By Greg Byman
What did Jesus mean when he said that his followers are blessed to be “poor in spirit”? Was this a call to give away everything and become materially poor? How can a Christ-follower be “spiritually” poor?
Today’s sermon is the first in a series called Game Changers, principles found in Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter 5, which when implemented in the Christ-follower’s life, produce game-changing results in one’s spiritual, emotional and even physical life. Pastor Greg Byman preached this sermon on September 24, 2017 at St. Joe Community Church, in Fort Wayne, Indiana where he serves as the senior pastor. For more information visit www.StJoeCommunityChurch.org.
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Well we are beginning a series of messages based on the Beatitudes, or the blessing passage.
if the Sermon on the Mount, which was a sermon that a…. Or, really, a teaching time that Jesus had with a crowd of people. if the Sermon on the Mount, or this particular passage of teachings of Jesus would be called the Constitution of the Christian lifestyle, of the Christian life, then these verses, and verses, really 3 through 12, would be the preamble. The beginning.
And it just sets up the attitude, and the actions and the thought patterns of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ, and what it means to live and the way in which God has always intended his people to live. some people have looked at this whole passage and have said well actually that looks like you have to do this in order to be saved that it is a works salvation you have to actually work your way into heaven that that just as Moses gave the ten commandments Jesus gave these eight Beatitudes these eight blessing passages that we must do this in order to be saved well actually and you look at the entire text the entire context of this passage. Jesus actually took the the Lall in the Old Testament those rules and regulations and he amped them up to even greater proportions it was. US thought it was hard to follow the Ten Commandments when he said that was shot not murder he said but I tell you that even if you hate somebody you've murdered them in your heart it's as if you have committed murder oh my goodness even my attitude is sinful and up and you know so I said well you shout not committed adultery Jesus says but I tell you. That even if you look at a woman and lust at her you are committing adultery. Even as if you physically did so and so the people in the crowd were like whoa how in the world can you be saved Jesus was not giving us more rules to follow so that we could be good enough to get into heaven he was explaining how holy an awesome God is and how there is nothing we can do to save ourselves that we must rest soley on the work of Jesus Christ what he was going to do for us to down the cross and be the atoning sacrifice for all of our sinfulness all the things that we did whether in attitude whether in thought or whether an action he was going to erase the guilt. Of our sin of our shame of our pain. And he was going to do that simply by letting you and I trust in him personally as Savior and Lord and Matthew chapter five Verse one we see it says that when he saw the crowds he went up on the mountain and after he sat down his disciples came to him and then he began to teach them in every context. There's a crowd. And within every crowd there are those who are paying attention I went to school familiar with this some time I was only in the crowd right I were being a lecture hall. This is not a proud moment college students don't do this. I had the luxury in this huge lecture hall. In this math class that I had to have. Because I'm a little. Phobic about math. And and so I knew most of the principals. But because my scoring into the college was low I still had to take this class I was bored. And to my luxury they did the alphabetical order of seating backwards. Side got to sit in the back. Where the teacher didn't always know whether or not my eyes were open the same. And so I remember one time that I was a part of the crowd not part of the attention getter and has she asked a question and I just happen to wake up about the time she asked it. And I knew the answer and she called me and I gave the answer I knew why she called on me because I'd been sleeping I gave the answer and then she gave me a scowl. She wanted to humiliate me I did not smirk back in my heart I did I was just part of the crowd I wasn't part of those who were paying attention again not the most glorious moment in my college career and I don't recommend that to anybody here. I did pass a class by the way but anyway yea. You know who you know what they call the guy who graduated last in medical school. Doctor insists that it's a second. These game changers will only change you if you pay attention to them this message this morning will only make a difference in your life if you not only listen to what this message is saying but you talk to the one and you get close to the one Jesus who gave this message to us for the first time. I want you to hear the word this morning the Living Word Jesus Christ. And wherever you are in a habit or a hurt or a hang up my hope in prayer is that you'll press and be one of the disciples one of those who are disciplined enough to listen and pay attention to what God is saying you can even go a little further and be an even stronger dot disciple or a even stronger person that pays attention by actually later on not right now looking at the small group. Folder and deciding which day and which place would actually work best for your schedule there are several options for you to be a part of. And we hope that you will participate our groups actually gonna start studying some things some a mess some Bible study lessons on the Beatitudes on the blessings and we're