Posts tagged blessings
Blessed Are the Poor

20 Then he looked up at his disciples and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” - Luke 6:20

There are a great number of people in our world who are ambitious for money. If you are not one of these, there is still a great likelihood that you afraid of poverty. I am convinced that more of us are driven by fear than by ambition. But either way, this verse today will challenge us.

In this opening statement in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus declares the place of our fear to be the place of blessing. Resist the urge to rationalize this away. Allow yourself to sit in the tension of these words.

I do not believe that Jesus commands those who follow him to be poor. I do not believe that Jesus values poverty above any other station. I do not believe that Jesus is telling us to become what we fear. But I do believe that Jesus’ intention is to transform our relationship with poverty… and with wealth.

Poverty is not to be feared because of Jesus. Because Jesus is, the poor are blessed with the kingdom of God. Those who have nothing else to cling to will find Jesus ready to invest his kingdom in them.

When we look at the poverty around us, let us look for the blessing of God’s Presence. Each person who has bottomed out, who is unable to provide for themselves, who has come to the end of their productivity, who has no power and no financial ability, whose opportunities are squandered or stolen… each of these is infinitely valued by Jesus. He chooses to invest his kingdom in these. Let us discover this and rejoice. Let us partner with the kingdom of God.

When we recognize the places that we are living from ambition or fear, let us begin to recognize the ways we cling to our self-sufficiency, our bounded safety, our justification and rationalization of our station, and how these things close us to the kingdom of God.

Hear once more these words of Jesus as recorded in the gospel of Matthew: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Jesus’ intention is to bless. Poverty of spirit and poverty of bank account open both our eyes to our need and our hands to the provision of God. Jesus’ blessing is to invite us to no longer live by ambition or by fear, but rather by the secure investment of God’s kingdom in us.

Jesus, your blessings are sufficient to free me from all of my fears. Your kingdom is worthier than all of my ambitions. Bless me this day with poverty that is met by your kingdom. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Keenan Barberblessings, poor
Merry Christmas!

7 On each one of us God's favour has been bestowed in whatever way Christ allotted it. -Ephesians 4:7

Merry Christmas! As one of three boys, I remember Christmas morning always had a bit of competitiveness to it. I would excitedly open my gifts while keeping a running count of the number and quality of gifts my brothers received in comparison to my own. I used Christmas as an unofficial referendum upon my parents’ love.

As I read this verse during the Christmas season, I found myself wondering if I do the same counting in life. Do I measure the gifts that others receive as if they are a measure of God’s favor? Does this outlook make Christmas another unofficial referendum, but this time on God’s love for me and my family?

Just speaking those questions aloud steal their power. That is not the way God’s favor works. Our text this morning contends that God bestows his favor in the way that Jesus allots it. This allotment is not done competitively with a limited supply of love. Rather it is done with an awareness of the ways he binds us in one. Together we are bound together in and filled with Christ’s love to bring glory to God’s name.

As with every Scriptural truth, the blessing is not in rational understanding but in spiritual transformation. Here are the steps to allowing that recognition to transform us. First, let us allow the magnificence that God bestows his favor upon us to humble us in thanksgiving. That is enough. Second, let us confess the ways we measure and set up referendums in our competitiveness. Tell God that we are satisfied to be part of his favor! Finally, we must ask God to help us live in this new freedom in ways that glory his name, build his Kingdom, and bless the people he has created and loves.

Let us stop counting gifs this Christmas! Instead, let us rest in his favor given to us, for us, and for the world. Thus, we can gladly say, “Merry Christmas!”

Jesus, thank you for choosing me as the recipient of your favor! I am humbled and upon bended knee I declare that I trust you. Teach me to live in your favor in ways that bless you, bless the Church, and bless the world around me! In Jesus’ name, amen.