Poor in Spirit: Zephaniah 3:1-2

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Woe to her that is rebellious and polluted, the oppressing city [Jerusalem]!  She did not listen to and heed the voice [of God]; she accepted no correction or instruction; she trusted not in the Lord [nor leaned on or was confident in Him, but was confident in her own wealth]; she drew not near to her God [but to the god of Baal or Molech].  (Amplified) 

The prophet Zephaniah pronounces a woe upon Jerusalem and personifies the people as her and she in this passage.  The woe is pronounced because the people are not what God wanted them to be; they were rebellious and went after other gods; they were not teachable and not lead by the Lord; they were plainly not poor in spirit.  Let us learn from this negative example of what is not poor in spirit.

That is rebellious and polluted.  Rebellious in the Hebrew denotes resistance and disobedience.  The people were rebellious and disobedient to the commands of God.  The person who is poor in spirit does not rebel against the Lord because he only trusts in God and not in himself.  The Lord is source of life and we will die spiritually if we rebelled and were separated from our God.   The word used for polluted in the Hebrew means to defile, to pollute, to stain, to make impure.  The person who is poor in spirit is not defiled for he is pure because he walks closely with his God in unbroken fellowship and is purified by the blood of the Lamb.  The person of godly character stays pure because only when he is pure can he come into the Lord’s presence, which is His highest desire.

For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and defiance is like wickedness and idolatry.  (1 Samuel 15:23, HCSB)

She did not listen to and heed the voice of God.  The person who is poor in spirit listens and heeds the voice of God because he knows that is where wisdom and direction comes from.  To do otherwise is to trust in the self, which is opposed to the Lord of all creation.  Self will lead the selfish anywhere except where the Lord God desires him to go.  God’s will is only discernible by listening and heeding the voice of the Lord. 

She accepted no correction. The person poor in spirit accepts correction because he knows that it will lead to developing Christian character and becoming all that God desires.

My son, do not despise or shrink from the chastening of the Lord [His correction by punishment of by subjection to suffering or trial]; neither be weary of or Impatient about or loathe or abhor His reproof, for whom the Lord loves He corrects, even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.  (Proverbs 3:11-12, Amplified) 

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but one who hates correction is stupid.  (Proverbs 12:1, HCSB)

Grievous punishment is for him who forsakes the way; he who hates reproof will die.  (Proverbs 15:10, NASB)

She accepted no instruction.  The person poor in spirit accepts instruction because he understands that it God is the Teacher and he is the student.  Remember a disciple is a student of the Lord Jesus Christ.  This instruction and reproof will lead to developing the character God wants in the disciple.

The reverent and worshipful fear of the LORD is the beginning and the principal and choice part of knowledge [its starting point and its essence]; but fools despise skillful and godly Wisdom, instruction, and discipline.  (Proverbs 1:7, Amplified)

 Hold on to instruction; don’t let go.  Guard it, for it is your life.  (Proverbs 4:13, HCSB)

He is on the path of life who heeds instruction, but he who ignores reproof goes astray.  (Proverbs 10:17, NASB)

She trusted not in the Lord [nor leaned on or was confident in Him, but was confident in her own wealth].  The man poor in spirit trusts in the Lord and not in the self because the self will let him down and when he trusts in the Lord he will never be disappointed because the God Most High cannot disappoint.

As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is tried.  He is a Shield to all those who trust and take refuge in Him.  (2 Samuel 22:31, Amplified)

Those who know Your name will trust in You because You have not abandoned those who seek You, Yahweh.  (Psalm 9:10, HCSB)

She drew not near to her God.  The person who is poor in spirit draws near to God because there is no other place to be.  With drawing near to the Lord as their passion the poor in spirit will do whatever it takes to draw near.

But it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord God and made Him my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works.  (Psalm 73:28, Amplified) 

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water.  (Hebrews 10:22, HCSB) 

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.  Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  (James 4:8, NASB)

Read and meditate in the Scripture presented and pray how to apply them to your life.