going to start that tonight at our house. Others will be doing other things life's healing choices is going to be offered the ladies are going to do that as a guys group or any mixed group just the ladies group this time maybe next time we will which is a Celebrate Recovery based Bible study. And so there are all kinds of options but but but the only way you're going to move forward is if you lean in and you hear what God wants for your life I dare say that those that went to the locker room and leaned into the coaches and those coaches who are well prepared to face the opponents yesterday in college ball when they leaned in they paid attention they were there they were fully present during practice last week the teams that were the most prepared and the most able to respond to their opponents were the ones that showed up for practice the ones that showed up to learn those that actually studied the tapes so to speak and tried to figure out how to play a better game. And I got to watching that yesterday some of those games and I got to thinking and all the commentators and they sit there for an hour and a half and really waste your time but you sit there and listen anyway to how important all these things are about the stats and the and the plays and the players in the game makers The ones are going to make a difference the ones to be watching for the next game and I got to thinking this is all for really nothing I mean think about it it's a game. It's called. Again. There's character building there's things going on there's life change but when it comes to the professional game of sport it's a game. And we pay for the entertainment of that game how much more important is life and living it out in relationship with people around us how much more important it is to build and develop our character. And our countenance and our conscience in a way that would be honoring to God the one who made us how much more important is it for us to finish well in this life we need some game changers so that we can play a better game this weekend we played last week and so we read in this very first passage verse three blessid are the poor in spirit because the kingdom of heaven is theirs. And that's going to be our key passage this morning blasted are the poor in spirit because the kingdom of heaven is theirs this is game changer number one. That we must become poor in spirit. So what do we mean by that well first of all we need to go backwards and say what is the theme what in the mean by the name what does it mean to be blessed blessed are the people who are poor in spirit and then you're going to have more bless it all the way through there are eight of them what does it mean to be blessed. Some translations say happy are the people who are this way and there are some commentators who would take up an issue with that because happiness is more of an attitude and a personal choice of an attitude that we have and a blessing that this passage is talking about is actually something that is being bestowed upon you by God Himself. Now happiness can be and is I believe something that God brings to our lives and so I'm not saying that it isn't a happy moment when we know we're blessed and so that's where I think in a responsible way some passages have put it as the word happy and the root word can possibly be translated that way but in English I don't think it gives it its full justice but this term blasted really at its root means that we were able proved by God were approved by him were approved by the God of the whole universe and I think about that. I enjoy being approved by people I enjoy proveable ratings of my family right I like when my wife likes me I mean how many of you like when your spouse likes you I mean that's kind of a nice thing it's that's kind of like makes me happy right how much more to know that when you wake up in the morning you're blessed by God that he's blessed you. Wow. Max with Kato says it this way in one of his books The applause from Heaven bless it is a sacred delight it's what you have always dreamed of but never expected it's the too good to be true coming true it's having God as your biggest fan and your best friend it is sacred because only God can grant it it is the light because it thrills I mean when you know that you're stepping onto the field of play called life at work and you're about to enter into the battle zone of a boss or a group of people that are hostile to the way you are trying to live your life and you're trying to do the right thing and you're moving forward and a way that honors God God is in heaven go on yeah hey I am for you in your relationships I am for you in the way you're living your life when you pick yourself up out of a gutter and you go I cannot get out of this gutter by myself only God can help me and you pull out of that spiritual physical mental emotional gutter that you've been living in that shame and sorrow and you look up to a God who loves you with an everlasting love and you say God I am nothing in front of you I have nothing to bring you I just want you and God says. You are loved I'm applauding your life move forward. I'm yours you're mine let's move forward. Blessid are you when you come to this point in your life. This Blessing is a now and later blessing. If you look at the passages says blessid are those present tense. So the blessing we're offering you is not something that's just going to happen someday when I get to heaven. It's something that is now but it's also something that will experience and realize in heaven. You know this Christian life this life that we live that we're trying to live for Christ and we're moving forward that we already have forgiveness we already have the power to live for Jesus in His name we already look like Jesus. And in God's eyes we are perfectly perfect in the sight of him because of