Way back when Daniel was little we took an off-season vacation to the Outer Banks and while there we went to the museum at Kitty Hawk—the place where on December 17, 1903 history was made as the first motorized plane flew.
I have to say—I’ve been to lots of museums—but this one is by far my favorite! In fact, I wanted to take the grandkids there this summer—but their website says it is closed for renovation until 2018! I’m sure it will be worth the wait though—because I remember how very good the park rangers were. I mean, they were more like “park scientists” because they were great at explaining the significance of the work done on that stretch of sand at the dawn of the 20th century. In that museum, I learned that in the four years they spent there Wilbur and Orville did much more than build the first powered aircraft. They also invented the first wind tunnel—the exact same type still used today in all aircraft design—and car design for that matter. Plus—they came up with the formulas for flight. I mean, in developing that first flimsy flyer—these two brothers figured out the same mathematical calculations used in building the airplanes we fly in today—from piper cubs to the space shuttle. I mean, in every sense of the word, Wilbur and Orville taught the world to fly.
Well, I bring all this “UP” — pun intended — because for the next few months I want us to look at the formulas for SPIRITUAL FLIGHT—the attitudes necessary for us to soar toward Christlikeness—those attitudes that are required if we are to “get off the ground” in our attempt to become more and more like Jesus.
I’ve titled this series, “Flight Lessons” and the “spiritual flight lessons” we’ll be studying are found in Matthew’s Gospel—specifically, what is referred to as The Sermon on the Mount—because Jesus delivered this sermon to crowds sitting on a hillside on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.
By the way, this particular sermon of Jesus has rightly been called the greatest sermon ever delivered.
- Augustine described it as, “a perfect standard for the Christian life.”
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer based his classic book, The Cost of Discipleship on it.
Jesus’ mountainside message has even exerted great influence on people OUTSIDE the Christian faith.
- Gandhi based his political approach on its words.
- Hitler and his followers spent a lot of time attacking its precepts.
So, any way you look at it, the fact is this sermon has had more impact on our world than any other. Christians all over the globe have learned to fly spiritually by following the “lessons” Jesus taught that day. But before we go any further, let’s look at the SETTING. When Jesus stood on that mountain side to deliver these precious words, it was at a point in His ministry when there was a snowballing of interest in what He was doing and saying. Our Lord had been traveling around Galilee teaching in the synagogues—and people were coming to Him by the droves not just to hear Him speak but also to have Him heal them. News has spread all the way to Syria, and every kind of case imaginable was coming to Him. Great multitudes were following Him clear out into the wilderness beyond the Jordan and with that setting in mind listen as we review Jesus’ “SPIRITUAL flight lessons”—also known as The Beatitudes. I’ve asked Amaris Galik/Paul Owen to read for us.
3 – Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
4 – Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5 – Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6 – Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
7 – Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
8 – Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9 – Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
10 – Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
11 – Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.
12 – Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
13 – You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
14 – You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.
15 – Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
16 – In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven.
Now—I want to begin by pointing out that these words are not just STATEMENTS. They were congratulatory exclamations: “BLESSED ARE THE POOR IN SPIRIT!”
Let me try to explain. This word “blessed” that begins each statement. This familiar word does not mean “happy” because happiness is a subjective state—it’s a feeling. So—in this, the introduction to His famous sermon, Jesus is not talking about how people feel—rather, He is making an objective statement about what God thinks about certain individuals. I mean, “blessed” is a positive judgment by God that means, “to be approved” or “to find approval.” It’s kind of a verbal pat on the back from our Heavenly Father. I like how Lucado puts in his book The Applause of Heaven. He says blessedness indicates “the smile of God.”
I also want to underscore the fact that these are POSITIVE exclamations. I mean, they are more “do’s” than they are “don’ts.” They are positive exclamations that guide us upward to the path to the heights of joy in life! I once read about a family that went to a state park for the day to enjoy the great outdoors. When they arrived at the gate they saw a whole row of signs that said, “No hunting! No fishing! No camping! No picnicking! No trespassing! No hiking! No photography!” A final sign in small print said, “This is your state park. Enjoy it.” Well the Sermon on the Mount isn’t like that. It is a positive sermon! It is full of “dos” —lessons that tell us how to enjoy the Christian life—how to SOAR to new heights of abundant living.
