To Be Pure In heart

 

I have been blogging through the book, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. In chapter ten on his book, he covers the Beatitude, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” In the beginning of the chapter he spent a good bit of time reviewing how all the beatitudes fit together. And they do. Interestingly, he sees the first seven Beatitudes as going up and down a mountain. He states, “In the first three [poor in spirit, mourning, and the meek] we are going up one side of the mountain, as it were. We reach the summit in the fourth [hungering and thirsting for righteousness], and then we come down on the other side [with the merciful, the pure in heart, and the peacemakers.]”

But then he shows an even “closer correspondence.” The first three Beatitudes, he says, correspond to the second three. So he sees it like this: “The merciful are those who realize their poverty of spirit.” Secondly, the pure in heart correspond to they that mourn. Then the peacemakers are those that are meek. And this seems to be true. Thus we may see it like this:

The poor in spirit ——-> the merciful

They that mourn——–> the pure in heart

The meek———–> the peacemakers

Now as for this sixth beatitude, “Blessed are the pure in heart,” it is imperative that we first understand what is meant by the heart. The meaning is the center of our personality, not so much the intellect. To develop the intellect will make us smarter as far as knowing facts, but it will not solve man’s deep problems—the problems that stem from sin and self. But if we can get a grasp on our heart, we can conquer our deep moral problems; for out of the heart comes evil.

What does it mean to have a pure heart? And how can we accomplish it? Purity of heart can mean two things: 1) without hypocrisy, or to be single minded; and 2) without defilement, or to be made holy and sinless. Both are important and both together will take us to the result—to see God.

So how can we be pure of heart? How can we be holy and without hypocrisy? Here are three ways:

1. By Prayer. Pray daily that He will create in you a clean heart. He alone can do it (Ps. 5 1).

2. Submit to God and draw near to Him (Ja. 4:7-10). And when you do, He will draw near to you and help you to be pure of heart. But you must also do your part. He tells us to purify our own hearts, to mourn over our sins, and to humble ourselves before Him.

3. Mortify your members (Rom. 8:13; Col. 3:5). Mortify means to put to death. We are to put to death the deeds of the body, or the deeds of our flesh—all impurity, immorality, evil desires. And the way we do that is by starving them to death. We cut off their food supply. That is, we stop thinking about those lustful things and stop looking at those things.

The result, or the blessing will be that God lets us see Him. We see Him not with our physical eyes—because He is pure spirit. But we will see Him with our spiritual eyes. We will feel His nearness in our spirit everywhere we go. We will sense His nearness in nature as we see His creation. We will see Him in people. They too are His creation. And we will feel Him close to us as we pray and read His word.

 

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To Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness

 

The forth Beatitude is to hunger and thirst for righteousness. And if we do this we will be blessed by God and satisfied. So it seems, in the list, that we must begin by acknowledging our poverty of spirit (that we come to God with nothing). Then also we are to mourn over our sins. Then, thirdly, we are to be meek (or gentle) in our relations with others, being teachable and approachable. Now then, with this humble spirit, we are to seek God for every good thing we lack. We bring nothing good of ourselves, so we must seek it and desire it from God. Our own righteousness is of no value, so we must leave it, reject it. And we must then seek a pure righteousness from God. He will give it to us; but first He requires that we truly desire it. Thus we must be empty of self in order to be filled up with Him.

What is this hunger and thirst? What does it look like? Here are three descriptions all from the Psalms.

 

Psalms 42:1-2

As the deer pants for the water brooks,

So my soul pants for Thee, O God.

2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God;

When shall I come and appear before God?

 

Here the picture is of a very thirsty deer, panting for water, desperate for a drink from the water brook. The deer is in deep suffering and agony of thirst. This is how we are to thirst for God. It is not to be just a thirst of body but of soul. It is to be a deep soul-thirst that continues until it is satisfied with the living water of His Spirit.

 

Psalm 63:1

O God, Thou art my God;

I shall seek Thee earnestly;

My soul thirsts for Thee, my flesh yearns for Thee,

In a dry and weary land where there is no water.

 

The picture here is of one thirsting for water in a dry and weary land—in a desert. Again here is a desperate situation. We are to seek God, to thirst for Him, when it seems that He is not near. There may be other sources of water nearby, but only God can truly satisfy us. So, we are to seek only Him. And even though He seems not to be near, we are to seek Him earnestly until we  find Him and are satisfied.

 

Psalm 107:5-6

They were hungry and thirsty;

Their soul fainted within them.

6 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble;

He delivered them out of their distresses.

 

The picture here is of wanderers in the wilderness. They were so hungry and thirsty that they felt faint. Yet they continued on in their journey. And they cried out to the Lord until He delivered them. This is to be our attitude, to continue on even though we feel faint, and to believe that He will soon see our need and give us the water of His Sprit.

