“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5.3
What does it mean to be “poor in spirit”? To be poor means to be utterly dependent on others and totally impoverished. The Greek word that Matthew uses here is the strongest word he could have used for “poor” (Gr. ptochos) it literally means “undone, pathetic, miserable.” This is the only place in the New Testament “poor in spirit” is used like this.
I am starting to understand this spiritual mystery a little. I have been a follower of Jesus for over 35 years, and I sit here pondering how I can live daily “poor in spirit.” To be miserable without God, and His presence? To be totally undone if He and I are distanced. To have a motivation everyday to draw close, to need Him so badly, that I am pretty pathetic without Him. I confess, I am so capable to not think or feel this for extended periods. Without the conscience desires and heart-grooming to love Him more, I am able to live without that strong living connection, and consciousness of Jesus’ presence. I can study, function, think, eat, and even be kind and loving without being “poor in spirit.” But to live daily “ poor in spirit” is a different level of desire, motivation and heart posture. It requires a consistent exposure to a posture of poverty in spirit I must posess.
To be needy in my spirit for Jesus, is something I cannot will, but I must “be”. How can this happen? What does this look like?
- To be in such a love relationship with Jesus that distance brings my poor spirit distress.
- To have such faith and true knowledge of the Lord, that I can do nothing of eternal value without working in tandem with His Spirit.
- To verbalize, ponder, and meditate of my spiritual poverty and deep need for Jesus.
- To know that “in Him I live, and move and have my being. (Acts 17.28), as I go about the daily, often, mundane routines of life not alone, but with the joy and light of Christ.
- To not allow my experience, self-sufficiency, or knowledge to substitute a life that is indwelling with the living Christ.
- To be with Jesus, to keep reminding myself of His glory, love, friendship, and life, which my life must be lost within.
To live like this is to live within the Kingdom of Heaven. To live without being “poor in spirit” is to live in the systems of this temporal world’s ways. To live in a state that we do not recognize we truly need Him in every way is to live in the un-desperate self-sufficient mode and the deception that Jesus does not matter and really doesn’t make a difference in who we are, and what we are doing. May we not be deceived. May we desperately with all poorness throw our life, our day, our strength, our thoughts, our desires, into His hands.
Cultivate your poverty in Spirit daily by being with Jesus. More than a “devotion” or “quiet time” but a posture of heart that continues throughout the day. Commune with Jesus in such a way, that if that communion is broken, you immediately know it, and return to being poor and needy for Him. So we really do live in poverty.
“For thus says the high and lofty one, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with those who are contrite and humble in spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite.” Isaiah 57:15 NRSV
Pastor Nate Elarton
We are all leaders. We all lead people. We cannot deny our influence upon people. Our choices, talk, attitude, priorities, social media, all communicate and affect others.
“We cannot – not communicate.”
Who are the people that you love to be with and admire? I imagine these people are loving, positive, encouraging, happy, and they have inward character and virtues that are pure and Christ-like.
I was pondering the account when Moses asked God to reveal to him, His glory. God passed by Moses and he had to shield his face from the glory and then God revealed his glory by communicating it.
“Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in loving kindness and truth;who keeps loving-kindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.” Exodus 34.6-7 (NASB The Lockman Foundation 1995 update)
God reveals Himself as compassionate, lots of love, slow to angry. He forgives. He is truth. He will not overlook guiltiness. We will not escape if we are guilty. Wow, thankful for Jesus who removes our sin and guilt!
These qualities are the qualities of a leader, a believer, a follower of God. These are the virtues of a person who confesses being one of God’s people.
Questions to Ponder
- How compassionate are you? Do you care and think, and act on behalf of others?
- Are you grateful, and gracious in life, with others?
- Do you value truth avoiding deceit, lies, gossip, spreading negative feelings about others? Do you value the truth of God’s Word and live within His Words?
- Are you forgiving? Holding Grudges? Do you have trouble giving grace? Jesus can help us.
- Do you have a kind attitude?
- Living a life of being loving and kind must be personified in how we speak to and about others. How we choose and prioritize ourselves.
The greatest leader of all is the Lord. He is our standard for character, and without character we lead people….poorly. With the character of God, we lead people, and influence them to Him, bringing Him glory.