Okay, let’s take a closer look at our text for this morning by reading it in several different translations. That’s always a great way to study the Bible—and I think it will help us begin to really understand these powerfully positive words.
The NIV, King James, New King James, and the New American Standard all translate it this way: “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven!”
The New English Bible renders it this way, “How blest are those who know they are poor; the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs!”
J. B Phillips translates it like this, “How happy are the humble-minded, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs!”
The Living Bible reads, “Humble men are very fortunate for the Kingdom of Heaven is given to them!”
The New Living Translation puts it this way, “God blesses those who realize their need for Him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is given to them!”
The Amplified Bible expands this to read, “Blessed, happy, to be envied and spiritually prosperous, are the poor in spirit (the humble, those who rate themselves insignificant)—for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven!”
The Message captures the meaning well, “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and His rule!”
Do you feel the positive exclamations in this verse? Good! Let’s get started on this first “spiritual flight lesson” by organizing our study around three questions and the first is this.
(1) What exactly does it mean to be “poor in spirit?”
I think the best way to get an answer to this first question by ruling out some misconceptions that some people have embraced over the years when it comes to this verse. For example, poor in spirit does not mean LOW SELF-ESTEEM—feeling poorly about yourself. Nor does it refer to mock humility you know, pretending to put yourself down. I mean, being poor in spirit is not fishing for compliments by saying things like, “I look so fat in this dress don’t I?” or “I really messed up that solo!” or “No one likes me do they?”
Do you get my drift? I’m talking about acting humble while expecting people to respond to personal put downs like this by disagreeing with you and giving you a compliment. That is not poor in spirit. That’s self-focus. It’s pride, not humility. Another thing. “Poor in spirit” doesn’t mean MATERIAL POVERTY, being poor in possessions or finances. Unfortunately, down through the centuries, many have taken it to mean this. Many have taught that this verse teaches that God favors those who are poor in a material sense. In the 4th century the Roman Emperor Julian the Apostate went so far as to say he wanted to confiscate all the property belonging to Christians—so that they would become poor and therefore be certain to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. He thought robbing them would be doing them a favor. But like so many others ole Julian misunderstood this beatitude.
Think of it. If Jesus were referring to material poverty, then it would be an unchristian thing for a Christian to seek to alleviate the burdens of the destitute and the starving in the world. It would not be right to try and help people who are left homeless by natural calamities. According to this misconception, there would be no orphanages or hospitals. In fact, if we interpreted poor in spirit this way, we’d have personal evangelism clinics in which we trained Christians to steal from the rich so as to get them into Heaven! And of course, it doesn’t mean this. The fact is, God does not sanction poverty in any Biblical passage. As David says in Psalm 37:25, “I have never seen the righteous forsaken or his seed begging bread.”
Plus, in His written word God repeatedly commands us to HELP the needy, so this beatitude was not referring to material poverty. Jesus wasn’t talking about FINANCIAL bankruptcy. No—He was referring to our absolute SPIRITUAL bankruptcy before God. Now, to fully grasp this fact, to really understand this phrase we need to pause for a brief lesson in New Testament Greek—so let’s get started. There are two words in the Greek language for “poor.” The first is “penEEs.”
In the first century, “penEES” was used to describe a man who had to work for his living. This kind of man had nothing superfluous. He was not rich, but neither was he destitute. He was poor but he still had just enough to barely get along in life. A biblical example would be the widow who put her two coins in the offering. She was “penEESs” poor. The other Greek word for “poor” is “ptochos” and this is the one we find in Matthew 3. Now, “ptokos” was used to describe absolute and abject poverty, a level of poverty that had beaten someone to their knees.
Let me put it this way: “penEES” described an individual who had nothing superfluous. “Ptochos” described the man who had nothing at all. “PenEES” means you can earn your own living. “Ptokas” means you have no resource in yourself even to live. You’re totally dependent on somebody else. You’re so poor you have to beg like the beggar Lazarus who sat at the gate of the rich man desperate for the crumbs that fell from his table. I mean, “ptokos” referred to not just the poor, but rather the BEGGING poor.
