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'Blessings to all who are poor in spirit'

글쓴이 : 관리자 날짜 : 2017-08-09 (수) 06:34 조회 : 156
Rev._Jang\'s_Sermon_on_August_6,__2017.docx (23.1K), Down : 0, 2017-09-11 20:15:21
설교일 : 2017.08.06.
설교자 : Rev. Jang
본문말씀 : Matthew 5:1-12

August 6, 2017

 

‘Blessings to all who are poor in spirit’

Matthew 5:3-12

 

Rev. Chan Young Jang’s Sermon at the KUMC of Metro Detroit

 

 

1.

One of the missionaries our church supports is Missionary Jung-Ryul Song in Turkey. A few years ago, during my visit to the Asia Minor, Missionary Song took me to the site of Laodicea church, one of the seven churches mentioned in the Revelation. Even before the time of Jesus, the city had enjoyed commercial prosperity and had been a leading banking center. It produced the popular glossy black wool, and was the home of a medical school and manufactured the famous eye ointment. The place now had only a heap of stones and some restored pillars, but I remember being very touched and reading the Lord’s words in the Revelation there.

 

Revelation 3:17  “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”

 

The Laodiceans may have been so rich and wealthy that they didn’t need a thing, but the Lord calls them to be ‘wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.’ They were proud of their medical advancement and the eye ointment, but the Lord calls them to be ‘blind’. They were clothed in fine cloaks made with their famous wool, but the Lord calls them to be ‘naked’.

 

All the people in today’s worlds, including the Christians, hate to be called to be ‘wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked’, which were what the Lord said to the Church in Laodicea, and our most hated epithet is to be ‘poor’.

 

Some time ago there was an evangelist who had appeared often on mass media with the nickname of ‘The Happy Evangelist’. The audience roared when he delivered the following statement; “Be determined not to be poor, as the poverty is the enemy of our happiness. Do your best to get out of poverty.” This shows what we think of the poverty and that we want to avoid it at all cost.

 

But, in today’s passage, our Lord uses the word ‘makarios’(God’s blessing) in ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit’. In the Gospel of Luke, ‘in spirit’ is omitted from the following verse.

 

Luke 6:20  Looking at His disciples, He said, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours in the kingdom of God.”

 

These words of Jesus seem to be really ‘unattractive and uninspiring’ to many of us who worship money and wealth, and regard the power and the status resulting from the wealth as the requirements for our happiness. Rev. Oswald Chambers wrote about the shock His disciples must have felt at hearing the ‘Sermon on the Mount’.

 

“Whoever heard the words of the Lord must have been astonished. The reason is that Jesus Christ proclaimed what was considered a curse to people at the time to be ‘God’s blessing’.”

 

Why were they so astonished? The Jews at the time believed that ‘the material prosperity’ was the proof of God’s blessing and Lord Jesus completely reversed the notion.

 

They were shocked at Jesus’ usage of the word ‘ptokos’in His statement about the blessings, and this word does not indicate ordinary poverty, but being destitute like the beggars. Lord Jesus wanted to emphasize what He was saying by ‘going up on a mountainside and sitting down’.

 

I want to share an episode of Stanley Jones, the famous preacher and missionary. One day at an intersection, he was following other people who were crossing the street when a woman held his arm and stopped him. She said, “It is a red light.’ Stanley answered defensively, “But look at those people crossing the street.” Then she said, gazing into his eyes, “Don’t look at the people. Just look at the traffic light only.” Hearing this, he felt ashamed and realized what he should do with his life; he would only look at the light of Lord Jesus. Our faith means that we should not look at what others are doing, but follow the words of our Lord only.

 

 

2.

Let us meditate upon ‘the poor in spirit’ in today’s passage. It means that ‘our mental attitude before God’should be poor spiritually and desperate enough to ask God for help. In other words, we realize our helplessness and do not expect anything from our selves.

 

Having been disappointed at ourselves and feeling helpless with our own existence, we have to empty our heart fully and feel thoroughly humble to become deep thinkers, which will lead us look toward God and rely on Him completely.