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Poor in Spirit: Zephaniah 2:1-3

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Gather yourselves together, yes, gather together, O desirable nation, before the decree is issued, or the day passes as chaff, before the LORD’s fierce anger comes upon you, before the day of the LORD’s anger comes upon you!  Seek the LORD, all you meek of the earth, who have upheld His justice.  Seek righteousness, seek humility.  It may be that you will be hidden in the day of the LORD’s anger.  (NKJV) 

The prophet Zephaniah declares God’s Word to the people of Israel: that judgment is fast approaching.  But the coming judgment can be avoided if the nation seeks the LORD.  How the nation seeks the LORD will lead to God’s intent for His people – character development.  One of these character traits stated in this passage is humility, which we have seen is the essence of being poor in spirit.  Let us examine each element that God wants the nation to seek out and how each piece of the puzzle fits in helping us in becoming poor in spirit.

Seek the LORD, all you meek of the earth, who have upheld His justice.  The starting point is to seek God and His whole essence; everything that the Lord is we go after.  We can study His attributes and learn how each one can be applied to our lives and gain the understanding of who He is.  We can search the Scripture daily to seek Him in His Word.  We can seek Him in prayer and in worship.  The point is to go after the complete God as presented in the Scriptures.

But from there, you will search for the LORD your God, and you will find Him when you seek Him with all your heart and all your soul.  (Deuteronomy 4:29, HCSB)

Glory in His holy name; let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the LORD!  Seek the LORD and His strength; yearn for and seek His face and to be in His presence continually!  (1 Chronicles 16:10-11, Amplified) 

The meek are to seek the Lord.  The word used for meek in the Hebrew means poor, oppressed, afflicted, humble.  It is used of persons who put themselves after others in importance; persons who are not proud, haughty, supercilious, self-assertive, low in rank or position.  In other words, the meek are people described as being poor in spirit.  Also, the seeker of the Lord is one who upholds justice as in a previous meditation’s discussion.  These are the people who are poor in spirit.

Seek righteousness.  Righteousness as used here in the Hebrew means a right relation to an ethical or legal standard. The word is frequently connected with the term justice, as used here.  The standard is the Lord God Himself and the only way to seek righteousness is to know the standard of the Biblical text and its Author.

Listen to Me, you who pursue righteousness, you who seek the LORD: Look to the rock from which you were cut, and to the quarry from which you were dug.  (Isaiah 51:1, HCSB)

But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and all these things taken together will be given you besides.  (Matthew 6:33, Amplified) 

Seek humility.  Finally, we are to seek humility, the essence of being poor in spirit.  The word used for seek means in the Hebrew to search out and strive for.  It takes some effort to do.  We are never to be passive in seeking what God has for us including developing the character of becoming poor in spirit.

Simply commit today to follow the key points presented in this lesson as vital to your character development in the Lord.

Poor in Spirit: Micah 6:6-8

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With what shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the High God?  Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?  Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, ten thousand rivers of oil?  Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?  He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?  (NKJV)

The Lord God is speaking through the prophet Micah to the nation of Israel and the questions He is asking in this passage are in response to the acts by which the Israelites thought were required by God in their mixed-up theology in order to come before the Most High God.  The Lord does answer the question as to how to approach Him, and the answer is to be poor in spirit and the particulars are in verse eight of the passage.  Let us examine how each part relates to being poor in spirit.

He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you.  The good news is that God has already revealed in His word, the Bible, what is required of any person who wants to come before the Himself.  It is all contained in His Word.  We never have to go outside His Word for anything to find how to live before God.

May grace (God’s favor) and peace (which is perfect well-being, all necessary good, all spiritual prosperity, and freedom from fears and agitating passions and moral conflicts) be multiplied to you in [the full, personal, precise, and correct] knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.  For His divine power has bestowed upon us all things that [are requisite and suited] to life and godliness, through the [full, personal] knowledge of Him Who called us by and to His own glory and excellence [virtue].  (2 Peter 1:2-3, Amplified) 

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.  (2 Timothy 3:16-17, NASB) 

To do justly.  By acting just a person is poor in spirit because they do right both in the sight of men and right by God’s standard, for God is just.  When we act like Christ we develop Christ-like character and part of the character is just living; and the character we are pursuing is poor in spirit, characterized by submitting to the Lord in all things, including living justly.

…there is no other God but Me, a righteous God and Savior; there is no one except Me.  (Isaiah 45:21, HCSB) 

So be subject to God.  Resist the devil [stand firm against him], and he will flee from you.  (James 4:7, Amplified) 

To love mercy.  In the same way we develop our character by being merciful as the Lord is merciful in His character. 

