In this sermon, Youth Director Mike Bittenbender talks about the first beatitude– Happy are the poor in spirit; finding our happiness in our dependence on Jesus. Here are some excerpts:
Paul David Tripp says “The DNA of joy is thankfulness.” When we can switch our attitude to thankfulness, entering into a state of thankfulness, we find joy. This is particularly relevant in light of what Jesus has accomplished on the cross. We can always be eternally grateful for Jesus dying on the cross to save sinners like us.
Rev. Graham Smith, in his first sermon on the beatitudes, says this: “Happiness does not depend upon the atmosphere outside; it depends upon the attitude inside.” Now if we are really talking about joy, or this greater blissful state than just mere happiness, which I believe Rev. Smith was getting at, then this joy does not have anything to do with what’s happening outside of us. Often we think that happiness or joy can be found in our job, our money, or our car. We tell ourselves that if only this would happen, if only we had a bigger house, then I would be happy. But what I believe Paul Tripp and Rev. Smith, and even Jesus are getting at is something deeper, something joy-filled, some thankfulness we can have always. It starts with our dependence on God.
Charles Spurgeon in his book The Beatitudes says “Poverty of spirit empties a man and so makes him ready to be filled. It lays the guilty sinner at the gate of mercy. Where we end, mercy begins, or rather mercy has begun, and mercy has already done much for us when we are at the end of our own merit, our power, our wisdom and our hope.” Isaiah was emptied of himself when he saw who he was, a sinner, in light of the holiness of God. Isaiah’s sins wereforgiven, not because of anything Isaiah said or did, or by his own merit, but because of God. And in light of that mercy Isaiah opens himself up to be filled and says, “Here am I, send me Lord.”
Where are you today? Are you standing on your own merits? Are you standing on some eternal factor for your happiness? Or are you humbling yourself before God? Are you emptying yourself out, saying God there is no health in me apart from you. I am nothing but utterly dependent upon you, God. Are you standing before the throne of God, the mighty, just, merciful, loving Creator, with unclean lips, saying woe is me and yet, here am I, send me Lord?
Jesus says blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are they who humble themselves before the Lord, joyful are those who humble themselves before the Lord. Jesus told the disciples this before taking them on a life-changing journey with Him and they witnessed and were at the forefront of everything Jesus said and did. He knew they were going to feel important and Jesus says whoa, now, see humility and utter dependence on God first. Not the riches, not the fame that may come from this.
I’ll close with one final quote from John Stott. He says, “To the poor in spirit and only to the poor in spirit, the kingdom of God is given. For God’s rule which beings salvation is a gift as absolutely free as it is utterly undeserved.”