Attitude Adjustment #1 - The Beggar

Bible Book: Matthew  5 : 1-3
Subject: Beatitudes; Lordship; Joy; Happiness; Usefulness
Series: Attitude Adjustment - The Beatitudes
Introduction

Today we begin a series of sermons from the Beatitudes. The Beatitudes are part of the Sermon on the Mount, and in fact form the introduction that great sermon that Jesus preached to His disciples near the beginning of His public ministry. Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount just outside the town of Capernaum, overlooking the beautiful Sea of Galilee. The hillside there made a natural amphitheater for the message Jesus delivered. As Jesus sat to speak, the disciples were seated slightly above Him and over His shoulder the audience could see the Sea of Galilee and the beautiful mountains beyond. It was a magnificent site for a glorious sermon. The disciples surely sensed that this was a special moment in history. They must have felt the wonder of this day as Jesus began to speak to them in what has been called The Christian Manifesto. Another has called the Sermon on the Mount the Magna Carta of the Christian Faith.

We are going to be looking at the opening portion of The Sermon on the Mount, known as the Beatitudes. The Beatitudes are the attitudes that should BE in our lives! They should be in the life of every follower of Jesus Christ. Our Lord was sharing the fact that the Christian life requires an adjustment in personal attitudes. We become a Christian by repenting of sin and by trusting Jesus as our Lord and Savior. But, once we are saved, we must adapt our life to His will! After all, He is Lord of Lords and we are to submit to Him as our Lord!

Look at Matthew 5:1-3

One of the greatest problems I have seen in the lives of Christians while serving as a pastor during at least part of the last six decades is the difficulty so many Christians have with their attitude. It is so easy to allow a sour or bad attitude to ruin your testimony and cause unsaved people to believe that Christians are hypocrites.

I read the other day about a woman who had been through a really difficult day. Her husband came home at 5:30 P.M. from work and she was growling and complaining about everything. He tried to make things better but they only got worse. Her attitude was impossible. Finally around 7:00 P.M. he made a suggestion in an attempt to relieve the stress of the moment. He said that he would go outside and come in again and they could start all over. She agreed. He went outside, waited for a moment and then rang the bell. She opened the door and he said, "Hi dear, how has your day been?" She said, "Look at you. I have slaved in this house all day and you come home at 7:00 P.M. Where have you been anyway?"

Sometimes a person's attitude is so bad it seems beyond repair. A little boy was visiting with his grandfather's farm. He grandfather was a rather stern, old-fashioned Baptist. The little boy went out the barnyard and saw the chickens pecking on the ground and running around playing. He said, "Nope, they ain't got it." Then he saw a little colt running around in the corral kicking up his heels. The little boy said, "Hope, he ain't got it." They he saw the donkey with a long, furrowed and sad face. The little lad said, "Yep, he's got it."

The grandfather asked, "Son, what is that the donkey has that the chickens and the colt didn't have?" The boy answered, "That's easy to answer granddad. Look at that donkey's long, sad face. He has the same religion you have!!!"

If our attitude is not in keeping with the Lordship of Christ, others will assume that our faith is sad and empty. Jesus shared the Beatitudes to ensure that we know the kind of attitudes we ought to have in our lives.

So, let's begin with the first Beatitude - "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." I want to share three insights with you that can change your life as a Christian - and, if you are not saved, can help you trust Christ today.

I. The Happy Aspect of this Verse

As Jesus began to speak, He used the word "Blessed." Matthew Henry points out that the Old Testament ended with a curse, but the Gospel of Jesus began with a blessing. How true and how appropriate. After all, that is why Jesus came - to bless those who believed upon Him.

Look at Ephesians 1:3, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ." Indeed, every blessing available is only available in Christ. In fact, all blessing to all nations exist only in Him. Look at Psalm 72:17, "May his name endure forever; may it continue as long as the sun. All nations will be blessed through him, and they will call him blessed. His very name is called Blessed."

It is important to remember that Jesus came to bless us; yes, and to bless all who will trust and follow Him. We are clearly told by Jesus that the Son of God did not come into the world that the world might be condemned but that the world might be blessed through Him (John 3:17). Do you want to be blessed? Do you want to be happy? Do you want to live a life that counts for something? Sure you do! We all do. This is the great pursuit of mankind. Even the preamble to our Constitution contains the right to "the pursuit of happiness." Well, if you want to be blessed, you want to be truly happy, listen carefully to the words of Jesus over the next few weeks and put these words into your life and practice.

