Happy New Year! Or better yet, “Blessed” New Year. We hope 2016 is your closest year yet with the Lord and only increasing in intimacy, love, and intentionality to His Kingdom. With the many “Happy” well wishes during this season, Jeff examines what Jesus called “Happy” or Blessed. One such Eternal Promise is “Blessed are the poor in Spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of God” found in Matthew 5:3. What does it mean to be truly blessed… truly “happy”? Listen and let’s find out together.
Radio Show Transcript
ANNC: Welcome to Eternal Promises, with your host and founder, Jeff Tobler. “Because all of the promises of God in Christ are Yes and in Him, AMEN!” (1 Corinthians 2:10) “And this is THE promise He’s promised us, even eternal life!” (1 John 2:25) Let’s get started by loving the Lord your God with all you have!
ANNC: To participate in the show we invite you to submit your question or comment online at EternalPromises.org/radio. And now, here’s your host, Jeff Tobler:
JEFF:Thank you, Scott, and thank you for joining us. I’m Jeff Tobler, your host and founder of Eternal Promises. You can find us on Facebook, Twitter, and on the web at EternalPromises.org. Also, I want to thank those of you who are supporters of the work of spreading the Kingdom of God — the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. Thank you for your sacrificial prayer and financial support. You know, doing this work simply costs money. And your support of Eternal Promises directly affects the spiritual health of many who listen, as well as giving the gift of eternal life; that is the knowledge of Jesus Christ to those who are perishing. So thank you and please continue to stand with us.
Now if you’d like to support the ministry, including to help expand the radio show to more markets and stations, you can give safely and securely online at EternalPromises.org/give. We so appreciate your generosity for the sake of Jesus and the spread of the gospel of the Kingdom of God.
Well, our primary focus of Eternal Promises is found in the foundational eternal promise in 1st John 2:25 which says
And this is the promise that He has promised us, even eternal life.
“Because all of the promises of God in Christ are yes and in Him Amen!” That last part was from 2nd Corinthians 1:20. Today we’re going to focus on Jesus’s eternal promises contained in his Sermon on the Mount also known as the Beatitudes, in which Jesus starts off promising:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
That’s found in Matthew 5:3. Now in the Gospel of Luke 6:20 we have Jesus saying this:
Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
That’s found in Luke 6:20. And it’s interesting because Luke refers to this as the Sermon on the Plain, if you will, and Matthew refers to Jesus’ teachings there as the Sermon on the Mount (or mountain). Well, some would say that Jesus was speaking roughly the same type of sermon in two different places. One was on a mountain, one was in a plain. Down in a plain, up on a mountain. Others would say, ‘No, it’s the same sermon.’ But Luke records the place that he was standing as “flat” like a plain, whereas Matthew is recording that this is a flat place up in the mountains. Either way, we have a very similar statement and we know that the gospel writers recorded things slightly different, which actually adds to the reliability of their witness.
The reason the distinction is important is because Matthew records Jesus is saying “Blessed are the poor in spirit” and Luke records “Blessed are you poor,” whether it was a different sermon or whether it was the same sermon just transcribed differently. In other words, Luke making an assumption that people would understand “poor in spirit”! Jesus is trying to make a point about spiritual poverty not just financial poverty. Now it’s true, people who are financially poor often are spiritually poor. They understand it’s hard to be proud when you’re humbled financially or materially. Although, it’s possible to be materially poor and be filled with pride; but, it’s not often the case.
The problem is some people over the years have taken the Luke passage and they’ve made the gospel simply about preaching that it’s blessed to be without money: it’s blessed to be without clothes; it’s blessed to be without home; and that’s the furthest thing Jesus was talking about. Whether you have a big home or small home, whether you’re a millionaire or you’re on your last dollar, Jesus is worried about the heart. Jesus is trying to get to the heart of the matter.
