Poor in Spirit: Daniel 2:25-28

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Then Arioch hurriedly brought Daniel into the king’s presence and spoke to him as follows: “I have found a man among the exiles from Judah who can make the interpretation known to the king!”  The king said to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, “Are you able to make known to me the dream which I have seen and its interpretation?”  Daniel answered before the king and said, “As for the mystery about which the king has inquired, neither wise men, conjurers, magicians nor diviners are able to declare it to the king.  However, there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will take place in the latter days…”  (NASB)

King Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, had a dream in which the usual advisors could not reveal the dream and its interpretation.  The king ordered the execution of all the wise men, in which Daniel and his three friends were included in that group.  Daniel asks for time which he uses for a prayer meeting and then he seeks an audience with the King of Babylon.  The Character of Daniel is plainly seen in this passage of Scripture; and that character is being poor in spirit.

“Are you able to make known to me the dream which I have seen and its interpretation?”  Nebuchadnezzar asked a question that had a temptation attached.  Daniel could have simply answered in the affirmative and taken the glory for himself because he already had the dream and interpretation in hand.  It would have been an easy way to be recognized as a person worthy of honor and a promotion would surely have been the result of this self-promotion.  Daniel could have rationalized that he was using God’s gifts for the furtherance of his people and blessing Daniel because he belonged to the Lord.  Daniel could have convinced himself that it was all right to say yes to the question.  But Daniel had the character of being poor in spirit, and as such was not into self-promotion, but was rather trusting in God to take care of him and reveal His will for his life as he needed it.  Daniel’s response revealed who he really was.

It is not good to eat much honey; so for men to seek glory, their own glory, causes suffering and is not glory.  (Proverbs 25:27, Amplified) 

However, there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries.  Daniel’s response is God in heaven reveals the secrets, and the dream and interpretation are being brought to you by the Living God and to Him should be all the glory.  Daniel responded as a man who was poor in spirit, totally relying upon God to take care of his life for the glory of God. 

Ascribe to Yahweh, you heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.  Ascribe to Yahweh the glory due His name; worship Yahweh in the splendor of His holiness.  (Psalm 29:1-2, HCSB)

The Lord honored Daniel’s choice to give Him the glory for the revelation received by promoting him and his three companions:

Then the king promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts, and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief perfect over all the wise men of Babylon.  And Daniel made request of the king, and he appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego over the administration of the province of Babylon, while Daniel was at the king’s court.  (Daniel 2:48-49, NASB)

Go to prayer and discern if there is any self-promotion in your life (I see this all too often in the church setting) and confess it as sin and trust in God to promote you to be where He wants you to be.

The Plow: What Jesus Commanded Part 6

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The Commands of Christ are from Scripture – The Testimony of the Early Church

And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.  (Acts 2:42)

As the New Testament was being written the Church had two forms of God’s revelation, or commands: The Old Testament and the words of Jesus the Son of Man given orally to the apostles.  Only the apostles at this point had the words of the earthly ministry of Jesus and the authority to transmit those words as we saw earlier.  This was the doctrine of the early Church, and soon was added the New Testament, the delivered message of the apostles as directed by Jesus in Acts 1:2.  Continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine in the Greek is speaking that in a persevering manner the church is attending to the words of Christ, remaining by His side, not leaving or forsaking Him, through the teaching of the apostles.  The Church attended and adhered to the apostles’ teaching: it was a continuous action on the part of the early Church.  The desire to be instructed was great and they attended steadfastly to their instruction.  These apostles were trained for their mission by Jesus.  Now empowered by the Holy Spirit their work begins toward Revolution to an eager audience.  Why were the people attentive to the apostles’ teaching?  They were hungry for the words of their Savior; they had no other purpose but to be totally devoted to their Master and to the building of His Kingdom.

We have drifted far from the early Church and have turned from this deep desire for Jesus.  The doctrine may still be present and believed but the attentiveness to Christ and His mission is gone.  It is no longer about building His Kingdom but about building ours.  The Plow says cultivate the fields once again and start a fresh work for the Kingdom through desiring the words of Jesus once more and to give attendance to His commands.  The Scripture is not only to be learned but to be lived because the Word is the words and commands of Jesus Christ.