 

The theologian Richard Foster talked about this state of mind and declared, “God uses the ‘deep thinking person’ over the gifted or the competent.”

 

Lord Jesus explained this through a parable about the Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke chapter 18. A Pharisee and a tax collector went up to the temple to pray. A Pharisee was confident of his own righteousness and authority, but in reality he was only interested in showing them off to others. He may have been holy in appearances, but was ‘very shallow in his spirituality’.

 

On the other hand, the tax collector was so aware of his sinfulness that he stood at a distance. Being ashamed of his life and beating his breast, he was standing before God.

 

Luke 18:13  “But the tax collector stood at a distance: He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’”  

 

Reflecting upon himself, the tax collector had nothing to say, but only asking for mercy from God. To other people he had bragged about his wealth, position or authority, but before God, he realized that those were not making him happy. Standing before God, he felt that he was spiritually destitute. God had mercy toward him who humbled himself and now he became profound enough to know the heart of God. The Lord called someone like him ‘the poor in spirit’.

 

During the next week, you will encounter many things in your life. Some of you will be able to take good care of these things, while some others may have trouble in doing so. But there is one thing you should do; when things go well, you should remember that it is not you who take care of them, and when things don’t go well, you should admit that you cannot take care of them and need help from the Lord. By humbling ourselves and becoming deep thinkers, we will experience the blessing for ‘the poor in spirit’. I hope that all of you will experience this blessing through today’s worship service.

 

 

3.

The other thing we want to meditate on is that in today’s passage, not only ‘the poor in spirit are blessed’ (makarios), but also ‘the kingdom of heaven is theirs’. Having the kingdom of heaven means that they are saved. When you are saved, you earned your salvation. David confessed that he knew his salvation was coming from God only.

 

Psalm 62:1  “My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him.”

 

When we realize we are forgiven of our sins and have become the children of God, we are thankful for the priceless eternal life granted to us. Then, we know this life on earth is just a temporary life for us. Let us hear the confessions of the first martyr Stephen, Deacon of the first church in Jerusalem.

 

Acts 7:55-56  But, Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

 

He saw the heaven, but he was soon martyred.

 

Acts 7:57-58  At this they covered their ears and yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.

 

Who is this Saul? Saul is the Hebrew name of Apostle Paul who later contributed greatly to the history of Christianity. After this incident, on his way to Damascus to prosecute the believers there, he was met by Lord Jesus.

 

Acts 9:18  Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized.

 

Thanks to the grace of the Lord, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again (‘anablepo’ in Greek). ‘Ana’ means ‘up’ + ‘Blepo’ means ‘see’, so he was able to see up, the heaven. In other words, his eyes were opened to the spiritual world.

 

The poor in spirit are blessed to see not only this world, but also the heaven. Consequently, they will be able to experience the presence of God and His guidance, by asking “What would Jesus do?” every moment of their life. One of the classic books of the Christianity is ‘The Practice of the Presence of God’, which is the compilation of the diaries of Brother Lawrence who lived in the 17thcentury.

 

While working as a cook and gardener for a monastery in a remote village, Brother Lawrence experienced God daily in his life. He has shown us that ‘our work does not define us, but our life is determined by the one who rules over us.’ We get to experience the heaven not by living in a heaven-like place, but by serving the Lord who is the master of heaven.

 

 

4.

Let us meditate upon the passage about blessings in the Gospel of Luke. ‘In spirit’ is omitted from this passage.

 

Luke 6:20  “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.”

 

Lord Jesus is saying that ‘being poor is a blessing’ and that ‘the poor are the owners of the kingdom of heaven’. Then, it can also mean that being rich is not a blessing and that the rich cannot go near the kingdom of heaven. Most agree that in this passage Lord Jesus was talking about those living in real poverty with no money.

 

We want to ask why being poor is a blessing. First of all, compared to the wealthy, it is easier for the poor to believe in Jesus. I have been asked by some American pastors for the reason why the Korean churches have succeeded, while the churches in Japan failed. My answer to them is that the success was entirely by the grace of God, and another reason might be the poverty and hardships the Koreans had to suffer.

