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

This scripture is the first of the beatitudes and comes from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. In this sermon, Jesus makes nine statements regarding “who is blessed.” The word Beatitudes comes from the Latin word “beatus” meaning, “blessed” or “happy.”

What does Jesus mean when He tells us “poor in spirit?” If you substitute the word “humble” for “poor,” you’ll understand. Simply put, Jesus is telling us to be humble in our spirits by realizing our dependence on Him. We must acknowledge our own sin; our emptiness; our poverty. We cannot be proud in our hearts, thinking we do not need God. Humbleness starts with the recognition that we cannot exist without God and He is the Commander of our lives.  When we are humble before God, it creates a bond that cannot be broken; a relationship that gives us the life God wants for us.

Arrogance does not exist in a person who is “poor in spirit.” Arrogance over-rides God and puts Him as a secondary source of strength and puts one’s self as a primary source.

How do you become “poor in spirit?”

1. God’s standards cannot be reached by you and me. We need Jesus.

2. Full and total repentance. Our sins lead to death; our dependence on Jesus Christ, the Son of God, leads us to life eternal. There is NO other way.

3. Acknowledgement of our spiritual worthlessness without God. We are nothing without Him. We can do nothing without Him.

4. You cannot save yourself. Only Christ can give you salvation.

Who in the Bible had this attitude?

1. Gideon: Judges 6:15,  “‘Pardon me, my lord,’ Gideon replied, ‘but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.'”

2. Peter: Luke 5:8, “When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, ‘Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!’”

3. Jesus: John 5:30, “By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.”

The best explanation is summed up in Ephesians 2:7-9, “in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Your “How To” Dilemma

Nehemiah 8:10, “Be not grieved and depressed, for the joy of the Lord is your strength and stronghold.”

There are all kinds of exercises to strengthen our hearts and our muscles. I was in the doctor’s office recently and read five different articles on strengthening my abdominals and thighs in the time that I waited. Everyone has an answer to how to get that “six-pack;” or prevent flabby arms; or build a steel calf muscle. Pick up any magazine, and you can find the answer to your “how to” dilemma.

Although God wants us to exercise our bodies, the Bible tells us that our actual strength comes from the “joy of the Lord.”

Satan isn’t after our joy – he’s after our strength. To win a battle, you and I both know the answer is to weaken the opponent; zap his strength! The way to defeat Superman was with kryptonite; the way to defeat us? Make us believe our strength is in ourselves – that’s a sure, fire way to weaken us for the kill. And Satan knows it!

If we are too weak to pray – too weak to worship – too defeated to try – too filled with doubt to believe – he’s GOT us!

God will lift our head. He is our shield. He is our refuge. We just have to put our trust in Him. In trusting Him, we find joy and peace which surpasses all understanding.

You want strength? Find joy – in the Lord.

Take Time Today

Ecclesiastes 2:24, ” There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil (in his labor). This also, I saw, is from the hand of God,”

When I was a little boy, one of my childhood friends had the coolest tree house I’d ever seen. His dad built it for him. When we would go over to his house, we always played Swiss Family Robinson and fought pirates. I could swing from a rope into another tree and slide down the trunk – that’s how incredible it was!

My friend’s dad was a builder and architect, thus the reason for the elaborate tree house. John would comment, “This weekend, my dad and me are going to spend the night together in the tree house!”

On Monday morning I would ask John, “How was it? Did you spend the night in the tree house with your dad?”

And he would always reply, “No. He said he was too busy.”

Busyness and working are two entirely different things. God calls us to work – to labor – to provide for our families and impact His Kingdom. He calls us to work to keep the material things He has given us in order; but many of us confuse working with busyness. Busyness destroys families; busyness destroys relationships; busyness destroys lives.

God wants us to enjoy life and to enjoy one another. He wants us to make time for Him every day in prayer, reading the Word, and in church. He wants us to make time for our children, our friends, our spouse, our parents and siblings. He has asked us to enjoy the world around us – go hiking, watch the sun set and rise, listen to the birds, climb mountains, ride bikes, paint, laugh, and spend the night in tree houses with our children.

What is keeping you busy these days? Has your work become an obsession? May a hobby has overtaken your schedule?

You know, John and his dad never did spend the night in the tree house. Somewhere in about the fifth or sixth grade, John’s dad had a heart attack and died. His mom moved her kids back to her home town in Oklahoma, and I never saw him again.

Busyness. Take the time today to evaluate what is occupying your life and keeping you from enjoying what God has given you.

You Can Count on Him

Psalm 86:4,”Hear me, Lord, and answer me,  for I am poor and needy.Guard my life, for I am faithful to you; save your servant who trusts in you. You are my God; have mercy on me, Lord, for I call to you all day long. Bring joy to your servant, Lord,  for I put my trust in you.”

Whatever you are facing today, know you can trust God. He hears your cry. He knows your need. He will bring joy to you, even in your darkest hours.

