Read Bible, Bible Study

5 Key Elements of being the Poor in Spirit

When I was practicing spiritual devotions this morning, I saw the following verse in the Bible: “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3), and I thought: Why did the Lord Jesus ask people to be the poor in spirit? And why shall the poor in spirit enter into the kingdom of heaven? As I was contemplating this, some thoughts came to my mind: When the Lord Jesus came to do work, much of His work vastly differed from the work of Jehovah God. For instance, Jehovah God did His work and guided people in the temple, and His requirements of them were complying with the laws and the commandments, making sacrifices, and worshiping Him in the temple; while when the Lord Jesus came, He did not do His work in the temple. Instead, He led His disciples to the towns and villages to spread the gospel of the kingdom of heaven, asking people to repent and confess their sins. And He told the people at that time: “the hour comes, when you shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. … when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship him” (John 4:21-23). As for how to treat the evil, Jehovah God required “Eye for eye, tooth for tooth” of people (Exodus 21:24), whereas the Lord Jesus said: “You have heard that it has been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say to you, That you resist not evil: but whoever shall smite you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matthew 5:38-39). And so on. At that time people all held fast to Jehovah God’s laws. If they were not humble, did not seek the will of God, they would be much likely to deny and condemn the Lord Jesus, not to mention accepting the Lord Jesus’ work, which is impossible. People didn’t know that the Lord Jesus came to carry out new work and lead human to progress forward. Therefore, the Lord Jesus taught us to be a man with humility, hoping that we would not lightly jump to conclusions or judge the things we don’t understand, but seek more. Only in this way can we be protected rather than be punished and lose the opportunity to enter into the kingdom of heaven because of blindly condemning God and thus offending His disposition. Then I thought: When the Lord Jesus comes to work again in the last days, if His work is different from that He had done during the Age of Grace, can I humbly seek and accept His new work like those disciples who followed Him? If I fail to recognize the Lord when He comes again, will I not be much likely to set foot on the path of resisting God like the Pharisees? During these last days, the critical moment of welcoming the return of the Lord Jesus, what should I prepare? And how to be a seeker with humility? With this question, I searched many passages of the scriptures and some spiritual books. Thanks to the Lord’s guidance, I reaped some rewards … 1. Don’t Be Arrogant and Truth-hating Like the Pharisees As we all know, the Lord Jesus brought the work different from that in the Age of Law. Seeing that the Lord Jesus didn’t abide by the law, didn’t observe the Sabbath, the chief priests, scribes, and Pharisees didn’t seek or investigate but arrogantly draw a conclusion that the Lord Jesus’ work went beyond the Old Testament. They condemned the Lord Jesus, “This man is not of God, because he keeps not the sabbath day” (John 9:16). From the scripture we can know that the Pharisees confined God’s work within the law of the Old Testament, and thereby they recklessly judged and condemned Him and denied His work. In addition, what the Lord Jesus did at that time, healing and casting out demons, and performing miracles, shocked all of Judea. The Pharisees had ever heard of the Lord Jesus’ work, and what’s more, some of them had ever seen it with their own eyes. However, not only did they not seek or investigate it, but they also blasphemed and condemned the Lord Jesus without a trace of fear, saying that the Lord Jesus spoke blasphemous words (see Mark 14:61-64), saying that “He has Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casts he out devils” (see Mark 3:21-22). More than that, as the Lord Jesus was preaching in the synagogues, they even attempted to stone Him. It is clear that these Pharisees were arrogant and truth-hating by nature, and that they had no place for God in their hearts, speaking and acting without any reverence of God. Faced with the Lord’s work, they stubbornly held onto their own conceptions and imaginations, defined and resisted God’s work at will. Never did they give up their thoughts to seek or accept the truth. It was their arrogant and truth-disobeying disposition, as well as their truth-hating and God-resisting nature that caused them to not investigate or seek the Lord’s work with humility but manically condemn and oppose it, so that they finally walked on the path of resisting God while believing in and serving God. 2. Give Up the Position It is recorded in the Bible, “Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man does many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation” (John 11:47-48). At that time, the sermons the Lord Jesus preached and the miracles He performed shook up all of Judea, there were a lot of people spreading the Lord Jesus’ name and the facts of His work, and more and more people were following Him. The…

pray to Lord Jesus

Are You Truly Follow Jesus Christ?

