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1/7/2024

Jesus, Infants, & Children

Matthew 19:13-15; Mark 10:13-16; Luke 18:15-17

Mar 10:13And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them, Mat 19:13that he should put [his] hands on them, and pray, Luk 18:15And they brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them: Mar 10:13and [his] disciples rebuked those that brought [them].

Mar 10:14But when Jesus saw [it], he was much displeased, Luk 18:16Jesus called them [unto him] and said unto them, Mat 19:14, Mar 10:14, Luk 18:16Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. (Mat 19:14kingdom of heaven)

Mar 10:15Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.

Mar 10:16And he took them up in his arms, put [his] hands upon them, and blessed them Mat 19:15and departed thence.

Mark 10:13–16 ESV

13 And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. 

14 But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 

15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” 

16 And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.

Matthew 19:13-15 reads very similarly, except Matthew explains they were bring the children Mat 19:13 that he should put [his] hands on them, and pray

Matthew 19:13 (ESV)

13 … that he might lay his hands on them and pray …

‌(Matthew also differs in that he uses the term “Kingdom of Heaven (the heavens)” as he usually does instead of “Kingdom of God.”)

Different terminology toward the same end.

‌The main difference is that Matthew expresses the purpose of bring the children: to pray for them.

Luke 18:15 ESV

15 Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them.

When Luke records this, he uses the word ‘infants’

It’s the same word used in

‌Luke 1:41 ESV

41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit,

and

Luke 2:12 ESV

12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

In this 1st century culture, the word for an unborn baby was the same word for a newborn baby!

‌This may be because the infant mortality rate was so high.

It was customary among ancient cultures to wait  a little over a week to name the baby (this was certainly Jewish custom – and that’s why).

Now, a little later, when Jesus is one or two, the Magi come to worship Him and are told:

‌​

Matthew 2:8 ESV

8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.”

That word for ‘child’ is the same that Matthew and Mark use in our key verses today.

We can see that these were very young children including infants that they were bringing to Jesus.

The disciples did what church folk do – they tried to stop people from coming to Jesus!

“I’m sorry, you can’t see Jesus right now because He is busy with us right now!”

“Come back when you’re perfect like us and maybe you can follow us as we follow Jesus”

There are many many people who love having children but can’t stand their children.

‌The main reason that I have observed over the years that parents have a hard time with their children is that they don’t give them attention!

As I told one young man (who isn’t so young anymore), cherish each moment with your child and the years won’t fly by so fast.

Children, especially infants and toddlers, need help and need attention. The more that folks ignore them, the less they will be able to keep ignoring them.

In a culture that did not consider an infant fully human or viable until they were 8 or 9 days old and even then they were to be seen and not heard, but preferably not seen either, Jesus loved on them, laid hands on them, prayed for them, blessed them, and instructed His disciples, to not only do the same, but, let these children become their role models!!!

Welcome to Sanctity of Life Month 2024!

Jesus validated these little precious lives.

Unless we become like children – WE MUST BE BORN AGAIN!

I just preached on this a few weeks ago – WE NEED:

  1.  A NEW APTITUDE of INNOCENCE – becoming teachable

  1.  A NEW ATTITUDE of HUMILITY – becoming others-centered

  1. A NEW APPROACH of SERVICE – becoming the servant of the servants

  1. A NEW ADVERSARY No longer others as the enemy – but their enemy becomes our enemy as we protect them!

‌Psalm 131:1–3  ESV

1 O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. 

2 But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. 

3 O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forevermore.

Since I’ve covered “becoming like a child” (and now ‘re-covered’ it),

‌I want to focus on the aspect here of ministry to children.

Jesus reminded the disciples that they need to become like children. This is at least the 2nd time He did so. I believe the main focus here is to value children and that ministry to them is just as vital as every other aspect.

Moses taught the Israelites:

‌Deuteronomy 6:1–9 ESV

1 “Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the rules—that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, 

2 that you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long. 

3 Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey. 

4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 

5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 

6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 

7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 

8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 

9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Notice how this passage stresses passing the knowledge of God from generation to generation.

If we serve God all day every day it will be seen through our lives how faithful and wonderful God is.

This passage could certainly be  understood to justify a big and wonderful children’s ministry. I’m afraid we can get really caught up in the theatrics of such a thing. I’m not speaking against it, I’m just observing the simplicity of this passage.

They didn’t have a separate place for the kids – they brought them straight to Jesus!

We don’t need baby sitters, we can teach children to be and behave in church. But we can’t ignore their presence. They are souls just as we are. The may need a bit special attention and handling, but they can be with the adults in church.

At least, Jesus was cool with it!

One more thought, these were young children, some of them were infants.

‌They were still impressionable, innocent, and full of unconditional love.

‌Let’s think about that for a bit.

‌Let’s let our faith be like children who believe instantly and do not doubt!

‌Let’s love like children who are quick to accept and quick to forgive!