Do you remember the rich young ruler that came to Jesus and, you know, Jesus goes through the law with him? And he is saying “all of these I’ve kept since my childhood.” But, Jesus goes to the heart of the matter. You see, the rich young ruler was in love; a comfort with the riches he had on earth. He was not necessarily in love or comforted by his relationship with God. Jesus challenges him with this:
”If you would be perfect sell all, give to the poor, give alms and follow me: take up your cross daily and follow Me.”
Well, what happened to the rich young ruler? He went away sad. In other words, he valued his material riches more than the riches found in following Jesus Christ. And this is at the heart of what Jesus is saying: “Blessed are ‘happy'” or “‘Rich’ are you when you recognize your own spiritual poverty.”
Let’s look at Luke 6:24. Remember verse 20 said “Blessed are you poor for yours is the Kingdom of God”; but four verses down from that Jesus says “But woe to you who are rich for you have received your consolation.” Now, if we just took those two passages out of Luke I understand how some people could say “Hey, money is the problem.” But we know that Paul himself writing to Timothy said “The love of money is the root of all evil.” Not money itself, but the love of money — or serving money, or living to make more money or have material things — that’s the problem.
We know out of Revelation chapter 3 when Jesus is talking to the church of Laodicea he says this… “Because you say I am rich, have become wealthy and have no need anything and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked; I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire that you may be rich.”
Now it’s interesting: here He’s saying that the Laodiceans are themselves saying that they’re rich. They’ve become wealthy. They have no need of anything.
Well, what about the Laodiceans?
Laodicea was known as a very prosperous, a very rich community materially; but the problem is, He’s saying, ‘you don’t have the spiritual riches that I require; that I’m willing to offer you, you Laodicean Christians.’ And interestingly, by the way, He’s talking to the church there. He’s not talking to unbelievers. And so, to these Laodicean Christians, Jesus is saying ‘look, true riches are found only in Me. Buy from Me gold refined in the fire that you may be rich; truly rich… spiritual riches, where thief cannot come in and steal, and moth cannot destroy.’
Well, if you want to know how to be blessed, if you want to be blessed this New Year, stick with me. There is so much more.
ANNC: Answer the call of valor, integrity and strength! Join the rugged men of legend and lore. Get ready for Rugged 2016! The 2016 Rugged Men’s Conference and Retreat is an Eternal Promises ministry event calling all men to a higher vision, higher purpose, and to be the man God created you to be.
JEFF:This is Jeff Tobler with Eternal Promises and I’m so excited about our first Rugged Men’s Conference and Retreat. It’s going to be a time of adventure, excitement and personal growth. Rugged Men’s Conference is open to men of all ages including father-son teams to encourage equip and engage in a rugged outdoor adventure. Dads, we encourage you to bring your sons with you. It’ll be a great time of fun and a profound time of bonding.
ANNC: So get ready for Rugged 2016. Space is limited, so preregister today at eternalpromises.org/rugged and answer the King’s call to enter into His service as a knight of His royal Kingdom.
ANNC: We invite you to submit your question or comment for next weeks show online at EternalPromises.org/radio. This is a listener supported broadcast, and your prayers and financial support are appreciated. If you’d like to support this broadcast and the ministry, you can give safely and securely online at EternalPromises.org/give or by sending your donations to Eternal Promises P.O. Box 20, St. Clair, MO 63077.
And now, here’s your host, Jeff Tobler.
JEFF:Thank you for sticking with us. This is Jeff Tobler, and we are talking about the blessing of God. You know this is the New Year, this is New Year’s Eve, and everyone says “Happy New Year!” Well, “happy” is really another word for “blessed”. Blessed New Year! Well, Jesus says “Blessed are…” and then goes on to tell us how we will be blessed. How can we be blessed in this next year that’s coming up? How can we know for sure that God is working for us and not against us? How can we be reconciled to God rather than be enemies of God?
