1997-04-18 - Tough Words To Live By

Sermon on the Mount Series, Part 1

- - - - - - -

Hi everyone. I feel led to do a series of devotionals on the Sermon on the Mount, examining one verse each week. I know that you, like I do, want to be more like Christ. Some of His words in this passage are tough, but they are words that we need to live by.

Mat 5:3 (NIV) "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

According to The Bible Knowledge Commentary (Walvoord and Zuck, Zondervann, 1983), "The poor in spirit (Matt. 5:3) are those who consciously depend on God, not on themselves; they are "poor" inwardly, having no ability in themselves to please God (cf. Rom. 3:9-12)." Emphasis mine.

This is a lesson I have had to learn over and over -- even this very week! -- to depend more on God, and less on Jan. As I have mentioned in a previous devotional, I believe that sometimes God puts us in situations where we have no choice but to turn to Him, in order to remind us that He is our ultimate source of wisdom and strength. When we are coasting along in life, with things going smoothly, we tend to depend on ourselves. But when we can NOT do it ourselves, then we have no choice but to turn to Him. Can anyone identify? : )

John 15:5 (NIV) "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

Sometimes I find myself falling into the trap of accepting compliments without giving God proper credit. OUCH. : ) For example, whether it involves someone praising something I do at church, be it piano-playing, an idea for a committee or whatever -- or excelling in French class, I need to be sure to thank and praise God for His gifts to me. I couldn't do it without His help. I don't mean that we need to be self-deprecating. Again, it's all a matter of balance:

Rom 12:3 (NIV) For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.

Key words here: God has given.

Everything we have or or are able to do, come from Him. James 1:17 (NIV) Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, Who does not change like shifting shadows. Again the key: From the Father. : )

Examine your life -- at work, school, in difficulties you are going through ….Are you depending on yourself, or on Him? And you know what? Not only is putting our confidence in God, a matter of obedience; it actually makes life so much easier! When we try to carry God's load, it wears on us. When we feel responsible for things (like changing other people) that only the Holy Spirit can do, it can wear us out, burn us out, hurt relationships. Realizing that all our help and wisdom comes from Him, can actually be very freeing. Remember, His burden is light. (Matthew 11:30) Of course, we are to do our part. He gives us common sense and expects us to use it! It's a matter of balance.

Dear Father, forgive us for not giving you the credit due You. Please help us to remember that we can do nothing without You, and help us to glorify You through praise and thanksgiving. In Jesus' name amen.