what Jesus did for us but you and I know in the grittiness of life and are not really there yet. It's an already not yet moment in our life we're already a follower of Christ we're already saved or already forgiven but we've not yet realized or experienced the full reality of that forgiveness and that love. Is still in the nitty gritty of real life. We're not sanctified forever perfectly We're not perfect it perfect in the way we live. God's working on us moving in us and there is a later expression of freedom that we'll enjoy but that's for another day. And so in this moment in this time in this era of moment in your life today in my life today you and I have a blessing and an even greater blessing in the age to come when we crossed that threshold from this life that's what it means to be blessed. But what does it mean to be poor in spirit he didn't say Blessed are the poor. Although that's often true. But if you're poor I don't know how many of you would say What a blessing it is to be poor. It really isn't. There is a blessing to the simplicity of poverty there is a blessing to the less distractions of what we who and I say we because even most people in this room would not be from the poverty standpoint be considered impoverished to the point of where this what we see in other countries and other places. Although that's that could be true and in your situation right where you are but it's it's not that enjoyable to be poor but there is a joy there is a blessing to be poor in spirit this poverty word this word called poor there's two words for poor there's one poor that says I am one I'm a dollar short I'm right close to the edge I'm right at the edge of my resources but I still have resources and then there's the poor that says I am absolutely bankrupt I have absolutely zero I am totally without tomorrow's resources in fact I'm without today's lunch I'm completely dependent on what ever happens next whether I live or whether I die and that's the word that is used in this passage the poor in spirit that means that I have to admit my complete spiritual bankruptcy I am spiritually bankrupt an able to with my own resources my own power my own strength pull myself up and make it happen this is counter. To the way in which we as Americans normally think. Americans have this ploy yourself up by your bootstraps and let's just make it happen America is where any dream can come true America is where if you work hard enough you'll be rewarded. And while generally that has happened in our society and in our culture in our history as a nation the reality is that is not God's way of thinking for the way we ought to live our life the game changer in our life is saying I can't do it by myself I can't get over this addiction by myself I can't do this on my own I absolutely have to have God to help me or I fail miserably. It's God plus nothing else equals success. Many times we say it's God plus whatever I do God helps those who help themselves find that in the scripture for me and I will repent of saying this that's not in the Scriptures God doesn't help those who help themselves well if he did he would have said it but he didn't so God helps those who say I'm done helping myself and I need absolute surrender help from you I need help and I surrender myself to what you want for me to do. I completely depend on God That's what spiritual bankruptcy means that's what being poor in spirit means and means I can't do this without you God. I can't start another job and get over this angsty I can't start another relationship in order to cure the loneliness and the pain I can't just change churches I can't just change my my job I can't just change where I live I can't change cities I can't change the next how side to side to go live in this week I have to do the right thing right now and the only way I can do that is to completely surrender and say God you're my only resource for blessing there is no other blessing I don't have it within myself I can't add it to myself I can't do it myself I cannot manufacture this blessing I am poor in spirit I'm completely undone on able to move anywhere forward. There's a good illustration of this if you'll turn in Luke Chapter eighteen verses one thousand nine hundred fourteen just go to the books over to to your right in your Bible to loot Chapter eighteen which is a story. Is really a parable that Jesus gave to illustrate this very truth Luke Chapter eighteen verse nine and he told them this parable they told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and looked down on everyone else verse ten to men went up to the temple complex to pray one affair a sea and the other a tax collector and in those days by the way just think of a tax collector well. They thought that too OK Anyway Satan incarnate anyway. The fairest sorry if you're a tax collector. The fair is he took his stand and was praying like this God I thank you that I'm not like other people greedy and righteous adulterers or even like this tax collector why I fast twice a week I give a tenth of everything I get but the tax collector standing far off would not even raise his eyes to heaven but kept striking his chest and say God Turn your wrath from me a sinner. I tell you this one went down to his house justified rather than the other because everyone who exalts themself will be humbled but the one who humbles himself will be exalted you see the person. Who is self righteous versus the person who is spiritually poor. We see a contrast the first one was impressed by himself. And the other one was depressed by a sin. The one person was praying up his resume look out God not good I am GOD LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME why I even have references for people who can vouch for how good a person I am. In the spirit sleep or man was repenting of his sin and His prayer oh God I'm a