The area's leading online source for news!
Louisa-Lawrence Co, KY

In God We Trust - Established 2008

Menu

January 13, 2018

Every Thought Captive, a weekly devotional from Park Cities Presbyterian Church (PCA) January 12, 2018

We Are Beggars; This Is True

by Matt Fray

The Lame Beggar Healed
Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. That is, 3 p.m. And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, "Look at us." And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, "I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!" And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong.

And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God, and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

Peter Speaks in Solomon's Portico
While he clung to Peter and John, all the people, utterly astounded, ran together to them in the portico called Solomon's. And when Peter saw it he addressed the people: "Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk?

Acts 3:1-12(https://pcpc.us1.list-manage.com/track/click?u=eba67192d3a27da52e93fefb8&id=31a2371858&e=82a9a8f89)

On February 18, 1546, Martin Luther died. In his pocket was found a piece of paper with this statement written on it: “We are beggars; this is true.” These words might have seemed mysterious at first, but those who knew Luther well quickly realized that he was not describing material poverty, but spiritual poverty. In other words, in God’s sight, we are so spiritually weak and needy that we are like beggars before Him. While most of us would agree that Luther is a credible source of great wisdom, we all must agree that Jesus is the one from whose lips we receive divine wisdom itself. And Jesus, too, promotes the truth of our lowly spiritual condition.

Amazingly, Jesus goes even further than Luther. Jesus not only affirms the truth that we are people of great spiritual need, but that is a good and even happy reality. We see this as Jesus begins his most famous sermon, The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). Jesus’ opening words in this great sermon are commonly known as the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:2-12), a description of the attributes and attitudes that should characterize us as Christians. Both counter-cultural and counter-intuitive, the Beatitudes present a vision of the good life that is marked by humility, need, and even mistreatment. In the Kingdom of God, those things which the world despises as weak and pitiable, God exalts as strong and enviable. And Jesus begins the Beatitudes with perhaps the most surprising attribute and attitude of all, saying, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of God (Matthew 5:3).”

What does it mean to be poor in spirit? To be poor in spirit means having an attitude that reflects our attribute of spiritual poverty. This attitude is not mere pessimism or self-pity; it’s origin is not from our own heart or mind. Rather, it is an attitude of abiding humility that takes root in our souls when we learn the uncomfortable truth of who we are before God. In God’s eyes, we are not merely imperfect, but altogether unrighteous (Romans 3:10). Before His holiness, we are not only guilty, but condemned to the punishment of death (Romans 6:23). To be poor in spirit is to not only see these realities, but to feel in our bones the tragedy and humility of them personally.

Why does Jesus say it is a good and happy thing to be poor in spirit? Because it is only when we see our poverty that we can see and receive the riches of Jesus’ grace by faith. It is only when we feel the weight of hell’s justice that we, in turning to Jesus, can inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. This is the upside-down, inside-out nature of the Kingdom of God: abundant provision in Jesus Christ for those who see, feel, and openly acknowledge their need of Him. So while many of us try to keep our deep sense of spiritual weakness, corruption, and need hidden, Jesus calls us to own it and to bring it into the light of His glorious grace.

To possess a genuine attitude of spiritual poverty, we must turn away from our natural inclination to compare ourselves to other people and, instead, compare ourselves to God. Or to put it more accurately, we must stop looking at ourselves with the world’s mirror and look at ourselves with God’s mirror; we must see who we are in God’s holy sight. This is what led to the great expressions of spiritual poverty found in the Bible on the lips of people like Isaiah (Isaiah 6:5), Mary (Luke 1:46-48), and Paul (Philippians 3:8-9). As the famous English preacher Martyn Lloyd-Jones said,

"The way to become poor in spirit is to look at God. Look at Him, and keep looking at Him. And then say to Him, 'Nothing in my hand I bring; simply to Thy cross I cling.' Empty, hopeless, naked, vile. But He is the all-sufficient One: 'Yea, all I need, in Thee to find, O Lamb of God, I come, I come.' (Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, p. 52).”