For the Lord your God is a merciful God; He will not fall you or destroy you or forget the covenant of your fathers, which He swore to them.  (Deuteronomy 4:31, Amplified) 

To walk humbly with your God.  The sweet reward of developing the character of poor in spirit is so we can walk, day in and day out, with our God.  Every moment we can enter the Lord’s presence.  Every moment we have access to the loving Father in prayer.  Every moment God is there to protect us.  Every moment we can be assured that we are in the Lord’s will.  It is a daily walk that we desire with our Lord and Savior.  Develop into a person who is poor in spirit and it shall become a reality.   

Memorize Micah 6:8 and meditate often upon it, praying always to apply this verse to your life and you will soon become poor in spirit.

The Plow: What Jesus Commanded Part 8

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The Prophetic Word Confirmed 

For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.  For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”  And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.

And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.  (2 Peter 1:16-21) 

The Apostle Peter in this passage illuminates for our understanding the sure footing on which stands the New Testament as transmitted from the Holy Spirit through the Words of Christ to His chosen instruments.  The commands of Christ are known and given to us.  We can be sure the orders are from above and they are to be carried out in the Revolution for the Kingdom. 

For we did not follow cunningly devised fables.  Peter represents the response of an eyewitness to the sure word of Jesus.  He knew Jesus.  He walked with Jesus.  He was instructed by Jesus.  Peter and the apostles of our Lord did not follow a fairytale written to present some cunning characteristic of correct living, but rather the true commands and teaching of the Living Word, the Word become flesh in the incarnation.  These are not words meant to manipulate for the common good, but rather words meant to inspire complete obedience to our Master Jesus as Paul affirms in 1 Corinthians 1: 17, “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.”  See also 1 Corinthians 2:1, 4, and 13.  What the New Testament portrays is truth, not mythological object lessons.  The New Testament contains marching orders of the Revolution, and as obedient soldiers we are to fulfill those commands.   

When we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  As an eyewitness to the power of Christ, Peter and the other apostles can proclaim the power they saw and the coming of their Lord which He taught them.  Paul discusses the effect of the power of Christ in Ephesians 1:19-22 in which the authority of our Lord is proven in His death and resurrection.  Only by the power of our Messiah can His words be transmitted to us and obeyed.  This power and the mission declared through Jesus had been made known through the written Word of the New Testament by His apostles.

We were eyewitnesses of His majesty.  The importance of an eyewitness is once again brought up in Scripture, this time by Peter.  It was because Peter was an eyewitness that he could be both sure of the message and sure of its source.  The testimony of Peter and the apostles is the same: the commands of the Commander in Chief were stated and transmitted by Christ Himself.  Peter and the rest were eyewitnesses to Jesus’ majesty.  The Greek word for majesty is a word used for greatness, glory, and majesty of deity.  It is because Jesus was proved to be Divine in experience that the apostles were able to testify to His words and commands.   We too have this assurance through faith and the work of the Holy Spirit in us.  We too have experienced the majesty of God and should be willing to submit to the rule of Him who is calling for Revolution.

For He received from God the Father honor and glory.  Jesus, it has been established, has been always God, but through His incarnation He received honor and glory from God the Father as witnessed by Peter, James, and John when Jesus was transfigured before them.  The Three saw with their very eyes the Deity which was Christ their Lord.  And Peter now gives testimony of this fact as an assurance of the transmission to us of the Words of God.  In His glory Jesus gives us His commands as the Supreme Authority of the universe.  These commands are to be obeyed because there is no higher Authority than God Himself.

When such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”  The Transfiguration (See Matthew 17:1-13) was witnessed by Peter (along with James and John) as confirmation to their growing belief in Jesus as the Son of God.  Peter references the highest character witness of all: God the Father.  In the Transfiguration account the Father gives testimony to the Deity of Jesus and to the call to obedience in which they were entrusted to submit in Matthew 17:5, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.  Hear Him!”  Hear Him was Peter’s call to obedience and the New Testament is our call to obedience in the Revolution for the Kingdom.

And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him.  The testimony of the apostles is the voice which comes from heaven by which we are called to obedience.  The commands are from the top and there is no questioning these orders.

And so we have the prophetic word confirmed.  There is no stronger testimony than the eyewitness accounts and testimonies presented by Peter.  The words of the New Testament are their own confirmation, holding a higher standing as a witness in the court of heaven, higher than the personal testimony of Peter.  The eyewitness of Peter is important and valuable, but the written word is a higher testimony because it comes from God Himself.  We are called to follow the Word of God as the commands of the Most High.  

