Program Air Date - 4-24-05



The inspired Solomon once said, "The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, And he who wins souls is wise." May I ask us to consider, "what type of fruit are we bearing for our Lord in each of our lives?" Furthermore, does the fruit we bear bring forth a good and productive produce, as God has intended?"

Let me welcome each of you to the Living Word program on this glorious Lord's day morning! How wonderful it is to know that you have chosen to put God first this day and to assemble for this time of worship before His Mighty Throne!

As always, it will be our privilege to offer sacrifices to God this morning, with the fruit of our lips and the obedience of our actions, may we all be encouraged on this the Lord's day. However, may we each do our part so that ultimately we will offer praise to God according to His truth as is found in His Precious Will. So as we begin our focus on the Creator, will you bow with me in prayer?


When I ask you to think of something sweet, what first pops in your mind? Now let me ask you to think or your favorite thing or person in all the world. This morning we want to begin with a song that reminds us of the best and sweetest things which we will ever know in this life. So, won't you join in with the congregation at this time as we sing together, "Sweeter Than All."

(SONG # 1)


At the beginning of our program we consider a verse from Proverbs 11:30. There we read this wise man and his counsel in connection to the type of fruit we must bear as Christians. Solomon summed it up in one word - righteousness! No doubt this was the same idea Paul was given through the Holy Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. There we read, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law." Did you catch all of these Christians characteristics? Did you notice that they are all things that are found in Christ. And if these are God-like characteristics, then no doubt they are righteous, and if righteous then they are the fruit we need to bear!

In this same context we also learn that those who produce the fruit of the spirit will inherit the Kingdom of God and thus eternal life. I hope we are beginning to see just how important it is that we bear the fruit of righteous that exemplify God before this world.

Finally, let's consider the other statement of our text in Proverbs, "...and he who wins souls is wise." Here we find that the one who bears proper fruit in word and deed, has a direct bearing on soul winning! How often do we forget that it is our example that often plays the greatest part in others seeing Christ and wanting to know more about Him. When the world sees our fruit, they should see Christ, and when one sees Christ, they can't help but want to know more about Him.

So let me ask you, "how do you act, what type of things do you do, and what do you say in your everyday life?" These types of questions really make us realize just how important it is to bear the proper fruit for God, as His dear Children.

So, today we will begin a new series of study entitled, "The Christian Beatitudes." Hopefully we will learn more together about how a Christian is required to act, and where our focus in this life must be! Our first lesson of this series is entitled, "Blessed are the Poor in Spirit." So please stay with us this morning and after our next song together, I will lead us in the main thoughts of the day. Now it's time to join in our second song, the name of this hymn, "To Christ Be True."

(SONG # 2)


Speaker: Ray Sullins

Hear these words if you will. Blessed are those who are too tired, too busy, too distracted to spend an hour once a week with their fellow Christians. They are my best workers. Blessed are those Christians who wait to be asked and expect to be thanked. I can use them. Blessed are the touchy who stop going to church. They are my missionaries. Blessed are the troublemakers. They shall be called my children. Blessed are the complainers. I'm all ears to them. Blessed are those who are bored with the minister's mannerisms and mistakes for they get nothing out of his sermons. Blessed is the church member who expects to be invited to his own church for he is a part of the problem instead of part of the solution. Blessed are those who gossip for they shall cause strife and division that please me. Blessed are those who are easily offended for they will soon get angry and quit. Blessed are those who do not give their offering to carry on God's work for they are my helpers. Blessed is he who professes to love God, but he hates his brother and sister for he shall be with me forever. Blessed are you who when you read this, you think it's about other people and not yourself. I've got you, too. You notice I'm reading this and it seems to be out of the Bible, but it's not, because it is the devil's beatitudes, a section of writings that was actually made by man to make a point, a strong point as to how so often in this world because of our own selfish wants or own selfish desires, our own abilities to do what we want, what we need, and to consider self rather than others or God that we make the wrong decision time and time and time again that our character is not the character of God, of Christ, or of what a child of God would be, but the character rather of something that is just the opposite and as this passage is actually called, this writing, "The Devil's Beatitudes."

Well I would like to begin today as we've already indicated a series looking at what are the real beatitudes that a child of God should have? Although many of us might be guilty of some of the things that we just read about and not understand the fact that by doing these things we are serving Satan. We need to learn and know what it is that God wants us to do in our lives that we might truly be having the attitudes, the beatitudes as the scriptures call them that truly again are according to what God would have us to.