But remember, we’re not talking about financial or material poverty. Jesus wasn’t referring to our possessions. He was referring to our SPIRITUAL state. And, let me just stop and say—material possessions can make us think we don’t need God. If we’re not careful, money and the things it can buy can prevent us from understanding the importance of this first flight lesson. And it’s not just those who love to hoard money and the things it can buy. I mean, they aren’t the only ones who can become incapable of embodying this attitude. The educated, the arrogant, the strong, the independent, the successful, the popular, the religious, the movers and the shakers they can “crash and burn” in life by missing Jesus’ point. I mean, several things can make us so proud we don’t think we need God’s grace. Let me put it this way. If you think you will end up in Heaven any way other than trusting in Jesus you’ve got a problem. As someone has said, “We may be well-educated but we are spiritually ignorant; we may be financially secure but we are spiritually bankrupt.” The central message of this first beatitude is that we cannot save ourselves. “Not through the right rituals; not through the right devotion; nothing we do helps.”
In this first statement Jesus was saying, “Blessed is the man who knows this! Blessed is the man who is poor in spirit! Blessed is the individual who has realized his own utter helplessness before God. This person is to be commended!”
Think of it this way. Can we work to earn our salvation? Are we “penEEs” poor so we can work to earn our way to Heaven? Can we do just enough to get into Heaven “by the hair of our chinny chin chin?” No! Because we are not “penEES;” we are “ptokas.” We are absolutely incapable of this; we are totally dependent on the unmerited grace of God. To keep with the “flight theme” — you can no more work your way to Heaven than you can fly home from this service by flapping your arms. Jesus is saying, “Blessed are the spiritual paupers, the spiritually empty, the spiritually bankrupt who know they are sinners and cringe in a corner crying out to God for mercy. God commends them—because they are the only ones who ever know Him.”
In Psalm 40:17 King David shows that He was poor in spirit. He said, “I am poor and needy; [I have nothing to make me deserve Your love God but I need it!] may the Lord think of me. You are my help and my deliverer oh my God. Do not delay.” Let me put it this way, being poor in spirit is the idea of coming before God with empty hands. As the second verse of that great hymn “Rock of Ages” says, “Nothing in my hand I bring. Simply to the cross I cling.” This great old hymn text gets it right because this beatitude is talking about the person who has realized God’s standards are not within human attainability. They are too HIGH for us to reach on our own.
Now unfortunately, many works-oriented faith systems disagree. They teach we can do enough good to earn our salvation. And, even Christians—pious—foolish ones—even Christians sometimes foolishly embrace this proud, ungraceful mind set. They act as if, with their good deeds, they can somehow pay their way to Heaven. To these people, every prayer is a check written. Every good deed is a payment made. The idea is if they could do one good act for every bad act their account will balance out in the end. In his book In the Grip of Grace, Max Lucado says many people think, “If I can counter my cussing with compliments, my lusts with loyalties, my complaints with contributions—my vices with victories, then won’t my account be justified?”
Lucado goes on to point to the foolishness of this way of thinking by listing several “holes” that are found in this argument. He says that, yes—“theoretically” we could pay for our own sin if it weren’t for several glaring problems.
A. First, we don’t know the COST of our sin.
I mean, the price of gas is easy to find. Every station puts it in clear view on their marquee. But it’s not so clear when it comes to our sins. What, for example, is the charge for getting mad in traffic jams on the beltway? If I get ticked off at some guy who cuts in front of me and yell a few choice words what do I do to pay for my crime? Do I drive 55 in a 55mhp zone for ten minutes to atone for my error? Do I give a wave and a smile to ten consecutive commuter-filled cars? What’s the penalty? Who knows? Or, what if I wake up in a bad mood? What’s the charge for a couple mopey hours? Will one church service next Sunday offset one grumpy morning today? Will working in AWANA make up for it?
And what qualifies for a bad mood? Is the charge for grumpiness less on cloudy days or am I permitted a certain number of grouchy days per year? We chuckle—but it’s confusing, isn’t it?
