God's Blessings Come in Strange and Wonderful Ways

4th Sunday of Advent
Scripture: St. Luke 1:39-43

Luke’s scriptures tell us God’s prophetic words are often different from we interpret or expect to happen.

For centuries, Israel talked about a Messiah who was to come. And He would rid Israel of all of its enemies, setting up a new Israel. At that time a great war would take place and Israel would win the war.

Isaiah prophesied a great prophet quite different from a warlord would come leading the Israelites to repentance.

He wrote that a virgin would give birth and conceive a Son. He would be called the Son of the Most High God, and He would save His people from their sins.

The people of that day were no different from how we are today. They were all busy doing their thing and could not see the signs of the approach of a Messiah, especially in the manner and fashion that Jesus came.

Isaiah’s Messiah was not a Messiah of war and bloodshed. Rather, He would be a Messiah of love and mercy.

God saw Mary, a teenager, a righteous God-fearing lady, and sent an angel unto her telling her that she would conceive and bear a Son.

Mary’s question then was, “How can this be, for I am a virgin?” The angel told her that it would be by the power of the Most High God that she would conceive and bear a son - God’s Son - and He would redeem Israel and the world.

Mary’s answer was, “May it be done to me, the handmaiden of the Lord.”

When Joseph discovered that Mary was pregnant, his first thought was to set her aside quietly, not causing her disgrace. Joseph also was greeted by an angel, who said, “Be not afraid to take Mary as your wife, for her pregnancy is by the power of the Most High God.”

Mary and Joseph were betrothed at this time. The betrothed period was 12 months. They lived as husband and wife, but there was no sexual activity.

If Mary had been pregnant by human activity, it would have been a disgrace. She could have faced terrible, terrible consequences. Being stoned to death was the most serious. And if not stoned, she would be disgraced the rest of her life.

I don’t think that we realize the consequences for a young woman caught in pregnancy during the betrothed period. And yet, both Mary and Joseph were God-fearing individuals and they believed the angel’s activity in their lives.

The angel told Joseph that Mary would bear a Son and His name would be Jesus, and He would save and redeem His people.

Christmas is the birthday of the Christ Child, Mary’s firstborn, God’s only Son.

As for the gifts we share at Christmastime, giving to one another is because of three wise men who took nearly 2 years to find Jesus and His parents in Nazareth. They bought gifts fit for a king: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

The gold represented a wealthy person. Jesus was wealthy as the Son of God.

Frankincense and myrrh are elements for preparing a dead body, showing that Jesus would suffer and die for our sins, the sins of the world.

Praise God that He loved His fallen creature and in redeeming Him sacrificed the blood of His precious Son, our Lord and Savior, whose birthday we celebrate yearly as a reminder of how much God loves each and every one of us. Amen!

A Summons to Repentance

Third Sunday of Advent
Scripture: St. Luke 3:7-18

Crashing into our advent season to tear our attention away from the distractions that assail us at this time of the year…

We need to draw away from the glitter and the tinsel, the shiny trappings from under the tree that take us away from the heart of our faith.

These distractions provide us a way out of being challenged by our Gospel message. This affords us a way to avoid the uncomfortable Gospel truth.

John proclaims it is time for a change in our ways, permitting the Lord Jesus to enter into our lives. Instead of harking back to the way things are, what if we started looking for God’s presence in unexpected places and ways.

What if we prepared to hear the good news from unexpected persons, even strangers we meet and see while shopping? It’s high time we wake up to the fact God lives at the margin of our lives today, waiting, just waiting, to meet us there.

John’s Gospel was not just good news, yet there are three outstanding messages that John was seeking to share with us:
1. It was a demand that we share with one another.
2. It was a social Gospel that laid down that God will never resolve the situation of the man who has too much while his neighbor has far, far too little.
3. His message orders the man not to leave his job, but to work out his own salvation by doing that job as it should be done.
· Let the tax collector be an honest tax collector, not lining his own pocket.
· And let the soldier be a good soldier.