Waiting: Truth as a Fruit of the Spirit

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Show me Your ways, O LORD; teach me Your paths.  Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day.  (Psalm 25:4-5, NKJV, emphasis added)

The fruit of the Spirit is truth and we know this when waiting on Him with great hope.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.  (Ephesians 5:8-10, NKJV)

Paul in Ephesians Chapter Five is laying down how a Christian should be living in his or her daily life, or in his terms their walk.  The apostle begins in verse one with the example by which the remaining of the chapter is built upon, “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.”  As Christ is the example of self-sacrificing love, so are His disciples.  As the Son submitted to the Father’s will, so do his children.  This submission leads to the godly walk Paul is teaching.  Our walk depends upon our character, and character is built by the Holy Spirit, and one of the processes the Spirit uses is waiting upon the Lord with hope.

For you were once darkness.  The old you before the new life in Christ was darkness, the absence of light.  Paul is exhorting the disciple to not become darkness again.  The old life has been put off (Ephesians 4:22; Colossians 3:8-9; and 2 Peter 1:14).  Is your old life put off?

But now you are light in the Lord.  The new life is now to be embraced.  We are now light (Matthew 5:14), imitating Jesus who is the light of the world (John 8:12 and 9:5).  Light in the Greek is the light itself, not the lamp.  Light is now what we have become in the Lord.  The change in the disciple has gone beyond being enlightened like a lamp, to becoming light itself.  In a world of darkness we need to allow our lights to shine (Matthew 5:14-16).  Our direction is enlightened by the Lamp which shines for all to see.  Thus, the Light you follow is what others will see and maybe they will follow too.  The new life is to be worn (Romans 13:12-14; Galatians 3:27; Ephesians 4:24; and Colossians 3:10-14).  Have you put on the new life?

Walk as children of light.  In the Greek walk is to order one’s behavior, to conduct one’s self.  The construction in the Greek is to “be habitually conducting yourselves as children of light (Wuest).”  As children, we have been born again and bear the image of the Father, the Father of lights (James 1:17).  The new life of the disciple is to be light, and as self-sacrificing in imitation, are to be light for others.  Is your character such that your light shines before men?

For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth.  Fruit is the product of living the new life as light.  The fruit we bear as believers is the work of the Spirit.  We now come to the results of this new life in the Spirit of truth.  Goodness, righteousness, and truth are all active, meaning they are constantly being produced; they are due to the character of the disciple.  Goodness is benevolence, goodness in action.  Righteousness is what is right, proper, and fit.  Truth is in true and sincere holiness.  How is your fruit?

Finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.  This should be a goal of the Christian life.  We should want to know what is acceptable, or well pleasing, to our Lord the Master of our life and do it.  Because of the new life in the Spirit our fruit will conform to His liking.  As we wait upon God we learn what is acceptable and our character is transformed to be fruitful.

Prayerfully meditate upon this passage.  Recognize that you are light and what it means to be light in a dark world.  Take off the old and put on the new as the Lord of glory changes you day by day into His children, the light of the world.

Mystic Moments: Count All Things A Loss

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Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.  Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  There for let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.  Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.  Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.  (Philippians 3:12-17)

The mark of perfect, as set before us in Paul and all who are thus minded, is the passionate desire to be yet made perfect.  This looks like a paradox.  And yet what we see in our Master proves the truth of what we say: the consciousness of being perfect is in entire harmony with the readiness to sacrifice life itself for the sake of being yet made perfect.  It was thus with Christ.  It was thus with Paul.  It will be thus with us, as we open our hearts fully and give God’s words room and time to do their work…. To count everything loss for perfection in practice, is the surest proof that perfection in principle has possession of the heart…. And so Paul uses expressions which all tell us how what he already had of Christ was but a part.  He did know Christ, he had gained Christ, he was found in Him, he had apprehended in wonderful measure that for which Christ had apprehended him.  And yet all these things – of knowing Christ, of gaining Him, of being found in Him, of apprehending that for which he was apprehended – he speaks as of what he was striving after with all his might: “If by any means I may attain to the resurrection of the dead;” “I press on to the goal, unto the prize.”  It is of all this he says: “Not that I am already made perfect.  Let as many as are perfect be thus minded.”  Paul had known Christ for many years, but he knew there were in Him riches and treasures greater than he had known yet, and nothing could satisfy him but the full and final and eternal possession of what the resurrection would bring him.  For this he counted all things but loss; for this he forgot the things that were behind; for this he pressed on to the goal, unto the prize.  He teaches us the spirit of true perfection.  A man who knows he is perfect with God; a man who knows he must yet be perfected; a man who knows that he has counted all things loss to attain this final perfection; such is the perfect man.  – Andrew Murray

