In the 1970’s and into the 1980’s we used to sing a spiritual song with the lyrics … “Heaven is a wonderful place, Filled with glory and grace, I want to see my Savior’s face, Heaven is a wonderful place.” There is nothing wrong with these words. It is a catchy song that is forward looking with the desire of being with Jesus in His Glory. Having said that, it only tells you of a few of heavens characteristics and the reason the singer wants to be there. The first Beatitude views Heaven as a Kingdom.
Mt 5:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
1) The meaning of “blessed”. There are different ways to use this word and each time you do, you mean something different. Here the word means “happy” or “congratulations”. Jesus is congratulating the saved soul for defying the world’s offering and seeks His Kingdom’s offerings. Reflecting upon yesterday’s Daily Note, the believer understands exactly who he or she is spiritually before Almighty God … “a sinner saved by grace through faith”. The reason I place the word sinner first is that although saved, you are still a sinner. The more you grow spiritually, the more you realize how sinful you actually are. The huge sins might fall away. The public sins might diminish, but the private sins within the desires, attitudes, lusts, etc. remain. No one knows about them except God and you! Now because you know how offensive sin is to God and because you are aware God sees every sin, you cringe with shame, embarrassment and guilt each time you cross the Gospel line into those “greener, luscious, sinful ways of the old man”. This is where “poor in spirit” … or if you like, the bankruptcy of the soul stabs you so because you know what Your God (Father, Son and Spirit … One Eternal God) did you for! But, because as a born again soul you are aware of every sin and its effects upon the Lord … Jesus calls you “blessed”.
(1) You may be happy that you are aware of how dreadful your sin is. Most people don’t and don’t care. Their motto is close to … “Sin and be happy. Sin for you have only one life … enjoy it.” On the other hand you are happy because you understand how depraved your sin is before “His Royal Holiness, King Jesus!” How tragic it would be if you did not know this. That would mean a one way street to damnation!
(2) You are congratulated by Jesus for receiving Him as Lord, together with His salvific conditions of holiness in place of what the world offers in all its magnetic lushness. This is such an awesome picture. Jesus congratulating you for choosing the narrow road … the hard journey. Jesus congratulating you because you have believed His Gospel message and claim. Jesus congratulating you because eternity with Him is more important to you than all the world can ever offer. He is congratulating you because like Him … you chose a better way. Remember how the devil offered Jesus the world?
Mt 4:8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
It almost seems as though the devil believed he had the power and authority to give Jesus the world … but look at Jesus’ response:
Mt 4:10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’
That’s it! Worship God. Congratulations that you worship the true God!
2) Where is heaven? Firstly heaven is a place. It is the place where God dwells in eternity … and yes, it is a glorious place filled with nothing but holiness coming from the Occupant upon the Everlasting Throne. But … secondly, heaven as it is used here is the “Kingdom of Heaven.” This is not a place but a reign. It is a group of peoples, chosen from all peoples groups throughout the life of this planet, brought into a Kingdom. This Kingdom is ordered and managed perfectly under the rule of Jesus who is King. So the Kingdom of Heaven here is a “rule” … where Jesus is Sovereignly Lord and King. There are two matters of importance here.
(a) You are a partner in the Kingdom of Heaven with benefits.
(b) You have a responsibility of growing into the character of the required citizenship of the Kingdom of Heaven.
(i) You are encouraged to accumulate spiritual wealth as a citizen.
Isa 55:1 “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. 2 Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. 3 Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live.
Spiritual bankruptcy forces you to reverse your condition and Isaiah encourages you to come to God and receive from Him …totally free of charge, food for your soul … spiritual food in abundance … for one purpose … that your soul may live. God’s responsibility is saving your soul. Your responsibility is working out your salvation through spiritual maturing.
Phil 2:12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
When you come to God through His Word and prayer with a sincere heart, He will work maturity for your soul. He will give the spiritual wealth you need!
(ii) The Lord Jesus understands where His intentional citizens are at. You might think the Lord is distant because you can’t see Him. You might feel the Lord does not know what you are going through as you battle your way through the mine fields of sin. The opposite is true! Listen to Him speaking to the Church at Smyrna He says
Rev 2: 9 I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich!
Although they were poor materially they were rich spiritually. Saved souls who are congratulated because of their admission of spiritual bankruptcy, seek to grow in Jesus daily through the Bible and Prayer as the Spirit transforms them!
Father, thank You for whom You are and what You have done in my life through the new birth. Help me to seek the riches of Heaven before the sinful offerings of this world. Amen.