It is today a man’s duty to serve God where God has placed him. Nowhere is that better stated than in an old Negro spiritual:

"There’s a King and Captain high, and He’s coming by and by,
and He’ll find me hewing cotton when He comes.
You could hear His legions charging in the regions of the sky.
And He’ll find me hewing cotton when He comes.

There’s a man they thrust aside
Who was tortured ‘til He died.
And He’ll find me hewing cotton when He comes.

He was hated and rejected.
He was scorned and crucified.
And He’ll find me hewing cotton when He comes.

When He comes!”

When He comes!

He’ll be crowned by the saints and angels when He comes.
They’ll be shouting our Hosannas!
To the man, the man denied.
And I’ll be kneeling among my cotton when He comes."

It’s John’s conviction that no one can serve better than in their daily life and labors where the Lord has placed them.

We all feel that if we were someone else, say a great preacher like Dr. Billy Graham, we could preach the Word. Like we are all like a snowflake, there are no two just alike. And there are no two persons equipped alike to share the love of God.

John was quite sure that he himself was only the forerunner of the King of Kings who is to come.

The greatest gift any one of us can offer the Lord is just to be who we are, allowing the Lord to equip and use us to spread His good news with the gifts and graces that He has endowed upon us.

We must strive constantly to be open to God’s love and that small voice that is calling us over the clamor of the world in which we live. When He comes, our gracious King will be riding on a great white horse, a symbol in battle that He comes in peace and love, and not war.

Advent is a special time for spiritual renewal in our humble lives. God created us with free will, wherein we can accept that spiritual renewal or we can reject it.

How will you spend this advent season this year?

Let us pray.

Prepare You the Way

2nd Sunday of Advent
December 6, 2015

Opening statement: There are lots of ways to get ready for Christmas. Some get ready by decorating a tree and/or the house. Others wrap gifts for the family members and friends. Some bake special cakes and cookies that they serve only during the advent season.

However we prepare, I think that what the prophet Malachi wants us to consider is that we have no idea what we are doing.

However, we know intellectually that we are getting ready to receive the Christ child and to see what new things God will do for us.
While there are time-honored ways of preparing for and welcoming the Christ child…

Malachi states we forgot something important. We have a white-washed vision of “God is with us.”

It’s not going to be a Christmas-card experience, nor a beautiful one with small candles burning in the darkness. This is far more than the burning of one candle. We are telling about the True Light that has come into the world.

The light of these candles is a fire burning so hot that injustice can’t stand it. This is a messy and sometimes difficult situation to perceive.

Our Christmas cards and nativity scenes and Macy’s windows and parade don’t even begin to get to the reality of “God with us.”

In spite of our best intentions, we can’t possibly begin to prepare for something like this. There is a sort of motto of the Reformed Presbyterian church:
“reformed and always being reformed, bringing reform and recreation by the spirit of the living God, who is continually and always working within our lives.”

I wonder if that motto might apply to our advent season. Luke shares with us the appearance of John the Baptist preaching in the wilderness, preaching a baptism repentance, whereby our sins may be forgiven.
This action of John was first mentioned in the book of Isaiah the prophet.
A voice of one crying in the wilderness
Get the road ready, for the Lord is coming.
Make His path straight and the rough places smooth, and all flesh shall see God’s salvation.

At Jesus’ birth, the world was not hearing the ancient message of the prophet, and I wonder if we have captured that message yet today…

At the time of Jesus’ birth, if the king of that day was planning to visit his subjects, a forerunner was sent out telling of the king’s coming, “Prepare for his coming!”

That tradition is still followed today at the coronation service in Westminster Abbey when a new queen is being crowned. Everyone is seated for the service and out of nowhere a small army of men and women come forth with brooms and vacuum cleaners and prepare the road, the carpet runway, for the approaching queen.

As we enter into this advent season, what stands in our path, our lives, that needs to be swept away, that we might encounter a new and fresh awareness of the birth of our Savior?