The word "Blessed" means "to be happy." Some people try to explain the word in much deeper ways. They think that the word "happy" sounds substandard. But, I can assure that the word used in the Greek text is the word for "happy!" God wants you to have a joy unspeakable and full of glory. He wants you to be happy. Granted, the happiness of Christ is different from that which the world promises. His joy is deeper and more profound. But, nonetheless, it is happiness!

II. The Helpless Aspect of this Verse

Jesus states that happiness comes from being "poor in spirit." Wow! That goes against everything we see in the modern worldview. This is partly true because we don't know what the verse means and partly true because the modern worldview is so distorted. To understand what Jesus meant we have to grasp the meaning of the word "poor" in our text. I can assure you that Jesus was not saying that poverty is a virtue.

Maybe you heard about the man who said they were so poor at his house when he was growing up that the mice ate out most of the time. Or perhaps you heard about the fellow who went in and told his boss he had to have a raise in pay because three other companies were after him. The boss asked what other companies were after him and the man replied, "The electric company, the gas company and the telephone company." Being poor does not make one happy.

What Jesus said in the first Beatitude had nothing to do with being poor financially. There are sad people who are rich and poor, and there are happy people who are rich and poor. Money or the lack of it has nothing to do with lasting, inner happiness.

What did Jesus mean by the statement, "Blessed are the poor in spirit?" This statement is at the very foundation of what it means to be a Christian. The word "poor" used in this text means to have nothing - no means of taking care of oneself. Jesus could have used one of three words for being poor. He used the one word which means to be bankrupt - insolvent - unable to meet the needs of your life. Now listen closely. What I am about to tell you is the most important thing you can learn as a Christian. I believe that is why Jesus shared it as the first sentence of The Sermon on the Mount.

When I came to trust Jesus as my Savior, I brought nothing with me. I came as a pauper to a King. I came as a beggar. No works, deeds or goodness existed in me that could or would commend me to the Lord. I had to throw myself on the mercy of God and ask for grace. That is the way you came to God as well. There is no other way to come to Him. But, here is the essence of this matter - after years of serving Him, I still bring nothing to the relationship that commends me to God. I was poor, I am poor and I will always be poor in and of myself as I stand before God. I am a Child of God. I am an Heir of God. But, in my flesh there dwells no good thing. If I think of myself as deserving the blessings of God, I become filled with pride and arrogance. I cannot love God or man as I should unless I realize that I am saved by grace and grace alone. Spiritually, without Christ, I am a pauper - bankrupt - a beggar! All I have, I owe to Him. All I am looking forward to in heaven, I owe to Him. All He has forgiven in my past, I owe to Him. All I do for Him now, I owe to Him. Paul put it this way, "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." (NKJV)

Do you see what I am saying? Do you grasp this principle? Happiness is in knowing that He loves you, He gave Himself for you and that you don't need to prove anything to this world. You don't have to live in a big house, drive an expensive car or be sophisticated in order to be somebody. Yes, it is okay to have those things and it is appropriate for you to rise to whatever level God desires for you in this life. What I am trying to say is that happiness is not found in those things - happiness is found if throwing yourself down before God every day and saying, "Lord, without you I am nothing." It is saying to the Lord what the songwriter penned, "In my hand my price I bring, simply to the cross I cling."

Let me explain it like this. With the body I have world-consciousness; with the soul I have self- consciousness and with the spirit I have God-consciousness. In my spirit I must know and admit my spiritual bankruptcy before I can know the true heavenly atmosphere of blessedness.

The truth is that no person can strut in God's sight. No one can boast in His presence. When you come before God, you do not come as if you have very little, you must come realizing you have nothing.

In Romans 7 Paul addressed this very idea. Look at Romans 7:18, "I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out." Paul said that in his flesh nothing good dwelled.

Bow down friend. Bow down on your faces. You and I are bankrupt before a holy, pure, sovereign God. We have nothing with which to present ourselves before His Excellency, King Jesus! No wonder the people said at the end of the Sermon on the Mount that Jesus did not teach them as other men, but that He taught was one having authority (Matthew 7:28-29).

Have you gotten the picture of this poverty? Now listen closely. To be poor in spirit before God is to be rich in all that God has. God will not give me what I THINK I already have. Pride stands in the way of us receiving all that God wishes to give us. One night a man dreamed that he died and went to heaven. He was being ushered around heaven by an angel. He came to a room with his name on it. The angel opened the door and inside were beautifully wrapped presents of different sizes. Some were small and some quite larger. The dreaming man asked the angel, "What are these packages with my name on them?" The angel replied, "Those were all the gifts that God had for you but you had your heart full of self and God had no room to give them to you."