sinner have mercy on me. The one person was boasting the other person begged and in the end the self righteous person was lost. And the spiritually poor person's this morning what I'm saying is poor people. Find God and people who are righteous in themselves won't Pride is one of the biggest walls that have to crumble and somebody has a life before they ever get to the realization that they truly need God there are other passages that would indicate that poor people have a winning game plan. Let's read some of these out loud together. Proverbs three five and six I say this together trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own understanding think about him and all your ways and He will guide you on the right pass that's a famous graduation present Burson I put that in books that I've given away for graduation gifts and these are great verses as we're embarking on a new journey in life some of you are looking for a new career a new job a new situation and and you're like oh what a great way to start a season it's a great way to live the season it's a great way to be your all seasons it's a great it's the passage trust of the Lord with with some of your heart and do not rely on most of your understanding think about him and some of your ways and he will God strike me dead Isn't that how we live. Isaiah forty thirty one let's read this together but those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength they was sore on wings like eagles they will run and not grow weary they will walk and not faint let's read second grant is twelve ten so because of Christ I am pleased and weaknesses and insults and catastrophic. Yeah that one and persecution sorry and pressures for when I am weak then I am strong sorry about that. Hey you and I. Can't live without the strength and the help of Jesus Christ. Even the smallest things are important to God. Give you a little a straight. When I was in seminary we had a professor that was talking about how he generally he was kind of revealing himself in this story he said he was talking to another seminary professor and how that Professor had gone on and on and on about how he had prayed that God would give him a parking spot near downtown near the courthouse in Fort Worth Texas and and sure enough there was a spot right near the door and he pulled right in and he was able to go in and do his business and come back out within the allotted time and was able to get on to his next appointment very quickly and he was this thanking God that He gave him a nice little parking spot to which my professor said to him those are really think that God is so concerned about everything while he's solving poverty over here and he's bringing somebody back to life over here in an E.R. that he actually thought enough in the universe to give you a parking spot do you think that was just random chance to which the other professor replied Do you think God is so unconcerned that he doesn't care about even the little things in our life. So I share that story with my daughter I don't even know how it came up but we were talking before school this week and it was an it wins day and. We were just chatting and I own I just told her that little story I think it was based on anyway Donal in what the context was and how that's interesting and so we just won along about our way well I got to downtown to a appointment at Indiana tech and I was there way late about ten o'clock ten thirty which is means all the parking spots near the near the place is gone in my favorite two or three spots that I like to go to how many men like to park where you know some only parks on one side of your car OK you know so they don't think you know you only have one half a chance of hitting your car right OK I'm just saying I'm a little O.C.D. about this and told there'll that's get to know bar church you sorry it's I spill off on people but anyway so so I go and that parking spot one of my favorite spots was open now as I'm pulling in I hadn't prayed for it so long given the whole or give me a part I didn't and I didn't but as I pulled in I chuckle I just laughed and went OK God I don't know if you know this morning I told the story and then the it I'm going to claim this OK I'm just going to do a little bit a Pentecostal here I'm going to take that one and I just laughed and I parked put it in park and I texted my daughter and I said one of my favorite parking spots was open today interesting dot dot dot. Do you really think God cares about the little things in your life he cares about the big stuff he cares about the little things he cares about it all and there isn't anything he can't handle that's going on in your life in fact the only thing he can't handle is what you won't give him to take care of. And sometimes even what you don't give him to take care of he leans on you and circumstances so that you will stop leaning on yourself. And force you in love to lean on him you have heard God say Are you done. Are you you don't with your game plan because I got a different one and that's what God saying this morning we are poor people. Who need help and if you see a success story around here that success story is a beggar. Who is just ready to tell another beggar like you are the sources you see we have a winning game plan because the kingdom of heaven is theirs. Yeah and this gets a little. Spiritual more so than ever before but let's just break this down first of all it's a personal relationship with God It's immediate acceptance it's power for changes. And it's eternal and it's reward. And we can go into a long I could go into five messages ten messages a whole year of messages on what the Kingdom of Heaven the kingdom of God We could even talk about eschatology that's a big word for the future times in times conversation is it about what's going to happen in the end times or is it