‌Let’s learn like children who are always curious and always asking why?

‌Not, ‘why me?’ but ‘why not?’

‌and Let’s have fun like children!

I’d like to conclude with that patchwork of children’s renderings of “The Lord’s Prayer” that I read back in June of 2019:

‌“The Lord’s Prayer” – In no certain terms: Misspoken, Misheard, and Misunderstood By Children of All Ages Throughout The Ages:

Our Father, makes art in Heaven, Howard be thy name,

Harold be thy name,

Hollywood be thy name.

How do you know my name?

Our Father, Who shouts from Heaven, ‘Hello, what is your name?’

Your kingdom come, I will be done

I believe I will go through heaven

Give us this day our jelly bread

Give us this steak and daily bread, and forgive us our mattresses

Forgive us our trash baskets

As we forgive those who put trash in our baskets.

Aunt Leda’s not into temptation

And lead us not into Penn Station

I lead a snot into temptation

But deliver us some E-mail

And deliver us from eagles

For thine is the kingdom. the cow and the glory

For mine is the kingdom, the flower and the jewelry.

Amen

‌He is “Our Father” because we have been “born again” – “born of the Spirit” and we, as children, and like children do, are to imitate and look like our Father. We seek to dwell in God’s presence but He seeks to dwell in us, live in us, transform us, and unite us as we yield every fiber of our being back to our original spiritual DNA and reject the cancer of sin that destroys us!

10 Practical Steps To Forgiveness

12/30/2020

Here are some tips from a message I preached in August 2019. There really is no easy road to forgiveness. We see that it is hard, when we see all that Jesus did to make forgiveness possible for us. We were completely in the wrong. We were in the wrong even before we were born, but we proved it through our lives. We weren’t even seeking forgiveness, yet God provided the way. He satisfied justice through His own sacrifice. He paid the price. There is no wrong that we could suffer that is comparable to the wrong (sins) that we have done against our God. Yet He loves us and made the way of forgiveness. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

So many times we try to forgive others because we are told to, and yet we don’t really know how. We end up stuffing our hurt rather than sacrificing pride. Here are some ‘practical’ steps. Please take time and look up the accompanying scriptures. Let them breathe life back into your situation as you begin to trust God with the pain and hurt. It is not a quick thing for many people. You have been struck. You have been hurt. You need to heal. Healing is an important part of forgiveness, and forgiveness is an essential part of healing. Healing takes time, but it also takes intentional steps to keep a wound clean. This is a process. It is hard. That’s ok to admit.

I truly hope these steps help you to heal and forgive.

1. Check Yourself (before you wreck yourself)

Pray. Pray. Pray. Talk to your Father in Heaven. Before taking the ‘martyr’ or ‘victim’ stance, pray for God to search your heart for any fault on your part, easy offense, or misunderstandings. Reflect on: Psalm 139:23-24; Matthew 7:1-5

2. Get Your Grace Goggles On (you’re going for a ride)

a. Remember that ‘a soul is a soul is a soul’. We are all the same at the foot of the cross. The worse the sin or offense, the more the person needs Jesus. Romans 3:23-24

b. Recognize that it is only by God’s grace, and not your own goodness, that you have received mercy. You are just as deserving of judgment as anyone else. – Ephesians 2:8-9

3. Hang Tight To Jesus (and don’t let go)

Resolve to cling to Christ and to do what He has you do, no matter what anyone else does.  Luke 14:27

4. Take the ‘Cross Road’ (wherever it may go)

Apply the substitutionary work of the cross through your life. Identify with Christ and His sufferings. Romans 6:6-7

5. Keep The Mercy Juices Flowing (and flowing)

Recognize that it is the mercy of God flowing through you that forgives and that His grace is enough. Philippians 4:13

6. Get On Up (let God move your body)

Apply the resurrection power to your life. Identify with Christ living in you, restoring you, empowering you to eternal victory. Romans 6:8-9

7. Full Steam Ahead (but without steam in your head)

Fix your eyes on the prize – it’s about the ‘hereafter,’ but we live it here and now. Hebrews 12:2

8. Know Your Enemies (and know your victory!)

Remember that the person/people aren’t your real enemy(-ies). Recognize your real enemies: Satan and his lies, the world and its lies, and your own flesh (and its lies). Ephesians 6:10-20, James 4:4, Luke 6:27-36

9. Love Like Crazy (it’s crazy… I know)

Pray. Pray. Pray for the individual – for their salvation or their eyes to be opened to the truth. Luke 23:34

10.  Rinse. Lather. Repeat.

Continue these steps every day until true joy and compassion for the individual wins the day, forgiveness flows freely, and Jesus is glorified through the situation.

God is passionate about loving: For God so loved the world

God is passionate about forgiving (forGIVEness is a GIFT): That He gave His one and only Son

God is passionate about souls, ALL souls: That whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.