B. To make matters worse, not only do we not know the COST of our sin. We don’t always know the OCCASION of our sins.
You see, even our perceptions have been negatively affected by our sinful state, so there are times when we sin and don’t even know it! Lucado writes, “I was 12 years old before I knew it was a sin to hate your enemy. My bike was stolen when I was 8. I hated the thief for four years. How do I pay for those sins? Do I get an exemption for ignorance? And what about the sins I’m committing now without realizing it? What if someone somewhere discovers it is a sin to play golf? Or what if God thinks the way I play golf is a sin? Oh boy, I’ll have some serious settling up to do.”
C. And what about our SECRET sins?
What about those times we sin by doing good deeds so that others will admire us, things that look good—but are in fact bad? And what about sins of omission? Any secret sins of omission on your statement this month? Did you miss any chance to do good? Overlook an opportunity to forgive? Did you neglect an open door to serve? Did you seize every chance to encourage your friends? If so, how do you make up for those infractions? And there are other concerns.
D. For example, is there a GRACE PERIOD when it comes to paying for our sin?
Our credit cards allow a minimal payment and then they roll the debt into the next month. Does God allow that? I mean, will He let me pay off today’s greed next year?
And, what about interest? If I leave my sinful greed on my statement for twelve months, does it incur more sin debt? Do you get Lucado’s creative drift here? We can’t pay for our own sin. It’s laughable to think we could! We are fallen beings; our actions, and inactions, even our thoughts and desires condemn us. The idea of paying for our sins with good deeds is like trying to walk up a hill of solid ice that is covered with three inches of mud. We lose ten steps for every one we take.
By the way, the Apostle Paul says the purpose of God’s law was to help us to see this fact. The law was given to show us our sin—to help us see how absolutely dependent we are on the unmerited grace of God. I mean, our inability to always obey the law of God in thought, word, deed, and inaction, shows us that all people are equally guilty before God. In Romans 3:19-20 Paul wrote, “Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in His sight by observing the law: rather through the law we become conscious of sin.” Do you see what Paul is saying? The purpose of the law was not to save us, but rather to condemn us. Its function is to show us how desperate we are, how “ptokas” we are for God’s grace.
You know, people often criticize Christians, saying their faith in Jesus is just a crutch. I’ve heard this repeatedly. Well—are crutches bad? No—they’re not. In fact, Becca—my PT daughter uses them all the time as a good thing. Crutches and walkers help people to get around. So—why does a crutch become a bad thing when it’s applied to Christianity? Well, John Piper rightly points out that the answer is the fact that people think if Christianity is a crutch—then it’s only good for cripples and we don’t’ like to see ourselves as cripples. We’re too proud, to self-sufficient, to think that way so to many people this is a put down. And I admit, when I first saw that phrase, I was offended because it made me look like a 98 lb spiritual weakling! But then I thought about it and I realized how true that is! I am a cripple! I am a sinner who is absolutely dependent on God’s gracious forgiveness. I need Jesus! And I’m not ashamed to admit it! I can relate to the lyrics of Gary Chapman’s song: “In this mystifying maze that life brings, I can break it all down to one simple thing: I need Jesus! I need Jesus in my life! I don’t need a bigger house, another toy, another stress release distraction to enjoy: I need Jesus! I need Jesus in my life!”
And, the fact is each of you needs Jesus as well. We are all “ptokas” before God because all of us have sinned! All of us fall far short of God’s righteous and holy standard! We’re all cripples!
I can’t help but think of Jesus’ words in Mark’s Gospel: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17)
In other words, the only people who will ever come to get what Jesus has to give are people who know that they are sick—people who realize they spiritually and morally crippled. They are like land-bound birds—birds whose wings don’t work.
- That’s was being poor in spirit is.
- It is a sense of powerlessness.
- It’s a sense of spiritual bankruptcy and helplessness before God.
- It’s a sense of moral uncleanness.
- It’s a sense of personal unworthiness before God.
- It’s the realization that without God we have our wings clipped—we can’t soar.
- It’s a SENSE that if there is to be any life or joy or usefulness, it will have to be all of God and all of grace.
