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“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” Don’t confuse
being poor in spirit with being poor. Premium
graphic Woody Allen says, "Money is better than poverty, if only for
financial reasons." (http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)
Jean Chatsky, a columnist for Money magazine, conducted a poll
and discovered "that money makes folks happier if their family's income
is below $30,000 a year.” But once they able to meet their basic material
needs, she found that “more money doesn't equate to more happiness.” (http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)
That makes sense. If a person doesn’t have their basic needs
met, it is unlikely that they will be happy. But that doesn’t mean
that money buys happiness, "People tend to crave more money and more things
to restore that peak of good feeling -- only to adapt to those pleasures
and seek the next high -- an addictive phenomenon that economists have
labeled the hedonic treadmill." (http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)
graphic Addressing World leaders that gathered at the World Economic
Forum in Davos, Switzerland this past week, Anne Graham Lotz, said "Happiness
is not about getting what you want, when you want it, and how you want
Jesus said the poor in spirit are happy, not the poor.
graphic Self-absorbed, arrogant people who live life with a “what’s
in it for me” attitude aren’t happy. Happy people are those who’ve
learned to give of themselves to others. Happiness starts with humility.
graphic In the mid-1960's, little Jimmy Bradley sat in his third
grade classroom staring at a picture on page 98 of his history book; it
was a picture of his father. The photograph depicted six soldiers planting
a flagpole into the rocks of Iwo Jima, one of the soldiers was Jimmy's
father, John Bradley.
Bradley is the man the second from the right, his elbows extended,
firmly holding onto the 100-pound flagpole. He appears to be supporting
most of the weight, as the others help guide it into its resting place.
This photograph became symbolic of World War II and Jimmy's father was
a part of history. There he was, right in the middle of the photograph
on page 98 of Jimmy's history book.
Jimmy's teacher drew the class’s attention to the photograph on
page 98 and to the man in the middle of the picture-Jimmy's Dad, and said,
"John Bradley is a hero, and his son is sitting right here with us." Jimmy
was as proud as any son had ever been of his father.
That night, he couldn't wait for his Dad to come home from work.
When he came through the door, Jimmy cried out, "Daddy, Daddy, come here,
there's something I want to show you." John Bradley walked over to his
son, saying "What is it?" "Right here Daddy, on page 98, it's your picture.
My teacher said you are a hero. She wants to know if you'll speak to our
Jimmy was surprised by his Dad's reaction. "Come over here and
sit down," his Dad said. Sitting next to his Daddy, Jimmy knew that his
Dad was going to tell him the story. "Jimmy," his Dad said, "your teacher
said something about heroes today and well . . ." John Bradley paused as
Jimmy stared into his eyes. "The real heroes are the men that came back
in body bags."
That was all he said. No war stories. No embellishments. Just,
"The real heroes are the men that came back in body bags."
Jimmy's Dad didn't say another word about it until six years later.
It was an ordinary evening sitting at home watching television when Jimmy
asked his Dad about it again. All he could get out of his Dad was that
he spent most of his life trying to forget about the terrors of war and
didn't want to talk about it. He did talk about his buddy from Milwaukee
that he shared a foxhole with. Someone cried out for a corpsman, so Bradley
left the foxhole to go and treat the wounded, when he returned, his buddy
was gone and nobody knew where he was. A few days later, they found him.
The enemy captured and tortured him to death. Jimmy was speechless, and
never violated his father's privacy again by asking about the war.
After his father's death in 1994, Jimmy discovered a Navy Cross,
with an official citation among his father's private belongings. As it
turned out, on the third day of the assault John Bradley witnessed the
enemy mow down a soldier with machine gun fire. He grabbed his medical
bag and ran across 30-yards of gunfire to his fallen comrade.
The man was in bad shape, Bradley was afraid he would die if he
tried to move him, so he thrust the man's rifle, bayonet first, into the
ground and hung a bag of plasma on it. With his back to the hostile gunfire,
Bradley shielded the soldier while he administered first aid. Motioning
to the others to stay back, he pulled the Marine back to safety.
John Bradley never breathed a word of his heroism to anybody.
Two sergeants and a captain reported what Bradley did, and as a result,
he was awarded the Navy Cross.
Yes, Jimmy's teacher was right. John Bradley was a hero. He was
a great man. And like most great men, he didn't talk about his accomplishments.
Great men don't have to. People recognize greatness when they see it. Besides,
to be truly great, a person has to be humble. (http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)
Being poor in spirit includes humility, but it is deeper than
graphic Those who are poor in spirit have a correct estimate of who
they are. Romans 12:3 says, “As God's messenger I give each of you
God's warning: Be honest in your estimate of yourselves, measuring your
value by how much faith God has given you.” (TLB) One of the clearest
Biblical statements of humility in the Bible was uttered by Paul in Phil
4:13 when he said, “for I can do everything God asks me to with the help
of Christ who gives me the strength and power.” (TLB) Paul was honest
about his strengths. Those who are poor in spirit, are humble, are
honest about their strengths and are honest about their weaknesses--they
are totally dependant upon God.
Luke 18:9-14 says, “Also He spoke this parable to some who
trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 
‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a
tax collector.  The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God,
I thank You that I am not like other men--extortioners, unjust, adulterers,
or even as this tax collector.  I fast twice a week; I give tithes
of all that I possess.'  And the tax collector, standing afar off,
would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying,
'God, be merciful to me a sinner!'  I tell you, this man went down
to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself
will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.’" (NKJV)
Those who are poor in spirit don’t have a false, inflated sense of worth.
They know their weaknesses and have a broken spirit. Psalm 51:17
says, “It is a broken spirit you want--remorse and penitence. A broken
and a contrite heart, O God, you will not ignore.” (TLB)
graphic In short, the poor in spirit understand that when it
comes to spiritual things they are totally dependant upon God. We
cannot come to Christ without this great sense of need. We do not
come to a spiritual potluck, where we contribute our dish to with others.
We come to a spiritual banquet, provided solely by God. Hidden in
the third verse of his hymn, Rock of Ages, Augustus M. Toplady, wrote,
“Nothing in my hand I bring, Simply to the cross I cling; Naked, come to
Thee for dress; Helpless look to Thee for grace; Foul, I to the fountain
fly; Wash me, Savior, or I die.” Toplady clearly teaches in this
hymn that we do not contribute to our Salvation. God and God alone
saves. (Eph 2:8-9)
We come to Him with a poverty of spirit, and we abide in Him with
the same attitude. John 15:1-8 says, “I am the true vine, and My
Father is the vineyard keeper.  Every branch in Me that does not produce
fruit He removes, and He prunes every branch that produces fruit so that
it will produce more fruit.  You are already clean because of the word
I have spoken to you.  Remain in Me, and I in you. Just as a branch
is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, so
neither can you unless you remain in Me.  I am the vine; you are the
branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because
you can do nothing without Me.  If anyone does not remain in Me, he
is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them
into the fire, and they are burned.  If you remain in Me and My words
remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you.  My
Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be
My disciples.” (HCSB)
Happiness begins with the recognition of a person’s total dependence
upon God. Are you ready to take the first step towards happiness today?