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Archive for August, 2008

Blessings in Times of Mourning

August 30th, 2008
 

 Blessed are they who mourn for they will be comforted.

Matthew 5:4

 

The Lord surprises us with the second blessing of the Beatitudes. He says that there is something to be gained from mourning: The comfort of God.

Life is filled with uncertainties. The path we walk in life will bring heartache and mourning, that we can be sure of, but how much misery shall we experience in life? Isn’t mourning to be avoided, so why has Christ promised us a blessing if we mourn? Is this mere consolation or is there an attitude that He is recommending, a change in our values and even a change in our entire value system? What type of mourning is He describing?

We receive comfort during heartache and loss. In 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 Paul wrote of the comfort we receive from God, the Father of Compassion and the God of all Comfort. This comfort is to be received in our moments of need and then from the overflow the comfort of God is shared with others.  

The word “comforted” in biblical Greek shares the same root with paraklete, the word translated Comforter, Counselor, and Advocate (John 14:16). It literally means someone called to be along side of us, and describes the work of the Spirit in our lives. Jesus demonstrated this when He comforted the grieving Mary and wept beside her (John 11:35). God heals the brokenhearted with His presence and when we experience disappointments it is essential realize that some of the deepest experiences we have with God come only through the avenue of grief and loss, when he weeps with us.

But we also mourn for our lost world. Though no one is more joyful than a Christian, we also see the fallen-ness of the world more clearly and more profoundly than anyone else. We weep and mourn when we see the heartache and pain of the world, when we see how our race’s rebellion against God has resulted in lives damaged and hearts hardened. As we follow Christ our hearts are broken by the things that break the heart of God. But there is profound comfort from God in this experience, for when we mourn for the troubles of the world, He is near us and we have the calming influence and the peace of His presence.

We also mourn for our own sin. We cannot see the immorality of the world without also being made aware of our own failings. The Spirit of Christ convicts us and takes us to the cross of Calvary where we see the Savior crucified, crucified for us. Like Peter did, we often weep bitterly for our own failures. But that is where God surprises us most as He comes alongside of us to assure us of our forgiveness and to invite us to know His heart.

Holy Spirit of God, our Counselor and Comforter and Friend, the Spirit of Christ our Savior, we praise and worship You. We mourn for our losses, for our sinfulness, and for our fallen world. Let us tonight experience Your presence, Your healing closeness to our hearts. Let Your presence and comfort over flow in our lives so that we might share this good news of Your presence with others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Evening Devotionals

Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit

August 29th, 2008

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of God.

Matthew 5:3

 

We are brought ringside to the greatest sermon in history. Jesus of Nazareth sat among a throng of disciples and seekers and began to teach. What would be the first words from His mouth? Matthew records for us the words of promise, words that depict our true potential, “Blessed are…”  Jesus begins His masterful sermon with the affirming encouragement that God intends to bless us and is prepared to do it if we meet His conditions.

 

Blessed is a difficult concept to sum up in just a word or two. It means “to be happy” but it means more than that. It means being in the center of God’s will, to be the recipient of all that God created to bestow upon us and to do within us.

 

Think about it. The Creator of the universe, who made everything for a reason, who created it to work together to achieve a purpose, has included you in that purpose. The universe displays His glory, but His glory will also be displayed in touching your life with His grace and love. He wants to bless you, where deep within your soul you know that you know that you know that God has directed His attention toward you. He wants to include you in what He is doing in the world and for eternity.

 

But there is a requirement: You must become poor in spirit. This is the key that unlocks our true potential. What does this mean? A.T. Robertson, the great Greek scholar, wrote these words about this statement of Jesus.

 

To be poor in spirit is to have a humble opinion of ourselves; to be sensible that we are sinners, and have no righteousness of our own; to be willing to be saved only by the rich grace and mercy of God; to be willing to be where God places us, to bear what he lays on us, to go where he bids us, and to die when he commands; to be willing to be in his hands, and to feel that we deserve no favour from him. It is opposed to pride, and vanity, and ambition. (from Barnes New Testament Notes)

 

The first condition God demands we meet in order to receive this blessing is a recognition of our need, and a recognition not clothed in anger or resentment toward God, but one that is gentle, at peace, one that allows God to be God and recognizes that we are not God.

 

Isaiah displayed this attitude when he saw the vision of Holy God and he reacted in a deep awareness of his own fallen-ness,

 

“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” (Isaiah 6:5)

But then came the assurance of God that once the requirement is met forgiveness instantaneously flows from God. We read: 

Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” (Isaiah 6:6-7)

To be poor in spirit also indicates our awareness of the lack of true satisfaction the things of this world truly bring. Poverty of any variety is unpleasant and to be avoided, except for this type of poverty. One must not become financially impoverished to enter into God’s kingdom, but one must become convinced that there is not hope in this world, but there is in God.

 

To desire His kingdom more than what the world offers is the mark of conversion, the result of the mingling of God’s revelation of His truth and our embracing this in faith. But the dividends are the rich rewards of knowing we are investing in eternity, not in the things of this world that are so soon passing away.

 

Let God tonight take your mind and lead you down the path of discovery of the spiritual treasures that await you in Christ. If you have admitted your need of Him, if you have seen the poverty of this world and the poverty of your own heart without Christ, if you have come to Him in repentance and faith accepting what He has done for you on the cross, then you have met God’s requirement and the kingdom of heaven is now your inheritance. God desires to lead you to discover the truths of your inheritance and to marvel in the mystery and beauty of what He has prepared for you.

 

Lord, tonight let me dream with Your Spirit about my future. Guide me by Your word and instruct me by Your Spirit, but open my mind to the greatness and beauty of Your kingdom. This world is passing away, but You are eternal. Thank You for providing my eternal inheritance in You. Amen.

Evening Devotionals