Well, thankfully we have Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount that’s found in the fifth chapter of the book of Matthew, the Gospel according to Matthew. And the verse that were dealing with today is found in verse three. Tt says:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
And we’ve also pointed out that in the Gospel according to Luke 6:20, Jesus says something very similar:
Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
Very similar statement, Luke leaves out or implies “poor in spirit”; but, he just says “poor” and we’ve been talking about how sometimes people have taken that statement literally and then gone to preach the gospel only to those who don’t have material wealth. But we just got done talking about Revelation 3 where Jesus makes it plain: He’s talking to rich people — people with much material good — and telling them, ‘look, you need the riches of the gospel, you need the riches of a life surrendered to Jesus Christ.’
We’re going to go on and give you a little bit more background on what Jesus means, what the prophets mean — the Law and the Prophets — when they talk about being poor… and even the apostles talk about this.
So in Isaiah, we’re going to go back to the prophet Isaiah… Isaiah 57:15 says this:
For thus says the High and Lofty One that inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place, With him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit,
That would be the same as saying a “poor spirit”. He goes on to say, “to revive the spirit of the humble and to revive the heart of the contrite.” Now, if you think about it for just one moment, God can’t revive a spirit that thinks it is alive and has everything that it possibly needs. He can’t be a Physician to the one who thinks that he’s well. No, it’s the one who recognizes that they are poor, that they are depraved or bankrupt spiritually: that’s the one that God says, ‘I’m dwelling in you. I can help you. I want to be in you and deliver you and redeem you and love you and show you My glory!’
Let’s go to the Psalms. There’s a Psalm 51:17 it says this:
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit. (Can we also say a “poor spirit”?) A broken and a contrite heart—These, O God, You will not despise.
Can you hear the same statement that Jesus is saying? Blessed are the broken spirited people; blessed are the broken and contrite hearts in My people; I will not despise that type of heart. See, if we understand the backdrop of what the Jews would’ve understood, God’s will is… all along his character has been revealed through Moses. His character has been revealed through the Psalms and King David. His character has been revealed through King Solomon in the Book of Proverbs. His character has been revealed through the Prophets. We just read out of Isaiah and we could go to many more.
So what does it mean to be “blessed” and how is the one “poor in spirit” blessed over the one who is “rich in spirit”? Well, the inference there is that the one who is “rich in spirit” of their own thinking or their own doing, is truly poor but doesn’t know it. The one who is truly “poor in spirit” realizes that without God we can do nothing. Without God, we don’t have any true merit or any true worth or even the ability to please him outside of faith. It starts by believing, recognizing there is a God, believing that He is the one who will reward those who seek after Him, who love Him.
You know, eternal life is granted to the one who honestly assesses the truth of one’s spiritual bankruptcy apart from God and turns to, surrenders to, trusts in, and lives for Jesus Christ. Let me repeat that again. The one who has eternal life, the one who receives eternal life, is the one who truly and honestly assesses their own spiritual poverty and because of that, turns to the Lord Jesus Christ, surrenders to the Lord Jesus Christ, trusts in Almighty God and lives for Him. This one, this child of God, will be blessed and will see the Kingdom of God.
You know, it’s interesting… this notion of being rich and when say we are a poor is taught in this way from the apostles, both in James and in 1 Peter. We find a statement that points back to Proverbs 3:34. So let’s read out of James 4:6. James says this:
Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”
Isn’t that interesting! God gives grace to those who are “poor in spirit”, but He resists those who are proud (or rich) in their own spirit. Now, it’s also interesting because we could play semantic games with this. Certainly, when we receive the Lord Jesus Christ, we become rich in spirit. There’s no doubt about that. But Whose Spirit? It certainly is the Spirit of Almighty God?
When we come back, we’re going to hear from Peter, and then we’re going to go on. Stick with me.
ANNC: We invite you to submit your question or comment for next week’s show online at eternalpromises.org/radio. This is a listener supported broadcast and your prayers and financial support are appreciated. If you’d like to support this broadcast, and the ministry, you can give safely and securely online at eternalpromises.org/give or by sending your donations to: Eternal Promises, P.O. Box 20, St. Clair, MO 63077.