Poor in Spirit: Ezekiel 36:29-31

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Moreover, I will save you from all your uncleanness; and I will call for the grain and multiply it, and I will not bring a famine on you.  I will multiply the fruit of the tree and the produce of the field, so that you will not receive again the disgrace of famine among the nations.  Then you will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and your abominations.  (NASB, Emphasis added)

In this passage the Prophet Ezekiel is proclaiming a day in which the nation of Israel will experience spiritual renewal, and the blessing of the Lord will be again upon her.  The result of this renewal initiated by God was that the nation would remember and loathe its past iniquities.

We learn two steps to becoming poor in spirit from this section of Scripture.   

Then you will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good.  The first step given is the iniquities need to be remembered.  Sin cannot be dealt with if it is hidden in some safe place where God can’t take care of it with the shed blood of Christ.  Our sins separate us from the love and presence of the Lord.  With the sin out in the open and repented of the Believer is then free to start the process becoming poor in spirit and can approach the holy and awesome God.

But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.  (Isaiah 59:2, Amplified) 

And you will loathe yourselves in your own sight.  The next step is that of seeing with your own eyes what you truly are apart from Christ, and come to the place of loathing yourself.  The word used for loathe in the Hebrew means to abhor.  It means to despise, to feel a revulsion toward something or someone; in this case the self is loathed.  With the recognition of the self as void of anything with value apart from Christ, the Believer looks towards the Loving Father with the character of being poor in spirit, which is the desire of the Father.

There you will remember your ways and all your deeds that you have defiled yourselves with, and you will loathe yourselves for all the evil things you have done.  (Ezekiel 20:43, HCSB) 

For your iniquities and your abominations.  These two steps bring us face to face with our sin.  Sin always needs to be dealt with.  Praise the Lord God that He sent Jesus Christ to make provision to take away our sins!

If we say, “We have no sin,” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say, “We don’t have any sin,” we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.  (1 John 1:8-10, HCSB)

It is time to deal with any sin in your life right now.  Character begins with a clean believer (1 John 1:8-10).

Teleios: From Child to Mature

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Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.  (Matthew 5:48)

Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature (teleios).  (1 Corinthians 14:20)

This passage illustrate teleios in a contrast as teleios is (mature) contrasted with children.  Spiritual maturity verses immaturity is presented as a choice.  When it comes to understanding the things of the Spirit we are encouraged to be mature as opposed to immature children.  Clearly there is a choice to be made on our part.  What choice will you make?  Embrace the process and grow forward in Christ.

Poor in Spirit: Ezekiel 16:49-50

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Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy.  Thus they were haughty and committed abominations before Me.  Therefore I removed them when I saw it.  (NASB)

We are all familiar with the story of Sodom and her sister city Gomorrah (Genesis 18:16 – 19:29).   Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed for their sin and have become buzz words for the most immoral of all human sins committed.  This passage tells us what led these cities to their great sin – that is pride.  Looking at this passage we can glean some insights into pride and the sin it can lead to.

Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance.  What was the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah?  This passage tells us that the cause of all their sin was due to a specific sin they committed: the of sin pride.  I cannot think of a single sin that is not tied in some way to pride.  Pride is what causes us to go against God’s will because we believe our way is the better way; or in all-out rebellion we don’t care if we are out of His will which is also caused by pride.  The man whose character is poor in spirit is inclined to not sin because pride is contrary to being poor in spirit. 

Do not love the world or the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.  The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.  (1 John 2:15-17, NASB)

Abundant food careless ease.  Another sin that led to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is overabundance of food and the easy life.  This is caused by pride because we think it is ok to abuse the temple of the Holy Spirit and to live our lives in leisure when there is work for the Kingdom to be accomplished.  Granted, rest is good for you and is ordained by God as instructed in the principle of the Sabbath, but idleness beyond rest is a sin.  Wow, if this does not describe life in America I don’t know what does.  We have an epidemic of obesity, diabetes, and other illnesses attributed from a poor diet in this country that is costing the U.S. taxpayer billions of dollars each year.  We also have a society that has a lot of free time which is being spent on useless activities that neither glorify God nor is beneficial to the human soul.  We need to wake up.  The man who is poor in spirit should not be controlled by his stomach, but is led by the Holy Spirit and set free to take control of his life. 