So this is the vivid picture of what it means to hunger and thirst for righteousness. The next question we have to ask and pursue is how to acquire this attitude. How can I be one who is so desirous of God?

 

How do I begin to hunger and thirst for righteousness?

1. Since sin always blocks and is against righteousness, we must work to be free of sin. But it is not enough to say I want to be free of sin; I must also work at being free from the power of sin and the desire of sin. This should be a constant effort and prayer. And in your prayers, when God points out any area of sin, we should make it our priority to be rid of it. Thus, in doing so, we will open the door for the holy desire of righteousness.

2. Along with sin we should also work and pray to be free of self and self-righteousness. Note that self-righteousness is not righteousness. True righteousness is holiness and godliness and a God-presence. But self-righteousness is nothing more than a building up of self—a false belief in self. It is what makes hypocrisy and self-deception. And if this wall of self-deception gets big enough, it will block out any light of the glory of God and thus prevent us from obtaining a holy desire for God.

3. Avoid all things that will take the edge off of our spiritual appetite. We can’t create a holy righteousness inside of us; only God can do that. But we can avoid things that will prevent us from obtaining it. What are these things? Sins, worldly activities, or maybe just being too busy with non-essentials that tend to steer us away from what God wants of us.

4. Work and pray to know God and what He desires of us.

5. Put ourselves in the way of righteousness by what we do. Here are four things we can do.

  • Put yourself around righteous people.
  • Read the bible regularly.
  • Pray regularly.
  • Read biographies of holy people.

Well, these are just a few ideas of how we can develop a taste for righteousness and to really desire to be righteous like God. And if we develop that desire, that hunger and thirst for Him, He Himself will satisfy us. He will give us the living water of His own Spirit. Oh what a thirst quencher!

 

John 7: 37b-38

If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, “From his innermost being will flow revers of living water.”

 

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Prayer Is God’s Idea

 

I think it is natural to assume that prayer is God’s idea.  For true prayer is always according to the Word of God—according to His promises and according to how He has taught us to pray.

Some people, however,—those who don’t believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, that God is a personal God, and that He has given us personal promises—have arguments that prayer is not really God’s idea.  They believe prayer is their own idea. Of course, they don’t have a relationship with God and don’t know God. The bible tells us that since they are a natural man and not a spiritual man, they do not accept anything spiritual—it is all foolishness to them (1 Cor. 2: 14).

So what does the natural man think about prayer? I mean, if he prays, what are his prayers like? If he doesn’t believe in God how does he pray? Well, I don’t really know. But here are three ideas, or three arguments that they may use to say that prayer is not really God’s idea.

 1. Prayer is man’s own thought-up way of expressing his need to what he hopes is God. Here the argument is that God doesn’t tell man what to pray or draw him in any way to prayer; it is his own idea.  In this view, man is believed to be separate from God and not sustained by God.  Thus he believes that most of the time he doesn’t need God, only sometimes.  At those times he may pray to God for help, but his prayers are his own idea and in his own words.  Note also, in this argument that this person doesn’t have a real, solid belief in God.  He just hopes that something or somebody is out there bigger than himself that will offer him some help when he decides that he needs it.

2. Prayer is talking to yourself. Since some believe that they themselves are God (or god), prayer for them is simply talking to self.  And I suppose they would say that the more you talk to yourself the more you will be able to form the god within you and thus to see clearly (to be more convinced) that you really are God (or a god), and that you can do anything when you put your mind to it.  Thus, in this view, prayer is not the idea of communicating to God in Heaven; it is the idea of talking to the god within.

3. Prayer is man’s way of letting off steam. In this view God may exist, but man doesn’t really pray to Him.  Prayers are mainly man’s way of letting off steam, and a way to unburden self.  It is really like point two, a self-talk.  In this view, however, man doesn’t really think he is a god, he just talks to himself as a form of meditation.  I suppose in this view it is believed that the more effort is put into trying to help yourself, the more God will come along beside you and help you to feel good about yourself.  Here again, prayer is not God’s idea; it is man’s idea.

These arguments are not documented, compiled from any survey; I just made them up.  But since I thought of them, I’m sure someone else did too.  And so I’m convinced that these are some of the arguments that some people use, along with many others.

But we who are true Christians know, absolutely, that true prayer is most definitely God’s idea.  As a matter of fact, He chose us and appointed us as His fruit bearing servants with the unique privilege of being able to ask for whatever we want and to receive it (Jn. 15:16).  Prayer then is not only our privilege but also our appointed calling from the Lord.  Yes, prayer is definitely God’s idea.

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To Be Meek

I am enjoying the popular book Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. I’m reading it slow and blogging on it as I go. So far I have blogged an Introduction, and on the first two Beatitudes. This one, on meekness, is especially good.

