Episode 1. Blessings in Poverty
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Jesus once said Blessed are the Poor in Spirit. Does that mean that Christianity’s just for losers? Not on your life. But what did He mean? There’s a powerful truth in that statement that can change our lives.
Join Berni as he looks at poverty from A Different Perspective.
Jesus once said, “Blessed are the Poor in Spirit”. Does that mean that Christianity’s just for losers? Not on your life. But what did He mean? There’s a powerful truth in that statement that can change our lives.
I was listening to a song the other day, and one of the lines in the song said this, “We’ve conquered outer space but not inner space.” It’s true, you know. We’ve gone to the moon; we’ve done so many amazing technological things. But so many people in this world, well, sometimes we’re messed up inside.
It’s true for many people today that we can look outwardly successful. You know we’ve got a good family, a good job, and the kids are doing well, and people go, “Isn’t that person doing well”? But inside, (where things really matter, where we laugh, we hurt and we cry, and we experience things). On the inside – sometimes it hurts. We need help. The question is when will we admit it? How long do we let things go on, how bad can things get, at what point do we say, “I think I need help with this.”
I was talking to a doctor recently, an Indian doctor who was a locum. He’s one of these doctors who comes to your home when you’re sick in the middle of the night or on a long weekend. He was working as a locum in a really up market area. He said the houses were big, and the people drove nice cars, really a flashy area. He said most of the houses had pools behind them, but “you wouldn’t believe what I find most of the time when I walk through the front door”. He said, “it never ceases to amaze me how much hurt or dysfunction or pain is going on. Either someone is getting divorced or someone is struggling with their kids”. He said, “it’s amazing, on the outside it looks really good, but you go on the inside and people are hurting”.
Our lives can be like that, can’t they? That people perceive on the outside we’re doing well, but on the inside maybe we’re struggling in just one area. Maybe it’s our marriage or maybe we’re struggling with self-esteem. Or sometimes there are several things going on in our lives at the same time. And other times, what we know is that life isn’t what it should be, but I don’t know, I just can’t put my finger on it. It doesn’t mean that we’re a loser. We all hate labels and brands, don’t we? It’s just reality; it’s just life. Not everything in our life is perfect all the time.
I was reading the story of a brothel madam. Her name is Linda Watson, and she used to run a brothel, and you might go, “Well, she deserves what she gets.” But come on, in our society today, brothels are legal. This is accepted. You and I may not morally agree with it, but it is accepted. So by the world’s standards, the woman was beautiful, she was successful, she was going well in life, but “inside”, she said, “she was just dying”.
I was talking to a businessman recently, and he said, “I have success, I have money, I have a great job, I have a great wife, a great family,” he said, “but my life is awful.” We allow issues in our lives to fester. We allow them to go on. We try to ignore them. Come on, how far, how long, until we stick our hands up and say, “Something is not right here?”
The thing I love about Jesus is that to me, I sometimes think of Him as the upside-down God. He takes every life things and flips them on their head. When we look at what He says for the first time, we might go, “Aw no, that’s not for me.” Then when we really listen to what He has to say, we go, “Wow! He’s got a point.”
Now where is that more true than the Sermon on the Mount? The Sermon on the Mount happens in Matthews Gospel, Chapter 3. The crowds have been listening to Jesus, and they’ve been watching Him heal, and all of a sudden He draws away from the crowds. He goes up onto a mountain, and God’s Word says, “That the disciples follow Him”, the small group. The “disciples” literally means “those who want to learn”.
So He has this small group of disciples around Him. And He says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs.” The first time you read that you go, “Does that mean that Christianity is just for losers?” Oh no, He’s drawn His closest followers to Him, and He said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit because the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.”
What does He mean by “poor in spirit”? Someone who is poor in spirit is someone who acknowledges that there are things in their lives that aren’t working. They have the courage to say, the courage to admit, there is something wrong. I need to do something. I need to get some help.
You know when you get a toothache sometimes, just a little twinge, and you think, “Oh no, it just a little twinge, I’ll leave it, I won’t do anything about that. And it gets steadily worse. And it gets worse, and it gets worse, and it gets worse, and then all of a sudden, one Sunday morning when all the dentist surgeries are closed, you wake up and you have a raging toothache. When we let problems go too long because we won’t admit them, because we won’t acknowledge them, because we won’t deal with them, ultimately, they come back and bite us. When do we actually do the courageous thing and say, “This just isn’t right; I need help?”
Here’s a promise. “Blessed are the poor in spirit because the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.” In other words, Jesus is saying, I will bless you when you recognise that you need some help; when you finally get to the point, Berni; when you finally get to the point of saying I need a hand with something. If you call on Me when you’re at the end of your rope, and you call on Me and you say, “Jesus I need help” I will bless you with all the riches in Heaven.
Somewhere else Jesus says, “You know what the Kingdom of Heaven is like? The Kingdom of Heaven is like a man who finds a treasure hidden in a field.” He’s digging away, and he finds a chest with jewels and gold and diamonds and rubies. And what he does, he goes and sells everything that he has to buy the field.” Why does he buy the field? Because of the enormous treasure that he found there.
That’s what the Kingdom of Heaven is like. It’s a blessing. It’s full of treasures. It’s full of wealth. I don’t mean money. I don’t mean if we go to God, we’re going to be billionaires. That’s not what He’s saying here. Jesus says, If you acknowledge your weaknesses, if you acknowledge your pain, if you acknowledge your own inadequacies in some areas, I will bless you with all the riches of my Father in heaven. Isn’t that just a wonderful promise?
Is Jesus just for losers? No, I don’t believe that’s what He’s saying. You know and I know that none of us is perfect. People sometimes look at me and say, Berni, you know, you get up and you preach, and you’re on the radio, and you use language that says you’re a super-Christian. This stuff is for you. Let me let you in on a secret. There is no such thing as a super-Christian. There is no such thing as someone who has everything sorted out in their lives. I don’t have it all sorted out, you don’t have it all sorted out. And there are times when we need help. Will we come to Jesus? Will we admit that we need His assistance and His help?
My experience has been that as I’ve done that in my life over the last nine years that most times Jesus doesn’t fix everything overnight. You know the ad for the hair shampoo, “It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.” As I look back over that time, and as I look back at the changes that God has made in me when I’ve acknowledged my anger, when I’ve acknowledged my conceit, when I’ve acknowledged those sorts of things in my life, He just somehow takes it away. He does things that you and I can’t do. He sets us free.
Can I ask you a question? What are the things in our live at the moment that are causing us grief and are causing us pain and that maybe we’re just sweeping under the carpet, that maybe we’re just ignoring? Maybe we’re hoping it will go away, and it doesn’t. Will we have the courage to stand up in front of Jesus and say, “Lord, this thing in my life, I admit is wrong, it is hurting me, it is hurting those people around me, and I need Your help. Father, in Jesus’ name, will You please help me?”