watching world instead of me trying to produce a reasonable facsimile of Christ. It is God’s approval at work in and through me instead of my endless search for activities that God will approve. This difference may appear subtle but it is critical! This may end up being the difference between His faithfulness and our fading. The Apostle Paul is so aware of the necessity of this way of operating that his preceding statement declares that only the “God of peace Himself” can bring this about in my life. (I Thessalonians 5:23)
I remember a few years ago my wife, Joy, and I purchased a barbecue grill. We brought it home in the box and set about assembling our exciting new purchase. I always have Joy with me on these ventures as I tend to take a quick look at the instructions, look at the finished product on the box, and then tear into the final accomplishment of the great picture. Frequently, and especially true in this endeavor, my excitement was replaced by frustration. When done it had the appearance of a barbecue grill, but we had to redo a number of things that were done out of order (my fault not Joy’s), and somehow we had seemingly important parts left over. With something less than rejoicing I finally looked at Joy and said “That’s good enough,” (as well as a few other grumblings). She quietly pointed to big letters on the box that said “FREE ASSEMBLY, JUST ASK!”
There are times that I may be able to “do” something that resembles His doing, and it may even function. BUT, it doesn’t come forth with rejoicing, giving thanks and always praying. I believe this passage, “Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it,” implies a “free assembly, just ask…”
your father's heart, with love
I have a desire to be the physical demonstration of the person of Jesus through all the ordinary activity of my life, and on this site through my "devotionals." My deep desire is to have intimacy with Jesus and the heart of my heavenly Father beating in my heart and impacting my wife and family, and then whoever and wherever God places me.
1 Thessalonians 2:7-8