That God the Father loves us so very much that He sent His own Son to earth as a sacrifice for our sins…

That is the true and only gift of Christmas that we should offer our family, friends, and associates. For Jesus is the reason for the season!

It’s not fancy-lit Christmas trees, fancy packages under it, nor large family gatherings. Those are only a very, very small part of it.

The real and only reason for Christmas is God’s gracious love for His creation, mankind, that He sent His beloved Son in human form to earth.

Lord God Almighty, help us. Enable us to capture the real Christmas Spirit.

Worry and Its Cures

First Sunday of Advent
Scripture: St. Matthew 6:25-34

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary reads,
“worry: to think about problems or fears : to feel or show fear and concern because you think that something bad has happened or could happen.” As we enter into the scripture today, it sounds familiar, for the text appears like what I shared last week from Luke.

Except today our thrust is not personal possessions; it is about our worried state of mind.

If we are honest with ourselves, we should all admit that we worry about certain things.
Jesus relates several different arguments and defenses against worrying.

In verse 25, He points out that we are not to worry about our lives, stating, “If God gives us life, He will attend to our needs.” We are to trust Him.

He goes a step further, stating that if the birds of the air who neither gather nor store up in abundance their food to eat and we are much more than the birds of the air, God will surely feed us also.

Now this does not mean that we are to set back and expect God to send manna from heaven daily to feed us. Rather, we should trust Him as our God and our God-given ability to prepare for ourselves nourishment for the body.

A Jewish rabbi wrote these words:

“I have never seen a deer drying figs for food. Nor a lion as a porter. Or a fox as a merchant. Yet, they are nourished by their Lord without worry.”

Jesus states that any worry is useless. It could mean that no man or woman can add a cubit to their life. A cubit is 18 inches. Then Jesus saw the flowers of the earth and spoke about them as one who loved their beauty.

He said that the blooms on the hillside of the landscape are beautiful today and gone tomorrow. Yet even Solomon in all his glory was not as beautiful as one of those flowers.

He goes on to advance a very fundamental argument against worry. Worry, He states, is a characteristic of a heathen, someone who is abandoned, who has abandoned God and God’s love.

Worry, then, is essentially distrust in God and the nature of God’s grace.

Such distrust is understandably in a heathen’s mind and heart. They are unaware of God’s actions and what He can do.

That is beyond comprehension for one who believes in God and addresses God as “Father.”

Lastly, Jesus says that worry can be defeated. We can acquire the art of living one day at a time. “Do not worry over tomorrow’s evil, for you know not what today brings forth. Perhaps tomorrow you will not be alive and you will have worried for a world that shall not be yours. Each day is lived as it comes. Each task is done as it appears. Then the sum of all days is found to be good.”

Jesus’ advice about worry is to not worry. Just handle the demands of each day as they come without worrying about the unknown future.

If we center down our worrying about a tomorrow that might not come for us, we rob ourselves of the multitude of blessings that God offers and gives us daily.


An Abundance of Possessions

Last Sunday of Pentecost/Thanksgiving Sunday
Scripture: St. Luke 12:15-31

As we approach Thanksgiving Day, we should be thankful and praise the Lord for all our earthly blessings, including the spiritual blessings that He offers to each and everyone.

Many are in great need for even the things we have to just survive. Jesus said to his disciples and to you and me, “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?”

Scripture tells us of the rich farmer who had a great problem. The crops and his fields had produced such an abundance of grain that when it was all gathered in he would have no room for it in his barn. Then he reasoned with himself. He decided to tear down his small barn and build much larger one. Then he would have all the storage he needed, allowing him to sit back and enjoy life.

But Jesus threw him a curve ball, warning that his life was almost over. He asked His disciples (and you and me) who would get the fruits of his labors and his worry? Who would reap his great harvest?

Earthly possessions are like a great sandcastle built on the shores of the sea. When the high tide come in and the water flows over it, it will be destroyed! When the sea recedes at low tide, there will be no evidence that it even existed.