As you look there in Matthew chapter 4, a beautiful passage is given in explaining to us the work that Jesus Christ was all about. In fact, in verse 23 of chapter 4, it says there that "as Jesus was in Galilee teaching in synagogues, that He was preaching the gospel of the kingdom, preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing many people." Think about that for a moment. The first gospel that was being preached was preached by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. In fact, we might even go before that and look at the Good News that John the Baptist was preaching or even at times many of the prophets as they prophesied about the Good News of the coming of the Messiah. But here in this passage, we see that Jesus Himself also a preacher of the Gospel, of those things that were to come, His death, burial and resurrection that eventually as well would seal through the blood of Christ the purchasing of the church, the purchasing of you and I as children, as sons and daughters of God, and as those who would be fellow heirs of righteousness. Well it is in that passage then beginning in chapter 5 that we find what is referred to as the Beatitudes, the Beatitudes that again are attitudes that Christians should and must have to be right with God.

But I would like to set up the discussion just a little bit more because as we look at the Beatitudes, we see that this is the first recorded sermon of Jesus Christ. And it is actually the first recorded sermon of the New Testament found in the book of Matthew once again, early on, in chapter 5 and how that here Christ begins to preach the gospel in verse 1 of chapter 5 to the multitudes as He is there on the mountain. In verse 2 it says that "He opens His mouth and He taught them saying..." saying the following things, expressing the following ideas and giving forth the characteristics that really are required of those that love God and want to do His Will. Isn't it wonderful to look at these passages and to see the Words of Jesus Himself? If I were to ask you today if you had one chance to preach the gospel to someone and you knew that this was the only chance and you had a certain amount of minutes to do it, what would you start with and what would you cover and what would be the most important thing in your mind to get across to those who were the hearers? I want you to think about that for a moment because here Jesus, in the first recorded sermon that we have, begins now with some Jews and those who need to hear the truth of His message, His message now that builds on the prophets and the things of the prophets and even of those of the Patriarchal Age as well, on the Law of Moses, because it is the fulfillment. Jesus brought His Word, His Law for His people, His church.

And so here, what is it that He begins with? Of all the things that He could do, He starts out with our attitude. Isn't that interesting that He starts out with our ability to treat each other as we should and our ability to have an attitude that is like God in all things. And so as we begin to read there the things that He opens His mouth and begins to teach, verse 3, "Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. And blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy. And blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God." Verse 9, "Blessed are the peace makers for they shall be called sons of God." Verse 10, "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven."

Here we have the Beatitudes and what we would like to do for the next several months is to look at each of these Beatitudes because if Jesus felt that they were important enough to begin with in order that people might know the truth, then you and I need to start there as well in looking at the world, in looking at our own lives and our own attitudes and our own problems. Certainly we see the wisdom of how we need to correct ourselves and begin getting more like Christ in these different areas.

So today again, verse 3, "Blessed are the poor in spirit." Think about this concept for just a moment of the idea of "Blessed are the poor in spirit." The concept of blessed here. Some translations use the word "happy." Happy is the man, blessed is the man. Whatever this is, it's a joy. It's an excitement. It's an enthusiasm because whatever it is we're doing makes us not only better people, but brings us a joyous feeling, a joyous response because we're doing that which is good and Godly, blessed. We are blessed if... Blessed is the man. And so we look here at "blessed is the man who is poor." Think for a moment about what this world has to offer. Think about those who have a lot of money, have wealth, and on the other hand, those who have very little in this life and how the world says that we base the work of an individual on what they have in the bank or what they drive or where they live or where they go to school or the job that they have. We are so guilty of this, so guilty of the idea of being caught up in worldly things and worldliness, so that we also base our own perceptions on what we have learned from the world ourselves. So here as we look at the idea of being poor, we know what it is all about. Although I think in America, we don't truly understand the concept of poverty. As we look at places maybe throughout the world like Africa and even South America, we see what true poverty is all about where people don't even have enough food to put in their mouths. Maybe they get only one meal a day, but if we can picture for a moment those who are in real poverty in this world, the poor, then we begin to see what Jesus is talking about here, the concept of one who really is focused on what is right.