My friend, many of us are blocking God from blessings us because we are full of selfishness, selfish pride and selfish ambition. We are not ready for all that God wants to do in our lives.

One evangelist told a pastor that he sure would like to preach in his church sometime. The pastor said, "You are not ready for that yet." Later the evangelist said, "I want to preach in your church so much that I will preach for no love offering." The pastor said, 'Sorry, but you are not ready yet for that." Finally, about a year later, the evangelist said, "If you let me preach in your church I will give your church $500.00 as an offering." The pastor said, "NOW you are READY!"

To be ready for all God gives His children we must give all we have to Him! We must become like a beggar. We claim no rights. We claim no pride. We claim no conceit. We bow down in humble contrition - daily! Take up your cross daily and follow Him.

Paul was greatly blessed and greatly used of God. He often wrote from prison to the churches he had previously visited. In those letters he always spoke of his joy in the Lord. How did he have joy in the Lord in a bad situation? Look at Ephesians 3:7-8 and you will see. He counted everything as nothing in order to know Christ more and more intimately! That is what we have to do.

III. The Heavenly Aspect of this Verse

"The Kingdom of Heaven!" This does not merely speak of going to heaven when we die. Jesus was speaking here about how we are to live in this world. He was not just addressing the "sweet by and by" but was talking about living in the "nasty now and now." So what did Jesus mean?

A. The Personal Meaning

The King is in the Kingdom! When we are empty of self, we are open to the fullness of the King! He will fill us and be more real to us when we admit our willingness to yield to Him as Lord every day.

You see, the Pharisees and teachers of the Law thought they had special privileges because of their goodness. Jesus was teaching His disciples that we do not have privileges because of who we are or what we do, but we have what we have in a spiritual sense because of His grace and love. We don't deserve it - we have received it as a gift.

Jesus becomes more personal those who remove self and make room for Him. The King is Lord of the Kingdom! The Kingdom is real to me when I resign any notion of personal kingship. I am not king of the kingdom - but I now the King! And when I honor Him, He makes more of Himself known to me!

B. The Protection Meaning

The King protects His Kingdom. When I am empty of self, I am more fully sheltered in the King's presence. Listen to 1 Peter 5:7, "Casting all your care upon Him, because He cares for you." (NKJV) Oh, dear Christian, when you throw your cares upon Him, do you think it is too much for Him? Is there any burden to great for the King to bear? Is there is price too big for Him to pay? Is there is problem too mysterious for Him to solve? No, no, no! When you trust Him greatly, he will protect and bless you greatly!

C. The Power Meaning

The word used for kingdom in this passage is the great word for "stronghold." Is the Greek word, "basileia." It means a place of power or authority. God grants power to those who renounce their own power. That is how a person is saved. Every Christian in this room came to Christ by admitting that you were bankrupt and in need or forgiveness. That is how a person can be saved here today. You say, "Lord, I do not deserve to be forgiven, but I ask you to forgive me - to save me - to come into my life." But, once you are saved, you need continue to empty yourself of self every single day! You do not do that so you can remain saved. Once you are saved, you are eternally saved. You empty yourself so you can have the happiness God has promised. You empty yourself so you can know the deeper presence of Christ in your life. You empty yourself so you can have the protection and power of God to help you serve Him in this world.

As Christians we need an Attitude Adjustment. We need to rid ourselves of self and pride. We need to throw ourselves before the Lord like a beggar. We need to say today, in this very service, "Lord, I am nothing. I have nothing to offer you. Oh, Lord, fill me with your presence. I am poor but you are rich - enrich my spirit with your presence."

Conclusion

How can I possible become poor in spirit? How can I do this without it being hypocritical? How can I slay my pride and surrender my selfish will? Simply come into the presence of Jesus. Look at His perfect life. Compare yourself to Him. He was tempted just like you yet without sin. Our pride will melt in His presence.

You see, man thinks that if he changes the circumstances he can change the conditions of the world. God knows that the only way to change the world is to change the character of the man. Man looks to the outside in hopes that if he can alter it he can adjust the inside. Man starts on the outside and tries to work his way in; God starts on the inside and works His way out. Our only hope is in looking on the inside and seeing how bankrupt we are. Our only hope is in turning to Him and acknowledging our need, appealing to the Lord for mercy and help. Then we will know the joy God intended for us to experience. Then we will have the power God intended for us to enjoy. Then we will sense the peace God intended for us to encounter.