For I have often told you, and now say again in tears, that many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.  Their end is destruction; their god is their stomach; their glory is in their shame.  They are focused on earthly things.  (Philippians 3:18-19, HCSB, emphasis added) 

For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either.  For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies.  Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread.  But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good.  (2 Thessalonians 3:10-13, NASB)

Neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.  Another sin directly related to pride is not caring for the poor and needy.  We are instructed as God’s people to care for the needs of others whenever possible.  Pride causes selfishness which stifles charity to the poor and needy.  The selfish man hoards his riches and does not use his wealth in a way that honors the Lord.  The man who is poor in spirit honors God with his resources because he knows he is a steward of the King. 

The wicked in pride and arrogance hotly pursue and persecute the poor; let them be taken in the schemes which they have devised.  (Psalm 10:2, Amplified)

Thus they were haughty and committed abominations before Me.  We have discussed haughtiness before and how it is contrary to being poor in spirit.  This act of pride led to Sodom and Gomorrah to commit abominations before the Lord.

Haughtiness of eyes and a proud heart, even the tillage of the wicked or the lamp [of joy] to them [whatever it may be], are sin [in the eyes of God].  (Proverbs 21:4, Amplified) 

Look, I am against you, you arrogant one – because your day has come, the time when I will punish you.  (Jeremiah 50:31, HCSB) 

Therefore I removed them when I saw it.  The end result of the pride in Sodom and Gomorrah is that their great sin was judged in the destruction of the two cities.  The person who is poor in spirit does not commit sins of pride and avoids the judgment awaiting those who live in the sin of pride. 

Pride comes before destruction, and an arrogant spirit before a fall.  (Proverbs 16:18, HCSB)

Today is a good day to look at your charitable giving and how you spend your time.  Does it line up with Scripture?  Are you being a good steward of God’s blessings?

Waiting: The Truth of the Gospel – Part 3

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Show me Your ways, O LORD; teach me Your paths.  Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day.  (Psalm 25:4-5, NKJV, emphasis added)

The truth of the gospel is made powerful to you when you wait on God with hope – Part 3.

Because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel.  (Colossians 1:5, NKJV)

In the introduction part of Paul’s letter to the Colossian church he gives the cause of the good report he received concerning them, and that cause is the hope they had laid up for them in heaven.  Thus, hope was delivered to them through the truth of the gospel.  Once again, the picture is clear for our admonishment.  The gospel is preached, then people respond, and the hope they have causes a change in character which produces fruit.  The main fruit Paul speaks of is their love, both for saints and love in general.  Martin Vincent adds, “Faith works by love, and the ground of their love is found in the hope set before them.

Kenneth Wuest in his Ephesians and Colossians in the Greek New Testament says the following concerning hope, “…this hope of reward has been the incentive to the Colossians in their faith in the Lord Jesus and their love to the saints, encouraging both and causing both to make progress and grow more intense.  The preposition ‘for’ is dia, which is a preposition of intermediate agency.  This shows clearly that the hope is an active thing, working in the saints, energizing that faith and love to a greater intensity.”

Laid up in the Greek is to be reserved, to put to the side.  In the future, the disciple will enjoy his or her rewards in heaven where our treasures put aside there (Matthew 6:20) because we are citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20) and our inheritance is reserved there (1 Peter 1:4).

Of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel.  Paul is contrasting the gospel truth preached by Epaphras with that of the false teachers that have infiltrated their churches.  The gospel truth was at one time close to the Colossian disciples, but the new teaching was causing problems.  They needed to go back to the truth.  At once the fruit of the gospel truth was strong, as it has been in the entire world Paul mentions in the preceding verses.  The truth brings much fruit and the disciples needed to eradicate the false teachers and go back to the gospel truth.  Once more we find it is important to wait on God and learn the truth and to seek after it with diligence.