And now, here’s your host, Jeff Tobler:
JEFF:Thank you, Scott. We’ve been talking about the promise of Jesus saying “blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is Kingdom the God”. We want to know how to be blessed. We want to know how to receive the blessings of God. Often we say “Happy New Year” and really what we’re saying is have a blessed New Year or be blessed in this New Year. Well, isn’t it important that we know how to be blessed? How do we receive the blessings of God?
Jesus says right at the top of the Sermon on the Mount or the Beatitudes, this is how to have a “poor spirit”, to understand your spiritual poverty without God. We just got done quoting from James 4:6 where he says, “therefore He says (God says) God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble”. And James is quoting from Proverbs 3:34. Now what’s interesting about this is the Apostle Peter also quotes from the same Proverb. Let’s read it out of 1st Peter 5:5-7:
Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”
So, can you hear Jesus’s statement “Blessed are the poor in spirit” in what we’ve just read out of James and the Apostle Peter’s writings? God resists the proud, the proud and heart, but gives grace to the poor in heart or the humble. Interestingly enough, both James and Peter give us the prescription for fixing pride in our lives. James says it this way:
“Therefore submit to God; resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands you sinners and purify your hearts you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up.”
Well it’s great advice. Put simply: let’s understand our poverty before the Lord before we can laugh and have joy. We’ve got to come to a place of mourning over our sin. Interestingly enough, in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus actually says:
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
See, the apostles taught exactly what Jesus taught, and Jesus is coming to magnify, or clarify, His teachings that have always been in place. Peter says something very similar in verse six. He says:
“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God that he may exalt you in due time casting all your care upon Him for He cares for you.”
Isn’t that wonderful? God gives grace to those who are “poor in spirit.” All we need to do is humble ourselves before Him. We need to draw near to Him and He will draw near to us. He will lift us up if we will first lower ourselves before Him and admit to our true state. So what hinders us from saying or admitting to ourselves that we’re “poor in spirit”?
The problem is all of us think that we’re better than we actually are. If we saw ourselves, our past actions, and let me say it this way: even if we have done much good, sometimes the intent of our heart or the reason or the motive that we did something was not pure. And, you see, that’s sin. That’s not the glory of God. The glory of God does something with a willing heart, with a happy and joyful heart, and a desire to bless someone else, especially to bless God for what He’s done for us.
And so first it’s important that we recognize, that without God we would not be able to do any type of righteousness. It’s only because we have been made in his image that we can even hope to do righteousness; and furthermore, it is by receiving the Spirit of Christ that we have the enablement — we have the power — to walk righteously because He who is righteous is in us, and therefore righteousness ought to flow out of us.
Well, before we go, I want to read to the rest of the Beatitudes so that you will be blessed. Here we go:
Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
And that’s a Word of Promise today from Eternal Promises. I’m Jeff Tobler, and I want to encourage you to seek the Lord while He may be found. Because if you seek Him with all of your heart, the promise of God is that you will find Him!
ANNC: You’ve been listening to Eternal Promises with your host and founder, Jeff Tobler. You can listen online anytime at eternalpromises.org/radio. We invite you to submit your question or comment for next week’s show at eternalpromises.org/radio#Form. This is a listener supported broadcast, and your prayers and financial support are appreciated. If you’d like to support this broadcast and the ministry, you can give safely and securely online at eternalpromises.org/give, or by sending your donations to Eternal Promises, P.O. Box 20, St. Clair, MO 63077.
On behalf of all of us at Eternal Promises, THANK YOU for listening! And we encourage you to lay hold of God’s promises in you life today by loving the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. Because all of the promises of God in Christ are YES, and in Him, AMEN.
“And this is the promise He has promised us, even Eternal Life!” 1 John 2:25