When I knelt to receive Christ in 1966, I didn’t come completely broken, just broken enough to know I needed forgiveness from God. Yet in my heart, I still felt like I was a pretty nice young woman. But, when I was on my knees, the Lord’s holy light shone like a spotlight on the depths of my soul: rats hurried to hide, and filth I had never seen was everywhere. Fear overwhelmed me. As John Newton wrote: “It was grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fear relieved.” When I rose from my knees after being broken, after pleading for forgiveness and for Him to receive me, I felt clean and light — like I could fly! I had no idea the burden I was carrying was so very heavy, but I knew it when it was gone.
I had never been so happy! I walked around on air for months. The Greek word for “blessed” is happy, and that’s what I was.
But because “works rightousness” is the default mode of the human heart, it is so easy to go back to trusting in myself instead of realizing my continual deep poverty. Being “poor in Spirit” is realizing how empty-handed we are. As Thomas Watson wrote: “If the hand is full of pebbles, it cannot receive gold.” There is so much gold to receive once we realize our complete poverty. We become grateful for little things, contented, and overwhelmed by the presence of God.
Being “poor in spirit” is the first step to blessedness, the step you cannot skip. And if you get stuck in your Christian life, if you wonder what happened to all your joy, you must go back to it.
And with this step comes a promise — and notice, unlike the other blessings, it is not future tense. We’ll consider why that is!
On a personal note, I’d love prayer for the release of the Jesus Who Surprises to be released Tuesday. It feels self-promoting, and I’m sure in part it is, but I also truly know this message can change lives, for I saw it happen in my pilot groups. So –these are my prayer requests, beginning with a huge thanksgiving.
- Yesterday, after months of paperwork and seemingly closed doors, Amazon approved the DVD’s for The Jesus Who Surprises, Idol Lies, and Falling in Love with Jesus. More than we asked! Kudos to my persistent book-keeper Karen — and Rebecca got involved as well. 🙂
- Please pray the message of the gospel running from Genesis to Revelation will impact many hearts
- Please pray, if it pleases God, that women will spread the word of this book and Bible study
- What stands out to you from the above and why?
- Challenge question: Why do you think the first beatitude is in the present tense? Since we still have sin, sorrow, and sickness – what is it about heaven that we get to experience now? (If you need help, see Psalm 138:6)
- Did you experience the presence of God in church this morning? If so, how?
Monday: What does it mean to be poor in spirit?
4. In Luke’s condensed list of Beatitudes, he simply says blessed are the poor. How do we know from Proverbs 30:8-9 that material poverty and material wealth can be temptations instead of blessings?
“Neither,” Colin Smith says, does “poor in spirit” mean a false modesty, denying the gifts God has given you. Billy Graham, for example, realized that God had given him a gift when at his first altar call people poured forward. He did not deny his calling but stepped into it. When people asked him what it was about him that caused such a tremendous response, he said, “It is only because God has his hand on me, and he could withdraw it at any time.”
5. How does Paul tell us to think of ourselves in Romans 12:3?
I have sensed that God has gifted me (though He could take it away at any moment) is the vision to see patterns in Scripture. My first Bible study was “Proverbs and Parables,” for I was intrigued by the repetitive patterns of truth I saw in the Proverbs of Solomon and the Parables of Jesus. When I wrote “The Friendships of Women,” it was because I saw repeated patterns in the friendships of Scripture. The same is true with my book to be released this Tuesday: The Jesus Who Surprises. Jesus is the story of the whole Bible. The ability to see patterns at all is a gift from God, and I want to step into it. I also know because of the depravity of my soul, that I could use this gift for my own glory, and there have been times I have, to my shame, done that. So I want to truly mourn that sin whenever I am tempted by it or fall into it. I want to realize how empty-handed I truly am. Anything good I have is from Him, and any attempt to think otherwise pridefully will lead me into darkness. Colin Smith writes:
“Poor in spirit” means that you recognize your poverty before God. It is an attitude toward yourself in which you know and affirm that you have not lived the life to which God has called you, and that, without Him, you cannot do so now. [Momentum, p. 31]
6. Name one talent God has given you. Explain how you could abuse it by thinking it came from yourself – and then explain how you could use it properly be realizing your great poverty and need to depend on God.
Tuesday: Proverbs and Pride
Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis has brought many to Christ. When Charles Colson was justifying his sin, taking credit for his accomplishments, it was this book brought him to repentance, for Lewis rightly called pride the great sin. Why? It leads to all other sins, for it is the lie that we can solve our problems better going our way than God’s way. It also keeps you from loving others well. Lewis said when you meet a true believer what you might notice about him is that he listens well and is very interested in you. Humility makes you other-centered and pride makes you self-centered.
7. For those of you who were with us when we studied the “fool” in Proverbs, what is one of the first signs of a fool? How is this the opposite of being “poor in spirit?”
8. If being “poor in spirit” leads to happiness, it follows that pride leads to misery. How is this borne out by the following proverbs?
A. Proverbs 11:2
B. Proverbs 13:10
C. Proverbs 16:18
D. Proverbs 29:23
Wednesday: What Helps Us Recognize our Poverty
Isaiah was one of the most respectied and articulate men of his time. But before God could use him, He had to humble him.
9. How, according to Isaiah 6:1-8 did that happen?
10. What are some of the ways we can “see” the Lord high and lifted up? Be specific.
One thing we have often done on this blog is to go on “God Hunts,” looking for the Lord each day. This helps increase our awareness of His love, His holiness, and His mercy.
11. How have you seen the Lord in your life this week?
Thursday-Friday: Colin Smith on “Poor in Spirit”
Listen to the following and share your notes and comments. (14 minutes and 32 seconds)
12. Notes and comments.
13. Is there any way you feel stuck in your Christian walk? How could this lesson help you?
14. Do you have a “God Hunt” to share?
14. How have you seen God at work in your life so far through this study?