I saw and witnessed a human tragedy. A man told me that he live on the wrong side of the tracks. Life was rough and they had very very little. Though a miracle of God, he was able to get a good education and earned a degree in business. He became a wealthy businessman during the oil boom in Alaska and had a large company with many employees. They repaired and sold equipment needed to produce oil. He build a large beautiful home on a bluff overlooking cook inlet near Kenia River Peninsula. He remarked more than once in my presence that he was a self-made man. That he deserved everything he had, but all his earthly possessions came at a tremendous price.

He was a failure as a husband and father of two sons. His wife told me that she would divorce him instantly if it were not for the two boys. In her state of mind, she started drinking. She was having a tremendous problem with alcohol. The boys were in high school and excellent in sports and academics; they were also hooked on drugs. Family life was shot! They had plenty of material goods, but she was the only one who occasionally came to church.

As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, what are you and I really thankful for?

I pray we are thankful for much more that a large family gathering with a table piled high with a large turkey in the middle of the table, mash and sweet potatoes, all sorts of vegetables and fruits, a large assortment of pastries, and pumpkin pie piled high with cool whip. While it’s a special time with family and friends, the real reason we should celebrate Thanksgiving is to thank and bless our Lord for His divine presence in our lives!

I recall that a few years ago as I prayed over our Thanksgivings dinner – perhaps praying a little longer than I should – as I paused just momentarily one of my young grandsons said, “Amen!”  The whole laughed and that ended my prayer and the family started filling their plates.

Who did you invite to share your Thanksgiving dinner with? There is a knock on your door. There is a stranger. He looks like he hadn’t changed clothes or shaved for weeks. He says, “I am hungry and cold. Could I possibly get something to eat?”

In your shock of seeing him, you thought, “Wait a moment.” And then you make him a brown bag. He thanks you, turns, and is gone.

In my state of mind after this real encounter, I remembered Hebrews 13:2 saying, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”

What do you thing would happen if we had invited him in to sit at the table? Let us pray!
Happy Thanksgiving from Pastor P. and Judy!

The End of the Age

25th Sunday of Pentecost
Scripture: St. Mark 13:1-8

Seeing a beautiful building, Jesus’ disciples said, “Teacher, see that stone building. How wonderful it is!”

Jesus replied, “You see that great building, but the day will come when not one stone of it will rest upon another.” They were looking at the temple that King Herod was building, one of the wonders of the world at that time. He began the construction in 20-19 BC on top of Mount Moriah. It was still not finished when Jesus looked at it in this passage.

Instead of leveling the mountaintop, Herod had a massive masonry work to enclose it on a huge platform. It had stone pillars 40 feet long, 12 feet high, and 18 feet wide held the structure up. And it had a marvelous bridge with arches built 41 and 1/2 feet tall to reach it.

We now have a glimpse of the shock and dismay of the disciples as they looked at this huge construction. They heard Jesus statements about it, that it would crumble and leave not one stone upon another. Here Jesus forecasts the awful terror at the siege that will lead to the final fall of Jerusalem. This is an insight into the last days before he comes a second time.

From scripture it is my understanding that during that period of time it will be a holocaust that will make Hitler’s terror look like a picnic in the park! Christians will experience tremendous persecution with terrible sufferings and deaths. It would be a great blessing if we were already in the heavenly kingdom by that time.

At a time when a pastor preached hellfire and damnation and asking the Lord to come quickly, A teenage Christian stated while at the alter when praying, “Please don’t come now.” Her spirit cried out, “I want to grow up, finish high school, and graduate. I want to learn to drive a car. I want to go to college. I want to be kissed by a handsome boy, fall in love, get married, and have children. Please Lord, don’t come now.”

The urgency of the gospel is not to scare or frighten anyone; rather, it is a warning because we don’t know when Jesus will return. We do know He said He would return. Jesus tells us that even He doesn’t know the day or the hour of His return. Only the Father in heaven know when that will happen. We get so wrapped up with this life, that we put the Lord’s return on the back burner of our lives.