Which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.  Light brings clarity and leads us in the way, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path (Psalm 119:105).”  The Word of God is our light in the darkness of battle for the Revolution.  In the midst of battle we can be sure of our footing and the commission which we received.  Jesus is the light and we can trust in His Word, “I am the light of the world.  He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life (John 8:12).”  The New Testament is the Truth bearer of the commands of Christ and the standard by which we mark our obedience for the Revolution.   

No prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation (or origin).  The words of the Bible are not the words of man, but are the very words of God.  This is what Peter has established in this passage of Scripture.  The Creator spoke to people who were chosen for the transmission of His prophetic (proclaimed) words to man.  We have in our possession the commands of God, and as such, we are to study them and be obedient to them.  Man can never explain the mysteries and fullness of the Godhead by themselves.  The message of God needs to be given by God, not man.  Thus, Peter presented his case for the written Word.

Prophecy never came by the will of man.  No man chose to express his personal opinions of God but rather specific men were called to speak the words of God.  Prophecy is the simple transmission of the words of God to man by the power of the Holy Spirit.  The prophets of the Old and New Testaments had no other function but to be the mouthpieces of God.  Today we have in written form this transmission of His commands to us in the Bible.

But holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.  Holy men, men separated from the natural, where supernaturally inspired to transmit the words of God by the Holy Spirit.  God being holy could only transfer His message through the holy instruments chosen for the task.  From a holy God to holy men by the Holy Spirit was the chosen and perfect means by which our orders come to us from above.

It is clear the commandments of Jesus include the complete Word of God, the Old and New Testaments.  With command in hand we have been enlisted in the battle for the Kingdom Revolution.  As men gifted as pastor teachers we need to be obedient to the command to make disciples and to teach all He commanded.

Waiting: The Love of the Truth

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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)

Receive the love of the truth as you wait on God with great hope.

And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.  The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of truth, that they might be saved.  (2 Thessalonians 2:8-10, NKJV)

The Apostle Paul is describing the great apostasy that will occur prior to our Lord’s return.  Satan will work through the Antichrist with deceitfulness to fool the world who do not receive the love of truth and are destined for destruction.  Deception versus truth is presented. 

With all unrighteous deceptionUnrighteous in the Greek is what is not conformable with justice, what ought not to be, that which is wrong.  Satan wants to impede the proper worship of God and disrupt the lives of man for their ruin because Satan stands in opposition to the truth.  In the Greek deception is deceit, delusion.  Spoken of anything which is deceptive and seducing.  Satan is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44) and will use falsehood to seduce man away from the living God.  All informs us that Satan will use every dirty trick in the book to trip people up (consider reading C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters for an insider’s guide to Satan’s schemes). 

Among those who perish.  Only those who are not children of God will be deceived by the devil and his trickery.  Perish in the Greek is a strong word meaning to destroy or perish violently.  The end of those who do not receive the love of truth will be violent and will be eternally lost.

Because they did not receive the love of truth.  In the Greek to receive is to accept an offer deliberately and readily. To take to oneself what is presented or brought by another, to receive.  Those who perish gladly accept the lies of Satan over the truth of God – they make that choice.  Love in the Greek is agápē, love, affectionate regard, goodwill, benevolence. With reference to God’s love, it is God’s willful direction toward man.  It involves God doing what He knows is best for man and not necessarily what man desires.  God’s infinite love is being rejected by those who perish.   This love is of truth, because God and His love are truth. 

That they might be saved.  Those who perish reject the love of God in truth and fail to be saved.  In the end, it comes down to what a person does with the love of truth.  It can be received in grace or it can be rejected through receiving the lies of the enemy.

As you meditate upon this passage by waiting upon God ask Him to show you the love of truth.  Make sure you are seeking out truth, not the deceptive tricks of Satan.  Stand firm in your faith and give thanks to the Lord of all for His love, grace, and truth.

Mystic Moments: Maturity Takes Time

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I have been pushing “embrace the process” to my family and friends this year.  What do I mean by that?  Simply put: the Christian path to maturity is a process, and it takes time, so embrace how it works out in your life.  Do not rush God; He is not in a hurry and His timing is perfect.  Submit to the will of God and let Him do the work in you.