I want you to think for a moment about what is found in Luke chapter 12. Beginning in verse 15, we're told about a rich fool, a man who had all things. He was prosperous and he had great barns full of all of the possessions that had been brought as produce from the field and when he had brought it in, he saw that the barns weren't big enough and what was his attitude? Let's help those that have needs. Let's do good to those that are less fortunate. Let's help the poor. That wasn't his attitude! His attitude was, "I will tear down my barns and I will build greater barns so that I can keep all that is mine." Isn't that our attitude sometimes? Isn't that the way we respond instead of really helping others and doing good? We're selfish with what we've been blessed with by God. What was the lesson of this rich fool? The lesson was as the Lord told him that night that your soul will be required of you. Now what good are those bigger barns? Now what good is that excessive grain now that you have put in those barns because if you die, you have not fulfilled the spirit of God. The attitudes of God, the actions that Christ would have had toward His fellow man.

We see the same lesson there in Luke 16 where Lazarus, a beggar, was worthy only to take the crumbs from the rich man's table and would have fought the dogs to have even that. And here again, we find a rich man who ends up in torment and Lazarus who was well blessed. We begin to see the concept of the poor and the rich. So as we look at that and we say, "Blessed are the poor in spirit," we begin to see what Jesus was talking about. Blessed are those who are poor, who are in need or who are needy, who are not able to go alone or make it alone, who need God. Blessed are the poor. Brethren, when will we ever understand? Friends and neighbors, when will we ever comprehend that truly we are nothing without God, that the only way we are happy or blessed in this life is because we have God and therefore we are rich. We are only poor in spirit without Him. And even in God that we humble ourselves. That's the idea here, that we present ourselves humbly before Him so that we might be happy as we are faithful in His service.

I love the way that it is put there in Romans chapter 12 and verse 3 because it tells us there that we should not think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think but that we should humble ourselves, that we should understand again that without God we are nothing, that we should understand that we are happy when we are poor in spirit, knowing that we need God, reaching out to God and understanding that it is only because of His help and His love and His guidance and His protection that I am anything, that I am worthy or that I will even be able to be saved at the end. You see again the poor spirit, the spirit that says, "I can't do it alone. I think I can't, I think I can't, I think I can't, but I think I can in Christ Jesus because God is the one who certainly, here again, through my poor spirit is able to take hold and lift me up and make me strong and bold and courageous in His service."

As we also look at the concept of the poor spirit, as we look at the idea that of who we are as those who have a poor spirit, who have humbled ourselves before God and the world so that the world sees Christ in us and they see that we are only brought up because of Christ. Notice the reward. Notice the blessing as all of the Beatitudes have the promises (that) they will have the kingdom of Heaven. Theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are the poor in spirit, theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.

Who wouldn't want to be a part of a kingdom that's head was God? That's head was Christ Jesus, the church, the heavenly concept, the church that someday would be delivered to the Father on High and then when it is delivered there, we will live eternally in that heavenly home. Oh brethren, if we learn to be poor in spirit, to humble ourselves and understand our need for God and the need that we have because of who God is to build ourselves up through Him. Oh, the blessing we have because ours is the kingdom of God. Ours is that which has been prepared. Why? Because we have humbled ourselves like the little children that Jesus brought to Him in Matthew chapter 18. We have made ourselves of really no worth, no account, understanding that it is only because of Christ that we are made fellow heirs, that we are made sons of God, that we are children in Christ and through Christ Jesus. You see, once moment we are of the world, we're in sin, we're serving the devil, we're poor in spirit, and then the next moment, we take the same attitude of humility and we bow and prostrate ourselves before God and we are lifted up as the poor in spirit and given a place in the kingdom of God because He loved us that much. Oh what an attitude to have. Oh what an attitude of humility. Oh what an attitude that was presented by Jesus Himself as He bore the cross after being beat, as He walked down the path and carried it to Calvary as it was put in the ground and He was placed on it, the nails in His hands and His feet. Oh the humility that He bore. Oh the pride that He laid aside. Oh the deity that He really was able to in a sense consider and to really still suffer as a man, but yet being Christ, being God, He was willing to go the distance so that you and I might ourselves as well understand that although we are poor in spirit, God lifts us up. And because He lifts us up, we do have a place not only in this life but in the life to come, a place that is in the very kingdom of God for those who will live faithfully everyday just as God commands through His Word.

(SONG # 3 - "When Upon Life's Billows.")


Let me thank you again for choosing to be with us today, in this offering to God. I know our time together has been an encouragement and blessing to all of us. We invite you back every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this service of God!

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May we all learn to humble ourselves unto a poor spirit, so that we might rely more on God, obey His will and receive the promise of being in the Kingdom of Heaven!

(Program closing)