If we don’t make our plans to be with Him, which is a precious gift He offers to all who will confess and believe in Him, when He comes He won’t come for us. Often we are like a child who has been warned not to touch the hot burner on the stove for fear we will get burned. Like a child, we put off making amends for our eternal life with the lord.

If we fail to make amends, the outcome will be a tragic event in our lives, robbing ourselves of the perfect eternal life that He has offered each and everyone who believes in Him, confesses their sins, and accepts His offer of the eternal, abundant life.

The pathway to eternal life is available. Life is much like a 2 lane highway. Which road are you traveling? The road of the world or the road that leads to the heavenly kingdom?

Let us pray.

The Widow's Gift

24th Sunday of Pentecost
Scripture: St. Mark 12:41-44

Thoughout his ministy, Jesus calls to our attention those on the margin of society, those who have gone unnoticed:

  • the poor
  • the blind
  • the lame
  • the beggar
  • the leper
  • the military personnel
  • the widows
These are some of the people on the margin of our society today, those who are excluded and looked down upon or simply ignored.

We enter the scriptures as Jesus is sitting and watching the crowd as the temple offering is being gathered. Between the court of the Gentiles and the court of women was the gate called Beautiful. Jesus had gone there to sit quietly and restful after the arguments and the tension at the court of the Gentiles. The court of the women was nearby.

There were 13 collection boxes called the trumpets because of their shape.  Each was for a special gift to buy corn, wine, or anything needed to buy for the sacrifice. Many people threw in large quantities of coins for the offering. There came a poor widow who put in all she had: 2 copper coins valued at about 1/16 of a cent.

Jesus, seeing her gift said, “She gave more than all the rest had put into the coffer.”

Here is a lesson in giving: real giving must be sacrificial. It is never the amount of the gift, but the sacrifice one offers in giving the gift. There are few people who will offer a real sacrifice to the Lord in supporting his work. Giving that is real has a certain recklessness in it. The widow might have kept one of her coins.  It was not much but something she probably needed badly. She gave everything she had.

There is a great symbolic truth here. It is our personal tragedy that we don’t trust the Lord to be part of our activity. It is a strange and lovely thing that the widow in the New Testament is who Jesus hands down to history as a pattern of sacrificial generosity.

When we put ourselves totally at Jesus’ disposal, we can not imagine what might transpire in our lives and in his church. We have not matured from giving only what is left of our resources because we use them to maintain ourselves and our comfortable lifestyles. We are happy to offer the Lord what is left over of our resources, including time, talent, and income.

In looking in depth at my own life and actions I am appalled of how little I actually give in sacrificial giving.

When I looked at my personal property, I found 5-6 TVs, more clothes in my closets and dressers than I can wear in a month, cupboards, and freezers full and bulging with food.

While Judy and I do support our Lord with our tithes of all resources that come into our house, that is not sacrificial giving. That is only what we are obligated to give. Sacrificial giving is when we do without a multitude of our desires and wishes and support the work of the Lord with those resources.

That is the first step in sacrificial giving.  While it may be a small step it is a step in the right direction, I don’t see much sacrificial giving in my life.

I am challenging myself and you to continue giving our obligations to the Lord, our 10%, and then begin to go a second and third mile in sacrificial giving for the lords work in our lives, our community and our world, and becoming a joyful and faithful servant of our Lord Jesus Christ.

May we all pray about our sacrificial giving unto our Lord.

Let us pray.

The Great Commandment

23rd Sunday of Pentecost
Scripture: St. Mark 12:28-34

There was no love lost between the experts of the law and Jesus. The task of these experts of the law and the Sadducees was to interpret the law and to see that each rule and regulation was followed the letter of that law.