Read the following from Andrew Murray concerning James 1:4 concerning our goal (Christian maturity) and our action plan (wait for the work to be completed by yielding to the Holy Spirit and His time schedule).

But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.  (James 1:4, HCSB)

Perfection (maturity) is a seed. The life, given in regeneration, is a perfect life.  Through ignorance and unbelief the soul may never get beyond knowing that it has life, and remain unconscious of what a wonderful, perfect life it has.

Perfection (maturity) is a seed.  It is a blessed hour when the soul wakens up to know this, and with a perfect heart yields itself to appropriate all that God has given.  The perfection of the perfect heart, a heart wholly yielded to seek God with all its strength, is again a seed, with infinite power of growth and increase.

Perfection (maturity) is a growth.  As the Christian awakens to the consciousness of what God asks and gives, and maintains the vow of a wholehearted surrender, he grows in his sense of need and his trust in the promise of a Divine life and strength, until all the promises of grace come to a focus in the one assurance. “The God of all grace will Himself perfect you”; that faith which was the fruit of previous growth, becomes the new seed of further growth.  Perfection now develops into something riper and mellower.  The overshadowing Presence of Him who perfects, rests continually on the spirit, and the whole character bears the impression of heavenliness and fellowship with the Unseen.  The soul makes way for God, and gives Him time to do His work; the God of Peace, perfecting in every good thing, gets entire possession.  The soul rests in the rest of God.

This is not the work of a day.  Perfection (maturity) is growth.

Man is the creature of time, and is under the law of development.  In the kingdom of heaven it is as in nature, from the seed first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear.  There is nothing at times that appears more mysterious to the believer than the slowness of God.

True faith recognizes the need of time, and rests in God. – Andrew Murray

Poor in Spirit: Jonah 3:5-10

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The prophet Jonah was sent to Israel’s enemy from the north: Nineveh.  Jonah preached a message of judgment against the city.  The Lord God gave the time period of forty days until judgment would come upon the city with no call of repentance.  The response of the pagan people, who did not know the God of the Israelites, shows how they became poor in spirit because they took it upon themselves to change their character:

Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them.  When the word came to the king of Nineveh, he arose from his throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth and sat on the ashes.  He issued a proclamation and it said,

“In Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let man, beast, herd, or flock taste a thing.  Do not let them eat or drink water.  But both man and beast be covered with sackcloth; and let men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence is in his hands.  Who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw His burning anger so that we may not perish?” 

When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them.  And He did not do it.  (NASB)

The steps the people of Nineveh took to become poor in spirit are as follows: 

The people of Nineveh believed in GodIt all begins with believing God’s Word and acting out in faith to the Word of the Most High.  Our text for this whole study in becoming poor in spirit is Matthew 5:3.  Do we believe Jesus’ word to his disciples?  Are you His disciple?  Then believe His Word to us.

A fast was called.  Not only did the people hear from God and believed, they wanted to draw nearer and learn what they needed to do to hold off the coming judgment declared by the prophet of God.  We have learned that prayer and fasting can help in the development of the character we are after: being poor in spirit.

They mourned over their sin.  This is an overlap into the next Beatitude (Matthew 5:4), but the Beatitudes often work together in the development of Christian character.  Mourning over sin is essential in character development.  The nation mourned because of their sin in the attitude of being poor in spirit.

God validated their character by holding off judgment.  Because the people of Nineveh changed their character and became poor in spirit the judgment that was pronounced against them by the prophet of God was not brought upon them.

Remember these four steps as essential for character development and refer to them often in your walk in becoming poor in spirit.

Teleios: The Will of God is Teleios

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Epaphras, who is one of you, a bondservant of Christ, greets you, always laboring fervently for you in your prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete (teleios is translated “perfect and complete” here) in all the will of God.   Colossians 4:12  

We find in this verse that Ephaphras is praying for the spiritual maturity of believers.  Note how he is praying for them: laboring fervently.  This is some intense prayer.  It seems to be very important to disciple of Paul that believers mature.  To have the heart like this is to have the heart of God for we are told in this verse that this is the will of God.  This should be a main objective of ministry.  If it is important enough to be recorded in a letter by Paul; that it is important enough for a disciple of Paul to pray with such intensity; and if it is the will of God, should not be a major emphasis of the Church?  Do you labor in prayer fervently for the spiritual maturity of others to be developed?  If not the mandate of Scripture is there.  Get serious about your own growth.  Then get serious about the growth of others.