All around me I see people in trouble; people in pain; people sick; people with heartache. I’m sure you know many as well. Maybe you are one of those people. God wants to hear the prayers of His people. He wants to give grace and mercy. He wants to deliver you.

Sometimes it can be hard to know if He really understands or hears our prayers; especially, when deliverance is needed quickly.  Today, believe your answer is coming. Pray for joy and peace. Ask for favor and mercy. When we put our trust in God, He delivers. You can count on Him.

Not Her Past

Luke 7:37-38, “A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. 38 As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.”

Misjudgment. It happens routinely and unfortunately daily in our lives. We judge people based on their past. In this scripture Mary Magdalene, a woman with quite a sordid past, anoints Jesus’ feet with a very expensive perfume. People who witness the gesture find that it is wrong – erotic in nature – inappropriate. The Pharisees can’t understand Jesus even allowing a former prostitute and demon possessed woman to touch Him.

The Pharisee comments to Peter about Mary indicating his astonishment that Jesus would even allow “this kind of woman” near him. Jesus hears the conversation and asks Peter, “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.” Luke 7:41-43

When Mary rubs the perfume on Jesus’ feet, He does not see a prostitute. He does not see the stain of sins. When Mary rubs the perfume on His feet, Jesus sees her heart – not her past.

Some of you are dealing with sin you do not believe Jesus can forgive. It is difficult to talk with Him about it because you are so ashamed. Not only is He willing to forgive – He is willing to forget. Today, talk to God about the sin in your life. Put it in your past and move on to a glorious future in Christ.

I have put my trust in You

Psalm  143:8, “Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go for to You I lift up my soul.”

This morning as I prepared for my day, I thought of this verse. I thought of the words and the importance of putting our trust in God each and every day. The very first words that come from our mouths as we open our eyes should be these. There are times in our lives when we can only see the next step and sometimes, it is difficult to see even that; but God can see the whole path. He knows what’s up ahead and He will faithfully guide us through the terrain as long as we allow Him to do so.

King David lived through tumultuous times. At the time he wrote this scripture, the surrounding nations were after the blood of God’s people. During this time period and even today, Israel was constantly threatened by the countries around it who were eager to conquer the land and destroy its people. But David relied on a Warrior far more powerful than the current threat of the day. He knew God had the bigger picture, the whole blueprint. He knew in Whom to put his trust.

This morning, try it. Memorize this verse and commit to quoting it every morning as you start your day. Each day, God’s love for us is new and fresh. He is completely sold out to us. And His love is unconditional, borderless, never-ending. Openly profess that you put your trust in Him. This means ‘whatever’ happens in your day, you know God is with you. Whatever fire you need to walk through, He’ll walk through it with you. Whatever storm you need to ride out, He’ll ride it out with you. Whatever decision you need to make, He’ll help you make it. Whomever you need to see, He’ll make sure you meet with them. If you do not need to see them, He’ll make sure you don’t.

You simply need to lift up your soul to Him.

Mother’s Day

I found a card David made for Connie probably when he was around 5. It reminded me of a very similar card I had made for my mom when I was around 5 or 6. As our culture evolves and changes; as society develops new ways of doing and saying things; there is a constant that holds true since the beginning of time – a mother’s love.

M is for the Many things she gave me,
O means only that she’s growing Old.
T is for the Tears she shed to save me,
H is for her Heart of purest gold.
E is for her Eyes with love light shining,
R means Right and Right she’ll always be.

Put them all together, they spell MOTHER.
A word that means the world to me.

Over the past few weeks I have been thinking of Eve in anticipation for Mother’s Day and what I wanted to say to you on this important day for women.

When I was little, I used to marvel at the idea of being first at something – first to walk on the moon; first to fly in a body suit; first to invent a cure for cancer. But for Eve, she was the first to sin and she was the first to birth a child and be a mother. During Connie’s first pregnancy, I saw her read book after book. She had baby showers. Friends came over and helped her set up the nursery and the advice just flowed. I was not welcomed even to be around as the women talked about labor and breast-feeding and changing tables and strollers. But Eve, she had no one but God to tell her what to do.

I overheard my mom telling Connie once, “Women have been having babies for thousands of years. You’ll be just fine.” Eve didn’t have a mother, and she was the first to go through it all. It is hard to even imagine how frightened she must have been. We know through scripture that she had 3 sons:  Cain, Abel, and Seth; but, the Bible tells us she had many other sons and daughters as well.

I do not know how she interacted with her children but I believe she probably set the stage for all mothers: demonstrating a selfless love, devotion, deep-rooted loyalty, and commitment.

Today, I applaud women all over the world for their love and devotion to children – whether their own children or someone else’s children. What a blessing you are in our lives. Thank you for your contribution and example. Thank you for your understanding and compassion. Thank you that when no one else is there,  moms always are.

To the women who have touched my life – my wife, my mom, and my grandmothers – thank you!

For all of you who daily strive to be the best for our children – thank you!

Happy Mother’s Day! May your day be as special to you as you are in our lives.