When the scribe came to Jesus with his question, which was often a matter of great debate, he was trying to trip Jesus up by the way he answered. This debate had gone on ever since Moses had received them on Mount Sinai. He had received 613 laws according to tradition. 365 were according to the days of the sun year, and 248 accorded to the generations of man.

David came and reduced the 613 to 11 in Psalms 11. Isaiah came and reduced the 11 to 6 in Isaiah 32:18. Micah came and reduced the 6 to 3 in Micah 6:8. Isaiah then brought the 3 to 2 in Isaiah 66:1. Finally in Habakkuk 2:1, the 2 were reduced to 1 with these words: “The just shall live by faith.”

We can see by the actions of the rabbinic ingenuity, that the law interpreters tried to contain and expand the laws of Judaism over the years. When the expert of the law in today’s passage came questioning Jesus, the issue of the law was still a hot issue in Jewish debate and discussion.

Here Jesus takes the 2 great commandments and puts them together. Deuteronomy 6:4 says, “Hear, oh Lord! Thy Lord is one Lord.”

The Jewish law Shema is a statement in which each service in the synagogue worship service begins even today. There are 3 statements of the Shema, which is contained in a small leather box that each devoted Jew would wear around their neck or on their wrist. The statements are contained in a small circular box that is attached to the door of every Jewish household door. Here is where Jesus stated a tremendous need in each of our lives: We are to love the Lord our God with our whole being, heart, body, soul, and we are to love our neighbors as ourselves.

It is so easy to make our worship service as a thing we do on Sunday morning within the confines of the church building, instead of an action we do constantly and daily in our lives. We need to be reminded that worship and service unto our Lord should be 24 hours a day each and every day.

We are to be concerned not only about ourselves, our family, and our friends, but also our neighbors and people around the world. We must love the neighbor as Jesus loves each of us, because His great Spirit must dwell in each of us. We should never think of them and/or us for Jesus’ blood was shed on calvary’s cross for all our sins.

Over the years we have separated ourselves from one another. We have

  • the haves and have-nots.
  • the educated and non-educated.
  • blue-collar and white-collar worker classes.
  • the pigment in our skin.
  • the nations we live in.
  • names and denominations of churches we attend.
If we don’t seek to be one in Christ, we are no better than the heathen who does not seek a relationship with the Lord. We have become so comfortable with ourselves and our relationship with the Lord that we don’t seek to reach out to those who don’t know Him.

May we seek to turn a new leaf in our life, searching and seeking that all others will love the Lord our God as their God? When was the last time you reached out to share your faith with someone outside your family circle or your church community?

Let us pray.

Healing by the Roadside

22nd Sunday of Pentecost
Scripture: St. Mark 10:46-52

As Jesus was passing through Jericho on the way out of town with His disciples and a great crowd, things really happened! Jericho was a very special city. The temple that had 20,000 priests. They worked in 26 groups, except at the celebration of the passover, when all 20,000 were on duty because of the great crowds.

At the edge of the city, near its gate, sat a blind beggar asking for alms. His name was Bartimaeus. Hearing the shuffling of many feet, Bartimaeus asked what was going on. He was told that the teacher Jesus was passing by.

He immediately started crying out loud, “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!” Many around him told him to be quiet and not badger the teacher, and Bartimaeus cried out even louder,
“Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!”

When he was told that Jesus was calling him, immediately he threw off his coat, jumped up, and headed out to find Jesus. Now this could not have been very easy for him because of his blindness. Would it not be exciting to be a Bartimaeus type of person!

Look briefly with me of the action in this biblical story. There is Bartimaeus’ sheer persistence. He would not allow any one thing to stand in his was to get to Jesus.

He had a desperate desire and that desire in ones life that gets things done. His responded immediately and eagerly when Jesus called him.

Many of us hear and feel the call of Jesus in our lives, yet we don’t immediately respond to his calling. We say, “Not now. Wait until i get this done.”

Soon we forget the calling. But Bartimaeus went to Jesus like a bullet fired from a gun! He had a great need and sensed that this wandering teacher could fulfill it. We often shortchange ourselves of a great blessing when we don’t immediately respond to the nudging of Jesus.