By Yang Min I believe that like me, all the brothers and sisters in the Lord have received lots of peace and blessings from the Lord, and that we all have ever been resolved to follow the Lord all our life. I remember, at that time I was fervent within. In order to repay the Lord’s great love, I actively spread the gospel for Him and supported the church, and I had confidence about holding on to His way. Moreover, I constantly contemplated His grace, and I was frequently moved to tears when I prayed, feeling so close to the Lord. I prided myself on being a follower of the Lord. But unknowingly, that feeling was gone. I grew cold in love as well as in faith; and I had no enjoyment in praying, for I received no response from the Lord, feeling like being talking to thin air. I no longer prided myself on being a follower of the Lord; instead, I frequently distressed myself about failing to keep the Lord’s teaching. I committed sins and confessed sins every day, totally shackled without release by sins. In result, I lost my motivation for preaching the gospel, and I even dreaded to have it known that I’m a Christian, for fear that my behaviors couldn’t glorify the Lord, but rather shamed His name. I sometimes felt my belief in the Lord consisted only in paying empty tribute to the name of the Lord Jesus. At times, I would ask myself: Can I, who vainly grasp to the name of the Lord Jesus, count as a follower of the Lord? Can it be that the Lord has forsaken me? If not, why can’t I feel His presence? And why do I feel that I have lost the lamp to my feet and the light to my path, and sunk into the darkness? I often studied the Bible, hoping to get the answer in the Scriptures. Later, from the accounts of the Bible, I found that not all the believers in God could be considered as God’s followers. The standard by which God judges whether a person is His follower differs across periods of time. Here, I’d like to share my gain with brothers and sisters, and discuss with you about what kind of people are approved by God and what kind of people are His followers. In Exodus 6, Jehovah God spoke to Moses, “Why say to the children of Israel, I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments: And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, which brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians” (Exodus 6:6-7). The scriptures show us that in the Old Testament Age of Law, God chose the Israelites as His people and became their God. He raised up Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, used him to issue the laws to the Israelites, and guided their life on earth. The early Israelites accepted Jehovah God’s leadership, and acted strictly according to the laws. If anyone violated the law, those who committed slight sins would have to offer sacrifices as Jehovah God required, while those who sinned grievously would be put to death. All of them were restricted by the laws. And as they had seen the majesty and wrath of Jehovah’s disposition, they were loyal to Him. Thus they received great grace and protection from God, and were allowed to serve Him in the temple for generations. So, they were followers of God in that age. However, as mankind had been so corrupted by Satan that they became ever more evil and degenerate, the Jews later were not able to observe the law. They often committed sins and violated the law, which put them in danger of being executed by the law at any time. But, as God cared for mankind, He carried out a new stage of work outside the temple in steps and according to His plan. So, the incarnate Lord Jesus came and brought the gospel of the kingdom of heaven to mankind. He hoped that everyone could come to the light and depart from the temple so as to follow the footsteps of God. The Bible records that, when the Lord Jesus spread the gospel of the kingdom of heaven, He said, “Repent you: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2). Besides, He healed the sick and cast out demons, and performed many signs and wonders. Then which people are followers of the Lord Jesus? At that time, the Lord Jesus called to Peter and his brother Andrew on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. The Bible records, “And he said to them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). Likewise, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother too were called by the Lord. And He also called upon the other disciples in this way. For example, He said to Philip, “Follow me” (John 1:43). The Lord said so because He looked deep into man’s hearts, and knew that Peter and the rest of them longed for and sought the truth. And indeed, through His words, Peter and the others recognized that the Lord Jesus had come from God. So, when the Lord Jesus called upon them, they all followed Him without hesitation. Eventually, they obtained the supply of the living water of life from the words of the Lord, took His words as a guideline in all things, and enjoyed the work of the Holy Spirit at that time. Thus, they became genuine followers of God in that age. But during that time, most of the religious leaders headed by the…

Christian think

Does Your Service Come With a “Price Tag”?