 

When we reflect upon ourselves, we realize that our faith grew rapidly and we got to meet Jesus personally ‘when we were poor’ or ‘suffering hardships’. It is the same with me. If my parents were well-off, I wouldn’t have gone to the church and wouldn’t have believed in Lord Jesus. Looking back, I have to admit that becoming poor was the grace of God to lead me to the church and to meet Lord Jesus. It may sound paradoxical, but the poverty at that time made me what I am now and allowed me to belong to the kingdom of heaven.

 

Jesus said clearly in Matthew 19:23-24, “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” In other words, it is easier for a poor man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Jesus didn’t say this to criticize the wealthy, but to emphasize that we can go nearer to God because of our poverty. Being poor make us humble and submissive, and then we hold onto the Lord with our desperate faith.

 

After meditating on the blessing for the poor of having the kingdom of heaven for themselves, we should seriously consider the option of ‘choosing to be poor’. I want to introduce someone to help you with this option and that is Jean Ziegler, who was born in 1936 in Switzerland and a former professor at Sorbonne University and Geneva University, and served the United Nations for a long time as a special researcher on ‘the right to food’. His books accuse the greed of wealthy humans as the cause of poverty and starvation that half of the world’s population suffer now, and he advocates the need for us ‘to choose to be poor’ in his book ‘The Age of Greed’.

 

He quotes the report from U.N. Food and Agriculture Committee that says “the total population of the world is 6.2 billion and the agricultural products of the world can feed up to 12 billion people, but at present approximately 854 million people are suffering from severe chronic malnutrition, and every 5 seconds a child under age of 10 dies from starvation.” He accuses the greed of big businesses from advanced countries and the apathy of wealthy people for this tragic situation. Here are some more information from his book.

 

[In today’s world, over 10 million children under the age of 5 die from malnutrition, infectious diseases, contaminated water, and unsanitary environments, and over 1.2 billion people are living on less than $1 a day. Among these, 850 million people are illiterate and 325 million have no school experience, and 12 million children a year lose their lives from treatable diseases. And what do you think?]

 

Jean Zigler clearly wants to wake us up from our indifference on the subjects of poverty and starvation in the world, which cannot be ignored any longer. But we know who told us about the poor first, and that person is Lord Jesus.

 

Jesus’ saying that ‘Blessed are you who are poor’ makes us think that we can choose to be poor for the sake of the poor, just as Lord Jesus had done by willingly coming down to earth as the poorest person.

 

Jean Zigler said in his speech at U.N. that “Starvation is not an inevitable destiny. A child who dies from hunger is a murdered child by those who have eaten more than their shares… Now it is our responsibility to deal with this poverty together.”

 

Therefore, we have to choose to live the life of missions; by subscribing to the ‘Bible Time’, sending money regularly to the orphans and to the poor, collecting mission fund at each Cell Group, or going on a short term mission trips. These are some of the ways ‘we choose to be poor for the poor’ and we will be blessed for ‘our participation in poverty’.

 

My beloved congregation, please pay attention to the ‘conditions for the blessings’ from the Lord and meditate upon them; ‘Blessings to all who are poor in spirit’, ‘Blessings to all who choose to be poor and participate in poverty’… and the kingdom of heaven is yours. This is the Lord’s first condition for His blessings.

 

Now you are all invited to the Communion Table. Meditating upon the Lord’s message about the poor and remembering Jesus Christ as the bread for the poor, please come out to the table, all of you who are poor in spirit.

 

Our closing hymn is: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit’

 

 

 


   

총 게시물 423건, 최근 0 건
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417 2017.11.05.  'Only for the Lord' Romans 14:6-9 Rev. Lee
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414 2017.10.29.  교회창립45주년기념 - ‘신앙 공동체로서의 교회’ 사도행전 9:8~19A 장찬영 목사
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 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  다음  맨끝

제목 : The Life of a Witness
설교일 : 2017.12.03
본문말씀 : John 1:6-15
설교자 : Rev. Shin

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