Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Happiness in Spiritual Poverty

Chuckle: "Every time I think about exercise, I lie down until the thought goes away!"
Quote: “Angelic happiness is in service, from service, and according to service.” --Emanuel Swedenborg
"Blessed (happy) are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:3 NIV).
Jesus began his Sermon on the Mount with words that seem to contradict each other. In the teachings of Jesus, we find many paradoxes that challenge the way we think as human beings. We picture the poor as having little or nothing, and Jesus says that we must see ourselves as spiritually poor, poverty stricken, and destitute to experience the happiness he desires for us. This beatitude contradicts the attitude of society which says, "Blessed (happy) are the powerful, the beautiful, the wealthy, and the popular." This passage says something entirely different.
Satan would have us believe that happiness comes from things of this world. No doubt sin can bring fleeting pleasures, but never the lasting joy of the Poor in Spirit? What we view as happiness from indulging in sin, more often than not, quickly turns to heart-break and misery. Jesus is talking about us having a joy like Peter spoke of in 1 Peter 1:8-9 NIV: "Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of souls."
Max Lucado describes "Blessed" as: "A joy which can't be quenched -- A peace which can't be taken -- A happiness which can't be threatened -- There is such a joy -- it is a holy gladness -- It comes from God, and it's within your reach." He calls it "Sacred Delight." It is the good news coming into your heart. It is what you dream but never expect to come true. It's too good to be true. It's having God as your best friend and constant companion. That is being poor in spirit -- recognizing our unworthiness for God's grace -- then experiencing true joy when God extends his grace to us.
This kind of joy is independent of external circumstances. This kind of joy originates deep within us and is the product of the indwelling Holy Spirit, to whom we have surrendered complete control of our lives. That's the reason some Christians maintain an air of optimism, excitement, peace, and contentment even in the worst of times.
The Greek word for "poor" means one who has nothing and is completely empty, a beggar. Jesus is not talking about being poor in reference to worldly possessions. He's describing the true happiness and joy from awareness of our "spiritual poverty." William Barclay concluded that "Blessed are the poor in spirit" means those who recognize their helplessness and have placed their complete trust in the Lord. They become detached from things, attached to God." Such an awareness results in our total dependence upon God who will not let us down. He will give us his joy!
Love, Jerry & Dotse


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