A Story of Reckoning: Food for Thought I read a story online about a child who gave his mother a bill, and on that bill he had written out all of the things he’d done to help her with housework and take care of his little sister; he said his mom should pay him 50 dollars. His mom paid him the 50 dollars and then prepared a bill for him. She included all sorts of things like his birth, the time she’d spent with him when he was sick, teaching him to walk, and praying for him. Everything was listed at zero dollars. Seeing this, the boy felt really ashamed and put the 50 dollars back into his mom’s pocket. This anecdote made me smile, and I thought, “Anyway, the kid in the story was still young. Why shouldn’t we forgive children’s naivety?” But then I really gave it some thought: Isn’t the thinking of that ignorant child a reflection of the psychology of most people now? In such a materialistic society so many things have their prices clearly marked, so we naturally expect compensation for our efforts. Sometimes, something that we really should be contributing becomes a heartless transaction. Giving Things Up, Expending Myself, Working Hard for God: What Is It For? I couldn’t help but think of my own experience. Not too long before, I was very busy with the work of the church. I was running around and constantly busy, getting up early and working late into the night, and even though it was difficult and tiring, I really enjoyed what I was doing. One day I left the house at 5:00 a.m. to get to the house of a brother who lived 15 kilometers away before 6:00 a.m., and then I went out with some brothers and sisters to share the gospel. Even though it was no longer the dead of winter there was still a chill in the air, particularly around dawn. The cold swallowed up the earth after a long night; the trees alongside the road were frozen and seemed lifeless. In spite of my heavy coat and windbreaker, the wind on my motorcycle still made its way up my sleeves and straight to my chest—I felt like I had fallen into a hole in the ice, and both of my legs had turned numb from the cold as well. I stopped quite a few times, stamping my feet to warm them up. I couldn’t help but think to myself, “If it weren’t for the work of the church, who would go out so early in this kind of weather? God has to be seeing everything that I’m doing, right?” I also thought about how, over these few years of having faith, I had given up my family and career to spread the gospel and bear witness to God through the wind and the rain. I had endured others’ defamation and mockery, and I’d been arrested and persecuted by the government. I had given so much for God, so I figured in the end I had to be blessed, and surely my reward would be considerable. I thought that when the Lord comes, He would certainly bestow a crown of glory upon me. Thinking of this I felt extremely pleased and I felt strength well up within me. I no longer felt that it was so cold. When I read the story of the boy who gave his mother a bill I couldn’t help but feel a sense of self-reproach. I thought, “What difference is there between my thinking and what the kid did in the story? I’m demanding blessings and a crown from God for my superficial suffering and efforts—isn’t that just doing deals with God?” A passage of God’s words that Brother Li had read in a gathering then occurred to me. “Many of those who follow God are only concerned with how to gain blessings or avoid disaster. … Such people have one very simple aim in following God: to gain blessing, and they are too lazy to attend to anything that doesn’t involve this aim. For them, believing in God to gain blessings is the most legitimate of goals and the very value of their faith. They are unaffected by anything that cannot achieve this objective. Such is the case with most of those who believe in God today. Their aim and motivation seem legitimate, because at the same time as believing in God, they also expend for God, dedicate themselves to God, and perform their duty. They give up their youth, forsake family and career, and even spend years busying about away from home. For the sake of their ultimate goal, they change their interests, alter their outlook on life, and even change the direction they seek, yet they cannot change the aim of their belief in God. They run about for the management of their own ideals; no matter how far the road is, and no matter how many hardships and obstacles there are along the way, they stick to their guns and remain fearless of death. What power makes them continue to dedicate themselves in this way? Is it their conscience? Is it their great and noble character? Is it their determination to do battle with the forces of evil to the very end? Is it their faith in which they bear witness to God without seeking recompense? Is it their loyalty for which they are willing to give up everything to achieve the will of God? Or is it their spirit of devotion in which they’ve always forgone personal extravagant demands? For people who have never known the work of God’s management to give so much is, quite simply, a wondrous miracle! … Apart from the benefits that are so closely associated with them, could there be any other reason for these people who never understand God to give so much to Him? In this, we discover a previously unidentified problem: Man’s relationship with God…

More »