My thoughts this morning. True and convicting. Life-giving and helpful I pray.
Pastor Nate Elarton
As I ponder this morning the deep goodness of God, I am reflecting on the love of God and I am moved. It is Good Friday. We call it good. For us it shows the love that Father has for us. That Christ would die in our place. Take the judgement for our sin. In no other way could the depth of God’s love be shown, then by the giving of Life. In a world that is hostile, angry, confused, God’s love shines to humanity. In the death of Christ the human spirit, is moved by magnitude of love shown as Jesus lays down his life for us. Please take a moment to reflect, meditate, pray through with thanksgiving these verses as I have done. The truth will lead you to the goodness of God on this Good Friday
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3.16
“It is rare indeed for anyone to die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God proves His love forus in this: While we were still sinners, Christ diedfor us. Therefore, since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from wrath through Him.” Romans 5.7-9
“But the LORD was pleased
To crush Him, putting Him to grief;
If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
He will see His offspring,
He will prolong His days,
And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.” Isaiah 53.10
He has purchased by his love and blood our salvation.
Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
Today is a day to be thankful, humbled, broken, and meek.
Five years ago we set out on an endeavor to plant another location of Compelled Church. God gave us an amazing site pastor, worship leader, and key volunteers that have stuck in out, worked hard, never quit, and today we are expanding a growing church with life-changing ministries and relationships. Continue reading “Five Year Anniversary for Compelled Multi-site Launch”
Every time I read Romans chapter 12, I am encouraged by the ancient Apostle to move forward in giftings, and to allow the fruit and Spirit of Christ, manifest himself through me daily. It can be a challenge to allow the gifts we have for God’s glory be used. Often we want to use them on our terms and in our time. But God gives them to us, and the power to exercise them “according to the grace given to us (12.6).” I also see in 12.3 “as God has allotted to each a measure of grace.”
So when it comes to the Lord flowing through me I am asking for a bigger measure of grace and faith from God. I am asking for more faith, and the gifts I sense he has graced me with to be multiplied. I am asking that for my family, my church leaders, and for Compelled.
All the gifts differ, Paul writes , according, or in proportion to the grace (gift) we have been given. They are….
- Prophecy-This is more forth-telling and proclaiming truth than giving “words” or “Thus saith the Lord” things.
- Serving-Being a servant.
- Teaching-Helping others grasp Kingdom and Christ principles in many ways.
- Encouraging-Lifting others up.
- Generosity-giving finances, time, talents, stuff to those in need.
- Mercy-love and kindness manifested.
Which ones do you lean to in how the Lord made and graced you?
Many times we become shy about our gifts, like it’s wrong to ask for more faith, and greater power in our gifts. I encourage you today to get outside of your box, and pray for a greater impact for God with the gifts here in Romans 12. Just remember the gifts are to glorify Christ, and to bring people into the Kingdom, as well as strengthening believers in the faith. They are not about us, to attract attention to us, or to fill some broken need in our lives. So use your gifts, they were made for use, not for storage.
Here is my view on the often-asked questions, Why do Christians suffer? Since the beginning of time, God’s people have suffered and that will continue, despite the misled teachings that believers should not suffer. Some would contest that all suffering is from Satan. That is absurd, since most of the New Testament was written to the new church that was suffering. I do not believe the Bible teaches that followers of Jesus should not suffer and God does not use suffering. I believe that is not biblical, and not a reality. Whether we like it or not, suffering draws us to Christ. Suffering reminds us of our immortality and our absolute lack of control over our life, health, and circumstances, which we desire to control so deeply. I have had some deep suffering in life, I know most have had it worse. During those dark and painful times, I turned to Christ, and knew the Lord’s presence was with me so strongly.
Suffering that I have encountered and you may also.
1. Suffering from my own sin, my own choices, my own self-inflicted pain.
2. Suffering physically, with pain and/or sickness.
3. Suffering as I experience the death of my family and those I love.
4. Suffering because of other’s choices, and/or sin.
5. Financial suffering.
6. Emotional Suffering, discouragement, depression, because of the circumstances of life.
7. Suffering as a pastor, when I observe others choosing the world instead of Jesus, and they abandon their faith, wreck their lives, bring suffering upon their family. This deeply grieves me.