Wait on the Lord with great hope and pursue the fruit of following the truth of the gospel.  Paul in the passage surrounding our verse details this fruit produced from the hope heard in the word of truth of the gospel:

  • They were faithful brethren (1:2)
  • They had love for all God’s children (saints) (1:3)
  • They were very fruitful (1:6)
  • They loved in the Spirit (1:8)

The Plow: What Jesus Commanded Part 5

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The Words of Christ

To sum up the words of Christ, the revelation of God, I quote Arminius:

I think you will understand the distinction which I imagine to be here employed: I will afford you an opportunity to examine and prove it, by adducing the clearest passages of scripture to aid us in confirming it.  (I.) “All things,” said Christ, “are delivered to me of my Father; and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son.” (Matt 11:27)   They were delivered by the Father, to him as the Mediator, “in whom it was his pleasure that all fullness should dwell.” (Col 1:19 See also ii, 9.)  In the same sense must be understood what Christ says in John: “I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me;” for it is subjoined, “and they have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.” (xvii, 8.)  From hence it appears, that the Father had given those words to him as the Mediator: on which account he says, in another place, “He whom God hath sent, speaketh the words of God.” (John 3:34 )  With this the saying of the Baptist agrees, “The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17 )  But in reference to his being opposed to Moses, who accuses and condemns sinners, Christ is considered as the Mediator between God and sinners.  The following passage tends to the same point: “No man hath seen God at any time: the only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father,” [that is, “admitted,” in his capacity of Mediator, to the intimate and confidential view and knowledge of his Father’s secrets,] “he hath declared him:” (John 1:18 )  “For the Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand;” (John 3:35,) and among the things thus given, was the doctrine of the gospel, which he was to expound and declare to others, by the command of God the Father.  And in every revelation which has been made to us through Christ, that expression which occurs in the beginning of the Apocalypse of St. John holds good and is of the greatest validity: “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants.” God has therefore manifested Evangelical Theology through his Son, in reference to his being sent forth by the Father, to execute among men, and in his name, the office of Mediator.

(Complete Works of Arminius, Oration II)

Poor in Spirit: Jeremiah 44:9-11

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“Have you forgotten the wickedness of your fathers, the wickedness of the kings of Judah, and the wickedness of their wives, your own wickedness, and the wickedness of your wives, which they committed in the land of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem?  But they have not become contrite even to this day, nor have they feared nor walked in My law or in My statutes, which I have set before you and before your fathers.”  Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, “Behold, I am going to set My face against you for woe, even to cut off all Judah.”  (NASB, Emphasis added)

Jeremiah is declaring that God is going to bring judgment upon the nation because they have not humbled themselves in repentance and sought the Lord with a reverent fear and have not walked in the laws of God.  If the people of the nation would take on the character of being poor in spirit and humble themselves they would escape judgment; but that they did not do.  We can learn from the poor example set by the nation in Jeremiah’s time.

They have not become contrite.  The starting point given by God to escape judgment is to become contrite and humbled.  Why is this so important?  The man or nation that is not humble is driven by his own pride.  With pride on the throne where is God?  God is nowhere to be found in the life of the person who is not humble.  When man is separated from the Lord his sins cannot be covered and that results in judgment for him.  The man who is humble recognizes both his own sinful condition in which he allows the Lord to rid him of, and he also sees God as He is and the desire to submit to the will of the loving Father is so strong that he submits to God’s plan.  The man who is poor in spirit has the character that is humble, and as such judgment is never his concern.

Then Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart – he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem – so the LORD’s wrath didn’t come on them during Hezekiah’s lifetime.  (2 Chronicles 32:26)

Nor have they feared.  The second point made by God to escape judgment is that having the fear of the Lord is required to avoid judgment.  Why is this so important?  Without the fear of the Lord there is no wisdom and no desire to walk with Him.  The opposite holds true for those who fear the Lord: there reverence for God gives them a desire to not to displease Him and to walk closer to Him.  We have seen in many places that fearing the Lord is a natural characteristic of the man who is poor in spirit.

The reverent fear and worship of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom and skill [the preceding and the first essential, the prerequisite and the alphabet]; a good understanding, wisdom, and meaning have all those who do {the will of the Lord].  Their praise of Him endures forever.  (Psalm 111:10, Amplified)           

Nor walked in My law or My statutes.  The last point presented by God to escape judgment is by walking in His law and statutes.  Why is this so important?  His law and statutes show you His plan for your life; they tell you how you should live.  This too is a natural characteristic of the man poor in spirit.

And keep your obligation to the LORD your God to walk in His ways and to keep His statutes, commands, ordinances, and decrees.  This is written in the law of Moses, so that you have success in everything you do and wherever you turn.  (1 Kings 2:3, HCSB)

We as Believers are far removed from judgment, but we can learn these principles as they help us become poor in spirit.  The three principles to apply to our life are (1) to be humble; (2) to fear the Lord; and to follow God’s Word.  Set your heart to apply these principles to your life and pray that the Holy Spirit is allowed to implement His plan concerning them.