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February 22—Lent Devotional 2013

As you read and reflect on today’s beatitude, please listen to this track from contemporary Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. We will feature this track throughout Lent.

The Beatitudes

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:3

I think of the 1981 film, Chariots of Fire, as the Smith Family Movie. From the time our sons were small till now, we have often looked to that film for inspiration and encouragement. There are many memorable scenes from the movie, but as I reflect on this first beatitude, there is one scene coming back to me. It is where Harold Abrahams is preparing to run a race and says: “And now in one hour’s time, I will be out there again. I will raise my eyes and look down that corridor; 4 feet wide, with 10 lonely seconds to justify my existence. But will I?”

“…with 10 lonely seconds to justify my existence!” For Abrahams, only winning the race will justify his existence. I will never forget that scene because there is a voice within me nagging to justify my existence. I sometimes feel I need to prove my worth to God and to others. Yet Jesus blesses us, assuring us that we have nothing to prove. We need not try to justify ourselves, but rather let ourselves be loved and blessed by Him.

I delight in how Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, said in a sermon: “The gospel is ‘I am accepted through Christ, therefore I obey’ while every other religion operates on the principle of ‘I obey, therefore I am accepted.’” We have nothing to prove! Jesus said so: “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”

Just as classic films speak to me, so do classic Bible commentaries. I return again and again to William R. Newell’s Romans Verse by Verse to calm my anxious heart with these words:

  1. To hope to be better [hence acceptable] is to fail to see yourself in Christ only.
  2. To be disappointed with yourself is to have believed in yourself.
  3. To be discouraged is unbelief as to God’s purpose and plan of blessing for you.
  4. To be proud, is to be blind! For we have no standing before God in ourselves.
  5. The lack of Divine blessing, therefore, comes from unbelief, and not from failure of devotion.
  6. Real devotion to God arises, not from man’s will to show it; but from the discovery that blessing has been received from God while we were yet unworthy and undevoted.

D. T. Niles said that “Christianity is one beggar telling another beggar where he found bread”. We are blessed to know our spiritual need!


But the tax-collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”—Luke 18:13-14

  • Take some time to reflect on the 6 points by William Newell. Why not write down the 6 points and take them with you into you day, and read them over before you go to bed. Settle your roots down deep into God’s purpose to unconditionally bless you.
  • Pray: “God have mercy on me, a sinner. Help me accept my brokenness, emptiness, and need for you”. (Peter Scazzero, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality)
  • What do you want To Say To God?

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