8. Suffering watching and walking with, others that are suffering from all of the above.
Paul teaches us in 2 Corinthians, 1.4-9, we learn that we suffer to be comforted so we can comfort others. The definition of that Greek word, is to “encourage, bring consolation, comfort.” Bob Utley give light to the word “comfort’. “The term paraklēsis in its different forms, is used ten times in vv. 3–11. It is the key term throughout the entire passage and also in chapters 1–9, where it is used twenty-five times. The word means “to call alongside.” It was often used in a judicial sense of an advocate who rendered legal aid, comfort, and guidance.”
We suffer simply for a couple of reasons according to this text.
1. Our suffering calls the Holy Spirit to us to bring comfort.
2. Our suffering bring us the experience of comfort from God so we can comfort/encourage others who are suffering (1.4).
3. We suffer so we will learn not to depend on ourselves, but on God.
4. Suffering strengthens our faith we are taught in James 1.1-4.
We live in a fallen world, and we are not exempt from the suffering of this world. God redeemed us. A day is coming when we will not suffer, we will not age, our bodies will not fail us, loved ones will never die, we will never be without, and Jesus purchased that on the cross of Calvary, and the resurrection!
If you are suffering now, don’t turn from God, turn to Him. Don’t blame Him, embrace His comfort. Abandon self, grow, learn, and receive the presence of the Holy Spirit. Let your roots go deep in Jesus during the suffering, and cling to the hope that Christ promises throughout the Bible. He is with you and he is with us during any kind of suffering. God is more concerned about our Character and Christ-likeness, than even our comfort! So grow during the season of suffering. It is a season, so it will end, but use it now, to know Christ!
“The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God,and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Romans 8.16-18
New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Ro 8:16–18). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
Utley, R. J. (2002). Paul’s Letters to a Troubled Church: I and II Corinthians (Vol. Volume 6, p. 203). Marshall, TX: Bible Lessons International.
Integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness. A follower of Jesus should have this. Integrity is built in years and lost in seconds, in a decision, in a moment of deception. Having integrity gives one a moral voice of authority and spiritual power and influence. Compromising integrity, leaves us lacking, powerless, and voiceless, regardless of position, something is lost. The cutting edge is dull, the plans fall flat, the blessing from Heaven dry up. Followers of Christ must guard their behavior, and their heart from anything that would steal or weaken integrity before our God and this world.
The context of this verse is financial. Solomon was talking about loving money, loving stuff, loving assets, and what the world loves and values so much. Money. Greed, and the desire for material things, can cause us to make decisions that have us wander from the path of integrity. When a leader is moved by money, wanting more, desiring it, for himself and those around him to the point integrity is questioned, than a leader is in a critical position in their leadership. Most times one does not even personally notice that this slow change of heart has occurred at some point. Power and pride can easily blind us from ourselves if we don’t listen to those around us and the Holy Spirit. We must keep our hearts soft to the voice of God in our hearts and through others.
This is why Paul, next to Jesus the greatest spiritual leader, tells Timothy, “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” The Bible is true and does not lie, no matter if you are on silly and erroneous, “follow Jesus and you will be filthy rich” bandwagon, or not. If you love money and want more, you are in trouble. Your integrity will be questioned and your decisions will be marred by this driving desire. God never promises that all believers will be wealthy and rich, in money according to the standards of United States living. That is not the Bible. That is false teaching. God’s riches are so much deeper than financial, and at times may include a financial blessing.
I am very thankful and glad that integrity can be regained if lost. This is through repentance and humility of heart and life. I’m thankful for the restoration power of Christ. He is so good. So let’s guard our hearts from the syndrome of wanting more, entitlement, and materialism. If you have to justify financial decisions than you might be making the wrong ones. So many have lost integrity because of financial things, don’t be one of them. Let’s walk above reproach in humility, and trust God as our provider and not our power, our influence, or plans. He will take care of us. We don’t have to do His job. He will meet our needs, so keep your needs modest.
New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (1 Ti 6:10). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.