 

To Be Meek

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

This third principle on meekness must be viewed in its relationship to the other Beatitudes; there is definitely a logical connection. In the first Beatitude on being “poor in Spirit,” we saw that the Christian is truly helpless without God; that he can do nothing without Him. And that should be our attitude. In the second Beatitude on “mourning” we saw that we must realize our own sinfulness. And for that realization we mourn. And so that should be our attitude. Thus we are helpless without God and we mourn over our sin.

In these first two principles we have been looking at ourselves. But in this third principle of meekness, this requires that I invite others to look at me and to interact with me; to be meek is the Christian attitude I am to have toward others. As Lloyd-Jones put it, “[Meekness] is to allow other people to put the searchlight upon me instead of doing it myself.” Also, we must keep in mind that the meek one always remembers who he is: he is one who is poor in spirit and a sinner who must mourn over his sin. With this attitude we are prepared to be meek toward others. Now what is meekness? How can I be meek? Here are four points that may be helpful.

1. Meekness is a Christian quality. It is produced in me by the Holy Spirit. It is listed in Galatians 5 as one of the gifts of the Spirit, often translated as “gentleness.” But we have to be careful here, because not all gentle people are meek. I mean some people appear to be gentle and very nice, but some of those people are not even Christians. So those people are not genuinely gentle and certainly not meek. I live in Minnesota and we have a saying, “Minnesota nice.” Yes, it is true that people in Minnesota appear to be very nice. But that’s not what true meekness is. Meekness is a genuine, deep-down gentleness we get from the Holy Spirit when we put our trust in God—when we allow Him to fill us with His Spirit.

2. Meekness is having an approachable and teachable attitude. Our best example on this is the Lord Jesus. He was always approachable and absent of any retaliation or pride. He was dependent entirely upon what His Father taught Him day by day. He often prayed long into the night and in the early morning, waiting to be taught of His Father. For me, I would say that meekness means to be a good listener and to be eager to learn.

3. Meekness is selflessness. The meek person does not assert himself, does not boast in self, does not defend or protect himself, does not demand anything for himself, and does not feel sorry for himself. Wow! That’s a tall order. Even the most Christian person will naturally want to defend himself and feel sorry for himself—once in a while, especially when others are putting him down. But we must remember that meekness is not a natural quality. It is of the Holy Spirit. Hence, true meekness will only appear in a person when he is filled with the Holy Spirit and is walking in the Spirit.

4. The meek person trusts God for everything. When he is persecuted and suffering, he will have no spirit of retaliation or feel sorry for himself. Instead, he will patiently leave everything in the hands of God, trusting Him to work everything out. We see this attitude in so many of the early saints like Moses, David, Jeremiah, Stephen, Paul, and of course Jesus, who came not to be ministered unto but to minister (Mark 10:45).

 

What will be the blessing for the meek?

Jesus says that they will inherit the earth. What does that mean? In a sense, those who are meek already inherit the earth. That is, they are blessed by God with satisfaction and contentment. And this is the way it works: the meek man gives up everything to God, and then, surprisingly, God gives him back everything. Yes, since he has Christ, he has everything. He has all things (that are of any value). This is true right now in this life, but it is also true in the next life; for we will be joint-heirs with Christ for eternity.

Do you want to be truly blessed now and for eternity? Do you want to enjoy Him to the fullest? Then open up your heart and strive to be meek.

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Blessed Are They That Mourn

 

This second Beatitude follows closely after the first—“Blessed are the poor in spirit…”—and has a vital connection to it. We will look first at the meaning of mourn and then later we will show why true mourners are blessed and comforted.

 

What did Jesus mean by mourn?

  1. The kind of mourning Jesus meant here was a spiritual mourning, a mourning of our spirit and soul over sin. This mourning will follow being poor in spirit as we see our helplessness and hopelessness without God.
  2. This mourning is a groaning within ourselves over the spiritual condition of the world, and over all sin and all trouble in the world (Rom. 8:32). And as the world says, forget your troubles, Jesus says, face your troubles and mourn over them and pray for blessing to come.
  3. Mourning must begin first with ourselves over our own sins. At the end of each day it is good to recall all our thoughts and feelings and sins, and mourn over them in prayer.
  4. We should mourn also over the sins of others and over all the problems in the world. Yes, be concerned and pray over your society and over the world as Jesus did.

 

When we mourn we can expect blessing and comfort from the Father.