What a blessing Judy and I have had during these last 10 days sharing openly our faith with many who stopped by. In return they shared their faith stories also.

Bartimaeus, while not having an adequate theology of who Jesus was, trusted what he had heard about Him and had faith that He could heal his blindness.

One writer penned these words: “We must ask people the think, but we should not expect them to become theologians before they become Christians.”

Indeed, in Bartimaeus’ situation he trusted his gut feelings about Jesus. When Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do?” he simply said, “I want to see,” and immediately his eyes were open and he followed Jesus.

Our faith response is the key step in walking faithfully with Jesus throughout our lives.
There is no pretraining; we must pick up our pallets and move out! There are no future glimpses of what our future might be if we faithfully respond to Jesus calling; there's only faith and knowledge that if we will follow Him daily, He will faithfully walk daily with us.

In our society today, we have been preprogrammed to want to know the outcome of our actions. In a very short time, we see Jesus on the cross-of calvary, winning eternal life for each one of us that will respond to his love. A faith journey does not tell us what will transpire in our lives, only that Jesus will walk with us regardless of what transpires.

May we all walk in true faith in Jesus love. Amen!

Faith of a Child

19th Sunday of Pentecost
Scripture: St. Mark 10:13-16

Who actually "follows Jesus" in Mark’s writings? It is not the disciples. That is for sure. They kept misunderstanding Jesus' ministry and mission for 3 years. They kept getting His theology wrong to boot. Not once in Mark’s writings are they actually described as "following Jesus," but a few situations in the scriptures we discover a few who did.
  • In Mark 15 an anonymous man did follow Jesus.
  • In Mark 14 an anonymous woman understood that Jesus the crucified was marked as the Son of the living God. 
  • In Mark 10 we discover that a blind beggar followed him. 
When Jesus walked among us here on the earth, little children who had no status flocked to Jesus. He blessed them and held some in His arms. When Jesus took them in his arms the disciples saw them as a distraction, a waste of precious time.

We understand that he was on his way to the cross and his death. Jesus' time on earth was short, yet he had one final lesson that he had to get across to his disciples and you and me: The only hope we have to enter his eternal kingdom is to come as a little child, a child who has not been misguided by the ways of the world. We must have the humility of a little child.

While there is the child who is an exhibitionist, such children are rare and almost all are products of misunderstanding. They have not yet learned to think in terms of place pride or prestige, nor have they learned to discover their importance.

They are a child of obedience. While a child often does not obey, their instinct is to obey. They have not yet learned false pride and independence that separates them from others. They are a child of trust. It seems that they accept the authority of all others and have confidence.

An example of trust and confidence is when daddy throws them up in the air as they return to him all fear is gone when they see the smile on his face and the chuckle in his voice. They have not yet learned to expect the worlds dangers and still believe in the best of all people.

And that trust in people can be a dangerous thing, because not all adults are trustworthy.

A blessing of a child is that they have a very short memory. They have not yet learned to hold grudge or harbor bitterness.

Even when a child is playing with another and they have a spat over a toy and come crying saying, “I won’t play with him again!” Before their eyes are clear of tears, they are playing together as if nothing ever happened. Praise God for the little children and their short memory.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we adults could have maintained that childlike attitude when our feelings get hurt and we don’t get our way? Jesus in our text seeks to teach his disciples that we must maintain our childlike understandings when involved with others in our adult world.

Regardless of our age and our knowledge the surest way to enter the kingdom of God is like a little child. We confess and believe in him as youth or adults, but somewhere in life we have lost that childlike understanding. Our world would be a better place if we consciously kept the humility, the trust, and short memory of the wrongs of life. It appears often that we hold onto misunderstandings and misguided remarks while Jesus our lord does not remember our failures when He forgives us.

Can you imagine with me what this world might be like if we all acted as little children act in love, and obedience without and reservation? 

Let us pray!