what's happening right now what I'm saying to you this morning is bless it or the poor in spirit for they will find the Kingdom of Heaven. That's OK the clot fell to the ground which means. All right as the band comes forward. I was good. He said time's up I was going to say I don't have to stop but right. Now I'm feeling conflicted. Wow what a coincidence Let's see I didn't pray for that to fall. Somebody in his rooms praying what's going on all right. Or way. Who you all look back really fast Also I got to say about the hat that grant is OK No one was hurt Dave it's fine we're all good thanks guys the kingdom of heaven is there's. The kingdom of heaven is yours. A relationship with Jesus Christ a right relationship that lasts forever a relationship that changes your life a relationship that opens doors that you never could open yourself and never will be able to open yourself a pathway for change that you never thought of before because God had yet given you a thinker to think about it like that a WANT TO THAT YOU NEVER HAD because your WANT TO was broken. A way in which to live. That satisfies God is a blessing to others and gives yourself a holy and healthy lifestyle like never before Are you ready for that change are you ready for something different. Are you ready to stop doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. You see this verse is really the basis for the first principle of Celebrate Recovery. And as we close this morning I want to just see this final principle and I'll get it better stronger in letters I didn't realize it would come up that strong but it says realize that I'm not God. And I admit that i'm our lists to control my tendency to do the wrong thing and that my life is on managing Let me read that again because I wonder if this might be where you are. You just think that one thing that you can't kick that one habit that one hang up that one painful hurt that maybe you didn't even do to yourself it was done to you but you are sitting in the middle of pain and sorrow and you can't figure it out and God is saying you you need to be poor in spirit by realizing that you're not God. And in myth that you're powerless to control the tendency to do the wrong thing. And that your life is unmanageable have you admitted. That your spiritually bankrupt as our team comes forward and sings one more song for us and helps us to get to the throne of God in music. I pray that you will come to the throne of God spiritually mentally and emotionally. And maybe need to physically. Bow before a holy God and say I'm done. Trusting in my. And I'm ready to completely trust in you I'm finished. I'm done trusting other people to fix my life I'm done trusting in other things. No money can get me out of the hole I'm in. I'm bankrupt. And I'm ready. For the game changer that you have in store for me God because my game. I'm on the losing path. And I'm about to get fired. I'm about to lose my spot. Well guess what. Whatever game you've been in. If you haven't been in on God's game you've not been in any game that's ever going to win it might have temporary success in this world might give you accolades and kudos and high fives. But they will fade season to season. And the one game in the one part of life that will never change and the one applause from heaven that will never fade is the blessing that you will get by completely surrendering. Maybe this morning it's time for you to tell the world you're a Christian by being baptized maybe it's time for you to get serious about your membership and start belonging to a church family instead of bouncing from place to place and really model what it means to be under the authority of a local church maybe it's time for you to get more involved and and learn what it means to grow in your faith and start coming to a connection group maybe that's your next step maybe for someone here you said here you sit soak in sour and you move on out and then you compete in planning about how life is and how life isn't now you if I was in charge of the world for a day I'd figure all this out and yet you haven't lifted a finger to do anything for the glory of God in service or activity you're not giving away what you are you are a reservoir not a river and you're letting everything flow in on Sundays and you're letting everybody serve you but you've never really served others and you've never been been a part of our ministry of service in this church and it's time for you to activate your faith and get involved in the game of living your life out in service to other people. I don't know where you're at this morning I don't know what's going on in your life only God knows but I pray that you'll be that disciple who is not only leaned up to hear what Jesus said this morning but that you go out and do what he's asking you to do stand or feet are going to some people come forward. And just stand here at the cross and Jerry will be in the back and just ready to receive anybody who might want to come and move forward in their faith and in a physical way to just physically come forward with their connection card for the rest of us use that card put it in the offering box with something on it that shows that you're moving forward so that we can pray for you that we can follow up with you if you want to be a part of one of the connection groups you don't know which one look at that list and put on there call me about a connection group in this afternoon we'll we'll look through those cards as quickly as possible and we'll try to get a call to you so that you can be a part of that connection group this week as we launch our our fresh series of. Father God help us to honor you live for you and do what you have us to do as we recognize how poor we are in front of you front of the world Lord lift us up and bless us even as we become a blessing in your.
B: Bible book