  1. The one who mourns is repenting for his own sins, and he is obedient in prayer over the sins of others. He repents and is obedient because the Holy Spirit is at work on him. And then soon, while in a prayerful mourning state, the Holy Spirit will comfort him and make him happy.
  2. As D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones points out, “But there is not only this immediate comfort offered to the Christian. There is another comfort…” It is the comfort of the blessed hope, which is the hope we have in our redemption. This redemption, as we know, will come to us immediately when we see Jesus and are changed to be like Him. So as we mourn over our sinful state, we can be comforted in our future hope. And we should comfort one another with this hope (1 Thess. 4:18).
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Let Us Who Are Christians Trust in the Lord While He Destroys Our Enemies

Prayer for Trump and Country

If the good and godly people of this country will trust the Lord and stay strong and pray and worship the Lord , we need not fear—because God will give us justice and protection against those who want to destroy us (with socialism, with endless investigations, with abortion, with illegal immigrants, etc.).

In five different situations in the Scriptures you will find that God dealt (or will deal) with Israel’s enemies by confusing them, confounding their strategy, and setting them against each other so that they destroyed each other. And this happened especially when Israel was trusting the Lord and praying to Him. Here are those five situations.

 

Gideon and his 300 men against the Midianites and the Amalekites, (Judges 7:19-23).

So Gideon and the hundred men who were with him came to the outskirts of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, when they had just…

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To Be Poor in Spirit

I have been following the book, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, by Martyn Lloyd-Jones. A very good book!

The very first line in the sermon, and the beginning of what is called the Beatitudes, is this line: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” You may question Jesus for starting out this way; but if you study it, you will find that it is entirely right; for His sermon is a sermon for believers—what a true believer should be like and how he can be blessed by God when he is totally surrendered to Him. A true believer, then, is one who is poor in spirit; and that one will be blessed by God (happy) and will indeed share in the kingdom of heaven—now and later.

Now the question we are asking here is, what does it mean to be poor in spirit? This question is very important because this tells us what it means to be a Christian. Also, since this line is at the beginning of the sermon, it is believed that it is the key to the entire sermon; that is, that all things that are spoken after it will fall in line with it, or be somehow connected with it.

 

So what does it mean to be poor in spirit?

Well, we know what it means to be poor, but the term “spirit” is not so easy to understand. However, I think we can look at it this way. Our spirit is the part of us that is eternal and that may have a connection with God. When you put the two words together, poor with spirit, it is even harder to comprehend. But I will give it a try.  A person that is poor in spirit is a person who is lacking the likelihood of his spirit connecting with God, or having a positive relationship with God. So we may say that he, in and of himself, can do nothing in a God honoring way; he can do nothing to please God apart from God. Lloyd-Jones in his book gives several ideas of what being poor in spirit means. I have combined my notes into four points.

  • Being poor in spirit means to have a humble opinion of self—to feel that we have no righteousness of our own. I think Isaiah says it well: “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are as filthy rags” (Isa. 64:6). Indeed, if we are poor in spirit we continue to feel our sinfulness and unworthiness, especially while we are in God’s presence.
  • We are spiritually bankrupt without Him. We are aware that we have nothing good in us (of no value) apart from God.
  • We are aware that we cannot make any headway with God. That is, we cannot do anything good apart from Him.
  • Because we know we can do nothing good, in and of ourselves, we allow Christ to meet all our needs. We are totally dependent on Him. We submit all to Him. We are aware that He alone is our entry in His kingdom.

Combining all the above, one who is poor in spirit sees his own spiritual poverty, and therefore his inability to enter the kingdom of heaven. Surprisingly though, this attitude is the very thing that will give this poor man happiness, because he will find that, with it, God has welcomed him into His kingdom.

 

Here are six men who have given us examples of being poor in spirit:

Paul. He did not speak with great self-confidence. He spoke in weakness and in fear, and in much trembling. People said of him, “His appearance is weak and his speech contemptible.” He never attempted to exalt himself, but exalted Christ Jesus the Lord.

Gideon. He never thought he was very great. He knew that he belonged to the lowest tribe.

Moses. He felt deeply unworthy to lead his people out of bondage.

Isaiah. He said, “I am a man of unclean lips.” He was deeply aware of his sins.

Peter. Peter was a man who was naturally gifted and self-confident. But when he saw the Lord after His resurrection, he said to Him, “Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”

Jesus. Though God, He lived as a man—a poor man. He said of Himself, “I can do nothing of myself.” He said, “The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works” (Jn. 14:10).

 

One Last Thought

I don’t think that it is wrong to be self-confident and to be aware of our giftedness, but when it comes to our relationship with God and Christ, we must surrender it all to Him. And when we serve the Lord, and when we do anything in life, we must give it all (give all of ourselves) to him. If we don’t then we may be guilty of self-righteousness and pride. We may have many gifts and talent, but it is up to us to pray over them, realize that they are from the Lord, and make sure that they are used to please him. Be aware, your gifts may be your downfall!

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