Saturday, August 21, 2021

As Little Children

Bobservations Column

By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

God loves His children, period. As we remind ourselves of John 3:16, we are assured that God loves the whole world, but much of the world rejects God’s love, and He experiences rejection. Being created in His image, we can then be assured that God experiences emotions, though He is not subject to them through the weakness of the flesh.

This sets the stage for the first part of today’s study. It is about a child-like faith. It’s not about being childish, but trusting the Father, trusting Jesus Christ, and trusting the Holy Spirit to lead us to heaven. Children are dependent upon their parents. We, are called to be dependent on our heavenly Father. It is the one co-dependent relationship that is beneficial to us.  
(Psalm 118:8,9 is a familiar passage for this belief, in contrast to human co-dependency.).

God never intended for Adam and Eve, or any of their descendants to live apart from Him. He has always wanted relationship with His Creation! He came to save that which was lost!

When God has His flock together, even as few as two or three, they have Him in common. He is there in their midst, and Jesus alone is mediator between them and the Father. No one else is qualified; no one else gave their life for us in obedience to the Father.

We are seeing in the world today a “loss of natural affection.” Is it any wonder? These days, children are given to the state for teachers to raise and impart the wisdom of the world to those children. No wisdom from God is even allowed to be taught or promoted. This is the culmination of efforts by human minds, like Sigmund Freud. In his 1927 book, “The Future Of An Illusion,” Freud lays out his thoughts of displacing God and Religion in society with Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis, right in the Forward of the book! And, who among us has not taken the required course in Psychology 101 in their first year of college? Sadly, these are the highest and most respected thoughts of mankind.
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the Earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” - Isaiah 55:8, 9

Today's Audio Message:

Matthew 18:1-17 - "As Little Children"

There is so much in today's study!  From understanding the importance of God's Word in our lives and the testing of our faith, to lessons in humility and church discipline.  Our trust is in Jesus Christ, the living Word and His finished work of redemption and reconciliation on the cross for mankind. 

As we continue on in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 18 begins with the next conversation the disciples want to have with Jesus. It’s about which one of them will be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Luke tells us this is more of an argument than it is a conversation (Luke 9:46). This seems completely out of line as the disciples had just failed in casting out a demonic spirit from a young man, and had been rebuked for their unbelief. However, this is typical of humanity. Even our great failures don’t cause us to take our eyes off ourselves for very long. In the past couple of chapters we read that even though Jesus rebuked Peter “get thee behind me satan” and told him he was “an offense” for trying to hinder His work, this didn’t take him out of the running for greatest in the Kingdom (Matthew 16:23). Can you hear the argument? He may have just brought up the fact that he was the only one who walked on water with Jesus and was one of three who witnessed the transfiguration (Matthew 14:28-29; 17:1). Our accomplishments usually drown out our failures. No one thinks of the excuses of Moses, or the murderous adultery of David, or the depression and lack of faith of Elijah (Exodus 3:11; 4:1, 10, 13; 2 Samuel 11; I Kings 19:4). Instead we focus on Moses leading the exodus, David defeating Goliath, and Elijah calling fire down from heaven. One thing that is so great about the Bible is that it shows how even the best men that God used have failed. Our questions should never be about us. Our hope always lies elsewhere… in Jesus and Him alone.

A Lesson In Humility - 
Jesus illustrates His point by bringing a child before the disciples. There is nothing more fragile and helpless that could have been chosen. Children are in constant need. They need shelter, food, clothing, and instruction. They can do almost nothing on their own. This of course is the point. Children instinctively know they are in need. Whether it’s arithmetic or learning to tie a shoe, children humbly ask for instruction. They want their parents or teachers to instruct them and pass knowledge onto them. They know they cannot do it alone. This is why Jesus chose a child to place before His disciples. This is why something so small and fragile was an object lesson in humility. Be like children. Know you have needs that you cannot meet on your own. This keeps you focused on Kingdom living. We will never make it on our own. We need Jesus everyday and in every way. To be great, we must become small.

This teaching of Jesus is now working on two levels. We should be like children giving our full trust to Jesus for our lives. We should also protect those who live with this kind of faith. The term “little ones” now represents all those with child like faith that follow our master. Children can be easily taken advantage of. This is also true with followers of Christ. We must not only be careful to keep Jesus first in our lives, but we must also protect others that do the same. It is good to know that if we get off track and begin to wander that Jesus will drop everything and come to our rescue. We must show this same love and determination for one another. Heaven forbid we should be guilty of taking someone’s eyes off Jesus for our own pursuits or vanity. We must be so careful with our own eyes, and responsible for where we influence the gaze of others. May it always be Jesus we look to and turn others towards!

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