May we who are poor look to Jesus who is rich and feed on Him in our hearts by faith as we anticipate the glories of the Kingdom of Heaven.

 

About the Author

Matt Fray
Assistant Pastor of Spiritual Formation
Park Cities Presbyterian Church

Matt grew up in South Florida and first sensed a call to pastoral ministry while a high school student at Park Cities Presbyterian Church (PCA), in Dallas. After graduating from St. Mark’s, Covenant College, and Westminster Seminary in California, he spent four years serving as the assistant pastor of a PCA church in Savannah, GA. In 2014, he returned to serve at PCPC as the Assistant Pastor of Spiritual Formation.

Matt and his wife Erin have three children: Lydia, Hudson, and Samuel.

 

Add comment

Security code
Refresh

God's Holy Fire from Heartlight

God's Holy Fire is a daily devotional about the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
  • Special Messenger

    [Paul wrote,] For by God's grace, I am a special messenger from Christ Jesus to you Gentiles. I bring you the Good News so that I might present you as an acceptable offering to God, made holy by the Holy Spirit. So I have reason to be enthusiastic about all Christ Jesus has done through me in my service to God.

    Romans 15:15b-17 NLT

    Key Thought

    There are moments when we recognize that we are in the center of God's will, doing what he would have us do, exactly when and where he wants us to do it. Paul is at that place when he writes today's passage. However, underneath his confidence in what he is doing is an even greater confidence — confidence that the Holy Spirit will take his offering of people and make it holy and acceptable to God. As we live our lives and as our lives interact with and influence other people, let's pray that the Holy Spirit will make our entire lives holy and acceptable offerings to God. Let's also pray that we can live in such a way that our words, actions, and influence invite others to come to Jesus!

    Today's Prayer

    O Father God, thank you for the influence you have given me. Please forgive me for the times I have squandered that influence or used it wrongly. Jesus, help me as I seek to lead people ever closer to you. O Holy Spirit, please present my efforts and the people I influence as holy and acceptable offerings to God. I ask all of this in Jesus' name. Amen.


    Ⓒ 1996-2018 Heartlight, Inc. This material may not be reproduced in part or whole for commercial use without written consent. The Thoughts and Prayer for God's Holy Fire are written by Phil Ware.

    Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

    Scripture quotations marked MESSAGE are taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

  • Spirit-Foretold

    And after [the Jewish leaders in Rome] had argued back and forth among themselves, they left with this final word from Paul: "The Holy Spirit was right when he said to your ancestors through Isaiah the prophet..."

    Acts 28:25 NLT

    Key Thought

    Jewish leaders in Rome come to visit Paul while he is under house arrest. He shares the good news of Jesus with them. Some believe this message, but some reject it. This situation leads to disagreements among the leaders. But it convinces Paul even more of the need to share the good news of Jesus with all people because many will listen, even if most of Jesus' own people won't. The Holy Spirit had been working all along through history, using prophets to tell about God's plan to reach all people. Now, just as Jesus had promised (Acts 1:8), the Spirit has propelled Jesus' followers to share the message with many nations, and many people were responding. When we serve the Lord, we are not working alone or in isolation. We are working as part of a plan going back before the creation of the world to bring God's children back to him (Ephesians 1:4-5; 1 Peter 1:20). Let's ask the Holy Spirit to catch us up in this work of grace as well!

    Today's Prayer

    O Father of all people, move us through your Holy Spirit to carry on the mission of the early disciples — to share the good news of Jesus with all people. Empower us, fill us with passion, give us courage, and please grant us success as we seek to share your good news with people all over the world. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.


    Ⓒ 1996-2018 Heartlight, Inc. This material may not be reproduced in part or whole for commercial use without written consent. The Thoughts and Prayer for God's Holy Fire are written by Phil Ware.

    Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

    Scripture quotations marked MESSAGE are taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

SOMEMRSEP