And the reason I emphasize this word, “SENSE” is because everyone is poor in spirit. Everybody, whether they SENSE it or not, is powerless and bankrupt and helpless and unclean and unworthy before God. But NOT everyone is blessed. When Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit” he does not mean everybody. He means those who SENSE it, those who realize it, those who admit it. Those who taste God’s presence in their lives have declared spiritual bankruptcy and are aware of their spiritual crisis. Their cupboards are bare. Their pockets are empty. Their options are gone. They have long since stopped demanding justice; They are pleading for mercy. They don’t brag—they beg. They ask God to do for them what they are too crippled to do without Him. That’s what it means to be POOR IN SPIRIT.
Okay next question.
(2) Why would Jesus begin His sermon with this particular beatitude? Why place “poor in spirit” first?
Well, I think our Lord did this because the beatitudes are PROGRESSIVE. I mean, they build on each other so we must start here. And—remember, Jesus is the Master Teacher. He is God in the flesh—so with Him at the pulpit or lectern there is no such thing as “random.” He intentionally began with verse 3. Look at the progression of these flight lessons with me. Open your Bibles to Matthew 5.
- As I have said, being poor in spirit (vs 3) is basically having the right attitude toward sin.
- This right attitude leads us to MOURN about our state as fallen beings (vs 4).
- After we’ve seen our sin and grieved over it, we are MEEK with the right sense of humility (vs5).
- This compels us to SEEK and HUNGER and THIRST for righteousness (vs 6)
- which manifests itself in our being MERCIFUL toward other sinners (vs 7).
- This helps us to be PURE OF HEART, (vs 8),
- which gives birth to a PEACE-MAKING spirit (vs 9).
- The result of being a peacemaker is that we are PERSECUTED, reviled and falsely accused (vs 10-11). Why? Because this kind of lifestyle irritates our fallen culture. It goes against the flow.
- But when it’s all said and done, verse 12 says we can rejoice and be exceedingly glad for our culture won’t last forever. Someday we’ll be in eternity with Jesus and when that day dawns we’ll see that great is our reward in Heaven.
- Now, when we live like this, when we embrace and embody the beatitude, we can be sure that we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world (verses 13 & 14). We will STAND out if we LIVE out these beatitudes!
But, please note—we can’t be salt and light until we start in verse 3. We can’t skip verses 3-11 and go right to 13 and 14. It won’t work. It would be like trying to build a skyscraper by beginning with the top floor. So, we must begin our soaring as Jesus’ disciples here. This is the take-off point. Becoming poor in spirit is foundational to living out the other beatitudes.
IN FACT—You can’t even become a Christian unless you’re poor in spirit. I mean, you might as well expect fruit to grow without trees if you think the graces of the Christ life grow without “ptokos.” This is where it all begins. Warren Weirsbe writes, “True poverty of spirit is the soil out of which the fruit of the Spirit can be cultivated.” And he is right. It is the very first thing that must happen in the life of anybody who wants to enter God’s kingdom. No one ever decided to follow Jesus in life on the basis of pride. Let me put it this way. The doorway to the Kingdom of God is very low and only people who see their sin and in humility bow low can come in. Speaking of when our kids were young—remember the intro—I remember years ago taking them on sort of a “Virginia Vacation.” We did Kings Dominion and the Skyline drive and we also toured the historical sites around Charlottesville—places like Mitchie’s Tavern, Monticello the home of Thomas Jefferson—and Highland, the home of James Monroe. One thing we learned in these tours is that Jefferson and Monroe were good friends. In fact, Jefferson designed Monroe’s home. It is located within clear sight of his beloved Monticello. Highland’s front door faces Monticello. But as a mischievous prank, Jefferson intentionally made the front door of Monroe’s house low so that Monroe would have to bow toward Monticello every time he left! Well, in essence that is what God has done. To begin the Christ life, to enter His kingdom, we must bow low. We must in fact get on our knees before Him confessing our helpless sinful state. We must begin with humility. So, this is why Jesus began his message on the attitudes of a disciple with this particular beatitude. We must be humble in order to have God’s approval. Let me put it this way. We will only be FILLED when we own our EMPTINESS. We cannot be made WORTHY until we recognize our UNWORTHINESS, or as someone has said, “We can’t live until we admit we’re dead.” Or as another person put it, “Those who get too big for their britches will be exposed in the end.”