Poor in Spirit: Daniel 10:2-3 and 12

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In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks.  I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled…Then he said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words.”  (NKJV)

The prayer life and the character of Daniel comes shining through in these verses.  Daniel prayed and fasted three weeks in order to understand a vision given to him.  Let us examine the lessons brought forth from this passage of Scripture.

I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks.  I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth.  Daniel was a man of prayer.  Prayer to the Living God takes our burdens and places them upon the Burden Bearer, the true God of our hearts.  When we transfer our burdens to God we are transferring the kingdom from ourselves to the kingdom of heaven.  We saw that earlier when the first dream of Nebuchadnezzar occurred: 

Then Daniel went to his house and informed his friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, about the matter, so that they might request compassion from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that Daniel and his friends would not be destroyed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.  Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a night vision.  Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven.  (Daniel 2:17-19, NASB) 

We also see Daniel’s prayer life in the story that leads to Daniel in the lion’s den:

Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home.  And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days(Daniel 6:10, NKJV, emphasis added) 

In addition to prayer Daniel takes part in a fast.  This is not a complete fast from food and drink, rather a fast of pleasant food, the food he enjoyed eating.  It would be like me giving up pizza and fast-food for three weeks to draw closer to the Lord.  Thus Daniel’s character was shaped by his prayer life and fasting transforming him into a man who was poor in spirit.  Our lives too can be transformed when we practice prayer and fasting when directed by God.

Whenever you fast…But when you fast…  (Matthew 6:16-17, HCSB) 

Then the disciples approached Jesus privately and said, “Why couldn’t we drive it (a demon) out?”  (Jesus replied) “However, this kind does not come out except by prayer and fasting.”  (Matthew 17:19 and 21, HCSB)

From the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard.  We are told that the Lord heard his prayer from the very onset of the prayer and fasting.  God did not answer the prayer because Daniel prayed and fasted, but because he was a man poor in spirit as the passage says he humbled himself.  When a man is poor in spirit the communication lines remain open between him and the loving Father.

Schedule into your time the disciplines of fasting and prayer, directed by the Holy Spirit, and do some character transformation in your life.  You will be glad that you have.

Waiting: Know the Grace of God

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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)

We know the grace of God in truth works in us as we wait on Him with great hope.

Which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth.  (Colossians 1:6, NKJV)

We have previously touched on this verse when meditating upon Colossians 1:6.  Let us now consider this Scripture specifically as to working in us by the grace of God.  By the grace of God we are all born anew to the Spirit.  But we tend to forget it is grace by which we continue to live in the Spirit.  We should meditate upon the wonderful word grace (Charis in the Greek) which in this passage is applied in truth.  Charis according to R.C. Trench, “…is first of all that property in a thing which causes it to give joy to the hearers or beholders of it…and then, seeing that to a Greek there was nothing so joy-inspiring as grace or beauty, it implied the presence of this…”  Grace in the classical Greek dealt with the beauty or quality of a thing.  The word took on a religious use by the Christian writers of the first century.  Trench continues:

“Charis implied ever a favor freely done, without the claim or expectation of return – the word being thus predisposed to receive its new emphasis, its religious, I may say its dogmatic, significance; to set forth the entire and absolute freeness of the lovingkindness of God to men…St, Paul sets charis and erga (works) over against one another in directest antithesis, showing that they mutually exclude one another, it being of the essence of whatever is owed to charis that it is unearned and unmerited…”

God’s grace is His beautiful unmerited favor for both salvation and for discipleship.  The

Truth we have received through waiting upon God is His glorious gift to us.  We do not earn it by waiting, but the Father in His goodness bestows it upon us because we are His children and He wants to supply us with the empowerment for living lives in the character of His Son.

The amazing fact this passage before us tells us is grace is heard and can be known through the gospel of truth.  Which has come to you is the gospel which the Colossians were first taught by Epaphras to them.  As it has also in the entire world, and is bringing forth fruit shows us the gospel divinely reproduces itself, producing great fruit.  As it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth.  The fruitfulness of the gospel of truth was producing fruit in the Colossians from day one; first by hearing of the grace of God and then by knowing it.  Knew in the Greek is to know fully; as an inceptive verb, to come to know, to gain or receive full knowledge of, become fully acquainted with.

Grace, the gift of God, can be known in its fullness as we wait upon the Giver of Grace through the gospel of truth.