(3) Okay one last question: How do we embrace this attitude? How do we become poor in spirit?
I want to suggest three things:
a. First, regularly, daily, ask God to help you see your sin as sin.
You see, as Lucado inferred our sinful state blinds us such that if left to ourselves, we gradually begin to justify our sin. We become proud and begin to think like our world thinks. So—to remain poor in spirit we must regularly, daily, ask God to show us our sin. We need to ask Him to so shine the light of His holiness on our attitudes and actions. The fact is we need God’s help in this because as I inferred earlier, we can’t see sin as sin. Everyday our culture pushes us farther and farther from God’s standard. I mean, the longer we live in this sinful world, the blinder we get to sin. We have an increasingly difficult time seeing sin as sin. So, to remain poor in spirit we need God’s expertise. We need to pray as David did and say, “Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me.” (Psalm 90:12)
b. Second, we must stop comparing ourselves to others.
You see, it is never possible to create a true poverty of spirit by looking within and then by looking around at other people. The human heart is corrupt. And because of it we will always latch upon someone who is worse in some respect than we are. We will find someone who is prouder than we are, and although we may still be quite proud we will congratulate ourselves on being humble. We will find someone who has strong fits of temper, and although we have a temper we’ll congratulate ourselves on being more moderate than they are. It will go like this in all of our shortcomings. So don’t look around, look up. Constantly compare yourself to God. We must see our poverty against His plenty. I mean, the quickest way to become spiritually poor is to look at God because in the presence of one Who is perfect, how can we boast about how good we are? Do you remember how Isaiah responded to His look up? In true “ptokos” form, he cried,
“Woe is me!” I am ruined! For I am man of unclean lips and I live among a people of unclean lips and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord almighty.” (Isaiah 6:5)
So, to become poor in spirit, don’t compare yourself to others. Don’t look around. Look up. C. S. Lewis once wrote,
“Whenever we find that our religious life is making us feel that we are good above all, that we are better than someone else, I think we may be sure that we are being acted on—not by God, but by the devil. The real test of being in the presence of God is that you either forget about yourself altogether or see yourself as a small, dirty object. It is better to forget about yourself all together.”
So to be poor in spirit, ask God’s help. Stop comparing yourself to others. And finally.
c. Discipline yourself to depend on God for everything, everyday.
In John 5:5 Jesus said, “Without Me you can do nothing.” Well, acknowledge that fact.
The prayer I pray most often is “God help me.” I pray this because I have learned the hard way that I am “ptokas” without God. I can’t do this job on my own. I fall flat on my face every time I try so I’m constantly praying, “God help me. Help me, please help me.” Well, anyone who wants to be poor in spirit must learn to pray this prayer. We need to prostrate ourselves before God daily and say this.
Three ministers were discussing the proper way to pray. One said that the best way was with hands together and fingers up. Another said the best way was on his knees. The third said the best way was prostrate on the floor. An electrician in the back overheard their conversation and added, “The best posture for me to pray was hanging upside down with a live wire wrapped around my legs.” Well, this electrician had it right. We are doomed without God. We all are a heartbeat from eternity without Him and we need to acknowledge this fact.
Now, we refer to this next part of our service as a time of invitation and we think of these important moments at the close of our service as a time for us to respond to God’s invitation. Well, this morning I want us to expand that. I want us to make this a time when we also invite God to rule in our lives. I want this to be a time when we all admit we are “ptokos” without God and invite Him to help us. If you’re here and you’ve never confessed your sin to God and begged for His forgiveness through Jesus Christ then do so. Ask Jesus to forgive you. Give Him your life and today the Kingdom of Heaven will be yours! Fellow believers use these moments to confess your need for God’s help in life. Pray something like this: “God, I can’t be a father without Your help. I can’t be a husband or wife without Your guidance. I can’t do this job without You. I can’t do my part in the work of this church without Your strength So help me help me help me.” If you don’t have a church home, you need to pray, “God I need the fellowship of other believers. I can’t be a Christian on my own. Guide me to a good church family!” If you feel led to come forward to pray or to make your decision public do so now as we stand and sing.